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So Does This Mean An End To Obama Derangement Syndrome?

David Frum wonders if the events of May 1st will finally put an end to the crazier arguments made against President Obama:

But it is also a deservedly bad moment for some of the destructive forces in American public life: for those who have substituted for ordinary politics a sustained campaign to brand President Obama as an outsider, as un-American, as non-American.

Those of us who oppose this administration’s economic and foreign policies have had so many valid points to make.

Yet some have insisted on traveling beyond those valid points. They have called the president “post American.” A “Third world dictator.” An individual whose behavior could only be interpreted as “Kenyan post-colonial.”  A “thug in chief.” They have tried to present US politics not as a choice between liberal and conservative, but as a choice between American and non-American, between real Americans and between a dangerous dark-skinned intruder. They have sought to portray the President as a man who could not be trusted to lead the country because he owed no loyalty to the country – because he did not belong in the country.

After the events of the past 72 hours, those kinds of attacks should be finished now. It’s a cleaner world without bin Laden soiling it. And American politics will be cleaner for the expunging of the malicious fantasy of the president’s non-Americanness.

President Obama has performed the first job of an American president: he has used the power of the nation well to defeat the nation’s enemies and defend the nation’s people. After an interval for celebration of yesterday’s accomplishment, it will be back to politics as usual. But let’s hope that this time, the usual will have this difference: that the administration can be criticized as “liberal” without being libeled as “alien.”

I’m largely in the same camp as Frum here. I oppose many of the policy positions that the President has taken, especially in the economic arena and, ironically, in the areas of foreign policy and civil liberties where the biggest problem I have is that he’s been too similar to his predecessor for my taste. At the same time, I long ago drew the line at what I would refer to as the crazy stuff whether it was the birtherism, the “secret Muslim” myth, the idea that the President is motivated by a “Kenyan anti-colonialist worldview,” and the idea that he hates America and wants to destroy it. These were myths that took hold on the right during the election and were clearly cultivated by men like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh to the point where there are substantial pluralities in the Republican Party who seem to believe in one or more of these myths.

As much as I would like to think that Frum is right and that the picture of this President presiding over a daring military action that brought to final justice the man responsible for the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, I simply don’t believe it’s going to happen. The minds of the people who hold these opinions, all of whom seem to be motivated by nothing less than sheer unadulterated hatred of the President are unlikely to be changed by this one event. Moreover, the nature of our political discourse, which itself is part of the reason that things have gotten so bad, makes it inevitable that the most vile commentary will rise to the top. So, sadly, no I don’t expect the people suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome to change their mind because of this, though it sure would be nice if they did.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. george says:

    Of course not, he’s a Democrat, and plays on the other team. Same reason some folks on the left automatically believe crazy things (truthers etc) about any Republican president … the other side is evil, what they’re actually doing is just a detail,and hardly a necessary one – if you don’t see them doing anything evil,then it just means they’re hiding it well.

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  2. PJ says:

    Anyone asking that question hasn’t been reading any right-wing blogs today…

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  3. Rock says:

    The Bush Derangement Syndrome … and The Palin Derangement Syndrome are still as strong as they ever were. The Obama Derangement Syndrome is only a minor Derangement thus far.

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  4. PD Shaw says:

    I can find nothing to criticize the POTUS in his handling of this and he and all of the others involved deserve thanks for doing their jobs so well.

    Though I will always wonder if it would have been better to keep OBL’s body to fight off the conspiracy theories. I understand the issues and the trade-offs so I won’t Monday-morning quarterback, but couldn’t we have warehoused the body where we keep the arc of the covenant, the alien autopsy from Area 51, Obama’s actual long form birth certificate and his first Koran? You know, just to fight off conspiracy theories?

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  5. mantis says:

    So Does This Mean An End To Obama Derangement Syndrome?

    Not a chance. Any other questions?

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  6. tom p says:

    Steve Benen nails it:

    I swear this isn’t satire. Brody thinks, by killing Osama bin Laden, and then not smiling about it during a speech, the president was “catering to thugs.”

    (that would be David Brody, the chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network) Brody’s words are at the link.

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  7. Tlaloc says:

    On the other hand there are some pretty legitimate reasons to fear the guy. Take this for example;
    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-team-that-killed-bin-laden-seal-team-6-2011-5#ixzz1LDI45JDU
    An admittedly extra-legal (i.e. illegal) assassination team (i.e. death squad) maintained by the US outside of the military chain of command and specifically designed to do things we can then deny later having done. Add that to Obama asserting a presidential right to order targetted killings of american citizens:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/07/assassinations

    Am I the only one extremely bothered by what this says about executive power in the US?

