Posted on February 3rd, 2010 No comments
Apparently Christmas Day bomber Abdulmutallab is a walking treasure trove of information about his fellow terrorists. According to FOXNews,
The Nigerian man accused of trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas has been cooperating with investigators since last week and has provided fresh intelligence in multiple terrorism investigations, officials said Tuesday.
Could it be that Cheney and the rest of the Rabbit People are exaggerating when they claim that we need to torture people to be “secure?”
Posted on January 18th, 2010 1 comment
The rabbit people are a strange breed. In one breath they will shout paeans to Liberty, repeat platitudes about how “freedom isn’t free,” and shed crocodile tears in remembrance of the great wisdom of our Founding Fathers, whose bitter enemies they surely would have been had they lived at the same time. In the next, shaking with fear at the thought of how the CIA, by its own account, just barely saved us from devastating attacks that were invariably “in the final planning stages,” they will demand more torture (er, “enhanced interrogation techniques”), more arbitrary imprisonment without trial for unlimited periods of time, and carte blanche for domestic spying. In fact, they are more than willing to jettison anything that could reasonably be associated with the word Liberty if only their government will promise them “security.” “Security” is the sine qua non of the rabbit people. “Liberty” and “human rights” are reduced to things one shouts about on suitable public occasions accompanied with much waving of flags. However, genuine liberty and human rights, which are meaningless unless they apply to others as well as oneself, are jettisoned for anyone the rabbit people deem a “terrorist.” For them, “security” trumps any other value you could name.
It happens that today is the official publication date of “Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America
Safe and How Barack Obama is inviting the Next Attack,” by Marc Thiessen, who, we are informed, is eminently qualified for penning such shocking revelations by virtue having been a Presidential speech writer. Based on a foretaste Thiessen has been kind enough to provide for us, it will send many a shiver up and down the spines of the rabbit people as they cower in their beds. Here are some examples that will surely make their blood run cold:
On Christmas Day, a new terrorist network–a mysterious branch of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula – almost succeeded in bringing down a commercial airliner over one of America’s largest cities. If the plane had exploded and crashed into downtown Detroit, thousands could have perished. Only luck saved us from catastrophe.
Never mind that it took four planes, three of which were deliberately crashed into buildings full of people, to actually kill “thousands” of people. Never mind that airliners have occasionally crashed in large cities before, including Manhattan, and the death toll on the ground came nowhere near “thousands.” Never mind that, if you stand near Detroit’s Metro Airport you can easily see for yourself that approaching planes don’t fly over downtown Detroit. After all, we live in the 21st century, and any hyperbole is justified, as long as it sells books. After reeling off any number of spine tingling tales about all the attacks the CIA “saved” us from, just by the hair on our chinny chin chins, Thiessen repeats a self-congratulatory claim by a former CIA director about how torture (er, “these techniques”) were a huge success:
Former CIA Director Mike Hayden has said: “The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work.
Never mind that intelligence agencies have long had a penchant for claiming “victory” whenever they could get away with it by virtue of the impossibility of fact checking those claims. Never mind how often those claims haven’t passed the “ho ho” test when subjected to even mild scrutiny after the fact. In their trembling little hearts, the rabbit people breathe a sigh of relief, deeply grateful to a government that has been wise enough to torture and imprison anyone they see fit to call a “terrorist,” in order to “make them safe.”
It never seems to dawn on the rabbit people why our forefathers condemned torture and established basic human rights to begin with. It never seems to occur to them that they may actually have done so for reasons other than waving flags on public occasions and striking heroic poses from the moral high ground. In fine, it never seems to occur to them that they might have established those rights for the very reason that they are absolutely essential before any society can truly consider itself safe or secure. In spite of the fact that the 20th century seemed tailor made to rub their faces in the truth of that conclusion, they’ve learned nothing.
