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Jim

GOP to waterboard Cheney

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I'm not sure what you're getting at, Jay. One cannot voice an objection to torture if they don't voice equal objection to bombing? Hogwash. Those who complain about torture don't complain about civilian casualties? Really? Somebody here argued that we were just as bad as the Nazi's in WWII? When?

 

And protectionism? Say what?

 

You can voice an objection to whatever you wish - but voicing objections is one thing, having a morally and logically coherent argument that you base your objections on is quite another.

 

I haven't been saying that torturing the likes of KSM in an effort to extract information that may help prevent AQ or their equivalent from pulling off an attack in which tens, hundreds, or thousands of civilians isn't something that one can make principled and practical objections to. Just that I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how someone can oppose using a tactic like waterboarding on ethical grounds, without having considerably stronger objections to blowing the same person - along with his children, family, pet chickens, etc to pieces with an airstrike in order to achieve the same end...preventing the said person from orchestrating, assisting in, conducting, etc terrorist attacks in which they deliberately kill as many civilians as possible.

 

I think that it makes good practical sense to blow them to pieces with a missile or bomb instead of apprehending them, since killing them in this fashion is likely to cost us far less politically than capturing them, detaining them, and interrogating them - even if this means killing multiple other people who just happen to be in the same madrassa. I'm just not about to pretend that it's more moral, or that making pledges not to torture AQ operatives that we happen to capture alive is anything but a practical and political concession so long as we'd gladly execute them with explosives when given the chance. Also makes more practical and political sense to kill all pirates at a distance and let the ocean critters tend to their disposal than actually try to apprehend them, detain them, and try them - but I'd never argue that it's the more moral thing to to.

 

I also think that it's politically and practically sound to have rules that give the impression that we'd never use any techniques that could reasonably be described as torture, no matter how dire the threat, or how many innocent lives are at stake - even though the reality is that in practice, there's virtually no country out there that wouldn't make an exception in certain circumstances. Thus we have the loophole that Obama wisely, but discretely, included in the rules that prohibit torture.

 

Just trying to have an honest discussion here, Matt. I'm not prepared to pretend that some largely rhetorical changes in tactics, driven by what's politically and practically expedient, amount to a fundamental change in the calculus that we use to decide what's permissible to prevent additional terrorists attacks, but if that makes everyone else happy - I'll go along for the ride.

 

*The protectionism aside was in response to RM's reply, which was in response to a comment I made in another thread. Seemed like that'd be clear enough to anyone who was scrolling through the thread, but I'll try to be more explicit.

 

**Substitute WWII for any conflict between two parties involving violence. "If we do X then we're no better than the Y that we're fighting against." Police shoot and kill people who are...shooting and killing people, etc - but the fact that they're both using guns to kill people doesn't render them morally equivalent to one another. Seems germaine to the "If we do X then we're no better than the terrorists..." refrain or RM's comments about bombings and Nuremburg above.

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Jay, I still don’t understand what you are getting at.

 

Previously you said that the fact that “those guys” who complained about torture at Abu Ghraib or Guantanimo didn’t also complain about our bombing where civilians were present was “proof” of their “motives” in complaining about our use of torture. First of all, the demonstrations against the war in Iraq were the biggest such demonstrations since Vietnam, so I don’t think you can argue that lots and lots of Americans were not then and likely do not now remain concerned about civilian casualties. Second, many or most who have complained about the torture have also complained that we were lied to when Bush and pals wanted to go to war in the first place (not all-has McCain ever complained that Bush lied?), and most of these same people have complained that our government has hidden the casualties from us. Clearly most if not all of those concerned about our use of torture are IN FACT concerned about needless civilian casualties as well and complaints about Bush and Cheney are based on much broader concerns in addition to either.

