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Charles Krauthammer on "Jihadists":

Here I'd thought that "jihadist" was getting moderately well-established as a term for radical Islamists -- Jonathan Rauch, whom I much respect, suggests that it's actually the best term for them, but at least it's easily understood as one possible term for them -- and now Charles Krauthammer says this, on the Fox Special Report last Friday (emphasis added):

[Jim] Angle: Yes. Now, Charles, one of the interesting things here is that Senator Roberts was talking about the fact that Goss was essentially rebuilding the CIA after some very difficult years, two tumultuous episodes in which its competency was questioned, and rebuilding the size of the agency.

[Charles] Krauthammer: And also trying to deal with the jihadists inside the agency, the people who consider themselves the loyal opposition, which really is the role of Congress, but who oppose administration policy, had been leaking and had been trying to undermine and obstruct administration initiatives.

One of the roles he had adopted, Goss, was to go after these people. He fired Mary McCarthy, who supposedly was the leaker on the secret prison story. And I think there is some -- you know, if you look at this, you could say, well, maybe he was defeated by that element in the CIA. From what I have heard, that's not so. And the next -- and his successor is going to be as tough on the leakers as he was.

Krauthammer also apparently said the same on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:

Well, I think there is a jihadist element in the CIA, people who think that, or a jihad against the administration's policies, and who think that they owe a duty to the nation above their own oath to keep secrets. And they leak stuff as a way to embarrass the administration or undermine a policy or two. And they have been a problem. And we know that Goss acted against that.

Isn't this a titch beyond the level of proper hyperbole, even in these rather shrill times? Is it too much to ask that we save jihadist, terrorist, Nazi, fascist, racist, and the like for people and actions that have some real resemblance to the evil that these terms are associated with?

Thanks to Mark Kleiman for alerting me to this; I can't say I'm nearly as incensed by it as he seems to be, but I agree that this really isn't the way people ought to be talking.

Mark Kleiman (mail) (www):
I'm not surprised that Eugene should be the first (as far as I know) person on the right side of the political spectrum to speak out against this. I hope he will have much company.

If my level of anger is greater than his, perhaps that's because Krauthammer has deliberately chosen as his targets people who are not only defending the country but whose defense of the country puts them in a position where they can't answer his baseless charges. That strikes me as a truly dastardly way to behave.
5.11.2006 4:35am
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
I TiVo "Special Report" every day just to keep an eye on the Republican Party and I've noticed Charles Krauthammer is prone to these "jocular" smears against a variety of groups to which he does not belong. It reminds me of an email I sent to "Special Report" just before last Christmas...

Subject: Charles Krauthammer round table comment 12-19-05
Date: 12/20/2005
To: Special@foxnews.com

Dear Special Report:

Charles Krauthammer justified section 215 of the Patriot Act (which allows search of records, including library records, without probable cause) with an appalling comment that not many people use libraries these days except terrorists. Having spent several years serving the indigent as a public defender, I personally witnessed a large segment of the population who frequently use libraries, particularly for internet access: THE POOR! In fact, the poor, the young, and even the lower middle class have flocked to libraries as their portal to the information superhighway. Perhaps, Charles Krauthammer has never met or doesn't care about these people. "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population," right?

Sincerely,

Allen Asch
Sacramento, CA
5.11.2006 4:44am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
It's a natural extension, first because it aids the enemy whatever the motives of the leaker, and second because the leaker doesn't care : his own calculations come before every obligation and trust, for him, and that includes the undermining of what Americans have voted for.

Rather than, say, resigning and taking up political debate in the open.
5.11.2006 5:48am
Charles Iragui:
Is "jihadist" a label for Al Qaeda members or for muslim terrorists (killers of civilians for political ends)? Since apparently jihad is a perfectly normal term from Islam, isn't "jihadist" quite different from "nazi", a political party affiliation of a particular, odious German regime? Isn't "jihadist" in fact not susceptible to clear definition and so not appropriate to limit in the same way as "nazi" labeling? When one calls something/one "nazi" the allusion is clear and it is also clear that it is not meant literally.

I think that the complaint here is completely different, that "jihadist" is like calling someone "communist" in the 50s, something like a traitor and clearly a member a discreet, active movement. Since there is in fact no "Jihadist Party" it seems that even this comparison is weak.

Today I read an article which without perjorative tone called the incoming Iraqi PM an "Islamist". My understanding of "islamist" has been like the political branch of terrorist organizations (ie Syn Fein, Herri Batasuna). Since these terms are so unofficial, it is normal different perceptions will attach to them.

