Conservative Bloggers Silent On Torture?
Shaun Mullen wonders “Why Are Right-of-Center Bloggers So Silent On Torture?”
He searched high and low and could find no right-of-center bloggers who made any mention at all, for example, of yesterday’s NYT story “China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo.” I’d note that Andrew Sullivan wrote roughly 600 posts on the subject yesterday, including this one, which pretty well covered our bases. Some conservatives have disowned him, though, so perhaps he no longer counts.
A quick search of my RSS feed showed plenty of non-Sullivan forays into the subject, although not that article in particular.
Amusingly, John Cole, who’s in Sully’s boat of being a conservative disgusted with the GOP and thus on the outs with much of the Right Blogosphere, calls the gang at Red State “hacks” for not having written about the story despite not having done so himself aside from noting the hackery of the Red Staters for not having written about it.
Otherwise, Mullen’s right: I’m not finding discussion on the conservative blogs about the NYT/China story.
Plenty do, however, weigh in on the other torture story yesterday, Christopher Hitchens’ Vanity Fair piece explaining that, yes, waterboarding is torture. Cole, incidentally, is among them.
Ace contends Hitch is “whining” and approvingly passes on the observation that, “Torture is any experience so horrible that no-one would consider trying it out simply for the purpose of writing a Vanity Fair article about what it’s like.” Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse concur. Stephen Green is mostly amused.
Bruce McQuain responds to yet another torture piece, a column by Chris Satullo in the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing we should cancel the Fourth of July celebrations out of shame at our torture policy. Bruce retorts that Satullo is a “nimrod.”
Anyone who reads this blog knows where I stand on torture. I don’t support its use and find it to be both morally wrong and morally repugnant. But for goodness sake, a little perspective would be nice – we actually have a process which reviews such things and acts to curtail such activities if we feel that to be necessary. That is precisely what we did.
Pat Lang, who I figure gets at least honorary conservative cred on the basis of being a retired colonel and Senior Intelligence Service officer, observes,
Clearly, some sadist or group of sadists with a vivid imagination took advantage of the national trauma of 9/11 to use the old communist enemies’ methods as a model.
Whoever did that inflicted a grave injury and disgrace on the United States. The culprits should be punished as an example to future generations of sadists.
So, why so little attention on the conservative blogs? Two explanations come readily to mind:
- 1. Quite a few on the Right actually support the use of coercive interrogation techniques, considering them a reasonable tool in protecting the country from the Islamofascist hordes and preventing another 9/11. Alternatively, even if they opposed “torture,” they believe waterboarding and other techniques which don’t cause permanent damage are acceptable.
2. They, like most of their counterparts on the Left, mostly highlight stories advantageous to their candidate or party and downplay those which are potentially harmful to the Cause.
3. They’re bored with the story, considering it largely “old news” and variations on a theme.
The third of those explains why I didn’t bother with the story yesterday. I’ve written perhaps dozens of posts over the years condemning torture, both on moral and practical grounds, and don’t frankly see why the fact that the Chicoms used the same techniques makes any difference or adds any legitimate persuasive power to the argument.
I’ve made my feelings on this topic well known enough, even on this site. It’s not a popular viewpoint, but so be it. The truth is often unpopular.
Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse wrote an excellent post on this topic (one of many). I don’t think Mr Mullen looked very hard.
On torture, historian Philip Bobbitt said today that he’d be wiling to torture Peter Robinson to obtain life saving information in his NRO interview.
Link is here.
Liberals tend to set the bar too low when applying standards to us (USA) and too high when applied to others. If it does not hurt in the extreme, it is not torture. We just tire of claims by idiots like Sullivan about torture. Andrew should have been held by Saddam. He would understand torture. But then, he would not be here now to exaggerate and lie.
Ah, so gentle rape is ok then.
Rape is well defined for the most part. A remaining argument of when it is or isn’t is if a “femaleâ€ has sex sometimes after getting drunk then decides the next day that she really didn’t want to. I don’t consider that rape but some do.
The problem with torture is it isn’t well defined. Some considered placing enemy combatant in handcuffs as torture. There have been many threads discussing this topic.
