Criminal Justice

Obama Plans Indefinite Military Detention of Terrorism Suspects

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Last month I worried about Attorney General Eric Holder's declaration at his confirmation hearing that "we are at war" with terrorists, noting that such language has often been used to justify legal shortcuts and abridgements of civil liberties. Holder's full exchange with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) provides further grounds for concern:

Graham: Mr. Holder, is it fair to say that we're at war, in your opinion?

Holder: I don't think there's any question but that we are at war. And I think, to be honest, I think our nation didn't realize that we were at war when, in fact, we were.

When I look back at the '90s and the Tanzanian—the embassy bombings, the bombing of the Cole, I think we as a nation should have realized that, at that point, we were at war. We should not have waited until September the 11th of 2001 to make that determination.

Graham: I'm almost ready to vote for you right now. (LAUGHTER) I'll stop. I agree with you. We're at war. And the enemy that we're at war with, would you agree, is an unconventional enemy?

Holder: No question about that. There is not going to be a surrender signing on the battleship Missouri. This war is not going to end in that way.

Graham: And the people who are fighting, they don't wear uniforms.

Holder: They do not, which…

Graham: They operate outside the law of armed conflict.

Holder: They do….

Graham: Where is the battlefield in this war?…

Holder: The battlefield—there are physical battlefields, certainly, in Afghanistan. But there are battlefields, potentially, you know, in our nation. There are cyber battlefields…where we're going to have to engage.

But there's also—and this sounds a little trite, but I think it's real—there's a battlefield, if you want to call it that, with regard to the hearts and minds of the people in the Islamic world….

Graham: Now, when you talk about the physical battlefield, if our intelligence agencies should capture someone in the Philippines that is suspected of financing Al Qaeda worldwide, would you consider that person part of the battlefield, even though we're in the Philippines, if they were involved in an Al Qaeda activity?

Holder: Yes, I would.

In Holder's view, then, we are engaged in a war that started years before we noticed it and may never end, at least not in any definitive way. The enemy is not simply the guy who shoots at you on the battlefield, who can be readily identified; he can be anyone, anywhere who helps anti-American terrorists. He could be a guy captured in the Philippines suspected of funneling money to Al Qaeda, or (presumably) he could be the employee of an Islamic charity in the U.S. that is accused of sending money to Hezbollah. Given Holder's invocation of cyber and mental battlefields, the enemy could even be someone accused of fomenting terrorism through incendiary online criticism of the U.S. government. The implication is that any of these people could be held in military custody without trial until the cessation of hostilities, i.e., indefinitely.

At her confirmation hearing last week, Elena Kagan, President Obama's nominee for solicitor general, agreed that someone like the suspected Al Qaeda financier captured in the Philippines could be subject to indefinite military detention. She also agreed with Lindsey that "America needs to get ready for this proposition that some people are going to be detained as enemy combatants, not criminals, and there will be a process to determine whether or not they should be let go based on the view that we're at war, and it would be foolish to release somebody from captivity that's a committed warrior to our nation's destruction." While the status of someone captured in an ordinary war can be based on "a battlefield determination by a single officer," Lindsey added, such a classification in "a war without end" requires "more due process." He said that process must be "transparent" and include "an independent judiciary involved in making that decision beyond the executive branch." Kagan again concurred.

It should be acknowledged that what Lindsey and Kagan seem to have in mind is an improvement over the Bush administration's original detention policy, major aspects of which have been rejected by the courts. Bush asserted that he had the unilateral authority to lock up anyone he accused of links to terrorism, including citizens and legal residents, whether captured on or off a battlefield, inside or outside of the United States. Bush's lawyers maintained that such a prisoner had no right to counsel or judicial review of any sort. In practice, such powers would make every American's freedom completely subject to the president's whim.

Obama is not asserting that kind of authority. But he does seem to be preparing the ground for a military detention system that will hold the sort of suspects who could be (and have been) successfully tried in ordinary criminal courts for participating in or abetting terrorism. Such suspects need not even be tried by military tribunals; they could simply be identified as "unlawful enemy combatants" through a process that is yet to be determined but that will certainly be much less rigorous than a full-blown trial. What will be the basis for deciding which suspects get full due process and which get something far less, which receive determinate prison sentences and which are held indefinitely? If the option is available, it will always be tempting to take the easier route, which could mean that every case related to terrorism will be militarized. Then anyone accused of aiding terrorism can forget about justice as it is usually understood.

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  1. Just a couple of days ago AG Holder was complaining about American hypocrisy on race. I would like to complain about his hypocrisy on human rights.

  2. Reversal of welfare reform . . . Billions of dollars

    Nationalization of banks and industries . . . Trillions of dollars

    Perpetual war . . . More trillions of dollars

    Lost rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . Priceless

  3. So, is there a difference that makes a difference between indefinite detention at Gitmo and indefinite detention somewhere else?

    Will people stop trumpeting Obama’s Executive Order to take a look at closing Gitmo as some kind of triumph for civil rights?

  4. It’s a big leap down from the headline to the meat of the article. If Obama institutes an executive order which effectively or explicitly prohibits indefinite detention, can we expect a retraction?

  5. Holder: The battlefield-there are physical battlefields, certainly, in Afghanistan. But there are battlefields, potentially, you know, in our nation. There are cyber battlefields…where we’re going to have to engage.

    But there’s also-and this sounds a little trite, but I think it’s real-there’s a battlefield, if you want to call it that, with regard to the hearts and minds of the people in the Islamic world….

    I think the part above in bold really rips the guts out of your thesis, there, Jacob. I somehow doubt that the Muslim world is going to be endeared by a policy of indefinite detention, and I’m pretty sure he knows that.

  6. I fucking knew he was gonna pull this shit! I fucking knew it!

    Holder: “Luckily I had my fingers crossed when I said that.”

  7. These are really hard questions. What do you do in the following situation.

    A highly places source in Pakastan says subjects X, Y, and Z are an Al Quada sleeper cell. You look and find out that X, Y and Z are LPRs. They can’t be deported absent a lot of due process. You look further and find out that they have been caught on several occasions photographing bridges, Christian churches, synogogs, and the like and with radical literature.

    What do you do with these guys? Unless they are stupid, you don’t have enough evidence to deport them or try them in court. You can’t go to court without bringing our highly placed source back from Pakistan. Do you just wait and let them run lose and hope for the best? Afterall they haven’t done anything criminal, yet. Maybe your source is lying. Maybe he is not. If he is not, how do you explain to the American people that you knew the purpetraitors of another 9-11 or worse were memebers of Al-Quada and did nothing to stop them.

    I understand BO’s quandry here. BO is making a tough call and probably the right one. That of course doesn’t excuse all the lying he did in the campaign when he told his derranged cult of supporters that such tough decisions need not be made.

  8. “I understand BO’s quandry here. BO is making a tough call and probably the right one. That of course doesn’t excuse all the lying he did in the campaign when he told his derranged cult of supporters that such tough decisions need not be made.”

    His whole fucking campaign was a lie. All of it.

  9. I think the part above in bold really rips the guts out of your thesis, there, Jacob. I somehow doubt that the Muslim world is going to be endeared by a policy of indefinite detention, and I’m pretty sure he knows that.

    But does he give a shit?

  10. This whole ‘we are at war’ bullshit really bothers me.

    It’s like calling copyright-infringement ‘stealing’. Sure, people are attacking us at various times, and they don’t like us, but we’re not at war. We’re at something, but I think our language lacks a term for it.

    John:
    I don’t know… maybe you’d put them under surveillance and look for who’s supporting them. Maybe you’d gather evidence and put together a case would hold up in court against both them and their supporters for conspiracy charges? Maybe you’d take them out if, while you were surveilling them, they attempted to commit a violent act?

  11. Elemenope,

    Do you find the notion that we’ll apparently be fighting a “hearts and minds” war problematic?

    Indeed, does that speak a foreign policy which is bounded and more humble?

  12. Sorry for the horrible grammar in the last paragraph. The pizza hasn’t kicked-in yet.

  13. Isn’t Holder using, like, the exact same rhetoric as Bush? Isn’t that a little ominous?

  14. jasno,

    What I find interesting is the idea that this type of warfare is unconventional; it is only unconventional if one ignores its existence for thousands of years of human history. If one needs an example just study the Maccabees.

    It is only unconventional if one defines conventional warfare as that which existed in WWI and WWII; it is not unconventional outside that narrow historical scope.

  15. “I don’t know… maybe you’d put them under surveillance and look for who’s supporting them.”

    You can’t just put people under surveilence. You have to have a warrent and probable cause. You could get a FISA warrent under the facts I give above, but then what? You can’t listen to their phones forever. You can only search their apartments once. Further, you can’t just follow them around for no reason. That is harrassment.

    Yes, if they are stupid or if you get lucky, you can nail them. But if they are smart and careful, chances are you won’t. Further, you cna’t put radio collars on people. If they are smart they will moving. In the end unless you get something real quick, you have to call off the investigation.

  16. Isn’t Holder using, like, the exact same rhetoric as Bush? Isn’t that a little ominous?

    It is, and it does put one on edge. However, I think it is noteworthy that Holder works for Obama, and not vice versa. Making the headline “Obama Plans Indefinite Military Detention of Terrorism Suspects” disingenuous in the extreme.

  17. The real problem here is that we face an entirely new mode of warfare here unprecedented in history. We have to create entirely new strategies, and tactics as well as new institutions and laws to wage it. It is akin to the way that the development of military airpower lead to the creation of new doctrine, institutions and laws.

    Anti-terrorist activities are basically giant spy hunts and people who think of such actions as forms of traditional warfare go off the rails into silliness. The Geneva convention and other standards of international law expressly excepted those fighting covertly from its protections out a keen appreciations of the moral and practical difficulties such anonymous fighters poised for practical applications of law.

    I am please that Obama has adopted a pragmatic stance but I do criticize his hypocrisy. Either he didn’t understand the necessity of such acts when Bush was taking them or he did and chose to exploit them short term political purposes (remember the “Bomber Gap”). Obama, nor any other President, will shy away from such pragmatic methods when the political consequences of doing so may include thousands of dead Americans.

    We let terrorism build into an acceptable form of warfare by excusing those who committed such acts. Now we must pay the price of that indulgence with risk to our liberties.

  18. [insert boilerplate exclamation of surprise]

  19. RFID John. Just implant a chip in every foreign national and track them where ever they go every hour of every day.

  20. John,

    That is just one of the costs of a free society. I’d rather the government not have the power because that is more dangerous than the very slim chance of a terrorist attack.