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  8. Southern Hoosier says:

    Thank you Pres. Bush for making it possible for Comrade Obama to kill Bin Laden. it was your administration that started the investigation and the intelligence work.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/05/02/right-reax-bin-laden/

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  9. PD Shaw says:

    “Am I the only one extremely bothered by what this says about executive power in the US?”

    It certainly won’t be me, for to paraphrase the Great Emancipator, to silence the agitator, to save the soldier boy, is not only Constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.

    Understanding the great power the President has over foreign matters, restricted only meaningfully in a few ways, simply requires careful selection of a POTUS whose judgment is expected to be prudential.

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  10. CB says:

    southern, by that logic, W has to thank Clinton as well.

    still anxious to make those pithy pronouncements?

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  11. hey norm says:

    Let’s review shall we:
    *Handed a crashing stock market, exploding deficits, and a job market shedding 600,000 jobs a month, the Obama administration stopped the biggest economic crisis since the depression…
    *They saved the auto industry and upwards of a million jobs in the process. GM is now profitable.
    *They re-worked TARP so that it would be profitable for the country and not just another give-away.
    *They passed a republican plan for health care reform with no republican votes…presidents from both parties had failed at this for 40 or 50 years.
    *They reformed Student Loans saving the government, and students, money.
    *They reorganized the incredibly corrupt Minerals Management Service
    *They managed the Gulf Oil Spill which was capped in far less time than any comparable previous event
    *They got rid of DADT
    *They stopped enforcement of the DOMA
    *They got rid of the F22 Raptor
    *They got rid of the spare engines for the F35
    *They got a commitment to $78B in savings from the Pentagon
    *They leveraged the republican obsession for tax cuts into additional necessary stimulus
    *They convinced republicans to go along with $38B in spending cuts which were really less than $1B
    *They head faked the republicans into proposing to abolish medicare and medicaid in order to provide rich folks with additional tax cuts
    *AND OH YEAH…THEY PRESIDED OVER THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN

    It’s no wonder republicans are deranged…they had no idea a Kenyan Socialist Muslim President could perform so well…and it’s not even the end of the first term.

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  12. Southern Hoosier says:

    @ hey norm
    You forgot the part about Comrade Obama walking on water and healing the sick.

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  13. Dave Schuler says:

    You’re such a kidder, Doug.

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  14. michael reynolds says:

    hey norm:

    Just imagine what he could have accomplished if he didn’t hate America.

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  15. michael reynolds says:

    Southern:

    Wow. Devastating response. Norm must really be licking his wounds.

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  16. Hey Norm says:

    I forgot about putting the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court

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  17. jwest says:

    To paraphrase Don Rumsfield:

    “As you know, you go after Bin Laden with the President you have. He’s not the President you might want or wish to have at a later time.”–

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  18. Hey Norm says:

    Jwest finally makes sense…we went to war with Bush, and not Obama, who ultimately got the job done.

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  19. Drew says:

    hey norm, pass the bong.

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  20. Eric Florack says:

    Your question makes it sound like in the process of getting Obama, we didn’t use intel from Gitmo and other secret prisons wherein “enhanced interrogation” was used. Obama wanted out out of the region, and didn’t want to have such prisons and such techniques used to gather intel, and yet he now stands willing to take credit for the result of their use. THe cognitive dissonance on the left over the Nobel peace prize winner, carrying off a successful assassination has yet to reach a crescendo, I think.

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  21. Hey Norm says:

    Eric,
    Please provide a link that confirms the intel came from torture at gitmo.
    Thanks.

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  22. Southern Hoosier says:

    Hey Norm says: Monday, May 2, 2011 at 17:02

    Jwest finally makes sense…we went to war with Bush, and not Obama, who ultimately got the job done.

    Good, now that the job is done, does that mean we can pull our troops out and go home?

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  23. Hey Norm says:

    Silly rabbit…
    Osama was Job 1.
    The world is complex and any mission consists of many jobs. I know it’s hard to follow. But try.

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  24. Eric Florack says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/officials-cia-interrogators-at-secret-prisons-developed-first-strands-that-led-to-bin-laden/2011/05/02/AFHjfCZF_story.html

    Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

    I said both here aand at my blog and in an article I published at Pajamas Media that Obama woud continue using the tacctics Bush had started because there was nothing else for it.

    And the left still has yet to come to terms with that reality.

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  25. Southern Hoosier says:

    @ Eric Florack you have to realize that information obtained by the Bush administration, was obtained by torture, but information obtained by the Obama administrations is through good police work. Same people, same techniques, different spin.

