Saturday, May 9, 2009

They're Baaack. . . .

Recently, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration would likely bring back the controversial military commissions in order to prosecute terrorism suspects. During the Bush administration, the commissions generated a lot heat among civil libertarians in the United States and abroad.

As a Senator, Obama voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and he successfully campaigned on the promise that he would would restore the image of the United States in the international community. Many liberals view the Bush administration's denial of basic civil rights as one of the greatest blemishes on the image of the United States.

During his campaign, President Obama criticized the use of military commissions, rather than federal courts, to prosecute terrorism suspects. When he first took office, President Obama issued a series of executive orders, including one that imposed a 120-day stay on all proceedings in military tribunals while a task force studied and developed alternatives to the existing process.

Today, additional news sources confirm that the Obama administration will "stay the course" and utilize military tribunals, rather than federal courts, to prosecute accused terrorists. According to the Washington Post the government will reform the rules of the military commissions in order to provide greater procedural rights to defendants:
The [new] rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys.
Nonetheless, until the government provides specific details, it is unclear whether these proposed changes will substantially alter the military commissions process as it existed in the Bush administration. Many critics argue that the government prefers military courts because the procedural rules strongly favor prosecutors. If this is true, then the Obama administration is likely using the controversial courts for the exact same reason as President Bush. The admission of hearsay evidence is extremely problematic because it allows the government to introduce damning statements into evidence, which the defendant cannot cross-exam (because the person who made the statement is not testifying). Accordingly, some civil liberties groups have vowed to sue.

Closing Statement
In a prior blog post on this subject, I summarized the policies that Obama has pursued, but which liberals passionately criticized during the Bush administration. I have reprinted that list below, with an obvious modification.

The Obama administration has embraced many of the same positions that liberals and Obama himself criticized during the Bush administration. For example:

* Obama and members of his administration have embraced the use of rendition. Many of Obama's most ardent defenders blasted progressives who criticized Obama on rendition as jumping the gun. Today, their arguments look even more problematic than in the past.

* Obama has invoked the maligned "state secrets" defense as a complete bar to lawsuits challenging potential human rights and constitutional law violations.

* Obama has argued that detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan do not qualify for habeas corpus rights, even though many of the detainees at the facility were not captured in the war or in Afghanistan.

* Even though it no longer uses the phrase "enemy combatants," the Obama administration has taken the position that the government can indefinitely detain individuals, whether or not they engaged in torture and whether or not they fought the United States on the "battlefield." This logic combined with the denial of habeas to detainees in Afghanistan could make Bagram the functional equivalent of Guantanamo Bay.

* Now, it is clear that the Obama administration will use a "kinder, gentler" military commissions process to prosecute terrorism suspects -- despite liberal condemnation of the proceedings during the Bush administration and the curtailment of due process that this decision will naturally involve.

It remains unclear, however, whether these contradictions will erode any of Obama's political support. Despite his blatant departure from some of the most important progressive issues that defined his campaign, most liberals remain quite pleased with Obama's performance.

Other recent postings:

Hatchet Job: Jeffrey Rosen's Utterly Bankrupt Analysis of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Rosen Defends His Misreading of a Judicial Footnote: Says Judge Winter's Writing "Not a Model of Clarity"

Scalia v. Sotomayor: The Use of Gender-Coded Language to Evaluate a Judge's "Temperament"

Earth to Orrin Hatch: Even Conservative Judges Make Policy!

34 comments:

gcotharn said...

Some on the left remain pleased with Obama's performance b/c their criticism of GWB was always about gaining political advantage, and was never about morality and ethics.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rendition

Do you suspect the Bush Admin attempt to set moral parameters for enhanced interrogation was an attempt to reduce or eliminate the immoral practice of rendition? Do you suspect enhanced interrogation succeeded in reducing or eliminating rendition?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Military Commissions

Do you see ways in which military commissions are more just than civilian courts? Either specifically and/or in totality?

James H said...

Shocking!! Not really

Linked

http://opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com/2009/05/military-tribunals-are-good-again.html

Anonymous said...

