Andrew Sullivan -"Powell leads the right in a Bush-whack."

Marcus's picture
Submitted by Marcus on Sun, 2006-09-17 13:12

From the Times...

"American conservatism has gone from being a political philosophy rooted in scepticism of power, empirical judgment and limited government into an ideology based in born-again religious faith, immune to empirical reality and dedicated to the relentless expansion of presidential clout. It sanctions wiretapping without court warrants, indefinite detention without trial and the use of torture."

What are your thoughts on this?

Is Powell right or wrong in his opposition to Bush's proposed military trials?

( categories: )

A lot has changed since your

A lot has changed since your time and I will be posting today with a demonstration of it and how it has effected Club Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay Bay Cuba) later today.


Adam, I'm not a psychologist

Adam, I'm not a psychologist nor have I any direct experience with interrogation training. I will try to find out what screening process there are and get back with you. If you are truly interested you can always file a FOIA request.


The time period I'm thinking

The time period I'm thinking of would be short enough to ensure that the nation is secure, but that rougue political and military commanders would not be. Maybe 2-3 years.

Perhaps the intelligence itself could be released in that time frame if it could be properly sanitized of sources and methods. The real thing that classification protects is the who, how, and when of gathering information and sometimes just the 'what' reveals all of these. I like the idea and I think that public accountability after an objectively determined (rather then arbitrary) amount if time would be a great idea.


Don't believe everything you read

Craig Ceely's picture

I would caution all outsiders to be very careful about evaluating claims made by a bureaucracy about itself, especially if the bureaucracy in question is the military.

When I was in a counterintelligence team there were two specialties, for example, that we regarded with contempt: military police and interrogator-translators. I'm sure it was unfair to people in those positions, but we couldn't have been budged from those opinions with a bulldozer. And what the hell, we were Marines in our mid-20s, so of course we knew everything.

On the other hand, they were also Marines in their mid-20s (or younger), most of them, and the, er, admiration was mutual.

Those background investigations to which you refer, Mr. Green, aren't always quite what you seem to think they are, and anyway, not all interrogators have them. Quite a few don't even possess security clearances. Consider that a native speaker of Spanish or Arabic might not even be a US citizen; neither situation is uncommon. It certainly wasn't in my day.

I also have to wonder what "closely monitored by psychologists and physicians every time they enter the interrogation room" actually means. In the case of some interrogations, I'm sure that's true. On the other hand, I never met one psychologist the entire time I was associated with the intelligence community. Things may have changed since those days, but I'd be very, very surprised: both the Army and the Marine Corps are smaller than in my day.

Bill - clearance

AdamReed's picture

Bill - does clearance involve a plethysmograph test for sadism? It should be standard - but as far as I know it is not used at all. And there are numerous instances on record of interrogators asking guards, recruited from civilian prison guard populations that are not screened at all, to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation.

There are clean methods - polygraph rear of the lines, brain PET (positron emission tomograph) which is heavy and expensive but can be readily installed at one or two locations for presumed high-value prisoners - and neither of the two released allied citizens has reported their use. I have no problem with coercive methods of interrogation when necessary in literal front-line combat, or when the suspect's identity as an enemy hiding information has been established by polygraph and PET scan.

I would no more smear every interrogator, or even every prison guard as a sadist than smear every middle-school teacher, or even every parochial school priest, as a pedophile. But I think that one ought to take reasonable precautions against hiring those who are.

Supplemental Question:

Robert's picture

"What if the evidence was gathered in such a way that revealing the sources and methods would cause grave harm to national security?"

The thing about secrets is that their impact on national security diminishes with time.

So why can't these trials be made public, on a mandatory basis, after a standard and short period of time has passed. The release of information would of course be subject to review by some censor who would be elected by Congress or the Senate or both so as to ensure his political neutrality. The censor's task would be to vet the information for sensitive information.

The time period I'm thinking of would be short enough to ensure that the nation is secure, but that rougue political and military commanders would not be. Maybe 2-3 years.