  21. How about we start calling this the Bush III Administration?

  22. Shannon Love,

    The real problem here is that we face an entirely new mode of warfare here unprecedented in history.

    No we don’t. This is just another example of the weak using the weapons of the weak to attack the strong. That doesn’t mean that the weak are somehow more virtuous than the strong; but societies have been dealing with these sorts of activities for thousands of years.

    Now perhaps it is largely new to the U.S., but I even doubt that; we’ve had long experience with terrorist acts by groups like the KKK, etc.

  23. My prediction: we’re going to continue to over react to 9/11, etc. and it will be quite detrimental in the end as our inflexibility becomes less and less able to adapt to changing circumstances.

  24. The real problem here is that we face an entirely new mode of warfare here unprecedented in history.

    Are you fucking serious? Shouldn’t you just change your handle to Neocon Talking Points? Isn’t another neocon talking point about how Jefferson fucked up the Barbary pirates’ (Muslims!) shit and that was a good thing and so much like today? How do you reconcile those two talking points?

  25. Episiarch,

    For every age their problems are “new”; of course that really isn’t the case, but it does allow policymakers to clear the decks and to try out their “new” ideas (none of which are actually new).

  26. However, I think it is noteworthy that Holder works for Obama, and not vice versa. Making the headline “Obama Plans Indefinite Military Detention of Terrorism Suspects” disingenuous in the extreme.

    Why is labeling a policy announced by someone who works for Obama as Obama’s policy ingenuous?

    I somehow doubt that the Muslim world is going to be endeared by a policy of indefinite detention,

    I, for one, doubt that there are any radical Islamist supporters who will have their minds changed if Obama does prohibit indefinite detention. Theirs isn’t a jihad for better due process from Western liberal democracies, but something else altogether.

  27. Dang, the guy sounds like a circa-2002 Red blogger.

  28. R.C. Dean,

    Well, the hearts and minds thing is more for the general population the bad guys draw support from. Or at least this is what a bunch of the literature suggests. Frankly I don’t think there is a really compelling narrative for why terrorism exists, how to combat it, etc. I do know that curtailing liberty at home is not the way to do it though. All that creates is internal rot.

  29. How about we start calling this the Bush III Administration?

    I prefer Nixon VIII.

    But even that’s a bit short-sighted.

  30. Why is labeling a policy announced by someone who works for Obama as Obama’s policy ingenuous?

    1) no policy was announced. It was a response to a question during a confirmation hearing. All this is stretching to the breaking point.

    2) confirmation hearings are about that candidate, not their future employer

  31. “RFID John. Just implant a chip in every foreign national and track them where ever they go every hour of every day.”

    I would prefer not to do that. Rather than do that, how about round these motherfuckers up when we figure out who they are? Once you have them, you run them through a military tribunal where you look to make damn sure you have the right people and then be done with them.

    The problem with applying common law to terrorism is that absent evidence of a conspiracy, every terrorist gets one free attack. When it is a typical crime, I am fine with that. When it is an attack that could kill thousands not so much. In the end, you have to make being in a terrorist organization a crime and set up some kind of system where by you can examin the evidence against these assholes without giving away your means and methods and of course that grabs them before they can do anything.

    “That is just one of the costs of a free society. I’d rather the government not have the power because that is more dangerous than the very slim chance of a terrorist attack.”

    You think it is slim, but the fact is you don’t know. You hope that it is slim. Further, even if it is a “slim chance” on a given year, the terrorists have nothing but time and they only have to get lucky once. An antrax attack would kill in the six figures. It is nice you are so brave in the face of that. Most people won’t be. If that happens, the measures taken in response will be a lot worse than this. Why not find a middle road and save the lives while we are at it?

  32. Further Seward,

    That is a great answer when we are all fat dumb and happy. Lets see a pulbic official give that answer in the wake of an attack. They will hang you by your balls.

  33. If that happens, the measures taken in response will be a lot worse than this.

    While I do not agree with John overall, this is a very good point. But I’d rather have a massive, sudden loss of liberty that might cause people to rebel against it, than these slow drips that just keep coming that people shrug off.

  34. “But I’d rather have a massive, sudden loss of liberty that might cause people to rebel against it, than these slow drips that just keep coming that people shrug off.”

    I am more concerned about the event that causes that than I am the loss of liberty. Losing a city to a nuke or more likely a few hundred thousand to an anthrax attack would be really bad. A lot worse than the police reading my mail.

    It seems to me that there ought to be a middle ground between giving fanatics who are hiding in our civilian population waiting to kill us the same due process we give a petty thief and just rounding people up and shooting them, or abolishing the 4th Amendment which is what I fear would happen if there was a really huge attack.

  35. John,

    You think it is slim, but the fact is you don’t know. You hope that it is slim.

    What has been worse historically? Government or terrorism? I can say based on the historical record that one government in the 20th century alone has been far more abusive, has stacked more bodies, etc. (you pick the government – the USSR cries out of course, but then there was the orgy of blood known as WWI) than all the terrorist groups in all of human history.

    It is nice you are so brave in the face of that. Most people won’t be.

    A free society cannot exist without a people who won’t take such small risks. A free society requires a bit of resolve from the populace to live freely.

    Why not find a middle road and save the lives while we are at it?

    Because there is no middle road. You cannot give up your freedom and expect to be free. Furthermore one cannot have liberty excised in one area and not expect that to bleed in all other directions.

  36. Were Obama to sign an executive order tomorrow replicating the internment of Japanese Americans (and others) during WWII, would there be any legal basis to quash it?

    I can’t think of any.

  37. Regardless Epi, I admit it is a hard question. I am not without sympathy to your position. What I wish is that we could have an honest conversation in this country about these issues and the nature of risk versus liberty. We do assume some risk by having an open society. It is a risk in most cases worth taking. But we ought to be honest and admit that risk.

    More importantly, we ought to understand that there are two sides to the story. What makes BO so loathsome is not that he is doing this or not doing this. What makes him so loathsome is that he ran a campaign portraying Bush’s terror policy as fascism and talking about trying people for war crimes, knowing the entire time that he would adopt 90% or more of those very policies. That is truely dispicable.

  38. Episiarch,

    Well, we have been living in an ever more pervasive security state since the start of WWII. So it is a drip, drip, drip process.

  39. No policy was announced. It was a response to a question during a confirmation hearing.

    Fair enough.

    So Obama’s candidate has stated that he has no intention of making any material change to the current (Bush) policy on indefinite detention, would that be fair to say?

    I can’t find it off the top of my head, but I know this isn’t the first statement from a member of the administration leaving the door open for indefinite detention.

  40. John,

    What I wish is that we could have an honest conversation in this country about these issues and the nature of risk versus liberty.

    Well, perhaps the Bush administration should have started that conversation. They chose not to.

  41. “What has been worse historically? Government or terrorism? I can say based on the historical record that one government in the 20th century alone has been far more abusive, has stacked more bodies, etc. (you pick the government – the USSR cries out of course, but then there was the orgy of blood known as WWI) than all the terrorist groups in all of human history.”

    That is one of the most tired and whorey falacies out there. It assumes that the future is going to be just like the past. If we knew that, there wouldn’t be much debate would there. What were the chances, based on the past, of there being a large terror attack on US soil on 9-10-01? Pretty slim. Of course we were one day from a really big one. We may be one day away from a big one right now. We don’t know. Looking to the past and assumeing that it represents the future is just question begging. It says nothing about the facts going forward much less about the defistating consiquences of such an attack if it were to occur.

    “Because there is no middle road. You cannot give up your freedom and expect to be free.”

    That is also 100% grade horseshit. So much so I am surprised my monitor doesn’t stink. First, we lived for nearly 200 years in this country without the right to an attorney. Were we not a free country before Gideon? Many states in Western Europe have much more liberal laws regarding admissibility of evidence than we do. Are they not free country? Is anything less than the status que giving up freedom? There can’t be any deviation from the current? No understanding of current circumstances? Bullshit.

  42. “Well, perhaps the Bush administration should have started that conversation. They chose not to.”

    Really? I thought they did. Didn’t they go to Congress and ask for a military tribunal act? It seems to me that it was people like you who didn’t want to have the conversation. Better to scream Bushhitler and ignore the issue.

  43. They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

    – Benjamin Franklin

    I’m pretty fond of the concept that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If you can’t prove someone is a terrorist in the rigged US court system, chances are very good they are not. If we would stop meddling in other countries sovereign territories, both economically and militarily, we’d soon cease to be the target of foreign terrorists.

  44. That is also 100% grade horseshit. So much so I am surprised my monitor doesn’t stink. First, we lived for nearly 200 years in this country without the right to an attorney. Were we not a free country before Gideon? Many states in Western Europe have much more liberal laws regarding admissibility of evidence than we do. Are they not free country? Is anything less than the status que giving up freedom? There can’t be any deviation from the current? No understanding of current circumstances? Bullshit.

    1. We went 200 years without the right to an attorney? Really? Explain yourself, and show your work.

    2. There can be deviation from the current. The constitution has a wonderful way of deviating from the current if circumstances deem it appropriate. It’s called amending the Constitution. Curiously to many seemingly, there really isn’t a “unless there are bad people” clause to the Bill of Rights.

  45. John, we will never have a rational conversation about this stuff, because politicians thrive on fear. If people are afraid, a politician is not going to say “look, suck it up, it’s the price of being free-ish”. They’re going to say “I can protect you!” because that gets them re-elected…as long as they make good. And the best way for them to make good is give the police as much power as they need to prevent an attack, civil liberties be damned.

    It’s a vicious cycle. The more they promise to keep us safe, the more desperate they are to make sure nothing happens, no matter what the real risk level is.

    I assure you that much that was motivating the Bush crew prior to 2004 was that another attack would guarantee a loss in the election and had to prevented at all costs.

  46. Stupid formatting.

    John, how far would you go in order to “keep us safe”? Putting a segment of the population into detention camps ala World War II would do that. Would you be in favor of it? Would you be in favor of allowing the police to indefinitely interrogate anyone who they suspect might be thinking of killing someone? That’d keep us safe.

    Just trying to see where the line is.

  47. Wait, wait.

    Did a Democrat just say:

    “WAR IS PEACE. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

    I am late for my fifteen minutes of hate here, you know, to keep the fear going.