The problem arises when people use different definitions of torture as well. http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/torture.html
Inflicting extreme pain is much different than just causing anguish. Geneva Conventions address inflicting extreme pain. Trying to use anguish definition would put most laws and rules into the fantasy land and would not be practical.
So we have those that disagree what torture is and those that even if it is agreed to as torture disagree if it should be used or not. Many seem to confuse the two disagreements.
That wasn’t the question, the question was: does rape constitute torture if the victim isn’t caused extreme physical pain?
I’m pretty sure that’s an exaggeration.
A fourth explanation is simply that conservatism has no moral or ethical foundations, and therefore those on the right are unable to understand objections to torture.
I’m pretty sure that’s covered by the first explanation.
I took you statement the wrong way. Most rapes especially before date rape drugs aren’t gentle and I thought that was what you were getting at. Interesting question though. If it doesn’t cause epp (extreme physical pain) then it couldn’t rightly be call physical torture even though it is a physical act. Obviously it causes great emotional stress and would be humiliating to vast majority of people. Now that would be cover in the Geneva Conventions but the key part is the “great emotionalâ€ and “to the vast majority of peopleâ€. Listening to Nancy Pelosi causes me a good deal of emotional stress but would fall under the anguish part of torture definition and most wouldn’t expected law enforcement to arrest her for torture.
Unfortunately there are some that consider being handcuff as torture. It causes “mental anguish and is humiliatingâ€. Sound familiar. I assume we both can agree that being handcuff is nowhere near as bad as being rape. Same results though just at different degree. The argument is at what degree it should and should not be allowed. Those that say we should never cause any anguish or humiliation are not being reasonable. Using those standards we couldn’t even handcuff anyone.
Only those crouching in the darkest corners of the far left consider putting someone in handcuffs to be torture, just as only those crouching in the darkest corners of the far right still insist that waterboarding is not.
Sadly, for the moment, the country is being run by by the far right.
Now that we establish the not all humiliation and mental or physical anguish is considered torture, let’s start moving the slider some. Do you consider chaining prisoners to the floor of a plane torture? How about putting a hood on them? Loud music? Verbal threats during an interrogation?
As for conservative having no morals or ethics, I believe the left is confused on this. Is it ethical to not kill someone who is killing innocent others? In the ticking time bomb scenario, is it ethical to allow millions to die if it means doing something you otherwise would not do? Is it ethical to pretend real life isn’t what it is and pretend to live in some ideal world because you are afforded that luxury because others do what you don’t want to?
So any disagreement with the left regarding interrogation methods is proof of conservatism’s lack of “moral or ethical foundations”? Why would a conservative even want to continue a conversation if already judged in such a manner?
The issue here is waterboarding not torture. Some see it as torture, some do not. It just muddies the water, no pun, if we lump it all together. I suspect there are those who prefer it ambiguous in order to make their case easier.
I don’t recall any on the left being too upset about Saddam putting people thru paper shredders or the Soviets and Chicoms starving millions in concentration camps. They don’t really oppose torture – they just want to control the US.
I’m not sure if you were replying to my comment with yours, but I really don’t see you as part of the far right, and you sound way too proper to ever crouch.
Fact is all of the Conservatives I know acknowledge water boarding to be torture. No reasonable person would argue otherwise. The army considers it torture, as do the FBI and all previous administrations.
We’ve done it, its a war crime, for which we have tried others, and it will lead to serious consequences for the country, particularly as we have retained the right to use it again.
Wayne can engage in as much intellectual parsing as he likes, but no matter how low his slider goes it still won’t be low enough to measure the damage Bush and his enablers have done to the country and our reputation as a nation of laws.
Today is way to slow if I have this much time to write. Water boarding, like drinking water, unless done in extreme won’t cause physical damage. It is a freaky experience and does cause extreme emotional reaction. I go back and forth on wither it is torture but would say yes for now.
That said, I believe it and many extreme interrogation techniques should only be use under extreme circumstances. However lesser extreme techniques should be allowed. It would be completely unreasonable and dangerous not to do so. Also to hamper our intelligence agency with greater limits than our domestic law enforcement would be asinine.
Many of them want to bash and tear down the US. Others fall in the mentality that they would never kill a cow but demand their hamburgers.
Well then, how do we deal with the issue of innocents killed in Iraq during the “shock & awe” bombing?