"Do you suspect the Bush Admin attempt to set moral parameters for enhanced interrogation was an attempt to reduce or eliminate the immoral practice of rendition?"

How could you?
There's nothing immoral about rendition. What was immoral was that it was used to arrange the torture or detainees by third parties. The "reduction" in immoral practices you talk about involved the US taking over that role of torturer. Nothing in their policies seeked to avoid this outcome and they were in fact working overtime to justify it.
So why would anyone suspect this?

gcotharn said...

Anonymous,

Do you suspect the treatment of prisoners under the Bush Admin "enhanced interrogation" program was as harsh as the treatment of prisoners when the Clinton Admin rendered them to the Egyptian intelligence service?

We can argue about where the line is crossed between interrogation and torture. However, I say the Bush Admin deserves some points for trying to correct the immorality of the rendition program. If the Bush Admin had not attempted to address the ethical question of what constitutes torture, then we would not now be having this conversation about what is and is not torture.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

gcotharn: I do not believe Bush was trying to establish "moral" parameters for enhanced interrogations. Instead, I believe he was trying to create legal and political analysis that made his conduct acceptable. I am not sure that enhanced interrogation prevented rendition. The Bush administration denied ever using rendition for the purposes of torture, so if I take the administration as operating in good faith, then rendition and enhanced interrogation are unrelated.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Darren Lenard Hutchinson, et al.
RE: And You....

...didn't see this coming?

How very odd.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Where there is no religion, hypocrisy becomes good taste....and good politics.]

TMLutas said...

The baseline problem is that Al Queda is a military organization that, as a matter of policy, bases their military strategy on committing war crimes. Just for a start, they deliberately blend in with civilians in order to maximize civilian casualties and they do not wear uniforms in order to maximize civilian casualties. That's even before examining the more controversial stuff like their habit of desecrating our dead or using power tools in interrogations in ways abhorrent to the manufacturer.

To keep the laws of war viable, you have to punish that sort of behavior in ways that dissuade Al Queda from further pursuing this war crime as policy strategy. So far, no punitive efforts have led to Al Queda to refrain from arranging for women to be raped so that they can be recruited as suicide bombers. So far none of our efforts have stopped their use of the mentally ill as munitions deployment vehicles. To fix that sort of behavior, we're going to have to become much more creative.

But this isn't happening. Instead we're steadily improving our treatment of their captives while they continue merrily along committing war crimes on a daily basis to the point where our JAG units have given up prosecuting them because they are overwhelmed.

We're obsessed with the mote in the US' eye and ignoring the beam in Al Queda's eye. Acting in this way is not conducive to us winning and it doesn't even satisfy our obligations under the Geneva Conventions which include obligations to put the hurt on barbaric behavior like Al Queda uses to pursue their war against us infidels.

mwalimu_d said...

Despite his blatant departure from some of the most important progressive issues that defined his campaign, most liberals remain quite pleased with Obama's performance.This is to be expected. Rendition and “torture” were never serious issues with the media and their Democrat pets. It was public posturing designed for political gain - nothing more. The discovery that Pelosi and other Democrats knew about these things and did not object have put a crimp in Obama’s plans to prosecute Bush administration officials, but that is a minor bump in the road.

Liberals are pleased with Obama because they know he is with them on a number of more important issues - government control of the economy, nationalizing the health care industry, retreat in the face of nuclear provocation from Iran and North Korea, using ACORN to make our election system resemble a Third World tinpot dictatorship, erosion of the Constitution, and supportive of a crackdown on religious liberty and groups that oppose him (the Homeland Security report claiming that "right-wing" groups are a dire threat to national security). Rendition and “torture” are nothing compared to these.

gcotharn said...

Darren,

If Bush merely wanted to torture to get information, he would have rendered Abu Zhubaydah and KSM to the Egyptian intelligence service. Who would have ever had enough facts about their Egyptian interrogation to complain about it? No one.

