pageok
pageok
pageok
Five "Myths" About Rendition:

Former Clinton Adminsitration National Security Council staff member Daniel Benjamin takes to the Washington Post's Outlook section to address "5 Myths about Rendition (and that New Movie)." Writes Benjamin:

With hearings in Congress, legal cases bouncing up to the Supreme Court and complaints from Canada and our European allies, the issue of rendition is everywhere. There's even a new, eponymously titled movie in a theater near you, starring Reese Witherspoon as a bereft wife whose innocent husband gets kidnapped and Meryl Streep as the frosty CIA chief who ordered the snatch. Like most covert actions and much of the war on al-Qaeda, the practice is shrouded in mystery — and, increasingly, the suspicion that it's synonymous with torture and lawlessness.

In fact, the term "rendition" in the counterterrorism context means nothing more than moving someone from one country to another, outside the formal process of extradition. For the CIA, rendition has become a key tool for getting terrorists from places where they're causing trouble to places where they can't. The problem is where these people are taken and what happens to them when they get there. As a former director for counterterrorism policy on the National Security Council staff, I've been involved with the issue of rendition for nearly a decade — and some of the myths surrounding it need to be cleared up.
Here are Benjamin's five "myths":
1. Rendition is something the Bush administration cooked up.
2. People who are "rendered" inevitably end up in a foreign slammer — or worse.
3. Step one of a rendition involves kidnapping the suspect.
4. Rendition is just a euphemism for outsourcing torture.
5. Pretty much anyone — including U.S. citizens and green card holders — can be rendered these days.
Shertaugh:
Benjamin's Message: "Hillary's just as tough as Dubya."
10.21.2007 11:39am
mobathome:
The only myth I see here is the implication that these "myths" are widely believed enough to require this much refutation. The article seems to aim at the normalization of extraordinary rendition in the public's mind through confusion.
10.21.2007 11:51am
Nathan_M (mail):
It's a bit disturbing that myths 2 and 4 seem to only qualify as "myths" because of pre-Bush administration practices. That seems to counterfeit myth 1 -- rendition might have been around before President Bush, but we seem to be talking about fundamentally different programs now.

Myth 3 (everyone is kidnapped) could only be held by people who have paid no attention to actual events, leaving only myth 5 (that American citizens and green card holders can be rendered). There's a program all Americans can be proud of: "Send an innocent Canadian to Syria to be tortured? Sure, as long as he doesn't have a green card."
10.21.2007 12:05pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Shertaugh --

I think the real message is, "rendition is a useful tool," despite how it has been (mis)used by the Bush Administration.

JHA
10.21.2007 12:05pm
pedro (mail):
Ah well, now that that is cleared up, I feel *much* better about the fact that the policy of extraordinary rendition is in place and that there is no oversight of it. What a relief that it is not *inevitable* that a rendered person will be tortured! That's all we care about, of course: as long as it is not always the case that suspects (or terrorists, as they are nowadays called) are being rendered to be tortured, we're fine.

It's always so refreshing to see academic lawyers (especially of a--ahem--"libertarian" bent) explaining to us simple folk how we should not accuse the government of doing things it claims it doesn't do ("myths", they are called): "trust the government blindly," seems to be the meta-message.

Next, expect another Volokh conspirator to insinuate that El-Masri and Arar are to be considered guilty until proven innocent, or better yet, that Americans should not really care what happens with people like Arar and El-Masri, since they are not American citizens. Just great.
10.21.2007 12:06pm
PaulD:
pedro:

It's just a typical "myths" article. As usual, it would more accurately be titled "five things that are slightly more nuanced in real life than the story told by this straw man."

The myths are either things that few people actually believe ("the idea of rendition was invented by Bush personally, because he gets off on this stuff") or things that the author admits are currently more or less true ("the things in the movie would never have happened under Clinton but, well, nowadays all bets are pretty much off").

Of course, out of context, Adler's quote doesn't let you in on any of this...
10.21.2007 12:25pm
JB:
If the Bush administration didn't want these myths to exist, then they shouldn't have sent people to be tortured.

People can't tell the difference between rendition and extraordinary rendition, just like they couldn't tell the difference between "We need to stop another 9/11. We need to take out Saddam" and "We need to top another 9/11, so we need to take out Saddam." They hear the former and think the latter.
10.21.2007 12:54pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
One thing to keep in mind is that if Gitmo is ever shut down, rendition is the only realistic way to get rid of those being held there. Some may be sent back to their country of origin, but most are likely to be sent back to the country in which they were caught, in most cases, Afghanistan. Indeed, it could be argued that a large number of the Bush II renditions have revolved around those being released from Gitmo.

I am bothered by the Maher Arar case. My view is that if he had Canadian citizenship, he shouldn't have been sent back to Syria, but rather Canada, if anywhere. But of course, what good would it have done? Canada would have likely released him, forth with, so why grab him in the first place?

Nevertheless, I am not overly worried about renditions, as those subject to it are mostly enemies of our country (and not U.S. citizens, nor usually legal residents here).
10.21.2007 1:00pm
Ken Arromdee:
People can't tell the difference between rendition and extraordinary rendition, just like they couldn't tell the difference between "We need to stop another 9/11. We need to take out Saddam" and "We need to top another 9/11, so we need to take out Saddam." They hear the former and think the latter.

Oh, come on now. Adjectives under these circumstances can easily cause confusion by being left out without people noticing. Letters at the start of words don't.

The whole set of "myths" relies on confusing "rendition" and "extraordinary rendition". It's like having people complain about the death penalty, and having a set of "myths" about the "penalty" which point out that a penalty isn't the same as execution, most criminals don't die from their penalty, all 50 states give murderers a penalty, etc.
10.21.2007 1:09pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
Mr. Adler, I hope you understand that posts like this one make you come across as an uncritical complacent cheerleader for torture as you ignore some of Benjamin's critical-important caveats.

Mr Hayden, who is "not overly worried about renditions," how do you know that "those subject to it are mostly enemies of our country?" Because George Bush told you?
10.21.2007 1:13pm
JB:
I'm not saying people are syntactically confused, they're semantically confused. It's often the case that words and phrases are shortened without changing their meaning, or that people leave off commonly attached adjectives without changing the meaning of the phrase. That's especially the case when you've never heard of "rendition" before being told about "extraordinary rendition"--you have nothing else to compare it to.
10.21.2007 1:22pm
abb3w:
Hmmm...

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences...

(while the subject seems to be national mythology)
10.21.2007 1:46pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Mr. Sucher --

If people read this post as "complacent cheerlead[ing] for torture," then they are not reading very carefully. In the introduction to his article that I quoted, Benjamin bites that he is responding to "the suspicion that it's synonymous with torture and lawlessness." This misperception is a problem because torture and lawlessness are bad and, as Benjamin seeks to explain, rendition need not result in either. As Benjamin further writes (again, in the portion that I quoted) "The problem is where these people are taken and what happens to them when they get there." In other words, the problem is that rendition has been used to send people to places where they are likely to be tortured, not that rendition is used at all.

Pedro --

The point is not that we should trust the government. Rather, it is that we should be discerning in identifying the appropriate targets of our criticism. Here, we should recognize is not rendition, as such, but the way that it has been (mis)used by the the Bush Administration.

People can get tortured, beaten, and raped in U.S. prisons -- and some of these people could be innocent of the charges of which they are convicted. This does not mean we should abolish prisons. Rather, it means that we need to have sufficient safeguards and oversight in place so as to minimize such occurrences. Similarly, I think the clear point of the benjamin article is that, rather than abolish rendition, it should be subject to sufficient oversight and safeguards so as to prevent (in Benjamin's words) "ghastly" incidents such as what happened to Maher Arar. As Benjamin writes, it appears that such safeguards are no longer in place.

JHA
10.21.2007 1:51pm
Kelvin McCabe:
From the article:

4. Rendition is just a euphemism for outsourcing torture.

"Well, not historically. The guidelines for Clinton-era renditions required that subjects could be sent only to countries where they were not likely to be tortured -- countries that gave assurances to that effect and whose compliance was monitored by the State Department and the intelligence community."

So let me get this straight: The fact that rendition was once not connected to torture, under Clinton and other past presidents, dispels the "myth" that rendition is a euphemism for outsourcing torture now under this president? Huh? I think the "fact" that rendition is outsourced torture now is intimately connected with the Bush regime - who are still in power. And nothing past presidents did that was "kinder &gentler" dispels the so-called "myth" as to what rendition has become and IS right now.

I dont think European Union leaders are thinking "Ronald Reagan did it once - it must be okay"- - - when they discuss rendition and cooperation with the C.I.A. among their member states.

The correct phrasing of #4 should be - "it was once a myth that rendition was a euphamism for outsourcing torture."
10.21.2007 2:17pm
T. Gracchus (mail):
Mr. Benjamin is engaging in a bit of sleight of hand.
1 is certainly a myth, although it is unlikely anyone believes it.
2. Is just clever writing. It is hardly reassuring (or debunking) to note that on occasion someone is rendered to the US. (In fact, the earliest legal references in US law are to such an event.) It is pretty plain that most of the rendition involves delivery to a foreign location.
3. Benjamin is playing with words. As the point is to avoid legal process (that is the "formal extradition" nod) it is very hard to see how it differs from kidnapping. On Benjamin's apparent view, government agents can't engage in kidnapping (maybe if they demand ransom?).
4. Given the partners in rendition, this is a claim about how frequently rendition results in torture and what torture is -- how bad does the imprisonment have to be to qualify?
5. Mr. Benjamin has not read the history of the activity. US citizens have been rendered.
10.21.2007 2:42pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I believe the first extraordinary rendition was by Clinton with Gore's encouragement, to Egypt. Probably resulting in torture. Thing is, Bush being awful and rotten and stuff doesn't make Clinton retroactively good, however badly we need a major opposite for comparison purposes.
The Arar case was strange. The Canadians had one of their pointless self-investigations about how come they told the Americans the guy was a terrorist. Seems he wasn't and they screwed up. But when he went to Syria he wasn't tortured, since Syria was at the time a member the UN human rights commish. So they couldn't have tortured anybody.
One of the myths not mentioned is the belief that members of the UN human rights commission might torture somebody. How foolish!
10.21.2007 2:56pm
Michael B (mail):
"I think the real message is, "rendition is a useful tool," despite how it has been (mis)used by the Bush Administration." J. Adler

Please. The reality is more problematic and more demanding still.

To cite a prominent example, are we to applaud Clinton's policy which resulted in the failure to subject OBL to rendition? Iow, why are sins of omission deemed more forgiveable than sins of commission? Or are we to expect some type of virtually perfect rendition policy, viewed in terms of the policy per se (in the abstract) as well as the practical outworking of that policy?

More broadly stated, why subject one administration to a standard of virtual perfection, while being far more lenient with another administration; why disregard "sins" of omission while subjecting "sins" of commission to a much more rigorous standard?
10.21.2007 2:59pm
Oren (mail):

Rather, it means that we need to have sufficient safeguards and oversight in place so as to minimize such occurrences.


John:
The only acceptable safeguard is a hearing in front of a neutral and detached magistrate. This is the bedrock principle of limited government and fundamentally non-negotiable.

Moreover, the article confuses fundamentally different things that both fall under the rubric of "rendition". One application (which is eminently reasonable and all civil libertarians will agree is lawful) is the rendition of suspects abroad to be brought to justice in the US. Younis, Machain, Alvarez, Yousef and so forth were all brought to account for their crime*.

On the other hand, there is a diametrically opposed use of rendition where the goal is to remove the individual from the justice system - e.g. Mr. Arar, el-Masri, . . . into a legal black hole in which there is no process and no oversight.

How we can compare bringing suspects into the legal system with removing them from it is beyond me.
10.21.2007 3:00pm
Oren (mail):
* I meant to add, of course, as a footnote that if we nabbed OBL in Afghanistan (or Pakistan), it is likely that he too, would be sitting in SuperMax in Colorado instead of rotting in an Egyptian or Syrian prison.
10.21.2007 3:03pm
Paul Allen:
The purpose of this piece is to clear Clinton's name. Its very cleverly written to gain partial traction among Bush's supporters, but that doesn't change its message.

I believe Clinton did make use of rendition to torture subjects; in particular he sent people to Egypt--which in my opinion contradicts the vetting theory laid out by the essay. There was much discussion of "why egypt" at the time, and the consensus guess was looser interrogation standards.

Ironically, this is why many people, including myself supported and advocated the creation of the Guantanamo Bay facility. It was a means to curtail the use of rendition: to send suspects somewhere where we could ensure basic standards of justice during interrogations.
10.21.2007 3:09pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Richard, the first renditions I know about came long before Clinton.

On antislavery patrol off Africa, US Navy captains, when they captured slavers, would hand them over to Royal Navy captains, if any were conveniently close, so they could be hanged; rather than shipping them back to the nearest US port for trial, since the nearest US port was always in the South and juries would always acquit.

Not many people know about this, but of those that do, and who wrote about it pre-Bush, no one so much as raised an eyebrow.

Yet another example of why following the law is not always either moral or politic.
10.21.2007 3:29pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
First on the five myths, I agree with those above that part of the effort of the article is to clear Clinton's name. Neither Clinton nor Bush should get a free pass for rendition of people to places we know they will be tortured. And the oral representations by these States - as is noted in any first year contracts class - are not worth the paper they are written on.

By the way, with all these sophisticated lawyers - our elite - so willing to shill for torture, I have had this thought that maybe we need MORE affirmative action in our elite law schools to bring in more African-Americans and women as those who are being taught there who have shown such a willingness to torture have not in any case so far been African-American lawyers or women lawyers from what I have seen. Maybe we are just not smart enough to flip the law around in a way to enable torture. Or maybe, somethings are really obvious (even to a lawyer who was a product of affirmative action). Or since most of these people doing these awful legal analyses seem to have Law Review behind their names at the topnotch schools, maybe we need people from the bottom of the class at each of the schools cascaded up because those people might be more in touch with basic American values and - heavens! - might even believe in them rather than just pay lipservice to them. Maybe the problem of the folks at the bottom is that they - just said no - while folks at the top could not resist trying to find a way to please their masters - so they just said yes to torture.

Hope that put a smile on someone's face! Wish you all an excellent week and hope that some of you will come to the International Law Weekend in New York at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York next week - registration is at www.ambranch.org.

Best,
Ben
10.21.2007 5:13pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
The question is which of these myths about ordinary rendition are actually true about extraordinary rendition -- the term which is used to distinguish the current practice from the practice Benjamin and Prof. Adler are describing.
10.21.2007 7:20pm
Anderson (mail):
"Five 'Myths' Straw Men About Rendition."

