Abuse at Abu Ghraib: Just Having 'A Little Fun'?

I recall receiving this "message from the ghost of General Patton" (warning: it's a stomach-turner) by e-mail several months ago, and it disturbs me as much now as it did then. (If you can handle looking at it, I'd be interested in your take.)

"Patton" compares the abuse at Abu Ghraib with the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl and the attacks of September 11, 2001, and says the American abuses are minor in comparison.

Above a photo of a smiling Lynndie England and boyfriend posed, thumbs up, with a bunch of naked detainees piled on top of one another, the Patton message says in gigantic type, "THIS is not 'torture' or an 'atrocity'. This is the kind of thing fratboys, sorority girls, and academy cadets do to newcomers." Below the photo are the words, "A little fun at someone else's expense. Certainly no reason to wring your hands or get your panties in a wad."

Granted, on any scale of atrocity, 9/11 undeniably tops Abu Ghraib. There's no question that beheading a person -- on video, no less -- is reprehensible beyond description. As we've discussed previously in this blog, it's generally not useful to compare tragedies, but there's no denying that the slaughter of more than 2,700 people on 9/11 had far-reaching implications that made more of an impact on America -- and, I daresay, the world -- than any of these prisoner abuse scandals.

But "a little fun at someone else's expense"? Putting a whoopie cushion on someone's chair is a little fun at someone's else's expense. Freezing the underwear of the drunk guy passed out at a party is a little fun at someone else's expense. Subjecting prisoners to simulated drownings, brutal beatings, and yes, even this "frat boy" Naked Pile (attn: Fraternity members! Did you ever do that to your pledges?) is under no circumstances just having "a little fun." Such methods undoubtedly qualify as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment," which is what McCain's amendment would specifically prohibit.

If America is to be a nation whose citizens can hold their heads high when they talk about spreading freedom and democracy, we can't just rely on the argument that our barbarian behavior is less barbarous than the other guy's. Eric Alterman puts it this way: "if our enemy forces us to adopt tactics that betray our fundamental values, they've won the war whether or not they win on the 'battlefield'."

Alan Bostick has a slightly different take on how the abuse mirrors fraternity hazings, and he provides an example of a pledge who was killed by the treatment he received from his would-be brothers. Americans, Bostick says, just do this kind of thing -- gross maltreatment should not shock us.

The fraternity comparison was made on Hannity and Colmes as well, and Media Matters for America didn't let it pass unnoticed.

In this comment on John Cole's blog, the writer says the whole prisoner abuse issue, while serious, has been blown out of proportion by liberals. The comment goes on to state that the McCain Amendment is well-intentioned, but "the solution to doing this without crossing over into torture is to discipline those who step over the line, not to tie the military's hands behind its back."

Is it fair to say that McCain and his many supporters are trying to tie the hands of the military? Simply disciplining those "who step over the line" isn't sufficient, since the line has become so blurry over the last few years. The amendment clarifies the ambiguity by making the Army Field Manual the final word on what is and is not allowed in interrogations. Surely, if the field manual guidelines were impeding effective interrogation, the Army would have changed them.

At issue here, though, is that Dick Cheney wants the CIA, not the Army, to have the flexibility to interrogate essentially using any means necessary, in order to "keep the Bush administration's options open," as TimmyK puts it at RedState. McCain -- himself a torture victim -- feels that no agent of the U.S. government should be able to inflict "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" on anyone, period.

TimmyK sees it not as an issue of morality but as a question of executive privilege. I kind of think that executive privilege should not be used as a cover for morally reprehensible behavior, but then, I'm old-fashioned that way. Debaters, your thoughts?

By Emily Messner |  November 11, 2005; 12:18 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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That link from "the ghost of General Patton" is a sick message from a disgusting individual. Those who would advocate torture, which Abu Ghraib definitely contained, would make us no different in anything other than scale than Saddam Hussein's regime.

Bluntly put, there are NO extenuating circumstances for this. NONE. This is not a numbers game that we can play by saying we'll torture "just a few" terrorists. It is wrong. End of discussion.

To those who would paint pictures of some nightmare scenario by saying "well, what if there was a bomb and we needed to know where right away?" how many people does it take BEFORE it becomes wrong? Is it okay to torture 10 people? How about 100? 1000? At what number does it become anything other than a sickening act of pure evil to brutally and intentionally inflict sadistic pain on an individual?

I was in a fraternity in college and I participated in my share of fraternity style pranks, but none of it came anywhere in the same solar system as what the Abu Ghraib pictures showed. Anyone who thinks that torture is "blowing off steam" or "harmless fun" is a scary, frightening individual. The fact that many of the people saying this have their own national t.v. show or elected political position is terrifying.

Posted by: J. Crozier | November 11, 2005 01:28 AM

Wow. Get that boy a subscription to Frat Beat.

The Limbaugh Moral Measuring Stick is an interesting device. Apparently anything goes as long as you're a half a notch up from any given atrocity. So if Mrs. Noobington down the street feeds rat poison to poodles, you're conscience is clear to dropkick them across the street. Schweet.

I've also seen the Stick applied to "supporting the troops." As long as American soldiers are being killed at a rate below that of fatalities on the Jersey Turnpike, feeding them into the Mideast Meatgrinder is just hunky-dory. Moral clarity. You betcha.

Posted by: Andy Vance | November 11, 2005 01:40 AM

It saddens me very much to see the natin that prides itself on spreading "freedom" and "democracy" around the world and championing for "human rights" cannot take care of their own house. Why should other nation give us any credibility. Yes, some will say well we have done so many good things for the world such as ended world II and so on.. well people will also just on based on present not just the past.

It sickens me to the point that I cannot stand people defending Abu Ghirab. It makes us no better than terrorists. Period.

Posted by: Shoaib Afsar | November 11, 2005 02:13 AM

Ms. Messner,

I have had things like that (and worse) emailed to me. Just so you know, if you look at the header of the email, you can sometimes contact the ISP about the mail. Sending hate messages and disturbing images is a crime in some places, sometimes people like interpol are looking for people who send this stuff.

Posted by: ondelette | November 11, 2005 02:24 AM

Society is judged not by the way it treats its upstanding citizens, but by the way it treats its criminals

Posted by: - | November 11, 2005 02:49 AM

We simply have not had enough deaths for America as a country to be serious about the subject of interrogating unlawful enemy combatants. For now, it's all about the precious civil liberties of an enemy operating outside all rules of war.

Liberal Mantra - We should know better than anyone the ineffectiveness of information gained by using out & out torture.

If all the info was ineffective, then we wouldn't have 5,000 years of any country at war engaging in coercive interrogations - sometimes brutal, sometimes clearly rising to torture. It's done because it works. When McCain and others say they never gave the N. Vietnamese and their Chinese and Soviet customers any valuable intel as POWs, they are lying through their teeth. Most, including McCain, eventually broke and squealed like pigs. Squealed enough that the Russians built an aircraft carrier based on POW intel disclosures and several fighter/bomber ECM systems were compromised along with target redisbursal based on learning what the Americans knew. But the Cult of the POW/MIA as the most honor-worthy and noble and heroic of all soldiers persists.

Nothing is more ineffective than John McCain asserting radical Islamists have a right to remain silent and get lawyered up.

Money, being nice to fanatically committed Jihadis is the answer? No, 4 years of 30-25 million rewards on bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and 2 years of 25 million for the head of Zarakawi have produced nothing.

Posted by: Chris Ford | November 11, 2005 03:41 AM


Posted by: afdg | November 11, 2005 04:37 AM

Slavery has been around for 5000 years too, and it works about as well as torture. That is, it works sort of, if you don't care about the side effects. But in terms of operational significance, it's not a big deal compared with other sources of intelligence. The game isn't worth the candle.

In America, we'd managed to give up both things, slavery and torture - up to this point. We got through several wars, including WWII without resort to torture. Not even with the Japanese, who at the time were regarded as suicidal sub-human demons, did we resort to torture.

So what's so special about this little dust up? Sounds to me like you want revenge more than information, Chris, but whether it's revenge on Islamic terrorists or on John McCain, it's a bit hard to tell.

Posted by: BS Detector | November 11, 2005 04:40 AM

oh, yes........
bombing and napalming from 35,000 feet
killing unseen thousands is the civilized american way ---to win hearts and minds---

cutting someone's head of is definitely barbaric because you have to face the
victim and have the brass to kill him---

just a question of civilization, huh?

Posted by: ee | November 11, 2005 04:46 AM

Everyone seems to be forgetting that beyond the moral argument that torture is wrong, there is another moral argument: we always tend to forget the torturer. It is an impossible burden for our guys.

Posted by: Anne, The Netherlands | November 11, 2005 05:32 AM

The fraternity comparison is misleading, I think, because the person undergoing hazing remains a person, with the right to walk away.

There may be social pressure not to do so, but I don't think it is comparable to being locked up as an "enemy combatant" with, by definition, no rights, no supervision, and the threat of something worse always around the corner.

Fraternity hazing depends on a voluntary ceding of control to the hazer. It's the implication that the torturee is under the total control of the torturer which makes this treatment torture, whether a 'harmless' sexual assault, a threatened drowning, or a beating.

Posted by: Liss | November 11, 2005 06:07 AM

This is so un-Patton as to dismiss it altogether. I've written about Patton in a book published last year. His gritty demeanor, generally disrespected by soldiers because of his abusive overuse of profanity , is being hijacked by someone who has utterly no idea about what they are doing, or saying.

Patton would have no more involved himself in politics than George Bush would have put on a uniform and actually fought for his country.

So, Emily, don't be haunted by the Ghost of Patton. It's not him.

Posted by: Robert Baumer | November 11, 2005 06:18 AM

Hi Emily,

Dan, the boorish one, is the kind of guy we had guarding prisioners at Abu Ghraib...maybe not. I'm sure there were and are decent soldiers there.

This war, and our behavior in it, is the center piece of the G.W. Bush Doctrine: Use violence to deliver democracy to countries that do not want it and justify the violence by exploiting the fear of citizens in the homeland.

Because the moral fulcrum for this war is artificial, we should not be surprised at the prisioner abuses that took place and may be continuing.

Posted by: Roger Dier | November 11, 2005 06:36 AM

It is always interesting to consider just how many of those who are both apologists for the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and/or staunch defenders of the use of torture by American forces, to include the CIA, are Chicken Hawks. Chicken Hawks have never tasted combat and seem to have little idea of just how messy and difficult combat really is. They what they know from movies or fantasies of what combat might be like. They also seem to completely ignore the reality that, as someone has already mentioned, that once you employ torture you have become no different in moral terms than the enemy.

Enough bad things happen on the battlefield as it is without introducing the unpleasant problem of the enemy feeling no restraints whatsoever to use "whatever means necessary" to obtain information from captured American soldiers. The Chicken Hawks never seem to our use of torture has consequences, very serious consequences.

The American military has long had to struggle with problems of morality on the battlefield. Contrary to what many may think, that struggle has largely been won by the forces of good. Our enemies in the past were always amazed as to how quickly the American soldier, sailor, marine, or airman turned from fearsome warrior to merciful soldier. No end of stories abound as to how our humane treatment of prisoners was in stark contrast with those of some of our enemies.

We have lost a good measure of the moral high ground just from the Abu Gharib scandal alone and the further erosion of the high ground by the secrecy at Gitmo and now the secret prisons in Eastern Europe do our cause no good.

We have always been the Good Guys. A naive and simplistic notion, perhaps, but one that we have always tried to live up to, even if the imperfection of humans ensure that we will never be as "good" as we would like to be. Our treatment of prisoners of war -- call them what you wish, but if there is indeed a "Global War on Terrorism," then that is exactly what they are -- is a crucial element in ensuring that we are the Good Guys in fact as well as by press release.

The use of torture very rarely produces any information of real value. Indeed, it often produces the opposite. This is something that the Chicken Hawks are clueless about, never heaving had to deal with such things themselves.

I spent 33 years in the Army and I am back here in Southwest Asia once more, 37 years after becoming a combat veteran in Viet-Nam. Every day I see and read the what the people here in the Middle East really think of us. The issue of torture is causing us no end of harm and alienating those moderating forces within the region who consider our hypocrisy with some jade amusement.

As an aside, "Patton's Ghost" is obviously ill-read (along with being a moron) since one of the things that Patton was vehement about was the proper treatment of prisoners taken by his troops. For all his fuss and bluster Patton was also a moralist at heart and fully understood the value of treating POWs humanely -- it made the enemy all that more willing to surrender.

I never cease to be both amazed and disheartened as to how some of the REMFs seem to think that this is all just some sort of a game, without either physical or moral consequences.

Posted by: Colonel Chip | November 11, 2005 07:08 AM

I am sorely disappointed at those on this board who were not convinced by "Patton's" persuasive use of all-caps, red text and wildly varying font sizes - you mean you need any more evidence than that to believe his assertions? How un-American!!

Posted by: steelyman | November 11, 2005 07:25 AM

The perpetrators of abuse at Abu Ghraib are perverts--sexual sadists and so probably is Patton's Ghost. But they were also traitors to their country, betraying a cause and probably contributing to the deaths of fellow soldiers by inciting hatred against Americans.

Posted by: Mark | November 11, 2005 07:53 AM

The perpetrators of abuse at Abu Ghraib are perverts--sexual sadists and so probably is Patton's Ghost. But they were also traitors to their country, betraying a cause and probably contributing to the deaths of fellow soldiers by inciting hatred against Americans.

Posted by: Mark | November 11, 2005 07:54 AM


Wake up. The Patton Ghost site speaks the truth. You are naive to belive otherwise. We are in a battle of civilizations which has been ongoing since biblical times. It is just a matter of time before the enemy hurts us much worse what we suffered in 9/11.

As soon as North Korea or Iran sells nuclear weapons to our enemies, we will look back at these times as moments of relative peace.


Posted by: John Davis | November 11, 2005 08:02 AM

Colonel Chip; thank you for your service to our country. Bloggers on this page should understand that their fundamental right to post opinions is rooted in the fact that men and women in uniform have defended this right since our sountry was formed.

Posted by: Robert Baumer | November 11, 2005 08:56 AM

JD's comment reveals the theology that drives the war on terrorism: evangelicalism's beliefs that the conflict between Judeao-Christian nations (USA = "Christian") and the Arab nations is rooted in the enmity between the sons of Biblical Abraham and therefore irreconcileable; and that Israel's nationhood in 1947 and Sadaam's reconstruction of Babylon and amassing of WMD (yeah, yeah) are signs of Jesus's Second Coming. Read the stuff these guys write! Their theology rationalizes hatred and war; Jesus weeps.

Posted by: BWS | November 11, 2005 08:58 AM

During the dark times in Argentina, the secret police would pick up "suspects" - people who had been fingered by informants. They tortured these people until they gave up names of accomplices. SInce almost all were innocent, to make the torture stop, they gave up names of mere acquaintances. Who were then picked up and tortured because they had been named, and until they named some one else......And so it went. The effectiveness of torture demonstrated...

The relative few Americans who travel or live abroad can atest to the fact that America has lost all moral authority over the last 5 years... Self professed Christians who Torture - or who tolerate torture by their agents... There is a large pit in the depths of hell reserved for such people.

Posted by: rick | November 11, 2005 09:01 AM

The American ethos is all about fair play, that's why we signed the Geneva Convention. Do we fight dirty (torture) when the other guy (terrorist) doesn't play fair?

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 09:19 AM

Some men (all tribes included) are just violent creatures -- inventing weapons to bully, steal land, enslaved, fight wars and killing many innocent peoples and the earth. What's a little torture?
My suggestion -- both sides, numbering the same, go to a battle field, in boxer shorts, with out gloves, of course in the same weight division and duke it out bare-fisted. The playing field is level and the winner takes all.

Posted by: jt | November 11, 2005 09:29 AM

There have always been people like "Patton's Ghost" among us. Every society has them. They are so insecure, paranoid, and scared of life that their only answer to a threat like we face is to wipe out whole populations. Anything more complicated than that is too complex for their weak, lazy minds.

The important thing is for society to expose them and ridicule their desire for genocide. Make sure the population understands that the vast majority of us strongly oppose this. This is what strong, responsible leadership is all about. Unfortunately, some leaders choose to appeal to people's dark side as a means of building and energizing their base, and keeping power. Unfortunately, we have such an administration in power today. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that Dick Chaney is Patton's Ghost.

Posted by: Trakker | November 11, 2005 09:33 AM

Chicken Hawk is certainly a very good description of the people in a government who tell us to overlook torture, loss of military and civilian (including Iraqi) lives and huge expenditures, and who themselves have never seen combat. Their children, I notice, are also kept safe from harm. If the cause is so necessary why are they not in uniform? Theodore Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin would be appalled! Where is your patriotism friends?

It is also a good point to note that we did not torture even Japanese prisoners (although we interred loyal citizens who were Japanese by birth and their families) despite the fact that Americans that fell into the hands of the Japanese could expect to be tortured or even starved to death. That is what made the United States a guiding light to the rest of the world. We have now given up that moral leadership and strength for a few bits of questionable information (we have been lied to more often than not apparently - see the news stories of the day) and to feel "manly" apparently like some hero in a cowboy movie. Apparently the dictators dictum that "I don't' care if they hate me, as long as they fear me" is now our policy as well. How long will it be under such a perverted philosophy before our democracy (which we are supposedly trying to export) declines and dies?

Posted by: Dave | November 11, 2005 09:34 AM

I think the point of the email is well taken, but not in the way he means. The kind of bullying that starts in elementary school, and the kind of sadism that still passes as "fun" in frat parties, are the first steps down the slippery slope of sadism and, finally, of loss of sense of the humanity of the other.
The British and the Germans learned this the hard way, from the amoral behavior of graduates of their brutal private school systems. We seem not to have learned this yet.

Posted by: Judith G | November 11, 2005 09:37 AM

Hello BWS,

Your message is thoughtfull and a pleasure to read, but unfortunately is an incorrect reason for my beliefs.

I am too simple to prescribe my reasons to bliblical prophecy. Its simply a matter of seeing reality.

We may have the pleasure of expressing our different views wihout worry. In fact, debate is encouraged in our society. Furthermore, we have the ability to change our minds as a result of a different point of view.

Our opponents do not have such a concept. Their society is completely foreign and different. They do not know or understand our way of life. And I assume that something so foreign to their state of mind must be synomous with evil.


Posted by: John Davis | November 11, 2005 09:38 AM

Jonah Goldberg, an excellent writer at National Review, makes this interesting observation:

As I said, I'm sympathetic to the idea of banning torture (much more so than I was a few years ago, I might add). But there's something else that bothers me about the pro-McCain argumentation. It's on display in this post by Andrew Sullivan. He cites Derb's (excellent) column against torture favorably. In particular he highlights Singapore's abuse of of a dissident. He then says:

"Those techniques - of freezing or heating detainees into despair or pain or psychological collapse - have now become part of the U.S. government's armory. This must end. We can win this war without destroying the very civilization we are fighting for. We can win without losing our soul. Any other kind of victory is a euphemism for defeat."
Now, just to be clear I am not taking the contrary position that we must or should use these techniques. But there are a lot of stolen bases built into Andrew's conclusion. First, there's the ahistorical problem I mentioned earlier. Can we stipulate that during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War One, World War Two, Vietnam etc that Americans committed some truly horrible deeds in the process of fighting those wars? John McCain's hero -- Teddy Roosevelt -- applauded tactics in the Phillipines that Andrew would no doubt condemn. Did we "destroy" our civilization then? Did we "lose our soul"?

The argument that using horrible tactics will cost us everything is predicated on the assumption that such tactics have never been used. For if torture costs us our soul and destroys our civilization, how is it that we have a soul or a civilization to lose at this late date to begin with? These tactics may cause individuals -- like Andrew -- to lose faith in our civilization or its soul, but it is not up to him to declare such things null and void if we go another way.

The additional thing that bothers me about this kind of argumentation is the subtle moral equivalence which seeps into these analogies. The victim Derb describes is a dissident. Terrorists are not dissidents. During the Cold War an army of useful idiots argued that there was no difference between the United States and the Soviet Union because we put "dissidents" in prison and so did the Soviets. The difference was that the people we put in prisons were criminals. The people they put in the Gulag were men of conscience like Solzhenitsyn and Sharansky.

Whatever you think of the torture issue, we should not lose sight of these very, very important distinctions. To so gliby equate an Abu Nidal with an advocate for democracy is a form of moral relativism on par with the rot contained in the phrase "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

One can make the argument that we should not torture mass murderers on moral or pragmatic grounds without elevating the moral status of mass murderers.


Posted by: D | November 11, 2005 09:43 AM

I don't think anyone can defend torture as a policy and I think it cheapens us as a society if we take part in it. That being said, our collective angst over abu-Ghraib and the like is a little misplaced. No one seems to remember Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, Fabrizio Quattrocchi (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3628977.stm), men who were butchered like cattle by the so-called "insurgents", or "militants", or, as the fringe left likes to call them, "freedom fighters". Their deaths, and the deaths of countless others get basically shrugged off in the media (unless of course you can find a way to blame the US, then it becomes like abu_Ghraib, a nonstop orgy of hand-wringing), THATS the true crime. Torture is bad and we should do all we can to make sure it is never policy, but making the US a greater evil than the monsters who purpotrate such heinous crimes, or even so flippantly equating Guantanimo with Nazi concentration camps or the Soviet gulag (Hello Sen. Durbin!!!!),is just disgusting.

Sorry, but I can't equate having panties on my head to having it sawed off

Posted by: Forza | November 11, 2005 09:46 AM

The CIA can't be pro-torture, it'd kill off their recruiting on college campuses. They'd be picketed as storm troopers, not the white knights of 9/11.

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 09:58 AM

The reason liberals generally lose in this type of thing is they really believe the American people are against torture and the general detention and beating of people who happen to be in the neighborhood at the wrong time. They are not.

In fact, I know many "upstanding" Americans who feel it's fine to tear someone's toes out if there's a chance it'll help somewhere along the line, and if we lock up someone innocent, well that's the breaks. After all, "if they weren't guilty of something they wouldn't be picked up".