It's illogical that Bush created enhanced interrogation as an intentional cover for torture. He already had torture available in Egypt.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Military Commissions

Do you see ways in which military commissions are more just than civilian courts?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gcotharn: I believe your argument fails because you project a moral dimension to torture or the "cute" phrase, "enhanced interrogation." Torture is about domination and intelligence gathering. The fact that other sources of harsh interrogation exist throughout the world does not change this reality. So many different reasons could explain why some individuals were rendered and why others were not. Trying to explain the difference with a moral argument seems inconsistent with the entire operation. Besides, your argument could work in reverse: If Bush simply wanted to have a kinder, gentler torture, he could have declined to render anyone at all.

PS: Why are indefinite detention and enhanced interrogation in GITMO less troubling than enhanced interrogation and indefinite detention in some CIA or foreign government cell in another country?

HoweeCarr said...

Of course this also asks the obvious question of those who supported President Bush's policies but now criticize Obama relentlessly.

Unfortunately, hypocrisy sometimes runs both ways.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Howee - very true.

I never supported Bush. I'm amazed that many of my fellow liberals who acted as if they were about to commit suicide over Bush are now unaffected by this situation. I never expected anything but criticism from conservatives. That's about all that are two-party system can provide. But I never expected liberals to turn off such passionate dissent simply because a Democrat favors the same policies.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Chuck, you are definitely a firt-time visitor. Please read this article, and you will get a better sense of my thinking: Progressives Awaken from Obama-Vegetative State

megapotamus said...

Howee, if you can find a pro-torture Bushie who is now claiming Obamoid torture is unkind or unjust you might have a point but you will find no such creature. I am happy and thankful that Barack is continuing these practices that are necessary and proven effective for our national security. Go Bama!
What these actions of the most Leftwing politician our nation knows today makes plain is that, like the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; EITs, mil tribs and extra-national detention are simply good sense, simply the prudent and lawful execution of Presidential duties and would have been undertaken by a President Clinton, or Gore or Kerry. Or as we see, Obama. Or if that be too much for you, it may be enough to accept the Bushie line that the questions are complex and have no simple answers. This is much what the anonymous Obie said regarding the tribunals; "The problem just is much more complicated than it seemed on January twentieth." HA!

MarkJ said...

"It remains unclear, however, whether these contradictions will erode any of Obama's political support."

No matter what, I suspect a lot of liberals and leftists will spit into their bathroom mirrors every morning and mutter, "Hope and Change." Why? Because, to quote Richard Gere's line in "An Officer and a Gentleman," they've got no place else to go.

Anonymous said...

"Do you suspect the treatment of prisoners under the Bush Admin "enhanced interrogation" program was as harsh as the treatment of prisoners when the Clinton Admin rendered them to the Egyptian intelligence service?"

No, but I suspect you're not a big enough liar to claim one wasn't torture.

Now, were the Armenians subjected to a better or worse genocide than the Jews, or would I have to be a cunt to even pursue such a distinction in an effort to paint a politician I liked in a better light ?
That's like trying to justify syphilis in order to defend a pedophile. Get a fkn soul.

Anonymous said...

"I am happy and thankful that Barack is continuing these practices that are necessary and proven effective for our national security."

You mean, apart from there being any proof of that. Right.

Seriously, WTF can you understand if you've been told people were waterboarded 100+ times and NOBODY is claiming that any plots were stopped as a result, and you've chalked that up as a win ?

Get a pencil and stab an orange. You're fighting terrorism, big boy. And with all the "proof" of effectiveness you seem to be so impressed with here.

Anonymous said...

"The baseline problem is that Al Queda"

Sorry, but it's either al Qaeda or al Qaida. There's no third option. Just like it's either the Taliban or the Taleban. If you call them Tallyban, you're crossing a line.
Even if you're a bona-fide member and that's the way it was supposed to have been spelled the whole time, you can still get @#$%@ed

Anonymous said...

I almost hate to say this, but I fear Obama's hypocrisy (or that of any politician, to be honest) is accepted because the average American has NO idea of the fundamental issues being discussed. A good speaker (or is that "teleprompter reader"?) who has been given all the right phrases can lead people to believe they are doing something when in fact they are instead being led by the nose towards what would be their worst nightmare.