Too bad the VC doesn't do more than pass along propaganda, but I'm happy to see that the commenters are more than passive consumers.
10.21.2007 7:43pm
tvk:
What I find disturbing is that Benjamin's article does so little to actually refute the critics' basic points. If I read him correctly, the following slight tweaks would make the "myths" quite accurate:

2. People who are "rendered" inevitably usually end up in a foreign slammer — or worse.
3. Step one of a rendition sometimes involves kidnapping the suspect.
4. Rendition is just a euphemism for outsourcing torture these days.
5. Pretty much anyone — including U.S. citizens and green card holders — can be rendered these days since by the time you are in Syria the constitutional protections you supposedly had are useless, and ex post judicial relief is unavailable due to the states secrets privilege.
10.21.2007 8:01pm
HSKQ:
The WaPo article wasn't displaying correctly on my screen. I think it said that it's a big myth that rendition is an inherently dangerous power. It was used for good for many years and only Chimpy McHitlerburton turned it to evil. When the author was in charge of the program during the Clinton years, they disrupted countless terrorist plots using enlightened procedures overseen by a committee of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Yoda, and each rendition was approved by a unicorn (if it cried, nobody flied). It was Bush who rolled the power into his overarching plan to trample our freedoms and destroy America. Good presidents can't have bad powers, so I, for one, welcome them under our new old Clinton overlords. Can anyone confirm?
10.21.2007 8:33pm
Randy R. (mail):
Bruce: " I am not overly worried about renditions, as those subject to it are mostly enemies of our country."

And you know that how? And how do you define and 'enemy of our country?" I guess your position is that you can't be innocent if the police arrest you, because the police only arrest guilty people.

And all that stuff about being innocent until proven guilty is just more liberal claptrap, right?
10.21.2007 8:35pm
Oren (mail):

during the Clinton years, they disrupted countless terrorist plots


And brought those men to justice . . .
10.21.2007 8:38pm
HSKQ:
You're right, it did say that it is eminently reasonable and that all civil libertarians will agree it is lawful to take people from other countries in violation of their laws to bring them to the US, while of course it is eminently unreasonable and everyone will agree that it is unlawful to violate our laws to send them to other countries.
10.21.2007 8:43pm
faux facsimile (mail):
Benjamin's article is basically a "this a useful tool that is being abused in the wrong hands." Even supposing this were true, he fails to explain _why_ 'rendition' is so easy to 'abuse', namely its essentially extrajudicial nature.

It is telling that rather than argue for changes in the laws surrounding extradition, Benjamin (and Bush) prefer a new, completely unregulated and unsupervised mechanism. Not unlike the FISA court arguments. Hurray (again) for executive power.
10.21.2007 8:52pm
Oren (mail):

You're right, it did say that it is eminently reasonable and that all civil libertarians will agree it is lawful to take people from other countries in violation of their laws to bring them to the US, while of course it is eminently unreasonable and everyone will agree that it is unlawful to violate our laws to send them to other countries.


Well, for it might be diplomatically unwise to bypass the local courts it's certainly not required. It hardly seems reasonable to entrust the fate of Bin Laden to a Taliban court (or a Pakistani one for that matter!).

Recall that the recent fiasco involving the CIA abducting a Egyptian man involved rendering him to Egypt, not the US. The rest of the world still has a reasonable amount of respect for the US legal system (at the least the one that Pres Bush did not invent by executive order).
10.21.2007 10:01pm
scote (mail):

Pretty much anyone — including U.S. citizens and green card holders — can be rendered these days.


This, of course, is not a myth. Extraordinary Rendition occurs in secret and without judicial or constitutional oversight. There is no guarantee or "quality control" that inherently insures that citizens or greencard holders won't be swept into this extraconstitutional dragnet. We already know that innocence won't prevent you from being sent to be tortured so there is no reason to think that citizenship will protect you.

What a useless piece of FUD.
10.21.2007 10:14pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
All those 'renditioned' have been renditioned from one nig-nog* country to another nig-nog country. The one Canuk was siezed when he had yet to enter the US (he was in the Customs area of JFK). I cannot believe that there are so many drooling mental defectives out there who believe that non-present, non-resident, non-citizens, of the US have any rights at all vis-a-vis US law. As a libertarian I oppose such extraterritoriality. US law should stop at the border.

I do think, of course, that rendition should not be done with taxpayer funding but rather with corporate funding or charitable contributions.

*I use the OED definition not Websters.
10.21.2007 10:17pm
Katherine (mail):
#s 1-3 are semantic. #4 is factually false; I've asked the Post to correct it. In particular, the claim that Clinton didn't render suspects to countries with "indisputably lousy" human rights records--false. We rendered suspects to Egypt under Clinton. Their record of torture is comparable to Syria's, as documented extensively in the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Egyptian human rights organizations have made credible allegations that the suspects who Clinton rendered to Egypt were tortured. After reviewing large # of cases of rendition, under both Clinton &Bush, I've yet to come up with a single example where: (1) we've rendered someone to Egypt; (2) he's been heard from again since the rendition; (3) he HASN'T made allegations of torture. Renditions to Egypt where there have been allegations of torture include: (1) Talat Fouad Qassem (Clinton),
(2) Ahmad Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Naggar (Clinton),
(3) Shawqi Salama Mustafa (Clinton),
(4) Mohamed Hassan Tita (Clinton),
(5) Ahmad Ismail Uthman (Clinton),
(6) Issam Abd al-Tawab (Clinton),
(7) Mamdouh Habib (Bush)
(8) Abu Omar (Bush)
(9) Ibn Shaykh al Libi (Bush)
(10) Ahmed Agiza (Bush)
(11) Mohamed Al Zery (Bush)
(12) Mohamed Saad Iqbal Madni (Bush)

There are more publicly reported renditions to Egypt than to any other country. It's extremely telling, and extremely damning, that Benjamin doesn't mention a single one. His article is a whitewash, &parts of it shouldn't have cleared factchecking.
10.21.2007 10:18pm
Katherine (mail):
As for #5, it hasn't happened, that I know of. I'm not sure why he's so certain it can't happen to a green card holder. A U.S. citizen strikes me as less likely, but we all know from the Padilla case that some U.S. citizens are less equal than others.

"Duncan Frissell" is a parody, right?
10.21.2007 10:22pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
There is no guarantee or "quality control" that inherently insures that citizens or greencard holders won't be swept into this extraconstitutional dragnet.

Were this true then the US-born Saudi Arabian caputured in Afghanistan would not have been brought to the US for proceessing and then released after he renounced. They would just have sent him to Gitmo or shot him. But they didn't.

DemonCats like FDR lock up 70K native-born US citizens w/o charges and they get a pass. George locks up 2, yes 2 for a while, releases one and convicts the other at trial and the terror-symps in the country get the vapors. We're talking 2 guys here. Not exactly a problem.

BTW, just in case you didn't know, none of the 'renderd' were NYU grads with non-Hispanic-white, native-born American, movie star, eight-month-pregnant wives like the guy in the flick.
10.21.2007 10:28pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
"Duncan Frissell" is a parody, right?

Not quite. Just poor social control.

You should note that the idea that US citizens and permanent residents can be held as some species of POW is not exactly a bizzare notion. Lincoln held 200K of Confederates as POWs.

If a Citizen or Permanent Resident takes up arms against us, there shouldn't be a problem treating them like a POW. Note that POWs are not held because they are guilty of crimes but are held to "take them off the board" until hostilities end. So judicial processes shouldn't be involved.

I know the 'old' Supreme Court sort of disagreed but a newer SC might not. I believe that this was Eugene's position prior to the Padilla case and may still be.

Obviously, there may be cases where mistakes are made but 2 guys don't suggest a trend.

I think I'll wait 'till after Bruce Springsteen and George Clooney disappear and then I'll think about being worried. -- I'll think really long and hard.
10.21.2007 10:43pm
HSKQ:
Well, for it might be diplomatically unwise to bypass the local courts it's certainly not required. It hardly seems reasonable to entrust the fate of Bin Laden to a Taliban court (or a Pakistani one for that matter!).


You're right, sovereignty is so last millennium.
10.21.2007 10:52pm
Archon (mail):
As most bounty hunters will say....

"Extradition happens in the back of a trunk."

Maybe we should an reexamine the legal system of extradition that is so burdensome and public that in certain circumstances it just simply can't be followed.

I would rather someone get some sort of due process in a closed courtroom, under seal, then no process at all.
10.21.2007 10:56pm
Katherine (mail):
So your libertarian convictions mean that you actively support innocent people being disappeared &tortured, but the use of taxpayer dollars to fund it is oppressive. Got it.
10.21.2007 10:59pm
Thief (mail) (www):
For all the hyping of judicial oversight in rendition cases, even in cases of "extraordinary" renditions (where subjects were basically kidnapped and forcibly returned to the U.S. for trial) at least pre-9/11 the response of courts to renditions was a collective "No harm, no foul." See Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436 (1886), Frisbie v. Collins, 342. U.S. 519 (1951), U.S. v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655 (1992), U.S. v. Fawaz-Yunis, 924 F.2d 1086 (D.C. Cir. 1991).

So it seems that, legally, extraordinary renditions are OK, as long as they're one-directional and a judge gets to wink at them afterwards. Which is OK for dealing with common criminals, but is it adequate for the kind of...scum, really who play in the lacunae between crime and war and believe they have the god-given right and duty to wage private holy war for private ends, outside of the call or control of any state?
10.21.2007 11:15pm
JB:
Can we shut up with the "Clinton did it" whining?

Not every attack on the Bush administration is launched by Democrats trying to score political points. Some of them are from people legitimately appalled at the secrecy, incompetence, and unscrupulousness of Bush &co. Just because the other side did it, doesn't mean it's any less vile when your side does.

Anyone who uses "Clinton did it" as a defense of Bush should be forbidden from ever criticizing Clinton.
10.21.2007 11:26pm
Michael B (mail):
"... in the lacunae between crime and war ..." is very likely the most germane and telling phrase used in the thread.
10.21.2007 11:28pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
And all those allegations of torture are credible, Katherine?

No agent-orovacateurs operating? No disinformation specialists?

They can't fool you, I'm sure.

Feh.
10.21.2007 11:32pm
HSKQ:
Not every attack on the Bush administration is launched by Democrats trying to score political points.


No, but one suspects that it is when it's launched by an actual Clinton operative defending something on the basis that when Clinton did it it was good. Read threads much?
10.21.2007 11:41pm
Mr L (mail):
Can we shut up with the "Clinton did it" whining?

Not every attack on the Bush administration is launched by Democrats trying to score political points. Some of them are from people legitimately appalled at the secrecy, incompetence, and unscrupulousness of Bush &co.


One would think that someone legitimately angry about these things would want to champion the Clinton Did It line, not only to remind most of those attacking the Bush administration that they stood happily by while the same evils (and worse) were perpetrated by a Democrat, but also because the current frontrunner is using many of the same flunkies and advisors that her husband had during his term.

I mean, if you were legitimately appalled, you'd want to make sure that people didn't stop worrying about these abuses just because Their Gal is in the white house, or at least make sure that the architects of this stuff didn't get a free pass and another go!

Legitmately, your whining doesn't make any sense. As a blatant partisan, however...
10.22.2007 12:24am
Katherine (mail):
The State Department seems to think they're credible, as do human rights organizations, as do the Italian prosecutors in in the Abu Omar case, as did the military prosecutors at GTMO who spoke of Habib being brutalized, as did the U.S. officials who told Austrialia that they were releasing Habib from GTMO so his torture claims would not be heard in court, as did the officials who described Libi being tortured, as do the CIA agents who have acknowledged that they know perfectly well that suspects are tortured routinely in Cairo. There's really not much doubt about Egyptian interrogation practices; there are even cell phone videos if you'd like to see for yourself. Can I personally verify every account? No. All I can say is that the accounts are, in many cases, detailed, corroborated by independent sources, that the techniques described are similar to each other &similar to those described in the state department report even though the suspects made their allegations never would have met each other, &that they are completely consistent with all the available reporting about pervasive torture by Egyptian intelligence. Also, if even HALF of the allegations are true, that in itself is sufficient proof that rendition is a violation of the convention against torture &diplomatic assurances are worthless.

Mr. L, that is PRECISELY my problem with Benjamin's article &Adler's uncritical endorsement of it.
10.22.2007 1:31am
Randy R. (mail):
"he State Department seems to think they're credible, as do human rights organizations,..."

But Katharine, dear, don't you know that anyone who thinks these are credible are liberal looneys and dupes? EVeryone knows that our dear leader only finds, captures and tortures people who Hate Us For Our Freedoms. Here is what you are ordered to believe:
1. Bush only tortures the guilty ones. If you are rendered, you ARE guilty.
2. Bush never ever, ever engages in torture.

Got it? Remember Orwell's dictum, that Doublespeak is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in your head and believe both are true.
10.22.2007 2:28am
Randy R. (mail):
This one is by far the most hilarious:
"Step one of a rendition involves kidnapping the suspect."

No, of course not. If the US gov't finds someone that they want to rendition, they go up to him and ask him politely, "may we please take you to Syria? This may involve a slight adjustment to your flight intinerary. It's a surprise."

Of course, people who are guilty of hating us for our freedoms wouldn't mind the extra 20 hours on an airplane, so they voluntarily go, no questions asked.

If they refuse, the officer will offer candy, more leg space in the cabin. But if the subject persists in reusing, the officer says, "Well, sir, that's entirely within your rights. Please have a nice vacation in the US!"

So, no. Kidnapping is not part of the rendition. That's just another myth perpetrated by our enemies.
10.22.2007 2:33am
sheltercrow (mail):
truths about rendition

Amnesty International uses the term "rendition" to describe the transfer of individuals from one country to another, by means that bypass all judicial and administrative due process. In the "war on terror" context, the practice is mainly – although not exclusively – initiated by the USA, and carried out with the collaboration, complicity or acquiescence of other governments

However, the rendition network also serves to transfer people into US custody, where they may end up in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, detention centres in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in secret facilities known as "black sites" run by the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency.

Rendition is sometimes presented simply as an efficient means of transporting terror suspects from one place to another without red tape. Such benign characterizations conceal the truth about a system that puts the victim beyond the protection of the law, and sets the perpetrator above it.

Renditions involve multiple layers of human rights violations. Most victims of rendition were arrested and detained illegally in the first place: some were abducted; others were denied access to any legal process, including the ability to challenge the decision to transfer them because of the risk of torture.