Bottom line: Krauthammer was being colorful and perhaps overly critical. In fact his comment reminds me of Orwell's famous "pacifists objectively support fascism": omitting to fight in the general way (or most effective way) against the enemy is equated with succor.
5.11.2006 6:19am
Perseus:
Perhaps Krauthammer should have used "crusaders" (though some might say that the term should be reserved for Christian holy warriors) or "zealots" (though some might say that the term should be reserved for Jewish biryonim and sicarii). My point, of course, is that in terms of the their dictionary definitions, jihadist, crusader, and zealot all have brutal historical connotations as well as gentler connotations that simply mean a vigorous campaign for a belief. So while Krauthammer's use of jihadist is more provocative in today's context, it doesn't seem to me to be beyond the pale.
5.11.2006 6:57am
Gabor (mail):
I think we should resist this simplifying misuse of a term central to Islam practice: jihad means to struggle or strive, to use utmost effort. On the one hand, it can be used to describe a personal struggle, for example, to memorize all of the Quran or to avoid faults or temptations, a spiritual displine that is essentially recognizeable to adherents of other faiths, including Judaism and Christianity. On the other hand, it can be used to describe group efforts to advance Islam, up to and including political or military actions, the extreme example of which is presumably the point of Krauthammer's reference. The situation can be further complicated in that many Muslims are misguidedly acting out a "jihad by the sword" in response to personal faults, as a substitute for a proper "jihad of the soul". By accepting a synechdoche using a rare, extreme, and violent form of jihad in place of the general meaning of the term, we risk giving creedence to the misguided, and show substantial disrespect for many of the Muslims with whom we can and do peacefully share the planet.
5.11.2006 7:01am
Perseus:
I also noticed that Mr. Kleiman wrote this:

saying that the FBI's description of prisoner maltreatment at Guantanamo sounds like the sort of things done by totalitarian regimes isn't the same as saying that the horrors at Guantanamo are comparable to the horrors of Auschwitz or the Gulag, and the attempt to change the subject from torture committed under our flag to Dick Durbin's rhetorical skill is a pretty shabby tactic.

How is Krauthammer doing anything different from Sen. Durbin? Saying that the actions of renegade elements in the CIA are similar to the actions of jihadists in that they both think that may violate certain rules in the name of a higher calling is not the same as saying that the actions of renegade elements in the CIA are comparable to the horrific actions of jihadists.

So I'd say that changing the subject from the violation of oaths to secrecy by certain elements in the CIA to Krauthammer's rhetorical skill is "a pretty shabby tactic."
5.11.2006 8:06am
CharleyCarp (mail):
It says something pretty ugly about us that we keep hearing so much about Mr. Goss and his mission to rout the 'jihadists' within the CIA, and so little about the mission to defeat the jihadists IRL. You'd think getting Mary McCarthy was more important, in some sense, to some people, than getting Osama bin Laden.
5.11.2006 8:21am
mdg (mail):
You're trying to invest a relatively familiar, long-standing term with more connotation and perhaps dennotation than it can bear. Krauthammer's use has a polemical resonance because of current events, but strikes me as not much different than "crusade" or if he had said that there is an element in the CIA that has "declared war" on the Bush Administration. The metaphor becomes more pointed in "jihad" because the substantive dispute he's talking about actually involves a real war against Islamic facism.
5.11.2006 8:33am
subpatre (mail):
If you don't like the term jihadist in this context (and I certainly don't) then it's incumbent to provide the correct term.

So what's the proper name for :
1) A sworn government employee who breaks that oath
2) to act against orders and the organizational mission
3) for personal or political motive?

The armed services convict these people and throw them in the brig; their actions cost lives.

That said, it's not reassuring the direction civil intelligence is being forced. I'd submit that if you don't want military control of intelligence that the Mary McCarthys must be purged.

And we need to be able to pronounce the word "traitor" without bickering over the technicality of legal treason.
5.11.2006 9:24am
Freder Frederson (mail):
The armed services convict these people and throw them in the brig; their actions cost lives.

Actually, members of the armed services have an affirmative duty to refuse illegal orders and prevent illegal acts. If the conduct of the government revealed by these leaks are indeed illegal, revealing them cannot be violating any oath, since illegal acts are per se not permitted to be subject to classification (they do not fit the criteria for being National Security Secrets).
5.11.2006 9:47am
jab (mail):
subpatre,
care to apply that principle consistently to those in this administration who leaked plame's name to the media for political gain?
5.11.2006 9:48am
Public_Defender (mail):
<blockquote>
How is Krauthammer doing anything different from Sen. Durbin?
</blockquote>

Sen. Durbin apologized for his remark. Krauthammer has not.
5.11.2006 10:19am
Rational Actor (mail):
Eugene - dare I ask what the proper level of hyperbole is? If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, then hyperbole is the last refuge of partisans whose views can't be supported by actual fact. There is a place for hyperbole in discourse, but when the rhetoric and hyperbole becomes the standard, it seriously erodes the prospects for rational debate.
5.11.2006 10:30am
MDJD2B (mail):
If my level of anger is greater than his, perhaps that's because Krauthammer has deliberately chosen as his targets people who are not only defending the country but whose defense of the country puts them in a position where they can't answer his baseless charges. That strikes me as a truly dastardly way to behave.

I don't think anyone would think Krauthammer was accusing the CIA of favoring al-Qaeda. This was a hyperbolic way of saying thatthe CIA was adopting a stealthy and destructive approach to fighting the Adminsitration and/or its policies. Which one may or may not agree with.