Of course when it comes to THEM, then we need the ACLU and whatever cable news host is most sympathetic.

Posted by: asdg | November 11, 2005 09:58 AM

Turnabout says - "The American ethos is all about fair play, that's why we signed the Geneva Convention. Do we fight dirty (torture) when the other guy (terrorist) doesn't play fair?"

Turnabout forgets that the Geneva Convention is a reciprocal treaty between signatory nations. Al Qaeda never signed onto it, flouts all its rules, executes its captives - yet Turnabout "feels" that every such unlawful combatant should be treated as an honorable soldier???

The real treaty which IS operative in the badly named GWOT he is grasping for is the International Convention on Torture, which makes the definition of actual torture subjective - just as frustrating as the world so far being unable to agree on definitions to distinguish between a terrorist, a freedom fighter. 22 Arab nations have a stance that Jew-killing is automatically a "freedom fighter" function, for example.

Some people actually think that anything a captured unlawful enemy operating outside Geneva finds offensive is Tooooortuuuuure. That they have a right to remain silent, yadadada. Who tell us that monetary rewards and tasty halal meals will promote goodwill in dedicated Jihadis and get them to spill vital info. But who has gone for the 30 million offered for bin Laden info, or who honestly thinks a US soldier in enemy hands would be handed a beer and rack of ribs and start spilling frequency codes and weak spots in base security out of gratitude?

Some people have such a "we must extend all Consttutional rights to the foe or we lose them ourselves on a slippery slope" phobia they oppose any coercion. Besides rejecting ticking bomb scenarios presented to them, say any coercion is torture, including hypothetical painless 100% accurate truth serums, actual high tech devices in prototype that measure brain activity, eye changes between truth and lying.

Bottom line, torture has worked. People that claim they never told anything valuable under duress, like John McCain - are mostly liars. And the only reason we are having this debate is 2700 people killed on 9/11 is a piddling number not adequate to make America serious about doing what it takes to win. It simply requires more blood to be spilled before we do get serious.

Posted by: Chris Ford | November 11, 2005 10:04 AM

asdg makes the point that half of Americans are pro-torture (pro-choice). They vote Republican. Half of Americans are anti-torture (pro-life). They vote Democratic. What a crazy country we live in!

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 10:05 AM

To Chris Ford: I agree that Al Queda doesn't fight fair, but I can't remember John Wayne torturing any Indians, or bayonetting any Japs. Now if Dirty Harry was fighting ... Are we John Wayne or Dirty Harry?

I also agree that 2700 people killed on 9/11 is a piddling number. We're the most powerful country in the world, we can do whatever we want. We got a black eye on 9/11, we've recovered, why are we so worried about another punch?

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 10:11 AM

The webpage linked to the email reminds me of something every patriotic American should never forget:

George C. Scott was the certainly the finest General America has EVER PRODUCED!!!

Without HIM there is no way we would have won the BIG WAR, GENTELMAN!!!

Posted by: Michael | November 11, 2005 10:20 AM

pardon me, I meant "finest DAMN General."

Posted by: Michael | November 11, 2005 10:22 AM

For the pansies in the audience. The REAL Patton:

Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers ... Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The Bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know ... My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you'll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friends face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything, we'll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, What did you do in the great World War Two? You won't have to say, Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana. Alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all.

General George S. Patton, Jr.

Posted by: D. | November 11, 2005 10:23 AM

>>>>sorry, but I can't equate having panties on my head to having it sawed off.<<<<
That sort of rationalization is indicative how some"christians" have been able to use for justification, is difficult to justify. What about turn the other cheek, love thy enemy, etc. The conservative religious leader, or cammander in chief, of this pluralistic society has the power to dictate treatment of captives is not freedom. Debate and dissent can and will argue against torture and disagree on definition of this treatment. However, the Geneva agreement is and should be a standard of behavior. Compromising that is also promoting ideas contrary to accepted international agreed standards. Is the executive branch of this nation, the best judge?

Posted by: tommy | November 11, 2005 10:25 AM

If anyone is interested in what Patton really said, see: http://www.ussyorktown.com/yorktown/patton.htm

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 10:25 AM

Even better than the movie!

Posted by: D | November 11, 2005 10:27 AM

Michael: We would've won the big war if Patton had been replaced by one of the Andrews sisters (Eisenhower favored Maxene). I remember reading an account by a German gunner who said that every time a tank came over a ridge they would blow it up. The Germans ran out of shells before the Americans ran out of tanks.

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 10:31 AM

George Bush wanted to get rid of Saddam, but didn't. George Bush II got rid of Saddam, but couldn't get rid of Osama. What's up for Jenna?

I am hoping that in Saddam's trial that one of his war crimes will be that he helped Osama.

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 10:38 AM

It's easy to take digs at Christians, even fashionable since if you insult their God (you know, plays about Jesus being gay, etc.), they're not likely to be waiting outside the concert hall door waiting to slit the authors throat. Salman Rushdie, Theo Van Gough...well, enough said. And yes, Christians do believe in turning the other cheek. But we also believe in the idea of a "Just War". We turned the other cheek in Beruit, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, the Khobar Towers, The Cole, WTC in 1993, etc. 9/11 was the turning point from "turn the other cheek" to a "just war".

Posted by: D. | November 11, 2005 10:46 AM


This is disturbing. It is meant to be. The goal, I think, is to arouse emotions and suppress critical thinking. Hence the inflammatory language and all caps showing a sense of urgency.

Completely seperate from the actual content of this message, is an underlying meaning. This individual(s) is either incapable of coherent logic, or, just as scary, feels that the viewers are. I feel that one of the first places we are losing the war in preserving our democracy is early education. Logic is not taught, coherent criticism is not encouraged, emotional arguments are granted curriculm status, religious convictions are granted equal or superior status to rigorous scientific scrutiny and debate. Ultimately, thinking is discouraged and gut reaction is rewarded.

It would also help if we actually learned a bit of history and got current facts right.

People like this will always exist, unfortunately. But we don't have to let them run the county.

Posted by: Erika | November 11, 2005 10:53 AM

To D: Why was 9/11 a just war? Was America blameless before 9/11? Did we declare war on anyone? I think we could plausibly declared war on Afghanistan, not on Iraq. At least in WWII, after Pearl Harbor, we declared war on Japan. I wish Congress would declare war instead of the President going off and sending in the Marines whenever he felt like it.

I think Jesus was against war, he was big on turning the other cheek. How can one be a follower of Jesus and fight in a war? Perhaps there is some scriptural basis.

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 10:54 AM

I don't think the case has been adequately made yet for why countries that torture people even have a right not to be attacked? Doesn't torture (in so far as it is used to prevent attacks) retroactively justify those attacks?

Posted by: Thoughts? | November 11, 2005 10:57 AM

D: I think as far as Beruit, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, the Khobar Towers, The Cole, you have to accept the fact that because one is a world power, your people are always out there, and they will always be attacked, like flies biting the elephant's tail. I read somewhere that both Israel and Iraq have sunk Navy ships, yet we didn't go war with to either of them. I have always wondered what a reasonable tipping point to go to war is. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 11:01 AM

While we're confronting prisoner abuse, I implore Americans to also ask how our own States and Federal Bureau of Prisons are treating citizen inmates. As I recall, several of the soldiers convicted over Abu Ghraib had correctional (prison guard) backgrounds in the U.S.

I wonder how many prison guards have been activated with Guard or Reserve units for combat tours, and (a) how that leaves our Bureau of Prisons currently staffed, (b) whether these abuses reflect an ugly culture already common amongst correctional officers (that is, did these folks take sadism with them to Abu Ghraib -- and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and Romania?) and (c) how the seeming interchangability of law enforcement personnel and military reservists has affected domestic law enforcement practices, including guarding our prisons.

Do we have as many cops as four years ago?

Posted by: Jay Hurst | November 11, 2005 11:09 AM

I think you are referring to the radio ship USS Liberty, sunk off the coast of Lebanon by the Israeli air force during the 1973 war. 2,700 incinerated in the middle of NYC seems to be a reasonable tipping point to me. But this debate was not about the justification to go to war but the justification for torture, for which I can find no excuse for.

Posted by: D. | November 11, 2005 11:11 AM

Turnabout--In your comment about Jesus...the modern religious right, while claiming to be Christians, are actually Old Testament fundamentalists. If the ultra-conservatives were truly Christian, they would be supporting a lot more of the progressive agenda and be a lot less interested in federal funding of the wealthy. Matthew 25:45 "I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me."

Posted by: Erika | November 11, 2005 11:27 AM

To D: After googling, I also located the USS Stark, which was hit by Iraqi Exocets in 1987, but not sunk. saddam apologized.


Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 11:30 AM


Posted by: ps | November 11, 2005 11:36 AM

I take offense at the use of General George S. Patton Jr as a mouthpiece for torture. My mother served with General Patton as an American Red Cross Clubmobiler during WWII, coming away with a lifelong respect for Patton both as a soldier and a man. Patton wouldn't have gone along with the Cheney and Rumsfeld allowing torture which has given the US such a black eye in the world's opinion. He was a proud soldier, in the mode of John McCain and Colin Powell. He believed in honour and justice and war fought for a clear purpose, none of which is true in the case of Iraq.

Posted by: Prairdog | November 11, 2005 11:37 AM

Torture is one of those ethical issues, like abortion or gay marriage, with a lot of gray areas that people feel also strongly about. Could Dick Cheney be trying to distract us from the War in Iraq and the economy?

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 12:08 PM

I must respectfully disagree with Chris Ford and a number of other of the armchair generals here. The use of torture is rarely as effective as he and others seem to think it is. Yes, you can certainly make people talk and spill their guts because it is no secret that everyone has their breaking point. What the French found, as just one example, was that their use of torture during the Algerian War rarely produced the sort of information that they hoped for -- and it often took its toll upon those doing the dirty work. It certainly stained the honor of the French military for many years afterward.

The problem is ignored here by the Chicken Hawks (both here and in Washington) is that we have signed treaties that bind us to not use torture on those we capture on the battlefield. We once hung people whose defense was that they were simply "following orders." We are obligated to refuse to follow orders that illegal, unlaw or immoral. I could never condone an act of torture by those under my command. Even if given a direct order by the President, I would have to respectfully refuse to carry it because it is an immoral act. I would not have a moment's hesitation to stake my eagles on refusing to do so.

Contrary to what many seem to think, we combat types are not all knuckle-dragging, small-foreheaded simpletons who lust for war. This is because we actually have to fight them. We have to actually do the dirty work for others.

As trite as it sounds, winning the hearts and minds of the populace is one of the major objectives in peacekeeping and peacemaking operations. Torture is the antithesis of this. The harm that still lingers from Abu Gharib here in the Middle East will do so for a long time. Our great men and women in uniform conducting operations on OIF and OEF are living with the reality that a tousand attaboys ot attagirls can wiped out by one awshit.

I was not in favor of this war -- especially under the circumstances it was presented, but I didn't get a vote on it and folks like me simply play the cards we are dealt. As I mentioned, war is messy and nasty enough without have the problems of torture tossed in on top of all the other problems to sour the relationship we are trying to build with those in this region.

I have had to face life-and-death situations where we had detainees and we needed information and we needed it now. I can sleep better at night knowing that even as a young sergeant in the middle of area riddled with minefields I did the right thing and did not resort to, let us not mince our words here, torture. I will not deny that I was not tempted, but I also knew that it was wrong. I am not being self-righteous here, simply that I made a command decision. In this case, the person we had captured had been told that we would torture him. When we didn't, even placing ourselves in such a way as protect him in the fightfire that erupted not after we nabbed him, he offered to show us how to get out of that woodline unharmed and to move to our PZ.

I am sorry, but I have read some the comments here and just shake my head in amazement at how asinine they are.

Posted by: COL Chip | November 11, 2005 12:20 PM

Ghost of Patton did not "compare" Abu Ghraib to 9/11 or beheading, Ghost of Patton "contrasted" the events -- one would hope a newspaper writer would have a better command of the English language.

Posted by: janine | November 11, 2005 12:25 PM

It is funny to see the spoiled chickenhawk children of American conquerors debating what to do with the spoils of war that was bequeathed to them 50 years ago even as they spend themselves out of house and home, become fat as ever and evil as ever. The Empire is over people - better start attending to rebuilding your cities. Look at how the Bush and the Repugs are tanking - well, that is America in the new Century.

Posted by: | November 11, 2005 12:26 PM

To COL Chip: We didn't hang all the Nazis whose defense was that they were "following orders.", some German admirals got off with the defense that our Navy was using identical tactics. What Nuremburg teaches us is that there is a mirroring effect - we don't punish an enemy who plays by "the rules".

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 12:38 PM

I wonder if anyone thought to ask Amnesty Int'l or Human Rights Watch this?

"I will quote to you (from memory) a talk with a Latin-American revolutionary who told me about torture in Brazil.
I asked: 'What is wrong with torture?' and he said:
'What do you mean? Do you suggest it is all right? Are you justifying torture?'
And I said: 'On the contrary, I simply ask you if you think that torture is a morally inadmissible monstrosity.'
'Of course,' he replied.
'And so is torture in Cuba?' I asked.
'Well,' he answered, 'this is another thing. Cuba is a small country under the constant threat of American imperialists. They have to use all means of self-defense, however regrettable.' Then, I said: 'Now, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe, as I do, that torture is abominable and inadmissible on moral grounds, it is such, by definition, in all circumstances. If however there are circumstances where it can be tolerated, you can condemn no regime for applying torture, since you assume that there is nothing essentially wrong with torture itself. Either you condemn torture in Cuba in exactly the same way you do for Brazil, or you refrain from condemning the Brazilian police for torturing people. In fact, you cannot condemn torture on political grounds, because in most cases it is perfectly efficient and the torturers get what they want. You can condemn it only on moral grounds and then, necessarily, everywhere in the same way, in Batista's Cuba, in Castro's Cuba, in North Vietnam and in South Vietnam.'"

--Leszek Kolakowski, the great critic and student of Marxism, from an exchange with leftist E. P. Thompson, in his book, "My Correct Views on Everything."

Posted by: RD | November 11, 2005 12:49 PM

Say, could some of you all explain this problem with Syria letting all those bad guys into Iraq?
It seems to me that the Republikanz in Washington believe it is America's responsibility to keep bad guys out of America.
Why then, is it Syria's responsibility to keep bad guys out of Iraq?
Shouldn't Iraq guard its own borders?

Posted by: Joe Mc | November 11, 2005 01:04 PM

The Bush Administration is on the defensive-offensive on Iraq war. But its arguments sound quite hollow, not to say outright misleading.

In fact, today's Post report "Bush Aide Fires Back at Critics on Justification for War in Iraq" tries to cover up a number of fallacies.

According to the report, Stephen Hadley, president's national security adviser, has said: "Some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, they stated that belief and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements exposes the hollowness of their current attacks."

There are a number of fallacies involved in the above statement.

1) It was the administration that put out the information that Iraq possessed WMD. One of the two things must have happened: either it was misled by the American "intelligence community"; or "the intelligence community" itself was misled. The other thing is that the administration manipulated intelligence and stated that Iraq possessed WMD whereas it did not; then the authorization of Congress was sought and it went to war.

2) In any case, one would expect the administration to clear the fog. It must state clearly if it was misled; if intelligence itself was manipulated before it reached the administration; or if the intelligence community was misled in the first place. (If so, who did the mischief).

3) One or the other thing must have happened. So, the administration must clarify what happened.

4) What about the critics of war? They expressed doubts about WMD in Iraq. They supported efforts of UN weapons inspection. They supported explicit UN authorization for the war.

5) The administration was critical of the critics of war. It branded them as anti-American and unpatriotic. So some of the critics believed what the administration wanted them to. Because they were misled, intentionally or unintentionally, by the administration, some of them began to offer support for the war effort because they were told that attacking Iraq was the ONLY way to defend America.

6) Framed thus, the defence of the country became the most important concern. So, Americans who supported the war effort did so because they were TOLD that not supporting the war was tantamount to treason.

7) So, when Hadley says, "Republicans and Democrats alike" shared the view that Iraq possessed WMD, what does he mean? His statement could only mean that PEOPLE WERE MISLED.

8)Therefore, the million dollar question is: WHO MISLED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? What drove them to this? Why are they unrepentent?

These are the questions that need be answered.

Posted by: Jerry | November 11, 2005 01:13 PM

Going back to the torture discussion,I just read an article on MSN slate. David Cole is able to intelligently dissect the legalities in the White House's position. I would ask those that promote this torture "policy", consider reading the above mentioned article.

Posted by: stupid nurse | November 11, 2005 01:15 PM

Couple of clarifying points

There is a difference between torture and interrogation. I could say reading these posts was torture, but in reality the only thing abused was semantics. The US does need clear policy for personnel performing interrogations, unfortunately the language in McCain's doesn't help. But the notion that the techniques we have currently sanctioned comes close to torture, especially when compared to who we are fighting is head-up-the-arse ignorant. The fact is that actual torture is not an effective means to garner information from prisoners, be they prisoners of war, or unlawful combatants (terrorists) the intelligence community knows this, the Pentagon knows this, their policies demonstrate it. The public largely remains clueless. We need to be cognizant that our interrogation techniques should yield truthful, useful results and that physical torture typically does little or no good in that regard, and that most people in a position to engage in such activity should want useful intelligence as a result not broken bodies of prisoner that will say anything, be it truth, lie or fantasy, to make the pain stop.
That said, the blinkered idiocy of the notion that if exigent circumstances required real honest to goodness torture to save hundreds or thousands of innocent lives, it would make us as bad as those who would happily die in the process of murdering those innocents. I would argue that if you would not be willing to cut one of Zarqawi's fingers off to prevent another 9/11, it is you who have moral clarity issues.
Don't explain the rationale to me, explain it to anyone who's father or mother never came home from work on that day: "Sorry kid, your parent died because the unlawful combatant who flaunted every treatise on civilization we caught in Iraq with a bag full of heads burned the attack plans before we could read them, and then lawyered up on us - it's an important principle, and well worth it, because our enemies respect us even more."
Ask yourself , would you happily die(in a awful and painful manner) in order prevent the horror of a military or intelligence officer possibly degrading a murderous lunatic by making him stand in the corner and listen to Brittany Spears? How many innocent lives are worth the self esteem of a terrorist?
Another thing that is incredibly dishonest in this debate is the recurring theme that the abuses of detainees Abu Garaib by L. England and company is an example of sanctioned DOD policy, or that they have "blurred the lines" of what is acceptable by military and intelligence personnel, which is flatly untrue. These abuses would never have come to light were it not for a Pentagon investigation and military personnel engaging in self-correcting behavior. Miss England and her contemporaries are looking at jail time rather than promotions. Contrast this with the human rights abuses occurring there when Saddam was running the place, which were in fact encouraged, regime policy, you know say the wrong thing about Saddam's mustache in the wrong market, then get to watch your wife and children raped, beaten and fed feet first into an industrial shredder. Maybe if you're lucky you get shot in the head.

And please remember to go thank someone who served and put their life on the line, so you could sit here and read the Washington Post and engage in an open debate about current issues, it is Veterans Day after all.

Posted by: NJ-TGIF | November 11, 2005 01:21 PM

NJ-TGIF seems to confuse two different issues. Nobody disputes the fact that 9/11 was a horrendous event worthy of condemnation by any civilized person because it involved the loss of innocent lives.

That being said, the next issue is: Therefore, are we justified in inflicting torture? Any civilized person would answer: No.

It is not the Pentagon investigation that brought to light the Abu Ghraib torture. It was the courage and honesty of one soldier who believed that a civilized society such as ours should not indulge in such barbarous activities. (As for the torture photos, blame modern digital technology).

Posted by: Joe M. | November 11, 2005 01:50 PM

To Joe M: Maybe on this Veterans Day we should salute the soldier who took the Abu Garaib pictures. Moral courage isn't as medalled as battlefield courage is.

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 02:15 PM


You purposefully beguile the discussion.

"But the notion that the techniques we have currently sanctioned comes close to torture, especially when compared to who we are fighting is head-up-the-arse ignorant."

That "notion" is and should be utterly independent from the irrelevant "who" to which it applies. If you want to debate whether or not what we have engaged in is torture, than present your case. But bear in mind this discussion will concern OUR actions, not the actions of our enemies.

You also interjected a morally extraneous emotional appeal. Of course I would kill, torture, or maim someone who posed a threat to my dear Mother if I felt it would save her life. This doesn't mean vigilantism is morally culpable; it just means I love my mother! The debate is about the morality of torture, not the mentality of tortured people.

Demanding that we frame our moral reasoning from the perspective of a newly orphaned child makes objective discourse impossible. I'm not interested in what the besieged child's response would be; because that response is entirely predictable and irrelevant. If we really thought that victims of crime were better objective judges we would ask them, and not juries/judges, to render verdicts. Why have a judicial system at all?

Posted by: Will | November 11, 2005 02:17 PM

Col Chip - "I could never condone an act of torture by those under my command. Even if given a direct order by the President, I would have to respectfully refuse to carry it because it is an immoral act. I would not have a moment's hesitation to stake my eagles on refusing to do so."

You'd stake more than that if the men under you for a moment believe you care more for the lives and welfare of the enemy than your troops. At the minimum, you get letters from subordinates to higher ups and outside the chain of command to Congress or the media spelling out how "Colonel Chip" cost soldiers lives by refusing to interrogate enemy. Relieved of command in a combat situation is not just losing your birds, it means you would be ashamed to mention you were even once a soldier, Chip. If that didn't work, and they had no confidence in your capacity to lead, prevail, and not needlessly endanger them - they have affirmative measures to guarantee you are replaced by a better officer.

HJ-TGIF - "The fact is that actual torture is not an effective means to garner information from prisoners, be they prisoners of war, or unlawful combatants (terrorists) the intelligence community knows this, the Pentagon knows this, their policies demonstrate it. The public largely remains clueless. We need to be cognizant that our interrogation techniques should yield truthful, useful results and that physical torture typically does little or no good in that regard".

Nonsense. Since the days of the Red Terror, unlawful combatants, resistance groups, and spy networks have been arranged in a cell structure on the presumption that names will be tortured and beaten out of apprehendeded members in under a day and the cell is destroyed but the larger organization survives as long as the cut-out man is killed or avoids capture to prevent torture from revealing other cells.