Because of the secrecy surrounding the practice of rendition, and because many of the victims have "disappeared".

Before 11 September 2001, rendition was largely thought of as a means of returning suspected terrorists to the USA for trial. President Bill Clinton’s Presidential Decision Directive 39 of June 1995 states: "When terrorists wanted for violation of U.S. law are at large overseas, their return for prosecution shall be a matter of the highest priority… If we do not receive adequate cooperation from a state that harbors a terrorist whose extradition we are seeking, we shall take appropriate measures to induce cooperation. Return of suspects by force may be effected without the cooperation of the host government, consistent with the procedures outlined in [National Security Directive 77], which shall remain in effect."(6) National Security Directive 77 was issued by President George W. Bush in January 1992, and its contents remain classified.

Since 11 September the focus of rendition practice has shifted emphatically; the aim now is to ensure that suspects are not brought to stand trial, but are handed over to foreign governments for interrogation – a process known in the USA as "extraordinary rendition" – or are kept in US custody on foreign sites. What was once an inter-agency operation was apparently turned largely over to the CIA under a still-classified directive signed by President Bush in September 2001.(12) The minority and majority leaders of both chambers of Congress were apparently notified of the CIA’s new powers, but were not consulted on or even shown the directive.

The Human Rights Committee, in an authoritative statement on the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, has stated that "to guarantee the effective protection of detained persons, provisions should be made for detainees to be held in places officially recognized as places of detention and for their names and places of detention… to be kept in registers readily available and accessible to those concerned, including relatives and friends".(19) The UN Special Rapporteur on torture has said: "the maintenance of secret places of detention should be abolished under law. It should be a punishable offence for any official to hold a person in a secret and/or unofficial place of detention."

"Disappearances" are crimes under international law, involving multiple human rights violations. In certain circumstances they are crimes against humanity, and can be prosecuted in international criminal proceedings. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, defines enforced disappearance as the: "arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law."

The Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, establishes the rules of airspace, plane registration and safety, and sets out the rights of the signatory states in relation to air travel. It establishes a system under which all transit and landing rights for airlines and their aircraft require the explicit or tacit approval of the national governments in or above whose territory they operate. The current version of the Convention was adopted in 2000 and it has 189 contracting states.(44)

Of particular importance for rendition cases is the clause that allows private, non-commercial flights to fly over a country, or make technical stops there, without prior authorization or notification. The CIA planes identified to date have been chartered from private companies, real or fictional. "State aircraft" – defined by the Convention as those "used in military, customs and police services" – do require specific agreement or authorization to fly over the territory of another state or to use its airports. Experts on rendition believe that this is one of the main reasons why privately contracted aircraft are used in rendition operations, rather than military or other official aircraft.

Thank you Amnesty International
10.22.2007 3:36am
Paul Allen:
Katherine:

Thanks for adding additional supporting evidence to my remarks and thank-you for following up with WaPo to correct the record.

Best of wishes.
10.22.2007 4:29am
johnt (mail):
Nothing seems to matter. A Clinton official speaks out on the subject but no, it's still Bush lambasted with the required opprobrium. Putting aside the differences between post 9/11 and pre 9/11 naturally.
Cheap morality comes easily, but an old hate that feeds it dies hard.
10.22.2007 8:43am
DJR:
Five Myths About Torture Debunked

by DJR

Torture is in the news quite often lately. The Senate made torture a central theme of the Attorney General's confirmation hearings, and people are writing books and memos about it. It's high time we cleared up some popular myths about torture.

1. Torture is always bad.

Not so! Tickling is a form of torture that can be quite enjoyable.

2. People who are being tortured don't like it.

Quite the contrary! There are in fact people known as masochists who are willingly tortured and even pay for the privilege.

3. Torture was invented by Bush.

Torture actually has a long history. Nobody knows when the first person was tortured, but suffice to say it was a long time ago.

4. Waterboarding is a form of torture.

Not always. Both surfboards and diving boards are types of "boards" that have to do with "water." People willingly submit themselves to these forms of "water" "boarding" and find them not to be torture at all.

5. Torture always leads to death.

Again, not always or even most of the time. In fact, the point of torture is to get information from terrorists without killing them, because if they die, then they won't be able to make up things that they think we want to hear.

I hope this article serves to make everyone stop worrying about "torture."
10.22.2007 9:44am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JB.

You make the point I made some time ago.

The reason to point out that Clinton did it too is not to claim that two wrongs make a right.
The problem is that the conclusion of "clinton did it too" is so obvious that nobody thinks to actually make it. So it's easy to dodge.

The point of "clinton-did-it-too" arguments is to make a certain case. If you were arguing on principle, you'd be able to show genuine outrage when Clinton was doing it. You can't. Thus, you're not arguing on principle. You're a partisan hack.

So the argument that somebody else did it once upon a time has nothing to do with two wrongs and so forth. It's to demonstrate that the other party is not acting on principle, as they imply with all sorts of faux outrage (some of which is actually quite impressive), but instead are partisan hacks.

Clear, now?
10.22.2007 10:09am
Virginian:
Treating terrorism as a criminal justice issue, extending US constitutional rights to every suspected terrorist across the world, and defining down torture and thereby limiting the options of our field agents may very well result in NY or DC being a smoking pile of radioactive rubble within a few years.
10.22.2007 10:35am
wm13:
That is very well put, Richard Aubrey. Sad to say, I learned some time ago that most people who are politically active are political hacks, not men or women of principle. For example, most left/liberals in my lifetime have had no problem asserting that lying on a federal tax return is an impeachable offense, but lying under oath in a federal trial is not, or (as we see here) that handing over suspected terrorists to Syria is a human rights violation, but handing over suspected terrorists to Egypt is not, etc.

I don't mean to imply that conservatives are any less hypocritical, although there are lot fewer of them in the Upper West Side/Ivy League circles in which I have spent most of my life.
10.22.2007 10:52am
Adam J:
Aubrey- So instead of caring that Bush is committing rendition, you're more interested in exposing the "partisan hack." Wow, gosh, I think that in fact would make you a partisan hack. Also, you're logic is a little faulty, because you have no evidence that they're not outraged that Clinton committed these acts as well. And frankly, one tends to get more excited about the bad acts happening now then the bad acts that happened a decade ago.
10.22.2007 11:16am
Adam J:
wm13, aubrey- I hope you'll notice that most of the "partisan hacks" that are upset with rendition commenting on this webpage are not buying into Benjamin's apogist story for Clinton's renditions.
10.22.2007 11:26am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Adam J.

What I care about is not the point of my post.

The point of my post is that the people complaining about ex rend today didn't mind it when Clinton did it. Thus, we don't need to worry that there is some high moral principle behind their current concerns.

Not buying the Clinton defense is not the same as opposing it when it was really going on.

There is a possibility that these folks are not really partisan hacks. It's possible that they didn't know about it. Perhaps the Clinton administration was really, really good at keeping things like this secret. Which brings up the question about what other stuff they have kept in the dark. Or, perhaps the secret got out but the media spiked it. When Clinton did it. That brings up more questions.

Anyway, anybody who is outraged about it now is free to provide evidence of previous discomfort. Just start right in.
10.22.2007 11:33am
The Ace (mail) (www):
Can we shut up with the "Clinton did it" whining?

Not every attack on the Bush administration is launched by Democrats trying to score political points. Some of them are from people legitimately appalled at the secrecy, incompetence, and unscrupulousness of Bush &co

Translation:
I'm a shameless and rather dishonest political opportunist.

Mind you, people like you stood by utterly silent while Clinton/Gore did this and you're going to vote for Hillary.

You people and your selective outrage are comical and sad.
10.22.2007 11:46am
Adam J:
Aubrey-

A classic tactic here, rather then engaging people on the substantive issue, you attack their integrity. I didn't realize everytime that Bush does something I don't agree with, I have to cite examples AND PROVIDE EVIDENCE of other times I didn't agree with it. Seems a touch tedious, I remember the good old days when people assumed integrity until proven otherwise. Although I suspect you only set such a high threshold for criticism when Bush is around. Otherwise you undoubtedly have told Clinton critics they have to cite examples and provide evidence of times when they critized Reagan on the relevent issues as well to show that they are not "partisan hacks".

I'm afraid I'm short on evidence regarding my continuing opposition to rendition, ergo I must be a political hack. How clever, you've found me out...
10.22.2007 11:52am
Adam J:
Aubrey- Actually I got a great idea, you should provide evidence of times where you have accused a Clinton critic of being partisan for not having geniune outrage when Reagan was doing it. That way we know that you are not a partisan hack.
10.22.2007 12:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The point of my post is that the people complaining about ex rend today didn't mind it when Clinton did it. Thus, we don't need to worry that there is some high moral principle behind their current concerns.

And you know this how? I was against extraordinary rendition when Clinton did it (especially when he was sending people to Egypt claiming that he had assurances they would not be tortured when of course he knew they would be), and I am more against it now (when Bush doesn't even bother to pretend to worry about the rendees being tortured).

So STFU.
10.22.2007 12:08pm
Katherine:
The Clinton-era renditions didn't become public until after 2001. Sorry for my lack of omniscience.
10.22.2007 12:09pm
Adeez (mail):
Adam J: You are too right. There's a fundamental flaw in the "but but Clinton..." crowd. It automatically assumes that those who identify as liberal or who espouse liberal views was a Clinton supporter. Like these gems, directed at you: "Mind you, people like you stood by utterly silent while Clinton/Gore did this and you're going to vote for Hillary," and "The point of my post is that the people complaining about ex rend today didn't mind it when Clinton did it."

This is such nonsense that I can't believe commenters on this site actually believe it. It's one of those "the same people who did X are now saying Y..." As if those making such comments actually have a clue as to what I, you, and the millions of others rightfully criticizing this miserable administration actually thought about a president first elected in 1992.
10.22.2007 12:17pm
Katherine:
Specifically, the first article I read describing a particular Clinton-era rendition was by Matthew Higgins and Christopher Cooper, "CIA-Backed Team Used Brutal Means To Break Up Terrorist Cell in Albania," Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2001. I did not read it until June 15, 2004. The first article I read that alluded to the practice beginning under Clinton was this piece by Dana Priest &Barton Gellman, which I read in approximately January 2004. But the first particular rendition I ever heard of was Maher Arar's.
10.22.2007 12:21pm
Adam J:
Adeez- I know, but I think and think there is an interesting way of turning it around and showing people like Aubrey and Ace that they are guilty of the same hypocrisy to which they accuse people. That is, to simply ask them to prove there were occasions where they're required Clinton critics to show that they were similarly upset when Bush Sr. or Reagan. For example, during the Rich debacle, did they accuse the pardon critics of being partisan because they're weren't upset about Weinberger's pardon. Somehow I doubt they had such a high standard for presidential critics when the critism was more to their political tastes.
10.22.2007 12:32pm
PLR:
We have some righties claiming the essay is a whitewash for Clinton's benefit, and some lefties squawking that the author is knocking down straw men. That could suggest either that the author has taken a relatively balanced view of the issue, or that he has produced a mess.

I was all set to cast my vote for "a mess" when I noticed that the author is one of the deep thinkers at Brookings, where published fans of warfare pass themselves off as skeptics in order to keep the paychecks coming. That sealed it.
10.22.2007 12:35pm
WHOI Jacket:
It's something nice to get all frothy about, then in 2009, they all get to pat themselves on the back say "Well, aren't we glad we did something about all that nasty Bush business? We're super awesome."

See Naomi Wolf's latest "book tour". So, what happens when BushitlerCo doesn't launch a coup with Blackwater killing all Dems who dare oppose them?
10.22.2007 12:37pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
This is such nonsense that I can't believe commenters on this site actually believe it. It's one of those "the same people who did X are now saying Y..." As if those making such comments actually have a clue as to what I, you, and the millions of others rightfully criticizing this miserable administration actually thought about a president first elected in 1992.

Hilarious.

Funny, I worked on Cap Hill for most of the Clinton Presidency. I must have missed "all" of the people like you.

I guess you're just political cowards or something then.
10.22.2007 12:39pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
For example, during the Rich debacle, did they accuse the pardon critics of being partisan because they're weren't upset about Weinberger's pardon.

Unbelievable.

Um, mind showing me the similarities here?

Oh, there are none.
Nevermind.

You're simply incapble of recognizing your own hypocrisy.
Why? Because being a modern leftist requires you to be a hypocrite.

Again, you people are embarrassing.
10.22.2007 12:43pm
LN (mail):
No one on the left ever criticized Clinton for everything. He ensured that by constantly pandering to them -- NAFTA, DOMA, welfare reform. No wonder Rush Limbaugh became popular.

Nat Hentoff called Bill Clinton the greatest civil liberties President in American history. Or was it the worst? I forget.
10.22.2007 12:43pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
I love this:

I was against extraordinary rendition when Clinton did it (especially when he was sending people to Egypt claiming that he had assurances they would not be tortured when of course he knew they would be),

Then:
The Clinton-era renditions didn't become public until after 2001.

Too funny.

Liars. All of you.
10.22.2007 12:45pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Katherine. Then, in your case, you're okay. Because Clinton &Co. were/are awesomely efficient at keeping secrets. What else might they be hiding?
Another question now is why the people in charge of informing you--the media--didn't bother until Bush was president.

J.F. Thomas. How come you could oppose Clinton's renditions when nobody knew about them? See Katherine.
10.22.2007 12:46pm
Adam J:
The Ace- you should also recognize your own hypocrisy since you're so keen on noting others. You accuse people of political opportunism for standing silently while Clinton did this, but later point out that the renditions didn't become public until 2001- a nonpartisan might notice that the fact that renditions were not public would void your earlier argument that they were political opportunists for standing silently. Also, there's nothing dishonest about Thomas's point, he was and is against rendition- the fact that one isn't aware of rendition occuring certainly doesn't change the fact that one is against it.
10.22.2007 1:03pm
Katherine (mail):
Well, I could have certainly missed an obscure wire story or two during high school &college. Those were the days before Google News.

More generally, secret information takes a while to filter out; it's the nature of secret information, It's not particularly strange that the media got more interested when the Bush administration greatly increased the size of the program &started grabbing innocent Canadian fathers of two out of JFK airport. Arar's wife was a sympathetic Western citizen who complained, loudly. That's why his story got enough public attention for me to hear about it. And there was over a year between when I started researching it &I met a single other person who'd heard of the practice--the turning point was Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece, "Outsourcing Torture".