Adam,While I will agree that


While I will agree that certain jobs attract nutcases, your continued uninformed smear against military and CIA interrogators is not backed up by facts. These interrogation specialists hold clearance, which involves intense background and psychological investigations. They are also closely monitored by psychologists and physicians every time they enter the interrogation room.



AdamReed's picture


The account I posted came from the Christian-Democratic, and otherwise very pro-Bush, Chancellor of Germany. The fact that the victim sued in US court, where any adverse information about him would have affected the outcome (this was a civil suit, decided by preponderance of the evidence) - and our government denied him a trial, is also part of the evidence. I also found his and his government's accounts credible because they corresponded in some respects to my own experience when I spent 11 days in jail in New Jersey after a false arrest.

There is nothing suprising about some innocent people getting swept up by mistake. But there is something rotten about a society in which sociopaths and sadists are hired as prison guards and interrogators - neither the states nor the federal government do any psychological screening of candidates for those jobs. Remember, just as pedophiles select jobs in which they have authority over children, sociopaths and sadists select jobs that maximize their opportunity to practice their perversions. There is also something rotten about a government that does its utmost to cover up its mistakes. Neither practice is necessary or rational, or in the interest of efffectively fighting the current wars.

Gullibility and the Rules of Evidence

PhilipC's picture

>... a German, was taken from Albania to Afghanistan and tortured there. His "detention" continued for months even after the US interrogators definitively established his innocence. He was eventually "released" in a particularly remote and xenophobic part of Macedonia, from where he eventually managed to get back to civilization, somehow without getting killed by the local aborigines. [Adam]

1. You are not entitled to believe him unless he offered *proof* just because it supports an argument you wish to make. For example, if he was Al Qaeda (or a terrorist sympathizer) but he was released for lack of proof, would you not expect him to paint his treatment in the harshest possible terms, to possibly make up stuff to put his enemy...or at least those who detained him in the harshest possible light? Common sense.

2. You are also not entitled to gullibly swallow whole the journalism, the reporting, the sensationalism from the virulently anti-war, anti-Administration, anti-Bush echo chamberf of the Mainstream Press without placing yourself in the vicinity of a large salt shaker.

3. You are not entitled to believe most of the stories of 'abuse' by Americans, by the CIA, by Guantanamo WITHOUT READING BOTH SIDES and comparing them carefully.

What part of the rules of evidence -- and being aware of possible bias or conflicts of interest -- is unclear??

So your argument here is

So your argument here is that a trial is not needed at all, because the enemy combatants have forfeited any "right to life". You just need some procedure to keep your conscience clear - before you go ahead and execute them anyway.

This is true. Trial as used in the context of domestic crime does not apply to war. It is a different context. Its not just some procedure to keep 'my conscience clear' it is a procedure to make sure no mistake was made and that this is the person who the evidence applies to and that the evidence is sufficient to a)hold them until the end of the conflict or, b) execute them.

Your comments are becoming scary!!!

The context of war is not pretty and I do not like it any more then you do. I understand the revulsion, I feel it too. However, I think this is consistent with our values and morality.



AdamReed's picture

In an emergency no verification is called for. In a non-emergency situation it is.

In the previous scenario, the man may have mistaken the marines for one of the militias - say, the Mahdi Army - that kidnap and torture ordinary Iraqis on behalf of member parties of the current Iraqi government - and, thanks to their connection with that government, have US-made uniforms and equipment. It is possible that he is an innocent man who acted reasonably in self-defense. Nothing prevents the administration of a polygraph test to provide evidence of his actual intentions for verification. Further violence without verification is neither necessary nor appropriate.

In the second scenario, action to disable or kill the potential attacker is necessary to defend my life. If he's innocent, the moral responsibility for his becoming a casualy lies with the creator of the emergency, whoever that is.

Two Conversion Fallacies In a Row

Jeff Perren's picture

Ok, I'll give it one more go, then I'm done with this question for now.

Adam, you are accompanying these three Marine officers on patrol. You round the corner before they do.

The Middle Eastern man grabs you by the collar and unsheaths his scimitar.