In WWII, American soldiers would offer Japs or unlawful Italian or German combatants the choice between talking or execution and typically succeeded after one or two lined up were shot. In the Civil War both sides did unofficial, savage beatings to extract battlefield intelligence on the principle that one more dead or crippled enemy was worth saving thousands of your own.

Again, the reason torture has existed in every country at some time or another over the last 5,000 years is that it works - and gets rapid, fast battlefield or tactical intelligence. If it didn't work, it would have joined skull-bump reading, entrail-reading, animal or human sacrifice to the god(s), consulting oracles as failed methods of truth-telling in the dustbin of history.

I'm not saying it's good or bad, just that it works - and all organizations, including the US military, are arranged in warfighting structure on the presumption it will be effective on captured soldiers.

Posted by: | November 11, 2005 02:27 PM

Joe M.
No offense, I'm not confusing the two issues, at worst, I may be guilty of erecting a strawman (but not an inaccurate one) for the purposes of debate.

I agree that no civilzed person would condone torture for torture's sake. I disagree with the notion that a civilized person would not condone torture if the result of that torture prevented the loss of innocent life. Especially if the subject of the torture was themselves a party to that loss of innocent. I was using the prevention of a 9/11 style attack as an example. Please note this is a philisophical excercise, as I noted, that in the real world, physical torture is considered ineffective as a matter of intelligence gathering.

My second point is that we have to be very cautious about defining and misusing the term torture. I would agree that the detainees in Abu Ghraib were subject to unlawful abuse and assault that should be condemned, but was it really torture?
This is the part of the debate that is critical - pulling fingernails out is torture, making people wear bunny ears and singing showtunes might be abusive, but it ain't torture. Stress positions and simulated drowning are not something enjoyable, but if they are effective in yielding information than can prevent the loss of innocent life I think they are eminently justifiable.

Again I pointed out the McCain proposal doesn't do much for clarification as much as it makes people feel good, while tying our hands against enemies who would intrepret such policies as weakness.

Secondly, it was more than just one soldier who stood up against such activities. What did that soldier do? He alerted the authorities within the military, who do you think carried out the the Pentagon's investigation?, Why did it lead to court-martials? Most of the process for which was well underway prior to the press coverage. What did the press do? Sensationalize the story well out of proportion to the atrocities being perpetrated by the terrorists there, call it blood for advertising.

Posted by: NJ-TGIF | November 11, 2005 02:30 PM

Perhaps torture is OK on the battlefield, but not on your own citizenry? If torture is OK on the battlefield, is it also OK to carry prisoners away from the action and torture them at your leisure?

Posted by: Turnabout | November 11, 2005 02:41 PM

NJ-tgif, I agree to disagree. Your arguments would work for people with similar thoughts. That your ideas fail with others, you seem to take personally. On a veteran's day, I am made to wonder how the president thinks that history is being missinterpretted. Stonewalling, by minions helped for his reelection, go figure. Let the truth come out! Let the investigations cia leak, phase two of 911 come out before the election, not after! The torture definition that you use, and describe, can be viewed differently. Does that make your idea correct? I submit, that you would use the patriot excuse, and your with them, or us when one doesn't follow your plan, or train of thought. Distraction is common from this administration, and filters down to others, including you. So the topic of torture, the Geneva Convention, is to followed by this country regardless of what this administration or their lawyers say otherwise. That black and white answer seems to fail. I wonder why?

Posted by: buck | November 11, 2005 03:16 PM

I think I have to agree that the problem is how torture is defined. Partisan bickering aside, I think the line between legitimate interrogation (yes, being forced to listen to Britney Spears and the like) and torture ahould be clearly established. To what extent the McCain Amendment does that, I'm not sure.

Posted by: D. | November 11, 2005 03:34 PM

I worry that some of us are missing the point. When it comes to things like putting a man in underwear and making him listen to American pop music, of course it isn't torture. It is also completely unnecessary. Is anyone really concerned about our ability to combat terrorism is our Congress makes a symbolic move banning prisoner abuse? What are we sacrificing that is so vital to defensive operations, exactly, if we limit our soldier's ability to dress men up in women's underwear?

Posted by: Will | November 11, 2005 03:42 PM

To the anonymous writer:

Sorry, but I am willing to bet that you have never pulled the trigger and killed someone or had to drag the body of one of your team members through a rice paddy to a PZ after you and members of your team risked their lives to recover the body. It puts things in a very different perspective.

Your accusations as to my leadership abilities made me wonder if you would have the guts to say that to me face-to-face. I seriously doubt it. It does irk me. I would be glad to go eyeball-to-eyeball over this because I think that you are wrong.

Stooping to ad hominum attacks simply show a lack of understanding of the complexity of what commanders and leaders face. Not all of our decisons are going to be the correct ones and we weigh what say and do very carefully, even in the instants we are often forced to make decisions. I would rather do anything in the world than lose any of the men under my command; however, there are times when there are decisions and choices that have to be made. I have to make some of them, not all of them that I liked or that went as expected.

Believe me, I certainly know the difference between interrogation and torture. Far better than you do, I would imagine. I also know how quickly that line can be crossed. But, what most of us seem to be missing is that the torture and mistreatment is not happening on the front lines, but when those being detained are in custody.

It is this treatment that is inexcusable. Once you are hors de combat, you are subject to reasonable interrogation and reasonable efforts to gain intelligence. Many of the techniques used at Abu Ghraib were most certainly not reasonable. I find it unbeliveable that only a handful of enlisted soldiers have been prosecuted for this abysmal leadership failure.

The examples of torture cited are those of authoritarian states. Perhaps torture does "work" in some instances. But, if we are just as base and without moral direction, what makes us any better than our enemies. It is not easy for some to grasp that it is easy to lose that moral azimuth when we listen to the lesser angels of our nature.

Perhaps I simply don't understand the thought processes that some of you are using to come up with of these statements you make. Our treatment of prisoners is an important factor in winning the peace. Secret prisons, presidential authorizations of torure, the denial of those being detained from the sort of judical process that we claim to be an important of what America is supposed to all about. It is easy to start sliding down that slippery slope when we begin to think that the ends justify the means. Even if those means include torture and abandoning the moral high ground for the sake of expediency, often politically motivated expediency.

I wonder how many of you realize that our use of torture, real or imagined, places our own soldiers in situations that sanctions the enemy to treat our captured soldiers in any fashion that they wish, including torture and the denial of those rights accorded under the Geneva conventions? While it might be that they would abuse our soldiers regardless of what we do, that we provide them with a clear rationale for doing so is what makes me so angry about this whole nonsense. I just cannot fathom that we ignore this battlefield reality for what seems to be purely political reasons.

I also am amazed that John McCain, someone with experince with torture as a POW in Viet-Nam, is ignored by an administration whose actual military experience at the leadership level is about zilch. They are talking theory, his speaking from personal experience. I don't always agree with Senator McCain, but I certainly admire him. His pushing the torture issue and its broad support in the Senate is a sure sign that there is a strong sense that the administration and those supporting torture are the ones that are out of step.

Posted by: COL Chip | November 11, 2005 03:47 PM

Trying to make a philosophical point with people like that is simply an exercise in wasted words. Like so many armchair warrior conservatives, they spout banalities ("nuke 'em, fry 'em, Godless bastards), and broad brush arguments. Some of these are viscerally appealing, until you calm down and realize that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Rush the gasbag and his ilk appeal to the congenitally dimwitted.
As for the executive privilege argument for torture, that fails the smell test AND the dumb test. This is NOT a top down government, to use the business analogy--its very inefficiency is peculiarly comforting when the alternative (fascist dictatorship) is considered. These guys want you to be lemmings, and will gladly watch YOU go over the cliff in the end while they step aside and solemnly intone "mistakes were made".
We will be rid of them in 3 years, but the stain and stink they've placed upon us will take a generation to cleanse (and pay for).

Posted by: Dan | November 11, 2005 04:14 PM

Most of the guys I know who think torture is okay also support racism, the taking of charity from the truly needy so that "they can stand on their own two feet", discrimination against non-white, non-male, non Christians (they tend to look confused or resort to name calling and ad hominem attacks when asked about non-white christians or about the rights of their own mothers or sisters) - yet they claim to be Christians. Generally, they have been raised in relatively wealthy families and have never (and probably would never - even when under attack by a foreign country - step up to fight for the country they claim to love). When I call them out (and I frequently do) by calling them cowards and/or pussies unwilling to stand up for their professed beliefs, they become very sheepish. God, it's sickening. Called a pussy directly to their faces, and they won't even defend their own honor (after all, them's fightin' words). What cowards. Absolutely no honor whatsoever. I hope we start drafting them and their children. americans, my ass.

There's nothing worse than a coward.


Posted by: smafdy | November 11, 2005 05:00 PM

I think some people put far too much stock in violence as a useful tool in interrogation. It is not! I can understand that in the heat of battle someone might be threatened and in that split second be so scared that they would tell the truth, but there is also the problem that some of the people being interrogated might not know what you would want to hear, so they may make things up. A lot of our basis for the war was founded on such lies.

As to saying that people who disagree with the war in Iraq or with the use of torture, were also be against our attacking Afghanistan I can only say you may wish so, but that is usually not the case. I supported the Afghan war (an argument could have even been made for attacking certain parts of Saudi Arabia), but the admittedly evil Saddam Hussein DID NOT ATTACK US! Where were we when he gassed the Kurds? Or the Iranians? He was our ally then, as are equally slimy governments of some of the former Soviet republics in Asia. When do we start clearing the world of all evil regimes?

As for Col. Chip- He is right on the money. He may be in fact one of the few people who has some basis for a clear opinion. If you want to honor our troops don't send them to fight a nearly hopeless war for questionable goals. And certainly don't put young men and women in the position of torturing somebody (to death in some cases as the military has admitted, not just putting panties on their heads.) It may do as much psychological harm to them as to their subject.

All you brave people who believe in torture should certainly be put in the field in something more than an armchair war- you are ready to fight, but for what cause?

Posted by: Dave | November 11, 2005 05:09 PM

Col Chip - "I also am amazed that John McCain, someone with experince with torture as a POW in Viet-Nam, is ignored by an administration whose actual military experience at the leadership level is about zilch. They are talking theory, his speaking from personal experience."

The personal experience he had but never talks about is that torture DID make him spill his guts, discuss target briefings, carrier ops, and make two propaganda tapes.

"Your accusations as to my leadership abilities made me wonder if you would have the guts to say that to me face-to-face. "

If your moralistic vanity, proclaimed willingness to refuse a Commander in Chief's orders, and squeamishness needlessly cost lives I'd be not talking to you but detailing your dereliction of duty to your superior officer with you IN the room.

"Colonel Chip" again - "I wonder how many of you realize that our use of torture, real or imagined, places our own soldiers in situations that sanctions the enemy to treat our captured soldiers in any fashion that they wish, including torture and the denial of those rights accorded under the Geneva conventions?"

If you're "Colonel," Chip, I'm "Captain Crunch".

We already know how radical Islamists treat captured Iraqi Army, Soviets, Afghan & Pakistan Army troops, the few Americans they have captured. They automatically execute them - with or without torture. They are not signatories to Geneva, nor bound by it or the laws of war in any way. They are unlawful combatants. What guides America on unlawful combatants, including American citizens in unlawful combat positions warring on fellow Americans is Ex Parte Quirin, which said it was OK to try and execute such people by military tribunal or summary court martial. Your logic that if we fail to give unlawful combatants not bound by Geneva - full Geneva protections or otherwise Country Y in the future that is a co-signatory to Geneva will not be bound by it is as specious as the rest of your logic.

Future country Y, even organization X, will be either signatories expecting humane treatment and compliance with the rules of war in a conflict with the USA, or they will elect to be unbounded - and accept the beneficial or adverse consequences of their decision. Nothing country Y, organization X, or the USA did in the past should predicate the decision of the warring parties to comply or not comply with Geneva. We could theoretically withdraw from the Geneva Treaty in mid-war if Congress and the President say so. Britain notoriously did not treat 1950s African insurgents with Geneva protections because they were outside the rules of war themselves. But that did not stop wars fought later by the Brits against the Argentinians and Iraqis from being fought on both sides by Geneva rules. (And the US treats captured enemy "mostly" complying or fully complying with rules of war - like the Taliban and uniformed Iraqi soldiers as honorable POWs. Not so terrorists or other unlawful combatants.

Following the "Colonel Chip" approach does not honor Geneva Treaties, but by maintaining that we are obliged to treat violators as if they never did violate provisions and extend our sides treatment of them as if they were honorable soldiers, it undermines Geneva Conventions. Without penalty, all we do is introduce perverse incentives for others to disregard Geneva Conventions if they face us in war, since the "Colonel Chip" approach blanches in fear at treating such unlawful combatants in a manner that penalizes their violations...

I like the basic framework - operating behind enemy lines out of uniform doing sabotage and assassinations etc., gives the enemy huge advantages - but is discouraged under Geneva by saying those enemy if captured are outside the Geneva Rules for fair and humane POW treatment - nothing protects them. But many like Colonel Chip want to give terrorists those protections.

Posted by: | November 11, 2005 05:33 PM

The cry of the Right:
2001 - We decide when the rule of law prevails, it certainly doesn't cover treatment of Arabs or things we do that we don't get convicted for.

But I digress. Yes, there's a fog of war, and after you watch your buddies get blown to bits and narrowly escape youself its not reasonable to expect the adrenaline surcharge to just stop when you come upon an enemy. To wit, the soldier who shot the wounded man recorded on TV cameras - he was scared witless for his life and when he thought someone might be faking he shot first and asked questions later.

But what happened at Abu Ghraib and way more places than we'll admit to is different. The standard for how to treat the prisoners came from above (probably Cheney), but its the grunts on the lines we fed to the lions for carrying out their orders. I have problems with that - not punishing the grunts, but letting their superiors off scott free, who should have had at least double the punishment.

The right wingers I know responded to Abu Ghraib with "but they're terrorists". The Red Cross said 70-90% of the prisoners there were innocent - caught up in sweeping raids when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And sure enough, we let at least 2/3 of the prisoners go after the scandal broke. If they were terrorists why did we let them go? If they were innocent, do your really think torturing them is going to win the PR war over there?

Why does the PR war matter so much? The world is at a crossroads. Western religions and family life and science and technology are declining. Here in the US parents have shockingly abdicated responsibility for disciplining their children and feeding their spirituality. Instead of preparing our next generation of the best and the brightest, our best math and science graduate students are Chinese, and we're replacing teaching the rigor of the scientific method with a magician God. Meanwhile Islam and China are rising. Will it be a glorious Islam that builds libraries and universities and joins with China to build the next golden age (remember the last Islamic golden age 1000 years ago, and remember before then when Iraq had the hanging gardens of Babylon)? Or will it be the Islam of the Taliban, of revenge for the inquisition?

We had the sympathy of the world on 911. We could have used it to create scorn for radical Islam, to get teh people to rise up agaist those who hijacked their religion. Instead we not only failed to take down Bin Laden and the brains of his outfit, we gave it new purpose and zeal. WE made BinLaden, and WE made al Zakawari. It may not be too late - the people of Jordan may create a rising tide of backlash againt the terrorists, but its still in hte balance. Competent leadership is CRITICAL now more than ever. The PR war is the most important war we're fighting right now. And Dick Cheney is losing it for us. Can you impeach the VP?

Posted by: patriot1957 | November 11, 2005 05:41 PM

"unlawful combatants? oh treating them in a manner that penalizes their violations..."
I realize I did not quote you exactly, but your logic that unlawful combatants deserve punishment or otherwise undermine Geneva convention.

Captain Crunch I just don't follow your reasoning. Because the terrorists, enemy, hasn't signed the agreement that makes it ok to tortue? Truth, justice, and the American way is obsolete and thrown in the dustbin.

Captain you seem to disregard the concept of freedom, justice, because their methods seem unlawful to you. Were our ancestors lawful in taking land from the previous occuppants? History will judge the American behavior and especially the executive branch that has unilaterally decided the appropriate response to the enemy.

Somehow the torture discussion has to attack senator McCain. He did "spill his guts". So, he is not able to relate his experiences because of his failure to with stand the "torture". Crunchie you can be judge, jury, and executioner with that logic. The senator is a miserable failure and deserves your vindictive venom. I suggest the high horse you rode in on is very lame!

Posted by: | November 11, 2005 06:10 PM

The 9-11 terrorists were muder-suicide criminals (conspiracy was also involved) - not an army, not a sovereign nation. The GC could not apply to them. The successful suicide murderer is beyond punishment. Our involvement in Iraq could (with plenty of intellectual grease and doubletalk), be argued to be a "Just war". Nontheless, I think it was a criminal action (solo attack on a soverieign country under world body sanctions, jurisdiction, and control). "The Law" goes out the window, and with it the ability to "penalize" the criminal (penalty being a legal concept). The law (our laws and the GC) DOES protect criminals. It protects them from torture by sadists seeking the magis to apply their sadism. It protects them from cruel and unusual punishment. Torture isn't about intelligence - it's about revenge and sadism. And, god help us, what if the subject of the torture is innocent?

The "dissappeared" (even if they were enemy combatants) are still people (maybe even evil people) and deserve protection from the animals while society metes out an appropriate punishment for their crimes (after a trial). Those condoning torture, under any circumstances, are subhuman.

Posted by: Smafdy | November 11, 2005 06:19 PM

"Because the terrorists, enemy, hasn't signed the agreement that makes it ok to tortue? Truth, justice, and the American way is obsolete and thrown in the dustbin."

The Geneva Convention is a reciprocal treaty that binds both sides. It's just like a contract. One side doesn't abide by the terms, the deal is nullified. People totally forget that. They somehow think that once we signed, we are obligated as nice people to do a one-sided obedience. If the other side massacres every American trying to surrender in battle, somehow we are still obligated to accept their surrender and give humane treatment? No. The deals off. Are we obliged not to ever target civilian concentrations, say, if several of our cities are wasted in an attack? Geneva says no hitting civilian targets....but if one side does...the expectation is the other side will also fall out of Geneva compliance and reciprocate. Unlawful combatants normally had a very short life expectancy, until this past 20 years or so. If they face no adverse consequences - like execution unless they are of intelligence value - you only encourage others NOT to follow Geneva Convention rules.

But that butts up against the nebulous Human Rights Convention on Torture. Because telling an unlawful combatant they will be shot unless they spill their guts is Tooooooortuuuure! The rest of that document is similarly hopeless because every NGO nation and terrorist group has different definitions of what exactly constitutes torture, humiliation, and degrading treatment.

Smurfy writes - The 9-11 terrorists were muder-suicide criminals

No, they defined themselves as part of an army at war with every man women and child in the USA. Their cause is holy, and not one of the hijackers or their supporters saw them as murder-suicide criminals. They are soldiers. Unlawful combatants, but soldiers working for a transnational, militarily organized group.

"Torture isn't about intelligence - it's about revenge and sadism. And, god help us, what if the subject of the torture is innocent?"

No modern military organization wastes time, resources, and manpower in wartime torturing the enemy for the fun of it. The last to systematically do regular torture and put effort into it for purposes other than intel, were the Japs. They thought it was a good morale builder. The US troops responded to this behavior by taking few Jap prisoners.

"And, god help us, what if the subject of the torture is innocent?"

There is nothing "guilty or criminal" about the soldier you have in your gunsights and kill. Outside war, he is an innocent man. POWs are not criminals. In war, everyone you kill, maim, wound, torture is presumed innocent. The only "guilty" are those unlawful combatants and those later convicted of war crime atrocities.

"Those condoning torture, under any circumstances, are subhuman."

Name your favorite leaders in history that ran a nation, especially those wartime leaders. Chances are 2/3rds of those people you admire so had sanctioned "torture" done under them, had even personally ordered torture.

Posted by: | November 11, 2005 08:44 PM

The fact that no European country wants to admit that it has CIA torture prisons on its soil is clear evidence that these are taboo there, and rightly so. What is in question is more than just a crime against humanity it is a question of living by genuine moral values shared by all of humanity. Europe's experience of Auschwitz and Gulag is still fresh and so I am not at all surprised that they condemn torture so strongly.

It is all too easy to blame "Old Europe" and/or "New Europe" for their own complicity in torture in times past. However, instead of blaming Europe for condemning CIA-sponsored torture we must be grateful to them because those who are our allies act best when they help us correct ourselves.

So, America needs to change course. It must reveal the full truth about its torture chambers in Europe, Afghanistan, etc. and must embrace the letter and spirit of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and International Covenants. When we say, "All men (and women) are created equal," we must mean what we say otherwise we will look and sound like hypocrites.

Posted by: Jack K. | November 11, 2005 10:43 PM

The actions of the 9/11 terrorists were crimes - not military actions. While the scale was grand, the crime was still murder. There is no true "war" on drugs, no true "war" on crime, no true "war" on poverty, nor is there truly "war"on anything else that is not nation vs. nation or state vs. state. Those criminals used box cutters, stole a vehicle, and committed murder/suicide. Yes, they conspired, and their co-conspirators are still at large and active. The don't have Generals, they have ring leaders. Blurring the line is VERY dangerous.

Our military (the strongest, most advanced "modern" military on the planet, by the way), is (until they were hijacked by the ever so cowardly and spineless neocon pussies) against the use of torture as a means of gathering intelligence. John McCain (not a pussy), as we have read, is a victim of such treatment. Did he "crack"? Probably. I'm sure anyone would - even a completely innocent person chosen, at random, off of the street would admit to kidnapping the Lindberg baby if you hurt them bad enough. So everybody lay off McCain - he suffered for you.

And let's not forget how much all of that torture helped the "Japs" win the war. Read your history of WWII, (and of the Japanese occupation of China), and you will see that the Japanese were, indeed, and to an undeniable degeree, sadists. And yes, the innocent were tortured.

Likewise, the Nazis threw Jewish infants into the air and used them for target practice. Are you really trying to say that this type of behavior wasn't sadistic and that the perpitrators didn't enjoy it? Puhleeze.