If Mary McCarthy leaked the prison story, and if Valerie Plume and others in the CIA set up a whitewash of the Niger uranium story, then the charges are not baseless. The basis for these allegations has not been established yet, admittedly. And, BTW, it is difficult to respond to leaks.
5.11.2006 10:38am
MDJD2B (mail):
It says something pretty ugly about us that we keep hearing so much about Mr. Goss and his mission to rout the 'jihadists' within the CIA, and so little about the mission to defeat the jihadists IRL. You'd think getting Mary McCarthy was more important, in some sense, to some people, than getting Osama bin Laden.

If members of a spy agency are illegaly using their position and their polition of confidence to undermine the elected government of the United States, then this is quite serious. Comparing it to Bin Ladin is apples and oranges, but this seems more of a threat to our democratic government than, say, government surveillance of calls made from domestic phones to foreign suspected terroists.
5.11.2006 10:43am
LawyerJ:
It's Krauthammer, so one could hardly be surprised. five years ago, he was a reasonably thoughtful advocate for right-of-center positions who was well worth reading. He's been descending, ever since 9/11, into ever more shrill partisan rhetoric. He's fast approaching Limbaugh-Coulter-Malkinville.
5.11.2006 10:50am
Freder Frederson (mail):
If members of a spy agency are illegaly using their position and their polition of confidence to undermine the elected government of the United States, then this is quite serious.

If members of the government are illegally wiretapping U.S. citizens, torturing and mistreating detainees in former KGB prisons in Eastern Europe, usurping the Constitutional powers of the courts and the Congress, misusing, misrepresenting, and ignoring inconvenient intelligence so as to advance their own agenda and lead this country into unnecessary and destructive wars; then that is the true threat to the government, not a few leaks from agents who see all this and believe it is their patriotic duty to reveal it.
5.11.2006 10:55am
dick thompson (mail):
Freder,

The people who supposedly see and agree with your histronic description of what is going on have multiple ways to disagree within the law without leaking the information illegally to the press. That they do not use them is testimony to their disregard of the oaths they took and the promises they made to defend the country and to obey the law. That you support them without question tells us more about your regard for the law than it does about theirs.
5.11.2006 11:15am
Steve:
I don't think anyone would think Krauthammer was accusing the CIA of favoring al-Qaeda.

I certainly don't think he is suggesting they are agents of al-Qaeda or anything like that, but I think he does believe their actions materially aid al-Qaeda ("objectively pro-terrorist" is the catchphrase), and I think the choice of words was quite deliberate.
5.11.2006 11:22am
Seamus (mail):
Krauthammer complains about

the people who consider themselves the loyal opposition, which really is the role of Congress, but who oppose administration policy


who

had been leaking and had been trying to undermine and obstruct administration initiatives.



How does Krauthammer imagine that the "real" loyal opposition in Congress are to find out about secret prisons, etc., unless people within the agency leak that information so that Congress can learn and act on it?
5.11.2006 11:22am
Cold Warrior:
As Gabor notes above, I think Krauthammer may be having a bit of fun with the multiple shades of meaning of "jihad."

Remember the Harvard student's address, "My Jihad?" Remember the furor that caused?

The address was really just a bland garden-variety valedictory speech about his search for personal and social betterment.

Remember the furor over Bush's use of the word, "Crusade?"

After speaking to some colleagues who know and understand Islamic thought, it occurs to me that "Jihad" is best translated as "Crusade." And that all the different uses of the latter term also apply to the former.

The Billy Graham Crusades (a crusade for non-forcible religious conversion). A Crusade Against Illiteracy (a figurative use of the term, no different than the War on Poverty). The Crusades (a medieval military mission to "recapture" the Holy Land). My Jihad (a spiritual journey toward self-realization). Osama bin-Laden's Jihad against the West (really his fatwa, backed up by certain Islamic scholars with the standing to issue fatwas).

So Krauthammer is having a bit of fun, perhaps even mocking the supporters of that Harvard grad who pointed out to all of us, ad nauseum, that "jihad" doesn't necessarily mean "war."

My advice: whenever you hear the word, "Jihad," substitute "Crusade." If it's inoffensive (or at least shouldn't be offensive -- a Crusade Against Terrorists certainly oughtn't offend anyone but a terrorist) to say "Crusade," it is necessarily inoffensive to say "Jihad."

Really, "Jihad" isn't such a difficult word. It isn't impossible to translate into English. It's easy, and we have the word already: Crusade.
5.11.2006 11:41am
dkp (mail):
Isn't this a titch beyond the level of proper hyperbole, even in these rather shrill times? Is it too much to ask that we save jihadist, terrorist, Nazi, fascist, racist, and the like for people and actions that have some real resemblance to the evil that these terms are associated with?


Answers below:

Q1: Yes.

Q2: No.

One of the real strengths of this site has been its consistent dedication to the principle of civil disagreement. I don't agree with everything I read here at VC, but I do enjoy the tenor of the debate, which has been, in large part, highly civil.

If only someone could remind Mr. Krauthammer (and many of his fellow-travellers) that disagreement does not equal treason. And that such equivalences are hardly civil.