Rather than waste my time further with the torture apologists in comments casting about for exucses though--Prof. Adler, perhaps a correction re: Egypt is warranted? .
10.22.2007 1:04pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
You accuse people of political opportunism for standing silently while Clinton did this, but later point out that the renditions didn't become public until 2001-

Um, no, I pointed out what Katherine said.
That doesn't mean it's a fact.
10.22.2007 1:12pm
Adam J:
Ace- seriously? no similarity between Weinberger and Rich? That's like me arguing there's no similarity between Clinton and Bush's rendition because one rendition was to Egypt and another in Syria. You can distinguish anything I suppose, but there's a pretty core similarity here. Come on, you have to agree that both are flagrant abuses of the pardon power.
10.22.2007 1:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Forgive me if I didn't become aware of Clinton's renditions until after he left office (although honestly I don't remember when I was first aware of them but it was quite some time ago). I guess that is my fault for not being privy to Top Secret information. BTW, I thought the Mark Rich pardon was outrageous too and hope Hillary is not the candidate of the Democratic party.
10.22.2007 1:14pm
Adam J:
Ace- that only makes it worse! So you're going to use someone elses statement, which you don't know to be a fact, to try and attack someone's integrity! Maybe you should take a good long look in the mirror.
10.22.2007 1:17pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Also, there's nothing dishonest about Thomas's point, he was and is against rendition

Actually, I don't believe him.

One thing the Bush presidency has surely done is expose leftists for being intellectually insecure and liars of the first order. Examples are endless from John Edwards going from "no I was not misled" to "Bush lied" and Kerry, Clinton, et al. saying they actually weren't voting for a war.

Sorry, but the default position of modern "progressives" is to lie both about what they actually believe and about what their political opponents believe (see Reid, Harry re: Rush Limbaugh).
10.22.2007 1:18pm
wm13:
BTW, to prove yourself not a partisan hack, you don't have to prove that you took a stand on rendition during the Clinton presidency, especially if you didn't know about it. (I didn't know about it back then, but I didn't--and don't--care about it anyway.) To prove yourself not a partisan hack, you have to prove, say, (i) that you were just as opposed to sexual harassment when the issue was Clarence Thomas as when it was Bill Clinton, or (ii) (to cite one of my previous examples) that you were just as opposed to making perjury an impeachable offense when the issue was Nixon as when it was Clinton, or (iii) that you were just as concerned about the money Hillary Clinton made from, shall we say, exceedingly skillful commodities trades as you were about any of Bush's business dealings. Andrea Dworkin, I think, satisfies test (i), but mainstream feminists of the Gloria Steinem variety fail miserably. Paul Krugman would be a good example of someone who fails test (iii) rather pathetically. I'd be interested if anyone can point out a political commentator (besides Andrea Dworkin!) who passes these or similar tests.

I could make up similar tests for conservatives. There wouldn't be many who would pass those either.
10.22.2007 1:22pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Ace- that only makes it worse! So you're going to use someone elses statement, which you don't know to be a fact, to try and attack someone's integrity!

Can you read?

I merely posted it to demonstrate the hilarity of the situation. You have one leftists saying he was always against it and another claiming it wasn't even public record until Clinton left office.

See? It's called humor. Come on, you leftists are always making jokes (see Kerry, John) you should be able to grasp this.
10.22.2007 1:23pm
Adam J:
Oh, maybe I missed the humor in this statement "Liars, all of you." I'm such a sourpus to not recognize just how funny that is.
10.22.2007 1:25pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
no similarity between Weinberger and Rich?

Um, did Weinberger flee the country after being indicted?
Or did Weinberger's wife make donations (which she couldn't possibly afford) to the Reagan library both before and after his pardon?

There are no similiaries other than a pardon being issued.
And the fact you're trying to compare two very dissimilar situations to make an irrelevant point speaks volumes.
10.22.2007 1:26pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
To prove yourself not a partisan hack, you have to prove, say, (i) that you were just as opposed to sexual harassment when the issue was Clarence Thomas as when it was Bill Clinton

Except that President Clinton actually sexually harassed multiple women and Clarence Thomas did not.
10.22.2007 1:29pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
ii) (to cite one of my previous examples) that you were just as opposed to making perjury an impeachable offense when the issue was Nixon as when it was Clinton, or (iii) that you were just as concerned about the money Hillary Clinton made from, shall we say, exceedingly skillful commodities trades as you were about any of Bush's business dealings.

Nixon's only problem was perjury? Fascinating, you learn something new every day.

Bush's business dealings are only a concern because they demonstrate what a miserable failure he was in almost every endeavor he attempted, but somehow managed to get someone (mysterious investors) to bail him out at the last second.
10.22.2007 1:34pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Seems a bit twisted with semantics.

The question isn't if all persons "rendered inevitably end up in a foreign slammer — or worse"; it is instead have any humans beings rendered by the U.S. government been subsequently tortured by the receiving state, and if so, should the U.S. government have been cognizant of the likelihood of their being tortured.

The law of note being The UN Convention Against Torture article 3.1, as applied via the U.S. Constitution Article VI; clause 2; making it The Supreme Law of The Land:

No state party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he will be in danger of being subjected to torture.


A glaring example: Uzbekistan and its leader, Islam, 'Butcher of Andijon' Karimov. The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, offers great insight into America's rendering of prisoners into the hands of this tyrant:

"Interview with Craig Murray: Ex-British Ambassador to Uzbekistan" the Journal of Turkish Weekly, January 24, 2005


Add this this the utterly out of context answer given by Mr. Bush in a March 16, 2005 Press Conference:

Q: As Commander-in-Chief, what is it that Uzbekistan can do in interrogating an individual that the United States can't?

The President: We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country.

President's Press Conference, March 16, 2005


It isn't about whether it it inevitable. It is about whether the U.S. Government has ever willfully violated The UN Convention Against Torture article 3.1.

Furthermore, you offer solid evidence that conservatism still plunges into the depths of moral relativism with a rationalisation of; "But BillyJeff Did It First", causing me to choke back the wretched bile that always accompanies the feelings of nostalgia I get for an idyllic past in America, when our President's lies were only about acts of consensual sex.

Understand clearly: there is nothing under the sun or the moon; in Heaven nor in Hell, that can ever justify my country being a party to human torture. This is manifest evil, and this I will to resist.
10.22.2007 1:39pm
wm13:
J.F. Thomas, that was one of the counts in the impeachment of Nixon. Many political commentators reviewed each count separately. I'm still looking for a law professor who reacted to each impeachment of my lifetime with a consistent view about whether perjury constitutes an impeachable offense.

Hillary's commodities trades were at least as mysterious as anything W ever did.

I don't know how to break this to you, but you are sort of failing my test for not being a partisan hack.
10.22.2007 1:43pm
David M (mail) (www):
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 10/22/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
10.22.2007 1:45pm
Adam J:
wm13- I think you have to realize that the ordinary person is far quicker to be critical of the people they dislike then those they like- and this certainly this is partisanship- but it doesn't necessarily make them hypocrites. Assuming you are republican, I'm sure you find many actions of republicans politicians that you are upset with but are much quieter in your critism then when democrats commit the same acts. I'd say this is partisanship, but with a small p. Certainly others rise to greater levels of hypocrisy- perhaps like justifying Rich while lambasting Libby pardons. I suspect most liberals merely grimaced and clenched their fists at Rich, but shouted at Libby. Similarly the louder (and mostly republican) critics of Rich's were far quieter when Cap was pardoned- but I can't infer from that that they were hypocrites.

My problem is that Ace and Aubrey are assuming hypocrisy of people without any proof- merely because people oppose Bush's actions and don't immediately attempt to support it with occasions where they were upset with Clinton's actions. That's simply not hypocrisy.
10.22.2007 1:46pm
Adeez (mail):
OK, Ace, we're all talking over each other, and here's why: almost all of your posts have one flawed implicit premise---that the mainstream D candidates are liberal progressives. They're not!

I said it here before, and I guess I'll have to continue to repeat myself: CLINTON IS NOT A LIBERAL! Although I'm not a fan of labels generally, please understand that all Democrats aren't liberal, and all Republicans aren't conservative. I'm not exactly breaking any new ground here, and I thought most commenters understood this basic distinction.

If you wanna see the candidate that most "real" liberal progressives support, see Kucinich. Indeed, "real" liberals support Ron Paul over many of the D candidates too.
10.22.2007 1:49pm
davod (mail):
Renditions and coercive interrogations. I wonder just how much the bi-partisan intelligence committees in the House and Senate were told.
10.22.2007 1:49pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Indeed, "real" liberals support Ron Paul over many of the D candidates too.

Now that is just crazy talk. Ron Paul is a libertarian with some extreme social conservative views.
10.22.2007 1:57pm
Adam J:
Ace- You said: "Except that President Clinton actually sexually harassed multiple women and Clarence Thomas did not." I think it's interesting to note the clear different standards of proof you are applying to Thomas versus Clinton.

Also- your distinctions between Cap and Rich are pretty clearly as meaningless as if I tried to distinguish and say that Clinton's renditions were nothing like Bushes because Clinton's were to Egypt and Bush's were to Syria. Who cares what the underlying circumstances are, I'm talking about the misuse of pardon power. Unless you are attempting to argue that Bush's pardon wasn't a misuse of pardon power... I've yet to hear you say as much though.

You'd think you'd have a better understanding of my point since you are the one attempting to argue that we are hypocrites for not mentioning Clinton's misuse of rendition-I assumed you thought that the individual circumstances of the rendition don't matter- although there are clearly ways of distinguishing Clinton's misuse from Bush's, they are largely irrelevant. I'm pretty sure you cried hypocrisy because people didn't complain about Rich when Libby was pardoned, but there are huge distinctions there as well.
10.22.2007 2:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It is quite ironic that those of you here who are throwing around the accusations of political hackism are the ones who appear to dredge up all the problems with the Clinton administration while excusing the actions of the Bush administration. On the other hand, us "political hacks" have condemned the rendition policies of the Clinton administration and found Benjamin's defense of it disingenuous. Granted, we think the Bush administration's policies are worse (of course the Bush administration doesn't really need to rend people for the purposes of torture, since it now has those capabilities in house), but that is because they are.
10.22.2007 2:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. You can't have condemned Clinton's renditions then. Nobody knew about them--see Katherine--and condemning them now, which is too late, to give you cover for going after Bush isn't impressive.

BTW. The argument that "your side did/does it too" which is answered by "two wrongs don't make a right" has a conclusion which is applicable to almost any issue, not simply rendition.
The "two wrongs" side is trying to hide lack of principle.

I don't think that pardoning Libby is the equivalent of pardoning Rich. Libby got convicted of false statements, which is a matter of picking whose false statements to believe. He lost. Libby carried an unjustified amount of baggage for initially being blamed for what Armitage did--who had no repercussions. Rich was a big-time criminal with big-time donations and a wife with big-time... Anyway, the Rich duo and the Clintons were made for each other, one way or another.

Bush hasn't shown the wholesale sale of pardons--votes of Puerto Ricans and Hasidic Jews, for example--or money that the Clintons did to the rueful admiration of liberals.

No comparison.

The Iran Contra stuff goes back a way but many of the complaints were out of frustration at not being able to get anybody on the primary charges. The "perjury" stuff was thin gruel. Williams, for example, made a statement wrt classified material. Went home, got clearance, and updated it later. The judge in the case gave him 100 hrs. of community service. Like Libby, it was a frustration indictment. Pardoning those guys is different from pardoning assassins. Really.
10.22.2007 2:38pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Understand clearly: there is nothing under the sun or the moon; in Heaven nor in Hell, that can ever justify my country being a party to human torture.

Too funny.

The sad parts are: a) You actually believe this b) You actually take yourself seriously and most importantly c) You have no idea what actually constitutes torture.

Again, you people are a joke.
10.22.2007 2:44pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
I think it's interesting to note the clear different standards of proof you are applying to Thomas versus Clinton. ]

Um, you mean like Clinton actually settling a law suit on the matter and paying Paula Jones?

You are so stupid it is literally unbelievable.

Who cares what the underlying circumstances are

THAT sums up the modern left perfectly.
Facts? Who cares? It's all about how you view the situation.
10.22.2007 2:46pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
My problem is that Ace and Aubrey are assuming hypocrisy of people without any proof- merely because people oppose Bush's actions and don't immediately attempt to support it with occasions where they were upset with Clinton's actions

I have the proof. I wasn't 9 years old during the Clinton Presidency like you. I can remember these things.
10.22.2007 2:49pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Mind you, people like you stood by utterly silent while Clinton/Gore did this and you're going to vote for Hillary.


Good point, although I don’t suppose that the Nobel Committee bothered to take this into account when they awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize a couple of weeks ago.
10.22.2007 2:49pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Ace:
Sorry, but the default position of modern "progressives" is to lie both about what they actually believe and about what their political opponents believe

Silly leftist:
of course the Bush administration doesn't really need to rend people for the purposes of torture, since it now has those capabilities in house

Thanks for the vindication.

You people do it every time.
10.22.2007 2:51pm
Adam J:
Aubrey- Clearly you too lack principle- You're rewriting history with Libby. Libby leaked just like Armitage, that's precisely what the perjury conviction proved. Armitage may have leaked as well, but he didn't lie under oath.
10.22.2007 2:52pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
OK, Ace, we're all talking over each other, and here's why: almost all of your posts have one flawed implicit premise---that the mainstream D candidates are liberal progressives.

NO, I understand they are not. The problem is that the "liberal establishment" the grievance groups, media, etc. do not and will not criticize any Dem for behavior people like you (and them) normally attribute to Republicans.

Hillary! is a perfect example of this.
So is Harry Reid.
10.22.2007 2:53pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
there is nothing under the sun or the moon; in Heaven nor in Hell, that can ever justify my country being a party to human torture

By the way, I just love the black and white from the party of nuance!

Remember folks, nuance is good.
Until silly leftists proclaim otherwise.
10.22.2007 2:55pm
Brian K (mail):
Ace, Aubrey,

I'm surprised you guys haven't hacked off your arms hacking away at the keyboard writing your amazingly hackish posts! You guys certainly raise the art of hacking to a whole new level of hackitude.
10.22.2007 3:05pm
Adam J:
Ace- Seriously, you're going to cite a settlement AFTER DISMISSAL as proof that Clinton committed sexual harrassment. I'm not sure if you realize this, but a settlement isn't proof of anything. I think you're only person on this blog to so unequivically believes Paula Jones. Perhaps because you're the partisan hack to which you accuse all those who attack Bush's policies.