I speak to many who voted for Obama, and as the administration grinds away at our freedoms, some have actually cried when I explain exactly what is happening. Yet in many cases, instead of being moved to properly voice their outrage and exercise their fundamental rights (at least until they are stripped away) they simply cannot bear to hear it and basically tell me to stop.

It is this hopelessness that will be our undoing. It is good to air the facts, but we can't just sit here and discuss them. We must use every means we have to fight back - peacefully and honorably. Hold Congress' feet to the fire, tell our "unrepresenting representatives" that we see their dangerous games and we will no longer allow it. Vote. With our ballots and, equally important, vote with our dollars to support what is really right (as in correct, not necessarily Republican).

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hello, Anonymous. Thanks for posting. I agree that the most people do not follow the intricacies of politics too closely. But I was wondering -- how has the new administration taken away "our freedoms"? Finally, thanks for realizing that what is "right" is nonpartisan. So many people do not get this.

Fat Man said...

I must admit that, along with deeply unquieting moments of irresponsibility (the "stimulus bill", the budget), horrifying moments of thuggery (the Chrysler deal), this administration has provided me with lots of of amusement due to its amateurism (AF1 strafes NYC, nominee's tax problems) and its hypocrisy (detailed above).

And to think I voted for the other guy. That would have been dull and predictable.

I also want to thank my leftist friends for tying themselves in knots for my amusement.

gcotharn said...

Darren says:
"I believe your argument fails because you project a moral dimension to torture...."

Torture IS a question of morality. I believe your argument fails b/c it fails to recognize this. At minimum, we are operating off of different premises.

Darren says:
"Torture is about domination and intelligence gathering."

Here's my premise:
There's nothing immoral about domination and intelligence gathering. Domination and intelligence gathering only become immoral if a captive is treated inhumanely.

Darren says:
"Why are indefinite detention and enhanced interrogation in GITMO less troubling than enhanced interrogation and indefinite detention in some CIA or foreign government cell in another country?"

Again, we are operating from different premises. My premise is: we should act morally. Therefore, if we render to Egyptian intelligence which has no qualms about inhumane treatment: that is unquestionably immoral action by us. If we interrogate at Guantanamo, using techniques we have taken pains to determine are moral, then we are acting in accordance with our moral principles as we understand them. Other Amercians disagree about when inhumane treatment begins, and we are having that national conversation - a moral process all the way around - far more moral than the unquestionable immorality of rendering to Egyptian torturers.

Now, you are asserting that GWB did not act in good faith, and therefore immorality occurred. Maybe so. But it's unknowable, as we cannot see into GWB's heart. What is knowable is that rendition to Egyptian torture, as practiced by Clinton, is absolutely immoral. GWB's process - assuming he acted in good faith, which I suspect he did - was part of a moral national process of setting standards for interrogation. But, I see why you cannot respect GWB at least for the morality of the process: you believe GWB, from the beginning, never acted in good faith.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anonymous says:
"No, but I suspect you're not a big enough liar to claim one wasn't torture."

I do not believe we tortured either KSM or Abu Zhubaydah or whoever the third guy was that we waterboarded. I cannot in good conscience allow your sneer to go by without forthrightly declaring my opinion. I respect your opinion that waterboarding is torture.

Anonymous says:
"Now, were the Armenians subjected to a better or worse genocide than the Jews, or would I have to be a cunt to even pursue such a distinction in an effort to paint a politician I liked in a better light ? That's like trying to justify syphilis in order to defend a pedophile. Get a fkn soul."

Each circumstance is individual, and must be considered on own merits. The treatment of KSM in Egypt vs in Guantanamo does not compare to a genocide example or to a syphilis example. More specific and proper comparisons might be:

fingers sliced off, bit by bit, finger by finger, vs getting waterboarded

suffering pain of electrocution vs getting waterboarded

being subjected to psychotropic drugs vs getting waterboarded

Lastly, Anonymous said this to someone else, yet I'm going to respond:

Anonymous says:
"...people were waterboarded 100+ times and NOBODY is claiming that any plots were stopped as a result...."

