The President Who Cried Terrorist

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Remember how the Bush administration was going to have to stop questioning terrorists unless Congress agreed to redefine the Geneva Conventions' restrictions on rough treatment of detainees? And remember how there was no way the government could possibly try accused terrorists without hearsay, coerced testimony, and secret evidence? Well, forget all that.

I get that politics is all about the art of compromise, but this looks more like a complete surrender. I hope it means that people will be a little more skeptical the next time the president claims that national security requires cutting legal corners.

Update: As several commenters have pointed out, the impression I got from the New York Times story of a "complete surrender" by President Bush was not accurate. In particular, as Glenn Greenwald notes at Salon (ad viewing required), it looks like the Bush administration will be able to proceed with torture (or at least "torture lite") under a different name and by a different legal route than the one on which it had seemed to be insisting. Likewise, evidence obtained by rough questioning would still be admissible in trials before military tribunals unless the methods used amounted to "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." But judging from the specifics of the ACLU's complaints (or rather, judging from what the ACLU is not complaining about), the administration does seem to have made significant concessions on the issues of secret evidence and hearsay, although I suppose it may have planned to do so all along.

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  1. I wonder if a trial of an accused terrorist can anything other than a “show trial?” Indeed, the very weight of the charges against the fellow will likely prejudice any proceeding.

  2. Politics is the art of saying what you know not to be true as long as there was someone to believe you and when no one believes you, to convince them you never said it in the first place.

  3. It is a complete surrender – by, as usual, the “Republican mavericks.”

    Bush still gets to use coerced testimoy – he just gets to have someone below him in the chain of command declare that it’s ok.

    Ditto with hearsay, ditto with secret evidence.

    The only thing that the McCain trio got out of these negotiations was an adiminstrative speedbump that relies on the administration acting in good faith to have any effect whatsoever.

  4. joe,

    Did you really think there could be anymore. McCain doesn’t want to hurt the powers of the executive too much, considering he aspires to that power.

  5. Yeah, forget about “show trials.” What about “show debates,” where faux-Mavericks in the President’s own party put up token and choreographed resistance to fool the rubes into thinking that anyone on the hill or in the White House actually cares about justice, human rights, and the rule of law?

    Terrorism is only a flavor of (potentially international) gangsterism. We fought domestic and international gangsters pretty well before we got RICO, which was supposed to give law enforcement necessary “tools” to handle the problem. Then came the PATRIOT Act, which, again, was advertised as giving the government the necessary “tools” to handle the problem. Now the latest legislation promises the same thing.

    Who is still buying this song?

    Every day, more evidence emerges to support the idea that we need to dump all incumbents. Even the “good ones” turn into beltway insiders eventually. They all need to wear radiation exposure badges, so we can tell when they’ve gone over the line and need to be replaced. But lacking such indicators, we need to sweep them all out every now and then. My fellow Americans, “then” is NOW!

  6. Yeah, Maverick McCain and Aw Shucks Graham get to look like heroes for standing up to the President by basically (when you get past the bullshit) vesting him with the power to wipe his ass with the Geneva convention, and Bush ends up looking like a statesmanlike man of reasonable compromise by getting everything he wants. We have reached the point where Bush and the Republicans appear “by-partisan” by pretending to compromise with themselves. We need a two party system, and fast. The Dems are getting ass raped, except I guess it isn’t really rape if you consent. So just ass fucked I guess.

  7. I haven’t had a chance to read the actual compromise, so I dont’ have a judgement on it. That said, if it is a “complete surrender”, then why is the ACLU and the usual suspects up and arms about it? It seems to me that it isn’t really a complete surrender and huge victory for the President or it is a complete surrender and the ACLU and company would have bitched and moaned about any deal and are thus completely without credibility on the issue.

  8. “Yeah, Maverick McCain and Aw Shucks Graham get to look like heroes for standing up to the President by basically (when you get past the bullshit) vesting him with the power to wipe his ass with the Geneva convention, and Bush ends up looking like a statesmanlike man of reasonable compromise by getting everything he wants.”

    Just replace “Geneva convention” with “history of Senate comity,” and we’re right back to the Supreme Court nominations.

  9. “””The agreement would not allow any evidence obtained by techniques that violate the Detainee Treatment Act, and would not allow hearsay evidence that the defense successfully argues is not reliable or probative.”””

    So when the judge is told that hearsay evidence is necessary because we can’t fly the warlords in to testify how they know the defendant is a terrorist, how will the judge rule?

    I’ve said it many times. This issue is about a level of quality. Since the bar was low when we were taking people that warlords claimed were terrorist or enemy, the bar must be low to convict.

    What criteria did we use at the time to verify the warlords’ claim? I think we took them at their word. Now it’s biting us in the ass.

    My jury is out on this deal, I would like to hear what the Military lawyers have to say about it.

  10. John,

    That doesn’t make any sense.

    It isn’t even internally logical.

    It must not be a big victory for the President, they must not have given him all the authority he wants, because the ACLU is up in arms about it?

    Did you mean to throw a couple of “nots” in there?

  11. John,

    It is a complete surrender, by McCain and company. The president got what he wanted, and now the ACLU is pissed.

  12. Joe,

    IF the bill is a “compete surrender by the President” as the post describes it, then why can’t the ACLU find anything to be happy about? Since the ACLU is not happy that means that it is not a complete surrender but a real victory for the President or a real defeat for the President and the ACLU is just bitching because that is what they do and they would have bitched no matter what happened.