Also- what proof do you have that I, or the others on this blog to which you accuse, of hypocrisy? You do realize the kook you sound like when you say "I have the proof. I wasn't 9 years old during the Clinton Presidency like you. I can remember these things." What on earth does that even mean? You simultanously say I'm too young to remember the presidency, but then think I should be vocal about what Clinton did wrong (seems strange considering you think I was 9).
10.22.2007 3:14pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Pardoning those guys is different from pardoning assassins.

Well then I am sure you were horrified when the Bush administration refused to prosecute that Cuban terrorist who blew up the passenger plane and illegally entered this country yet was allowed to remain here.

The sad parts are: a) You actually believe this b) You actually take yourself seriously and most importantly c) You have no idea what actually constitutes torture.

I would really like to know what your definition of torture is Ace. I am certain that if the sketchy reports are true and we are subjecting detainees to combinations of induced hypothermia, sensory deprivation and overload, stress positions, sleep deprivation and waterboarding and physical abuse, that constitutes torture by any reasonable definition notwithstanding what you, John Yoo, or the president may believe. I am afraid that we have gone even further than that with authorized torture. There is no doubt that interrogations have gotten out of hand in both Iraq and Afghanistan and detainees have been tortured to death, the government has admitted this.
10.22.2007 3:15pm
PLR:
Off topic, but maybe someone should write an op-ed for the Post about how sociopaths seem increasingly interested in legal blogs.
10.22.2007 3:16pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The Iran Contra stuff goes back a way but many of the complaints were out of frustration at not being able to get anybody on the primary charges.

And do you remember why the primary charges were dismissed? Not because they couldn't be proven, the proof was overwhelming; but because the immunized testimony given before Congress made it impossible to try the cases in court.
10.22.2007 3:20pm
Anderson (mail):
Off topic

Heh. Indeed.
10.22.2007 3:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. Thomas.

I also remember the discussions in the Senate hearings.
The Boland amendment specified allocated funds and certain government departments. You mean, said one senator to another, if the Agriculture department did this it would be okay (Ag not being specified in the Boland amendment)? Yes, except for allocated funds. Warren Rudman tried to convince Ollie North that the whole thing was run with allocated funds, since his pay came from allocated funds. Lame-o. Point is, Iran Contra was run outside of the Boland amendment and it was the Boland amendment the senate and others were trying to use. Didn't fit. I know that helping anti-communists annoyed the hell out of the dems, but that doesn't make it illegal. You have to have a broken law, not a broken hope.
I think the only guy who profited from immunity was North.
Walsh still holds the inflation adjusted expenditure record for purchasing skim milk past the use-by date.

And Libby leaked what the insiders already knew, if it is indeed true that he leaked, that being the question in dispute.
Armitage didn't have a chance to lie under oath about it since Fitzgerald wasn't interested in prosecuting the real leaker. Funny, that.
10.22.2007 3:34pm
Adam J:
Ace, also, please don't quote me out of context, I said "Who cares what the underlying circumstances are, I'm talking about the misuse of pardon power. Unless you are attempting to argue that Bush's pardon wasn't a misuse of pardon power... I've yet to hear you say as much though."
My point... since you have missed it, is your distinctions are only relevent if they show that Bush Sr.'s pardon of Cap was not a misuse of pardon power. Your distinctions so far do not prove this. You saw fit to compare the Libby pardon to Rich pardon, even though the Libby pardon does not involve "fleeing the country after being indicted" or Libby's "wife make donations"- Rich's pardon did not involve a political official lying under oath or outting a undercover operative. Why are these distinctions important for my comparison but not for yours?
10.22.2007 3:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Richard,

For a bunch of people who get absolutely bent out of shape every time Sandy Berger's socks and underpants are mentioned, you sure conveniently forget all about Fawn Hall's bra (which is something I would much rather see the contents of). To claim that nothing illegal occurred in Iran-Contra (even if you believe the "Contra" half of the equation was A-Okay) makes all the partisan hackery of the left regarding Clinton look Bush league.
10.22.2007 3:46pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And Libby leaked what the insiders already knew

Remember what Libby was convicted of was lying to a Grand Jury, something that was of utmost importance to the right just a few short years ago.
10.22.2007 3:48pm
Adam J:
What does "if it is indeed true that he leaked, that being the question in dispute" mean? Last time I checked, a conviction takes the question out of dispute- heck even Bush himself didn't dispute it. Also, I agree it is funny that Fitzgerald (a career republican) didn't prosecute Armitage. He says he was afraid to bring a because he wasn't sure if he could prove intent- admittedly sometimes a tough thing to prove, but certainly inferrable from the circumstances. Apparently you fault Fitzgerald for continuing to investigate even after evidence of one leaker surfaced. Gee, to me that just seems like common sense.
10.22.2007 3:54pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J. F. Fawn Hall should have been (was she?) subpeeneed. The difference is that Berger took some serious stuff, did it several times, was convicted and didn't serve his sentence--no polygraph yet afaik--and Hall was accused of taking...what? Obviously, something, since it was done covertly.
Still, the inability of the govt to convict North wasn't shown to be the result of an overstuffed whatchamacallit.

If Iran-Contra had included anything illegal, somebody would have been prosecuted for it. Instead, they got the second-order stuff, the coverup. If Walsh had a case on helping the contras, or the arms for hostages (innit funny how the libs always drop the "for hostages" piece?)he could have prosecuted it, even if he was going to lose.
Now, you can't prove somebody lied unless you can show the truth varied from what he said. So, a prosecution for perjury provides ammo for prosecution for whatever was lied about.
That didn't happen, either.

Personally, I'd be more interested in the shenanigans which transferred tech transfer to Commerce, thereby clearing the way for Loral to make big bucks and send some to Clinton. Nothing illegal there, either, campaign finance details aside, possibly. But a bad idea.

But the point stands. Broken hopes do not make broken laws.

They had elections all over Central America. Deal with it.
10.22.2007 3:56pm
davod (mail):
J.f. Thomas:
"Well then I am sure you were horrified when the Bush administration refused to prosecute that Cuban terrorist who blew up the passenger plane and illegally entered this country yet was allowed to remain here".

There is a little bit more to this story. I believe this guy was found not guilty in the country he was tried in then they elected a leftist government (pro Castro) and the government wanted to put him on trail again. That's when he left.
10.22.2007 3:57pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I'm sure the reason Bush commuted Libby's sentence is so Libby, along with OJ and Novak, could continue their search for the true leaker.
10.22.2007 3:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Adam J.

Libby's conviction was for being caught with a version differing from other versions. Which version was actually true is unclear. I don't think he was pardoned. I think he's still out a quarter mill.

Armitage outed a covert agent. Insert about a million exclamation/outrage punctuation thingies. And you want to quibble about INTENT??????????????????

Fact is, there was no way to Bush through Armitage, which is why he got away with it.
10.22.2007 4:00pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
There is a little bit more to this story. I believe this guy was found not guilty in the country he was tried in then they elected a leftist government (pro Castro) and the government wanted to put him on trail again.

Even if this were true (and I don't think it is it is true Venezuala did want to try him), so what? In most civil law systems, which most European and Latin American countries are, there is no guarantee against double jeopardy. Regardless, it was certainly not the reason the Bush Administration gave for denying extradition and for refusing to deport him. There is little doubt that he was guilty of the crime he was accused of.
10.22.2007 4:06pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
You saw fit to compare the Libby pardon to Rich pardon

Huh?

Um, considering Libby was not pardoned, you obviously have no clue what "pardon" actually means, I did no such thing.

Please, try again.
10.22.2007 4:09pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
I think you're only person on this blog to so unequivically believes Paula Jones.

And?
Again, proving that you leftists are the most intellectually insecure people in the history of man.
Group think much?

Let's see, Clinton has an affair with Flowers, Lewinsky, and God knows who else, but it is utterly unbelievable that he tried to do something with Ms. Jones.
While of course accepting the accusations against Justice Thomas uncritcally.

Nice.
Seriously, way to go.
10.22.2007 4:12pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
subjecting detainees to combinations of induced hypothermia, sensory deprivation and overload, stress positions, sleep deprivation and waterboarding and physical abuse, that constitutes torture by any reasonable definition

Proving my point.
You have no clue, not the slightest idea what torture actually is.


I am certain that if the sketchy reports are true

Hilarious.
So now you believe in "sketchy reports" being fact?
I mean you said unequivocally that the US has engaged in torture.

Uh, which is it?
10.22.2007 4:17pm
Adam J:
Richard- Different versions? He said he didn't leak to grand jury investigators, however he did leak, where's the lack of clarity? I don't want to quibble about intent- that was the lame excuse Fitzgerald offered as to why he wasn't pursuing Armitage and Libby on the covert agent statute. The more likely reason he got away with it is because Fitzgerald is a REPUBLICAN, and didn't want to dig any deeper then he needed to.
10.22.2007 4:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If Walsh had a case on helping the contras, or the arms for hostages (innit funny how the libs always drop the "for hostages" piece?)he could have prosecuted it, even if he was going to lose.

So, you have no problem with negotiating with terrorists and selling arms to Iran (on which there had and continues to be an arms embargo ever since the Shah was ousted)? And somehow you think that selling arms to Iran in the 1980's, when it was against the law to do so (as it remains to this day), was not illegal and could not have been prosecuted.

As for Fawn Hall, she was granted immunity for her testimony, and North was convicted (later overturned) for destroying the documents (many of them classified) that she smuggled out of his office and shredded. So the cases (except for the sheer volume of documents--much greater in the North case), and the method of smuggling (in undergarments) are similar.
10.22.2007 4:19pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I mean you said unequivocally that the US has engaged in torture.

There is no doubt the U.S. has engaged in torture and that we have tortured people to death--we have admitted as much. What we have not admitted is to what degree torture is officially sanctioned and what combination of techniques are used on detainees. Things like sleep deprivation, stress positions, sensory deprivation/overload, extreme temperature are not necessarily torture when used judiciously or in moderation. They can all become torture when used in combination or for extended periods of time. Waterboarding, in my opinion, is always torture and though it has been rumored to have been used, there is not one U.S. official who will admit it publicly.

That is why I am equivocating a little on my claims since I am not privy to the CIA interrogation manual.

I would still like to know what your definition of torture is.
10.22.2007 4:29pm
Adam J:
Ace- wow, you got me, I said pardon and it was actually a commutation, gee you're not quibbling or anything.


First I never said I "accept[ed] the accusations against Justice Thomas uncritcally [sic]." Second, IF THE CASE WAS SO STRONG WHY WAS IT DISMISSED (by a republican judge)? Third, how do consensual affairs prove that a person is prone to commit sexual harrassment? Also- "Again, proving that you leftists are the most intellectually insecure people in the history of man.
Group think much?" Wow! did you read that before you posted it? You attack my logic, but how exactly did you "prove" intellectual insecurity... heck, how did you prove I am "leftist".
10.22.2007 4:34pm
Mongoose388:
"So the cases (except for the sheer volume of documents--much greater in the North case), and the method of smuggling (in undergarments) are similar."

It is indeed comforting to know that Fawn Hall had a more pleasant and ample means in which to smuggle than poor Sandy in his small package briefs.
10.22.2007 4:34pm
PLR:

Armitage outed a covert agent. Insert about a million exclamation/outrage punctuation thingies. And you want to quibble about INTENT??????????????????

Spoken like one of Professor Kerr's criminal law students who is not entirely satisfied with his grade on the final exam.
10.22.2007 4:36pm
Adam J:
PLR- It does tend to show Aubrey's ignorance in the realm of criminal law does it not? He apparently thinks a little thing like proving culpability is not important to a case.
10.22.2007 4:43pm
ejo:
search for the true leaker? we know that was Armitage, just like we know that Wilson's wife suggested him for the "mission". as to whether terror suspects wind up back in their home countries, color me among the "don't care" crowd.
10.22.2007 4:44pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
heck, how did you prove I am "leftist".

Comical.
A) You're ignorant
b) You repeat leftist talking points at every turn

Third, how do consensual affairs prove that a person is prone to commit sexual harrassment?

Hilarious.
I guess you're not too familiar with the term "pattern of conduct." By the way, before a Democratic President was elected in 1992, every leftist feminist group would have said that a) the affair itself was not "consensual" due to the President's position and b) Given "a" it was sexual harassment.
10.22.2007 4:50pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
I would still like to know what your definition of torture is

Watch this video.

That is torture.

And a serious and sane person would see how silly saying "sleep depravation is torture" looks by comparison.
10.22.2007 4:54pm
Adam J:
Ace- Well- I'm not sure exactly what leftist talking points you're referring to, yet again you use vague statements to make your arguments. Also, perhaps you forgot 1) I never said accepted the accusations against Judge Thomas. (maybe this is one of those leftist talking points that you're accusing me of). You also forget 2)- dismissed by a federal republican appointed judge. You also might want to start questioning your intellectual integrity regarding 3), when you use as support for an argument a feminist viewpoint that you clearly do not agree with. I think it is you that isn't familiar with the term "Pattern of conduct", it only applies when it's the same conduct, last time I checked consensual sex is not the same as sexual harrassment.
10.22.2007 5:03pm
rarango (mail):
At the risk of throwing even more gas on this fire, wasnt it Al Gore who said something to the effect of "Grab is ass? talking about rendition (extraordinary or not)" I would suggest that in this shades of grey world, rendition, political assassination, and other forms of state sponsored nasty behavior, are distasteful and even repugnant, but unfortunately necessary measures to deal with people who are willing to blow up themselves and many other innocent people for their particular cause.
I respect the idealism of those opposing those practices--it is your sense of reality I question.
10.22.2007 5:04pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And a serious and sane person would see how silly saying "sleep depravation is torture" looks by comparison.

Well of course, by destroying the context of what I wrote, you make me look silly. You, of course don't define torture other than to say, "well we don't do anything this bad", which of course you can't be sure of--since what we do, we keep well hidden and in some instances we have literally beaten people to death.
10.22.2007 5:10pm
rarango (mail):
While I am certainly do not approve of torture, I honestly have no good definition for it. My guess is that defining torture by listing forbidden tasks will always result in someone coming up with a practice not on the list.
10.22.2007 5:22pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
You, of course don't define torture other than to say, "well we don't do anything this bad"

Huh?

When did I say this?

I said "that is torture"
And it is.

Sleep deprivation is not "torture."

Neither is waterboarding.

Neither is "discomfort"

Can you grasp what I'm saying here?
10.22.2007 5:23pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
--since what we do, we keep well hidden and in some instances we have literally beaten people to death

How is it "well hidden" then?