Consider the Spanish Civil War, which I just mentioned in an earlier post. It was a perfect demonstration of what happens when governments are unconstrained by respect for human rights, and when the need for “security” is allowed to take precedence over any other value. Franco’s fascist regime shot tens of thousands of people in cold blood, often without even the formality of a kangaroo court, in the name of “security” for the church, the middle classes, and anyone else on the right of the political spectrum. His anarchist and Communist opponents on the other side shot tens of thousands of people in cold blood, and subjected them to torture and arbitrary imprisonment, in order to defend the “security” of the workers and the people.
The rabbit people never seem to realize that this “security” that the Spanish people enjoyed during their civil war, or the “security” of the German people under Hitler, or the “security” of the people of the Soviet Union under Stalin, or the “security” of the Cambodians under Pol Pot isn’t just something that could only happen to “others.” Liberty and human rights are worth defending, not because they are noble causes, but because they are the antidote to that kind of “security.” Osama bin Laden and his ilk can certainly harm us, but what they can do is child’s play compared to the harm that our own governments can do to us once we have allowed them to jettison fundamental human rights in order to “make us safe.” Governments have always been, by far, the deadliest killers, the most fiendish torturers, and the most merciless jailers. No historical analog of bin Laden has ever held a candle to them when it comes to slaughter and mayhem. The rabbit people fondly assume that they will never be among the murdered, the tortured, or the imprisoned. They are wrong. In a world in which the need for “security” justifies any crime and any abuse, nothing is more certain than that they will eventually be among the “others.”
Posted on September 1st, 2009 No comments
They do not trust the government to administer “end of life” panels, even though such services are common in medicine today, because they are afraid they will become “death panels.” They do not want to give the government power to take over the Internet in “emergency situations” because they suspect, and rightly so, that it would facilitate censorship. They do not want big government because they suspect, and rightly so, that the cost of big government is the loss of Liberty. Yet somehow they have managed to convince themselves that they must elevate government use of torture in the interest of “security” to the status of a holy cause. Is it that difficult to grasp the logical disconnect? Throw me a bone here.
Posted on August 30th, 2009 No comments
The Rabbit People are euphoric over the “successful” torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Even as they cheer on the torturers, Cheney’s collaborators still can’t look themselves in the mirror. You see they’ve been living in an echo chamber for years telling each other what fine champions of “Liberty,” and “Justice,” they are. They still haven’t sufficiently mastered Orwellian doublethink to truly believe that two plus two equals five, and that one can be a champion of Liberty and a collaborator in torture at the same time. Therefore, when “patriotic public servants” at the CIA slam someone’s head against a wall “20 or 30 times a day,” waterboard him over a hundred times, and deprive him of sleep for 180 hours, for them it is not torture. It is “torture.”
As Ann Althouse puts it, “I’m not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say “torture.” Let’s look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.” Actually, Ms. Althouse, there’s nothing “abstract or linguistic” about it. Allow me to help you out here. I’ve listed some of the common, and remarkably similar, definitions of torture for you below:
Merriam-Webster dictionary: Something that causes agony or pain
Dictionary.com: the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
Thefreedictionary.com: Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
Oxford pocket dictionary: The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.
Does that clear up the “linguistic” difficulties for you? Do you get the connection between “slamming someone’s head against a wall 20 or 30 times a day” and “torture” now?
According to Ms. Althouse,
Critics of “harsh interrogation techniques” — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn’t even work. How unusual it is for the media to disillusion us about that and force the moralists to get by on moral ideals alone!
I advise anyone who suspects I’m a purveyor of “moral ideals” to see my series of posts on the “Question of Should.” As for the issue of “pragmatism,” those who think I oppose torture because I doubt its effectiveness are also barking up the wrong tree.
My objection to torture can be summed up in a simple phrase: “What goes around, comes around.” Those who really believe that torture will make us more “secure,” that it will only be applied to “others,” and never to themselves or their children or their fellow citizens, and that those “others” will always certainly be “terrorists” lack the capacity to think beyond the end of their noses.