  13. Who cares? This prez is going to do what he wants regardless of the law. He thinks he’s the only serious person in the world.

  14. The lack of understanding regarding the Geneva Conventions on this forum is staggering… Even after it has been repeatedly explained.

  15. Yes, but he is quite mistaken. I am the only serious person in the world.

  16. John,
    Jacob’s post is wrong. It wasn’t a surrender by the president. Every other commentary I’ve read, including the NYT and WaPo editorials, say Bush won.

  17. rob,

    We’re gonna need some clarification on that last comment.

  18. I get that politics is all about the art of compromise, but this looks more like a complete surrender. I hope it means that people will be a little more skeptical the next time the president claims that national security requires cutting legal corners.

    The founding fathers have an asymmetrical advantage.

  19. John:

    It’s unbelievable to me that you’re unable to follow the (more than two) positions here. Does just reading the word “surrender” make your eyes cross?

  20. The lack of understanding regarding the Geneva Conventions on this forum is staggering… Even after it has been repeatedly explained.

    I know, and we’ve got nothin’ on the Supreme Court–those guys are really confused.

    …Don’t they listen to radio talk shows?!

  21. Well, if you can’t lick em, join em.

    We couldn’t make the Iraqis into a mirror of America so we’ve settled for making America a mirror of Iraq.

  22. Davebo,

    Does this mean if I become a republican, I can kill democrats at will? Because I’ve always wanted a license to kill.

    Or are you referring to current Iraq, where we all get to kill each other?

  23. Davebo,

    Does this mean if I become a republican, I can kill democrats at will? Because I’ve always wanted a license to kill.

    Or are you referring to current Iraq, where we all get to kill each other?

  24. Davebo,

    Does this mean if I become a republican, I can kill democrats at will? Because I’ve always wanted a license to kill.

    Or are you referring to current Iraq, where we all get to kill each other?

  25. The lack of understanding regarding the Geneva Conventions on this forum is staggering… Even after it has been repeatedly explained.

    I’ve given up, rob.

    In summary:

    The US has never signed the Convention that might possibly be read to cover illegal combatants.

    The provisions that the US has signed onto pretty clearly provide no protection for illegal combatants.

    The US has not breached any of its obligations under the Geneva Conventions with regard to its treatment of, for example, the Guantanamo detainees, because it really doesn’t have any.

    The question of whether we should pretend that Geneva applies to illegal combatants in US hands has two sides. But it is a policy question, not a legal one.

  26. RC Dean – Dude! Ken Schultz is SO going to tear you a new one!

    Seriously, tho, it’s kind of like the faith some people have that global warming is man-made…

    If someone has faith that an interrogation tactic is torture, then it is – regardless of how little it resembles what you or I might consider torture. (Water-boarding? “Torture.” Stress positions? “Torture.” Tickling their feet with feathers? “Torture.” The beheading of U.S. soldiers or Western journalists? “Yeah, that’s torture BUT…” fill the rest in with some lame moral equivalency argument.

    Nothing will sway that person, nothing will introduce a single chink in their rhetorical armor, and no argument regarding how bad an idea it is to revoke the concept of reciprocity (the only thing that actually gives the Genevea Conventions teeth) will have even the slightest effect on their world view.

  27. The most amazing aspect of this whole debate is how Rush Limbaugh, Rev. Lou Sheldon, Rep James Sensenbrenner and so many others have discovered that torture is a central principle of the conservative movement.

    Clearly Barry Goldwater had something else in mind when he wrote “Conscience of a Conservative.”

  28. The provisions that the US has signed onto pretty clearly provide no protection for illegal combatants.

    But without a fair trial, how do you know they’re illegal combatants?

  29. Gene,
    I always sigh when the stars align in such a way that I find myself on the same side of an issue as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Ann Coulter, Barbara Streisand, George Bush, or Al Gore.

    Why? Because I KNOW the dumb guy will be spoiling my stance with whacked-out bad arguments, intellectual dishonesty, rhetorical dirty tricks, and/or horrendous misuse of the English language.

    I also shudder because even though my arguments and my line of thought may end up at the same position, the manner in which I got there is frequently from a whole different perspective. I often think, “well, they managed to find their way to what I agree is the right answer, even though they got every step of the equation wrong.”

    This inevitably causes someone to call me either a “liberal idiotarian Democrap libtard” or (more often on HNR) a “neocon Bushbot dittohead chickenhawk.”

    Of course, that just means that they are incapable of realizing that someone can hold a principled position that disagrees with them without having been brainwashed by what they honestly believe is “the other side.”

    It’s almost like they BELIEVE that whoever they believe is “Dr. Evil” – whether it’s Karl Rove or Michael Moore – can actually control people’s minds. I suspect, occasionally, that these are people who still believe in the Easter Bunny.

  30. The beheading of U.S. soldiers or Western journalists? “Yeah, that’s torture BUT…” fill the rest in with some lame moral equivalency argument.

    But does the “BUT…” have to be followed by an equivalency argument?

    Can’t one say, “Yeah, that’s torture, but we’re not responsible for the barbaric actions of others.” Or, “Yeah, that’s torture, but what does that have to do with the way WE treat prisoners who haven’t been tried in court?”