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  26. john personna says:

    Southern Hoosier, you should probably try not to show special derangement in a thread about derangement. It is particularly obvious in that setting.

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  27. mattb says:

    Ok Torture-heads, please to explaining this then (btw, run by Newsmax)

    Rumsfeld Exclusive: There Was No Waterboarding of Courier Source

    Monday, 02 May 2011 01:02 PM: By Jim Meyers and Ashley Martella

    Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tells Newsmax the information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden was obtained through “normal interrogation approaches” and says the notion that terrorist suspects were waterboarded at Guantanamo Bay is a “myth.”

    “It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.

    http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/DonaldRumsfeld-gitmo-waterboarding-osamabinladen/2011/05/02/id/394820

    So help me out. Is Rummy lying or is this pretty much counter to the “fall on your knees and thank torture.” It seems to me that if there is any moment where Rumsfeld could have really used this to justify enhanced interrogation it would be now.

    If we take him at his word, then your argument is shot.

    If he’s lying — and this was because of torture — then why didn’t he say it was?

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  28. Ben Wolf says:

    Sorry Erik, but the timeline doesn’t track. KSM was waterboarded 183 times, all in 2002 according to released documents. The discovery of bin Laden’s courier occurred in 2006 or 2007, which means KSM (if he actually told us anything) held out for four or five years after he was brutalized.

    Remember al-Libi? He’s the man whom we tortured into giving us false testimony that Saddam Hussein offered to train al-Qaeda operatives in creating bio-weapons. The Bush Administration referenced al-Libi testimony repeatedly as justification for war with Iraq.

    The Post story you linked two is an anonymous claim with no details or facts included to support it, and like most of what the Post writes these day, not credible.

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  29. Hey Norm says:

    Eric,
    Thanks for the link. I’ll just say that the ends do not justify the means. There is no way for us to know if that info could have been developed without torture. I believe most experts think so. I do know torture complicates immensely our options for dealing with these guys now.
    I’ll also say that where the initial kernel of info came from does not detract one bit from Obama’s performance as commander in chief.
    Ultimately it was JSOC and the CIA and Seal Team 6 that did this. For 2-1/2 years they have worked for this administration. Frankly I wish Osama had been taken at Tora Bora…but he wasn’t. The previous administration was focused on Iraq.

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  30. Southern Hoosier says:

    mattb says: Monday, May 2, 2011 at 18:31
    Rumsfeld Exclusive: There Was No Water boarding of Courier Source

    Never realized that liberals like Rumsfeld so much.
    Do you actually think Rumsfeld would admit that the Bush administration used torture and open himself up to charges of being a war criminal?

    NEW YORK — A secret memo authored by the Department of Justice (DOJ) asserting that President Bush has unlimited power to order brutal interrogations to extract information from detainees was declassified today as a result of an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The memo, written by John Yoo, then a deputy at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), was sent to the Defense Department in March 2003.

    http://www.aclu.org/national-security/secret-bush-administration-torture-memo-released-today-response-aclu-lawsuit

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  31. Wiley Stoner says:

    I think Reynolds would look good in a burka. Anything to cover that visage’. ODS? Quit it! There is no derangement in calling Obama on his stuff. Donks had no problem calling Bush on his faults, but they had to lie to come up with some. If Bush was a liar, how is that closing of Gitmo going? If Bush was or is a liar, that would place Obama in the catagory of Satan as far as lies go. If his lips are moving, he is lying. Seals, not Obama go Osama. Notice how closely those names sound.

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  32. Gustopher says:

    Well, he may have killed Bin Laden, but he’s still uppity.

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  33. Hey Norm says:

    Ben,
    It appears KSM gave a pseudonym in a timeframe that matches. That is the kernel that required 83 sessions of torture. Maybe with tradtional interogation techniques we could have gotten a real name…we will never know. As it was we couldn’t put a real name to the person until 4 years ago. There is no indication that info came from torture or Gitmo. We may not know how that intel was developed for years.

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  34. tom p says:

    Your question makes it sound like in the process of getting Obama, we didn’t use intel from Gitmo and other secret prisons wherein “enhanced interrogation” was used.

    I can not believe I am the only one who caught your Fruedian slip Eric…. (sorry, could not resist…. 2 funny).

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  35. mattb says:

    So does that mean that the Republican Press (aka Newsmax) is willing to lie (that’s bias right)? Or why are they not calling him out on the lie and asking him to proudly proclaim that torture works?

    In fact, why have we yet to have any people go on record with actionable intelligence that *only* resorted from torture?