Knowing how fond these ragheads are of middle-aged Jewish men, and knowing how committed you are to the view that ideas have consequences, whose view of the proper 'procedure' for 'verifying' in relation to a potential enemy combatant do you now prefer. Mine or yours?

You may have the last word.

JDPerren - trial

AdamReed's picture

In standard usage, "to verify" means "to establish the truth by carrying out a procedure that tests inferences from evidence against an objective standard of factuality." When such a procedure is used to establish a person's guilt or innocence, it is called a "trial." Your example does not include a verification procedure that I can identify as such.


Jeff Perren's picture

"That's called a "trial." Unless you are using "verify" in some non-standard sense..." A. Reed

Three Marine officers come on a Middle Eastern looking man, dressed in local garb in an area of Falluja known to have been the scene of a recent battle. The man pulls out an AK-47 and begins firing on them and wings one. Rather than blow him away, they manage to subdue him and he is transported to Guatanamo Bay, where he is interrogated by military officers. The three Marine officers compile a lengthy report of the incident, which the interrogators have read.

While I wouldn't claim this was a situation of absolute certainty, I think one could reasonably say that the Middle Eastern man in question has been verified as an enemy combatant. No trial has taken place, nor do I see a need for one.

Unless you are using the word 'trial' in some non-standard sense.

Torture and Summary Executions

Bill Visconti's picture

I just want to add here that summary executions of enemy combatants and torture are valid and moral aspects of war depending on the context. The majority of prisoners in Guantanomo could have been tortured for information if it was deemed neccessary and then executed by firing squad. Read about how General Sherman treated POWs during the Civil War and you wont find any mention of kid gloves or anti-depressants.

As for the specific laws and procedures that should govern, that is a more complicated and fact oriented question. But the morality of torture and summary executions of enemy combatants has already been answered in the context of a fully egoistic approach to war.

My only hesitancy with regard to torture would be the effect it has on the American soldiers or operatives doing the torturing. (I don't give a rat's ass about the Jihadi scum they would be torturing.) It would require a very well grounded person who would not degenerate into a sadist, which would be a very real possibility.

Rough Justice!

Marcus's picture

"Their lives are already forfeit... These trials are for us: it is a last procedure to make sure these are the bad guys we think they are."


So your argument here is that a trial is not needed at all, because the enemy combatants have forfeited any "right to life". You just need some procedure to keep your conscience clear - before you go ahead and execute them anyway.

Your comments are becoming scary!!!

JdPerren - trials

AdamReed's picture

JD - You write: "Of course, you have to verify first that they ARE the enemy."

That's called a "trial." Unless you are using "verify" in some non-standard sense...

Thinking On It

Jeff Perren's picture


A stellar question. I'm going to have to think about it some more.

In the interim, all I can say is what you know already and that isn't very illuminating. They should do whatever is in the best interest of the coalition solidiers.

I could be persuaded otherwise, but I'm not too warm on the idea of trials for the enemy at all. They're not citizens and the overwhelming majority were captured under circumstances that already makes a prima facia case that they are the enemy out of uniform. Traditionally that would make them enemy spies, subject to summary execution.

(Since, in this non-traditional conflict the enemy doesn't wear a consistent uniform, the principle is weak. It's an un-traditional situation. Of course, you have to verify first that they ARE the enemy.

One thing I'm pretty sure of already... they're not subject to the Geneva Convention. Those countries, I believe, were not signatories.

I'll give it some more research and thought.

Why these military trials

Why these military trials should NOT be made public trials?

What if the evidence was gathered in such a way that revealing the sources and methods would cause grave harm to national security? A lawyer in a public trial would latch on to the secrecy surrounding the evidence and have a field day. This classified information can be revealed to a military judge with much less risk to national security and still serve the purpose of verifying a combatant's guilt. Almost all of these folks held where picked up on the battlefield. Their lives are already forfeit and risks were taken by our troops to selfishly secure them alive for interrogation. This is not a support for torture or summary execution as this does not serve our interests either. These trials are for us: it is a last procedure to make sure these are the bad guys we think they are.


Ted, Wm and Perren...

Marcus's picture

...what I want to know is...

Why these military trials should NOT be made public trials?

Can you answer this question?