    I’m not saying that tickling feet is torture (and I don’t know who is) or even playing loud music, but I think the part that gets bypassed too frequently is the notion of due process, which the founders created precisely because they knew the government can’t be trusted to arrest the right people much of the time. If we don’t trust our government to arrest guilty people much of the time (and, as patriots, we shouldn’t, I think), why should we trust our government to interrogate people before they’ve demonstrated their guilt?

    That said, I tend to agree that this it’s more constructive to look at this as a question of good or bad policy, rather than legality at this point.

  31. Les – Because the people I disagree with rarely answer without the moral equivalency.

    As for “Yeah, that’s torture, but what does that have to do with the way WE treat prisoners who haven’t been tried in court?”

    I’d agree the answer is nothing, unless invoking the reciprocity inherent in the Geneva Convention. If we were in reciprocal mode, we’d be beheading the guys at Gitmo and looking for ways to attack their civilian population centers. I don’t think either of us want that, so comparably speaking, waterboarding – the harshest of the approved treatments – seems pretty light.

    It seems to me that the rest of your arguments are due process concerns extended to citizens, for the most part, or those captured on U.S. soil. The guys at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib don’t fall into those categories.

  32. Jason sez…..”But without a fair trial, how do you know they’re illegal combatants?” If the gummint sez you’re guilty, you’re guilty. It’s called the Meese doctrine named after Edwin Meese.

    As far as making shit up, it happens all the time in this country. It’s done to “throwaway” people, If the US gummint has to throwaway some of these so-called enemy combatants, innocent or guilty, to make RC Dean feel safer , so be it

  33. Les says:
    >>>>>Can’t one say, “Yeah, that’s torture, but we’re not responsible for the barbaric actions of others.” Or, “Yeah, that’s torture, but what does that have to do with the way WE treat prisoners who haven’t been tried in court?”>>>>>

    Gene says, >>>>>But without a fair trial, how do you know they’re illegal combatants?>>>>>

    Others seem to wear the same cloth.

    And therein lies the rub. We are not discussing people who have been tried. We are discussing the interrogations that MAY. . . . repeat, “MAY”, , , lead to a trial.

    Two different things entirely.

    Would it be better that they are never interrogated at all? Would it be better that they get better treatment than common criminals get under our penal systems?

    God, I hope not.

  34. Likewise, evidence obtained by rough questioning would still be admissible in trials before military tribunals unless the methods used amounted to “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”

    Am I to understand that “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”, which, according to the Torture Memo, isn’t torture unless it rises to some unknown standard of intesity, is out the window?

  35. It seems to me that the rest of your arguments are due process concerns extended to citizens, for the most part, or those captured on U.S. soil. The guys at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib don’t fall into those categories.

    But since even the Army stated that most people in Abu Ghraib at the time of the torture (and I hope we can agree that forced sodomy with glow sticks is torture) were innocent of any wrongdoing, doesn’t that imply that even non-U.S. citizens deserve due process?

    Is it good policy to allow the government (that entity that gets so much wrong) to have the power to arrest and interrogate anyone non-citizen it claims is an unlawful combatant anywhere in the world (except the U.S.)?

    Personally, as a person who thinks that the government has time and again demonstrated that it deserves less power rather than more, I think it’s bad policy.

  36. Les: >>>>> (and I hope we can agree that forced sodomy with glow sticks is torture) >>>>>

    Are oranges still getting into the apple box? If my memory serves correctly the charges you make were not accepted by anyone outside the few who perpetrated the acts. Nor would I expect them to ever get on any “approved procedures” list.

    The perpetrators were in fact tried for those acts.

    And the Geneva Convention, nor any other law or policy, was available to them as a defense.

    Does that say excesses won’t happen again? No it does not. And let’s rely on the professionals involved with oversight to, (if/when it does happen), eliminate, (and appropriately charge), the zealot/s who commit/s the excess/es.

    In the meantime, surely we can agree that hardened terrorists, (murderers, rapists, brutalizers of the human body), will require sometning more than an uncomfortably fitting jumpsuit before they disclose whatever information he/she harbors.

  37. It seems to me that the rest of your arguments are due process concerns extended to citizens, for the most part, or those captured on U.S. soil. The guys at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib don’t fall into those categories.

    Actually, using the torture memo guidelines, interrogation procedures written for Guantanamo were put into effect at Abu Gharib. If you buy the Administration line, that was just a screw up. …I see it, best case scenario, as a massive, disgraceful, hand in your resignation, unbelievable, How could you appoint the author Attorney General, textbook demostration of incompetence.

    But, anyway, those standards, as written by Rumsfeld’s people, were put in place in Iraq, and it’s my understanding that they were implemented on people who probably qualified for POW status per the Conventions. …all bullshit aside.

  38. Clearly Barry Goldwater had something else in mind when he wrote “Conscience of a Conservative.”

    If the Republicans were the party of Barry Goldwater, I’d probably be a Republican right now. Sadly, though, the Republicans have become the party of Augusto Pinochet.

  39. Elmo,

    I see your point about the glowsticks. But my point was that even the army admits that most of the people there being interrogated with “approved procedures” were innocent.

    So what should be “approved procedures” for a group of people made up mostly of innocents?

    How many people who have done nothing is it acceptable for our government to imprison and interrogate for years?

    It just seems to me that until the due process issue is addressed, how well or badly we treat prisoners is moot. Let’s make sure they’re guilty of something, then we can try to define “torture.”