    Ultimately, can anyone give me a *coherent argument* as to why conservatives or libertarians — who are the first to argue that Governments cannot do anything right, are a bane on our exististence, take and cannot produce, are a threat to our freedoms, and are more often than not populated by corrupt and evil liberals (and the occasional corrupt conservative) — fight so hard for the rights of those same governments to domestically spy, pass death sentences, torture, or conduct assassinations?

    I’m serious about that one. And I promise to take you seriously.

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  36. Hey Norm says:

    Wiley…do you pay attention at all? The only reason Gitmo is still there (the prison anyway) is because a collection of republicans and dems are pussys. They were afraid to bring these scary boogeyman to US soil. You cannot blame that on Obama…unless you suffer from ODS

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  37. tom p says:

    THe cognitive dissonance on the left over the Nobel peace prize winner,

    I still laugh at that, but only because of the cognitive dissonance on the right. When will you people acknowledge the fact that the only reason Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize is because he WASN’T Bush?

    Yeah, it was stupid. But that stupidity PALED in comparison to our re-electing Bush-II.

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  38. DavidL says:

    Give Obama credit. Unlike B.J. Clinton, he able to pull the trigger on Usama bin Laden. BZ Mr. President.

    That said, regular gas just crashed the four dollar barrier at my local station, the price seems headed for fiive or six. Yet Obama has no plan to lower the price of gasoline other than to give the Alllinsky Treatment to big oil. At five dollars a gallon, the late Pat Paulson could beat Obama. Obama’s policies are making life miserable for Americans.

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  39. I guess the logic is now that Obama got OBL, you can’t question anything at all about him, his policies, his past, his associations, or his beliefs- now that he gave the order for the SEALs to go ahead and do their job that they had been working on for over a decade, the only option you mere mortals have is to bow down and worship at his feet. Piss on the Constitution, Obama is God.

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  40. wonkie says:

    I do’t think Obama is God. However I do think that it is worth noting that while Obama was busy taking Bin Ladin out the Republicans were aiming their guns at Medicare, Medicaid and labor unions–their fellow Americas.

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  41. Hey Norm says:

    Conservative teacher…if you think the extent of Obamas involvement was limited to giving the order to the seal team…then your students are getting short-changed. Tell me, what would have been the foreign relations impact had the mission failed on the soil of a nation that had not been notified of the operation? Do you imagine Obama has had any role in deciding to use small strike teams, first in Somolia, and now in Pakistan rather than invading and occupying and nation building? No, I didn’t think so.

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  42. Southern Hoosier says:

    A Conservative Teacher says: Monday, May 2, 2011 at 19:32
    Obama is God.

    You got that right! And if you think otherwise you are a racist.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LqbrJGct4o

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  43. Drew says:

    What a concept, there is partisan commentary here. Of course, its all on the racist right. Right?

    Nancy Pelosi, press conference, September 7, 2006:

    [E]ven if [Osama bin Laden] is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done … is done. And even to capture him now I don’t think makes us any safer.

    Nancy Pelosi, earlier today:

    The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida. … I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment. … [T]he death of Osama bin Laden is historic….

    Get a grip, people. Even if just a barely sustainable finger grip.

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  44. anjin-san says:

    Clinton, he able to pull the trigger on Usama bin Laden.

    Clinton did go after bin laden – and the right reacted quite hysterically, screeching “wag the dog” at high volume.

    and david? I realize that you are a bithead groupie, hence your IQ cannot possibly be over 85, but do me a favor anyway. Don’t use Pat Paulsen’s (please note the spelling, dipwad) name in your rants. The Paulsen family are old friends, and I can promise you they would not appreciate it.

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  45. An Interested Party says:

    Notice how closely those names sound.

    All you really need to know about these people…

    Obama’s policies are making life miserable for Americans.

    Oh yes, please tell us how the president is personally responsible for the rising gas prices at your local station…

    I guess the logic is now that Obama got OBL, you can’t question anything at all about him, his policies, his past, his associations, or his beliefs…

    Oh not at all…you’re more than welcome to continue looking for his real birth certificate…

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  46. Tlaloc says:

    The only reason Gitmo is still there (the prison anyway) is because a collection of republicans and dems are pussys. They were afraid to bring these scary boogeyman to US soil. You cannot blame that on Obama…unless you suffer from ODS

    Actually I can blame Obama quite fairly. He could have, at any time ordered the military to transfer any and all prisoners held at Guantanamo to military prisons in the US and there’s not a damn thing congress could have done about it. He’s the CinC. So yeah it is partially Obama’s fault that guantanamo remains a festering blight on our honor (which is not to absolve said pussies in congress who would have screeched to high heaven if Obama had done the right thing).

    On civil rights Obama has been (amazingly, astoundingly, even unbelievably) worse than Bush.