"No modern military organization wastes time, resources, and manpower in wartime torturing the enemy for the fun of it." Oh, yeah, let's not forget the looks on the faces of our troops at Abu Graib. Are you actually going to try to say that they werent enjoying themselves? Think BEFORE you type!

I agree that there's nothing innocent or guilty about a soldier in your sights. But he's a soldier, and he's trying to actively and concurrently kill you and yours. Shooting him is a far cry from strapping him down and beating him until his organs fail. People who do such things are the ones later subjected to war crimes trials - not the soldier shooting an opponent during a battle.

If I found out that ANY of the leaders I admire had sanctioned torture, I would no longer admire them. But I offer you these fellows: Jesus, Mohammed, Buddah, the Dali Lama, MLK, Jr., Ghandi. While they didn't run nations, the did bring a few down - by conducting themselves, and instructing their followers to behave, in a manner directly opposed to torture.

Torture is weak and cowardly.

Americans are strong and brave.

Where in the hell did you go to school? if you're going to be an apologist, at least make some valid points.

Posted by: Smafdy | November 11, 2005 11:25 PM

On this Veterans' Day, the White House and the Administration are taking extraordinary pains to project a wrong image of all who are demanding an inquiry into what went wrong with pre-war intelligence and how that intelligence was "fixed" to suit political interests in this war of choice.

It is not only Democrats who push for an impartial inquiry into all of this. It is the AMERICAN PEOPLE - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - who want to know the TRUTH.

The reasonable response of the Administration must be to start an independent inquiry (and give full freedom of action to other commissions of inquiry already in place) to establish whether

1) intelligence was "fixed" by CIA and other agencies;

2) what evidence was presented with cautions and reservations by the CIA was rewritten by the Administration as certain and beyond doubt and thus presented the American public (the famous "16 words" included);

3) political and not national security motives were behind the invasion of Iraq.

Some might raise an objection here. According to them, it would be a costly distraction to go into the issue of pre-war intelligence at this moment when we have to be focused on defeating "the enenmy" in Iraq.

Well, how about doing both - continue to support the war effort (we are stuck with it, anyway) AND simultaneously let a thorough inquiry be conducted to clear all doubts and suspicions regarding the "manipulation" of intelligence?

Posted by: Joe | November 11, 2005 11:57 PM

Bush's speech today was nothing but repetition of the old lies. The talking point they have settled on is that 'everyone' thought Saddam had WMD back in Jan 03. Rot.

The consensus was that Iraq _probably_ did not have them, but it's hard to ignore an insistent superpower's leadership, no matter how plainly war-mongering they were. Therefore, let's put inspectors in Iraq to uncover the truth. Of course, that was not good enough for the Bush gang. They wanted an invasion, pure and simple. WMD had next to nothing to do with it. IOW, not even THEY believed that Saddam had significant WMD, much less the rest of the world.

As Mike Malloy has observed tonight, back then, we were told, "If you knew what we know, you'd be for the invasion." Now we are being told we DID know what they knew, only we were all wrong.

Man, these guys are shameless. Their answer to being caught in a passel of lies is to step up the lying.

Ain't it grand that Rove is back on the job?

Posted by: johnuw93 | November 12, 2005 12:17 AM

Smafdy you fucking moron -

"But I offer you these fellows: Jesus, Mohammed, Buddah, the Dali Lama, MLK, Jr., Ghandi. While they didn't run nations, the did bring a few down - by conducting themselves, and instructing their followers to behave, in a manner directly opposed to torture."

Not too up on Mohammed, are you? And what he did in Medina, and the various Islamic punishments, ey? Take some time to read the Koran and the Hadiths about your precious Mohammed and the killings, punishment, and torture he endorsed. And, reporters and former FBI agents on the MLK beat said Saint Martin rather enjoyed beating up and degrading prostitutes and dates set up for him in the towns he visited.

"Where in the hell did you go to school?"

Obviously at a school that stressed education more than the one you attended.

"Did he (McCain) "crack"? Probably. I'm sure anyone would - even a completely innocent person chosen, at random, off of the street would admit to kidnapping the Lindberg baby."

No, you are saying he and others tortured only revealed bogus intel. Pathetically trying to perpetuate the meme that no one ever reveals the truth under coercion, that the prisoner is automatically smarter than the interrogator...The truth is they fooled the NVA interrogators at times, but more often than not, gave up the truth. When they lied, the NVA had the ability to cross check what other pilots, sometimes in the same squadron, said.

"The actions of the 9/11 terrorists were crimes - not military actions...."

Yeah, sure. 19 people who had been to military training camps in Afghanistan operating under a military command and control system, seeking no financial gain but targeting a nations economic, military and political hearts with flying bombs carrying the explosive equivalent of 200 tons of TNT were not military....they were criminals! Yeah, that's the ticket! The same criminals under the 1998 Declaration of War Fatwa who now seek WMD as a religious duty to Islam....according to the follow-on 2002 Fatwa.

Posted by: | November 12, 2005 01:02 AM

We Americans will never win a major war as long as it is limited. It started in Korea (stalemate) and continued on in Vietnam (loss). (We had Hanoi on its knees at one point and then stopped bombing. WTF?)

Americans do not have the patience to see such a long-term limited conflict through to its end. What we need is not only Patton, but W. T. Sherman and Curtis LeMay, given the power to bring this conflict to the bitter and horrible end as quickly as possible. They should fear us, damn it. I don't give a damn what they think about us.

Packistan and Syria should be on our short list.

This stuff at Abu should never had leaked out. That is the problem. Mild and goofy stuff like that should have been handled internally.

And all the people crying foul now, who were so horrified at the 9/11 and Pentagon attacks, do not have the stomach to fight these bastards, which includes performing a lot of unsavory acts along the way, and for a long time if it is to remain a limited war.

They came here and attacked us! They came here and violated our way of life. Remember those idiots over there celebrating in the streets on 9/11? I will never forget that. All those fanatics must be destroyed.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE | November 12, 2005 01:31 AM

McCain is right. It's not about who THEY are, it's about who WE are.

And alas, from reading message boards and noting how many of my fellow citizens share the views of the your e-mail correspondant, that IS what they are, and what they want us to be.

But it's not who -I- am, and if that's what we're going to be, then the bad guys and the world at large is correct to hold us in contempt. If that's who "we" are, then yes, "we" are contemptible.

I prefer to think that's NOT who we are, and fortunately for my belief in this country, 90 senators and the general public are, overwhelmingly, on MY side. That's not who or what we are.

Posted by: FJ | November 12, 2005 04:00 AM



GRAHAM'S AMENDMENT passed! I heard it on the Rachel Maddow show this morning :-( A democracy is no place for Stealth amendment or law passage. There should be mandatory publication of Congressional activity, followed by a period for public comment BEFORE a VOTE is Cast by Congress! This would inform 'we the people' about what laws we will have to live with if the law passes, and give Congress time to read all the material to understand what they are voting for.

From News Day article:
"The unusual provision, passed by a 49-42 vote, would reverse a Supreme Court ruling last year that permitted inmates to file habeas corpus petitions, triggering hundreds of lawsuits from prisoners who said they were being held with no basis."

This needs to be challenged immediately, starting with the FIVE Democratic Senators who voted for it!

According to the New York Times:
"The five Democrats voting for the bill were Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon."

Additionally there were 2 Democrats who did not vote!!!Corzine - New Jersey (didn't vote) and Inouye - Hawaii (didn't vote). If the Democratic Yes Votes and those who abstained had voted NO, this amendment would have been defeated!!
This information came from the following commentary :

The appropriations bill, to which it is attached, is expected to be up for final vote next week. This is what it does:


From The Center for Constitutional Rights:

Bush's New Assault on Democracy: Habeas Corpus Stabbed in the Back


The Bush Administration, through an amendment introduced by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, has just successfully stripped federal courts of jurisdiction to hear applications for habeas corpus brought by those unilaterally declared enemy combatants without any process and held by the U.S. indefinitely throughout the world and even in the United States. This was accomplished by means of a last minute amendment to the Military Authorization Bill, brought up on the floor of the Senate without committee deliberations and virtually no advance warning to the American people that it was happening.

Description and Status

It was not only human rights groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights, but many in the military or retired from the military who opposed the Graham amendment: Judge John Gibbons, who argued the landmark CCR case Rasul v. Bush before the Supreme Court, John Hutson, Dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center and former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy, and the National Institute for Military Justice, among others, wrote open letters to the Senate to oppose the dismantling of habeas corpus.

The Graham amendment will create a thousand points of darkness across the globe where the United States will be free to hold people indefinitely without a hearing and beyond the reach of U.S. law and the checks and balances of the courts enshrined in our Constitution. The last time this country suspended habeas corpus was for the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II, a travesty that is now universally recognized as a blot on our nation's history. The purpose of the writ of habeas corpus has always been to relieve those wrongfully held from the oppression of unchecked executive power. The most reliable way to determine whether someone is properly held or a victim of injustice is to have a right to judicial review of the detention. This has been understood at least since the proclamation of the Magna Carta in 1215.

While the Administration and its supporters have tried to characterize the men being held at Guantánamo as the worst of the worst against all evidence, the fact is that even the military has admitted that they often apprehended the wrong people. Most have no ties to Al Qaida, many were turned over to the U.S. for bounty, and many more were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they have no way to appeal their innocence or their status, they will be left to rot in detention indefinitely.

Senator Graham's jurisdiction-stripping efforts come as allegations of secret CIA detention facilities around the world dominate headlines; the Bush Administration has consistently sought to put itself above the law and evade oversight and accountability for torture and other abuse. It is no secret that arbitrary indefinite detention and widespread prisoner mistreatment have taken and continue to take place at Guantánamo and other U.S.-run facilities. The Graham Amendment will only serve to reinforce the growing perception in the world that the United States has become an enemy of human rights.

As has been the practice of this Administration, this latest scheme was accomplished stealthily and in secret. The Center for Constitutional Rights vows to continue to fight for the rule of law. We will not allow American democracy to be eroded a little at a time, until, finally looking around, we can longer recognize what has become of this democratic nation."


Tell everyone you know about this amendment. Please help stop it before it becomes law. If it passes, ANYONE AT ALL could be detained without being able to the defend themselves in a court of law.

See my comments and post from yesterday on this subject:

http://www.choicechanges.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=162 Here is a direct link to petition the Senate to stop Grahams ill conceived stealth admendment:


Note: Here is a direct link to petition the Senate to stop Grahams ill conceived stealth admendment:


Posted by: Che | November 12, 2005 05:45 AM

If you're "Colonel," Chip, I'm "Captain Crunch".

Dear Captain Crunch:
I never cared much for your cereal and even less for your opinions.

I am a real Army colonel who retired after 33 years of service as both an NCO and officer, someone who started off his career in Viet-Nam as a member of a Lurp (LRRP) unit that became a Ranger company once the 75th Ranger Regiment was stood up in early 1969. I also did a stint with 5th SFG. I then went on to the usual things associated with the military during the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and retired a bit over two years ago.

I now find myself back in Southwest Asia, something that my family is less than enthused about since it was thought that my last deployment was well behind me.

I was all for taking out Saddam, but doing it the way we did it. He and his henchmen used torture as a matter of fact. That made them the Bad Guys. We come along in one of the very same prisons that Saddam used to mistreat, abuse, and torture prisoners we do something so boneheaded and utter stupid that was far from "Just having a little fun," and which has had consequences that were the equivalent of tossing gasoline on a burning building. As I have mentioned, I find it amazing that so few have been naiked on this since it went much further than just a handful of USAR soldiers "having fun."

CPT Crunchie, folks like you and the twisted, even perverted, ideas that you hold on subjects such as torture, human rights, and the essence of what used to make America the beacon of Liberty, Freedom, and Justice make me sick to my stomach.

While I fully support your right to have an opinon and to be able to publicly voice it without fear of being locked up for voicing it, I also have no problem raising my voice in opposition to your opinions with which I very much at odds. It reminds me as to what happens when the nation is hi-jacked by numbskulls from either side of the political spectrum. How our nation can be seen as even hesitating to condemn the use of torture is beyond me.

This is probably one of the more intelligent things written during this so-called "debate" on the topic:

"McCain is right. It's not about who THEY are, it's about who WE are."

I certainly don't want to be lumped in with the CPT Crunches of this world. And, I am willing to fight to ensure that CPT Crunches of America are relegated to the sidelines so that the bile they spew is taken as the nonsense that it is.

Posted by: COL Chip | November 12, 2005 07:23 AM

Emily, according to US law prisoners have the right to contest their imprisonment before a judge ("habeas corpus"). But this great legal tradition has been practically nullified if not vitiated by Senate vote Thursday. This means that even after four years in custody in Guantanamo Bay, the hundreds of detainees held there would not be allowed to challenge their detention in federal court.

Are we becoming a nation of lawlessness?

What happened to the 2004 supreme court decision that held that detainees have the right to sue?

Coupled with the recent revelation of offshore torture bunkers this recent attack on the legal rights of detainees sends the wrong signal not just to our allies and friends (whose number seems to grow increasingly smaller) but to our enemies as well.

Posted by: Lea | November 12, 2005 08:14 AM

Post's Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus deserve praise for their penetrating analysis of the inconsistencies contained in the administration's recent outburst against critics of the Iraqi invasion. (See

The article shows with ample evidence that 1) the intelligence made available to Congress was just what the administration wanted it to see; much of it was withheld;
2) the commissions inquiring into the use of prewar intelligence were NOT AUTHORIZED to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted the intelligence analysts' conclusions.

If Post's analysis is accurate the administration's criticism of those who point out that prewar intelligence was manipulated to justify war falls flat on its face.

Posted by: Joe | November 12, 2005 08:48 AM

This is a response to a post by Andy Vance concerning Rush Limbaugh's "moral measuring stick". Andy, Limbaugh's moral measuring stick is a classic example of moral relativity.

Believe me when I say that if the exact same set of circumstances had happened under a Clinton, or Gore, or Kerry administration, Rush would be burbling the same sort of outrage that we are presently hearing from Bush's critics.

What is frustrating is that Limbaugh never, ever subjects himself to the sort of crucible that most pundits suffer when they make outrageously inconsistent statements. Limbaugh is a completely self-contained unit with absolute control over the content of his program and is so craven and cowardly that he will not appear as a guest in any format that is not subject to the same rigid controls over the dialogue.

In fact, when I look at how George W. Bush operates, I am struck by the remarkable similarity in how he utilizes the same stage-managed techniques that Limbaugh uses, particularly the almost manic need to be protected from hearing any serious challenges to his rather specious, faith-based view of the world.

Posted by: Jaxas | November 12, 2005 09:27 AM

Some have begun to argue that the provision "habeas corpus" should not be available to the so-called "enemy combatants." That's ridiculous! First of all, over 90% of the enemy combatants have been jailed not for any specific crimes but just because they were "suspected" of having connections with terrorism. If so, bring charges against them!! If they are innocent, release them! If not, punish them!

Even a person with minimum legal qualifications will understand as much. But we as a nation are not able to see this because our administration wants to lock up people without bringing charges against them.

Rumsfeld has ridiculed those who go on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay. He says, they are on a diet!!

Could anyone become more insensitive than that? Why this blindness? Don't you want to find out why the prisoners are protesting? No, we will ignore them and ridicule them. Why? The only reason seems to be that the Guantanamo prisoners are not human beings. Even animals have rights but not these prisoners. This approach of the administration toward prisoners is absolutely contrary to all norms of decency and the values of this great nation.

Posted by: Miles | November 12, 2005 01:53 PM

Lea - "Emily, according to US law prisoners have the right to contest their imprisonment before a judge ("habeas corpus"). But this great legal tradition has been practically nullified if not vitiated by Senate vote Thursday. This means that even after four years in custody in Guantanamo Bay, the hundreds of detainees held there would not be allowed to challenge their detention in federal court. Are we becoming a nation of lawlessness? What happened to the 2004 supreme court decision that held that detainees have the right to sue?"

Rasul was narrowly drafted, thanks to the Queen of opacity and illogic, Sandra Day O'Connor, who Hariet Miers writings compare favorably to. For the Operative SCOTUS decisions, look to the unanimous "Quirin" and also "Eisentracher" decisions. (Basically, any unlawful enemy combatant is not due habeas corpus, citizens that are not direct combatants but helping the enemy should be tried in civil courts for treason, captured enemy overseas do not get civilian trials in US courts).

Miles - "Some have begun to argue that the provision "habeas corpus" should not be available to the so-called "enemy combatants." That's ridiculous! First of all, over 90% of the enemy combatants have been jailed not for any specific crimes but just because they were "suspected" of having connections with terrorism. If so, bring charges against them!! If they are innocent, release them! If not, punish them!"

If your education is limited to public school and TVs, I "get" your attitude. But in war the enemy is not defined in terms of breaking or not breaking US law. They are the enemy. Innocence or guilt is irrelevant. We had 3/4s of a million Nazi POWs inside the USA in WWII. Not a one had access to US courts. In accordance with Geneva, they were to be treated honorably as bona-fide soldiers captured in uniform and complying with the laws of war. held innocent. Nazis caught out of uniform were normally summarily executed. Miles, what do you propose? That we screwed up in WWII by not starting 3/4 of a million cases in Federal court to determine the "innocence or guilt" of each Nazi POW? Then release the "innocent" of crime to resume hostilities? Please, educate yourself.

"Even a person with minimum legal qualifications will understand as much."

But your problem Miles, is less than minimum qualifications to speak on the subject.

More Miles - "Could anyone become more insensitive than that? Why this blindness? Don't you want to find out why the prisoners are protesting? No, we will ignore them and ridicule them. Why?"

Err, because they are the enemy?? We saw plenty of POW protests by the hardcore, fanatic Nazi soldiers of the SS, too. We were "less than empathetic" to the Nazi SS protestors. If only we had more Miles, Leas, and other clueless bitches who cared so much about the enemy back then and wished to hug them and love them and raise their self-esteem, maybe the Nazi SS prisoners would have felt better about their situation and eaten heartier meals!

"Colonel Chip" appears to be another Lefty posing as a Vietnam Vet. The signs are all there. He cast himself as a hero, of untouchably high moral character, and talks about how he would defy the President if anyone had told him to abuse a prisoner in any way. That he is a bulwark against those like Captain Crunch seeking to coerce the enemy in interrogations or abrogate the "inalienable US Constitutional rights" of enemy civilians in hostile countries. Then the Lefty bozo proudly says he was LRRP in Vietnam. LRRP, or "lurpers" had as one of their primary missions doing "snatches" of enemy for field interrogation and "disposal" if they couldn't get the "gook" back to a safe zone for more interrogation. Along the way, LRRP was authorized to "silence" any potential hostile they couldn't avoid who could alert anemy forces in the area and compromise their mission.

Colonel Chip, another of the "poseurs" who avoided Vietnam then steal the honor of the real SEALs, Marine recon, LRRP and other combat elites they customarily claim to have been in as they express their Lefty views. Even Ward Churchill, an actual Viet Vet who was a base movie projectionist, morale rag writer, and an officer's flunky boy, can't resist the siren call that he was also "combat elite". Churchill was "combat recon" according to his speech transcripts. No Lefty who actually served, and they are rare, really wants to say they were common grunts or rear ech pukes.

Posted by: Captain Crunch | November 12, 2005 04:42 PM

What's on your DD-214, Captain Crunch?

Posted by: Jay Hurst | November 12, 2005 05:30 PM

Captain Crunch, here comes GENERAL GRINGO! When the whole nation is debating questions of legitimacy of the Iraq war and torture of prison inmates it makes no sense to bring in the Nazis and Fascists of WWII. If we learnt one thing from that War it is that you must treat prisoners in a humane manner. That's what the President has been insisting all along: "We do not torture!"

Do you think we must torture enemies? What to make of the distinction between "prisoners of war" and "enemy combatants?" If we are at war then those captured are prisoners of war and they are not supposed to be tortured. Period.

Posted by: Meg | November 12, 2005 07:11 PM

Meg - or, General Gringo...

"When the whole nation is debating questions of legitimacy of the Iraq war and torture of prison inmates it makes no sense to bring in the Nazis and Fascists of WWII."

The average American doesn't give a shit about Jihadi rights anymore than folks 60 years ago gave a shit about Nazi rights. So "the whole nation" boils down to the 15% of the population that call themselves activists. The nation is concerned about Iraq but not generally from the standpoint of that favorite Leftist criterion "legitimacy" - it is concerned about Bush's ineptitude in the post-war, the high costs, the 16,000 casualties, and doubt over his "stay the course" strategy. And frankly for not giving two hoots about the "noble Iraqis" sitting back and watching the Jihadis whose rights are so paramount in Lefty eyes, trying to kill us.

What to make of the distinction between "prisoners of war" and "enemy combatants?"

Geneva provides framework in determining uniformed troops as POWs. There was never any doubt on the honorable POW status of uniformed Iraqis or it's civilian leadership. "Enemy combatants" not awarded POW status range from insurgents targeting military to those car-bombing an elementary school full of children of the Shia Heresy that Jihadis hate on top of Christians and Jews.

If we are at war then those captured are prisoners of war and they are not supposed to be tortured. Period.

Your thinking on what a POW is is simplistic. Look up the 1949 Geneva Conventions Part IV to learn who is a legitimate POW and who is a unlawful combatant, such as Mohammed Atta.

As for torture, the world has failed to define what torture is exactly, same as they fail - thanks mostly to the Islamoid nation's resistance - to define what constitutes "terrorism" precisely.

May unlawful combatants be interrogated and given the 3rd degree? Most nations say Yes, and do, but gratuitously refer to other nations doing the same thing as "toooooortuuuure!!". What the French DST does is outrageous, but no one says a word. Panties on head? Torture according to most NGOs and EU Lefties...Beheading a man by the excruciatingly painful sawing through the neck muscles, vertebra and finally killing by cutting the spinal cord 15 seconds into the execution? That is defined as "people's justice" by the same Lefties.

Hurst - Good non-sequiter. Where's yours? My DD-214 copy is in my files, with ribbons and medals on an old blue uniform jacket, Gulf War trophies in some tupperware. Kuwaiti sand. Saudi sand. Iraqi sand from a friend that went in on the ground. The official DD-214 is in some DOD repository in St Louis.