As disagreeable as I have found some CIA actions to be, I also remember that they are, by and large, staffed by Americans of good will, who are trying to do their best in a very difficult situation. Krauthammer serves nothing (save perhaps his own ratings) by claiming that CIA whistleblowers are a part of "a jihadist element in the CIA, people who think that . . . they owe a duty to the nation above their own oath to keep secrets."
5.11.2006 11:42am
Freder Frederson (mail):
The people who supposedly see and agree with your histronic description of what is going on have multiple ways to disagree within the law without leaking the information illegally to the press.

And those ways would be? In your world, they are unable to reveal any of the illegalities to anyone. Congress has proved to be completely incapable of policing this administration. They can't even work up the spine to question the Attorney General under oath about the program, so he was free to lie through his teeth about it.

I am very concerned about the law and the Constitution and this president's utter disregard for it. He has written over 700 presidential signing statements (roughly twice as many as have been written by all other presidents combined), apparently believing he has the right to amend laws passed by Congress or ignore the parts he doesn't like. He has ignored FISA and prohibitions against torture and cruel and degrading punishment and treatment and as Commander and Chief has violated the UCMJ. He has disregarded Supreme Court and lower court orders regarding Habeas Corpus and manipulated the court system to continue to detain persons (both citizens and non-citizens) without charges or on very dubious charge and without any meaningful access to any kind of due process.

If any other country was pulling the kind of crap that this president is, the State Department would rightfully be condemning it for human rights abuses in its annual report. If Castro was running Guantanamo Bay, the Cubans in Miami would be up in arms about it.
5.11.2006 11:44am
John Armstrong (mail):
... the people who consider themselves the loyal opposition, which really is the role of Congress...

Does he mean that Congress is intended to be the "loyal opposition"? The opposition to what? The executive branch? They're intended to object to everything the President does?

Or -- more sinisterly -- does he mean that Congress is the only group that is supposed to act in that capacity? You may not like what's going on, but you aren't supposed to say or do anything unless you're in Congress?

This is why I'm a lot happier when I don't start my day hearing something from Krauthammer
5.11.2006 11:53am
Wendy:
This is a deliberate strategy to portray people who oppose the adminstration as terrorists. The republicans need to get their base out for the midterms.
5.11.2006 11:54am
Humble Law Student:
Wendy,

Wow, you figured us out. Osama is just a canard. So tomorrow Bush is going to throw Pelosi into "detention" for being an unlawful enemy combatant?
5.11.2006 12:14pm
Humble Law Student:
Here's the problem. These leakers have no right to disclose the classified information that they have access to. Yes, they should refuse to obey an unlawful order and/or resign in protest, but that does NOT lead to the conclusion that they have the right/obligation to go public with that information. Especially, since many of the alleged abuses are based upon their own opinions and NOT on clear understandings of the law. Many of the leakers take positions leak on subjects that can easily go either way. You can possibly argue that the leakers should divulge information when it relates to activities clearly illegal. But despite the relatively uniformed ruminations of the left, many of the administrations activities are NOT clearly illegal. They may skirt the edge on several things, but when it comes down to judgment calls like that, leakers definitely should not be divulging the information the are privy to.

It is utterly ridiculous how much stuff is leaked. My father works on certain high level projects for the Air Force as an aeronautical engineer(he is part of the civil service). He has told me first hand what damage can/has been wrought by leaking sensitive information (this leaking happened during the Cold War). There have been severe consequences for military projects, costing much money and possibly lives.

Leakers should be prosecuted as traitors. His view as well as mine. If the leaker is shown to be correct, that the activity was illegal, then the leaker will be exonerated in the court of law. Otherwise, if you aren't so sure that the activity is illegal, then shut up, do your job, refuse, or resign.
5.11.2006 12:28pm
Houston Lawyer:
If it's ok for people to leak classified information, why was the Plame case investigated? It appears from the press that it is OK to leak anything as long as the effect of the leak is to hurt the Administration. People within the government are not supposed to be working at cross purposes to the agencies they work for.

I believe it was President Kennedy who issued some kind of order and then publicly called in the whole chain of command to see which man it was who didn't follow the order.

Each person within the government is not autonomous. There are procedures to be followed in reporting possible wrong doing. Just because you don't agree with policy doesn't mean that you are exempt from the laws concerning classified information. If you are so partisan that you can't follow instructions from an adminstration controlled by the other party, you should get another job.
5.11.2006 12:29pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Wow, you figured us out. Osama is just a canard. So tomorrow Bush is going to throw Pelosi into "detention" for being an unlawful enemy combatant?

I know you are trying to be cute, but the right does have an annoying tendency to accuse everybody who disagrees with this administration or dares call their actions illegal or unconstitutional names like "jihadists", "traitors", or "unamerican". Whether by design or happenstance, this constant barrage has quelled legitimate questions about both the legitimacy and legality of some of the things the administration has done in all our names.
5.11.2006 12:33pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Leakers should be prosecuted as traitors.

Apparently, you haven't had constitutional law yet. Treason is the only crime specifically laid out in the constitution. The founders were very concerned about the misuse of treason laws and it is a very high bar. I looked it up once, and I think I found that only seven people were convicted of treason in World War II (and that included Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose, Tokyo Rose was subsequently pardoned by President Ford).