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  47. Jay Tea says:

    Well, I guess SOMEONE has to call Norm on his little jump…

    KSM and al-Libi were subjected to waterboarding and other “enhanced techniques.”

    It has not been determined that those constituted “torture.” It’s debatable, and there are strong arguments to be made on both sides. I believe they do not constitute “torture,” as legally defined, but were designed to get close to the legal line without crossing it.

    Also, KSM was not “tortured” 183 times with waterboarding. There were 183 distinct “pours” upon him, over a period of several weeks. To count each “pour” as a separate incident of torture would be similar to taking an assault and battery case, and charge the attacker for assault for each individual punch. Or charging a bank robber separately for each bill he took.

    It don’t work that way.

    J.

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  48. An Interested Party says:

    Ahh, no matter what happens, we’ll still have the same people arguing that waterboarding isn’t torture…how reassuring…

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  49. MM says:

    I guess the logic is now that Obama got OBL, you can’t question anything at all about him, his policies, his past, his associations, or his beliefs- now that he gave the order for the SEALs to go ahead and do their job that they had been working on for over a decade, the only option you mere mortals have is to bow down and worship at his feet. Piss on the Constitution, Obama is God.

    Nope, but that was some wicked passive-aggressive pre-victimhood there.

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  50. mattb says:

    On the subject of torture… and I’m still waiting for a torture defender to take up my question (http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/so-does-this-mean-an-end-to-obama-derangement-syndrome/#comment-1402703)… beyond Rumsfeld’s denial of any of this intel coming from “enhanced interrogation techniques,” why have we yet to hear of any cases (with all the leaks and information made public) of cases where waterboarding led to actionable intel that didn’t also come from other sources…

    And if you’re looking for specific background on this argument, see the yoeman’s work that is still being carried out on the topic by magazines like the American Conservative (http://www.amconmag.com/blog/2011/05/02/post-bin-laden-keep-it-real-on-torture/).

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  51. mattb says:

    It’s debatable, and there are strong arguments to be made on both sides. I believe they do not constitute “torture,” as legally defined, but were designed to get close to the legal line without crossing it.

    Two key points on this:

    1. First, did you think a blowjob is sex? Because this is the very argument that Clinton was attacked and impeached on.

    2. Much like anyone whose ever recieved a blow job KNOWS that ITS SEX, from what I understand, anyone whose ever been waterboarded KNOWS that ITS TORTURE.

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  52. anjin-san says:

    Christopher Hitchings said waterboarding was not torture, and to prove it, he submitted to waterboarding. After he was waterboarding, he said that it was torture, no ifs, ands, or buts. He was very stand up about the whole thing from beginning to end.

    Of course “stand up” is a concept that does not exist in vapor Jay’s universe.

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  53. Davebo says:

    Can we just take a poll here?

    Florack is Bithead who decided to put a name (not necessarily his of course) to his past incoherent ramblings. Nice pic too, angry white guy epitome.

    Southern Hoosier is, hell who knows. Zel? Or is it Wiley Idiot? I have no idea but James does. What say you James?

    As to Bithead groupies. Eeeewwww. It’s sort of like talking about Pewee Herman groupies. I mean seriously? Look at the image.

    Reminds me of the Bircher nuts who showed up at my father in laws funeral ( who twice ran for congress and frighteningly won 8% of the vote once). But they at least had the decency to stand back as far as the authorities would have required the Westboro Church folks to stand back. And they at least left a nice Hibiscus that blooms to this day.

    The internet. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

    I’m as guilty as anyone I suppose. But not as guilty as the batshit crazy wackjobs listed above.

    Jim, what’s up with this cesspool you’ve created? I realize that nutpicking is truly the harvesting of low hanging fruit, and neither you nor the Atlantic Council is responsible for these idiotic comments. But at what point your superiors at the AC say Jim, reign in this idiocy you’ve cultivated? The AC’s main website doesn’t seem to allow for comments on stories. Perhaps I can post mine on Facebook.

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  54. Davebo says:

    Hilarious.

    I’m new to this Facebook thing. But when clicking on the link from the Atlantic Council’s website on the first article found I find the only option is to choose new thumbnails.

    Choices?

    &TB (beats me)

    Lockheed Marting

    Stewart and Stevenson

    Deutsche Bank

    Airbus

    One unreadable logo

    Krull (Google that one for tons of fun)

    Price Waterhouse & Coopers

    I’m not saying the Atlantic Council is a wholly owned subsidiary of the companies that drove us down the road to ruin. Nor am I claiming that writers here are beholden to the folks that fund this site both directly or indirectly.