 

I can't think of anybody who has said it is OK to fight an unnecessary war and kill hundreds of thousands for it but it is a tricky thing, politically and for some it is challenging in an emotional way, to argue that our warriors are doing bad things. However, with the pictures that came out of Abu Ghraib, it is the opposite. It is politcially difficult to argue that it was OK, and equally difficult, at a gut emotional level, to justify it. Even most of the advocates for the war on terror had to publicly decry what took place there. That is why they blamed Linde and said that the acts were random acts of rogue agents. Further, it is perfectly sensible to argue that torture should not be our policy even if you (as you apparently do) think that there may be rare cases where the torture is necessary. I supppose we might have seen much of the same reactions if we saw the kinds of horrific and grafic images of civilian casualties as we saw coming out of Vietnam, but these images have largely been hidden from us through what I can only assume must be censorship.

 

if you are complaining about the politicians on TV, I don’t think any of them have ever indicated they weren’t concerned about “collateral damage” either. They may be more hesitant to criticize our military operations than they are our torture of detainees because everybody has to “support the troops” but you can easily argue that torturing the bad guys is not a help in this war effort.

 

But who are these people who “pretend” that indiscriminate bombing is more “moral" than our use of torture?

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First of all, the demonstrations against the war in Iraq were the biggest such demonstrations since Vietnam,....I supppose we might have seen much of the same reactions if we saw the kinds of horrific and grafic images of civilian casualties as we saw coming out of Vietnam, but these images have largely been hidden from us through what I can only assume must be censorship.

 

The Feb 15, 2003 worldwide Iraq war protests were the largest in history.

 

the graphic images of Iraq are out there, they're just not on the mainstream press.

 

there were also further more extreme images from Abu Ghraib that we've been told about but never seen.

 

I think you guys are missing the real story/reason for torture.

 

and waterboarding is a euphemism, and even simulated drowning is inaccurate. This kind of torture is actual drowning, you actually think you are going to die, and people have died of drowning from it. And the inclination puts the carbon dioxide at the top of your lungs, causing your mind to go into instant overload. You could say it's just as bad as being killed because it ruins the rest of your life. You are never the same, victims typically can't shower and can't even go outside when it rains. Some have even committed suicide.

 

Besides that at least 100 prisoners have been outright killed in US run detention camps. About 25 of them are being investigated as murder.

 

back to the real reason for torture. Look at the timeline. There was no insurgency to speak of until Abu Ghraib. Then inside a supposedly secure prison 100's of photos and videos were allowed to be taken, then they got out of the secure area and published in the corporate owned media. Presto/chango, instant insurgency. Funny how everything they did was a case study of the things that most enrage the Arab mind.

 

ever since the Russians folded the military industrial complex has been looking for an enemy to expend their $million dollar cruise missiles on. "terrorism" is the perfect enemy, and if one country gives up you just move it to another.

 

They didn't torture for actionable intelligence, they don't care if we're going to be attacked, they want us to be attacked. They want to enrage the "enemy" so he will fight. Any expert on interrogation will tell you torture is not for reliable info, it's for intimidation and getting what you want to hear. They wanted to hear that Al Qaida was in Iraq. They wanted to hear that dirt camp terrorists masterminded 911. It's for getting the opposition to fight, because they know if they're captured they are going to be tortured. It's for creating a recruitment poster for the "enemy" to build them up so they'll have something to throw those $million dollar bombs against.

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or that making pledges not to torture AQ operatives that we happen to capture alive is anything but a practical and political concession

 

the truth of the matter is that when we first invaded Afghan we had a $5000 bounty for "terrorists". The warlords turned in anybody that was handy, the military didn't have time, resources or inclination to investigate if these "terrorists" were legit. Hence the 500 or so of the 800 at Gitmo that were released during Bush's term.

 

There was no evidence against them. They were never tried or convicted of anything, they were never even charged. But some of them were randomly tortured. Many suspect that the ones they won't release were tortured more than others with the suspicion they can't be released because they will testify against their captors. Less than a dozen of the original 800 have even been charged and none have been tried in a real Habeas Corpus court.

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Jay, I still don’t understand what you are getting at.