  40. “Of course, that just means that they are incapable of realizing that someone can hold a principled position that disagrees with them without having been brainwashed by what they honestly believe is “the other side.”

    That is a statement you need to read while looking in the mirror.And when I say “you” I mean anyone who makes it. Bias is a part of how the human mind works. It is always the other guy who isn’t seeing the big picture, skewing the facts, brainwashed by the other side. It is never “me” that suffers from this lack of objectivity.

    PS. I posted one more source for you to look at regarding our previous discussion on the previous thread, if you are interested.

  41. Les,

    I couldn’t agree with you more that innocents are “rounded up” with the not-so-innocents. That’s the nature of the work. I do not excuse it, but I must admit to it, and I don’t admit to it reluctantly. The nature of the work is to glean information on terrorists, from whatever source that information can be obtained.

    The “innocents” can be extremely valuable sourcess as to the activities of “not-so-innocents”. If they are truly innocent, they will cooperate. If they don’t cooperate, then m-a-y-b-e they aren’t so lily white innocent after all.

    It’s a tough business, requiring tough, but fair, handling.

    Look at any given section of a community that is suspected of containing some not-at-all-innocents. Base the scenario on anything plausible. It has to be a given that the majority of the populace will eventually be able to continue with their lives unmolested. But in the meantime are we to bypass the entitre community, or in the name of rooting out terrorists, are we allowed to pick the brains of everyone within it?

    It’s a fine line, for me, sitting back here about to doff my slippers and crawl between the crinkly sheets. It’s a different armosphere entirely for those who are charged with cleansing that community, and I expect the broader the line they can get, , , within reason concerning respect for the dignity of all involved, , , the easier it will be for them.

    And the sooner it will begin to reap dividends through the cooperation of those “innocents”, and then the sooner thay can stand down from a combat footing and assume a more amicable one among their hosts.

    It worked in the fifties for the British in Malaysia, and it worked for the US in Vietnam.*

    Pie in the sky? I don’t think so. In fact I think thay is our ultimate goal, isn’t it?

    *(so long as Washington, [Robert McNamara and his “Whiz Kids”], didn’t send conflicting orders week after week so that nobody knew what to expect from one day to the next.)

  42. “If the Republicans were the party of Barry Goldwater, I’d probably be a Republican right now. Sadly, though, the Republicans have become the party of Augusto Pinochet.”

    He shoots, he scores!

  43. Elmo,

    The problem for me that is that I don’t trust our government to be “tough, but fair” in rounding up innocent people to interrogate. I wish I could, but the government has, time and time again, demonstrated that it can’t be trusted to use such power responsibly.

    Also, I don’t think that foreigners deserve less protection from the U.S. government than U.S. citizens do. It would be unthinkable to round up scores of people in an American neighborhood where terrorists were suspected of operating so that they could be held and questioned. It would be unthinkable to imprison the relatives of American mass murderers for interrogation purposes.

    If they don’t cooperate, then m-a-y-b-e they aren’t so lily white innocent after all.

    Or what if they can’t “cooperate” because they don’t know anything? How long should an innocent person be interrogated (and using what methods) before it can be determined that he really doesn’t know anything?

    It’s a fine line, for me, sitting back here about to doff my slippers and crawl between the crinkly sheets. It’s a different armosphere entirely for those who are charged with cleansing that community, and I expect the broader the line they can get, , , within reason concerning respect for the dignity of all involved, , , the easier it will be for them.

    It’s a much worse atmosphere entirely for those who are rounded up in the night at gunpoint (as their wives and children watch) and imprisoned for the crime of living in the same neighborhood as or being related to suspected terrorists. Much, much worse. If we wouldn’t do that here, we shouldn’t do it there, I think.

    It worked in the fifties for the British in Malaysia, and it worked for the US in Vietnam.

    I think that’s a highly debatable statement.

    I know it makes it harder to find these animals when we respect the rights of the innocent, but, as Charlton Heston’s character in “A Touch of Evil” said, “A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state.”

    Did we liberate Iraq just to make it a police state?

  44. elmo sez……”And let’s rely on the professionals involved with oversight to, (if/when it does happen), eliminate, (and appropriately charge), the zealot/s who commit/s the excess/es.”

    and who is going to watch the watchers? I would have thought that everyone knew by now that the military was incapable of oversight. Just look how hard they are trying to cover-up the facts in the case of Army Ranger Pat Tillman

  45. He shoots, he scores!

    Thanks, joe.

  46. Les,

    >>>>Did we liberate Iraq just to make it a police state?>>>>

    I would ask, “When was Iraq NOT a police state?”

    >>>>>I don’t think that foreigners deserve less protection from the U.S. government than U.S. citizens do. It would be unthinkable to round up scores of people in an American neighborhood where terrorists were suspected of operating so that they could be held and questioned. It would be unthinkable to imprison the relatives of American mass murderers for interrogation purposes.>>>>>

    Perhaps, , , perhaps, , , that rationale is why we can’t find either of the words “citizen” or “foreigner” in our Constitution. Beyond that, are we to erase, as if never written, the laws governing the rights of citizens which include participating in government through voting and/or office-holding, that prohibit non-citizens from those same rights.

    Regarding foreigners and their lack of “protection from the US government”, I confess to being further confused. Can you be more explicit with case examples?