Posted on August 28th, 2009 No comments
According to the CIA’s own step-by-step guidelines for “persuasion” of detainees, its interrogation techniques included slamming a prisoner’s head against a wall “20 or 30 times,” sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, deprivation of toilet facilities, shackling in painful positions for long periods of time, locking in a wooden box for up to 18 hours, and waterboarding, not just once in a carefully monitored training situation, but scores of times in succession by “practitioners” who did not have to fear legal accountability for “overdoing” it. It is ludicrous to suggest that such techniques cannot be accurately described as torture. However, we can confidently expect the apologists for torture on the right to continue their denial of the obvious. They will be as cocksure as ever that all the prisoners we have seized and casually tortured had it coming, regardless of any legal protections or proof of their guilt. They will be as adamant as ever that international laws prohibiting torture can be ignored at will if they feel it necessary to protect our “security.” They will continue to shout “Liberty” at the top of their lungs, even as they dismiss the principles our founding fathers fought to vindicate with a wave of the hand. In fact, such people are a greater threat to our security than the enemies they claim to be fighting. In particular, they are a direct threat to our troops in the field, who our enemies will now feel perfectly justified in subjecting to such “enhanced interrogation techniques.” They blindly assume that the condoning of torture will never come back to haunt them, or to haunt their children. I have news for them. What goes around comes around.
Posted on August 26th, 2009 1 comment
The recent release of the CIA Inspector General’s report has, once again, moved the issue of torture into the national spotlight. I have commented elsewhere regarding the reasons for my rejection of torture. Apparently, Attorney General Eric Holder is considering the matter of prosecutions. In a recent column in the Washington Post, attorney Jeffrey H. Smith cited six reasons not to proceed with them. I beg to differ with him. Smith’s reasons and my arguments for rejecting them are as follows:
1. “These techniques were authorized by the president and approved by the Justice Department… That alone will make prosecutions very difficult.”
If prosecutions are undertaken, their importance and significance will lie in the extent to which they are successful in establishing the rejection of torture, both legally and as an accepted national moral standard. For that reason, in this exceptional case, the question of whether the prosecutions will be difficult or not is insignificant. The question is not whether the Adolf Eichmann defense – “I was only obeying orders” – will stand up in a U.S. Court. The question is whether the United States, as a nation, will reject torture, or embrace it and accept Eichmann’s creed: “Now that I look back, I realize that a life predicated on being obedient and taking orders is a very comfortable life indeed. Living in such a way reduces to a minimum one’s need to think.”
2. “Prosecutions would set the dangerous precedent that criminal law can be used to settle policy differences at the expense of career officers.”
Failure to prosecute will set the far more dangerous precedent that career officers can, literally, get away with murder, not to mention torture, and never have to worry about the possibility they may eventually have to bear legal and moral responsibility for their acts. It would behoove career officers who are really capable of believing that the question of condoning torture or not is really just an insignificant “policy difference” to seek a less challenging occupation.
3. “After Justice declined to prosecute (under Bush), the CIA took administrative action, including disciplinary action against those officers whose conduct it deemed warranted such responses… If (Justice) declines to prosecute, the matter is sent back to the CIA for appropriate administrative action.”
Here Smith is attempting to apply the legalese argument that prosecution now would not be in accord with established precedent. In a case of such overriding importance, this is a matter of utter insignificance. Other than that, the Inspector General’s report, not to mention the overwhelming weight of credible evidence of brutality that preceded it, make it abundantly clear that the “established precedent” that it is unwise to put the fox in charge of the henhouse is still as valid as ever.
4. “Prosecuting CIA officers risks chilling current intelligence operations. This country faces an array of serious threats. A prosecution or extensive investigation will be an unmanageable expense for most CIA officers. More significant, their colleagues will become reluctant to take risks… And such reactions will be magnified if prosecutions focus only on the lower-ranking officers, not those in the chain of command.