    And add me to the list of people who’d like to complain about the double standard, err, doublethink here.

  48. It seems to me that there ought to be a middle ground between giving fanatics who are hiding in our civilian population waiting to kill us

    I highly doubt there are any of these. If there actually were a non-negligible number of jihadists in the country, they would have formed 30 or 40 Malvo/Mohammed style car-sniper teams, gone around shooting people, and shut the entire country down.

  49. But there’s also-and this sounds a little trite, but I think it’s real-there’s a battlefield, if you want to call it that, with regard to the hearts and minds of the people in the Islamic world….

    I think it sounds trite becouse Bush said the same thing 6 years ago.

    I think the part above in bold really rips the guts out of your thesis, there, Jacob. I somehow doubt that the Muslim world is going to be endeared by a policy of indefinite detention, and I’m pretty sure he knows that.

    Yes Ele we all know you love your guy…..even when he is saying the same things Bush said on the very subjects you critisized Bush on.

    Most people call that Hackery.

  50. The war will be over when terrorism surrenders, period, end of discussion. Until then anything that keeps us safe is an inherintly good thing, I’m all for it.

  51. “We went 200 years without the right to an attorney? Really? Explain yourself, and show your work.”

    There was no right to an attorney under the Constitution until the Gideon case in the 1960s. I thought everyone knew that. I guess not.

  52. “I highly doubt there are any of these. If there actually were a non-negligible number of jihadists in the country, they would have formed 30 or 40 Malvo/Mohammed style car-sniper teams, gone around shooting people, and shut the entire country down.”

    I respectfully disagree. You assume that they are morons looking for a quick bang. The reality is they are a lot smarter and more patient than that. Mahamad Atta and company were in the country for years and they did none of those things. They had something better planned.

  53. “John, how far would you go in order to “keep us safe”? Putting a segment of the population into detention camps ala World War II would do that.”

    No and I defy you to find one place where i have ever advocated that. What I am advocating is detaining people who we have very good evidence that they are terrorists and here to commit such acts. I am doing nothing but saying that we need to look at the situations of particular cases and understand that trial in open court is not always possible and that we should therefore develop a separate system that takes into account those realities. That is not advocating that we round up and arbitrarily lock large numbers of people up.

  54. Epi,

    Yes politicians are most concerned with preventing an attack, which is a good thing. Would you rather them not care? I see the problem as being the other way. Civil Libertarians have the attitude of basically fuck off and die if you can’t prevent acts of terrror on the current rules. That is not a serious answer.

  55. Juanita, you’ve gone too far. Saying “until terrorism surrenders” is far too obviously parody.

  56. We have war with no clear beginning, that will never end. It is not located in any one place but everywhere. There is no specific enemy and anyone can be an enemy.

    This sounds like the perfect recipe for tyranny. A war that is totally undefined implies that government can do anything it wants, anywhere it wants, to anyone it wants.

    The US government is today the greatest enemy of human liberty and the biggest threat to free people everywhere.

  57. “We have war with no clear beginning, that will never end. It is not located in any one place but everywhere. There is no specific enemy and anyone can be an enemy.”

    It only seems that way because no one in public life has the balls to say what the enemy is. The enemy is radical Islam. Just like the enemy was once Nazism or Communism. The war ends when there are no longer any people out there who buy into the idea that it is okay to blow yourself up in the name of Allah. Anyone who believes as much is the enemy.

    “A war that is totally undefined implies that government can do anything it wants, anywhere it wants, to anyone it wants.”

    Why? The government ought to have present sepecific circumstances and risks and problems and narrowly taylored sollutions to them. There is no reason why they can’t do that. You are creating a false choice between 1984 and doing nothing.

    “The US government is today the greatest enemy of human liberty and the biggest threat to free people everywhere.”

    Really? That is so stupid as to be beneath responding to. If you really beleive this to be so, why don’t you try living in North Korea, china, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or hell the UK where making a documentary about Islam can get you thrown in jail.

  58. …does seem to be preparing the ground for…

    Lol.

    This stretch goes to eleven.

  59. I respectfully disagree. You assume that they are morons looking for a quick bang. The reality is they are a lot smarter and more patient than that. Mahamad Atta and company were in the country for years and they did none of those things. They had something better planned.

    I think you underestimate just how damaging a large number of snipers would be for the country. Remember how DC shut down for three weeks? Imagine that x50, and imagine it never ending as they brought in new teams to replace their losses.

    If the jihad crowd had the manpower, we would certainly have seen something like that by now. But they don’t, so they have to go for spectacular stunts like 9/11 because there just aren’t very many people motivated to go thousands of miles away from home and kill strangers over religion. (attn libertymike, this is your cue to insult John)

    And of course they’re morons.

  60. joe’s back! Do we cheer, boo, or jack off?

  61. I’m assuming we’re talking about foreigners here, so what’s the problem with CIA surveillance? I’m not aware of any rule regarding limits on what the CIA can do to foreigners on American soil, especially ones suspected of plotting harm. I’m pretty sure you don’t need a FISA warrant to tail someone or infiltrate their group. Was that needed when the Soviets were running around the country 20 years ago?

    So if we think of it that way, then, yes, you bet your ass we can put ‘radio collars’ on people. I fully expect my government to be able to track people, even if it means dropping an rfid grain of rice under their shish-kabob.

    Also, this idea of terrorists somehow wiping out a major metropolitan area is ridiculous. A nuclear attack would require a lot of work and a state sponsor, likely leaving a trail. A biological attack wouldn’t do it. A dirty bomb? I think we could scrub Manhattan to reasonable levels fairly quickly. The worst case is that a few tens of thousands have an increased risk of cancer.

    What is this mythical city destroying capability that you think terrorists possess? Or is it more of the pants-shitting hysteria about what they *might* do that comes from assuming they’re an organization of super-geniuses with cutting-edge technology?

    Seward – The Maccabees? Really? You think modern terrorism is somehow similar to the fucking Maccabees? I’d love to hear your reasoning on that one. I guess I missed the story about the Maccabees ramming a giant fucking chariot into the Colosseum and knocking it down – and the resulting panic that swept through Rome about how they were going to make the city disappear.

    So my real point is that locking foreigners up indefinitely is stupid AND wrong. Either present evidence that they harmed us in court, or let them go. And if you let them go, let the CIA track their asses until they’re convinced they’re not a threat. If they are, follow the trail, take out their fucking organization in court, using evidence.

    Isn’t that the way the system is *supposed* to work?

  62. What I am advocating is detaining people who we have very good evidence that they are terrorists and here to commit such acts.

    How do you define “terrorist”?

    To me a terrorist is someone who actually engages in a criminal act. (Or directly finances/plans/recruits for it). But the act of terror has to have actually occurred (or I suppose they should be in the process of trying to do it — and that doesn’t mean checking out books at the library on how to build a bomb)

    A terrorist is not someone who thinks about committing an act, or who supports the idea of such an act being committed or who happens to know people who committed such an act.

    If there is “very good evidence that” said suspect was involved in perpetrating a criminal/terrorist attack (using my above definition) then the accuser should present that evidence to a court and try the person. No government should be able to just say “trust us — we have evidence we just can’t show it to anyone” — who in their right mind would support detentions based on secret “evidence” that can’t be shown. That system is ripe for corruption by people in power.

    If the person is suspected of being here to commit such acts (the implication is that they have not actually committed any such acts) then why should they be detained? You can put them under surveillance, get a warrant to tap their phones and gather evidence, but to detain someone because you suspect they might commit some kind of crime is improper.

    What the government essentially wants ( and you seem to be advocating ) is a system where the government gets to lock people up at their discretion without having to produce any proof that the person actually committed any crimes.

    I don’t get why all of a sudden because the government is throwing around the “terrorism” word that out whole rule of law and our system of justice and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty needs to be repealed.

    Free societies don’t lock up people indefinitely (without planning to actually try them) and without some kind of ability to challenge that detention and the ability to face your accuser and compel them to prove their accusations.

    What is America going to be? A tyranny or a free society?

    I vote for the latter.

  63. Warty,

    Perhaps Mumbai is their new MO. We have benefited over the last 8 years from a few things. A lot of the properly motivated people have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan and gotten themselves killed. “Because there just aren’t very many people motivated to go thousands of miles away from home and kill strangers over religion” There certainly were a lot who were willing to go to Iraq. Now maybe those guys were only willing to kill over Iraq, but I doubt it. I think if you are crazy enough to blow yourself up in one place, you are crazy enough to do it in another.

    We also have benefited from deporting a shitload of people since 9-11. It is a lot harder to get into the country than it used to be. I think that is why you have seen attacks in places lik Bali and London but not here. They just haven’t been able to get their people in here in big numbers. But they are here. Don’t kid yourself. What the hell they are going to do and who they exactly are, I wish I knew.

  64. joe’s back! Do we cheer, boo, or jack off?

    I never stopped jacking off — regardless of the presence of joe.

  65. Yeah. It’s awkward.

  66. “It only seems that way because no one in public life has the balls to say what the enemy is. The enemy is radical Islam.”

    John, I’m pretty sure the idea that radical Islam is mostly to blame is well established.

    The problem is what to do about it. Do you have some test for determining radical vs. non-radical Islam? Can we use your test to find out which individuals are fit for your perpetual internment camp? We’ll just lock them all up for listening to the wrong preacher. Yeah, that makes sense.

  67. I think you can make a case for indefinite imprisonment of certain terror suspects. If we’re at war, even narrowly defined, with Al Qaeda – then many of these Gitmo detainees are EPW, enemy prisoners of war. The enemy, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, have not surrendered, and is still in active warfare with the United States Armed Forces. Until such time as their landed or unlanded governing organization ceases hostilities against the United States, they should be held from the field of battle. What I disagree with is the definition of a “war on terror.” We are not at war with a criminal act, but with organizations, organizations who have the ability to halt hostilities.

  68. “But the act of terror has to have actually occurred (or I suppose they should be in the process of trying to do it — and that doesn’t mean checking out books at the library on how to build a bomb)”

    Just checking out a book wouldn’t get there. Nor should it. What about going to a camp in Pakistan and learning how to build bombs? That person comes back and you think we should just wait until he blows something up to do something?

    “You can put them under surveillance, get a warrant to tap their phones and gather evidence, but to detain someone because you suspect they might commit some kind of crime is improper.”