    Reading from that same paragraph, I apologize if I missed the connection, er ah, , the jump. I was under the impression we were discussing terrorists/suspected terrorists who were detained in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But under the supposition that the very country is in peril, (and the case is being made daily that it is in peril, by the hue and cry that “the government” is supposed to protect it’s “citizens” from foreign incursions), the argument, [for detention], not only can be made, it has already been made, by a much more learned man than I. I invite your attention to the following:

    >>>>>June 13, 1863. Abraham Lincoln to Erastus Corning and others representing the Albany Committee of Democrats:

    …..arrests are made, not so much for what has been done as for what probably would be done. . . . more for the preventive and less for the vindictive. . . . In such cases the purposes of men are much more easily understood than in cases of ordinary crime. The man who stands by and says nothing when the peril of his Government is discussed, can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy ; much more, if he talks ambiguously for his country with ” ifs “, ” ands.” and ” buts.”

    Of how little value the constitutional provisions I have quoted will be rendered, if arrests shall never be made until defined crimes shall have been committed, may be illustrated by a few notable examples. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Gen. John B. Magruder, Gen. William B. Preston, Gen. Simon B. Buckner, and Commodore Franklin Buchanan, now occupying the very highest places in the rebel war service, were all within the power of the Government since the rebellion began, and were nearly as well known to the traitors then as now.

    Unquestionably, if we had seized and held them, the insurgent cause would be much weaker. But no one of them had then committed any crime defined by law. Every one of them, if arrested, would have been discharged on habeas corpus, were the writ allowed to operate. In view of these, and similar cases, I think the time not unlikely to come when I shall be blamed for having made too few arrests rather than too many.

    In giving the resolutions that earnest consideration which you request of me, I can not overlook the fact that the meeting speak as ” Democrats.” Nor can I, with full respect for their known intelligence, and the fairly presumed deliberation with which they prepared their resolutions, be permitted to suppose that this occurred by accident, or in any way other than that they preferred to designate themselves “Democrats” rather than “American Citizens.”

    In this time of National peril, I would have preferred to meet you on a level one step higher than any party platform ; because I am sure that, from such more elevated position, we could do “better battle for the country we all love, than we possibly can from those lower ones where, from the force of habit, the prejudices of the past, and selfish hopes of the future, we are sure to expend much of our ingenuity and strength in finding fault with and aiming blows at each other. But, since you have denied me this, I will yet be thankful, for the country’s sake, that not all Democrats have done so?>>>>>

    To close, I am not in favor of torture in the classical sense. I am, however, in favor using any means necessary to obtain information that will lead to the preservation of American lives, (and by extension, the lives of it’s allies). I also strongly support harsh, , , that is VERY harsh treatment for anyone person involved in the wanton killing or maiming of our citizens for their perceived political or religious gain.

  47. >>>>>I also strongly support harsh, , , that is, , , VERY harsh treatment for any one person involved in the wanton killing or maiming of our citizens for their perceived political or religious gain. >>>>>

    Make that read: for any one person. . . AND THEIR ENTIRE SUPPORT STRUCTURE . . . involved in the wanton killing or maiming of our citizens for their perceived political or religious gain.

  48. “To close, I am not in favor of torture in the classical sense. I am, however, in favor using any means necessary to obtain information…”

    This is what we call “double speak.”

    I am not in favor of high taxes. I am, however, in favor of using any means necessary to obtain government revenue…

  49. Les,
    >>>>>But wasn’t the point of the invasion (after it stopped being about WMD’s) to make Iraq a free society? The fact that the government failed so miserably to do so is another reason why it shouldn’t be trusted to arrest and interrogate individuals without due process.>>>>

    Aren’t you falling for the same trap with others who display a lack of patience with war and politics? Our own birth as a nation should be remembered. The Stamp Act of 1765 sent the colonies reeling. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was a reaction to unrepresented British rule.. The Revolutionary War itself lasted 7 years, and it was another 16 years, (1789), before we had a Constitution. A total of 23 years just from the Declaration of Independence. Better yet, an entire generation.

    During that 23 years there was great dissension, not just between individuals, but between between peoples of differing political persuasion, religious groups and states. Violence within the very vested ranks attempting to form a government was common. [Shay’s rebellion, of which Thomas Jefferson is said to have penned: “I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”], and, [The Whiskey Rebellion ) i.e.

    And never forget the enduring feud between two very dedicated people who each had the best interests of the fledgling Republic at heart, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. You will recall they came with pistols, each intent on killing the other in a duel; Aaron Burr being the victor.

    Yes, there are, have been, and probably always will be, inequities involved in transforming Iraq, or any country into a self-governing state, free of oppression under the guise of “democracy”.

    But where is the silver lining in any acceptable alternative?

    >>>>>All of the innocent people who have been imprisoned and interrogated by the U.S. government have been “suspected terrorists.” The fact that, unlike U.S. citizens, they haven’t been given due process implies that they don’t deserve the same rights as U.S. citizens. I vehemently disagree with this philosophy.>>>>>

    You have a friend in SCOTUS there, as I believe a ruling has been made that you would support regarding their safeguards.

    >>>>>One, you trust the government (which has handled nearly every aspect of this war with incompetence and dishonesty), and Two (you seem to suggest that the life of an American is more valuable than the liberty of a foreigner).>>>>>

    On point one: we simply disagree.