The government can not use the classification process to conceal illegal acts. That is specifically in the classification law. Therefore, revealing illegal acts cannot be a crime as they should never have been classified in the first place.
5.11.2006 12:40pm
Pete Freans (mail):
We must tolerate religious blasphemy in the name of freedom (as this blog has frequently posited, correctly I might add) but the "words" of a political commentator incense us? Or is this critique merely one of English usage? I certainly hope the latter.
5.11.2006 12:52pm
MDJD2B (mail):
If only someone could remind Mr. Krauthammer (and many of his fellow-travellers) that disagreement does not equal treason. And that such equivalences are hardly civil.

How do you characterize your use of the phrase "fellow traveller?" You may be too young to realize this, but the literal meaning of the term in American political discorurse is someone who agreed with the Communist Party and worked on its behalf, but was not a member. It is not a civil term. (I like civility too, but calling someone a fellow-traveller in the namke of civility seems pardoxical.)
5.11.2006 1:03pm
not a nazi:
I mostly agree with EV. In college, I was called a Nazi almost every day -- and this because I wanted a minimal state that respected individual autonomy. I consider myself fairly libertarian on free speech, but am always tempted to support a limit on tossing around the terms Nazis and fascists etc. Well, not seriously tempted, but had the gut reaction.

But then I see Seinfeld's Soup Nazi episode, and I hear co-workers casually refer to someone as a grammar nazi or whatever. And that leads me to think that the word has been so drained of meaning that it's far too late.

The sad thing is that such degradation of words leaves us with fewer choices when we really want to condemn a neo-Nazi or a true fascist or communist or whatever.

Ditto for the word War. After wars on poverty, drugs, and Crazy Eddie's War on High Prices at his discount carpet outlet, or whatever, we have no word for the horrors of real war.

So, with full expecation of losing, I join the war against mis-use of serious words. I just hope that doesn't make me a language nazi.
5.11.2006 1:05pm
eddie (mail):
I am a bit disappointed that on a blog dedicated to discussing legal issues in a rational and civil manner there are those who simply don't get the idea that debate requires respect for the "opposition". We have become so polarized in this country that we have forgotten that democracy itself presumes diversity and that representative government can only work when the debates are the prelude to deliberation and compromise.

But in spite of our world becoming more complex and developed, there is a cadre of macho pundits who require certainty--all of the scientific mumbo-jumbo of the twentieth century must be rejected in whole. Humans cannot exist without certainty--otherwise there will be immorality and chaos. We can't expect most humans to reason. (Of course, then we would have to pay attention to everyone.)

So to achieve rhetorical certainty the following bit of Orwellian legerdemain--find an enemy that is so heinous that there is never a question that the only solution is death and obliteration; but be careful not be too concerned about the details of who that enemy really is. For illustrative purposes it's the guy who straps high explosives to his waste and blows up a kindergarten school. Yeah, that's the ticket an unidentifiable extremist (probably middle eastern and muslim) that kills indiscriminantly. Now let's give this person a label--we'll call him a jihadist adopting a word from a culture and language that we do not understand (which completes the circle of mystery, i.e. an enemy that cannot be humanized). So we now have a particular term for a particular type of enemy: an enemy that is on a mission (the jihad) to destroy western culture, period.

Let's be clear what Mr. Krauthammer is doing; he is not singling out leakers but about any in the CIA who may not have agreed with the policies be put forth and who may have impeaded processes because they did not agree with the analyses.

It is truly ironic that Mr. Krauthammer suggests that it is Congress' role to provide oversight when he would probably term any Republicans making a effort at true oversight as jihadists. And does he think any true oversight is possible in this Congress.

Sort of like the Justice Department probe into the NSA wire-tapping: discontinued because the investigators wer not able to obtain sufficient security clearances.

I applaud Professor Volokh on this one. The destruction of language is the first step in the destruction of libety. And if we cannot talk our way to a just disposition of any dispute, there is no hope for our country, no matter how great our founding documents aspire to be.

But the truly frightening underlying principal at work is that the ends justify the means. Let me recite the simple equation:

We are at war. War requires strong men t make the hard choices which involve doin things against the absolute enemy that are required for survival. If a few prinicples and morals are set momentarily aside, it's acceptable since our very survival is at stake.

Do not question anything; support our efforts to defend your freedom.

Howver, if you do raise any questions, you are a jihadist and should be prepared to pay the price.
5.11.2006 1:08pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
I would agree with you, Eugene, except in the case of fascist, which is a term which rightfully has very broad application, despite its strongly negative connotation.

But the politicization of words is nothing new. And I suspect it will be with us forever. Of course, this is why legal terminology is in Latin; using a "dead" language assures that terms will retain their meaning over time. Once a term, like "well regulated" in the Second Amendment, enters general discourse, its meaning is sure to be corrupted over time.
5.11.2006 1:12pm
Humble Law Student:
eddie,

While we are destroying language, let's destroy your "simple equation."

There is a large and quite substantive difference between "opposing" the administrations policies and abusing your rights and responsibilities by divulging classified information. The administration, Krauthammer, myself, and many other conservatives have no problem with "questioning" and of course encourage it and recognize its value. However, that is completely different from abusing one's own power in releasing classified information if not duly authorized.