It seems to me rather insulting to suggest that “most CIA officers” are irresponsible government stooges, incapable of appreciating the significance of the matter at issue, and possessed of such delicate sensitivities and fragile morale that they will all become mere time servers and ignore their duty to defend the country if anyone dares to question their actions in a matter of such overriding national and, indeed, international importance. As for the “serious threats” we face, there can be no greater threat to our security than the notion that, in order to “protect” our security, it is entirely acceptable for us to ignore established national and international moral codes and standards of conduct and jettison our national heritage and everything that can give any rational meaning to the term “Liberty.” Those who have read my previous posts may take note here of my rejection of the notion that, because morality is subjective, it must, therefore, be relative and pliable to suit the situation. That is, in fact, the version of morality that our current “conservatives” on the right are promoting, in defiance of their usual breast-beating pronouncements about moral absolutes. Regarding the matter of focusing on the lower-ranking officers, any prosecution that does so will be doomed in advance. The level of focus of any prosecutions should bear a direct relationship to the level of those involved in torture in the chain of command, starting with Bush and Cheney.
5. “Prosecution could deter cooperation with other nations. It is critical that we have the close cooperation of intelligence services around the world.”
One can only conclude from this “reason” that Smith is utterly oblivious to what has been going on in the world since 911. Our embrace of torture based on the irrational hope that it will enhance our national security has shattered our moral authority in the world, and provided our many enemies with a weapon against us that they have used to devastating effect. It is beyond me how anyone who lives outside a hermetically sealed box can have failed to notice this. The idea that anyone could really believe that these deep, self-inflicted wounds were somehow justified by the need to maintain amiable relationships with foreign intelligence services boggles the mind.
6. “President Obama has decisively changed the policies that caused so much damage. He recognizes that it is vital to our security to have an effective intelligence community that is not distracted by looking backward and coping with congressional investigations and grand jury subpoenas.”
Presidential terms are limited to eight years in the United States. It is, therefore, absurd to suggest that President Obama is capable of “decisively” changing policies by administrative decree. The next President may just as “decisively” change them back again. It is precisely because we must look forward, and not backward, that the prosecution of the foul acts of torture that have stained not only our reputation but our spirit as a nation is necessary and justified. We must decide whether we will continue along the path established by our forefathers in defense of Liberty, or abandon that heritage, embracing torture in pursuit of an illusory national security. May reason prevail.
Posted on July 18th, 2009 No commentsApologists for German America bashing were fond of informing us during the last administration that the routine hate mongering in their media was “all about Bush,” and would go away if Obama were elected. Well, soo-prise, soo-prise, Bush is long gone, but America bashing is alive and well in Germany. I will occasionally chronicle some of the more amusing, appalling, and/or egregious examples. Today, Der Spiegel is wringing its hands about prison conditions. Where, you ask? Were they concerned about the routine torture and killing that goes on in China’s jails? Were they upset by the routine police brutality in prospective EU member Turkey? Were they disgusted by the notorious prevalence of torture in Iran’s jails? None of the above! No, as usual, they were striking pious poses about Guantanamo. The headline reads, “Matreatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Continues.” It seems one of the prisoners’ lawyers was upset by his client’s unpleasant cell conditions.
There’s been little change in the incidence of anti-Americanism in the German media since Obama took office. In fact, it was a great deal more subdued at the end of the Bush Administration than it was back in 1999 under Clinton. As in this case, it often took the form of the classic double standard, so it could be fobbed off as “objective criticism,” that had merely been “reprinted from the New York Times.”
Under Clinton, Spiegel went off the deep end with foaming-at-the-mouth attacks over such cause célèbres as the US Echelon System. There was big dough in promoting anti-American hate in Germany, and the rest of the media soon followed the money trail. Quasi-racist Amerika bashing could be found everywhere, from the sensational tabloid headlines of Stern to the stuffy feuilleton columns of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. International leaders like Tony Blair, who seemed to support us, were berated as “poodles” and “vassals.” Eventually, decent German citizens began pushing back. I will always be grateful to these people. I wish more Americans knew about them. If nothing else, it would show them there’s a lot more to Germany than the Third Reich. Some of them were very articulate, and they condemned the pervasive hate peddling where they could, in blogs and Internet forums. Their only reward was a torrent of abuse from the anti-American zealots.