    On point two, The life of ANY person is, (to me), more important than the “temporaty” loss of liberty of any OTHER person. In the case of the foreigner who finds himself today in the hands of Americans, and is awaiting disposition: When that person gets a chance to present his/her case I’m sure they will be adjudicated based on the facts, and not on something as ethereal as “the same rights as Americans”. In the meantime, that person has his/her life and should be thankful of that fact, while they await their opportunity to gain, through due process, their freedom.

    But suppose they are not free of terrorist activities? Prior to completing the process should we be in any hurry to free them? I believe, based on a Supreme Court ruling a couple of years ago, over 400 have been released, and some of went back to killing Americans.

    This is an incomplete argument, because it will never be completed. You seem to think of the US Government as some oversized, monstrous and unidentifiable entity with abusive power just looking for an opportunity to unleash it.

    There are some recent cases to reinforce your opinion. Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho are two examples. I couldn’t agree more. Abuse of Emminent Domain? Same opinion. IRS? Just American citizens with a job, using the exact same rules that everybody else uses.

    And who are those ogres holding, housing, and questioning illegal combatants? Mostly 19, 20, 22 year old American kids, scared out of their wits most of the time, trying to do what they have been trained to do to protect the rest of us.

    Thank you for your input and your patience Les, but we are just on different sides of how to accomplish what we each think should be done in Iraq. Though I do believe I am a bit more patient with the process.

  50. Elmo,

    I will be sure to ask you when our ” temporaty [sic] loss of liberty” will be reinstated… since you seem to know….

  51. By the way…

    …weren’t those liberties in-alienable at one time?

  52. “Our own birth as a nation should be remembered.”

    Yes, it should. The fact that our people were active agents in their own liberation – the preparation for being active agents in their own government (ie, citizens in a democratic republic) should be remembered.

    The fact that the different regional, class, and ideological factions in our country spent years fighting side by side as comrades, and the unifying effect this had as they struggled to form a govenrment, should be remembered.

    The fact that the toppling of the tyrant brought about immediate self-government, with the clean start and the responsibilties that that implies, should be remembered.

    The growth of democratic governance over the centuries from the local, to the state, and finally to the national, level should be remembered.

    The role of foreign nations as merely providing military force in support of a political and military agenda established by the colonists themselves, and the non-interference of those nations in the political order that followed, should definitely be remembered.

    The experience of America’s own democratic liberation should absolutely be brought to mind when considering the state of politics and government in Iraq.

  53. blogimi,

    >>>>>weren’t those liberties in-alienable at one time?>>>>>

    I do believe your reference is misguided if not misspelled. May I ask that you research the reasoning behind Jefferson’s reference to those rights. His reasoning may surprise you. As a clue, look for Blackstone, English Common Law, Law of Nature, and Law of Nature’s God. They are all wrapped up in what Jefferson put on the paper.

    joe,

    Ideally, the memories you pronounce would be exhilerating, were that in fact the case. Sadly however, the facts are that the Revolutionary War was as much a Civil War as it was a Revolution. It is entirely possible that more Americans fought on the British side than did true Britons.

    Here is a small snapshot of the experience of one area:

    >>>>>Revolutionary War in Georgia

    Though Georgians opposed British trade regulations, many hesitated to join the revolutionary movement that emerged in the American colonies in the early 1770s and resulted in the Revolutionary War (1775-83). The colony had prospered under royal rule, and many Georgians thought that they needed the protection of British troops against a possible Indian attack. Georgia did not send representatives to the First Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1774. The Congress asked all colonies to form a group, called the Association, to ban trade with Britain. Georgia delegates gathered in a provincial congress in Savannah on January 18, 1775, to discuss whether to join the Association, and to elect representatives to the Second Continental Congress. Those who were elected declined to go to Philadelphia, however, because the delegates were divided on the action to be taken. St. John Parish, acting alone, sent Lyman Hall to the Second Continental Congress.

    News of the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts caused many Georgians who were wavering in their allegiance to join the radical movement. A group called the Sons of Liberty broke into the powder magazine in Savannah on May 11, 1775, and divided the powder with the South Carolina revolutionaries. Those who resisted royal government were usually called “Whigs,” and those who remained loyal to the king were known as “Tories.” Whigs were also referred to as “patriots,” though the British thought of them as “rebels.” Tories were also called “loyalists.”

    Though Georgians continued to drink to the health of the king, they took government into their own hands when the Second Provincial Congress met in Savannah on July 4, 1775. The Congress named delegates to the Second Continental Congress already sitting in Philadelphia, and adopted the Association’s ban on trade with Britain. The single most important democratic action of the Congress was the establishment of local committees to enforce the Association’s ban. Thus political power devolved upon artisans and farmers, considered by royal governor James Wright to be the “wrong sort” to be allowed in government. The Congress adjourned, leaving executive authority in a standing Council of Safety.

    Violence in the Backcountry

    The heavy-handed tactics of the local committee in Augusta led to the first violence in the backcountry. On August 2, 1775, members of the committee confronted Thomas Brown at his residence on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River above Augusta. Brown had come to Georgia with seventy or so indentured servants in November 1774 in answer to Governor Wright’s advertisement of the advantages of the newly Ceded Lands above Augusta and founded a settlement called Brownsborough. He attracted the anger of the Whigs by publicly denouncing the Association and summoning friends of the king to join a counterassociation. When he refused to swear to honor the Association, the crowd of Liberty men tortured him in various ways, scalping and fracturing his skull, burning his feet, and hauling him, unconscious, through the streets of Augusta as an object lesson to those who would denounce the Association.