The only truly frightening principle is that so many like yourself fail (purposefully?) to understand this.
5.11.2006 1:27pm
Humble Law Student:
Freder,

Yes, it is quite a high bar for treason. It is unlikely that it would be met for a leaker. So, maybe you agree that we should enact a law making it a capital crime if the leader can't reasonably show that he/she believed the the activity to actually be illegal? This would provide a nice little way to catch those who fail to meet the high bar of treason, while protecting those who do rat out the government on truly illegal activities or those they reasonably thought were illegal.
5.11.2006 1:31pm
Rational Actor (mail):
Humble Law Student -
What steps has the administration taken to encourage questioning? What have they done to demonstrate that they recognize its value?
5.11.2006 1:34pm
SR (mail):
There is a large and quite substantive difference between "opposing" the administrations policies and abusing your rights and responsibilities by divulging classified information.

How does one oppose the administration policy when that policy is a classified illegal spying operation?

(yes the NSA wiretapping operation is rather "clearly illegal," just because the Administration and its professional defenders say otherwise does not make it any less clearly illegal)

The only way to oppose it is to "leak."
5.11.2006 1:38pm
srp (mail):
A better term for Krauthammer would have been "Copperheads." That captures the spirit of the quasi-loyal opposition much better.
5.11.2006 2:13pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
First of all jihadist is coming to have a different meaning that jihad. Just because the two words have a similar route doesn't meant we can't tolerate multiple shades of meaning for jihad while reserving jihadist for a particular extreme version. Much like the UK has come to make a distintion between islamist and islamic.

Secondly, sure it is hyperbole but I think everyone who read the piece understood what he was saying and didn't think he was really accusing them of being islamic terrorists (though perhaps implying they were helping them).

Finally, I understand the concern about keeping government secrets and abiding by the promise not to leak. However, this promise is based on an implicit agreement that the power to classify and keep hidden will be used only for national security not merely to avoid political embarassment or oversight by the people. Given what sort of leaks the Bush administration pursues (and even themselves indulges in) plus their tendency to classify embarassing programs with totally unbelievable justifications it seems clear that this tacit agreement has been broken. Sure there is a level of disagreement over what should be classified which is a mere difference of opinion but I think the Bush administration's choices about not disclosing the wiretap program cross the line from mere diference of opinion to a clearly politically motivated choice not to disclose. Or does anyone really believe that Bush would have kept the program secret if he thought there would have been a great groundswell of support that would have drastically boosted his pole numbers and brought the country in line behind him?

Moreover, just stamping your foot and saying it is illegal or they are breaking their promises is simply to miss the point. At times moral and patriotic men are required to break the law or even break promises. After all our founding fathers were rising up in revolt against their country and likely violating their oaths or promises of loyalty they had made to the English King.
5.11.2006 2:13pm
Josh_Jasper (mail):
Leakers should be prosecuted as traitors.



I bet that'd encourage Libby to roll over on Cheney Bush, Rove, et. al.
5.11.2006 2:29pm
Humble Law Student:
Logicnazi,

No, I understand the point perfectly well. The issue is over when they should break the law by leaking, and if they do what should happen to them - especially if they only do so on programs that they disagree with for normative reasons or some vague "constitutional concerns" rather than clear illegality.
5.11.2006 2:45pm
Humble Law Student:
Rational Actor,

It isn't the President's job to do the "loyal opposition's" work for them.
5.11.2006 2:48pm
Humble Law Student:
SR,

You oppose by refusing to obey or resigning. Haven't we covered this a thousand times already?

If it's clearly illegal, how come a federal court hasn't issued an injunction against it? The allegations have been out for a while. Maybe, just maybe, it is an eminently arguable proposition either way. And that leakers shouldn't abuse their classified knowledge over disagreements relating to policy or "constitutional concerns." Instead, save it for clearly illegal activities, or go resign and go public if it is truly illegal. Then, either the leaker gets prosecuted if it wasn't illegal or someone in the goverment does for the illegal activity, rather than this impotent sniping back and forth.
5.11.2006 2:52pm
Fran (mail) (www):
Eddie

Thank you for stating that language, civility and discussion are a pre-condition for having a functioning democracy.

I second your opinion.
5.11.2006 3:13pm
Taimyoboi:
"The only way to oppose it is to 'leak.'"

That's actually not true. A big part of the controversy with Mary McCarthy being fired is that she worked for the general inspector's office at the CIA, the division that is tasked with investigating illegal actions that are classified.
5.11.2006 3:30pm
Taimyoboi:
"...care to apply that principle consistently to those in this administration who leaked plame's name to the media for political gain?"

I don't think the Plame case is at all relevant. Patrick Fitzgerald did not indict anyone for leaking classified information, only for lying during the investigation.
5.11.2006 3:33pm
Edmund Hillary (mail):
Humble Law Student
Thanks for confirming that you have no ability to find any factual support for any of your statements.
5.11.2006 3:54pm
dkp (mail):
MDJD2B: Are you making a joke below? I ask because absent any of the non-verbal cues that accompany humor (or its contemporary "fellow traveller," sarcasm), I have no other way of knowing (and my use of "fellow traveller" immediately above was intended to be humorous).