    You can’t just put someone under surveilance. It is called domestic spying. You can get a warrent and listen for a specific time or follow them for a set time but if you don’t find anything in a pretty short time, you have to quit. “Putting them under surveilance” is not a realistic option, unless you are advocating getting rid of the 4th Amendment.

    “If there is “very good evidence that” said suspect was involved in perpetrating a criminal/terrorist attack (using my above definition) then the accuser should present that evidence to a court and try the person. No government should be able to just say “trust us — we have evidence we just can’t show it to anyone” — who in their right mind would support detentions based on secret “evidence” that can’t be shown.”

    Who says it won’t be shown? It is not shown to the public, but we already have classified trials. Certainly, there needs to be evidence shown to an objective fact finder. The question is what kind of evidence. If the evidence comes from a source, you can’t bring the source over to testify in front of the judge. But, you can’t get the evidence in under the hearsay rule in federal court. So, why not create a tribunal system where the hearsay can be admitted and the fact finder decides if it is reliable and proves guilt? That is all I am asking for.

    How is that any more “ripe for abuse” than any other judicial system? If you don’t trust the system, set up a watchdog organization, full of people from say the ACLU and the ABA and Congress that have security clearances and sign non-disclosure agreements. Let them review the cases and if they think they are Kangeroo courts, they can say so. If we are throwing people in jail for voting Democrat, then they will know about it.

    The problem is that you guys think anything that is not District Court is automatically a star chamber. It is not.

  69. Prior to the Bush administration, the quasi-judicial process for trying enemy combatants suspected of crimes was to a hold a military court identical to the courts martial under which American military personnel accused of crimes are tried. Defendants in those courts are afforded the right to counsel, the right to face their accusers, and other protections very similar to those in American civilian courts.

    There was never any need to diverge from that system, except that the Bush administration tortured people, and evidence obtained by torture is no more allowed in a court martial than in a civilian court.

    With the Obama administration having now ordered all military and intelligence and law enforcement agencies to abide by the Army Field Manual, I see no reason why we couldn’t just go back to that system in cases where there is some reason – such as secrecy – why they don’t want to try someone in the federal court system.

  70. The US government is today the greatest enemy of human liberty and the biggest threat to free people everywhere.

    Care to detail exactly how?

    As the world’s largest military power, we do make some hard bargains with some people that have less than ideal human rights records, but that hardly makes us the *biggest* threat to liberty. We’d be happy to work with their opposition if they weren’t either Islamists or Marxists.

    I’d argue that fucking over Marxist-Socialist movements with the CIA during the Cold War was, overall, a good thing for liberty.

    I’d also argue that fucking over Islamist movements with the CIA today is also, overall, a good thing for liberty.

  71. I’d argue that fucking over Marxist-Socialist movements with the CIA during the Cold War was, overall, a good thing for liberty.

    Like in Iran.

    I’d also argue that fucking over Islamist movements with the CIA today is also, overall, a good thing for liberty.

    Hmmm…think Iran has a Communist Party we could work with?

  72. A lot of the properly motivated people have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan and gotten themselves killed.

    That was the only rationale for the Iraq war that I thought made any sense at all. Of course, it seems likely to me that we’re creating more jihadis over there than we’re killing – it’s a lot easier to get whipped up into a rage over an invasion and occupation than over a few airbases in the desert, after all. And it takes a lot less dedication to go to a war zone than to the belly of the beast, so to speak.

    We also have benefited from deporting a shitload of people since 9-11.

    Good.

    It is a lot harder to get into the country than it used to be. I think that is why you have seen attacks in places lik Bali and London but not here.

    Is it any harder to get into Canada or Mexico than it was (that’s not a rhetorical question; I don’t know)? If immigration restrictions were stopping them, the sufficiently dedicated would just walk across the border and go all boomy on us.

  73. The US government is today the greatest enemy of human liberty and the biggest threat to free people everywhere.

    Cross out “everywhere” and put in “in America” and I’ll agree.

  74. “Prior to the Bush administration, the quasi-judicial process for trying enemy combatants suspected of crimes was to a hold a military court identical to the courts martial under which American military personnel accused of crimes are tried.”

    There is nothing quasi judicial about the UCMJ. The rules of evidence are identical to the FREs except for a few things, like being able to claim to be a good soldier as a defense to a crime. If anything, the rules are more protective of the accused than the federal rules in that they provide for better access to witnesses. So, the UCMJ system really isn’t a sollution. It is no different than going to federal court.

    The problems are two fold. One, you are right they coerced tortured or whatever people and got evidence. What do you do with KSM? Now they waterboarded KSM and got a ton of great information. KSM is one of the biggest dirtbags on planet earth. You can’t let him go, but most of your evidence is probably tainted.

    The second problem is that a lot of the evidence against these people is from sources and people that are unavailable to testify and doesn’t fit under a hearsay exception. Again, what if your evidence against a guy is a wire tapped phone call in Pakistan of two high ups talking about sending Pyle to Afghanistan to do acts of terror. That is hard to get in under the FREs, but it is pretty valueable information.

  75. Like in Iran.

    Indeed. Iran was better off under the Shah. A lot of Iranians exiles will say so.

    Would they have been better off if Mossadeq had nationalized the oil industry and collectivized the farms? In particular, would Iran have been a more free country?

    Iran’s Communists were also the allies of the Islamic revolution, let’s remember. Right up until the Islamists got in power and then turned around and started executing them.

  76. John: Are you talking about an American citizen? If not, why does the fourth amendment apply?

    And, I would add that attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan is pretty good evidence in a conspiracy case.

  77. My sollution to the whole problem of GUITMO is to decide to transfer these guys to camp Y in Afghanistan. Then load them all up in a C130 and have the C130 mysteriously crash into the Atlantic Ocean. Whoops.

  78. “John: Are you talking about an American citizen? If not, why does the fourth amendment apply?”

    The 4th Amendment applies to anyone on US soil. We can follow the hell out of him overseas but not here. Attending a camp in Pakistan probably gets you to conspiracy true. So that is a bad example. Good point.

  79. What to do with KSM? Send his ass back to the tribal regions of Pakistan with a bug up his ass. Wait for his buddies to throw him a party and send in the hellfire candles for his cake.

    Because it’s pretty fucking obvious that no one cares about this horseshit when you’re in the war zone.

  80. So did the 4th amendment apply to Soviet spies in the 80’s? Someone enlighten me – I was busy watching the Smurfs while that was going on.

  81. “So did the 4th amendment apply to Soviet spies in the 80’s? Someone enlighten me – I was busy watching the Smurfs while that was going on.”

    If you can establish a connection to a foreign power, you can use intel assets to survile the guy. But, regardless, the FBI couldn’t just go tap Aldrich Ames phone. They had to get a warrent.

    That is the whole issue with domestic spying. Suppose a pakistani is talking on his cellphone to a buddy. In pakistan the NSA can listen with impunity. The same national goes to the US and calls his buddy, the NSA can’t listen absent a FISA warrent.

  82. Soo… get a FISA warrant?

    Seriously, that should be a streamlined process by now, right?

    Can they issue a blanket warrant for an individual? That would seem reasonable.

  83. What about going to a camp in Pakistan and learning how to build bombs? That person comes back and you think we should just wait until he blows something up to do something?

    You might find this hard to swallow, but yes, we should wait until they blow something up or try to blow something up. You see I like to arrest people when they commit crimes or an in process of committing crimes, not merely when they have the capability of committing crimes.

    Going to a camp and learning to do stuff (whether its to make bombs or to learn to shoot or whatever) should not be enough to lock someone up indefinitely or to deserve criminal prosecution.

    How is going to a camp to learn to make bombs any different than downloading and studying the anarchists cookbook?

    You can’t just put someone under surveilance. It is called domestic spying. You can get a warrent and listen for a specific time or follow them for a set time but if you don’t find anything in a pretty short time, you have to quit. “Putting them under surveilance” is not a realistic option, unless you are advocating getting rid of the 4th Amendment.

    Warrants aren’t needed to follow somebody or for stakeouts and for physically tracking of peoples movements. And I don’t see a problem with limiting time for wiretaps. If you can’t get something on someone after following them for quite some time and then getting warrants for taps and listening — maybe they aren’t actually terrorists???

    If the evidence comes from a source, you can’t bring the source over to testify in front of the judge. But, you can’t get the evidence in under the hearsay rule in federal court. So, why not create a tribunal system where the hearsay can be admitted and the fact finder decides if it is reliable and proves guilt? That is all I am asking for.

    And what you are asking for is problematic. Why should hearsay be allowed? Why should the government be able to present someones testimony or statements and the defendant not be able to cross examine.

    I guess the point is that hearsay evidence can be used to get warrants and such but it shouldn’t be allowed to get convictions. I wouldn’t want to be convicted on the hearsay evidence of someone I don’t get to cross examine or even know if they have some type of motivation to provide false statements.

    It seems to me that your issue is that you want to make it easier to convict people that the government accuses of being terrorists and that somehow because we are talking about terrorists the bar for what is considered “very good evidence” should be lower.

    That’s unacceptable. You stated earlier that you want to be able to detain people when you have “very good evidence” — well if you really have very good evidence it has to be more than just hearsay. You should have lots of other proof (surveillance tapes, recordings, financial statements etc). And I don’t see why that stuff shouldn’t be prosecuted in public.

  84. John,

    “Quasi-judicial” is a term used to refer to any system that operated like a court, but which is part of the executive or legislative branches of government instead of the judiciary. It’s not a comment on the legitimacy of the process, just the provenance of the court-like system.

    So, the UCMJ system really isn’t a sollution. It is no different than going to federal court. Sounds like a feature, not a bug, to me! That was my point, actually – courts martial are REAL COURTS, not kangaroo courts.

    What to do with KSM? It shouldn’t be too hard to find a country that would put him on trial, doesn’t torture, and is less observant of the “fruit of the poison tree” doctrine. At this point, there is no doubt a room full of evidence sufficient to convict him of any number of crimes that wasn’t directly obtained by torturing him.

    I certainly wouldn’t want to see this done going forward, but the Bush administration really put us in a bind when it comes to some number of detainees; we know they’re guilty, but we couldn’t get the tainted evidence admitted into our courts.

  85. Did we really get any good intelligence from torturing KSM? I’ve never seen any evidence that we have, but we know that torture throughout history has mostly been used to get false confessions.

  86. What to do with KSM? Send his ass back to the tribal regions of Pakistan with a bug up his ass. Wait for his buddies to throw him a party and send in the hellfire candles for his cake.