I think you just provided a moral justification for the insurrection…
Some people would find it preferable to stand for what America’s principals, even to die standing for them.
Others are happy to live crawling away from our principals. Clearly Bit is part of the latter group.
How does this little bit of truth grab you?
You obviously suffer from BDS. My sliding scale is trying to identify where you and others are on it. If you guy gets into the Whitehouse maybe we can refer back to your post to see if you change your position. About like those who thought it was shameful of Huckabee having a bookshelf in the back that form a cross compare to it is perfectly ok for Obama to use an actual large cross in one of his ads.
War is it own special case.
Even so, yes it would be ethical for Iraqi military too kill American pilots to prevent their country from being bomb. Once the war is over then it would no longer be ethical to do so.
Also the US no longer target civilian populations. Collateral damage is unfortunate but that is war. Many of the insurgent are outside state sponsor.
If you want to get into the morality of wars, we can do that. Beware the same rules don’t aplly to war as in peacetime.
I’m happy that you have your sliding scale and that it brings you comfort in these dark times, but really, the jury’s been in on this for a couple of thousand years now.
Water boarding is torture. It was torture when the Japanese and Germans did it in the second world war and torture when Pol Pot’s goons practiced it in the seventies and yes, its torture when we do it too.
I’m glad you have good days and understand this. As for those bad days, when your decency deserts you, just hang on to that scale. Its bound to move in the right direction sometimes.
Typical liberal, throws insults and refuse to answer questions or deal with reality. When I try to establish where you fall in that scale, it is “I can’t deal with it so I refuse to answer thatâ€. Are you one of those who think handcuffing is torture? Who knows? Can you actually make that type of decision? Doesn’t appear you can.
And with this, you limit what is allowable in your conversation. Moreover, you castigate those with whom you nominally agree as outcasts all the while professing to listen and treat with respect supreme leaders of countries who really regularly and unrepentantly use torture as entertainment. And you claim the right is without conscience.
As a Kayaker, I have subjected myself to “water-boarding” countless times. Room of Doom, Crystal, and Last Chance on the Colorado river to name a few. Potential or simulated drowning is not torture, it is bowl-clearing fright. And after the Room of Doom, I realized that I would still live – it is frickin uncomfortable, and scary as sh!t. Water-boarding is not torture. It is coercive, and should not be used without responsible oversight.
But the claim that it is ipso facto torture speaks more to the political proclivities of the accuser, especially here in the USofA, than it does of the actual act.
I’m hoping that your kidding, right? I don’t think volunteering for a Kayak trip where water is involved is quite analogous to having someone forcing a simulated drowning or I’ve been water boarded everyday of my life with my foreign “high-pressure” showerhead. And you wonder why we don’t take the far right seriously.
Ah so. We start a war, and we are off the hook morality wise if innocents are killed, because, well, it is war.
Moral Clorox. Hardly surprising coming from the Bushies.,,
Have you ever been upside down in a major rapid without support nearby?
I think bains bounced his head off a few rocks in them thar rapids…
Clueless, and disrespectful, as always as to how others think,
Even in the river, I listen to my own choir.
Yes, and I have been in several other times that I have been in analogous situations free diving, swimming in white water, and riding waves. I have never felt what people who have been waterboarded describe. I think that you don’t have a clue what you are talking about.
Disrespect you have well earned by your moronic comments.
Oh yes, and I have been thru a few rapids too…
The problem, Wayne, is that you can’t put people’s position on torture on a linear scale. It seems more of an attempt to let you label people.
On top of that, your criteria are too vague. Is putting someone in handcuffs torture? For hours, I would say no, but for years, I’d say yes.
I note that those screaming about “torture” seem to do that as a matter of course.
Yes, but just because they guy you’re arguing with is wrong, that doesn’t automatically make you right.
I’ve held my peace for a few days, here, mostly. Time we establish some basics, here.
1 War is not an intellectual excersise.
2 There are no rules in war, other than the rules dictated by the winner, afterward.
3 The Geneva Convention which purports to be civilized warfare, is in fact nothing of the sort, and is not worth the paper it was written on, having repeatedly been broken in every war ever waged since it’s signing. There’s a reason, here; Warfare is not civil under any conditions. War is, instead, the utter lack of civility. It is therefore unrealistic to assume or demand any degree of civility in wartime.