 

Previously you said that the fact that “those guys” who complained about torture at Abu Ghraib or Guantanimo didn’t also complain about our bombing where civilians were present was “proof” of their “motives” in complaining about our use of torture. First of all, the demonstrations against the war in Iraq were the biggest such demonstrations since Vietnam, so I don’t think you can argue that lots and lots of Americans were not then and likely do not now remain concerned about civilian casualties. Second, many or most who have complained about the torture have also complained that we were lied to when Bush and pals wanted to go to war in the first place (not all-has McCain ever complained that Bush lied?), and most of these same people have complained that our government has hidden the casualties from us. Clearly most if not all of those concerned about our use of torture are IN FACT concerned about needless civilian casualties as well.

 

I can't think of anybody who has said it is OK to fight an unnecessary war and kill hundreds of thousands for it but it is a tricky thing, politically and for some it is challenging in an emotional way, to argue that our warriors are doing bad things. However, with the pictures that came out of Abu Ghraib, it is the opposite. It is politcially difficult to argue that it was OK, and equally difficult, at a gut emotional level, to justify it. Even most of the advocates for the war on terror had to publicly decry what took place there. That is why they blamed Linde and said that the acts were random acts of rogue agents. Further, it is perfectly sensible to argue that torture should not be our policy even if you (as you apparently do) think that there may be rare cases where the torture is necessary. I supppose we might have seen much of the same reactions if we saw the kinds of horrific and grafic images of civilian casualties as we saw coming out of Vietnam, but these images have largely been hidden from us through what I can only assume must be censorship.

 

if you are complaining about the politicians on TV, I don’t think any of them have ever indicated they weren’t concerned about “collateral damage” either. They may be more hesitant to criticize our military operations than they are our torture of detainees because everybody has to “support the troops” but you can easily argue that torturing the bad guys is not a help in this war effort.

 

But who are these people who “pretend” that indiscriminate bombing is more “moral" than our use of torture?

 

I'm not sure how to spell it out any more explicitly than I have, other than attempting to summarize it as "If you are outraged by torture you should (logically) be more upset about assassination by explosives." The fact that this evidently isn't the case is what's interesting to me, and I suppose that this thread was an attempt to get the more vocal critics of the tactics used by the Bush administration to explain why torturing the likes of KSM was a moral travesty that desecrated our national values (now outlawed, with gaping loophole, by Obama), but using missiles/bombs to kill them and anyone around them (still part of our tactical repetoire under Obama) didn't throw the same folks into paroxysms of rage, despair, and recriminations.

 

I personally think that this supposed conundrum can be explained in a single sentence. Obama isn't Bush, and politics, rather than principle, motivated the last eight years of years of teeth gnashing. How else to explain the relative quiescence that's greeted the parade of announcements from the Obama administration that they'll be keeping most of the architecture that the Bush administration put in place to prosecute the GWOT?

 

Just to revist some highlights, here's a repost of the headlines that I included earlier in the thread:

 

[font:Comic Sans MS]"Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/us/politics/18policy.html

 

"Moreover, the nominee for C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, opened a loophole in Mr. Obama’s interrogation restrictions. At his hearing, Mr. Panetta said that if the approved techniques were “not sufficient” to get a detainee to divulge details he was suspected of knowing about an imminent attack, he would ask for “additional authority.”

 

To be sure, Mr. Panetta emphasized that the president could not bypass antitorture statutes, as Bush lawyers claimed. And he said that waterboarding — a technique that induces the sensation of drowning, and that the Bush administration said was lawful — is torture.

 

How about Military Tribunals?

 

"U.S. May Revive Guantánamo Military Courts"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/us/politics/02gitmo.html

 

Et....cetera.

 

"Obama Considers Detaining Terror Suspects Indefinitely"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124223286506515765.html

 

"Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool"

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-rendition1-2009feb01,0,4661244.story

"Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

 

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism -- aside from Predator missile strikes -- for taking suspected terrorists off the street."