    Because it’s pretty fucking obvious that no one cares about this horseshit when you’re in the war zone.

    Really not a bad idea.

    Although I have to say when we picked these guys up out of the war zone originally, it wasn’t to prosecute them for terrorism. We totally could have just shot them. The whole point of taking them alive was for intelligence gathering.

  87. “Soo… get a FISA warrant?

    Seriously, that should be a streamlined process by now, right?

    Can they issue a blanket warrant for an individual? That would seem reasonable.”

    You can and they have. Here is the problems. First, the FBI is fucked up and incompetant and won’t let their agents get FISA warrents without the approval of the head of the FBI. This slows the process down massively.

    Second, if I have enough information to get a FISA warrent I probably already know the guy is a terrorist. Finding out who the terrorist is is the hard part.

    Third, what if the call or the e-mail just routs through a server in the US? What if a guy in Germany calls someone in Pakistan and the call routes through the US. You can’t get that info out of the US server absent a warrent, which is pretty crazy if you ask me.

    If I were king, I would let FBI agents be able to get FISA warrents without such high approval and I would only say you have to have a FISA warrent if one party is on US soil.

  88. Soo… get a FISA warrant?

    Which, btw, you only need to apply for three days after you start listening, and you can use the intel you gathered during those three days in your warrant application.

    That’s not what the wiretapping fight is about; rather, the sticking point is with the programs that trolled an datamined.

  89. That is the whole issue with domestic spying. Suppose a pakistani is talking on his cellphone to a buddy. In pakistan the NSA can listen with impunity. The same national goes to the US and calls his buddy, the NSA can’t listen absent a FISA warrent.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Those requirements are there to protect you and me from being spied upon without cause.

    For fuck’s sake, the FISA court approves like 90+ percent of their warrant requests — they are essentially a rubber stamp that will give warrants based on the flimsiest of rationales, and yet you are acting like being required to get a warrant from that rubber stamp court will somehow bring down the republic.

    I assert that not requiring those warrants is much more dangerous.

    What do you have against the government having to show cause in order to do surveillance?

    I don’t understand how someone who doesn’t think the government is competent enough to run schools thinks it’s competent enough to do run surveillance without oversight and to ensure that the people they are locking up are only bad people who deserve to be there?

    This is the same government that came up with the fucking no-fly lists, and we are supposed to just trust them on detenetions and take their word on who are terrorists???

  90. “So, the UCMJ system really isn’t a sollution. It is no different than going to federal court. Sounds like a feature, not a bug, to me! That was my point, actually – courts martial are REAL COURTS, not kangaroo courts.”

    Again you don’t get around the hearsay problems I describe above or the problem of not giving every terrorist a free attack.

    Further, sending KSM ot Saudi to be tried and shot, while appealing is chickenshit. Either it is wrong to hold the guy or it is not. Letting someone else do our dirty work is not an answer. The answer is to create a practical military tribunal system just like we did in World War II. This stuff is not hard, we just make it that way.

  91. What happens when repatriated detainees are subject to greater rights violations at home, like Egypt or Saudi Arabia? We sleep soundly in our libertarian bed while their nails get pulled out?

  92. Indeed. Iran was better off under the Shah. A lot of Iranians exiles will say so.

    Which is irrelevant, because both the Shah and the Mullahs that took over from him were consequences of our overthrow of Mossedegh.

    Would they have been better off if Mossadeq had nationalized the oil industry and collectivized the farms? In particular, would Iran have been a more free country? Almost certainly, since unlike in the post-CIA-coup period, Iran’s political system in the Mossedegh era allowed the people to vote leaders they didn’t like out of office.

  93. “I don’t understand how someone who doesn’t think the government is competent enough to run schools thinks it’s competent enough to do run surveillance without oversight and to ensure that the people they are locking up are only bad people who deserve to be there?”

    Who says there would not be oversight? Again you assume anything that isn’t the status quo is the worst case possible. Lots of countries, the UK, Peru, Spain have set up special courts for terrorism. Did any of those countries turn into Stalinist Russia? Why not? By your logic they should have.

  94. Again you don’t get around the hearsay problems I describe above or the problem of not giving every terrorist a free attack.

    Further, sending KSM ot Saudi to be tried and shot, while appealing is chickenshit. Either it is wrong to hold the guy or it is not. Letting someone else do our dirty work is not an answer. The answer is to create a practical military tribunal system just like we did in World War II. This stuff is not hard, we just make it that way.

    Yes, Bush made this much harder than it had to be. Absent the torture of some number of detainees, none of these problems exists. For that small number, we’re just going to have to accept the fact that you can’t unscrew the pooch, and accept a second-best solution. Any answer is going to be open to legitimate criticism in one sense or another, and there’s no way around that.

    “It’s embarrassing to let another country do our dirty work” seems a less-bad answer than some others I’ve heard.

  95. So, the UCMJ system really isn’t a sollution. It is no different than going to federal court. Sounds like a feature, not a bug, to me! That was my point, actually – courts martial are REAL COURTS, not kangaroo courts.

    So, when Obama cancelled the ongoing UCMJ military tribunal proceedings at Gitmo that had been approved by SCOTUS, that was a bad thing?

  96. What I am advocating is detaining people who we have very good evidence that they are terrorists and here to commit such acts

    Second, if I have enough information to get a FISA warrent I probably already know the guy is a terrorist. Finding out who the terrorist is is the hard part.

    I guess I am really not following your logic.

    You started out by saying that the people that should be detained are people where have very good evidence that they are terrorists. If you have good evidence then getting a warrant or getting a conviction in court would seem to be trivial

    But then you go on to talk about how hard it is to identify terrorists and that the warrant requirement is problematic because by the time you have enough evidence to get the warrant you no longer need the warrant.

    So what you want is to give the government the ability to spy on anyone, whenever they see fit, without having to show probably cause in order to make the job of finding out who the terrorists are easier? And once the government does decide that someone is a terrorist they should have the right to lock that person up without a trial indefinitely in order to protect the way they gathered evidence to determine that the person is a terrorist?

  97. What happens when repatriated detainees are subject to greater rights violations at home, like Egypt or Saudi Arabia?

    I’m thinking more along the lines of France. No fingernails being pulled out, but not quite the same rules of evidence, either.

  98. Iran’s political system in the Mossedegh era allowed the people to vote leaders they didn’t like out of office.

    That’s theoretically true in Cuba as well. There were lots of nominally democratic Marxist governments during the Cold War.
    We don’t know what would have happened if Mossadegh had remained in power. We do know that the record of socialist takeovers at the time (1953) wasn’t good. We also can theorize that if the USSR had gained control of the persian gulf in 1953 it would have been a very bad thing for liberty all over the world.

  99. So, when Obama cancelled the ongoing UCMJ military tribunal proceedings at Gitmo that had been approved by SCOTUS, that was a bad thing?

    Those were not UCMJ courts martial; those were Detainee Treatment Act kangaroo courts so irresponsible and offensive in their disregard for basic concepts of fairness and evidence that hardened military officers who’d presided over and prosecuted numerous REAL courts martial resigned their commissions rather than participate in them.

    It was a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very good thing when Obama put a stop to those shams.

  100. Again you assume anything that isn’t the status quo is the worst case possible. Lots of countries, the UK, Peru, Spain have set up special courts for terrorism. Did any of those countries turn into Stalinist Russia? Why not? By your logic they should have.

    I guess I just don’t see why all of a sudden we need a new special terrorism court with lax rules of evidence (that are stacked against the accused) in order to prosecute criminals (or terrorists if you will)

    Why should evidence that wouldn’t be allowed in a Federal court be admissible against someone simply because someone is labeled a “terrorist” ? Why should someone who is being labeled a terrorist by his accuser be subject to lower standards of justice and not be afforded the same rights as any other run of the mill criminal?

    I mean if Balko has shown me anything it’s that under our system of civilian law the courts are great at putting people away regardless of their guilt or innocence, and yet here you are advocating that it should be even easier simply because the government says “terrorism”.

  101. That’s theoretically true in Cuba as well.

    It wasn’t “theoretically true” in Iran. Mossedegh, unlike Castro, was the democratically elected head of state, who made no moves to undo the existing democratic process. We did.

    It’s funny – Hazel is soooooooooooooooooo concerned about Mossedegh maybe at some point doing something undemocratic that she’s defending our overthrow of his democratically-elected government, installation of a dictator, and support for the cessation of democracy there. An action, btw, that led to the current Iranian government.

    And why? Because it’s within the realm of possibility that Mossedegh – the democratically-elected president who respected the democratic process throughout his time in office – might have done something undemocratic.

  102. Those “special terrorism courts” in the UK put God knows how many people who were wrongly accused of helping the IRA in prison.

  103. “Why should evidence that wouldn’t be allowed in a Federal court be admissible against someone simply because someone is labeled a “terrorist” ? Why should someone who is being labeled a terrorist by his accuser be subject to lower standards of justice and not be afforded the same rights as any other run of the mill criminal?”

    those are all good points. Those are the very points that we ought to be debating. It may be that the answer to them is no. It depends upon the threat really. If the threat really is low, then you are right. If the threat is high, then the stakes become high enough to justify it. If we fuck up and miss out on convicting the worse common criminal, maybe one or two people die. i am willing to live with that risk. If we fuck up and miss out on a terrorist, thousands could die. That is a different story.

    The big problem here I think is that both of us are argueing from ignorance. Neither one of us really knows what the threat is. If perhaps we had a decent intelligence community, we might be able to have a better conversation. Good luck with that one.

    Ultimately though my fear is that bad cases make bad law. No judge or jury is going to let someone like KSM go. It won’t happen. So what will happen is they will bend the law to convict the guy. That wouldn’t bother me except that if that happens in federal court that sets a precident that will then be used on everyone else. I don’t want people like KSM and his ilk infecting our court system. Look at the Patriot Act, they pass special things to fight terrorism and before you know it they are using those powers in drug cases and everything else. I would rather put him in a separate system that in no way sets a precident for other cases.

  104. John,

    That is one of the most tired and whorey falacies out there.

    It is only a fallacy if I guarantee that the future will look exactly like the past. I was clearly discussing the situation in the language of probabilities.

    Looking to the past and assumeing that it represents the future is just question begging.

    Well, that isn’t what I did, so it isn’t question begging.

    “Because there is no middle road. You cannot give up your freedom and expect to be free.”

    First, we lived for nearly 200 years in this country without the right to an attorney. Were we not a free country before Gideon?