I object to this mischaracterization: "NOBODY". You get to choose who you most believe, but you don't get to say "NOBODY" without being challenged. The following persons have said plots were stopped (and over half of all our intelligence about Al Qaeda was gathered) as a result of waterboarding:

Former President GWB
Former VP Cheney
Former Director of CIA Tenet
Former Director of CIA Gen. Michael Hayden
Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey

gcotharn said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122964985803120513.html

Dick Cheney, Dec 2008:

"There was a time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from one source[KSM]".

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/30/AR2009043003108.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Charles Krauthammer:

"Did it work? The current evidence is fairly compelling. George Tenet said that the "enhanced interrogation" program alone yielded more information than everything gotten from "the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together."

Michael Hayden, CIA director after waterboarding had been discontinued, writes (with former attorney general Michael Mukasey) that "as late as 2006 . . . fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaeda came from those interrogations." Even Dennis Blair, Obama's director of national intelligence, concurs that these interrogations yielded "high value information." So much for the lazy, mindless assertion that torture never works."

Anonymous said...

>> "No, but I suspect you're not a big enough liar to claim one wasn't torture."

> I do not believe we tortured either KSM or Abu Zhubaydah or whoever the third guy was that we waterboarded.

I guess I was mistaken. You are.
Waterboarding being torture has been established, accepted and uncontroversial for longer than the US has been accepted as "a country". They call it "playing dumb" for a reason pal.
Anyway, we'll let you get back to burning some witches to ward off the evil pig flu spirits.

gcotharn said...

@Anonymous

"Waterboarding" means a lot of different things. They call it "being dumb" for a reason. Pal. And: "witches"? Way to slay me with the sharp sword of your devastating wit. Are you next prepping some "your Mama" insults?

I take your newest descent into name calling as concession of your argument that genocide and syphilis are good comparisons to Guantanamo interrogation; as concession of your argument that "NOBODY" is claiming U.S. interrogation produced information which stopped attacks.

Anonymous said...

"I object to this mischaracterization: "NOBODY". You get to choose who you most believe, but you don't get to say "NOBODY" without being challenged."

Then challenge me already. You haven't yet.
Not unless you think I or anyone else cares about being protected from the word "plot".
What planned terrorist action (ie "plot") did any of these people specify was prevented when making these claims?

Hey, look at that. If you tilt your head a little it almost looks like the point you missed. Can you see it?

"The following persons have said plots were stopped (and over half of all our intelligence about Al Qaeda was gathered) as a result of waterboarding"

I say Barack stopped a nuclear missile.
If you can repeat this claim for years on end without me ever offering you the crucial, credibility-generating details of where it was fired from and where it was headed, nor even think them important enough to question, that's pretty much defined how interested you are in the accuracy of people's statements.

Anonymous said...

gcotharn said...
""Waterboarding" means a lot of different things."

Okay, sure. Maybe it's also a name for a process in textile manufacturing to get dyes to adhere to cloth.

Care to suggest the CIA tried one of the "other meanings" on some terrorists to make them talk? No? Just wasting time so you don't have to accept the obvious are we?

"And: "witches"? Way to slay me with the sharp sword of your devastating wit. Are you next prepping some "your Mama" insults?"

Why would I need to insult you. You're quite happy to ridicule yourself it seems.

I've seen quite a few justifications for waterboarding. However I have honestly not seen anyone before you willing to abandon their credibility so thoroughly by suggesting that the "waterboarding" the CIA practiced on detained terrorism suspects might not be the interrogation technique kind.
That is something quite special. You may be eligible for some kind of award.

Anonymous said...

@ gcotharn

Rather than taking some non-specific statements at their word, someone actually did organise a thorough review of all interrogation records to determine whether enhanced interrogation techniques and the statements these produced resulted in any plots being stopped....

http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/torture/white-house-to-declassify-holy-grail-torture-report-that-could-undercut-cheney/

""Although some useful information was produced, the report concluded that “it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks,” according to the Justice Department’s declassified summary of it.""