 

"Obama Moves to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos"

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/jan-june09/photos_05-13.html

 

"President Obama has decided to bar the release of photos showing U.S. personnel mistreating detainees in Iraq and Afghani[/font]stan amid concerns the backlash could jeopardize troops abroad."

 

Plus a bonus from today's headlines:

"Obama revives tribunals for Gitmo detainees"

AP Link

 

One need only imagine the avalanche of "principled" outrage, recriminations, and imaginary threats to leave for Canada that would have greeted the very same policy moves by a McCain administration in order to firmly establish this point. If the deafening silence that's greeted all of the above across the leftosphere permits any other conclusion, I'm certainly open to hearing why.

 

Again - I'll restate that I'm not criticizing Obama here. He clearly understand the political and practical necessity of catering to public sentiment while, aside from a bit of rhetorical window dressing, retaining the tools that he feels will be necessary to combat AQ and their ilk.

 

 

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“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.”

--Philip K. Dick

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Jay, you're still talking baloney here. Bush started two wars and handed Obama the third. Most of us who have been against these activities from the start, and any who have been against torture, hope Obama can turn all of this around. Many are concerned that he may dig us in deeper rather than turn things around, but the idea that if we called Bush and Cheney war criminals we have to say the same about Obama is ludicrous.

 

Am I happy that he has said that we may use torture in isolated instances where he will give specific permission? No. But that is a much better state of affairs than Cheney or Rummy or whoever it was saying we're taking the gloves off now and having torture become common practice and show up on the 6:00 news.

 

Am I happy that they are expanding the war along the Afghan Pakistan border and that this is and will continue to cause civilian casualties? No. Do I think Obama started this war? No.

 

Tell me again: who are these people who say torture is bad but it is OK to kill indiscriminately? I see people for humane and legal treatment of prisoners of war demanding fair tribunals and more accountability for how we handle both the imprisonment and the interrogation, but I don't see anybody saying we should instead blow up their families with a "surgical" air strike.

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retaining the tools that he feels will be necessary to combat AQ and their ilk.

 

Where is the proof that torture works to obtain intel?

 

How many of the 800 or so "detainees" in Gitmo have been proven to be "Al Qaida" (Al CIAduh)

 

links?

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and any who have been against torture, hope Obama can turn all of this around.

 

I hate to be cynical but good luck on that one MattP

 

I think since Kennedy, they get a pres in office and they sit him down and show him some footage of the Kennedy assassination from another angle, never seen by the public, then they ask "any questions?"

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If the deafening silence that's greeted all of the above across the leftosphere permits any other conclusion, I'm certainly open to hearing why.

 

the left has been decieved by Obama, just like the right was with bush

 

thank the corp TV for that

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and any who have been against torture, hope Obama can turn all of this around.

 

I hate to be cynical but good luck on that one MattP

 

You are right, of course. But even if he can make minor improvements at home, and pull off a couple of good moves in Iraq or Afghanisan, that'd be minor improvement and a couple of good moves.

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""But even if he can make minor improvements at home, and pull off a couple of good moves in Iraq or Afghanisan, that'd be minor improvement and a couple of good moves.""

 

On a positive note I think his image of being good can rub off on people who will actually be good and do good things. So what if it's maybe not his real intent to do good, if it rubs off in reality on others so much the better.

 

It's sort of like the morals of the nation are led from the top. Does if matter if the leader's fake as long as the followers are real.

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One need only imagine the avalanche of "principled" outrage, recriminations, and imaginary threats to leave for Canada that would have greeted the very same policy moves by a McCain administration in order to firmly establish this point. If the deafening silence that's greeted all of the above across the leftosphere permits any other conclusion, I'm certainly open to hearing why.

 

You need to get around, there's quite a bit of grumbling going on, and a lot sooner than the right woke up to bush, if they ever did at all.

 

sparky-flag.jpg

cheney-tort-four.jpg

 

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You can voice an objection to whatever you wish - but voicing objections is one thing, having a morally and logically coherent argument that you base your objections on is quite another.