    I would guess that this right came about in large part because of the growth of the state and its various powers over the individual; so I personally would like to return a state where such a right didn’t exist and where it wouldn’t be needed.

    Many states in Western Europe have much more liberal laws regarding admissibility of evidence than we do. Are they not free country?

    Most states in Western Europe are not free countries. They certainly aren’t free in the classical, Smithian sense of the term.

    Is anything less than the status que giving up freedom?

    Remember, I am arguing against the status qou; you are the one defending it.

    Just because I have a higher standard than you apparently do doesn’t mean I am in error.

    No understanding of current circumstances?

    I think it is very rare for so-called emergencies to be so dire as to require such; so no.

  105. ChicagoTom,

    I mean if Balko has shown me anything it’s that under our system of civilian law the courts are great at putting people away regardless of their guilt or innocence, and yet here you are advocating that it should be even easier simply because the government says “terrorism”.

    Yes, very well stated.

    I think this observation is even better illustrated when the “moral panic” nature of claims about terrorism made by politicians is brought out.

  106. But John,

    Prior to 9/11, the biggest terrorist attacks we experienced were all domestic, involving American citizens doing bad acts entirely on American soil. Timothy McVeigh was dangerous, too.

    Not to mention, most of the terrorist attacks that, say, Israel suffers involve “a couple” of people dying. There were more peopled killed in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre than are killed by your standard bomb-vest terrorist. So I’m not sure that logic washes for Abdul the cell member and not some Made Guy in Brooklyn.

    Ultimately though my fear is that bad cases make bad law. No judge or jury is going to let someone like KSM go. It won’t happen. So what will happen is they will bend the law to convict the guy. That’s a good point. Along the same “bad cased make bad law,” I’m not sure that figuring out what to do with these tortured defendants should serve as the model for how we treat future al Qaeda members, either, as we could end up using those bad cases to make bad law that encourages government agents and agencies to accept further torture.

  107. John,

    Anyway, let me ask you a very important question and I’ll see whether I wish to continue this conversation: what does more damage to individuals and communities in the U.S. on a daily, yearly, etc. basis – the WoD or terrorism?

  108. John,

    Well, that is sort of an unfair query, given how much self-inflicted damage we’ve done to ourselves in response to 9/11. What I mean by terrorism are the acts of the actual terrorists, not the costly over reaction to it we’ve seen.

  109. “The war will be over when terrorism surrenders, period, end of discussion. Until then anything that keeps us safe is an inherintly good thing, I’m all for it.”

    I’ll keep you safe, Juanita. Just snuggle up close.

  110. It’s funny – Hazel is soooooooooooooooooo concerned about Mossedegh maybe at some point doing something undemocratic that she’s defending our overthrow of his democratically-elected government, installation of a dictator, and support for the cessation of democracy there. An action, btw, that led to the current Iranian government.

    Lots of different things leg to the current Iranian regime. Including the Left’s support for the Islamic revolution – because the Shah was on “our side”. They wanted to get rid of the American puppet, so they helped the Islamists overthrow him. How’s that for “blowback”?

    Also, while the right to vote is very important, I don’t think it is the only freedom of any importance. I’m not so much concerned about Mossadegh maybe doing things that we “undemocratic”, so much as anti-liberal. Such as nationalizing industries and collectivizing farms.

    This gets down to one of our basic philosophical differences. You are okay with a much larger, more intrusive state, so long as it is democratically elected.

    In my opinion, loss of economic freedom is just as important as loss of political freedom. Moreover, there is no real political freedom without economic freedom, which is why socialist governments end in totalitarianism.

  111. I’m not sure that figuring out what to do with these tortured defendants should serve as the model for how we treat future al Qaeda members, either, as we could end up using those bad cases to make bad law that encourages government agents and agencies to accept further torture.

    We already accept torture. Supermax is torture. We just want to keep it out of the public view and the media, and the President’s going to deliver on that wish.

  112. Wow, Hazel, you’ve come a long way.

    From:

    Hazel Meade | February 19, 2009, 4:43pm | #

    Iran’s political system in the Mossedegh era allowed the people to vote leaders they didn’t like out of office.

    That’s theoretically true in Cuba as well. There were lots of nominally democratic Marxist governments during the Cold War.
    We don’t know what would have happened if Mossadegh had remained in power. We do know that the record of socialist takeovers at the time (1953) wasn’t good.

    to:

    Also, while the right to vote is very important, I don’t think it is the only freedom of any importance. I’m not so much concerned about Mossadegh maybe doing things that we “undemocratic”, so much as anti-liberal.

    But as for your point about democratic governments that become totalitarian, I’ll note that the vast majority of totalitarian governments came to power in an undemocratic fashion, usually via a violent revolution that overthrew an elected government, while the vast majority of democratic governments do not become totalitarian.

    There’s a reason for this: people don’t like to live under totalitarian regimes, left, right, center, religious, atheist, whatever. When the democratic system is in place, they use it to protect themselves from such totalitarianism.

    Democracy is liberalism’s best friend. Unaccountable government is its worst enemy. That’s why it’s so foolish to claim that we had to overthrow elected governments to preserve liberalism. Whenever we did – Iran, Guatemala, Hondorus, Chile, Greece – they ended up suffering truly illiberal, dictatorial, even totalitarian governments, far worse than those elected regimes we overthrew.

  113. “””His whole fucking campaign was a lie. All of it.”””

    Which campaign isn’t?

    I get a laugh during every election cycle when people start believing in speeches when they know better.

    Perhaps it’s more difficult to stay firm in one’s belief when most others abandon it. If blind justice is a conerstone of American justice, so be it. We shall not arrest nor detain people because we think they are going to do something without good evidence to support the conspiracy. Not to mention, U.S. law ends at our borders. But few Americans actually believe in that anymore. We have moved to supporting a monarchy/tyrant form of justice which allows indefinate detention for the assumption of possible acts against the crown/state.

    I’m not going to claim which is right. But America is becoming more and more non-American, be it socalist bank controls or para-military police forces, thanks to both political parties.

    Which America do we want? The pre 9/11 America that was the great America, or the post 9/11 socialist, militaristic America? That is panning out to be the tough question.

  114. They wanted to get rid of the American puppet, so they helped the Islamists overthrow him. How’s that for “blowback”?

    Please, Hazel, list all of the contributions American leftists made to the overthrow of the Shah. Not expressions of their feelings, but actual contributions, such as the covert support the CIA gave to the coup that installed him.

  115. If the CIA can’t snatch and detain these guys we all know what they may have to do instead … look for a few “work related accidents” in the coming years among the AQ crowd …

  116. OB is Bush III

  117. Moreover, there is no real political freedom without economic freedom, which is why socialist governments end in totalitarianism.

    No elected socialist government has ever ended in totalitarianism. It has never happened that way in the history of the planet Earth.

    Elected socialist governments – Labor in Britain, the leftist parties in Scandinavia, the SDs in France and Germany – have always governed in an extremely democratic fashion, and been far more liberal towards their citizens than unelected, but capitalistic, governments like those in Singapore, China, or the UAE.

  118. Democracy is liberalism’s best friend. Unaccountable government is its worst enemy.

    I’m suspecting that a constitutional republic with limited, enumerated powers is not (left) liberalism’s best friend. Although, when it still existed, it was classical liberalism’s only hope.

  119. John Thacker,

    That is a great point about Supermax and torture. I have little doubt that people like Joe would be a whole lot less concerned about this issue if BO were just torturing and locking up the right people. Having seen both places, I would much rather be locked up in GUITMO than a typical state SUPERMAX. I have toured both GUITMO and the death row at the Oklahoma State Pennetentary. GUITMO is much better.

  120. Since BHO has become president, he has:
    * announced closure of Guantanamo.
    ? Declined to prosecute the mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing.
    ? Closed all overseas CIA interrogation centers.
    ? Appointed an Attorney General and Justice Department officials on record as opposed to the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques in terror investigations.
    ? Granted Al Arabia television his first news organization interview and called Fatah Party leader Mahmoud Abbass in his first phone contact with any foreign leader. Now, with no strings attached, the president has allocated $20.3 million to conflict victims in Gaza. Gaza is totally controlled by the terrorist group Hamas. In fact, on Feb 7, the UNRWA announced that it was suspending assistance in Gaza because ten lorries, laden with humanitarian supplies, were seized by Hamas members. It was the second time that week that Hamas has stolen aid destined for the UNRWA. On all fronts, the message from Obama is the same – surrender, pullback, and weakness.

  121. Did joe just call the Communist Chinese capitalists?

    No elected socialist government has ever ended in totalitarianism.

    Well, for certain values of “elected”, “socialist”, and “totalitarian”, I’m sure that’s right.

  122. This is good news as long as The One and Eric “you American cowards” Holder don’t evolve the policy to eventually include domestic political enemies as the disastrous policies Obama is enacting start to be felt widespread and people react.

  123. No elected socialist government has ever ended in totalitarianism. It has never happened that way in the history of the planet Earth.

    Nazi Germany. Mussolini.

    Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

    Of course…. they aren’t “really” socialists, are they?

  124. Please, Hazel, list all of the contributions American leftists made to the overthrow of the Shah.

    I was referring ot the Iranian left. But of course, they got a lot of sympathy and moral support from other leftists around the world.

    Probably a little more direct help from the KGB too.

  125. Isn’t this going to cast a shadow on effort to improve America’s image abroad ?

    What happened to the unicorns ?

  126. Based on population sizes, every time an Israeli is killed by a terrorist, it is like 65 Americans dying. Another way to look at it is the DC sniper. We went crazy trying to find these guys, but only 10 people were killed out of a population group of 6 million (DC and VA). That is equivalent to 12 people in Israel. 12 people is a slow year for Hamas.

  127. Any position that says that men who deliberately and proudly commit war crimes and crimes against humanity as their method of waging war are deserving of trials in the civilian justice system is a position that must be rejected as the foolishness it is.

    The fact is that a hundred years ago (and still today actually) it was legal to summarily execute men like al-Qaeda members if they were captured. Now that’s no good because times have changed apparently. Plus some of them know stuff we need to know.

    Just calling them prisoners of war doesn’t much work either, they’d get rights they don’t deserve and it’d amount to a sentence of life imprisonment since for most of them they’re never going to not be a threat to Jews, Americans, anyone non-Muslim pretty much. Apparently keeping them locked away until they die of natural causes isn’t too palatable to the people around here.