McCain / Torture as a Method - to Marcus & Adam

Ted Keer's picture


McCain is a showboating opportunist who only discovers principle when it promises to get him points at the expense of party discipline. That is, he may be on the right side of an issue (in this case he's not) but whenever he makes a big deal about standing on principle, his motives are suspect. I come to this opinion from having observed him since the '80's. McCain served honorably in Viet Nam and has lived off this ever since. If he were a private citizen, his role in the Savings & Loan banking scandal here at the end of that decade probably have led to a jail term. Powell is simply an appeaser. Again, he is the one who came up with the brilliant strategy of leaving Saddam in place after the first Gulf action. It was his pragmatism that ensured there would be no Iraqi insurgency (in the true sense) to rise up against Saddam or welcome us to power once we re-invaded. His "diplomacy" got all those who would have been our allies killed after the first action.

The recent Supreme Court decision on Gitmo was invalid in many ways. The most important being that the US Constitution gives the Congress power to limit the jurisdiction of the court, and the Congress had already removed foreign detainees from their oversight. The terms of the Geneva Convention consider the detainees unlawful combatants, subject under international law to summary execution on the battlefield. The only reason that the Bush Admin. has not contseted the matter is due to a lack of political capital and from a desire not to appear as too strident.

How familiar are you with the U.S. Constitution? I ask this from curiosity, I don't know if it is taught in the Commonwealth. It was barely taught when I was in high school in the early '80's.

(BTW, I know of Sullivan and am bookmarked to him. My disdain was for the headline you quoted, which I attributed to the Times' editorial board, given that most journalists' columns are given titles by the paper, not by the writer.)


Again, I believe that the difference in meaning between torture and interrogation is quite clear. Torture comes from the Latin through the IE root *terkw- meaning to twist. Thwart and torque are cognates. The connotation is one of causing pain intentionally for the sake of causing pain. Interrogation comes from the latin rogare meaning to ask (with the hand) and has a similar cognate in the English reckon.

Torture is and always has been (so far as I am aware) against stated and legal U.S. military policy. I won't pretend to speak for the C.I.A. The London Times' and the Left's use of this term is obviously inflammatory and biased and is meant to cause bias. I don't think any set policy will ever prevent sadists from engaging in torture when they can and I don't see why any non-sadist would wish to use torture as a means of interrogation, when other means such as Sodium Pentathol are available and when it is indeed easy to get false confessions when one resorts intentionally to causing pain.

I can sympathize with any suspicion against secret agencies, (Remeber the C.I.A. chief who died mysteriously alone in the midst of a river of a "heart-attack" while fishing? Was that under Bush Sr., or under Clinton?) but I see the issue as parallel to gun control, any such policy just ensures that the bad guy knows that the good guy is powerless. I believe I understand your concerns, if what I am saying is clear, we need not belabor the issue.

And now I know that there are at least three Marlboro's in NJ then.

Ted Keer

Kenny,You anger me sometimes


You anger me sometimes but I still like you Smiling

You said I was either ignorant or support for water-boarding, sleep deprivation, rape and other forms humiliation. I support effective interrogation and the use of principles in determining what is torture and what is not. sleep deprivation and 'humiliation' are effective and not torture in many contexts (though there are some where they aren't).

I understand the distrust of government, I distrust it too. It makes it worse when it is veiled in secrecy. The problem with CIA activities is that they are secret. Revealing the truth, even to defend against accusations of torture, is not an option in many cases. I do not take seriously any of the first 10 results that I read doing the google search on "extraordinary rendition".



Kenny's picture

My first choice media is the Daily Telegraph. The Times is my second.

Shame to Whom?

Jeff Perren's picture

A dozen soldiers out of how many are accused and that tars the entire military? If convicted they should be dealt with harshly. (IF. As I read it the case is still pending, and you were very big not long ago on legal procedures), But isn't it a bit unfair to smear the entire organization for the actions of a few?

Kenny, you really should get more sources than the left wing news, such as the BBC, the Guardian, and the Independent. (I read those, too.) They might fairly to be said to have, er what's the phrase?, an agenda.