Posted by: Chris Ford | November 12, 2005 09:40 PM

Captain Crunch or Chris Ford or whatever, you need to read this posting by Jerry (November 9)------

Emily, thanks for putting out so many links on torture. The general public needs to know and become aware of the many factors that make torture an abomination.

I was particulary appalled by the "Gonzales Memo." It describes torture as "acts inflicting, and that are specifically intended to inflict, severe pain or suffering, whether mental or physical." Then G. adds, "those acts must be of an EXTREME [emphasis added] nature to rise to the level of torture."

Now, this is terrible word-play! The President, too, says, "We do not torture!" So, one must ask, "What IS torture?"

Gonzales has an answer: "We further conclude that certain acts may be cruel, inhuman, or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the required intensity" to be considered torture.

With THIS understanding of torture you can justify ANYTHING short of causing death. First of all, you will decide that some cruel, inhuman treatment is NOT EXTREME; then you will conclude that the pain and suffering (physical and mental) does not rise to the REQUIRED INTENSITY.

Now, this is total license to do anything! By these standards how could you even fault those soldiers who treated the Abu Graib detainess in a "cruel, inhuman" manner by parading them naked, letting bull dogs on them, kicking and stomping and performing other such abominations on hapless individuals?

The way to torture was opened the moment Gonzales counseled the President to throw the Geneva Conventions to the wind and set aside US law. Dick Cheney wants this situation to continue.

There is no way America can allow this. We are a nation of the rule of law and if the law is cruel and unjust it must be changed. That is the case with the Gonzales Memo.

Emily, the Army Report is quite illuminating, too. It does make an honest admission: "Clearly abuses occurred at the prison at Abu Ghraib." But what is missing from the Report is the "T" word (torture). It prefers the word "abuse." Now, everybody knows that "abuse" is an euphemism for "torture," but nobody wants to admit it publicly.

The Army Report seems to absolve the Administration of any wrongdoing. It says, "Neither the Department of Defence nor Army doctrine caused the abuse." Of course, they did not DIRECTLY cause torture but they contributed to it. To be fair, the Army Report does acknowledge this. It cosiders "Command and Control," "Doctrine," and "Training" as factors that "contributed" to abuse (read, torture).

So, what shall we do? Instead of addressing the symptoms of the disease we need to examine the root causes that have given rise to torture. And one of the root causes, perhaps the most important one, is the fact that we chose to ignore Geneva Conventions and US law.

One more question that need be asked is: why practise torture? Is it to punish some individuals? Is it to extract information from them? In both instances, it is bound to fail. First of all, you punish an individual if they are found guilty; even then, you don't torture them, rather you put them behind bars where they are treated "humanely." Secondly, if it is to extract information from the detainees, you never get the truth by intimidation tactics, because people will say anything just to avoid "extreme" pain. So, whichever way you look at it, torture is not helpful.

It is time that we abandon primitive methods and learn to behave "humanely."

Posted by: Rose | November 12, 2005 10:15 PM

Taking on the issue of torture from the angle of debunking the Limbaugh-esque argument that this is all in good fun is the wrong approach: the contention has had little resonnance in the public as it is made to seduce only the most primitive of conservatives.

it'd be far more interesting to tackle instead the "bad apple/we do not torture" line of reasoning that (curiously) seems to stick.

Posted by: Charles M | November 13, 2005 12:23 AM

Rose -

Forced interrogations are ugly. So is burying Iraqi soldiers alive in their trenches or seeing the post-Hellfire missile hit, as mortally wounded men drag their intestines a few dozen yards before collapsing. So are other scenes in war as women on the 110th floor of the WTC debate whether it is better to burn alive or take the 12 second jump that converts them into spattered meat and bone paste. Or Russians finding the bodies of several Beslan girls aged 10-17, raped before their throats were slit. Or 3 Americans flash-burned alive by an IED set by a terrorist we caught but who was released by an Iraqi judge.

War is ugly. If you think as Islamoids seek to get WMD and use them that all this would be better if it was all "controlled" by lawyers and civilian courts, you're nuts. We tried the "criminal justice" approach after the 1993 attempt to bring down the WTC. Spent millions to put 4 Islamoids away with a lifetime sentence of tasty halal food, TVs radios, visits by family, Islamic nutritionists and Mullahs hired by the US taxpayer, and their own personal prayer room. That was a rather inadequate deterrent to fanatically committed unlawful military combatants, who got it right the 2nd time they launched a military strike.

We know that hard interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind that came up with the 9/11 combat operation that was outside all rules of war under the Geneva Conventions, led to him squealing out 3 major Al Qaeda plots - one almost as big as 9/11.

I've already told pals that 9/11 was just too small for certain people to really learn the lesson in blood. That it will take more thousands of deaths by Islamoids to purge the Leftists from positions of power in America, and get America serious about the existential threat of radical Islamists who obey no rules of war. I just hope the next Islamoid strikes are in Europe or in liberal NYC or San Francisco - rather than in areas of the country that value the rights and liberties of Americans over the radical Islamist enemy.

And our troops are so much better behaved this time than in the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam regarding treatment of the enemy it isn't funny.

Posted by: Chris Ford | November 13, 2005 12:37 AM

FJ, what is your point with all that "we" and "them" talk?

I feel the subject email was juvenile and disrespectful to the family of the slain Mr. Berg, but it does state a valid point. The jihadists are fanatics of the worst kind. These people appear more fanatic than the Japanese suicide bombers at the end of WWII. If you believe such individuals can be converted using by way of treating them as legitimate combatants so as to win their "hearts and minds," you are mistaken.

This approach will not succeed because the entire area has been, and always will be a hotbed of hate for us. This hatred has been inbred for generations. Unlimited warfare on one or two countries supporting these groups would shock their psyche. Start with one or two and the rest will fall in line. In their minds, we must make their "cause" a "lost cause." That is, they may always hate us as long as the very idea of Allah exists, but will refrain from coming to kill us here knowing well that an entire army and/or city will be destroyed. The US should adhere to the Geneva Conventions for captured combatants of any recognized army. Pandering to nomadic individuals intent on killing all non-Muslims and even some Muslim moderates in the name of some mean and hateful god called Allah is not something we should consider even in the sprit of the Conventions.

Reason and religious fanaticism do not co-exist. Look to recent events in Kansas.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 13, 2005 02:07 AM

CPT Crunch,

You are one pathetic excuse for a human being. Your ad hominum attack on me simply shows how little you truly know what what you spout off about.

All your supposed knowledge about "lurpers" is obviously derived from bad novel or comic books like Soldier of Fortune. Your fantasies about our being authorized to "dispose" of VCI or soldiers we snatched are hilarious. We certainly did perform snatch missions, but "diposing" of those we snatched was neither autorized nor an issue. Why? Before the first was unlawful and illegal -- to say nothing of immoral and because when we conducted a raid to "snatch" someone, we conducted it as a mission using air assets for as quick of an in-and-out that we could manage. A Lurp or ranger has little staying power, we depended on stealth or, as was the case during a raid, shock.

As for our being "authorized to 'silence' any potential hostile they couldn't avoid who could alert anemy forces in the area and compromise their mission," that may appear easy to do in the movies, but in real life it is a sumbitch to actually pull off. When compromised, our number one course of action was to abort and head for the nearest PZ to extract.

Most of missions were boring, frightening experiences since it was generally five to seven of us -- at least one or two being PRUs in our company -- and we could end up engaged with anything from an element our size to a platoon or bigger. It was not a war of constant contact on each and every mission, but there was more than enough opportunities for each mission to turn sour.

CPT Crunch, take the time to find two issues of Life magazine: in the issue of 25 October 1968, in an article on how those in Viet-Nam were thinking about voting, the lead is a two-page spread showing a Lurp team standing in the paddy next to the pad. The CAR-15 that Stoney is holding later became mine. They are from what was then Echo Company (LRP) 50th Infantry (Abn) assigned to the 9th Infantry Division. Then get a copy of the 17 June 1969 issue of Life. It is the one showing all the faces of those who died during one week in Viet-Nam, 28 May to 3 June. On the first page you will see Mike Vollheim: he was on Team 11 of Echo Company (Ranger) 75th Infantry (Abn, 9th ID. A face not shown in the issue or even mentioned is that of SSG Curtis "Dan" Daniels, weo was killed at the same that Mike was. I have never understood why that was.

So, CPT Crunch, if you look on this page http://www.lrp.iwarp.com/page4.html you will find me in the picture with Jimmy Booth -- I am holding the AK (actually a Chicom copy, a Type 56) -- and in the group picture of the Tan An teams, which was taken at Dong Tam, by the way.

So, Crunchy, I may be many things, but I am certainly no "poseur" who avoided Viet-Nam. Nor was I an officer's flunky who wanted to pretend to be one of the "combat elite" -- I was a working class kid who ended in the Army because I couldn't afford college; nor did I have a Dad who could wrangle me a spot in the National Guard. I wound up in Viet-Nam and made the best of the cards I was dealt.

Oh, the "hippy" next to Jim Thayer is "Spyder" -- Elmer Christy -- Valenti....

So, Private Crunch, the next time you shoot your month off and smear me, you damn well preface it with, Sir....

Posted by: COL Chip | November 13, 2005 03:35 AM

While this statement may be correct, "And our troops are so much better behaved this time than in the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam regarding treatment of the enemy it isn't funny" -- not that it was remotely in the same category that some armies of those eras, in an age of instantaneous and near universal news coverage, it is also irrelevant. One incident is one too many and what was allowed to happen at Abu Gharib would be inexcuseable regardless of era.

The members of the senior and upper leadership of the insurgents and other terrorists are pretty much resistent to any efforts to win their hearts and minds. You do your flat level best to kill them on the battlefield. When captured, they are still subject to the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, which is there level of thinking.

What we are really fighting for are the hearts and minds of those who make up the populace in which the insurgents and terrorists operate. Not everyone we have detained and locked up in secret cells somewhere were terrorists. And not everyone an innocent bystander. The problem with the mistreatment of prisoners and the use of torture is that the families of those subject to such treatment have long memories. This is Counter-guerrilla Warfare 101 stuff. Violence only goes so far before it becomes either very counter-productive or ensures that the authorian regime keeps most of the people cowed.

When you stoop to the level of those terrorists that you are trying to defeat while simultaneously proclaiming the marvels of freedom, liberty, and democracy, people are not stupid, they can see what actions are actually being done versus what is being said. This is a sure way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And perceptions are as important as realities on both sides.

It is one thing to hold people in secret and then try and carry out whatever sentences the tribunals hand down -- all in secret, of course. It is another to do so publicly and let justice run its course. While both have risks, those of the former far outshadow those of the latter. I think the United States is a strong enough country to both talk the talk of freedom, liberty, and justice and also walk the walk. We are not doing too good a job at the moment on the latter.

When torture is reduced to an abstract parlor debate in which there is much pontifficating and no end of proselytizing and little thought as to the consequences of such actions on both ourselves and those we are supposed to be liberating from tyranny, we are really missing the point and big time.

Posted by: COL Chip | November 13, 2005 06:17 AM


Posted by: aa | November 13, 2005 07:41 AM

Interesting that this blogger chose the MOVIE pictures of General George Patton. I might remind him that this is really George C. Scott, an actor... not the real General Patton. But his use of a movie star parallels his Hollywood view of war and violence.

Real men don't glorify war. Only a soldier wannabe (like George C. Scott and this blogger) glorifies killing. It sounds good to use all those romantic words... honor, duty, hero, but once you've seen death up close, all those words ring hollow. All these hate-filled bloggers should know this... when you do pick up a weapon to serve your country, you better be ready for the consequences. Once you kill someone (for your country or otherwise) you realize there's nothing heroic about it. Right or wrong... the memory will stay with you forever.

Posted by: Real Man | November 13, 2005 08:27 AM


While I am sure you will not correct this (just as you failed to correct your smear of Red State a few weeks ago), I feel I must correct the record.

Regarding this portion of your piece:

In this comment on Juan Cole's blog, the writer says the whole prisoner abuse issue, while serious, has been blown out of proportion by liberals. The comment goes on to state that the McCain Amendment is well-intentioned, but "the solution to doing this without crossing over into torture is to discipline those who step over the line, not to tie the military's hands behind its back."

The website you link to is mine, and I am John Cole, not Juan Cole. I assure you, Juan will be just as disturbed as I am that you have confused the two of us. While our names sound similar and look similar, we are two different people.

Second, the individual commenter you have chosen to quote is a spoof. I have a pretty wild comments section, and commenter "The Cavalry" is but a sock puppet of one person who likes to post under a variety of different names, such as 'DougJ,' 'The Comish,' 'Comcon,' and so forth. What he does is take GOP talking points, put a more radical and humorous slant, and then post them and see who he can get to react to them as if they were serious.

In this case, he was spoofing Rush Limbaugh's widely spread 'fraternity prank' comments.

Just thought you would like to know that you have been had and made a pretty basic mistake.

Posted by: John Cole | November 13, 2005 10:05 AM


Natural Disasters and the Militarization of America

by Michel Chossudovsky

October 23, 2005

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Both the Avian Flu threat, which has taken on a political twist, and the hurricane disasters are being used by the Bush White House to justify a greater role for the Military in the country's civilian affairs.

Bush hinted, offhandedly, at the height of Hurricane Rita that the Military should become the "lead agency" in disaster relief:

"Is there a natural disaster--of a certain size--that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort? That's going to be a very important consideration for Congress to think about."

A few weeks later at a White House Press Conference, President Bush pointed to a role for the Military in enforcing quarantines in the case of an outbreak of avian flu:

"I have thought through the scenarios of what an avian flu outbreak could mean. ... If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine? ... And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have." (White House Press conference, October 4, 2005)

Meanwhile, a new media consensus is in the making. Highlighted in the tabloids and on network TV, the threats of natural disasters are now casually lumped together with those associated with a terror attack on the Homeland. According to Daniel Henniger writing in the Wall Street Journal:

"The question raised by the Katrina fiasco. is whether the threat from madmen [Osama and Al Zarqawi] and nature is now sufficiently huge in its potential horror and unacceptable loss that we should modify existing jurisdictional authority to give the Pentagon functional first-responder status."

Fait Accompli

What is the dividing line, from the point of view of emergency procedures, between these two distinct phenomena? Or is there a dividing line between a humanitarian disaster resulting from a natural cause on the one hand, and a real or perceived "terror attack on America" on the other?

The Department of Homeland Security's National Response Plan (NRP) (December2004) eliminates the distinction between a civilian and a national security emergency situation:

"This approach is unique and far reaching in that it, for the first time, eliminates critical seams and ties together a complete spectrum of incident management activities to include the prevention of, preparedness for, response to, and recovery from terrorism, major natural disasters, and other major emergencies. The end result is vastly improved coordination among Federal, State, local, and tribal organizations to help save lives and protect America's communities by increasing the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of incident management."

http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRPbaseplan.pdf italics added

The NRP is fully operational: the militarisation of emergency procedures is, in many regards, "a done deal".

The NRP is built around emergency procedures in the case of a "terrorist attack": it focuses on ":incident management". It is endorsed by lead federal agencies and government departments (including the CIA and the DoD).

Deployment in the case of a major civilian emergency (e.g. hurricane and/or avian flu pandemic) would be governed by the same criteria in conformity with the basic tenets of the "war on terrorism". The latter also characterize the workings of FEMA.

The Militarization of "Civil Society" Relief Organizations

The militarisation of disaster relief has also been endorsed by the American Red Cross , the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) These key organizations are signatories of the National Response Plan. They have endorsed Homeland Security's definition of a national emergency. Under the NRP, these key civilian organizations are directly under the authority of the DHS, FEMA and the Pentagon. Distinct from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the NVOAD regroups a large number of individual non-governmental organizations . In signing the NRP, these organizations have foregone their "civilian" mandate in disaster relief.

In relation to Hurricane Wilma, the DoD has set up a Defense Coordinating Office, which operates out of the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, Florida.

More significantly, the Pentagon has dispatched US Northern Command officials to FEMA national headquarters. According to Frances Fragos Townsend, Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush, the U.S. Northern Command "planners" have a mandate "to deploy the military if needed." (quoted in Seattle Times, 22 Oct 2005).

Criminal Charges against Bush Administration officials

The renewed call for a greater role for the military in the country's civilian affairs has emerged at a critical political juncture. The Plame-CIA leak investigation, led by Special Counsel Fitzgerald could result in criminal charges and impeachment procedures directed against key members of the Bush Cabinet, including Vice President Dick Cheney.

While the "war on terrorism" is still the main pretext for a greater role of the military, natural disasters constitute a new and innovative justification.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian disaster in the Gulf as well as the perceived threat of a bird flu pandemic are being used to deflect public attention from the broader issue of conspiracy and war crimes revealed by counsel Fitzgerald. More generally, heightened terror alerts or the perceived dangers of an avian flu pandemic, could also be used to trigger emergency procedures with a view to creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, in a letter to the Deputy Attorney General, has called for Special Counsel Fitzgerald "to expand his investigation to include a criminal investigation to examine whether the President, the Vice President, and members of the White House Iraq Group conspired to deliberately deceive Congress into authorizing the war in Iraq."

This initiative follows that of Congressman John Conyers and 90 other Congressional Democrats who addressed a letter to President Bush regarding "a coordinated effort to fix the intelligence and facts to justify the war. Congressman Conyers and other Congressional Democrats on June 16 held an unofficial hearing concerning the Downing Street Memo that resembled an impeachment inquiry."

(See http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=MAN20050702&articleId=622

Congressman Nadler's letter to the Deputy Attorney General points to the "'White House Iraq Group' whose sole purpose appears to have been to market and sell a decision to go to war to Congress..."

The letter also points to the leaked Downing Street memo:

"Although Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation has yet to determine whether a crime was committed by any Administration official(s) in leaking the identity of Wilson's wife as a covert CIA operative, it is abundantly clear that the White House Iraq Group was engaged in an effort to discredit revelations of the falsity of the Administration's justifications for the war, and to intimidate and punish those who would reveal the truth.... We now know that top Administration officials, including Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby, misrepresented to the media the scope and nature of what the U.S. intelligence community knew and didn't know about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs before the war.

It is self-evident that the Administration cannot investigate itself in this matter. I therefore urge you to expand the Special Counsel's investigation to include these matters crucial to our national security and national integrity."

For full text of the letter to the Deputy Attorney General
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny08_nadler/FitzgeraldwarMemo102005.html )


An impeachment procedure could be undermined by the Administration in a number of ways.

We recall, in this regard, how Clinton launched punitive bombing raids on the Sudan and Afghanistan on the day Monica Lewinsky was summoned before a grand jury in August 1998. The bombing raids immediately contributed to deflecting attention from the issue of impeachment. (August 21, 1998). Similarly, a few months later, December 16, 1998, Clinton ordered the bombing of Iraq. The bombs were dropped on Baghdad on the very same day as the launching of an impeachment motion in the House of Representatives. Overriding the UN Security Council, Sec of State Madeleine Albright had ordered the withdrawal of UN weapons inspectors, who left Iraq on December 15th, a day prior to the impeachment motion.

To galvanize public support, Cheney and Rumsfeld could take the opportunity of the UN report into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, to launch (in collaboration with Israel) punitive bombings against Syria. Military action against Syria is already contemplated and has been part of the US military agenda since 2003.

An impeachment process directed against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. would inevitably undermine the entire neoconservative construct. Iit would also backlash on the Pentagon's top military brass. If criminal charges are laid, Vice President Cheney would be one of the main targets:

The Oct. 11 grand jury appearance by New York Times reporter Judith Miller has shifted the focus of attention to Cheney's office. Miller's hour-long testimony, according to news accounts, focussed on a third meeting that she had with Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby in June 2003--a month prior to the publication of Valerie Plame's name in a Robert Novak syndicated column. Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, was "outed" by Novak as a CIA officer. Novak reported that he had been given Plame's name by two "senior administration officials," now widely believed to be Libby and President Bush's chief political counsel Karl Rove.

However, Fitzgerald's probe, from the outset, has centered on an obscure but powerful White House unit, the White House Iraq Group, which was constituted in July-August 2002, to coordinate all Bush-Cheney Administration efforts to win support for an Iraq invasion. Rove and Libby, along with White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, her deputy Stephen Hadley, White House Counsellor Karen Hughes, and a half-dozen other White House and NSC senior staffers were all part of the WHIG. (See Jeffrey Steinberg )

In the eventuality of criminal charges and/or an impeachment procedure, a national emergency could be used to suspend the legal procedures required to carry out the indictments against key Bush administration officials.

In other words, the Administration could use a national disaster as a pretext for Martial law, in which case all criminal charges would be thwarted through the (temporary) suspension of constitutional government. Under a Code Red alert, US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) would take over the functions of civilian administration.

Posted by: Che | November 13, 2005 10:34 AM

Che, your post reminds me of a movie line I remember from long ago, "He not a communist, he is an ass****." Please stay on topic and post your own thoughts.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 13, 2005 11:19 AM

Spoof or not, the comments from Juan Cole's blog are spot-on. The McCain Terrorist Coddling Amendment would prevent us from getting the information we need to help keep America safe. It's that simple.

Posted by: Dexter | November 13, 2005 02:39 PM

You have far more patience then me Col. Chip. Its a troubling thought that men like you are retiring though. Well at least you have more time now to bring some sanity to fora like these. I think it was solzjenitsyn who said, 'dont try philosophy untill you do a long term jail sentence'. Dont take his mentioning jail too literally, he was trying to say to you cant talk along if you havent experienced hardship. Most here dont have a clue, but some mean well and thats reassuring for a foreign observer.

Dutch Bonsia/Iraq vet....well vet im scheduled for Afghanistan this winter, my pics arent on a website but i'll be happy to send you some capt. cr. ;)

Posted by: Pfc Kalter | November 13, 2005 03:01 PM

Emily, today's Post analyzes the role played by Donald Rumsfeld in the rush to invade Iraq but apparently he seems to distance himself from the fateful decision which has landed us in this seemingly interminable, messy war. One would have thought that the Secretary of Defence was fully backing the Prez in all of this, also because the lone dissenter Colin Powell was sidelined by the trio Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld. Anyway, you are about to witness a blame game and fingerpointing in the not too distant future within the administration itself.