Also, are you able to grasp the difference between "torture" in the context of an interrogation and throwing someone off a building or cutting their tongue out because they aren't loyal to Saddam's army?

The intellectual dishonesty approaching all political topics by you leftists is appalling.
10.22.2007 5:29pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
You also forget 2)- dismissed by a federal republican appointed judge

You also forget the $850,000 the President paid so the appeal would be dropped.

when you use as support for an argument a feminist viewpoint that you clearly do not agree with. I think it is you that isn't familiar with the term "Pattern of conduct", it only applies when it's the same conduct, last time I checked consensual sex is not the same as sexual harrassment.

You have massive reading comprehension problems. On top of you changing the definition of words to suit your political preferences. But of course you're not a leftist you just keep typing REPUBLICAN in all caps. While saying silly leftist things.
10.22.2007 5:37pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Can you grasp what I'm saying here?

Yes, I can. That you are the one who has not the slightest idea what torture is. You are stuck in a midevial mindset where torture only involves bodily mutilation.

Of course, only you and other apologists for this administration and other practitioners of the subtler forms of torture, have such a crude definition of torture. All civilized persons, nations, organizations, and even the United States when it is trying to impose human rights standards on other countries or even its own citizens (with the exception apparently of Jose Padilla), recognizes that sleep deprivation and other psychological techniques (e.g., temperature extremes, sensory overload) can be torture and that waterboarding is torture. If waterboarding is not torture (and make no mistake we tried and convicted Nazis for waterboarding after WWII), why does this government refuse to admit that it is an acceptable interrogation technique?
10.22.2007 5:37pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Also, are you able to grasp the difference between "torture" in the context of an interrogation and throwing someone off a building or cutting their tongue out because they aren't loyal to Saddam's army?

Actually no. Both are unjustified and barbaric. Am I supposed to excuse one because it supposedly serves a higher purpose (information about terrorism versus maintaining military discipline).
10.22.2007 5:42pm
Adam J:
"You also forget the $850,000 the President paid so the appeal would be dropped." You have a short memory- did I not mention that a settlement is not proof of anything, indeed the settlement included no apology, and no admission of guilt.

I'm not sure how you concluded that putting republican all in caps shows my partisanship. It's quite simple, I put republican all in caps because it shows that the dismissal wasn't politically motivated. I thought you were capable of making these simple deductive leaps, sadly, I was mistaken.

You also stated; "On top of you changing the definition of words to suit your political preferences." What definition am I changing, please be more specific- you continue to make vague attacks- perhaps to mask the bankruptcy of your position?
10.22.2007 5:47pm
ejo:
how about the difference between yanking somebody's tongue out and slapping their head/yelling at them/making them stand? is your moral compass so finely calibrated that you can't distinguish between them? why not give us the definition of torture you would apply?
10.22.2007 6:00pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
and make no mistake we tried and convicted Nazis for waterboarding after WWII

I'd love to see a cite for this.

Both are unjustified and barbaric

From the party of nuance no less!

Um, idiot, how in the hell would you know?
You've never been in the military. You've never been in the CIA. You've never been in the FBI.

So really, who cares about your silly pronouncements?
10.22.2007 6:05pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
only you and other apologists for this administration and other practitioners of the subtler forms of torture

I love how you leftists change the meaning of words.
It's so cute.

All civilized persons, nations, organizations, and even the United States

Again, the most intellectually insecure political movement in the history of man at work.
"Everyone agrees with me" (even though they do not).

Very persuasive. Seriously, I'm now convinced.

Again, you people are a joke.
10.22.2007 6:08pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Am I supposed to excuse one because it supposedly serves a higher purpose

NO you abject simpleton, you're supposed to nuance your way to see that what you think is "torture" actually isn't.

But again, that's what you leftists do, change the meaning of words to suit your moronic agenda.

No worries however, you'll still get to reassure yourself of your moral superiority because you "oppose torture."

But are utterly silent when it actually occurs.
10.22.2007 6:11pm
Guest101:

how about the difference between yanking somebody's tongue out and slapping their head/yelling at them/making them stand? is your moral compass so finely calibrated that you can't distinguish between them? why not give us the definition of torture you would apply?

I love it when ignorant Bushie apologists try to pass off torture techniques as no big deal. "Making them stand"? Want to talk about what happens to the human body when it's forced to remain in a standing position for lengthy periods of time?


Two experts commissioned by the CIA in 1956, Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle, described the effects of forced standing: The ankles and feet swell to twice their size within 24 hours, and moving becomes agonizing. Large blisters develop. The heart rate increases, and some people faint. The kidneys eventually shut down....

By the 1920s, forced standing was a routine police torture in America. In 1931, the National Commission on Lawless Enforcement of the Law found numerous American police departments using forced standing to coerce confessions. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin's NKVD used forced standing to coerce seemingly voluntary confessions for show trials....

In the mid-20th century, torturers learned how to use the swelling and blistering to cause more pain. The Chinese wrapped the feet in gauze, which squeezed painfully as the feet swelled. Brazilian police made prisoners stand on the edges of cans or bricks, causing excruciating pain to the feet. During apartheid in South Africa, forced standing was the third most common torture technique after beating and electricity....

But of course, it's no big deal as long as no organs are physically removed from the body, right? Just like a little dunk in the water-- a no-brainer.

God bless America.
10.22.2007 6:11pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
put republican all in caps because it shows that the dismissal wasn't politically motivated.

Right.

You're not a leftist. You're so convincing little girl.
Really, you are.

Why are you bothering?
Seriously, why waste your time?
10.22.2007 6:13pm
Guest101:
I neglected to post the link
for the above quote:
10.22.2007 6:14pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Large blisters develop. The heart rate increases, and some people faint

Hilarious.

Where were you busybodies when I was at Fort Benning?

Unreal.
Literally un-frickin-real.
10.22.2007 6:15pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
I neglected to post the link
for the above quote:


I love it that you think "blisters" are evidence of torture.

No wonder the jihadists are able to effectively funnel their message through dupes like you.

Again, you people are a joke.
10.22.2007 6:16pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
I love it when ignorant Bushie apologists try to pass off torture techniques as no big deal

Not only are the no big deal, I find it absolutely disgusting you'd compare this to what happened to people like John McCain to cite a singluar example.

Funny how you idiot leftists weren't too concerned with what happened to those baby killers back then, huh?

You people are sick.
10.22.2007 6:18pm
Guest101:
Ace,

Your keen abilities at selective quotation speak for themselves, and it's not clear to me why you haven't long since been banned. In any event, this is the last response you'll get from me, so take your pointless trolling elsewhere.
10.22.2007 6:18pm
Adam J:
Ace- For once you're are right, I should stop bothering, you're certainly not worth it.
10.22.2007 6:21pm
JohnThompson (mail):
David S: I love torturing terrorists. Is that bad? If so, why?
10.22.2007 6:21pm
ejo:
better yet, other than ping pong, what would you approve doing? would your methods get results? if not, what consequences are you willing to suffer (or impose on others) by inaction?
10.22.2007 6:36pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
and make no mistake we tried and convicted Nazis for waterboarding after WWII


I'd love to see a cite for this.


As would I. Unless . J. F. Thomas meant to say the “Japanese” rather than the “Nazis,” the only source I’ve found is an Andrew Sullivan piece trying to claim that the Bush administration is doing the same thing the Nazis were doing but (shocking) the documents he links to doesn’t say what he claims they said. Other people have linked to Sullivan’s smear piece, but most of them don’t seem to have bothered to actually double check his claims which you’d think someone who wasn’t predisposed to think the worst of the United States would have been sure to do before spreading these kinds of charges.

If he did mean the Japanese (and it was probably true for the Nazis as well), as has been pointed out numerous times on this site whenever water boarding is brought up, the term “water boarding” has been used to describe everything from putting a cloth over someone’s face and dripping water on it to give the sensation of drowning (which is what the United States is allegedly doing) without actually endangering them to strapping someone on a board and submerging them underwater to actually strapping someone down, putting a hose down their throat, filling their stomach with water, and then stomping on their belly until it bursts with is what the Japanese who were tried actually did.

There’s simply no comparison between what the United States is alleged to have done to detainees and what the Japanese did to Allied servicemen in WWII. Calling two very different things by the same name doesn’t make them the same thing no matter how much some might like to pretend otherwise.
10.22.2007 6:41pm
DJR:
Remarkable flame war. I would suggest, to those feeding the trolls, that you stop. They like it.
10.22.2007 6:48pm
pedro (mail):
Of course sleep deprivation can constitute torture. It may be slow, and initially rather painless, but the question is how long? You see, give a motivated and sadistic torturer a bit of leeway, and you'll be surprised how ingeniously he applies the most harmless-looking (to simpletons who think like this Ace troll here) technique into considerable torture: sure, lying strapped to a table does not sound as bad as being physically assaulted; but the length of time during which a person is subjected to a something is quite important in assessing just how bad the treatment is. Ask people who do know a visceral bit about torture--like Latin American suspects in the 70s and 80s--and many will describe fake executions as particularly harsh, even after enduring treatment that would have our right wing chickehawks singing in a heartbeat. Of course, the reason fake executions were so harsh is contextual, and the lesson of all of this is that simpletons who focus on comparing different techniques (dutifully ignoring length and context) have no clue what the heck they are talking about.
10.22.2007 6:56pm
Guest101:

if not, what consequences are you willing to suffer (or impose on others) by inaction?

Regrettably I'm on my way out right now, but this is a good point that I'd like to see opponents of the president's policies make more forcefully: adherence to principle comes with a price, in all cases. There is a social cost for maintaining the freedom of speech, and for due process, and there is a social cost for maintaining the moral high ground on torture. I get discouraged by all of the left-wing arguments that we shouldn't torture because it's ineffective, because prisoners make things up so as to make the torture end, etc. There may be some truth to that, but the notion that torture is completely ineffective at getting valuable information is highly implausible, and in any case, it's irrelevant. We don't refrain from torture because torture is ineffective; we refrain from torture because torture is evil. It is not the sort of thing that the United States, as a nation and a people, professes to believe in. Is there some possibility that refraining from the harshest possible interrogation techniques increases the risk that we may miss some key piece of information that would prevent another attack? Yes, there is-- so the risk of another successful attack on the U.S. is higher under an administration that refuses to apply such techniques than it is under one that does not. Personally I doubt that it's a lot higher, given the sophisticated and effective intelligence gathering techniques at our disposal that do not involve flagrant violations of human rights, but that's not the point. The point is that, beyond the vapid rhetoric favored by the president, maintaining the cultural values that we profess to respect in this country--identifying lines that we will not cross, no matter how expedient it may be to do so-- inevitably involves some opportunity cost. Opponents of the current administration's policies should acknowledge this more directly, and explain why that fact does not require capitulating to the demands of those who would subject terrorism suspects to any and all kinds of barbaric treatment for the sake of a little extra security. Unfortunately Congressional Democrats are prone to fainting spells any time someone even hints that they might be "weak on terror," so an honest discussion is unlikely to happen any time soon.

For the record, to preempt the inevitable ad hominems that will probably come anyway, I live in New York City and have done so since before 9/11, so when I say that I'm willing to accept some higher risk of a successful attack in exchange for maintaining the character and values that America purports, however inconsistently, to believe in, rest assured that I've a strong personal stake in that calculation.
10.22.2007 6:56pm
ejo:
which are the trolls? the ones that want to play ping pong with jihadists or the ones that are actually arguing about the issues and asking how far is too far?
10.22.2007 6:57pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Your keen abilities at selective quotation speak for themselves

Too funny.

Don't worry, your "response" is useless just like your silly definition of "torture."

I'd be embarrassed too. Run away.
10.22.2007 6:57pm
pedro (mail):
Wow-there goes that Winston fellow, following Ace's steps.
10.22.2007 6:58pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
We don't refrain from torture because torture is ineffective; we refrain from torture because torture is evil

Considering you don't know what torture actually is, this is a meaningless platitude. But that's really all your side has.

You're willing to allow people to die for "principles" which you can't even correctly define and in the end don't truly support anyway.

The party of partial birth abortion "opposes torture."
Parody.
10.22.2007 6:59pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Calling two very different things by the same name doesn’t make them the same thing no matter how much some might like to pretend otherwise

Exactly.
I find it interesting how the left does this endlessly.
10.22.2007 7:01pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
Of course, the reason fake executions were so harsh is contextual, and the lesson of all of this is that simpletons who focus on comparing different techniques (dutifully ignoring length and context) have no clue what the heck they are talking about.

Aw, isn't that cute, she even used "chickenhawk" too! What is even funnier is that you've never been in any branch of the military.

By the way idiot, cutting someone's tonuge out, for fun, is in no way comparable to making someone stand. No matter the duration.

Anyone saying different techniques are the same because of the duration doesn't know what the heck they are talking about.
10.22.2007 7:03pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
and there is a social cost for maintaining the moral high ground on torture.

Interesting coming from the crowd redefining the term and actually allowing our enemies to use it for propoganda purposes.
In other words, you and your ilk have cost the United States a lot by lying.
Intentionally lying that is.
10.22.2007 7:06pm
pedro (mail):
Actually, "genius", if you are strapped to a table for too long, you're bound to lose a leg or worse. Which may or may not be torture by your idiotic lights. But to ignore duration, as you constantly do, betrays utter lack of intelligence, not to mention decency.
10.22.2007 7:08pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You've never been in the military. You've never been in the CIA. You've never been in the FBI.

True, I haven't. But I do know that the uniformed military has explicitly rejected the techniques (specifically stating that they are unnecessary, counterproductive, damaging to morale and the reputation of both the military and the nation) that you seem enamored of in the new (implemented just last year) Field Manual on Interrogation. So I think I am on pretty solid ground when I say that the military wants nothing to do with these techniques.

And if you don't believe these techniques are torture, find one government agency anywhere that claims waterboarding or prolonged stress positions and sleep deprivation are acceptable interrogation techniques.
10.22.2007 8:16pm
The Ace (mail) (www):
find one government agency anywhere that claims waterboarding or prolonged stress positions and sleep deprivation are acceptable interrogation techniques.

Too funny.

You don't read much, do you?
Ever hear of the word "classified"?

For example:

More than two dozen current and former officials involved in counterterrorism were interviewed over the past three months about the opinions and the deliberations on interrogation policy. Most officials would speak only on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the documents and the C.I.A. detention operations they govern.


So basically you're arguing that since the government doesn't reveal top secret information any techniques you don't approve of are "torture."

Intellectually dishonest much?
10.22.2007 9:44pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Intellectually dishonest much?