Finally, a few Americans started to notice the anti-American tirades as well. They were hard to miss. One occasionally had a difficult time finding any news about Germany on Spiegel’s website among the anti-American rants. Eventually, the editors realized that, lucrative as it was, they couldn’t keep up such blatant hate peddling if they wanted to win any more international prizes for “objective journalism.” The allergic reaction in Germany and the US to the “wretched excess” of the last years of Clinton and the first of Bush was growing. The tone of the propaganda became more subdued. Eventually, it took the form we see today. It’s now just a shade of what it was in days gone by.
Still, as today’s zinger shows, the narrative still lives. Spiegel and the rest will occasionally throw out bits of red meat to the America hating crowd. Money talks, anti-American propaganda still pays in Germany, and they don’t want their circulation figures to drop too low. They try to cover their tracks, but, like the racists in the United States, their stench is unmistakable. One can still smell them. I will continue to draw attention to their antics as I see them.
Posted on July 9th, 2009 No comments
Posted on July 9th, 2009 No comments
Obama joins the rabbit people.
The very last thing we EVER want to do is risk our precious “security” if it’s merely a matter of ignoring a few obsolete human rights. Things have changed since the days of Patrick Henry. Life has become too dear and peace too sweet to quibble about the occasional need for chains and slavery. Of course, the chains and slavery are only for other people – you know, the “terrorists,” and we’re sure we know who they are.
Posted on July 8th, 2009 1 commentI had never heard of David Davis until today. He was the Tory shadow Home Secretary in Great Britain until he resigned, apparently taking a stand against the jettisoning of human rights in the name of “security.” The Guardian recently carried his statement on torture. Here is his concluding paragraph:
“The battle against terrorism is not just a fight for life; it is a battle of ideas and ideals. It is a battle between good and evil, between civilisation and barbarism. In that fight, we should never allow our standards to drop to those of our enemies. We cannot defend our civilisation by giving up the values of that civilisation. I hope the minister will today help me in ensuring that we find out what has gone wrong so we can return to defending those values once again.”
Some additional background on Davis may be found here and here. Again, I know little about Davis, but if he really is the man of principle he seems to be, he has my admiration. There don’t seem to be many like him around anymore.
He praises the United States in his statement for making a “clean breast” of its complicity in torture. I suspect that praise is undeserved. With respect to the issue of torture here, the conservatives on the right have become what one might charitably refer to as rabbit people. They have made a religion of “security,” jettisoning the principles our founding fathers stood for and embracing torture, apparently in the illusory belief that what goes around will never come around, all the while shouting slogans about “freedom” and “liberty,” by which they mean the right to do whatever they please themselves, combined with the right to violate the rights of others as they please if they happen to consider them “terrorists,” and due process of law be damned.
At the same time, it has now become quite clear that the equally loud shouting of similar slogans about “freedom” and “liberty” on the “progressive” left does not derive from any principled rejection of torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial, or respect for such outmoded concepts as habeas corpus or due process, but is best understood as merely a bludgeon with which they strike at their enemies on the right. The recent actions of the Obama Administration have made that quite clear. As far as the Guantanamo prisoners are concerned, principle has been thrown overboard in the name of political expedience. If I happen to see a reasoned defense of human rights on the “progressive” left that amounts to something more than pious posing and the usual “virtuous indignation,” I’ll be sure to make note of it on my blog. I haven’t seen anything of the sort for a long time.
The political scene in England is much the same, but it seems the dear old Mother Country has always produced more than her share of men and women of principle. One who was our friend at a time when we were most in need of friends was Mr. Burke. His statue now stands on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, and I hope the passerby will vouchsafe him a smile if they ever happen to go that way. Perhaps Mr. Davis is cast in a similar mold. May England produce many more like him.