Mr Green

Kenny's picture

Just Google "extraordinary rendition" and you will find several accounts of torture including the use of electrodes on testicles. There have been several reports about rendition in British newspapers such as the Times, Independent and the Guardian.

CIA torture is illegal in the US. The CIA fly the suspects out of the US to avoid being subject to the law. Craig Murray, the former British ambassador in Uzbekistan, has written about reading CIA intelligence that he knew was obtained using torture.

I did not say that sleep deprivation and humiliation are equivalent to rape and waterboarding.

U.S. Soldiers Shackled By 'Virtue'

Jeff Perren's picture

Cox & Forkum once again display their genius for stating the essentials of the debate, in a form even faux-liberals can understand.

(Taken from

Which prisoners? Reported by

Which prisoners? Reported by whom? I don't know how I got turned from an advocate of effective interrogation to someone who advocates electrodes on testicles! Kenny, I think we have to agree on what interrogation is and what it means to torture. Do you see any difference between keeping someone awake 20 hours a day and electrocuting their testicles or is both torture to you?


1. I require evidence to

1. I require evidence to support these charges, and I have to admit after seeing Abu G for myself it would take a lot to change my mind about how the US military treats prisoners. The CIA may be extra-military but they are not extra-legal. If these things really did happen the folks involved would and should be tried convicted and punished to the maximum extent of the law.

2. I find it fascinating that you think sleep deprivation and humiliation is equivalent to rape and water boarding. Two are quite legal, moral and effective when properly controlled and safely executed while two are quite illegal, immoral and ineffective.



Kenny's picture

Waterboarding is holding a prisoner's head under water, until he/she nearly drowns, repeatedly. Some prisoners have drowned.

Other forms of torture that have, reportedly, carried out by the CIA's interrogators include applying electrodes to testicles.

According to the moronic and profane Mr Green that's fine. He's more worried about troops showering.

Forms of torture

Jeff Perren's picture

Not being an expert on torture, I don't know what waterboarding is. (It sounds like surfing.) Rape is out of the question, but sleep deprivation? Definitely, if used on those with reasonable suspicion of jihadist activity or association. The effects aren't permanent. It's justifiable under the circumstances.

WN Green is a moron or a fascist

Kenny's picture

My comments on extraordinary rendition related to the CIA's activities in Eygypt, eastern Europe and other countries. There was no comment on US troops in Iraq. This just shows how touchy he is about the atrocities committed on many INNOCENT Iraqis in Abu Graib prison.

Torture is never acceptable. His comments reflect his ignorance, evasion or support for waterboarding, sleep deprivation, rape and other forms humiliation. He is either a moron or a fascist pig.


Marcus's picture

"The Times acts as if it ever had any sympathy for the American Right..."

The Times (of London) is not making up any act, they are merely publishing an opinion piece by the British/ American writer Andrew Sullivan, who is a well-known Conservative/ Libertarian type journalist.

On some issues Sullivan gets it exactly right, but there are many other issues I don't agree with him on.

As I wrote below, I am not yet decided on this issue - but at this stage I think that Powell's side has the stronger argument.

I posted this question..

Marcus's picture

...because I am really divided on this issue.

I saw a news program here on it and both Bush's and Powell's arguments seemed reasonable - but I am finding it hard to judge without knowing more.

Bush's side say that this is a measure to protect national security and all the usual checks and balances will be observed in order to serve justice.

Powell, McCain, and another US Soldier (not sure of his name) were making the case that the US needs to take the moral high ground here and that there is no reason why these cases can not be heard in a public court of law. Because in a public court of law - there have already been trials whereby sensitive evidence was suppressed from the public, as a matter of national security. Further, that if any torture has taken place on prisoners, then it should be bought to light at the public trial.

Bush seems to have legitimate reasons too, and I don't believe that he would be against exposing torture, if it took place - because he hasn't been against exposing it so far.

But what I am missing so far is a good case for why these should NOT be made public trials.

So, I am still undecided.