Really? It's a simple question that has been asked many times and the government will not answer. It does not require revealing any secrets or interrogation techniques.

The question is: "Is waterboarding torture?"

The administration will not answer this question because they know if they answer in a way that doesn't make Bush a liar (we don't torture) they will be the laughingstock (or pariah) of the world.
10.22.2007 10:16pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. THomas. I'm not okay with selling arms to Iran. I'm not not okay with selling arms to Iran. (If it were me, each weapon would have this leetle bitty glitch inserted. What kind would depend on how much beer my fellow planners and I had had. We have no idea if that had happened, but we do know that such things have been done--trigger mechanism sold to Iran--or contemplated--booby-trapped explosives used to sucker jihadis nixed by JAG??--and so it is likely. In addition, they were second string which have done nobody any good.) To come to a conclusion about what I think when I point out that Walsh couldn't get an indictment is kind of strange, don't you think? It would be more accurate, with your logic, to say that it's Walsh who was okay with the sales since he didn't bother to prosecute anybody for it.
And the money to the contras was not illegal. Only allocated funds were forbidden. The money to the contras was not allocated funds. Therefore, it was not forbidden. Not illegal, in other words.
10.22.2007 10:38pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Perhaps we can discuss the newspaper article to which Prof. Adler linked or is making ad hominem attacks on people's political imagined political ideologies more fun?

I read the article and I think its main point is that "rendition" may not be bad in all circumstances. But, I think a main problem with the article is that the author overstates the "myths." For example, "Step one of a rendition is kidnapping the suspect." I guess that depends on the definition of kidnapping. If "kidnapping" means the forceful abduction of a person through unlawful means, I am not sure why this is a myth. If it means holding someone for ransom, then yes it likely is a myth.

Maybe the author believes it is a gray area when a government's executive authority, e.g. Pakistan, simply hands over someone to US agents without obtaining the person 's consent, or without going through the country's established legal channels, and the country does this for "political" reasons. I am not sure this makes the "rendition" so gray. It is probably illegal for Pakistan to do this, just as it would be illegal for the US to do something similar at Pakistan's request.

Of course, being illegal doesn't mean that we shouldn't do something, but at least we should have an honest debate about the risks and costs of engaging in such conduct.
10.22.2007 10:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
C. Cooke.

Agreed. We need to stop the moral preening done as if the other side is unreservedly evil (if it's Bush), and discuss the costs of the moral preening.

In my experience, most people who find they'll be paying the price for somebody else's moral preening get kind of hostile. Maybe that's why moral preeners don't like to be questioned.
10.22.2007 10:42pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Ace:
By the way, I just love the black and white from the party of nuance!

Remember folks, nuance is good.
Until silly leftists proclaim otherwise.


Exactly what is it that my firm belief that All Humans are Endowed At Birth By That Which They Perceive As The Force of Creation, With Inalieanble Rights, makes me a "leftist", and if this is true, what kind of lowlifes are "rightists"?

You equate my opposition to acts by my government that are reprehensible, and without doubt, Unconstitutional, as being "Leftist". This proves what? That Contemporary Conservatism needs to be drowned in the foul pit of moral relativism that it wallows in?

It might be better if you were to reflect upon an old adage, and expound upon it a bit: A woman scorned...

I have never been a registered Democrat in my life, and am now into my fourth decade of voting. Still, if this intransigence and unwillingness to face personal responsibility continues within the RNCC, then I will quite happily aid in the Party being tossed into the dustbin of history with the Whigs.
10.23.2007 11:42am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I dunno, Knight, if you've been following this.

The most recent iteration of ex rending was started by the Clinton administration. With no adverse effects on the dems once the info was out. The info was out early--so some could claim they opposed it even when Clinton was doing it. The info was kept secret until recently so those who didn't oppose it when Clinton was doing it could say they would have if they'd known.

But now it's out and it's the repubs you reproach. Seems the dems should be further along the road to dustbin city.
10.23.2007 12:14pm
ejo:
I'm sorry, but if you mouth left wing talking points and focus your ire on Bush with not a mention of our enemies, you might be a leftist (with all due apologies to Jeff Foxworthy). I again ask but do not expect an answer to my question of what you would do. what conduct would you find appropriate? I recall outrage about a female interrogator using faux menstrual blood to mess with the mind of a terrorist-it was insensitive to muslims. would that fit your definition of torture as well? how many people would you willingly sacrifice to stop using tactics which have worked-give us a ballpark number of the price you are willing to let others pay.
10.23.2007 12:55pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Mr. Aubrey,

Do Two Wrongs Make a Righty?

Have I defended Clinton? I did not vote for him to be President. There was once the thrust that Clinton was too soft in the methods he planned for renditions and capture of Osama bin Laden. This was a point made by Michael Scheuer. Don't start twisting in the wind here. It can't be both ways, now can it?

I do think much of Clinton. Mainly because anyone who would give up their personal honour to lie about an act of consensual sex, has no personal honour of value. Still, his Presidency is past, and we must now deal with what is present.

All humans possess their natural rights, and this extends even unto our enemies. To forget this is to assure that our own rights will be taken in illegitimate actions by a leviathan gone wild.

"An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

Thomas Paine, "Dissertations on First Principles of Government", 1795
10.23.2007 1:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
how many people would you willingly sacrifice to stop using tactics which have worked-give us a ballpark number of the price you are willing to let others pay.

Well first off, we only have the word of the president that these tactics have actually saved lives. And I for one am unwilling to take him at his word.

What is the line where torture begins? I don't know. What I do know that if we have reached that line we have already strayed to far (not just in an ethical sense but in a legal sense). I think that the government should adopt the Army Field Manual on Interrogation as the standard for treating detainees under all circumstances. The uniformed military, which deals with these kinds of issues every day, and has real "ticking timebomb" scenarios to deal with, has weighed the pros and cons and 60 plus years of experience and decided to stick with methods they think are most effective yet maintain the high standards, dignity and morality of the United States.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on why you think the military doesn't know what the hell they are doing.
10.23.2007 1:43pm
ejo:
wait a second now, isn't this military the same one that our favorite left wing senators have compared to the worst excesses of Pol Pot and the Gestapo? now you are saying to follow their lead? does the cognitive dissonance you engage in ever make you dizzy? and, further, you still haven't answered the question of who/how many you would sacrifice. I recall someone on another thread who indicated they would happily sacrifice a division just so long as the government isn't allowed to wiretap phones in an emergency situation-that poster at least gave a body count. why not do the same.
10.23.2007 2:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J. F. Do you know for sure if the military doctrine on interrogation assures us it's cost-free?
10.23.2007 2:36pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
wait a second now, isn't this military the same one that our favorite left wing senators have compared to the worst excesses of Pol Pot and the Gestapo? now you are saying to follow their lead?

Those comparisons (and they were never to the worst excesses) were made specifically because the civilian leadership of the Pentagon ordered that the rules established by the Army Field Manual be ignored. In fact while the new manual was being written there was considerable pressure from the administration to allow for more aggressive interrogation techniques. The uniformed military, in a direct rebuke to the civilian leadership and the administration, left the Army Field Manual (which is used as the guide for all branches) unchanged in its standard of treatment for detainees.

Read the Army Field Manual--especially the introduction. You might learn something about honor and the ideals that make this country great.

As for your question as to how many I would sacrifice. I will answer that with another question. What is freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and the principles this country is founded on worth? How many lives? This country has lost a little less than a million men in all its wars, but other countries have sacrificed much more. England lost a million and a half, France 4 million and Russian maybe more than 25 million in two World Wars. If we torture, suspend habeas corpus, set up secret prisons, imprison people without access to lawyers or any kind of process or oversight and they just disappear from the face of the earth, then what kind of society are we defending? How many innocent people are you willing to turn over to third countries to torture or kill, assasinate, or lock up and torture in our own secret prisons in order to capture or kill terrorists?
10.23.2007 2:51pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
J. F. Do you know for sure if the military doctrine on interrogation assures us it's cost-free?

Of course nothing is cost free. What makes you think the CIA policy on interrogation (whatever that may be) is cost free? Just the perception of the program has certainly made cooperation with our closest allies in Western Europe and Canada much more problematic.
10.23.2007 2:55pm
ejo:
ah, you won't answer the question-you simply refuse to acknowledge that there may be costs and you won't put a price tag on your moral certainty. as to what freedom, democracy and everything else mentioned is worth, they are worth a lot-to defend the principles this country is founded on, we have had to do lots of bad things (ie. kill people quite brutally). one difference between the past and the present is that, to a large number of people of the left, we aren't worth it-we are no better than the enemy. is our current society more just than the one that existed in the 1930's and 1040's. in many ways, the answer is yes. were we worth defending then-I would say so, perhaps you differ in your opinion. were we absolutely morally pristine-no, but neither were the evils we had to defeat, something lost to many, and perhaps even you.
10.23.2007 3:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
one difference between the past and the present is that, to a large number of people of the left, we aren't worth it-we are no better than the enemy.

I merely want to make sure that we remain better than the enemy. Is that too much to ask? And I notice you won't answer my questions either and haven't indicated what fault you find with the Army Field Manual.
10.23.2007 3:25pm
Guest101:
ejo,

Neither J.F. Thomas nor, to the extent I've added anything to this conversation, I, have ever "refuse[d] to acknowledge" that there may be costs. To the contrary, J.F. Thomas's 1:51 post acknowledges quite eloquently that there are costs. You're not listening. The point is that the costs of maintaining American ideals, of refusing to sink to the lowest denominator of our enemies, are worth the risk-- they must be, if this nation is worth preserving at all. Your recurrent question about "price tags" is simply nonsensical. How many lives is due process worth? Freedom of the press? How about the right to bear arms, if that one lies closer to your heart? There must be a line somewhere beyond which it is simply not practical to maintain those values, but no one has ever suggested that it must be quantified to some arbitrary number of significant digits in order for concern with those liberties to be valid. The same is true with endorsing torture. Wherever the line lies, whatever the cost may be at which the benefits of abandoning our fundamental values as a people would outweigh the costs, we are nowhere near it.
10.23.2007 3:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J. F. Good. Then you wouldn't mind a discussion of costs. Most folks on the don't annoy them side either avoid the topic altogether or deny the costs.
Somebody asked about fake menstrual blood. Is that forbidden?

Problem with immediate tactical intel--you interrogate a private you just caught--is that it gets old very fast. And most line guys don't know enough beyond that to be worth interrogation. It's only when they get to the rear and what they know can be correlated, or not, with other stuff that it may or may not be useful.

We know one cost. The SEALs' decision (see Luttrell "Lone Survivor") not to kill a couple of Afghan goat herders cost eighteen Americans their lives. Wherever you come down on this, the cost is not trivial, nor is it spread among the faceless so the disputants in an argument don't have to worry so much. In addition to those men and their families paying the cost, there is the opportunity cost. Those guys will no longer be fighting for us.

ejo is right in one sense. Too many people think, with a superior smirk, that we're no better than anybody else. Things have changed.


Knight. When Clinton's presidency was not in the past, everybody had the same opportunity to condemn rendition. Most avoided the chance. But, if it's so bad, how come the dems aren't on the road to dustbin city? Having had a head start and all.
10.23.2007 3:33pm
ejo:
draw the line then-slaps to the head=how many lives? not killing the afghans due to potential repercussions and Jack Murtha calling you a murderer=18 lives. you make the call and draw that line. how about a million lives in the ticking time bomb scenario-these decisions start to get pretty serious when you talk real lives. I guess that's as good a reason to avoid the question as any.
10.23.2007 3:50pm
Guest101:
ejo,

Do you ever bother to read responses, rather than going off on the same rant without really responding to anything that was said? Go read what I said again about how putting a number on the value of maintaining the principles that purportedly make this nation great is simply absurd. The point is that the threat posed by modern terrorists does not come close to being sufficiently great to warrant our sinking to their level. Wherever the line may be, eighteen American lives, however unfortunate that loss may be, is not remotely close to a justification for abandoning our supposedly strong principles against killing presumptively innocent civilians. It baffles me how ready some on the right seem to be to throw away the very values and principles that Bush is so fond of trotting out as evidence that America is superior to most of the rest of the world, while simultaneously insisting on that same superiority. If you want to believe that the United States of America maintains a moral high ground against the murderers and terrorists of the world, then you have to accept that we live by the principles that we profess, even at the cost of some personal sacrifice.
10.23.2007 3:58pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
We know one cost. The SEALs' decision (see Luttrell "Lone Survivor") not to kill a couple of Afghan goat herders cost eighteen Americans their lives.

We also know that they made the absolutely right decision (and is there any real evidence that those goat herders are the ones who revealed the SEALs' position). And from a strategic standpoint, maybe lives were saved by those brave SEALs actions because the humanity of the American soldiers will be remembered and hostility to the allies decreased.
10.23.2007 4:06pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
ejo, I've already drawn the line. It's there in the Army Field Manual. I would like to know where you draw the line. Apparently you have none at all.
10.23.2007 4:12pm
ejo:
I read responses-you won't draw any lines. it is easier to preen and play the holier than thou game. It's the army field manual isn't a response to the simple question-what would you do? what is too far? guest101 is even better, offering only platitudes. we had ideals and were a great country in the 1940's-we still did very bad things back then to win an ugly war. innocent civilians were killed. we didn't take prisoners during some of the uglier battles. obviously, under the moral view you offer, it would have been better to have lost and been pristine, right?
10.23.2007 4:28pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It's the army field manual isn't a response to the simple question-what would you do?

Of course it is not a simple question. Pretending it is doesn't make it so. That is why I leave it up to the professionals in the uniformed military to set what I think is an appropriate set of guidelines. The document is available on line. Google it. It draws clear lines on appropriate interrogation techniques that I think are reasonable.
10.23.2007 4:49pm
ejo:
The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor. condoned by the US Government.

the above is from the AFM. I would disagree that the supposedly prohibited insults or exposure to unpleasant or inhumane treatment are not authorized by the Government. In fact, reading the words, it sounds like the same platitudes offered here. Again, with Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, it sounds like we used these tactics and then, when they didn't work, we got rough and got the information. my guess is the manual and the real world seldom meet one another.
10.23.2007 5:07pm
Guest101:
ejo,

I don't know why you say that I've offered only platitudes, nor have you explained your basis for believing so. I don't know what else to tell you. What lines would you like to draw? The risk posed by our terrorist enemies simply does not justify engaging in acts of torture or random murder. It does not even come close, and the fact that some Americans may die as the result of that is the inevitable consequence of maintaining the values that we like to think separate us from our enemies. I don't see how you've responded to any of this. The WW II analogy is particularly telling-- do you really think that al Qaeda poses the same level of threat to the United States that the Axis did?
10.23.2007 5:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. Got any information that anybody in the entire freakin' world cared a lick that we spent eighteen guys to save a couple of goat-herders?
More likely, they think it means we're weak. Any time they can throw a couple of civilians in to the mix, we lose.
Not everybody thinks like us. See your nearest multi-culti if you don't believe me.
10.23.2007 5:19pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And you are 100% wrong about WWII. Especially in Europe, it was our almost universal exemplary treatment of enemy soldiers that saved tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lives (both Allied and Axis). Just compare the number of soldiers killed and captured on the western front with that in the east from D-Day until the end of the war. Up until the very last week of the war with Germany, German units were trying to break through the Russian lines just so they could surrender to the Americans. The Russians probably lost more men in the battle of Berlin than the Western Allies did in the entire European Campaign.