How do you characterize your use of the phrase "fellow traveller?" You may be too young to realize this, but the literal meaning of the term in American political discorurse is someone who agreed with the Communist Party and worked on its behalf, but was not a member. It is not a civil term. (I like civility too, but calling someone a fellow-traveller in the namke of civility seems pardoxical.)


While I was not alive during the McCarthy era, I am a reasonably well-educated person, and I confess that I have never heard this connotation, or at the least (and more precisely) never heard the connotation you cite as obtaining in contemporary usage.

Does my ignorance completely invaldiate my point? When the right tries to 'shame' viewpoints it disagrees with by bringing up the "spectre" of "giving aid or comfort to the enemy," all they do is turn off the vast majority of independent-minded folks in our society. (This is a comment on CK, and not on you, btw.)

Plenty of folks here have noticed (and lamented) this sort of rhetoric. The only purpose of my point was to agree with EV. In the interests of furthering civility, please accept my hearty apologies if I've caused you to take umbrage.
5.11.2006 5:33pm
MDJD2B (mail):
While I was not alive during the McCarthy era, I am a reasonably well-educated person, and I confess that I have never heard this connotation, or at the least (and more precisely) never heard the connotation you cite as obtaining in contemporary usage.


DKP,

"Fellow traveler" was a term that implied wrongness/evil (support of totalitarianism) and contempt (the f-t is not willing to stand up and be counted as a Communist). It had a specific meaning-- may have been used re Nazis too, but that was before my time. In any event, not a nice thing to call someone. I'm not aware that the term has been sanitized-- maybe it has. Rereading your posts, I gather you think the term is more innocuous than I think it is, kind of like the time a close releative of mine called someone a "goombah" to his face not realizing the term was derogatory.

Be that as it may, I was struck by the irony of using the term in a call for civility, and intended no offense. If my post was hostile or offensive, I apologize. If I have time, I'll Google the origin of the term and post a cite on this site if I am correct.
5.11.2006 5:56pm
MDJD2B (mail):
DKP,

From the American Heritage Dictionary on line:

http://www.bartleby.com/61/34/F0073400.html

NOUN: One who sympathizes with or supports the tenets and program of an organized group, such as the Communist Party, without being a member.

And,

http://www.bartleby.com/59/14/fellowtravel.html

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002.

fellow traveler

One who supports the aims or philosophies of a political group without joining it. A "fellow traveler" is usually one who sympathizes with communist doctrines but is not a member of the Communist party. The term was used disparagingly in the 1950s to describe people accused of being communists.
5.11.2006 5:59pm
Humble Law Student:
Edmund,

Um okay. We are making normative arguemnts about how an employee of a government agency should address/resolve legal and/or policy concerns they have. There aren't that many "facts" that are relevant.

Thanks for your contribution though!
5.11.2006 6:40pm
Serenity Now (mail) (www):
Krauthammer's "jihadist" remark is awful, but I wonder why Mark Kleiman doesn't respond with similar apoplexy when people describe religious conservatives as "Taliban wing" Republicans.
5.11.2006 6:44pm
SLS 1L:
Amen, Eugene. Serenity Now - good point. I think the difference is that there's been a systematic campaign by Republicans and their allies to portray Democrats as traitors with phrases like "objectively pro-terrorist," "aid and comfort" "jihadists," etc. All these phrases imply that Democrats are traitors, but never say it in so many words, so it's hard to call people on it.

Referring to religious conservatives as the "Taliban wing" is thankfully limited to lunatics like Brian Leiter. But it's a horrendous comparison, and worse than "jihadists" etc.
5.11.2006 6:58pm
Edmund Hillary (mail):
Humble Law Student -
First, I believe we were discussing your inability to provide a single example of the administration to encourage questioning or demonstrate that they value it. That was an assertion you made, and have failed to back up with a single shred of evidence. To further quote you, "it is not the President's job to do the work of the loyal opposition." So, until you produce some evidence otherwise, I will assume that you have no factual support for your assertions.
Second, is the inclusion of the word "Humble" in your name an attempt at irony or evidence that you have very little self-awareness?

Thanks for your contribution, too.
5.11.2006 8:35pm
Humble Law Student:
Edmund,

Quick google search reveals this:
"Part of unifying the country is understanding that not everybody will agree, and that's fine. As a matter of fact, we welcome dissent in America, because that's one of the great hallmarks of our country, the ability for people to express themselves in open ways." President Bush in 2004.



Or here if you prefer, it mentions a Republican Senator just recently saying they welcome argument over the NSA.

Hopefully that one works.

I'm not going to waste my time finding other instances of Bush showing he appreciates argument/dissent.

As to "it is not the President's job to the work of the loyal opposition", what the heck is your problem with that? That doesn't require factual evidence. You can't "prove" a statement like that. However, I think anyone would agree to it - just as I don't expect you to have to do the work for my side in presenting our arguments.

Contributions are helpful when meaningful. Just a hint.
5.11.2006 9:53pm
Humble Law Student:
Ugh, I can never get those links to work properly. The speech is on the whitehouse.gov site. You can find it easily enough. The other is from an LA Times article today.