Just so Adam isn't left out,

Just so Adam isn't left out, fuck you too. Can you hear the screams for the Americans to return to AbuG? They had A/C, daily showers, got fresh food while our troops ate MREs and did without showers and endured water rations.


Fuck you Kenny

Fuck you Kenny. When I see US troops go without water in Iraq so that the terrorist prisoners can get their required daily showers (IN A DESERT!) just becuase their "friends" on the outside blew up the convoy I will not sit idle and let you or anyone else call them torturer.


Well said Adam

Kenny's picture

As you pointed out, the CIA has been guilty of torturing several innocent people who had nothing to do with terrorism. Extraordinary rendition is used as a means of escaping US law. Mr Keer is a Bushite apologist rather than an Objectivist defender of individual rights.

Ted - Torture or Interrogate?

AdamReed's picture

Ted - no one has drawn an objective boundary between "aggressive methods of interrogation" and torture. And if a boundary were drawn, how would I know whether it is being observed? "I pray for divine guidance every day, so trust me" is not exactly my idea of appropriate safeguards.

I understand from friends in Poland that several professionals formerly employed by UB - the old Communist government's "security" service - are now employed as "interrogators" at undisclosed locations. Given what I have been told about their methods (my father changed our family name after our escape, in part because he had been forced to work on patching up tortured prisoners for trial,) I am extremely skeptical about any alleged difference between the "interrogations" that those people are doing now, and old-fashioned Communist torture.

(The Marlboro where I lived is near Bell Labs Holmdel.)

The Times, or Pravda?

Ted Keer's picture


I did want to address that your quote from the [(?) London] Times is a bunch of loaded hogwash. The question that you asked in your own words was perfectly legitimate. But here in the U.S. we have journalists who refer only to Mr. Bush, never President Bush, and to his "so-called" war on terror. The Times acts as if it ever had any sympathy for the American Right, and then complains about "wiretapping without court warrants, indefinite detention without trial and the use of torture" when it should be speaking of listening to unprotected foreign communications (something they have no problem with in Britain, so far as I understand,) of refraining from the summary execution of unlawful combatants and of the use of female interrogators and sleep deprivation to get information from those who slit the throats of innocent men on live TV.

My comments are merely to assert that I do not accept the negative rhetorical presumptions of the Times' biased view, not in any regard to you.

Ted Keer, Sep 18, 2006, NYC

Torture or Interrogate?

Ted Keer's picture


I guess we'd need the full text of the law here. But again, my understanding is the issue is what American interrogators can do, not what foreign torturers can do. First, given that we scolded Phil over his mistranslation of madrassah, should we not observe the distinction between interrogation and torture? Second, if we assume that the government is going to do evil things just for the sake of doing evil things, I think it's time for us all to become Epicureans and live hidden. I just don't think that that is a premise from which we can draw any conclusions.

Regarding overseas travel, I agree with you for the exact opposite reason, I am afraid of what the foreigners might do. As for the cases you mentioned, the only one that seems relevant to me is that of the Canadian national whom you said was apprehended on U.S. territory. But in all three cases, do not treaties exist between us and Canada and Germany? You still did not address my question below as to whether we were indeed speaking of interrogation or of torture. As I understand it, the issue at hand is how will we treat irregular combatants captured on foreign soil, whom we wish to interrogate for intelligence purposes. If there were a whole lot of firing squads executing foreigners because they had admitted under torture to being terrorists, then I might see cause for worry.

I am a minarchist hawk. I see the muslims as far worse than Rand ever saw the communists. I can't imagine her describing a sympathetic Andrei Bin Taganov. I never voted for Bush. (I voted Perot & Nader to send a signal to the major parties, in so far as that mattered. I guess I got some exercise walking to the poll.) But at my job, the overwhelming majority are democrats. I kept hearing about how Bush was going to outlaw black people and murder the elderly and lock up all his enemies. I keep waiting for this to happen. It actually seems like Bush is fighting this war in good faith. Too good a faith. Actual political rights exist only within the context of a state which will enforce them. Perhaps the savage has his natural rights, but if the savage is attacking me & my state then I want that savage treated as a savage, not as a jaywalker.