So, either this supports your conclusions above or it contradicts them. Either this mountain of intel about al Qaeda you refer to can accurately be referred to as "some useful information" or one characterisation is false.

Either "it is unclear as to whether it assisted preventing specific attacks" is the ringing endorsement of it's successes you believed had occurred or it isn't.

We both know which it is.
Just like we both know what it means when allies of Barack want to declassify a report investigating the successes/not of these interrogation tactics in order to hit back at Cheney.

Anonymous said...

DLH: But I was wondering -- how has the new administration taken away "our freedoms"?

--------

Do you think that taking down Wall Street, the "bailouts" of the banks and not allowing them to pay back the TARP monies, and now taking over Chrysler and handing it to the unions, along with the never-ending problems with ACORN yet funding them with taxpayer monies and letting them be in on the 2010 census, when combined with the proposed Constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment, the whole matter of continuing to press for unconstitutional "D.C. Voting Rights", EFCA, "cybersecurity", the "GIVE act", and deliberate misinterpretation of the 14th amendment to gain 22 million illegal aliens for the Democratic rolls, and then, of course, good old HR 45 are enough examples?

gcotharn said...

@anonoymous

I saw your "plot" from a mile away. Your conceit is unbelievable. I wondered if you would stoop to this ridiculous technicality in frantic attempt to justify your statement. You force me to spell this out: if, over the period from 2003 to 2006, 50% of what we knew about Al Qaeda came from waterboarding, doesn't it follow that we used that 50% of our intelligence to interrupt Al Qaeda's operations? Doesn't it follow that GWB, Cheney, Tenet, and Hayden kept information about successes quiet? Note that Cheney is now asking for declassification of material he claims will show that plots were interrupted. Therefore, Cheney is now publicly claiming that plots were interrupted. Defending yourself via "plot" is laughable hair splitting, and even so is without merit.

Anonymous says:
"I say Barack stopped a nuclear missile."You've propped a straw man. I carefully said you get to choose who you believe, but you do not get to say "NOBODY is claiming any plots were stopped". I then carefully documented the persons who were saying (absent your desperate technical hiding behind "plots" and national security information) plots were stopped. Now Dick Cheney is openly claiming plots were stopped.

Give it up. You made a misstatement. No big deal. We are all human. Stop digging. Were you not so supercilious, I never would have pursued it in the first place. Just come down off your ego and say: Okay, I went a bit too far with that statement. Everyone has done that. Everyone will understand. Everyone will do it again if they write enough words. And again. And again. We are human. No big deal.

Anonymous says:
"Care to suggest the CIA tried one of the "other meanings" on some terrorists to make them talk? No? Just wasting time so you don't have to accept the obvious are we?" My point is: what we did to KSM is not equivalent to any waterboarding from any previous point in history. We conducted waterboarding in a highly regulated and dictated environment. We had specific rules. Everything was thought through and proscribed beforehand. There was a Doctor present to ensure things did not go too far. If things still went too far, a medical facility was nearby and available. My point is not to argue that waterboarding is not torture (b/c we will never settle that issue in these comments). Rather, my point is to refute your statement that waterboarding has always been considered torture. My point is: what we did to KSM has not been done before. It stands alone. Let our nation argue whether or not it is torture. But the argument will not be won by comparing it to dissimilar and comparatively haphazard methodology.

Anonymous says:
"...someone actually did organise a thorough review of all interrogation records to determine whether enhanced interrogation techniques and the statements these produced resulted in any plots being stopped...."Again, a straw man propped. The question is not whether or not the methods succeeded, but whether or not anyone claimed plots were stopped. Again, by any reasonable measure, these persons claim plots were stopped: GWB, Tenet, Hayden, Mukasey. By any measure whatsoever, Dick Cheney is currently, loudly proclaiming plots were stopped.

Anonymous says:
"Just like we both know what it means when allies of Barack want to declassify a report investigating the successes/not of these interrogation tactics in order to hit back at Cheney."Again, I did not and do not enter a discussion about whether or not the tactics worked. I was addressing your claim that "NOBODY" is claiming plots were stopped. I would not have even worried with addressing it if you had not been so haughty and arrogant to those of us with whom you disagreed.