    But seriously, wouldn’t it be irresponsible not to speculate? Since speculation is what this site is all about.

    And even though this comment is response to a non Palin post by Doug, do you really believe he does this for free?

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  55. jukeboxgrad says:

    mattb cited this statement by Rumsfeld (http://bit.ly/jSrpi8):

    It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.

    What Rumsfeld said is corroborated by this account (http://apne.ws/iSyiAd):

    Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said

    What did we learn? That waterboarding, even 183 times, did not produce the key information. That information came “many months later under standard interrogation.”

    So much for the magical effectiveness of torture.

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  56. Eric Florack says:

    The Post story you linked two is an anonymous claim with no details or facts included to support it, and like most of what the Post writes these day, not credible.

    I strongly suggest you research this before making any other foolish pronouncements.

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  57. jukeboxgrad says:

    I strongly suggest you research this before making any other foolish pronouncements.

    How ironic. The one making “foolish pronouncements” is you. And the “research” you need to start with is reading the comment I posted just before yours.

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  58. hey norm says:

    the only people who do not think waterboarding is torture are those who approved it, and their blikered followers. my only question to the posters above is…which are you? i think we all know. throughout history it has been considered torture by almost every civilized nation including this one. it always has been, and still is, torture.

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  59. jwest says:

    I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid. Just think to yourself–they paraded Saddam’s dead sons around to prove they were dead–why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea? This lying, murderous Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent — just put your flags away and THINK!

    Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2011/05/03/cindy-sheehan-thinks-empire-faked-osama-takedown-will-chris-matthews-rec#ixzz1LIPirlhq

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  60. Jay Tea says:

    mattb, go and educate yourself. Here’s the legal definition of “torture.”

    The key elements:

    “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering…

    “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm…

    Waterboarding causes NO physical harm, as in “injury to the body.”

    Waterboarding is brief, and very quickly recovered from, so it is not “prolonged.”

    Yes, it’s terrifying as hell. But it does not inflict injury, require a lengthy recovery period, or cause permanent harm of any form.

    I have no dispute that Hitchens was absolutely freaked by his experience. Anyone who wasn’t would have serious mental issues. But his treatment — and that of the Al Qaeda leaders — did not meet the legal definition of torture.

    That was what the whole John Woo memo was about — to look very carefully at the legal definition, and figure out what did and did not cross that line. For which Woo has been vilified for years.

    The attitude seems to be “torture is wrong, and even considering and debating where the line is drawn is wrong, too.” But that’s the nature of making something illegal — you end up with arguments about just what the law means.

    The legal definition of “torture” is fairly clear to me, and waterboarding does not meet that standard to me. And a lot of other people with far more expertise in law and interrogation techniques and human physiology and psychology agree.

    Not everyone, but certainly enough to say that it’s a more than arguable point.

    J.

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  61. mattb says:

    JayTea

    Seriously?! Because you should be smarter than this:

    Your legal definition:
    torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain

    or

    suffering

    Those are OR’s not AND’s.

    Basic grammar and logic. If one “OR” is true, the statement is true. “ANDs” are the ones that require all to be true.

    “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm…

    Perhaps quickly physically recovered from, but not mentally. The reason why it’s preferred is that you don’t leave physical marks and you don’t kill the person. As you say:

    “It’s terrifying as hell … I have no dispute that Hitchens was absolutely freaked by his experience. Anyone who wasn’t would have serious mental issues.”

    If it was quickly recovered from mentally it would be useless. The entire threat of waterboarding is that it is such a scary experience THAT YOU NEVER WANT TO EXPERIENCE IT AGAIN.

    That suggests a high possibility for if not an immediately high level of mental harm/scarring. The very efficacy that you are arguing for demonstrates exactly why its torture. Either that, or we should probably purge ideas like Shell Shock/PTSD because clearly scary experiences can’t possibly cause long term damage.

    Or, even if you want to say once is acceptable, what about 183 separate dunkings?! Even if you say that count is the number of times that water was poured — as opposed to sessions — are you seriously claiming that did not cause “severe mental pain or suffering.”

    Or alternately, can you list what you think would qualify as severe mental pain.

    The key thing with waterboarding is that you have no control over the process. Period. You cannot make them stop. Being forcefully strapped down and drowned without ability to make it stop (and no… “telling the truth” is not making it stop) is going to cause “prolonged mental harm.”

    BTW — contra your claim, what I’m interested in IS fundamentally about debating where to draw a line. My issue is with the logic that you and Woo used to draw the line in such a way that waterboarding was “inside” acceptable violates it own logic.