I think that you and I may be starting from different premises here. I remember disagreeing with you back on Kirez Korgan's list in a millennium past, but also sometimes finding fruitful common ground. If we have no common ground here, I don't want to engage in mutual farm-burning.

Ted Keer, Sep 18, 2006, NYC

P.S., I see on Google that there is more than one Marlboro in NJ. Hope I didn't make you a Delaware Vally resident in error.

Ted - torture

AdamReed's picture

Ted - we've already had several cases of completely innocent people who were tortured for months. One, a Canadian detained in US territory, was turned over by American agencies, for torture, to Iranian satellite Syria, and released a year later. He was innocent, but if it had not been for the intervention of the Canadian government on his behalf he would have been tortured to death, as is usually done with political prisoners in Syria.

Another, a German, was taken from Albania to Afghanistan and tortured there. His "detention" continued for months even after the US interrogators definitively established his innocence. He was eventually "released" in a particularly remote and xenophobic part of Macedonia, from where he eventually managed to get back to civilization, somehow without getting killed by the local aborigines.

No one outside the CIA knows how many other such cases there have been, and how many innocent citizens of countries whose troops are fighting as our allies in Afghanistan, and quite possibly American citizens, have been tortured to death. It is only a matter of time before internal dissidents, such as you or I, no longer dare travel abroad for fear of what our own government might do to us outside the reach of the Constitution.

Torture? Anybody?

Ted Keer's picture


You say that under Bush's proposal "anyone suspected of complicity in terrorism...can be tortured..."

• Aren't these "anyone's" indeed un-uniformed combatants?
• And is it not proper to say that they can be interrogated (i.e., agressively questioned and subjected to unpleasant but non-lethal coercion,) rather than be "tortured" (which connotes an emphasis on the infliction of pain, rather than upon the acquistion of intelligence?)

My understanding is that the proposed rules are necessitated only because of the Supreme Court's irrational extension of constitutional and treaty protections to those who are outside the jurisdiction of the Constitution and outside the protections of the Geneva Convention. I am curious what might constitute a worst case scenario for you under this scheme. I could understand misgivings if I thought that the military might snatch me off the streets of Manhattan and hold me incommunicado for purposes of their own sexual gratification. But even given the gross underestimation of the motives of professionally trained interrogators, (not Abu-Ghraib privates getting their kicks,) wouldn't the supposed victims be outside the bounds of any legal protections that would bind us?

In any case, I loved the cartoons on your profile, and I say hello as a fellow South Jersey expatriate.

Ted Keer, Sep 17, 2006, NYC

Bush and Powell

AdamReed's picture

Under Bush's proposal, anyone suspected of complicity in terrorism, even without evidence other than an "insight" some soldier might have had after praying for divine guidance, can be tortured to extract a confession that he's a terrorist - and then deprived of liberty (that is, deprived of life qua man) for the rest of his life on no evidence beyond a "confession" extracted by torture. I don't know if the safeguards advocated by McCain and Powell are the right way to go, but Bush's proposal isn't either.

Powell Compounds his Sins

Ted Keer's picture

Not only is Colin Powell's current nonsense disgusting, the need for us to go back to Iraq in force was his fault.

Powell should understand, and I am sure he does, that the Geneva Convention in no way applies to un-uniformed war criminals. His positions are always explicitly altruistic, he would have us not only turn the other cheek to "gain the moral high ground," he would have us sharpen their blades and have us expose our jugulars to our enemies. It was he who came up with the brilliant idea of leaving Saddam in power after the first Iraqi campaign. We are trying to end now a war that he counseled us not to finish then. Powell has the blood of every freedom-fighter, of every Marsh Arab and of every man murdered by Saddam's regime from the sham armistice until today on his hands. He is a war criminal who betrayed those who rose up against Saddam at our urging in the first campaign and who were massacred when we decided that leaving the tumor of Saddam in place would be better than exercising his malignancy. We are now trying to perform radical surgery when a lumpectomy might have been possible. And our perfidy against our would-be allies in the first campaign has been a major factor in the distrust we faced but did not expect in this one.

Ted Keer, Sep 17, 2006, NYC

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