I've been kind of rude in my recent comments - which rude retorts are well deserved by you. Still, I would prefer to converse amicably in future. I do not think you dumb. In fact, I think you interesting. I think, if you could leave the arrogant dismissiveness out of your comments, we could have interesting conversation. I'm interested in what you have to say.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous said:

"Do you think that taking down Wall Street, the "bailouts" of the banks and not allowing them to pay back the TARP monies, and now taking over Chrysler and handing it to the unions, along with the never-ending problems with ACORN yet funding them with taxpayer monies and letting them be in on the 2010 census, when combined with the proposed Constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment, the whole matter of continuing to press for unconstitutional "D.C. Voting Rights", EFCA, "cybersecurity", the "GIVE act", and deliberate misinterpretation of the 14th amendment to gain 22 million illegal aliens for the Democratic rolls, and then, of course, good old HR 45 are enough examples?"

Actually, I do not like these examples. TARP was a voluntary program. I believe that most people want the government to attach strings to a trillion dollars in government financing of private entities. There is no right to get government financial assistance without strings attached.

The government is making it tougher for banks to get out of TARP while they still have billions of dollars in government backed loans in other programs. Basically, it is cutting through the sham of companies like Goldman Sachs announcing that they "can" pay their TARP funds, but really borrowing from the government through other programs to do so.

None of the other examples you mention has taken away anyone's freedom either.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hello: A note from your host -- I love sharp debate. Just keep it civil!

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

""Again, a straw man propped. The question is not whether or not the methods succeeded, but whether or not anyone claimed plots were stopped.""

Riiiiight.

Well on the "people have said things" question let me concede that everyone in the world has said plots were stopped because of waterboarding.

Meanwhile, the DoJ has investigated the accuracy of such statements and produced a report which doesn't appear to support these claims.

One of these is worth discussion and one isn't.

gcotharn said...

There's a shifting of goalposts re whether enhanced interrogation methods are effective. The question ought be: was valuable information obtained? If the answer is yes, then proof exists that enhanced methods can be effective.

The preferred question, for the goalpost shifters, is: were any plots foiled? Here, from your Plum Line link, is WaPo quoting a leaked report(my bolding):

"Although some useful information was produced, the report concluded that 'it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks,' according to the Justice Department’s declassified summary of it."The bolded parts are weasel qualifiers. Having watched, for years, how Washington works, the weasel qualifiers appear to be inserted into the report to blunt and ease the impact of the real news: "some useful information was produced". "Useful information" constitutes proof that waterboarding can be effective.

Standards of "conclusive", "critical information", "specific imminent attacks" do not belong in a debate about merits of acquired intelligence. Sometimes, such standards might be met. Such is incidental, and is not the test of whether or not intelligence is valuable.

If we did want to resolve debate about "conclusive" evidence of "critical" information about "specific imminent attacks", such could only be resolved via comprehensive analysis of classified material. not via analysis of selectively leaked classified material.

Moving the goalposts into "specific imminent attacks" territory is - b/c of the the lack of access to comprehensive classified information - therefore moving the goalposts onto unprovable ground. Further, it's the wrong question for determining effectiveness of waterboarding.

I am interested, if the leaked-to-WaPo report is actually declassified, to read about the interrogation techniques employed, and to make personal judgment about the morality of said techniques. However, based on everything I've seen to this point, it appears waterboarding is successful at eliciting valuable intelligence information.

Here is a link to video of former CIA Director Hayden on Apr 10 on Fox News Sunday http://blog.rantingsandravings.com/2009/04/general-hayden-lets-cat-out-of-bag.html. Text excerpt:

"Most of the people who oppose these techniques want to be able to say 'I don't want my nation doing this ... and [these techniques] didn't work anyway'.That back half of the sentence isn't true. The facts of the case are: the use of these techniques against these terrorists did make us safer. It really did work.
[...]
The honorable position you have to take, if you want us to not do this ... has to be: 'Even though these techniques worked, I don't want you to do that.'[Saying that] takes courage. The other sentence doesn't."

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