    But the idea that my rights as an American citizen and a human being are in danger because some genocidal war criminal sitting in a cell somewhere doesn’t have those same rights is completely laughable. People like ChicagoTom are chicken littles. Sorry, no, they don’t deserve “fair trials” under your definition of a “fair trial” or the definition of a “fair trial” afforded to American or British or Canadian or French or Western Country whatever citizens. Sorry, no, denying them “fair trials” of that sort is not a danger to the rest of us.

    The far larger danger is that the Obama Administration seems to be taking more ChicagoTom’s line, and people are going to die because of it someday.

    If there are no consequences to breaking the laws of war, of rejecting the very system that created the laws of war, why should the United States or any nation wage war in accordance with them?

    If fighting terrorism is better suited to the civilian criminal justice system, why did Israel fail utterly at stopping terrorism from the West Bank for decades? Terrorism has largely ended in the West Bank because Israel, through military means and without giving terrorists civilian legal rights or much in the way of any rights at all, made it more or less physically impossible for Palestinians in the West Bank to attack Israelis either in the West Bank or outside of it.

    ChicagoTom’s views will not stop terrorism. Give terrorism more room to operate in is more like it.

  128. That’s why it’s so foolish to claim that we had to overthrow elected governments to preserve liberalism. Whenever we did – Iran, Guatemala, Hondorus, Chile, Greece – they ended up suffering truly illiberal, dictatorial, even totalitarian governments, far worse than those elected regimes we overthrew.

    Worse than the Khmer Rouge? Mao? Stalin? Castro? The record of socialist movements during the 20th century is pretty bad.

    We’re we wrong to fear that?

  129. “The US government is today the greatest enemy of human liberty and the biggest threat to free people everywhere.”

    But, but, . . . that can’t possibly still be true?? Didn’t we elect that hopey changey guy? I was sure we threw out all the bad, evil men with Rs and replaced them with good, shiny men and womyn with Ds

  130. The obvious risk of a major terrorist attack is the complete loss of faith in the federal government to secure the homeland, followed by mass chaos and anarchy.

    Somalia, here we come.

  131. “Which America do we want? The pre 9/11 America that was the great America, or the post 9/11 socialist, militaristic America? That is panning out to be the tough question.”

    Except for, you know, those three times we turned everything over to the government and went out and whipped someone’s ass and it ended up with the United States standing at the top of the hill at the end of the day. You know, like, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.

    You must not have been around for or know much about the New Deal, or the Fair Deal, or the Great Society, or the Nixon-Carter years either.

    Some people have this fantasy that, at some point in the past, the United States of America existed in a political environment matching their ideology. Sorry, not the case. There is no such thing as “great pre-9/11 America” and “socialistic militaristic post-9/11 America” or any other such nonsense. There is just America. And that’s not just some silly Messiah talk.

    The great question is what effort is necessary to keep these war criminals out of our yard and in theirs, and is that effort worth it? Let them blow up whatever they want 5000 miles away as long as it isn’t American citizens. But if they do kill Americans, none of this wishy-washy half-assed and/or half-cocked stuff we’ve seen since Reagan left office either.

  132. I’m suspecting that a constitutional republic with limited, enumerated powers is not (left) liberalism’s best friend.

    The last two elections notwithstanding. Or the period from the 30s-70s. But wouldn’t that depend on the limited, enumerated powers in question? “A constitutional republic with limited, enumerated powers” describes most of western Europe, which as we all know, is a socialist hellhole.

    I have little doubt that people like Joe would be a whole lot less concerned about this issue if BO were just torturing and locking up the right people. God, you’re an asshole, John. Yeah, my objection to torture is that I like al Qaeda. What an intellectual coward you are! Whenever you get in trouble in an argument, you reach for “Yoo love teh terrorists!”

    Did joe just call the Communist Chinese capitalists?

    No, the capitalistic government the Chinese have had for the past two decades. The Communist Chinese, like Mao and his wife, absolutely not.

    Well, for certain values of “elected”, “socialist”, and “totalitarian”, I’m sure that’s right. Those values being the ones found in standard English dictionaries and common speech.

    Nazi Germany. Mussolini. Not socialists.

    Mugabe. OK, I stand corrected. That’s one.

    I was referring ot the Iranian left. Oh oh oh, right. I misunderstood what you meant.

    Worse than the Khmer Rouge? Mao? Stalin? Castro? Read what I wrote, Hazel: “worse than the regimes we overthrew.” Proclaiming that Chile or Hondorus would, if allowed to continue as democratic republics instead of having military dictators installed and elections cancelled, necessarily have turned into Cambodia 1978 is hysterical, in both of its common meanings. Once again, because it’s an extremely important point that a lot of people seem to miss, none of the bad regimes you mention – Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Castro – ever had to face the voters at the polls. There’s a reason for that. People who have to face the voters at the polls either moderate themselves, or get voted out.

  133. The sweet, sweet neocon tears of people like chaos are worth a thousand “Meet the New Boss” yammerings of libertarians.

    Apparently, Obama’s detention, torture, foreign, and war policies are so much like Bush’s that people who support Bush’s policies are crapping their pants.

    Awesome.

  134. Hazel,

    We’re we wrong to fear that?

    We were wrong to fear it irrationally. Our fear of what an elected socialist might do in Iran brought about the Ayotollahs.

    Our fear of what an elected Viet Minh would mean in Vietnam in the 1950s not only brought about that which we feared – a united Communist Vietnam – but a war that allowed that communism to spread into Laos and Cambodia, when it never would have absent our own irrational response to that fear.

    I understand that the stakes were high during the Cold War, but those stakes being high makes it more important to keep our heads, not less.

  135. Since you came back, RC, and have obviously been reading my comments:

    Are we clear on the difference between real courts martial carried out by our military, and the Detainee Treatment Act kangaroo courts?

    Yes, they are both tribunals organized by the US military. No, that does not make them the same thing.

  136. Joe-

    You are right in pointing out to Hazel that your comment concerned the awful consequences of our overthrow of democratically elected governments and not Mao and Stalin et al.

    However, Nazi Germany was a socialist entity. After all, a Nazi was a national socialist.

  137. “Our fear of what an elected Viet Minh would mean in Vietnam in the 1950s not only brought about that which we feared – a united Communist Vietnam – but a war that allowed that communism to spread into Laos and Cambodia, when it never would have absent our own irrational response to that fear.”
    That is absolute BS…
    Hmm remind me what was the irrational fear that made Vietcong appear and try to takeover…?Or Korea?
    . It is like saying that if US wouldn’t have fought Nazism it would only have restricted to Europe… Thailand and Malaya opinion are that the destruction of resourses that Vietnam implied prevented the spread of Communism south/west.

    Btw what is the problem of detention for life if the War is not stopped? A Prisioneer of War don’t have a court neither is echanged unless at end of war or by both parties agreement. So why to give better conditions for those that even don’t respect Geneva Conventions?

  138. Holder was right about America not even knowing she was at war – Clinton didn’t do his job and it took so long for the Bush Administration to get their folks confirmed. Congress was still playing games with the nominations when we were hit on 911.

    The one thing that I know is Bush had it right on going after terrorists and I believe this war on terror could well last for years. He was right in going after Sadam and Bin Laden and he was right in going after people, no matter who, what or where they are if they are planning attacks on us.

    I think our media and two-bit politicians should allow the military to conduct the trials…after all, it appears our politicians are too stupid to understand more than what the likes of MOVEON tells them. They sure as hell need to stay out of how, where and what to do with terrorist captured on a battlefield.

    Yep, Bush was correct, a prisoner has no right to counsel or judicial review of any sort. Frankly, when it comes to terrorists that have tortured and killed my side…I don’t give a damn about “their civil liberties”. Why is it that the U.S. is under some strange belief that our soldiers will be treated well when history shows they don’t play by any rules.
    Torturing our people, cutting up the bodies and burning them is no problem, right?

    As far as Senator Linsay, God forbid we should get a killer wet, embarrass or deprive them of their beauty sleep. As far as I am concerned, there should be no terrorists in our custody at Guantanamo – they should have been executed by now or feed to the sharks.

    Can you feel the love?

  139. libertymike,

    There is a party in Russia called the Liberal Democrats. It’s led by an anti-semitic mad man who idolized Stalin.

    Like any good pol, Hitler picked a name that would be politically appealing. In practice, he destroyed the socialist wing of the Nazi Party on the Night of the Long Knives, and his economic policies consisted of giving high government positions to captains of industry and declaring that business owners were the fuhrers of their businesses, to whom their workers owned their loyalty and obedience. During their street brawling days, the Nazis beat up and murdered socialists and communists, while being funded largely by donations from wealthy industrialists. The actual socialists and unionists, on the other hand, were sent to concentration camps or murdered. Hitler even went so far as to refuse to put the German economy on a war footing until 1944 or 1945, in order to avoid stepping on the toes of his industrialist supporters.

    That is not a socialist regime, regardless of how Hitler changed the party’s name.

  140. I’m suspecting that a constitutional republic with limited, enumerated powers is not (left) liberalism’s best friend.

    Actually it is…it prevents them from overreaching.

    But the idea that my rights as an American citizen and a human being are in danger because some genocidal war criminal sitting in a cell somewhere doesn’t have those same rights is completely laughable. People like ChicagoTom are chicken littles. Sorry, no, they don’t deserve “fair trials” under your definition of a “fair trial” or the definition of a “fair trial” afforded to American or British or Canadian or French or Western Country whatever citizens. Sorry, no, denying them “fair trials” of that sort is not a danger to the rest of us.

    Please spare me your bullshit.

    The way to defeat terrorists is by throwing out the rule of law and locking up or executing suspected terrorists without having to give them a trial on the whims of Dear Leader?? Really?

    And you say *I* am the chicken little? I am the one who believes we don’t have to trash our values and our belief in human rights and our moral superiority in order to fight “terrorism”.

    The chicken little seems to be the guy that believes that the way for America to survive the THREAT OF TERROR is to throw away all of our ideals and everything that distinguished us from the rest of the world because he is so scared that the terrorists are gonna come and get him in the middle of the night.

    Terrorists are criminals. Period. They aren’t super villains and there is no need to do away with trials and evidence and due process. And if you believe differently maybe you should go buy some rubber sheets you fucking bedwetter.

    You don’t protect America by destroying everything it stands for because some bad people have bad intentions. We don’t have to destroy our ideals in order to triumph. You don’t defeat “evil” by adopting the ways of the evil-doers.