    And beyond that, we still have yet to see that the torture produced information that was not reached by other methods. Again, NewsMax continues to note that the actionable intelligence on this didn’t come from the torture: http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/bin-laden/2011/05/02/id/394891 — I don’t know much about the publication, but have they traditionally been this open to covering the interrogation story in this way?

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  62. mattb says:

    J: BTW, if I’m a little heated, its only because this is a topic I feel rather passionate about and I enjoy having these conversations with you — as I do think that you reflect on your position and actually take this seriously.

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  63. Jay Tea says:

    mantis, I noted you broke your self-imposed exile at Wizbang recently. True, it was on a 2-year-old thread, but I understand — baby steps.

    mattb, the key words to me are “severe,” “prolonged,” and the subsections of section 2:

    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;

    The only area that comes close is the “calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses,” as it induces the sense of drowning without actually being drowning. And while I think it’s close, I think it’s on the safe side of it.

    The whole point of defining “torture” legally is to draw a stark line between acceptable and unacceptable. I’d argue that Colonel West “tortured” his prisoner by threatening him with a gun and firing it in his presence, and Col. West willingly accepted the punishment for that.

    But when a stark line is drawn, then that line can be approached without crossing it. Geometrically speaking, it’s an asymptote — a curve that approaches a line, but never reaches it. In that sense, as long as the line is never reached, you can get very, very close without crossing it.

    Waterboarding is, I freely admit, close to the line. But it’s not over the line. And the law says “don’t cross the line,” not “don’t even get close to the line.”

    J.

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  64. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jay Tea:

    Yes, it’s terrifying as hell. But it does not inflict injury, require a lengthy recovery period, or cause permanent harm of any form.

    Smart torture apologists have much better arguments. This particular argument of yours is quite stupid.

    I guess you haven’t noticed that those things (“inflict injury, require a lengthy recovery period, or cause permanent harm of any form”) are nowhere in the legal definition. There’s good reason for this.

    Guess what, Einstein. I can attach electrodes to your genital, toes, eyeballs, and earlobes in such a way that “does not inflict injury, require a lengthy recovery period, or cause permanent [physical] harm of any form,” even though I’m delivering a series of high-voltage shocks that cause excruciating pain. (I put in ‘physical’ because you are not in a position to claim that waterboarding doesn’t cause mental harm.)

    That would not be torture? Really? Regardless of the duration of the treatment, the frequency of the treatment, and the voltage used? If a future enemy did this to an American, you would refrain from accusing them of torture? Really?

    I could also repeatedly sodomize you with an electric cattle prod in such a way that “does not inflict injury, require a lengthy recovery period, or cause permanent [physical] harm of any form.” That would not be torture? Really? Regardless of the duration of the treatment or the frequency of the treatment? If a future enemy did this to an American, you would refrain from accusing them of torture? Really?

    Here’s another one for you. Let’s say I shackle you in a standing position, in such a way that you are continuously deprived of sleep. Is this never torture? How many hours before it becomes torture? 50? 80? 100? 1000? 10,000? Never?

    Tell me your answer, and then I’ll tell you why your answer is important.

    The legal definition of “torture” is fairly clear to me, and waterboarding does not meet that standard to me.

    No one cares what you think about the legal definition of torture. What matters is that there’s a long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture. When are we going to apologize to all the people we prosecuted for waterboarding? We called it torture when the Japanese (and others) did it. And we prosecuted them accordingly. See here:

    http://www.pegc.us/archive/Articles/wallach_drop_by_drop_draft_20061016.pdf

    The OLC memos said nothing to acknowledge this history of waterboarding being prosecuted by US courts. This tells us everything we need to know about the honesty of those memos.

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  65. Jay Tea says:

    juke, I was talking to mattb.

    J.

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  66. slimslowslider says:

    Yeah Juke, you just shut up and let Jay Tea have his private conversation on a message board already!

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  67. jukeboxgrad says:

    I was talking to mattb

    If you have something to say to someone and you want to make sure you receive a response from them and only them, a public forum is the wrong place to have that conversation.

    As slim has nicely explained.

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  68. mantis says:

    mantis, I noted you broke your self-imposed exile at Wizbang recently. True, it was on a 2-year-old thread, but I understand — baby steps.

    Yes, I stumbled onto your awesome predictions for the then potential Obama presidency. Comedy gold! I just had to compliment you on your keen prognostication skills.

    Now, I’ll avoid responding to your other comments, since they weren’t directly addressed to me, and I don’t want to disturb your private conversations……here on this blog…..on the Internet.