Germans on the East Front fought to the death, they were willing to surrender in the west. Hitler was so concerned about the mass surrender of soldiers to the Americans and British that he contemplated killing his Allied POWs, hoping that it would lead to retaliations against German POWs and make his soldiers less likely to surrender. Luckily, his staff talked him out of that.
10.23.2007 5:21pm
ejo:
Glad to be 100% wrong. I guess I dreamed we bombed cities full of civilians (not to mention an incident I must have dreamed up in Japan where we did the same thing). Also, I don't think the Russians were taking prisoners-surrender wasn't an option to those soldiers. If we were wrong to bomb those civilians then, why did we deserve to win that war? would you have preferred the alternative?

as to Guest101, you are still peddling the equivalency that I don't accept. Do I think our current enemies pose the same danger-they are currently not as powerful but, morally, I think they are no different, just as evil and likely even less civilized than our WWII enemies. Put a nuke in their hands and then tell me how weak they are. Have we sunk to their level, apparently your only concern-I guess if you believe we are randomly murdering people and grabbing innocent goatherds for transit to Gitmo, nothing I say will change your views.
10.23.2007 5:56pm
Guest101:

Do I think our current enemies pose the same danger-they are currently not as powerful but, morally, I think they are no different, just as evil and likely even less civilized than our WWII enemies.

Again, this is telling-- maybe today's terrorists are morally no better than Nazis, but why should that matter? Why should the moral standing of our opponent grant us license to abandon our own principles? Again, why should we sink to their level? This is a much different argument from what you've been making thus far. You seem to have been arguing previously that torture is necessary to save ourselves from the threat posed by the terrorists, but when I point out that the threat posed by al Qaeda is substantially less than that posed by the Axis Powers (or, say, the Soviet Union during the Cold War), you fall back on this moral equivalency argument that has nothing to do with relative risk but seems to assume that we can do whatever we want to "bad" people. Even if national survival might, in an extreme WW II-like situation, be sufficient to justify, or perhaps only excuse, some deviation from our professed norms of civilized behavior (and I wouldn't necessarily give the U.S. a moral pass on Dresden or Hiroshima, but let's leave that aside for now), surely the fact that our enemies are less morally upright people than ourselves is never itself sufficient to justify sinking to exactly the kind of behavior that we hold makes them morally odious in the first place?
10.23.2007 6:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guest. You are dodging the question, but since everybody else does, I guess you're excused.

Point about the moral rottenness of our adversaries is not that it's an excuse for us to sink to their level.

It means they do things which are extraordinarily difficult to combat without sinking to that level.

It's one thing to threaten a man. But how about threatening his family? The Mafia uses that technique quite well.

Gresham's law--modified--tells us that bad behavior chases out good behavior. See what being civilized does for you among a bunch of drunks at a football game. Nothing. You either put up with it or leave. Or you get ugly and take it to them.

Same is true in our current circumstances.

That's exacerbated by people who, as a matter of BDS, haul in unpleasantness like fake menstrual blood, dope slap, wrapping in an Israeli flag, and yelling as "torture" in order to punch up the numbers. It's like any activist. The Koss study of rape at Duke called any groping--no matter how quickly ended and apologized for-- rape. Domestic violence is leaving the room and slamming a door. I've had "homeless" presented to me in the person of a woman living with her children. But Reagan was president then, so you could expect that. That bullshit, I mean.
Ya do what ya have to do to punch up the numbers. Unfortunately, the gullible believe that's an accurate picture and the activists keep pushing it.

My point remains. The huge majority of the reproaches about rendition are partisan. It was just fine when Clinton was doing it and when the next dem becomes president, the complaints will disappear just as quickly as the homeless got homed when Clinton was elected.
10.23.2007 9:40pm
Michael B (mail):
Andre Glucksman puts a great deal in perspective in City Journal, representing, in general but still very lucid terms, what it is that needs to be brought into a full field of vision, into full perspective. In some respects Glucksman's approach is the only way it can be described, the only way it can be approached in more cogent and accesible terms.

The what and the how of it are obviously debateable, if within the range Glucksman describes, but moralistic preening and reductive partisamship are not answers; yet the left and leftish leaning has those qualities on display in this thread in abundance. Shocked, ...
10.23.2007 10:53pm
Guest101:
Richard,

A couple of things. I really don't care what Clinton did. I was in high school when Clinton was elected, I didn't follow politics particularly closely at the time, and I don't remember hearing anything about rendition. If I had, I no doubt would have criticized him earnestly, but since I was a devout dittohead at the time, I would have likely done so at the urging of Limbaugh and his compatriots, so I'm not sure how that affects your argument. That aside, it's a ridiculous argument. I have no idea if Clinton's actions were public at the time or not, there seems to be some debate about that, but your reliance on conjectural arguments about what you assume your opponents would have said or done about another administration's practices a decade ago is engaging in the very kind of evasiveness that you accuse me of. I'm quite ready to apply everything I've said in this thread to any administration, Republican, Democratic, or otherwise, so can we drop the "Clinton did it!" tu quoque?

I'm also not particularly concerned about menstrual blood and other borderline cases. However we define torture, there are going to be borderline cases. That's a boring point that any first-year law student ought to understand; it arises from the innate imprecision of language. Does that mean that we can't say in any case what is torture and what isn't, that the term has no clear meaning whatsoever? No, it doesn't, and things like waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and forced standing for periods of time sufficient to inflict serious physical or psychological injury qualify under any reasonable interpretation. Ah ha, you say, "reasonable" is a wiggle word that leaves room for disagreement. Yes, within the limits of good faith; I fail to see how anyone could look objectively at the results caused by the some of the interrogation procedures alleged to be currently in use by the United States and argue in good faith that they are borderline cases. The fact that terms can be defined in bullshit ways, as in your examples, hardly changes that point. You seem to want to get a lot of mileage out of the innate ambiguity of language, but stretching that point to the lengths you seem to want to go would entail abandoning the rule of law altogether.

I'll reiterate my primary point, while noting that I still don't see how I'm being evasive about anything: if we want to believe, as we all have been taught since birth, that the United States enjoys a unique position as a moral leader in the world, that requires that the U.S. make sacrifices for the sake of the principles that we claim to hold dear. I believe those principles, and the credibility and respectability of the United States in the international community, are well worth eighteen American lives. They are worth the 3,000 or so lives lost on September 11. They are worth many more than that, should it come to that point— and as I write this from my New York City apartment, rest assured that I have as much of a stake in national security as anyone.

A couple of specific responses:

It means they do things which are extraordinarily difficult to combat without sinking to that level.

This gets back to my earlier point about how much of a threat al Qaeda actually poses. Mitt Romney would have us believe that Islamic terrorism is the greatest threat that has ever faced this nation. That is baloney. Al Qaeda pales in comparison to the Axis Powers, to the Soviet Union, to the Confederacy, or to the British Empire in the eighteenth century. I simply do not believe that a few madmen living in caves have the potential to bring the greatest nation on Earth to its knees— unless we do it for them. Sinking to their level is not a sign of our strength; it is a sign of weakness and paranoia, and it simply encourages them by demonstrating how fragile the facade of America's committment to decency really is when our rhetoric must be backed up by action and personal sacrifice.



It's one thing to threaten a man. But how about threatening his family? The Mafia uses that technique quite well.

So does the FBI, if Abdallah Higazy's experience is any indication.
10.23.2007 11:16pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Mr. Aubrey,

I admit that I was unaware of the Clinton Administration renditions when he was President. Had I known then, I would have been a vocal opponent of them. Still, the use of them as a justification for the Bush Administration's much more frequent and aggressive use of renditions strikes me as being disingenuous, as many of these same defenders of Mr. Bush's unlawful policies have in the past pointed accusatorial fingers at Clinton for his being too inclined to be human rights minded.

Mansoor Ijaz has stated that Clinton passed up an opportunity to get bin Laden from the Sudanese government. This has been used time and time again to portray Clinton as the cause for 911.

What I've seen of Clinton's reasons for not accepting the Sudanese offer was that the Saudi government refused to take bin Laden, and that Clinton did not at that time have a lawful reason to arrest bin Laden.

(See Larry King, September 3, 2002 and June 27, 2004)

Michael Scheuer has also intimated that it was out of concerns for bin Laden's natural rights that interfered with his being captured by the Clinton Administration:

"When we were going to capture Osama bin Laden, for example, the lawyers were more concerned with bin Laden‘s safety and his comfort than they were with the officers charged with capturing him. We had to build an ergonomically designed chair to put him in, special comfort in terms of how he was shackled into the chair. They even worried about what kind of tape to gag him with so it wouldn‘t irritate his beard. The lawyers are the bane of the intelligence community."

Michael Scheuer, Hardball with Chris Matthews, August 18, 2005


I have no horse in this idiotic race. If it were up to me, I'd have both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush facing the bar for their acts of tyranny.

Still again I ask:
Do Two Wrongs Make A Righty?
10.24.2007 12:12am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guest and Knight. Two wrongs making a right is not the issue.
The issue is that failing to complain about, in this case, Clinton's renditions and complaining about Bush's means you have no principle. So the rest of us are relieved of having to pretend to argue with you as if you did.
Now, suppose the info wasn't public knowledge. Does that excuse you? Okay. But it calls into question the media who are supposed to be telling you this stuff. They should have been on this like ugly on a hog. But they conveniently kept Clinton's secrets for him. How about leaks from, say, the CIA. Should have happened. Didn't. How come?
There is no good answer to the double standard. The only way you can skate on this is to condemn other institutions which have been lying to cover up Clinton's renditions. And that ought to get some concern from you, which it clearly does not.
If you're too young to remember Clinton's term very well, you're too young to recall that, upon Clinton's first inaugural, three million homeless suddenly found themselves with accomodations. The idea that this or any contentious issue is a matter of principle independent of which party is in power is utter nonsense.

And I don't use Clinton's renditions as justification. I am not talking about justification pro or con. I am talking about the obvious lack of principle in people who just figured out renditions are a bad idea when Bush was elected.
10.24.2007 12:29am
Guest101:
Richard,

Seriously, is this the best you can do? Critics of the Bush administrations harsh interrogation tactics are "unprincipled" because no one in the CIA leaked information about Clinton's use of renditions to the media ten or fifteen years ago? And anyone who's willing, today, to say that if Clinton did the same thing, it was wrong for him too, are still hypocrites because... well, because you say so, apparently, and because you refuse to believe that any concern about this administration's tactics are anything more than mere partisanship? Please. This has devolved to the point of near-incoherence. You're right-- I'm not nearly as concerned about what Bill Clinton did ten years ago as I am about what George W. Bush is doing today, and what he will do tomorrow. If that makes me a hypocrite in your eyes, then so be it. You're right, though-- nothing you've said so far has any bearing whatsoever on the substance of the issue at hand-- the propriety of extraordinary rendition and the use of torture against terrorism suspects. It's nice that you can at least concede that your ad hominems are nothing more than a red herring.
10.24.2007 11:28am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guest.

You missed the next step.
When a dem is elected, the complaints about the renditions will go away while the renditions themselves continue.
So the past--Clinton--is not merely a lesson, it's a picture of the future. Presuming a dem is elected.
And then we will see who was interested in those rendered and who was interested in partisan advantages.
I rather expect something else will have caught your attention.
Dismissing the past because it's the past is also kind of selective, isn't it?
10.24.2007 12:43pm
davod (mail):
The Allies (in the West) did look after military prisoners, treating them as prisoners of war under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

Those caught fighting out of uniform were not considered miltary prisoners and could be and were executed.
10.24.2007 12:46pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
davod.
To include those fighting in the wrong uniform.
10.24.2007 1:01pm
Guest101:
Richard,

Your argument-by-conjecture is completely absurd. "You wouldn't see anything wrong with it if it were a Democrat!" You don't know what I would or wouldn't do under other circumstances; I've told you, several times, that I would feel the same way about this practice regardless of who was doing it, but you simply refuse to accept that and insist with no basis whatsoever that I'm just lying. It's ridiculous. How about we focus on the merits of the practice as it currently exists instead of this frolic and detour into layers of hypotheticals for the sake of proving some kind of inconsistency that just isn't there?


Dismissing the past because it's the past is also kind of selective, isn't it?

No, it really isn't. All sorts of mistakes were made in the past which, while unfortunate, can't be corrected at this point. Are you seriously maintaining that criticism of present policy is no more compelling than picking over the errors of the past? By that logic, I haven't seen you vocally decrying the practice of slavery in this thread-- you inveterate racist. When was the last time you took a vocal stand against human sacrifice in the Aztec Empire? Are we to infer from that that you approve of such practices?

Seriously, your point is nonsensical. All kinds of bad things happened in the past, which should be acknowledged but are hardly qualitatively equal to criticism directed at avoiding present and future abuses that will occur pursuant to a set of policies that is currently in place. Your suggestion that it is "selective" to criticize present practices without in the same breath acknowledging every bad thing that has ever happened is just ridiculous. As I've said before, if Clinton did what Bush is doing, Clinton was wrong. If Clinton II continues the policies of the present administration, I'll oppose that too. None of that changes the fact that this president has approved practices that are in use today that are morally abhorrent and a flagrant abandonment of the principles and values that the United States professes to embrace. And if the best you can come up with in response to that is that other presidents have in the past also done bad things, then you really have no argument at all.
10.24.2007 3:54pm
davod (mail):
Rendition is only a problem because Bush is a Republican. We would not know anything about this if he was a Democrat. And, I hasten to add, most of those pontificating here would be praising the benefits of such a program.

I am not questioning your tuthfulness, just your politics.
10.25.2007 1:48pm
davod (mail):
Truthfullness.
10.25.2007 1:49pm