    We aren’t supposed to hold ourselves to the standards of the law breaks — the “good guys” are supposed to hold themselves to higher standards.

    If there are no consequences to breaking the laws of war, of rejecting the very system that created the laws of war, why should the United States or any nation wage war in accordance with them?

    On what planet is prosecuting a war criminal via trial and evidence considered “no consequences” ?

    ChicagoTom’s views will not stop terrorism. Give terrorism more room to operate in is more like it.

    By abandoning our ideals and adopting the ways of evil regimes we are creating more terrorists and people hostile to our country.

  141. Frankly, when it comes to terrorists that have tortured and killed my side

    And you know that the people rounded up and held did these things how? Because the government said so? Or Because some afghani warlord who gets paid a bounty for suspects said so?

    Shouldn’t the government have to, you know, prove that the “terrorist” tortured and killed our side? Or that they are a “terrorist” to begin with?

    Or is the government and its agents infallible when it comes to the War on Terror? (the same government that I suspect you would consider too incompetent when it comes to schools)

    That’s the problem with your ilk. All you see is the word terrorist and you think “these people have whatever we dish out coming to them” and that may very well be so — if the people accused actually are terrorists.

    At some point doesn’t a free society have the duty to establish that the people they are accusing and locking up actually did commit some kind of crime? Or does guilt/innocence not matter since they are foreigners?

  142. LL,

    You aren’t making any sense. First, I stated that the Vietnamese Communists wanted to “take over” the south and unite the country. They wanted to do that via elections, then by military force when we had the elections cancelled.

    Or Korea? Korea? What are you talking about? I never mentioned Korea.

    It is like saying that if US wouldn’t have fought Nazism it would only have restricted to Europe… Wow is that a bad analogy. The Nazis were expansionist from the beginning. The Vietnamese communists were not. The only country they have ever invaded, in their almost four decades in power, was already communist. Their ambitions ended at their border. Cambodia, which we always see trotted out as the consequences of our not “stopping” the Vietnamese communists, went communist without any Vietnamese assistance, and the Khmer Rouge was hostile to the point of war towards the Vietnamese communists.

    It was also a stable, noncommunist country until we bombed it and destabilized its government. Before our involvement in SE Asia, there were a few down Khmer Rouge. After, they took over the country and the rest is history.

    We made that happen. We didn’t not-prevent it from happening – it never would have happened if not for our war in Vietnam.

    It always amuses me to see people write about SE Asian history as if American troops were at some point defending the people of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge, and then left, allowing their good buddies in Hanoi to help them take down the government.

  143. If we destroyed Vietnam’s resources to the extent that they were unable to spread communism, why were they able to invade Cambodia and overthrow the Khmer Rouge?

    It’s nonsensical.

    We could have contained communism at the Vietnamese border. Trying to contain it at an arbitrary line in the middle of a country that had been politically, culturally, and geographically united for ten centuries was foolish. If we’d kept our heads, there would have been much less communist tyranny in SE Asia.

  144. Read what I wrote, Hazel: “worse than the regimes we overthrew.” Proclaiming that Chile or Hondorus would, if allowed to continue as democratic republics instead of having military dictators installed and elections cancelled, necessarily have turned into Cambodia 1978 is hysterical, in both of its common meanings.

    No it isn’t. This was, 1953, remember, when what happened with a “democratically elected” government in Nazi Germany was very fresh in our memory. Meanwhile, Stalin was in power in the USSR, and the secret of thermonuclear weapons had just been stolen. The Cold War was just heating up.

    That was the information we had to go on at the time. It was not, in context, irrational to fear that Mossadegh was going to take Iran in the direction of the USSR, and fall into the sphere of Soviet influence, if not become a totalitarian communist state.

    As I said originally, there were definitely downsides to those actions, and not all of them were net positives. But overall, fighting the Cold War was a net positive for liberty in the world. We should have done more.

  145. Remember when Chicken Little ran around saying “We don’t need to change how we’ve always done things?”

    No, me neither.

  146. Hazel,

    I can certainly sympathize with people in 1953, and how they were scared witless.

    Nonetheless, we can take advantage of hindsight, and recognize that this country did all sorts of foolish, unnecessary, counterproductive, and even shameful things in the 1950s because of our fear of communism.

    It was not, in context, irrational to fear that Mossadegh was going to take Iran in the direction of the USSR, and fall into the sphere of Soviet influence, if not become a totalitarian communist state. But again, not a single one of the Soviets’ client states got that way through elections.

    But overall, fighting the Cold War was a net positive for liberty in the world. Mine is not an argument about whether we should have fought Soviet imperialism, but how.

  147. It was also a stable, noncommunist country until we bombed it and destabilized its government. Before our involvement in SE Asia, there were a few down Khmer Rouge. After, they took over the country and the rest is history.

    We made that happen. We didn’t not-prevent it from happening – it never would have happened if not for our war in Vietnam.

    That old canard? “OMG! The Cambodians are like bees! Look at the insanity that bombing can unleash! Those Cambodians just go CRAZY!”

    You have far too deterministic a view of history. We have no idea whether Cambodia would have gone communist or not without the Vietnam war. I see not reason to think it would never have. It still shares a border with Vietnam and is subject to the same political movements. Why wouldn’t it?

    How do you know that the rise of communist movements in Cambodia didn’t have more to do with the general worldwide trend towards communism? There were Marxist movements all over the place. I’d blame, you know, the Marxists for causing Marxism first, really.

  148. But again, not a single one of the Soviets’ client states got that way through elections.

    Nicaragua did, if you count elections after the initial revolution.

  149. Hazel, you argue with a lot of 20/20 hindsight. Sure the CIA did some stupid things, and matters of American policy didn’t always go the way we would have preferred. But Dulles and Donovan had different information than we have now. And we can’t know what “would have happened.” Just because we’ve made silly mistakes in the past doesn’t mean we stick our heads in the sand and pray Ahmedinezhad doesn’t get the bomb, or cease to engage in covert operations against the most illiberal forces in our world today.

  150. No elected socialist government has ever ended in totalitarianism.

    Given the level of controversy in the literature on what totalitarianism is (vs. authoritarianism) and other arguments allied to the subject I’m not quite sure how this statement can scan.

  151. Hazel, “the same political movements?” Are you kidding me?

    The Khmer Rouge was SHOOTING AT the NVA/VC for as long as they existed! You know what the first thing the Vietnamese Communists did after they took the south? They went to war with the Khmer Rouge, because they were having constant border skirmishes.

    BTW, it’s tough to look at you spending a half dozen comments telling me that Iran, Hondorus, Chile, and Guatemala were doomed to become Stalinist Soviet satellites if they were allowed to elected their own governments, and then see you accuse me of “historical determinism” for accurately describing the process by which we destabilized Cambodia and turned it into a war zone.

    Nicaragua did, if you count elections after the initial revolution. I don’t, because they were already a Soviet client state when they held those elections. Which, come to think of it, shouldn’t be possible, if I believe what you’ve been saying.

    Jeremy,

    You mean me, not Hazel, and I haven’t written anything about Iran’s bomb.

    Also, the Iranian president doesn’t control, or even have much influence over, the military. “Ahmedinejad” will not ever get the bomb. He’s mostly a figurehead, with some powers over domestic policy.

  152. Joe-

    There is no question that Hitler hated the communists, like Rosa Luxemberg. You are right about the communists and the more vociferous trade unionists getting a free train ride to the camps. Yes, you are also right about the fact that some leaders and groups co-opt a name that does not mesh with their true aims and agenda.

    However, I am not so sure that it was just a matter of Hitler letting the industrialists have their way. To wit, there are countless accounts of him expressing the idea that the state was supreme. He often said that the state uber alles. In furtherance of that, he often expressed the view that ultimately, everything belonged to the fatherland, including the industry that powered the Wermarcht.

    Sure, sometimes we forget that he was a politician. He knew how to manipulate. He knew how to make expedient decisons that did not necessarily reflect his overall philosophy.

  153. libertymike,

    German industrialists were pressured into following Nazi ideology along a broad front of their operations. Indeed, the Nazi regime was engaged in central planning just like all the other major powers were in the 1930s (this includes the U.S.). So it was never just a free ride for them. You can’t really understand Nazi Germany if one discounts the depth of belief in the ideology which undergirded that state.

    ________________

    As for all this talk about U.S. interventions, it has been a part of U.S. foreign policy since well nearly the start of the U.S., and has grown in length and breadth with the growth of the U.S. as a power. The major parties of any era have engaged in it and it is tended to bowl over those who opposed it.

    These days it has expanded so much that the U.S. has military commitments of one form or another in nearly every country on the planet. This interventionist notion lies in both major parties today and really the only disagreement with regards to it is tactical in nature, not strategic.

  154. | February 19, 2009, 7:08pm | #
    Chicago Tom – the people rounded up and held were captured on the battlefield NOT the local market. They were killing our side.

    Yep, I sure do think “these people have whatever we dish out coming to them” and if they are captured on the battlefield then I would much have then dead than brought into this county. We have enough already in the country already so no need to import more.

  155. McCain would have been worse.

  156. “…Holder works for Obama, and not vice versa. Making the headline “Obama Plans Indefinite Military Detention of Terrorism Suspects” disingenuous in the extreme.”

    Holder said this in the course of explaining/defending the administration’s policy, correct? Until Obama denounces what Holder said or makes Holder recant it, one can reasonably conclude that that is, in fact, Obama’s policy.

  157. Are we clear on the difference between real courts martial carried out by our military, and the Detainee Treatment Act kangaroo courts?

    Are you clear that the SCOTUS specifically approved UCMJ proceedings for Gitmo detainess, and that the proceedings suspended by Obama were UCMJ proceedings?

  158. “If Obama institutes an executive order which effectively or explicitly prohibits indefinite detention, can we expect a retraction?”

    Sure. I’ll back you up 100%, if it happens.

    But, somehow, I don’t think it will.

  159. “His whole fucking campaign was a lie. All of it.”

    Actually, it would greatly comfort me to learn that his entire campaign was a lie. As it is, I think he believes every word he spoke. Even the ones that contradicted other ones. Which is why I think we’re all screwed.

  160. “The war ends when there are no longer any people out there who buy into the idea that it is okay to blow yourself up in the name of Allah.”

    No one, John? Not a single one? By that standard, we never won World War II, and definitely not the Cold War.

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