 

In reference to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics , one shouldn’t expect the same degree of certainty in moral matters as one would expect in mathematics. So, the task of determining moral equivalency in all cases of comparing the two groups of action (surgical strikes versus enhanced interrogation) would be difficult although in the general case they appear approximately equal when taking the intent into consideration. By intent, I’m referring to that broad notion of a struggle of good against evil which also brings into question the definitions of good and evil.

 

When we shroud the issue in the language of war, isn’t conventional morality circumvented, for instance, regarding the social prohibition against killing? Wars are collectivist struggles. In that sense, [the declaration of] war is a green light for unconventional means though in democratic societies these actions are largely covert.

 

If I understand you correctly, your viewpoint transcends the entanglement of partisan politics, which is itself a ruse to occupy time while the real unseen action goes on before our eyes.

 

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on a side note, if the government would like to work on evening out the budget deficit and can't sink to the level of a bake-sale for the cause, i'm quite sure they could waterboard cheney on pay-per-view for $49.99/set and make enough to buy a whole wing of b-2 bombers!

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If I understand you correctly, your viewpoint transcends the entanglement of partisan politics which is itself a ruse to occupy time while the real unseen action goes on before our eyes.

 

If I understood him correctly, any stated opposition to torture on this bulletin board and in the national press at large, or most of it anyway, could only be partisan politics masked as humanitarian concern. I agree with you that much of what passes for civil discourse in this country is simply a ruse that serves more as a distraction than a debate, and I th ink this is actually party of Jay’s point or at least related to it, but JayB has never transcended partisan politics in any way. He forgets, for example, that John McCain expressed opposition to torture while I don't think McCain has ever said killing bad guys was a bad thing. Jay is clearly anything but transcending politics when he presents any torture complaints as purely the result of cynical democrats or liberals or whoever it is using the morality of torture to advance a partisan agenda.

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I thought Jayb's question (rephrased as a statement)was a good one. I think you read a lot more into it Matt. I can't say I understand the answer myself.....it's not just about politics per se.

 

 

 

Speaking of realpolitik shit: is anyone still pissed that Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon for clearly lying and obstructing justice before Nixon could even be charged?

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Jay started out with this proclamation:

 

However - the chorus of non-indignation that's greeted these moves by the erstwhile principled opponents of all of the above is sufficient to confirm what their true motives have been all along.

 

he continued:

all of this fretting about water-boarding the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad is a bit precious and bizarre in light of the fact that pulping women, children, and other innocents with explosives while targeting suspected terrorists with missiles, bombs, artillery shells, etc is considered a regrettable but necessary tactic, and seldom if ever inflames public sentiment in the same fashion that "enhanced interrogations," etc have.

 

And, clarifying after I questioned his position:'

 

I'm just not about to pretend that it's more moral [to kill them with bombs as opposed to torturing them]

 

I think his main point was fairly clear.

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Pelosi needs to be waterboarded as well.

 

I agree. But why stop there. All of the people who think waterboarding is ok need to submit to a round of it......

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Pelosi needs to be waterboarded as well.

 

Do you think they could get her to "admit" that she was properly briefed by the CIA?

 

 

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I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how someone can oppose using a tactic like waterboarding on ethical grounds, without having considerably stronger objections to blowing the same person - along with his children, family, pet chickens, etc to pieces with an airstrike in order to achieve the same end

 

Strawman argument. Most people who oppose torture also oppose the killing of innocents. It is rather remarkable that someone like JayB who wanted the war of agression on Iraq, knowing all along that many innocent people would die, now wants to pretend to think that killing innocents is wrong. But perhaps, JayB is going to provide us with insight on how he arrived at his new humanitarian ethics.

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Yeah, but he asserts that you pretend to dislike torture if you don't complain about 100 days of Obama with equal venom as you did about 8 years of Bush.

 

What I want to know is who could resist the CIA interrogators longer - Pelosi or Boehner? Which one of them is secretly heading a terror cell or might they turn each other in? Or should they simply bomb their homes? I'm tired of both of them and they must be linked to al quaeda.

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