    When he recovered, Brown retired into the Carolina backcountry, where he and other leaders enlisted hundreds of loyalists and threatened a march on Augusta. After much marching about and some skirmishing around the town of Ninety-Six, Brown and his friends heeded South Carolina governor Sir William Campbell’s advice to await the arrival of the British. Brown retreated to Florida and persuaded Florida governor Patrick Tonyn to allow him to recruit a corps of rangers who would lead Indians to fight on the frontiers in conjunction with the expected landing on the coast. Meanwhile, rumors of a British-instigated plot to enlist slaves and Indians to help defeat the American patriots alarmed Georgians and Carolinians. Though false, the rumors were generally believed, and John Stuart, the Indian Commissioner, fled in fear for his life from Charleston, South Carolina, to Florida. >>>>>

    The Loyalists are reported to have been some 30 per cent of the total population of the Colonies.

    There are many, many similar stories of family member against family member pertaining to the Revolutionary War.

    My study of that time, although it is limited, does not make me wish to have been a part of it.

  54. Elmo,

    Regarding the value of life vs. a temporary loss of liberty: do you believe that Americans should be imprisoned indefinitely without being charged if they live in the same neighborhood as suspected terrorists? If they’re related to suspected terrorists? Should the government have any limits on what it can do “temporarily” to its citizens if it feels it could save a life?

    I think one reason I’m not as patient as you are with the process in Iraq is that I don’t believe that the U.S. has any business occupying a country where the majority of citizens and elected officials don’t want us. Hell, I don’t think the U.S. should be in a lot of countries that DO want us! Say what you will about the Revolutionary and Civil wars, we’re talking about Iraq, whose distance, culture, and history make such comparisons questionable, at best.

    And while I do know that the dirty work is being done by kids who are just following orders (and needlessly dying on an almost daily basis), when I say “the government,” I’m referring to the demonstrably dishonest and incompetent folks who create those orders.

    And thanks for your patience as well. It’s refreshing to disagree so mightily with someone in such a cordial manner.

  55. >>>>> do you believe that Americans should be imprisoned indefinitely without being charged if they live in the same neighborhood as suspected terrorists? If they’re related to suspected terrorists? >>>>>

    Are we taking dead and maimed casualties? Is our effectiveness as a unit being squandered by terrorists from this neighborhood? Or are we just looking for something to do?

    If it is the first case, we should go after the intelligence that obviously rests in that neighborhood. It does not necessarily have to be SWAT team, kick the door down and toss in grenades. That makes good 6 o’clock news, (gets the anti-war blood curdling too, both there and at home), but it won’t get much useful intelligence.

    If it is the second case, have the men fill sandbags.

    >>>>>Should the government have any limits on what it can do “temporarily” to its citizens if it feels it could save a life?>>>>

    Les, you didn’t say whether or not this citizen was a terrorist or just a killer. In the former case that “citizen’s” rights have been spelled out by SCOTUS. He may be a traitor, but that is a chargeable offense, and indefinite holding is not in the mix any longer. It “was” before the California creep was picked up next to the body of one of our CIA agents, but SCOTUS reclassified him out of the illegal combatant category..

    But suppose it is not an American, and you “did” premise the question on saving a life. . . Life is precious. And once it is gone, it is gone, along with all the hopes and dreams and potential of that person, (and that person’s family, community and associates, as they relate to the dead person). If the holding of a terrorist/suspected terrorist will save a life, (national citizenship notwithstanding), hold the person. We do it all the time with no bail criminals. In the case of illegal combatants, temporary can be, and usually is, tied to the person being held’s willingness to divulge information. The Geneva Convention says we can hold them without charging them until hostilities cease. I have no problem with that, , , as it relates to saving lives. Since terrorist activities are intended to cost lives, then my hands are pretty well tied. The person being held is not a flower pot, and is fully capable of helping improve his own circumstance.

    >>>>>I think one reason I’m not as patient as you are with the process in Iraq is that I don’t believe that the U.S. has any business occupying a country where the majority of citizens and elected officials don’t want us. Hell, I don’t think the U.S. should be in a lot of countries that DO want us! Say what you will about the Revolutionary and Civil wars, we’re talking about Iraq, whose distance, culture, and history make such comparisons questionable, at best.>>>>>

    The lessons learned in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Banana Wars, and Vietnam are exactly the lessons that should have been studied before going into Iraq. Why not Afghanistan? Because we, (by dumb luck), made our mark with the Afghanis by helping them during their war with Russia.

    A few days ago I posted something about Malaysia and Vietnam and your response was less than supportive. The lessons are there for the looking. And although those lessons require dedication and take up a lot of time that might otherwise be spent catching ZZZZ’s, they are really so simple they will stagger the average person. See:

    http://www3.iath.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Texts/Scholarly/Brush_CAP_02.html

    and

    http://www.slate.com/id/2096027/

    And the basic failure to provide for these programs . . . from the inception of the idea of going into Iraq , , , , is where I find major fault with our military leaders.

    As for the politics of the war, my jury is still out, and will be out until I see whether or not we stay until the job is done. If we don’t, our credibility will vanish, (what’s left of it), and trust me, somebody will have to do it all over again, maybe it will be us, and maybe it will be right here.