It is in this context that the McCain Amendment comes as a whiff of fresh air. The Senator who knows a thing or two about being a POW calls for "uniform standards for the interrogation of prisoners under the detention of the DoD." He also insists that "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatiment be prohibited." What is interesting about the Amendment is the way "torture" has been defined.

McCain Amendment:
"CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT DEFINED.--In this section, the term ''cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984."

This is the voice of sanity heard in a long time because it reflects the true spirit of the American people. Do you think sanity will prevail?

Posted by: Bert | November 13, 2005 03:03 PM

Col Chip -

There are so many fake vets running around on the Left it is a rare pleasure to meet an actual vet. I was thrown off by your claiming to be a LRRP while at the same time saying you would disobey an order from any superior to conduct a coercive interrogation, even if it would save soldiers lives.

You weren't smeared. You were called out on being a possible phony vet, and you responded. Nor would I call you "sir" if you disobeyed orders, I would report you.

We have very different perspectives. I tend to discount the "hearts and minds" argument that showing softness to radical Muslims makes them like us, or that being hardasses will make the Muslims that hate indidels but not wish to live in a 8th Century version of Islam change their minds when far more brutal foes failed to and force them to embrace Salafism. You emphasize "American values and liberties"as inherently triumphant. They are not. You and others badly lost in Vietnam, so you take solace in being war losers with values, but you still lost.

FDR won. To do so, he violated International "Laws" and some argue the US Constitution right and left. Neutrality Pacts? Blown off. 1919 trade agreements? Abrogated to economically throttle pre-war Japan. Internment, forced Draft of 9 million civilians into the military? Firebombing then nuking whole cities of civilians? Yep. Approval of "take no prisoner" invasions of Pacific Islands once the scope of Jap actrocities was known? Yep. Nuremberg, and trumped up Jap trials, which was victors justice by military tribunal. But that was an existential war we had to win so the US Constitution's elements advocating "maximum individual liberty" was properly made secondary to defeating an existential enemy. With the enemy beaten, liberty was restored - men were not forced to fight and die against their will, for starters, which is a far greater loss of liberty than other stuff we did in WWII - like the far less intrusive press and media censorship that ensured the Abu Ghraibs of WWII did not surface until long after the war was over and no photos of dead US soldiers were permitted publication until well after the early debacles, and we didn't air pictures of dead German children roasted in Hamburg firebombings.

The French, of course, perversely have produced a writer that makes a new take on how important it is not to treat unlawful combatants as honorable soldiers and why it is essential that we interrogate and punish them.....to preserve Geneva and not undermine them by putting no consequence to their violations...

By linking the issue of torture as an ordeal equivalent to the battlefield risks avoided by terrorists but endured by regular soldiers Trinquier adds a dimension I have not seen discussed elsewhere.

"In the book MODERN WARFARE A French View of Counterinsurgency by Roger Trinquier http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/frenchview.pdf
the author proposes a coherent rationale for legitimising use of torture on terrorist prisoners within the context of torture being an ordeal equivalent to be battlefield risks otherwise avoided:

"The soldier, therefore, admits the possibility of physical suffering as part of the job. The risks he runs on the battlefield and the suffering he endures are the price of the glory he receives.

The terrorist claims the same honors while rejecting the same obligations. His kind of organization permits him to escape from the police, his victims cannot defend themselves, and the army cannot use the power of its weapons against him because he hides himself permanently within the midst of a population going about its peaceful pursuits.

But he must be made to realize that, when he is captured, he cannot be treated as an ordinary criminal, nor like a prisoner taken on the battlefield. What the forces of order who have arrested him are seeking is not to punish a crime, for which he is otherwise not personally responsible, but, as in any war, the destruction of the enemy army or its surrender. Therefore he is not asked details about himself or about attacks that he may or may not have committed and that are not of immediate interest, but rather for precise information about his organization. In particular, each man has a superior whom he knows; he will first have to give the name of this person, along with his address, so that it will be possible to proceed with the arrest without delay.

No lawyer is present for such an interrogation. If the prisoner gives the information requested, the examination is quickly terminated; if not, specialists must force his secret from him. Then, as a soldier, he must face the suffering, and perhaps the death, he has heretofore managed to avoid. The terrorist must accept this as a condition inherent in his trade and in the methods of warfare that, with full knowledge, his superiors and he himself have chosen.*"

Real Man vapidly writes: "Once you kill someone (for your country or otherwise) you realize there's nothing heroic about it. Right or wrong... the memory will stay with you forever".

That is purely that attitude of a pacifist who has the luxury of hiding behind braver men who will fight for their people while the pacifist tries getting a risk-free ride.

The military holds killers and fighters of unusual valor and bravery as meritorious and awards them high honors that American society deeply respects (outside the pacifist shirker ranks) and strongly approves of. SGT York, Audie Murphy's bravery in fighting and killing the enemy made them immortal. In this war, we have a Marine that won a Navy Cross for jumping in a trench and killing 22 Iraqis single-handedly. And Staff SGT Smith, awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for manning a machinegun on a burning Bradley and driving off over 200 Special Guard troops, killing an estimated 50, in saving over 100 non-combat American troops in the way of the unexpected Iraqi attack.

Posted by: Chris Ford | November 13, 2005 05:03 PM

Excellent response Chris, but wouldn't you consider FDR's conduct of the war hardass? It was, after all, untimately successful.

It is peculair and sad that stories about those brave men you mentioned in Iraq are not given much, if any, news time.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 13, 2005 05:47 PM


Associated Press reports President's national security adviser Stephen Hadley as saying, "we were wrong" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction ("Late Edition" on CNN).

Donald Rumsfeld has already stated that he was not party to the decision to invade Iraq.

We are already beginning to see that the story of the invasion of Iraq is being revised and rewritten, imperceptibly, yes, but substantially.

However, the hard questions still remain. If the administration was "wrong" on WMD and the war was started on that wrong assumption is it not proper to express some kind of regret to the American people for the pain and distress they have been put through? And what about our troups facing deadly attacks in this war?

Posted by: Chris F. S. | November 13, 2005 07:02 PM

There seems to be a whole lot of confusion herein between torture, its motives, and execution.

Torture for information rarely works. Generally it works when the torturer alreay has most of the pieces in a story and is looking for that last little bit.

The majority of the cases mentioned herein (5000 years of torture, Muhammad, etc. . . ) involve torture or execution for the sake of social order.

Torture first: Torture for social order, terrorizing a population into submission, has a long history. I don't believe I have seen it in our constitution or bill of rights though. Many countries and regimes practice this method. Many rules have also found themselves victims when the next man on a horse arrives, or the people revolt.

Execution: Execution has an equally long role in maintaining social order, right Texas? Muhammad, for example, decided to kill off the Jewish inhabitants of Medina for refusing to fight in the first badr (battle day). In those times, beheading was an accepted punishement for mutinying against established tribal links (well, so long as you won, if you lost, then the opposition would likely welcome you). The Jewish clan lost and by tribal custom in the era in question, they also lost their heads. Not so much unlike the predicament of one Bennedict Arnold. . .

Posted by: chris | November 13, 2005 07:05 PM

Wasn't Patton removed from command in Korea out of fear that he would start a land war with China?

Patton's philosophies were/are quite good for all out war (that one involving, I believe, nuclear holocaust in Hiroshima), and promoting continuous war. Patton proved, however, quite incapable of establishing and maintaining peace. And isn't establishing and maintaining peace our goal in Iraq now that the government and military have been smashed?

Posted by: Chris | November 13, 2005 07:08 PM

"chris" gives a tedious historical account of torture. Is anyone interested in knowing how Idi Amin or Mbutu tortured their political opponents? If they did, so what?

A nation of civil and criminal laws which is built on the solid foundation of democracy must banish torture unconditionally. It is simply wrong, and no amount of historical precedents would ever justify it.

Posted by: Dave | November 13, 2005 07:33 PM

Never say never. What if we were to capture Osama and we knew of an impending attack on the US. Would you mind very very much if he were tortured gain information? There are an wide range of possibilities were it is justified, but I agree that systematic torture of "political opponents" is absolutely wrong. Remember the context here.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 13, 2005 08:26 PM

There are too many "ifs" in your posting. Do you seriously think that Osama will be caught? Who knows, he may already be dead. Besides, if you already know of an impending attack you simply act on that knowledge. You don't have to torture somebody to get that info because you already have it.

Posted by: Greg | November 13, 2005 08:42 PM

You won't answer the hypothetical because I suspect you have reservations. And simply knowing an attack is going to happen does not necessarily mean you know where and when. But wait, you are not Dave.

Posted by: | November 13, 2005 08:54 PM

John Edwards writes (THE RIGHT WAY IN IRAQ - Post, Nov. 13):

America's leaders -- all of us -- need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war, and more than 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country's leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.

Did he vote yes to the Iraqi war knowingly or unknowingly? If unknowingly, what is he apologizing for?

Posted by: Zoe L. | November 13, 2005 08:56 PM

Chris, McArthur was releived of duty in Korea, not Patton. I think Patton died shortly after WWII. Also, Hiroshima was not a "holocaust." It was a decision made by the US to expedite the end the war with Japan.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 13, 2005 10:17 PM

I am not the last Dave, but I generally agree with him.

What is the point of calling ourselves a "civilized" nation if we then act like barbarians? What then distinguishes us from our enemies? Or are we caught in the Latin American dictum about their various governments- "Same old dung, only the flies are different." If this is so then we are then only in a supremacy battle with other countries, with no more moral right to win than they have. Torture is a feel good activity used by people who are essentially ineffective and inexperienced at interrogation. If it is so effective why did Japan lose the war? They used it routinely, as did the Germans.

As for Col. Chip, I applaud him- he is at least a grown up and has thus outgrown the comic book view of the enemy or our own troops. True War Comics and Star Wars movies are not real! Col. Chip has seen the real thing. Why is it that people like him or John McCain (or John Kerry for that matter) who actually participate in defending the country are trashed just because they don't fit in some peoples' fantasies about war. Have any of you "gentlemen" actually fought in one, or do you just have opinions?

As to Korea- it was General MacArthur who was relieved of his command by President Truman- and a good job too, as MacArthur had essentially subverted the policies of his Commander in Chief. I don't have much use for Truman for other reasons, but he was right in this. MacArthur also was in charge of dispersing the World War I veterans who marched on Washington in 1928 to demand the keeping of promises made to them (Eisenhower, who was then under MacArthur's command disagreed with the rather brutal methods used, but was ignored.) It was hailed by some as a victory over Communist agitators, but we still don't treat our veterans all that well considering all the patriotic talk.

Posted by: Dave (the first one) | November 13, 2005 10:17 PM

I forgot to mention that General Patton died from injuries recieved in a jeep crash in 1945 and thus could not have even participated in the Korean War. And yes I remember MacArthur's dismissal by Harry Truman.

Posted by: Dave (the first one) | November 13, 2005 10:56 PM

Why aren't we hearing any of the good news about torture? There is probably lots of information that has been obtained vai torture. Without hearing about this, we're only getting one side of the story.

Posted by: Dexter | November 13, 2005 11:04 PM

I am not 100 percent certain, but pretty much sure that the following information was obtained via torture - 1. the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 2. that Mrs. Wilson was an undercover CIA agent. 3. that Osama is alive or dead but not both.

Posted by: F. Joe | November 13, 2005 11:24 PM

Ms. Wilson was assuredly NOT an undecover CIA agent. She had weak, unofficial cover. That does not make her an "undercover agent".

I find it ironic that the very people who are quick to defend CIA "superspy" Valerie Plame are so also the first to accuse our REAL undercover agents of torture. Whatever fits thier political aims, I guess.

Posted by: Dexter | November 13, 2005 11:34 PM

I don't mean to come off as some sort of internet troll, you know the types, instigating arguments by playing devil's advocate. I also could not imagine myself torturing any other human being, much less any living thing. However, this issue is very complex when you are dealing with people who are so insane, but so well organized.

I have not seen any post here that offers an alternative solution to obtaining information about these cells, groups, or individuals hiding in vast areas of the globe. Intelligence has been gained by listening to communications, but it is not enough to fill in the gaps. The nature of their operations makes it almost impossible to connect all the dots needed to intercept or otherwise prevent another act of war. There are so many operatives, so spread out, and so-called "civilized" countries supporting them.

These terrorsts also do not full under the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Why is that so? Was it not foreseen at that time? Don't you think the anarchists terrorizing Europe a hundred years ago was absent from their thoughts when drafting these documents?

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 13, 2005 11:37 PM

johnnyg in NE DC - The thinking of those that defend terrorists against coerced interrogations, but believe they still can get critical intel from them without force, is a matter of wishful thinking.

Per se... if you coerce, the radical Islamist, being far smarter than the interrogators, will just lie and dupe them. But if you are nice, then the radical Islamist will "bond" with their infidel captors - and in return for money, tasty halal food, or a college scholarship for their 1st born son - will gladly abandon the religious war they dedicated an oath to lay their lives on. The interrogators, suddenly elevated from being tricked by all the lies put out by a captive forced to say more than nothing or verses from the Holy Koran - by the change in behavior to being "nice" - suddenly become vastly smarter than the radical Muslim, and use their new "bond" to "trick" the combatant into spilling their guts willingly. And abandon their souls to the infidel and foresake being a holy warrior guaranteed Paradise forever..

This fantasy is not born out by anyone who has tried working secrets out of radical Islamists. Because they are committed fanatics. Far more so than a captured US GI, who is speculated by Lefties to be willing to betray America if only they are treated nice by terrorist captors, would be tempted to reveal weaknesses in their comrade's defenses.

At best, a mixture of carrots and sticks leads to a cooperative Muslim terrorist that is more rewarded than punished, after they spill their guts.

As for the idea of radical Muslims unlawful military combatants targeting America - each getting American taxpayer provided civilian lawyers, with the right to lawyer up and take the 5th, and be tried in civilian courts for non-crimes like casing a financial building or elementary schol for assault and testing defenses - no law against THAT on the books - sadly the semi-treasonous voices on the Far Left are dead serious.

Posted by: Chris Ford | November 14, 2005 02:20 AM

Winning the hearts and minds is not a strategy aimed at terrorists. It is a strategy aimed at the parents and children the terrorists want to recruit. The U.S. failures to plan for post-invasion Iraq (except divying profit through no-bid contracts) has been al-Qaeda's most valuable recruiting tool yet.

You want to win Iraqi hearts and minds? Give the Iraqi people jobs rebuilding their cities, instead of reserving that profit for "friendly" multinational corporations.

Treason? Treason is bandying about the word treason against whomever one disagrees, a la Himmler, the politics of fear-mongering and propaganda. Nothing is MORE patriotic than challenging an amoral (or immoral) and possibly deceitful Executive.

You should have heard what I got called for saying THAT in October 2001.

Posted by: Jay Hurst | November 14, 2005 03:08 AM

Maybe it depends on the fact I am italian, and thus not an american citizen, but I find that the attention lent to that gen "Patton" message is widely excessive.

The very same childish layout nature of the document doesn't put it on the level of a serious consideration, which it probably didn't even ever coveted. Yet, the WP puts it exactly there on that level, with this article. It even sees in it a "stomach turner". Very delicate stomachs perhaps? Perhaps.

In the perspective of a deep rooted anti americanism that walks in Europe, it doesn't matter what the Usa does or does not. Did you ever realize this?

There is in Europe a full lot of guys that are still angry at that fact they lost WW2 and the Cold War. That was no nuisance. It is in Europe that we had the strongest communists parties of the west.
Lost the cold war, those disarrayed arrays of ideologists just cling to the relics of the Soviet Empire, and jump on the cart of "Peace" just because it is another way to prolong an old war by other means - a twisted, yet appropriate, paraphrasis from von Clausewitz.

This, doesn't make these guys less dangerous actually, but shouldn't make them too credible either when they say they are for Peace: they are not for peace, they are for that peace which can be used to wage war on the Usa.

Now, yes, Abu Ghraib. Who condones that? But the point with Abu Ghraib (brushing aside the naivety of soldiers who take pics of tortures as postcards: Saddam was more disingenuous in crime) is that when these things happen, firstly they are exceptions, not a rule, and then when found out, the responsible soldier and officiers get dismissed or ousted from the Army.

You know, or don't you? That very same Abu Ghraib was the place where, undocumented, for decades, by scores and scores a day, everyday, Saddam's men torutred, drilled skulls, Saddam's sons pissed on the face, burned the genitals and electrolocuted women before their babies and chopped into pieces husbands before wives alike, and not as an eception, but as a rule, and not as an event after which a punishment follows but after which a PROMOTION follows. Bravo, not a WP outraged article, was in store for them.

Only, the CNN wasn't there.

And also the WP wasn't there, because the first time both the CNN and the WP entered Abu Ghraib was when there was enough press freedom, at least comparatively with Hussein's era, to enter there in the first place.

Whenever I see an european pacifist or an american magazine spend so many words about how badly usa privates behaved, and never mentions what was going on in that very same place BEFORE the CNN and the WP and the pacifists even discovered it ever EXISTED, I come to think that general "patton" provides at least a weight on that dish of the scale that you always forget to fill up.

So, you discovered Abu Ghraib. Well, it wasn't built by GW Bush.

Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 07:31 AM

Excuse me for one second... I need to catch my breath after being chased by a huge flock of lefties posing as Vietnam vets. Man, it's becoming an epidemic, all these lefties posing as Vietnam vets. Yep, there's just SO many of them!
Anyway, my point is obviously that this fellow calling himself Captain Crunch is a complete and utter idiot. For one, it's Cap'n Crunch, you moron. Cap'n! There is no 'Captain' Crunch! It's Cap'n Crunch!!
While I'm on the subject, Emily, you did not get an email from an actual ghost. It was from a living human. That they claimed to know the views of a dead man in and of itself makes their testimony/viewpoint highly suspect. If you get an email from 'Ghost Of Football To The Groin', I suggest you ignore it.
On a serious note, I highly respect Col Chip's genuine argument on the matter of torture, an argument he makes from real world experience, unlike his unworthy, anonymous opponent (you know, the one that couldn't even get a cereal character's name right), an opponent whose arguments seem to be spoonfed to him by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the FOXnews crowd, people who dwell in an unreal world of constant manipulation.
Anyway, I better get going before that huge flock of lefties posing as Vietnam vets regroups and comes after me again. Or, even worse, I may fall victim to a large group of righties posing as intelligent human beings who AREN'T completely warped by conservative talk radio propoganda. Rots your brain, it does...

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 07:53 AM

The best point I've read so far on this debate is this: If we become a nation of torturers, then we become a nation that should be destroyed by terrorists.
Terrorism is not just about killing people. It's about using that murder to cause your enemy to react in drastic ways, using the psychological ramifications of violence and death to effect the hearts and minds of your victims. For instance, during the London bombings recently, the British police overreacted and shot an innocent Brazilian man. The man from Brazil died because terrorists had used terrorism to put the police in such a state that they made a horrendous mistake that cost an innocent man his life, a horrendous mistake that also made the police into unwitting murderers of innocent life.
Those of you who are passionately and emotionally arguing for torture need to realize that you are in the grips of the psychological effects of terrorism. You are quick to condone such a dispicable act as torture because you aren't being rational, and are instead being dominated by the actions of terrorists. We can't let our enemies define us... and yet that is what people like George W Bush do when they constantly argue that we can't or can do this or that all depending on how it will 'embolden the enemy' (who, by the way, are quite emboldened with or without our help).
So, stop treating the terrorists like they're bogeyman, and start being more rational and realistic on how we conduct this so-called War On Terrorism. Our world shouldn't become one of terrorists versus torturists. Perhaps if the Bush adminstration's national security team would have protected us and prevented 9/11 (you know, their job which they failed to do), we wouldn't be in our present era of terror and torture.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 08:45 AM

"If America is to be a nation whose citizens can hold their heads high when they talk about spreading freedom and democracy, we can't just rely on the argument that our barbarian behavior is less barbarous than the other guy's."

I am reminded of one of my favorite literary quotes (which I may have to paraphrase slightly):

"The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart." - Lois McMaster Bujold, 'Memory' Baen Books.

I think it's worth bearing in mind when struggling with this sort of temptation (which clearly some of our leaders, and through them, our nation are doing at the moment).

Posted by: MNíM | November 14, 2005 08:51 AM

ErrinF's point that "our world shouldn't become one of terrorists versus torturists" is well-taken.

To know the origins of Guantanamo Bay terror methods and Rumsfeld's role in it read the following eye-opener that appeared in today's NYT:

November 14, 2005

Washington --

How did American interrogation tactics after 9/11 come to include abuse rising to the level of torture? Much has been said about the illegality of these tactics, but the strategic error that led to their adoption has been overlooked.

The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.

When internal F.B.I. e-mail messages critical of these methods were made public earlier this year, references to SERE were redacted. But we've obtained a less-redacted version of an e-mail exchange among F.B.I. officials, who refer to the methods as "SERE techniques." We also learned from a Pentagon official that the SERE program's chief psychologist, Col. Morgan Banks, issued guidance in early 2003 for the "behavioral science consultants" who helped to devise Guantánamo's interrogation strategy (we've been unable to learn the content of that guidance).

SERE methods are classified, but the program's principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions American prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees, and broke the spirits of many more, through Pavlovian and other conditioning. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, painful body positions and punitive control over life's most intimate functions produced overwhelming stress in these prisoners. Stress led in turn to despair, uncontrollable anxiety and a collapse of self-esteem. Sometimes hallucinations and delusions ensued. Prisoners who had been through this treatment became pliable and craved companionship, easing the way for captors to obtain the "confessions" they sought.

SERE, as originally envisioned, inoculates American soldiers against these techniques. Its psychologists create mock prison regimens to study the effects of various tactics and identify the coping styles most likely to withstand them. At Guantánamo, SERE-trained mental health professionals applied this knowledge to detainees, working with guards and medical personnel to uncover resistant prisoners' vulnerabilities. "We know if you've been despondent; we know if you've been homesick," General Hill said. "That is given to interrogators and that helps the interrogators" make their plans.