Actually, I leave Humble on my name to draw out trite, but yet humorous attacks like your own. Works pretty well.
5.11.2006 9:57pm
Patrick:
"I know you are trying to be cute, but the right does have an annoying tendency to accuse everybody who disagrees with this administration or dares call their actions illegal or unconstitutional names like "jihadists", "traitors", or "unamerican"."

That is wholly unfair and wrong. There is plenty of disagreement, disparagement, dissent and partisan sniping. It's not called treason or anything like it, and if it is, it shouldnt be. It's just politics.

Then there is the above-and-beyond partisanship-above-patriotism of people who in their lust to bring down the President or grind some ideological or other axe, create collateral damage for our national security.
Call it the Mary McCarthy problem.
Apparently None Dare Call It Treason, even now, but that is what much of this aid-and-comfort-to-enemies via deconstructing our secret programs amounts to.

If the information about the NSA program was emailed to Bin Laden, it would be called treason, spying and espionage. Its wasn't; it was just communicated to Bin Laden via the front page of the New York Times instead for every global jihadist to find out. Either way, these illegal leaks of classified programs harm our national security. Americans have not been 'served' by any 'need to know' of these details; we need to simply know that the GWOT is being fought to the fullest extent possible within the law and have been disserved by such an open airing of things that should remain secret.

It's shocking and sad that people in the CIA or other agencies are willing to trade in our national security for their own agenda. (And to name names, let's mention Ray McGovern and his call for CIA agents to break the law to undermine the administration, and their continued incitement for abuse of that govt agency, the exact point Krauthammer was correctly hammering on.)

Yes, I can think of names for these lower-than-snake-poop people who have undermined operational programs, most of them unprintable. Krauthammer IMHO wasn't far off the mark. If we want to be precise, let's not call them jihadists, for they are not. They are TRAITORS.

PS. As for the Democrats in Congress ... "A better term for Krauthammer would have been "Copperheads." That captures the spirit of the quasi-loyal opposition much better." indeed. check out the 1864 Democratic party platform, and you'll find out where Rep Murtha got his rhetoric.
5.12.2006 12:55am
Lev:

Is it too much to ask that we save jihadist, terrorist, Nazi, fascist, racist, and the like for people and actions that have some real resemblance to the evil that these terms are associated with?


That toothpaste has been out of the open barn door for a very long time, and cannot be put back.
5.12.2006 1:43am
Mark Kleiman (mail) (www):
"Serenity Now" has been taken in by, or is assisting in, the attempt of the blogger "Scrutineer" to misrepresent my statements. He asks why I don't object when "religious conservatives" are called "the Taliban wing of the Republican Party."

But in fact the "Scrutineer" post to which "Serenity Now" links in turn links to a post in which I say:

The phrase "Taliban wing of the Republican party," which had a brief vogue as a description of Pat Robertson and his buddies, was grossly unfair
though that same post notes the admiration expressed by such prominent Republicans as Jesse Helms for such Taliban-like policies as stoning adulterers.

"Scrutineer" then criticizes me for making a nasty joke at the expense of those who claim that the Republicans are "God's Official Party." Would "Serenity Now" like to defend that little bit of blasphemy? I note that "God's Official Party" is reminiscent of the Arabic phrase "Hez b-ullah," (rendered in English as Hezbollah) which means "Party of God." If that comparison seems unfair, perhaps the bigot who chose to use the phrase ought to find another. Mocking people who use such phrases is not the same as mocking "religious conservatives" as a group.

Finally, "Scrutineer" notes that I quoted the libertarian Kathy Young, who said of the extreme wing of the "save-Terri-Sciavo" forces (led by Randall Terry, opponent of democracy and proponent of violence), whose ferocious campaign of defamation, directed at Michael Schiavo, Young documents in detail:


For most of the people who are championing this cause, this is not about protecting Terri Schiavo's rights. I heard one of the protesters say on the news, "It's not what Terri would have wanted, it's what God wants." I don't think the religious right is our own homegrown Taliban, but maybe it's about as close to a Taliban as you can have in modern American society. These are people who really do want the state to enforce their vision of "what God wants."


So "Serenity Now" is wrong to claim that I failed to object when "religious conservatives" were likened to the Taliban, unless he regards the disgusting behavior Young documents as characteristic of religious conservatives generally.

I'd like to congratulate "Serenity Now" and "Scrutineer" for their clever attempt to change the subject from the fact that a famous right-wing media personality has accused an (unnamed) group of CIA officers of being "jihadists" -- which if it means anything means the national enemy -- and from the more disturbing fact that, other than Eugene, no one on the right has offered any public objection.

On the substantive point: Someone who acts from patriotic motives but in a way that, in your opinion, harms the country is not a traitor, any more than an incompetent doctor is a murderer or an incompetent engineer a saboteur. A traitor is someone who, for money or out of loyalty to the enemy, works for his country's defeat, as the Copperheads worked for the defeat of the Union at the hands of the Confederacy.

To call the opponents of the President "traitors" is to confuse the President with a king.
5.15.2006 7:21am