    >>>>>when I say “the government,” I’m referring to the demonstrably dishonest and incompetent folks who create those orders.>>>>>

    Dishonest? I need help on that one. Incompetent? I don’t know, but stuffed shirt, I don’t need no stinkin’ badges or lessons on cultural interaction arrogance? In spades.

    You know Afghanistan is Rudyard Kipling country of course? Gunga Din, Kyber Pass, Young British Soldier, etc.

    Last verse of YBS goes:

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

    Hope I covered the high spots.

  56. Elmo,

    The facts you point out about the existence of a large Tory contingent have nothing whatsoever to do with the points I made.

    There were Tories, so the colonists were not the active agents of their own liberation?

    So there were Tories, so the different regional, class, and ideological factions that created the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and Constitution did not serve as comrades in arms in a common fight?

    So there were Tories, so the colonists and the Patriot governments did not immediately take over their own governance?

    So there were Tories, so democratic governance did not develop from the local to the state to the federal level over the centuries?

    So there were Tories, so the French and Spanish did not limit their involvement to providing military support for the political and military agenda established by the Patriots?

    You seem to have a nice pre-arranged set of talking points, complete with a nice link, to counter the argument that there was no inter-colonial fighting during the Revolution. Sadly for you, I didn’t come within a thousand miles of making such an argument.

    Do you have any responses to the points I DID make?

  57. The first website I gave the URL to was a two-parter, and I only gave the URL to part II. Perhaps you noticed.

    But to complete the story. . . nay, to make the story understandable, part I should also be assimilated.

    This URL will correct that and actually is needed to better understand one more way we lost the war in Viet Nam. An argument might be made that the lack of recognition of the value of the program was one of the prime reasons for losing that war.

    I hope with all my being that we aren’t making the same mistake again in Iraq. It is not as photogenic as breaking down doors, (who wants to see smiling faces of kids and people working together when there are doors to break down?), but it is a sure winner wth the affected population.

    Too, sing thios URL will allow switching between the parts I and II, whereas the URL to Part II will not. Besides only reading Part II leaves the genesis out of the scenario and the practice without a full meaning.

    http://www3.iath.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Texts/Scholarly/Brush_CAP_01.html

    Also, let me relate how I came to recognize the absoluteness , , , the finite measure of culture clash.

    In the Philippines I once encountered a group of people right out of the stone age. I never saw a piece of cloth or useful metal. They used hair, jungle grasses and barks from different things to weave cloth. They cooked in stalks of bamboo. They cut green bamboo into short pieces, sawed it really, with sharp rocks. They crushed and split dried bamboo and rubbed it vigotously on another piece to start a fire. I later tried it once with schoolroom foot ruler and was able to get some smoke, but I couldn’t get an ember to burn.

    I have never known their history, and I’m not sure it was the same people but I read about some similar people in a National Geographic once. These people didn’t have bones in their noses, but they did have them aroud their necks. It was an eerie experience in a way.

    There is a hard to find and absolutely fascinating film made by three Australian gold hunting brothers in New Guinea in the 1930’s when they were the first westerners to go into the back country there. Libraries may have it on tape or CD. Micheal, James and ???? Leahy were the names of the three brothers. “First Contact” is the name of the film. Those natives “did” wear bones in their noses.

    A google search for “First Contact Leahy” will bring up a multitude of hits.

    My cultural lesson came when I realized I had insulted them at the outset by unwittingly robbing them of their right to welcome me into their little clear spot in the woods. (If I said jungle I’m not sure anybody would understand, because the entire Philippines is jungle, , , just different densities of jungle.) I prefer to use “in the woods” here because I want to convey that, at least where these people were the jungle was not as thick as in most places.

    My social error, and it was fatal to any relationship I might have ever had or hoped for otherwise, was that I smiled first. I later learned the seriousness of the breech of etiquette but the damage was done.

    I later took them a pig I had killed, (pigs just looooooovvvve golf courses in the Philppines, and golfers just loooooovve to have them removed), I went into the clearing with my head and shoulders hung as if in shame and it may have helped, (they accepted the pig), but it was apparent that I had done more than a one pig, one visit no-no.

    Hope the above URL will help understand what has been missing from the effrts in Iraq from the outset. They have some of the smartest, brightest, best educated idiots on the face of the earth giving advice on all the wrong subjects, in all the wrong places.

    Elmo

  58. joe,

    >>>>>Do you have any responses to the points I DID make?>>>>>

    Not really.

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  60. “That is a statement you need to read while looking in the mirror.And when I say ‘you’ I mean anyone who makes it. Bias is a part of how the human mind works. It is always the other guy who isn’t seeing the big picture, skewing the facts, brainwashed by the other side. It is never ‘me’ that suffers from this lack of objectivity.” – Neu

    This is a true statement. The difference is that I don’t try to use it as a means of winning an argument. I try to argue a point based on facts and logic, without screeching about how someone else is “brainwashed” or has been listening to the talk radio “echo chamber,” etc.

    Bottom line: I’m not the one dismissing arguments by flinging claims that the other party is brainwashed, joe is.

    The funny thing is, joe – self-described Democrat – thinks I’m a Republican. If that’s not partisan blinders, just because we don’t agree when it comes to the badly-described Global War On Terror doesn’t mean that he and I disagree on everything. But we always end up arguing. Because he thinks that I’m his opposite number. It’s funny, really.

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