Within the SERE program, abuse is carefully controlled, with the goal of teaching trainees to cope. But under combat conditions, brutal tactics can't be dispassionately "dosed." Fear, fury and loyalty to fellow soldiers facing mortal danger make limits almost impossible to sustain.

By bringing SERE tactics and the Guantánamo model onto the battlefield, the Pentagon opened a Pandora's box of potential abuse. On Nov. 26, 2003, for example, an Iraqi major general, Abed Hamed Mowhoush, was forced into a sleeping bag, then asphyxiated by his American interrogators. We've obtained a memorandum from one of these interrogators - a former SERE trainer - who cites command authorization of "stress positions" as justification for using what he called "the sleeping bag technique."

"A cord," he explained, "was used to limit movement within the bag and help bring on claustrophobic conditions." In SERE, he said, this was called close confinement and could be "very effective." Those who squirmed or screamed in the sleeping bag, he said, were "allowed out as soon as they start to provide information."

Three soldiers have been ordered to stand trial on murder charges in General Mowhoush's death. Yet the Pentagon cannot point to any intelligence gains resulting from the techniques that have so tarnished America's image. That's because the techniques designed by communist interrogators were created to control a prisoner's will rather than to extract useful intelligence.

A full account of how our leaders reacted to terrorism by re-engineering Red Army methods must await an independent inquiry. But the SERE model's embrace by the Pentagon's civilian leaders is further evidence that abuse tantamount to torture was national policy, not merely the product of rogue freelancers. After the shock of 9/11 - when Americans desperately wanted mastery over a world that suddenly seemed terrifying - this policy had visceral appeal. But it's the task of command authority to connect means and ends rationally. The Bush administration has too frequently failed to do this. And so it is urgent that Congress step in to tie our detainee policy to our national interest.

M. Gregg Bloche is a law professor at Georgetown University and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. Jonathan H. Marks, a barrister in London, is a bioethics fellow at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins.

Posted by: Mark | November 14, 2005 08:58 AM

Oh, and anybody who tells me to go thank a soldier for my freedom can go suck a lemon. My freedom is an inalienable right I was born with, not a privilege handed to me by an army or a government. The military is here to serve and protect the citizenry. I feel no obligation to soldiers whose duty is to fight for freedom; Any soldier that serves his country shouldn't and wouldn't expect any obligation for doing such. They have orders, and they follow them; There's not much more to it.
On a similar note, it is ridiculous to argue that we must perpetuate the Iraq war to honor our fallen there. Any soldier that gives their life for their country has fulfilled their duty to the fullest, and their death in and of itself justifies their purpose. Whether or not the war in Iraq is won or lost will never lessen the sacrifice those soldiers have made for their country. Their deaths do not make this war right or wrong, and should be kept seperate and sanctified from the political arguments being made for or against the war. They served their Constitution and Commander-In-Chief honorably, and that is all that matters. Much gratitude and respect to all our soldiers in Iraq, not for my freedom, but for their service. Thank you.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 09:22 AM

This torture topic seems to be getting more and more serious. Another useful article on the subject is by P. Sabrin Willett in Post, 11/14 - "Detainees Deserve Court Trials." The author defends the right to habeas corpus. He shows how Adel, a detainee, got to tell the story of his innocence - all thanks to habeas corpus. We must not abolish the provision habeas corpus, says Willett, because it is the only thing that can compel the executive to justify itself when it imprisons people.

Posted by: JoeM | November 14, 2005 09:28 AM

Are these the family values and morality that our so called christian culture promotes?

Posted by: Cycledoc | November 14, 2005 10:38 AM

How can you call us a nation of torturers? That's ridiculous. It is only the CIA that is being allowed to engage in torture like, and they represent but a small fraction of our population.

Posted by: Dexter | November 14, 2005 10:39 AM

Dexter, this is a representative government in that the government of the United States represents the people of the United States. The CIA is a part of the executive branch of our government. If it partakes in torture, then our government partakes in torture. If our government partakes in torture, then it is we the people that are doing the torture. Got it? It's not ridiculous at all... if I elect or appoint somebody to go torture you, then I am complicit in that torture! Could it be any clearer?
How 'bout an analogy? You, Dexter, are given the deciding vote in a presidential election. Both candidates are identical in their views, except one is for the torture of our enemies, one is against. You, being pro-torture, vote the torture-our-enemies guy into power. In turn, his administration adopts a torture policy and tortures our enemies. Are you going to now claim that you have no association with the torture carried out by the administration you put in office? Does this clarify anything, or are you just going to stubbornly stay arguing for torture? If so, you are most definitely a torturer, Dexter. You may not do it yourself, but you have no problem having somebody else doing your dirty work for you. You are a torturer! Happy?
While we're on the subject, suppose we replace 'torture' with 'rape'. Suppose this administration and the CIA decided the most effective way to interrogate Al Qaeda was to rape their loved ones in front of them. Would you condone that as well? I guess you'll call that analogy ridiculous too, but it's not... it's pointing out that it doesn't get much lower in human depravity than torture and rape. And yet, here you are justifying and defending such a despicable act. Just where do you draw the line?
What I find ridiculous is you calling yourself an American and condoning torture in the same breath. I am truly ashamed to share this country with your kind, and you should be ashamed for ever thinking the words 'American' and 'torture' fit together AT ALL. This great nation was not founded for such heinous acts to be perpetuated by it's government or people. In fact, the Bill Of Rights itself draws a line on being 'cruel and unusual'. There is nothing patriotic whatsoever in torture, and you need to shape up or ship out before you and your like ruin the standard we are supposed to bear. This is the United States of America, dammit, and don't you forget it. Our country means something. Our country stands for something. And that something is not torture.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 11:25 AM

A couple questions for those of you who are on the side of torturing your fellow human beings:
First, it's easy to condemn somebody ELSE to be tortured for the furthering of national security, but what I want to know is, would you be equally willing to condemn YOURSELF to torture for the betterment of our national security? It's a lot easier when it's some stranger that's out of sight and out of mind, but would you still be pro-torture if you were the torturee and not the torturer?
Second, have you ever considered the psychological effects of terrorism, and that you may be a victim of such effects? 9/11 didn't just occur to kill people... it occurred to change minds and cause reaction, and it caused psychological trauma for an entire nation. I would have to assume that anybody that seriously promotes torture currently does so because they were traumatized by the events of 9/11 (not to mention the political, emotional manipulation from our government we've been subjected to since 9/11). Terrorists use death and destruction to manipulate their enemies into extreme actions to that enemy's own detriment, which is unfortunately easy to do thanks to human nature. If we start adopting torture as our practice, a practice we never contemplated before the terrorists struck on 9/11, then we are letting the terrorists and the fear they create guide our country rather than the honest American values that has made our nation so great. We cannot let fear, panic, and hatred replace life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Stop the madness, and stop promoting torture.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 11:49 AM

My freedom is an inalienable right I was born with, not a privilege handed to me by an army or a government

Still repeating I am not an american citizen, that quote is typical of a spoiled attitude that believes that, since he or she enjoys freedom, which came at no personal price for HIM/HER, then it should have meant he/she enjoys it because he/she is so beautiful that it couldn't have been otherwise: he/she supposes he/she enjoys it because it's not a privilege, it is a GRANTED surething.

Freedom may be natural, but by no accounts has EVER been granted. It was Rousseau who said "Man was born free but is everywhere in shackles".

It reminds me of those who say that they do not enjoy the possibility of buying goods because the System allows them to, but because they "pay" for those goods.

You wouldn't even have a decent wage without this western system, but you would be destined to a future either of perpetual gloom, or to a wage that, like in Milosevic's Serbia or in N Korea or in the Soviet Union, or in current Cuba was of 12 dollars a month.

That is the wage in store for you, outside a liberal system that puts a real VALUE upon the toils of your job and the sweat of your head.

Freedom is not granted. You were born to serve, actually.

The only reason you can afford monstruous sentences like that on top, is that you have been so lucky to live in a Country where your forefathers poured their blood so that today you could be free, and think that freedom came from your non existant ethical profile rather than from the sacrifice of those who periodically irrigate the tree of freedom with their guts, limbs, and blood.

Go on watching tv and thinking you were born free: at most, you were born to watch tv games. In many countries for having written 1/1000 of what we did here, we would have been already rounded up in hour houses, and tortured face to face, and those who would torture us would receive a medal.
We in the west made an american revolution, a french revolution, an english revolution, killed two of our own TOP tyrants, Charles I and Louis XVI, waged two world wars to kill two tyrants of the others, a cold war to defend you and me from other tyrants of the others, and this all only because you, today, here, could say: I am free because I was born so.
Be ashamed.

Here is what life REALLY had in store for you (and that IS a stomach turner), you lounge leisure suit freeman of the weekends:


Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 12:32 PM

Why do I just know that we're all going to burn in hell for allowing our country to do this?

We have a war with no end in sight, 2,000 US dead, thousands (give or take) Iraqis dead, tens of thousands of US wounded (some disabled permanently), and $200B down the toilet.

Then we have secret prisons, torture of POWs, and gross manipulation of information.

And now I've read some uninteresting semi-literate's channeling of George C. Scott playing Patton.

If someone could tell me, with a straight face, that the war, the torture, the dead, the maimed, the lies - hell, of anything - produced even a small positive outcome ... well, I probably would not be as pissed about this whole thing as I am.

Posted by: Tom Canick | November 14, 2005 12:35 PM

BDS explained-

The number of things that Bush has been blamed for in this world since 9/11 (even acts of God like Tsunamis, hurricanes and other natural disasters) is the stuff of major comedy. You name the horrible event, and he is identified as the etiologic agent.
He is blamed when he does something (anything) and he is blamed when he does nothing. He is blamed for things that ocurred even before he was President, as well as everything that has happened since. He is blamed for things he says; and for things he doesn't say.***

This psychological defense mechanism is referred to as "displacement".

The purpose of displacement is to avoid having to cope with the actual reality. Instead, by using displacement, an individual is able to still experience his or her anger, but it is directed at a less threatening target than the real cause. In this way, the individual does not have to be responsible for the consequences of his/her anger and feels more safe--even though that is not the case.

This explains the remarkable and sometimes lunatic appeasement of Islamofascists by so many governments and around the world, while they trash the US and particularly Bush. It explains why there is more emphasis on protecting the "rights" of terrorists, rather than holding them accountable for their actions (thier actions, by the way are also Bush's fault, according to those in the throes of BDS). Our soldiers in Iraq are being killed because of Bush--not because of terrorist intent and behavior. Terrorist activity itself is blamed on Bush no matter where it occurs.

It isn't even a stretch of the imagination for some to blame 9/11 on Bush. This is the insane "logic" of most psychological defense mechanisms. They temporarily spare you from the painful reality around you and give you the illusion that you are still in control.

This is exactly the illusion/delusion circulating in the minds of many of the Bush Haters. They want desperately to forget that there is a tidal wave of terror reverberating around the world and to pretend that everything is America's and Bush's fault. If that is true, then they will still be in control of events.

Posted by: opal | November 14, 2005 12:39 PM

Errin, you are easily baited by people like Dexter.

I am an engineer and tend to analyze things from a problem/solution perspective. With this terrorism problem, I considered each possible solution, and discarded those that are impractical or illegal. I do not promote torture, and the thought of it bothers me to no end. I get weary of hearing all these posters taking the "high ground," belittling others points, and providing no ideas whatsoever for ending this scourge.

I am not reacting in some knee-jerk fashion to this. My proposed solution is very basic, and it is not in any way a novel one: If we are going to fight this war, it must be expanded to those countries supporting terrorism. It should be resolute and unrelenting. The current prosecution of this war is going nowhere. I believe this will change the minds of the leaders of these countries, who act as they do because they too are afraid of the terrorists. Their hearts? Does that really matter?

Obviously, most of the posters here believe we should pull out of Iraq and give up on this altogether. These people scream and cry about WMD this and that. Those issues do not matter in the big picture. Think about the consequences of exiting Iraq and abandoning the transformation of that area. Do you think this would result in some cease of attacks on us? Were we at war at the time of the 9/11 attacks? Are you willing to live your life and permit the lives of future generations take this abuse, and take it some more, forever?

I know my opinion means little or nothing in the big scheme of things, but I take this very seriously. I was working downtown, like thousands of others, during the attacks in NYC and DC. I have children and now grandchildren and I do not want them to live in a world, like we do now, in which there is a constant fear of being blown up or poisoned by a collection of unreasonable beings.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | November 14, 2005 12:52 PM

If Osama hates us for our freedom, then I have bad news for America - Osama's winning. When people said 9-11 changed everything they did not appreciate how prophetic their words were.

Our civil rights have been curtailed in the name of 'safety" by the Patriot Act. There was, in fact a reason for the Bill of Rights once.

Our role as the "good guys in the white hats" who work for "truth, justice and the American way" is not just over, its a laughingstock.

The limits of power of our army is now public knowledge. Expand the fight to the entire middle east? We can't even secure Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can't leave Iraq because we can't afford to leave a failed Iraqi state worse off than before. We can't stay because our presence fuels the insurgency and increases the hatred of the West. Is there no leader who can emerge to lead us from this Hell of our own making?

Posted by: patriot 1957 | November 14, 2005 01:13 PM

Ever heard of the Terrorism Knowledge Base?

You can see whether terrorism started with the Iraqi war or not. The year with most terrorist attacks start in 1998, and if you count in the number of victims, 1995 and 1998 are the years with the highest scores and that take the lead.

Do you remember Luxor in Egypt?

In September 1997, militants killed nine German tourists and their driver in front of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Two months later, the group killed 62 people at a tourist site in Luxor.

Mass terrorism is a strategy that started well before the Iraqi war, and well before 911 too.
So, your solution is of sitting idle some MORE eh, to see whether one day it goes away with the snow.

If you don't know how to get the graphs on the TKB, you can find several of them scrolling down this page:


And, ever heard of the Bin Laden "Declaration of War on The West" (other times also said "on the Usa", yet the document ends up speaking of the "romans"), a never disawoved document, rather the contrary:

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; whereafter vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.

You should read it. The reason the west is considered "weak" is, as you may guess by the ecerpt, the old TRADITIONAL misunderstanding and blunder that all non democratic mindsets develop about democracy (from Goebbles downward): that democracy cannot afford losses. Hitler reasoned EXACTLY that way.

When Goebbles stood for election to the Reichstag [=parliament, House] in 1928, he wrote in the eve of the poll an article for Der Angriff saying:
"We go into the Reichstag in order to acquire the weapons of democracy from its arsenal. We become Reichstag deputies in order to paralyze the Weimar democracy with its own assistance.
If democracy is stupid enough to give us free travel privileges and per diem allowances for this service, that is its affair.
[Alan Bullock: "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives"]

Your President doctrine of "boots on the ground" is a consequence of the terrorist doctrine that goes "since they withdrew from Somalia and Lebanon after trivial losses, this means they are cowards".

Dictatorships and fanaticism do not value human lives. They are all expendible chattels. Thye know you are worth of NOTHING. So relax.

When this attitude faces one that values human lives, they misread the former reading it through the filter of the latter. They do not understand that in a Democracy the worst thing you can do is to attack its civilians (9-11), not its military, because a Democracy is based upon civilian consensus via ballots. Dictatorships do not need consensus, this is why they cannot understand the difference between civilans and military.

«The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not yet at war with them.

For more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America's response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient.

Historically, democratic societies have been slow to react to gathering threats, tending instead to wait to confront threats until they are too dangerous to ignore or until it is too late. Despite the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and continued German harassment of American shipping, the United States did not enter the First World War until two years later. Despite Nazi Germany's repeated violations of the Versailles Treaty and its string of provocations throughout the mid-1930s, the Western democracies did not take action until 1939. The U.S. Government did not act against the growing threat from Imperial Japan until the threat became all too evident at Pearl Harbor.

And, tragically, for all the language of war spoken before September 11th, this country simply was not on a war footing. »

[Condoleeza Rice, U.S. National Security Adviser, April 8, 2004]

Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 01:38 PM

"I have children and now grandchildren and I do not want them to live in a world, like we do now, in which there is a constant fear of being blown up or poisoned by a collection of unreasonable beings."

That's the bottom line. If torture keeps us safe, then torture we must. A few accidental terrorist deaths or thousands of innocent civilian deaths? Which is worse?

Posted by: Dexter | November 14, 2005 01:56 PM

On Patton,


And just for the record, there is no reason to place my name it quotes (ie: "chris"). Technically, however, you are correct. On my birth certificate it says "christopher".

Posted by: chris | November 14, 2005 02:08 PM

Torture is NOT that thing technically pursued and emotionally not coveted, with the intention to get information, and spared if information is provided.

Torture is that thing, wantonlly pursued with no precise purpose in mind but gratuitous sadism, where you perform 1000 surgeries a day without anaesthetics, opening wide bellies in order to connect with stitches a bowel with a mouth, preferably before the eyes of a relative as they DID in Auschwitz, to see how it works, and then you let the person like there to die on the surgery table among not even giggles but sheer indifference: get in the next.

That is torture, and its meaning is not of collecting information to spare attacks, but to teach to a set of persons hated by definition that they can suffer so much into the deepest agony, and DIE in that torment, that they can thus be proved to be objects worth of nothing. THAT is torture.
You forgot what it was, since Uncle Sam defeated the Nazis on your behalf.


«White coated doctors, with a mere gesture of the hand, selected those fit enough to be worked to death. The rest (...) in terrified columns of naked men and women, carrying their children or holding their hands and trying to comfort them, were herded into the gas chambers. When the screaming died down and the doors [of the chambers] were opened, the[ir corpses] were still standing upright, so tightly they were packed that they could not fall. (...)
At Auschwitz there was also accommodation for more than 60 [medical] doctors and 600 nurses.
These well equipped laboratories were used for research in which prisoners were subjected to surgeries without any anaesthetics and without any regard to the sufferings they had to endure before being left to die.» [Alan Bullock: "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives"]======================

Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 02:09 PM

So, you think you know what is torture?

Read this by JEAN PAUL SARTRE, a LEFTIST (more, a communist) who lived in a time when REAL TORTURE was daily bread INDEED, to consummate:


«We have been taught to take [history] very seriously.
It is neither our fault nor our merit if we lived in a time when torture was a daily fact.

Chateaubriand, Oradour, the Rue des Saussaies, Tulle, Dachau and Auschwitz have all demonstrated to us that Evil is not an appearance, that knowing its causes does not dispel it, that it is not opposed to Good as a confused idea is to a clear one, that it is not the effects of passions which as such may be cured, or of a fear that as such might be overcome, of a passing aberration that as such might be excused, of an ignorance that as such might be enlightened, that it can in no way be diverted, brought back, reduced, and incorporated into idealistic humanism, like that shade of which Leibnitz has written that is necessary for the glare of daylight.

Satan, Maritain once said, is pure.
Pure, that is, without mixture and without remission.
We have learned to know this horrible, this irreducible purity. It blazes forth in the close and almost sexual relation between the executioner and his victim. For torture is a matter of debasement. (...)

The supreme irony of torture is that the sufferer, if he breaks down and talks, applies his will as a man to denying that he is a man, makes himself the accomplice of his executioners and, by his own movement, throws himself into abjection.
The executioner is aware of this; he watches for this weakness, not only because he will obtain the information he desires, but because it will prove to him once again that he is right in using torture and that man is an animal who must be led with a whip. (...)

He knows that the groaning, sweating, filthy creature who begs for mercy and abandons himself in a swooning consent with the moanings of an amorous woman, and who yields everything and is even so carried away that he improves upon his betrayals because the consciousness that he has done evil is like a stone round his neck dragging him still farther down, exists also in his own image and that he -the executioner- is bearing down upon himself as much as upon his victim.

(...) A moment comes when torturer and tortured are in accord, the former because he has, in a single victim, symbolically gratified his hatred of all mankind, the latter because he can bear his failing only by pushing it to the limit, and because the only way he can endure his self-hatred is by hating all other men along with himself.
Later, perhaps, the executioner will be hanged. Perhaps the victim, if he recovers, will be redeemed. But what will blot out this Mass in which two freedoms have communed in the destruction of the human?

We knew that, to a certain extent, it was being celebrated everywhere in Paris while we were eating, sleeping, and making love.
We heard whole streets screaming and we understood that Evil, fruit of a free and sovereign will, is, like Good, absolute.

Perhaps a day will come when a happy age, looking back at the past, will see in this suffering and shame one of the paths which led to peace.
But we were not on the side of history already made. (...)

Most of the resisters, though beaten, burned, blinded, and broken, did not speak. They broke the circle of Evil and reaffirmed the human - for themselves, for us, and for their very tortures.
They did it without witness, without help, without hope, often even without faith.
For them it was not a matter of believing in man but of wanting to.
Everything conspired to discourage them: so many indications everywhere about them, those faces bent over them, that misery within them. Everything concurred in making them believe that they were only insects, that man is the impossible dream of spies and squealers, and that they would awaken as vermin like everybody else.

This man had to be invented with their martyrized flesh, with their hunted thoughts which were already betraying them - invented on the basis of nothing, for nothing, and in absolute gratuitousness.

(...) We knew that every moment of the day, in the four corners of Paris, man was a hundred times destroyed and reaffirmed.
Obsessed as we were by these tortures, a week did not go by that we did not ask ourselves: "Suppose I were tortured, what would I do?".

And this question alone carried us to the very frontiers of ourselves and of the human. We oscillated between the no-man's land where mankind denies itself and the barren desert from which it must surge and create itself.
Those who had immediately preceded us in the world, who had bequeathed us their culture, their wisdom, their customs, and their proverbs, who had built the houses that we lived in and who had marked the roads with the statues of great men, practised modest virtues and remained in the moderate regions.

Their faults never caused them to fall so low that they did not find others beneath them who were more guilty, nor did their merits cause them to rise so high that they did not see other souls above them whose merit was greater. (...)