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  69. An Interested Party says:

    That has to be one of the saddest, weakest pussyfooting moves I’ve ever seen…but what else to expect from someone who is actually trying (and failing) to make the ridiculous claim that waterboarding isn’t torture…

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  70. mattb says:

    While I might not put it in the same way as Jukeboxgrad, my response is pretty similar. I think this your argument requires mental gymnastics of the first order. If there was not a threat of harm associated with water-boarding then why is it effective?

    Again, the detainee cannot ask for it to stop. And if it does not stop — if the individual is not allowed a pause for breath — they will die from suffocation. In this way it is no different than using a revolved with a bullet in the last chamber. The only reason the person lives is that the torturer stops.

    Beyond that, the very act places the individual it is being applied to under significant physical stress. I pull the following from a 2007 position paper entitled “Waterboarding, Interrogation vs. Torture” prepared by US Marine Captain Jeffery S. Nason for the Command and Staff College in Quantico available for download here: http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA500197

    Although waterboarding can be performed in ways that leave no
    lasting physical damage, it carries the real risks of extreme
    pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen
    deprivation, injuries (including broken bones) due to struggling
    against restraints, and even death. The psychological effects on
    victims of waterboarding can last for years after the procedure.
    [emhpasis mine]

    So no Jay, I don’t think you can explain away the harm of Waterboarding that easily. It’s over the line, and perhaps even further over the line than firing a loaded gun in the same room.

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  71. mattb says:

    For more on the dangers inherent to the torture victim in Waterboarding, see these redacted memos released through a freedom of information act:
    http://www.aclu.org/accountability/olc.html

    These include some of the following admissions and things to watch for:

    “The detainee might aspirate some of the water, and the resulting water in the lungs might lead to pneumonia,”

    “We understand that water may enter – and accumulate in – the detainee’s mouth and nasal cavity, preventing him from breathing,”

    “spasms of the larynx” that might keep a prisoner from breathing “even when the application of water is stopped and the detainee is returned to an upright position.” In such cases, Bradbury wrote, “a qualified physician would immediately intervene to address the problem and, if necessary, the intervening physician would perform a tracheotomy.” [Summation cribbed from http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/03/09/waterboarding_for_dummies/index.html

    Additionally you might also want to review the following testimony given in front of the Senate Armed Services committee: http://intelligence.senate.gov/070925/akeller.pdf#page=6

    Please let me know how all of those facts fit under the law you quote.

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  72. [...] So Does This Mean An End To Obama Derangement Syndrome? (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  73. Eric Florack says:

    How ironic. The one making “foolish pronouncements” is you. And the “research” you need to start with is reading the comment I posted just before yours.

    Dont need to.

    Brian Williams: I’d like to ask you about the sourcing on the intel that ultimately led to this successful attack. Can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after Bin Laden?

    Leon Panetta: You know, Brian, in the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information, and that was true here. We had a multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation. Clearly, some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees, but we also had information from other sources as well. So it’s a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got.

    Williams: Turned around the other way, are you denying that waterboarding was in part among the tactics used to extract the intelligence that led to this successful mission?

    Panetta: No, I think some of the detainees clearly were — you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I’m also saying that the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.

    Williams: So, final point, one final time: enhanced interrogation techniques, which has always been kind of a handy euphemism in these post-9/11 years, that includes waterboarding.

    Panetta: That’s correct.

    Any more dumb denials?

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  74. jukeboxgrad says:

    You must be a believer in time travel. What you said 5/3 at 5:52 am was based on what Panetta said about 12 hours later? I hope you can explain how that works.

    And by the way, no one ever said that no helpful information came from torture. That’s not what I said. I said this: “waterboarding, even 183 times, did not produce the key information.” And that’s true. It didn’t.

    Being impressed by what was produced by torture in this case is like being impressed by a stopped clock because it’s right twice a day. What torture produced is not nil, but what’s more important is what it failed to produce. I explained this in more detail here.

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  75. Eric Florack says:

    No, I stated fact based on what I knew so far. Panetta confirmed it later.
    Or is that too complex a scenario for you to understand?

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  76. jukeboxgrad says:

    I stated fact based on what I knew so far. Panetta confirmed it later.

    If Panetta’s statement was not your source for the claim you made, you shouldn’t have cited his statement in a way that implied that it was.

    You also have made no attempt to address what I said, which demonstrates that torture failed.

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  77. Eric Florack says:

    No. It rather demonstrates nothing of the kind. But you can go one believing that if you insist. Of course to do that, requires that you ignore far more evidence than the birthers supposedly did.

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  78. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s pretty simple: if waterboarding was as effective as what we were told, OBL would have been found in 2003, not 2011.

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  79. slimslowslider says:
  80. jukeboxgrad says:

    Yup. Now Florack has to tell us that he knows more than McCain.

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