But we could no longer find it natural to be men when our best friends, if they were taken, could choose only between abjection and heroism, that is between the two extremes of the human condition, beyond which there is no longer anything.
If they were cowards and traitors, all men were above them; if heroic, all men were below them.
In the latter case, which was the most frequent, they no longer felt humanity as a limitless milieu. It was a thin flame within them which they alone kept alive.

It kept itself going in the silence which they opposed to their executioners. About them was nothing but the great polar night of the inhuman and of unknowingness, which they did not even see, which they guessed in the glacial cold.

(...) The same for all of them; anguish and forlornness and the sweating of blood begin for a man when he can no longer have any other witness than himself. It is then that he drains the cup, that he experiences his human condition to the bitter end.

Of course, we are quite far from having all felt this anguish, but it haunted us like a threat and a promise.

Forced by circumstances to discover the pressure of history, as Torricelli discovered atmospheric pressure, and tossed by the cruelty of the time into that forlornness from where we can see our condition as a man to the very limit, to the absurd, to the night of unknowingness, we have a task for which we may not be strong enough. (...)

The weakening, the vections, the involutions, and the slow disorganization of a particular system in the middle of a universe at rest. But from 1940 on, we found ourselves in the midst of a cyclone. If we wished to orient ourselves in it we suddenly found ourselves at grips with a problem of a higher order of complexity, exactly as a quadratic equation is more complex than a linear.» ===========================

So, you think you know what is torture?

Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 02:12 PM

The ticking time bomb scenario is probably the best debated scenario because it represents the most acceptable rationale for torture because it is ultimately argued from a utility perspective: if pressed with two bad options, the loss of thousands of lives or the incredible pain of one, which option leaves a worse taste in our mouth?

The problem with this approach is its failure to ask a key question. We do not approach utility unconditionally; many person's lives are not assumed valuable in our equation. We don't, for example, allow a murderer to claim "If you sentence me to death it would hurt me" as a reasonable defense. The assumption is that this person has violated their "right not to be killed".

We also do not think it is wrong to attack and kill enemy combatants. Again the assumption is that these people have abandoned their "right not to be attacked" by engaging in certain kinds of behaviour. Saddam Hussein seems to be one of these types of people.

But why? What has Saddam done to warrant our refusal to extend to him the "right not to be attacked"? It is precisely those morally bankrupt behaviors that we are focused on in this debate, like torture or gassing one's population, that gives us sufficient pause in considering his well being when we rule against him.

No one has argued successfully that torture is justified in and of itself. All arguments are predicated upon an ends-justify-means basis because it would be an impossibly difficult task to speak on the merits of torture (of which there are none) without mentioning the merely potential merits of the result of torture (perhaps saving lives)

If we think persons such as Saddam Hussein have the ability to sacrifice their "right not to be attacked" then we need to extend this qualification to all persons as a matter of consistency.

We should hope that if the United States of America is functioning as a Democracy it is only engaging in behavior that the population accepts. If the population accepts torture than all American citizens are, at the very least, complicit in torture.

And thus the argument is self-defeating. If we must argue from a utility standpoint that torture protects lives, we are already assuming that those lives are worth protecting. But if we accept that torture is the type of egregious sin that can possibly result in the loss of "rights not to be attacked" than the argument falters. By accepting torture as a viable defense strategy, a democratic population admits that it has no right to claim any defensive strategy.

Further discussion should explain why populations that torture people deserve to be defended in the first place. Until you can establish the incorrectly assumed "rights" of people who torture, the ticking-time-bomb scenario is illogical.

The ticking time bomb assumes that there are innocent lives to be saved. But in so far as those "innocents" are at least complicit in the crime of torture, in what sense are they "innocent" at all?

The reason that Americans are "innocent" and terrorists are not is because we correctly identify torture as morally bankrupt (as the Senate claimed unanimously last week) and the enemy does not.

Posted by: Will | November 14, 2005 02:24 PM


Real torture (not a head whacked with a phone book) means performing the unimaginable upon a body, with passion.

You first imagine the unimaginable, leisurely, then you just DO IT, wantonly. That simple. But with PASSION. So, ideally, for the sake of it.

You do not even want the information, actually you want JUST the AGONY. That means TORTURE. Saddam's son who makes a guy who glimpsed at his "girlfriend" in a Baghdad Disco get eaten alive by lions, together with his parents, while he watches at them amused and laughing with friends, THAT is TORTURE.

A Lady is too well mannered if she thinks that "gen Patton" was a stomach turner. You still have to see the stoamch turners then.

I may suggest to read some boooks about what they did in Mathausen. And particularly why they did it: for the sake of it. Jews had not even information to give.

Or maybe, just an inquiry into what they did in Abu Ghraib BEFORE those four poor idiots of Usa soldiers entered there to shoot those photos worth of the amateur idiots they are, since it seems from the reasonings we read that Abu Ghraib was not built by Saddam. He went personally to torture his opponents, not even because they had information, but just because they dared sneeze in public.

From Peter Calvocoressi, Second World War:
«About 1,500 Czechs were immediately killed, including 120 who had escaped into a church.
In addition 3,000 jews were removed from the concentration camp at Terezin and sent to Poland to be killed. But this was not the end.
A few days later, Lidice, [a town] apparently selected at random, was sealed off by the SD. That day nothing much happened, although a woman and a small boy were shot and killed for trying to escape. The next day the entire male population over sixteen years of age was shot in batches -172 of them in a leisurely massacre that took ten hours; the women were sent to Ravensbrueck concentration camp and the children to a different camp; pregnant women were first allowed to give birth to their children, then their babies were killed before them, and the women were sent to join their friends in Ravensbrueck. [The town of] Lidice itself was razed to the ground.
Lezaky, another small village near Prague, was treated in the same way a few days later. These savage reprisals were supplemented by 10,000 arrests (...) Hitler ordered all the saboteurs to be executed on the spot and all suspects to be handed over to the SD - which was worse.»

You might argue: cruel exceptions.
Oh, indeed?
From Peter Calvocoressi, Second World War:

«whereupon, all were driven off to a nearby open space, stripped and shot. The dead and half dead were tumbled into trenches. Others were drowned or burned alive wholesale.
No concealment was attempted, or possible. The razzias were witnessed by thousands, talked about and even photographed. The executioners had to be kept up to their task by being made half drunk (which did not improve their aim), by treble pay and long holidays. A typical operation involved several hundred of victims and took several hours. The largest single operation was the killing of over 33,000 Kievan jews in two days in September 1941 as a reprisal for the blowing up of a hotel (...) the mass grave of these dead and dying jews continued to be used as dump for what the Nazis regarded as human refuse until it contained at least 100,000 corpses.
A year later about 16,000 jews were killed in a single day at Pinsk, with the help of grenades, axes, dogs, and SS cavalry.»
[ Source: http://www.unitedscripters.com/writings/writings8.html ]

WHEN YOU SPEAK OF TORTURE BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. The term is used with a bit too much nonchalance nowadays. You get a kick in the butt, you have been tortured... They ask you questions without even touching you and yet before your lawyer arrives, you have been "psychologically TORTURED"...

Wow. What dandies!

Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 02:32 PM

Your post was torture. Moral relativism is as morally bankrupt as torture is.

Posted by: Will | November 14, 2005 02:41 PM


Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 02:49 PM

"morally bankrupt" is a catchphrase that became populare after the Australian premier used it two years ago. Since then, all who never were able to put together two words, use it to pretend a cultural depth they never had. This is why they BORROW it, and repeat SLOGANS that they do not understand, but that they like.

But torture, oh torture is NOT a slogan. Torture is DEDICATION in the UTMOST degree.

In fact, when you perform surgeries without anaesthetics on a kid before the eyes of her mummy, you have left any moral ground and any idea of bankruptcy behind your shoulders long ago.

The fact before torture you can still extract form the hat elegant phrases like oh "morally bankruptcy" means you don't have the slightest clue about what torture is. Otherwise, you'd sit mum, in HORROR, beyond good and evil, beyond words slogans and opinions.

If you had ever had any idea what TORTURE is..., you would never use the ideas of a "morality" and of a "bankruptcy" and of "relativism" to cope with it.


Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 02:55 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, here it is what they know about torture: they JUST cast the term "torture" to qualify a POST here.

This is how much they know WHAT they are talking about. They use the term TORTURE without even seeing the sacrality that is in it, they carefree bestow it even upon a POST.
You can see yourself HOW much they know what they are talking about, when to them TORTURE is so meaningless a word that they feel no sense of BLASPHEMY in using it to qualify a post. They think it is a JOKE you see.


Posted by: Unitedscripters | November 14, 2005 03:04 PM

Two comments: The CIA sent advisors to Iran in the 1970s to teach the Shah's secret police how to more effectively torture and terrorize dissidents. It only made them angrier to see people disappear in the night, never to be seen again.

The nuts who talk about a clash of civilizations since Biblical times should note that the clash between religion and forces of reason put Bible guys in opposition to the forces of reason in the Greek and Roman empires. At the present time, many Bush supporters are trying to uphold Christian fundamentalist anti-freedom as the alternative to extreme Islamic anti-freedom. Neither is freedom, both are theocratic crap!

Posted by: Martian76 | November 14, 2005 03:47 PM

This debate reminds me why I only check in here occasionally. For what it's worth, I'm here to express my view for those with similar views to share. I've debated here enough to know that there is very little real dialogue between opposite sides, and a lot of weird tangents that have nothing to do with anything. But the one thing I do get to do is take other people's points and challenge them.
I challenge whomever said I was baited for this or that. I'm going to argue against idiotic views such as condoning torture in the name of America. That's why I'm here on a webpage called 'The Debate'. If I argue my view passionately, you are making the false assumption that I somehow am riled up and heavily effected by other's views. I assure you I am not. My apologies if you took my bait.
I challenge whomever said Bush is blamed for everything. Their post was highly exaggerative, and was most likely typed by somebody who never blames Bush for anything. It was a warped use of flawed pop psychology to try to cast all anti-Bush people as something they aren't: delusional. I don't blame Bush for 9/11, but I do hold him accountable. You see, I have this 'crazy' idea that presidents are accountable for national security. When a major national security catastrophe happens under their watch, they need to be taken to task for it. If citizens don't hold their elected officials accountable, then how is representative democracy supposed to function properly? And that's a gross misrepresentation to say Bush is blamed for hurricanes and such. He is held accountable for a bad federal response to Hurricane Katrina, not for the hurricane itself. You see, our fellow Americans died because the response wasn't done competently, and people dying isn't a good thing. Bush bears the brunt of this because the buck stops with him! For all the arguing you did about Bush being blamed too much, you didn't mention once that Bush shirks accountability too much. The guy was voted in to do a job, and he is not doing it well; Maybe he'd start doing it better if he didn't have an army of apologists that defend him every step of the way...even to the point of promoting torture. Seriously, is there anything you wouldn't follow Bush's lead on? The man's a POLITICIAN, people; Only fools blindly follow a politician. Hello??? You defend him vehemently, and he'd sell you down the river to get just a little more power to call his own. For all your defense of him, can you even claim to know what he's really about? Like any politician, he shows his game face to the public, and that's it. It is truly pathetic how many suckers take him at face value.
I challenge the unitedscripters person who was so riled by my comments on freedom. Well, I am not spoiled at all... I am free as a bird, and fully aware of that. That freedom doesn't come from a soldier or the actions of people in the past or even the Constitution. That freedom simply is and will be. It is the US Constitution that recognizes this inalienable truth; It does not create it. I am indebted to nobody for my freedom, and that's that. Argue 'til you're blue in the face, and you can't change that fact. Being that you aren't an American citizen anyway, I don't know how you can even pretend to understand the kinds of freedom I enjoy and was born into. My guess is you're not even grasping the argument I'm making, and are instead reacting emotionally to my blatant and boastful view of my own inalienable freedom. If my guess is correct, then pardon me for having pride in being free, both existentially and as an American. If you want to limit your own freedom, by all means do so, but don't try to get me to limit mine.
I challenge this Dexter fellow once again, though he dodges my questions to him instead of answering them directly like I am directly answering my challengers here. His bottom line is 'if torture makes us safe, then torture it is'. Out the door with any notion of American values or a higher moral ground. His is the pure desperate survival of a person wrapped up in the paranoid hysteria we've all had propulgated on us since 9/11. We are not animals; We are Americans. You need to RECOGNIZE that there is much more at stake here than lives. If we lose the very values that makes America what it is, and has led us to prosperity thus far, we lose the war on terror, even if every one of us survives. If our government would have done it's job properly and prevented 9/11 in the first place, we wouldn't be in our current situation now, would we? I suppose you're going to say it's not the government's job to prevent national security catastrophes, but I digress... Dexter's bottom line might be a desperate, fear-driven, ignoble need for survival at any cost, but my bottom line is the Constitution, and it says 'no cruel and unusual punishment'. To oppose that is to be as un-American as it gets. WE are the standard bearers of truth, justice, and the American way. The American way is not torture, and should never be. Live free or die; To compromise that is to be a coward. In other words, I won't abandon my American values for the sake of survival like people such as Dexter, people who have abandoned the honor of the United States because 9/11 scared them so. We will defeat the terrorists, and we will do it without resorting to their level of human degradation. If you think America needs torture to get it's goals accomplished, then you don't know what the US of A is all about. We never needed torture in the past to win our battles, and we sure as hell don't need it now. Do you have the nerve to argue against that?

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 04:14 PM

I have no clue why you are obsessing about TORTURE not being torture, unitedscripters. In fact, you're damn near rambling nonsensically on the subject. As far as I know, we are discussing torture here. Period. End of sentence.
Torture is torture. We're not debating interrogation. We're not debating rough treatment of detainees. We are discussing torture. Really, what posts are you referring to that aren't discussing torture? When I say 'torture', I mean pure, unadulterated torture, and am sure that's what most everybody means here when we use the term 'torture'. Now if you are reacting to the post somebody made of your quite long posts being torture to read, that was a joke, though I would agree it is an unfair joke to make in the context of a valid debate. I sincerely doubt that any of us here really regard your posts as torture. I for one wouldn't oppose the terrorists being subjected to your posts...

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 04:34 PM

Cheney has set us onto a lovely distraction from the issue at hand, - who are we and are we or are we not a nation that respect the "Rule of Law".

When is it OK to break the "Rule of Law"?

For murder we have as a society accepted self-defense.

For theft we would accept stealing a bottle of baby formula from a grocery after a natural disaster like a hurricane, but not looting the store's television sets.

For honesty, society has accepted the concept of the 'white lie" for "how do you like my new couch?", but not lies about national security or perjury.

For torture, most would accept the "ticking time bomb" defense, but not what went on at Abu Ghraib. Most resistance movements are compartmentalized so that a single person only knows a little bit - the "ticking time bomb" is an exceptional, not a likely, event. For most resistance fighters the "good cop bad cop" routine works best - find them someone to confide in who has something in common with their idealism and they'll sing.

Go examine the local penal codes. Do they contain exclusions and caveats for self-defense, feeding infants after disasters and white lies? NO! We don't make children memorize a catechism of when it is morally permissible to violate the rule of law - we give them a conscience instead.

What Cheney and Gonzales and others are doing is a distraction designed to keep us from recognizing the extent to which they have no sense of decency nor respect for Rule of Law. They have no conscience.

I expect my government to treat prisoners humanely even when they don't deserve it so that we have a leg to stand on if ours are not. I expect them to use interrogation methods that are proven to work well, (see the Soviet agent and the US prisoner in Vietnam example from Tom Clancy's Without Remorse). I expect the circumstances under which torture would be required to stop a ticking time bomb to be exceptionally rare and expect society to accept it as one of the necessary deviations to rule of law in the very rare circumstances under which it occurs. And I don't trust Dick Cheney to be the judge, nor even George Bush. Talk about McCain or Hagel or Finegold and I'm with you.l

Posted by: patriot1957 | November 14, 2005 05:16 PM

You only have to read these posts to realize that we have played right into Osama's hands.

You just don't get it that the PR war is the most important one we're fighting right now. There are still many secular Islamic governments and peoples, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, UAR, Saudi Arabia. Whose side will they end up on - the side with which they share blood and religion, or the West?

We think we're saying "who are you with- The terrorists who hijack your religion or the American good guys in the white hats tring to save the world for democracy?"

But what is being heard? Good guys in white hats don't withhold information vital to accurate interpretation of intelligence, don't conduct first strike invasions that kill twice as many innocent Iraqis as Americans who died on 9-11, and don't brag about torturing prisoners.

What is being heard is - "are you with a bullying nation with no respect for the rule of law nor respect for human rights, or are you with those defending your own blood adn religion?" More and more Muslums are hearing the latter.

Osama has pulled back the curtain and let the world see who we are. We will either be the shining city on the hill, or the infidels. If we act like the latter, we should expect to be seen for it.

Posted by: patriot1957 | November 14, 2005 05:34 PM

What a pleasant surprise to encounter a post here that actually changed my view. Though I've been pretty much absolutist on no torture whatsoever in the name of America, patriot1957 has made me realize that it is better not to be too absolute, and that the world is complex enough that some torture may sometimes be necessary in some national security situations. However, I still question it's overall necessity and think that any use of it in the name of our nation should be limited in the extreme, a last resort only in all situations, and should require some sort of Congressional and/or executive oversight for each instance to occur. One thing that I think is still very important is the Constitutional rule of no cruel and unusual punishment; We mustn't deviate from the enlightened wisdom of our founding fathers, so any torture must be cruelty-free (i.e. an empiric attempt to extract information and nothing more) and not unusual (like that crazy crap they did at Abu Ghraib). And, if we do adopt such a policy, we should reluctantly accept it as a reality of our world rather than as an American value.
I still feel the wiser and more moral view is to avoid torture all together, though I must concede that being absolutist may be too naive for the complex situations we may face in national security. And yet, it still saddens me to think our great US of A will possibly become a nation wherein torture is accepted and allowed in any degree.
And patriot1957 was pretty dead on about Osama Bin Laden. We hear so much bluster on how our actions may effect our enemy, yet we spend so little time truly contemplating how our enemy's actions have already effected us. Osama and his killers have been pulling our strings ever since 9/11, and we have been too willing to play along, too willing to elevate him to a world figure, an anti-American anti-hero to many in the world. And yet, our deadliest of enemies has been free for over four years now since 9/11 to plot and plan and hurt us even more, both psychologically and mortally, and we seem to be wrapped up in everything and anything except going directly after him, he who is our greatest threat. Just why has the search for Osama been swept under the rug anyway? I'd happily switch subjects from torture to why we aren't currently and aggressively hunting Bin Laden with all we've got, and, if we are still hunting him, why we aren't hearing anything about it from our news or government. What happenned??? Maybe someday soon it will be another subject for 'The Debate'.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 14, 2005 08:53 PM

From Dictionary.com:

tor·ture Audio pronunciation of "torture" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tôrchr)

1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
2. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.

tr.v. tor·tured, tor·tur·ing, tor·tures

1. To subject (a person or an animal) to torture.
2. To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another). See Synonyms at afflict.
3. To twist or turn abnormally; distort: torture a rule to make it fit a case.

I don't see anything here about passion or the motivation of the torturer.

Posted by: Chris | November 14, 2005 08:55 PM

I agree with ErrinF about Bin Laden. I believe that is where Bush made his mistake by taking us into the war in Iraq. They were not the ones that attacked us. That would be like back in WWII when the Japanees attached us and we attached China.

The treat and still the treat to the US is Bin Laden and his people. If Iraq was a threat they could have waited until after we got Bin.

It is also funny to me that through out history that no country has won a two front war that we are fight right now.

Maybe Bush Jr should have read Bush Sr memo about not being able to win a war in Iraq and the danger of making the region more unstable.

Posted by: Tee | November 22, 2005 12:49 PM

The perpetrators of abuse at Abu Ghraib are perverts--sexual sadists and so probably is Patton's Ghost. But they were also traitors to their country, betraying a cause and probably contributing to the deaths of fellow soldiers by inciting hatred against Americans.

Posted by: Mark | Nov 11, 2005 7:53:47 AM

What about the perpetrators of abuse at Guantanamo? What about the perpetrators of abuse at Baghram? What about the perpetrators of the torture memos that went to the president? What about the perpetrators of the Special Action Program (SAP)? What about the chain of command that perpetrated these "torture" recommendations (Boykin, Miller, Fast, Sanchez, Pappas, Jordan and Wood)? What about the CIA who perpetrated the death of the terrorist that was temporarily assigned to Tier 1A? What about the Senators who perpetrated the prevention of a Senate Investigation into the "abuse" at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Baghram? Who suggested that the terrorists be stripped naked? Who suggested that they be sexually humiliated? Who suggested that they be treated like dogs? Are they all perverts - sexual sadists?

Posted by: Charley | November 24, 2005 02:55 PM

Why is always just the fault of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib? Why do you always focus there? It was happening all over Iraq and there are close to a hundred cases of convicted abuse and hundreds of soldiers and whole units involved. That is fact.

That the media keeps saying over and over and over that the worst abuses happened at Abu Ghraib is just stupid.
What they really mean is they have a hold of the pictures from there and they can focus on those and harp on them.
Lots of these other cases had pictures too, the government just didnt release them.
I mean:
fake electrocution with pictures (Abu Ghraib) vs. real electrocution (no pics available (Marine case)

pics with a dead body vs. CIA causing the actual death ??

CPL Graner punched a detainee once using Rules of Engagement and training by Gitmo interrogators in use of force situation vs. soldier in Afghanistan using knee strike over 39 times in what contributed to detainee's death (no pics or detainee witness available). Graner-faced 15, got 10; other soldier faced 15, got reduction in rank

I could go on but my head is going to explode, these soldiers are scapegoats

Posted by: Confused | November 29, 2005 03:27 PM

The soldiers are "scapegoats" yes but it was up to them to stand up and speak out. Being a soldier does not mean being a head nodding automaton and doing exactly as you are told. They have a personal responsibility to speak up when they see something unethical or wrong. If your military asks you to do something unethical you can bet your US stars that if it becomes public they will hand the reponsibilty over to you and play dumb. You have to be dumb not to see that. You don't turn in your brain when you sign up.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 15, 2005 10:27 AM

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