4 Those seeking closer adherence to the Geneva Convention during wartime, even on moralistic ground, particularly when the enemy is overtly not adhering to said convention, are themselves immoral, given they end up costing their own side lives, by causing their own military to, in effect, fight with one hand tied behind their back.
5 When a people go to war, it is by definition a last resort against an immoral enemy. It’s understood that war of itself is an immoral act. In going to war the line of immorality has already been crossed… but it is also understood that the greater immorality is to allow the enemy to continue it’s immoral activity. It is assumed, thereby, that whatever actions are taken in pursuit of winning said war against said immoral enemy, are in the immediate sense, of lesser moral consequence than the defeat of the enemy, and the actions of the enemy, both before and during said war.
6 Hindsight is a luxury a nation at war cannot afford. For example, consider the post 9/11 world, and the discussions about ’How far would you go to stop another 9/11?” We succeeded in stopping any more such attacks on us, and we continue to hold them back. Being concerned now with the ’rights’ of those attacking us is at least counter-productive, and self-defeating.
7 One does not win a war(And thus defend morality) by respecting the rights, the beliefs, or the demands, of the enemy.In the end, it is how many of them can you kill, wound or otherwise disable. Ask the Germans or their pals the Japanese, and they will tell you that the punishment they took was hell. So be it, they asked for it and we were fighting for our very lives. We are in the same situation today, but it seems that our people don’t get it. It is them or us, their is no other way. ( And for the record, I chose US. ) That is the nature of war. One wins a war by killing the enemy in as great a number as possible, and barring that, by breaking their will to fight.
8 War is not a version of morality. It is the LACK of morality. The reason we engage in it is we accept that there is a larger immorality we need to fight against.
I was a bit inartful to use an Obama word. No I did not mean to suggest that my experience on rivers rivals those subject to real water-boarding. What I was trying to impress is the sense of drowning. Being held underwater (for whatever reason) when you are sure your throat will accept any substance in the hope that there is air included is profound.
Yes, willingly submitting to that possibility is entirely different than having it forced upon you.
But here is the difference. US interrogators are patently disinterested in killing a source of information. The Colorado river was entirely impartial to whether I lived or died. And torturers just want to inflict pain.
As James pointed out in option 1, many view waterboarding as a method of coercive interrogation. Use of such very frightening, but non-lethal techniques should rarely be used, and only with stifling oversight. Used improperly, the instigator should face prison. But when folks such as Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, or John Cole speaks out, claiming such methods are torture, know that they are doing so for political expedience. They see “torture” as a convenient bludgeon to bash opponents with whom they have pre-existing grievances.
As Wayne pointed out way-upthread, the left and the right operate on different definitions of torture. Whereas the right, mostly, views torture as something sociopaths indulge in, the left yearns to portrait the right as relishing in.
And that was my point. The entity subjecting me to a potential drowning death did not care whether or not I lived or died – It was just a roiling river. Further, I had more chances of dying in American rivers than I do with American interrogators.
Funny, because the Bush administration turned up into a nation that uses torture. But then you can make a strong argument that it is led by sociopaths…
Except that in the case of Iraq, war was clearly far from a last resort. “We know they have them, and we know where they are” was BS. We we led into war by a group of people who had been hot for war with Iraq since long before 9/11. The really sad thing is that GHW Bush had ended the threat that Saddam presented…
But lets get back to Bit’s “last resort” definition. When the German people went to war with Poland in ’39, was it a last resort? Well Hitler certainly said it was…
No, you can try to make that argument… I’ll be waiting.
Oh, and happy fourth of July.
To have these verbal disputes speaks well to our founders.
Consider that my fellow countrymen and leftist combatants,
Most of my rafting was done on the American River in Calif….
White House Torture Advisers
By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, April 10, 2008; 1:20 PM
Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement, according to an ABC News report aired last night.
Discussions were so detailed, ABC’s sources said, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group. In addition to Cheney, the group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft.
At least one member of the club had some qualms. ABC reports that Ashcroft “was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.
One of the really amazing things about the Bush admin is that they managed to lower the bar so far that by their standards, John Ashcroft is a stand up guy…
Don’t know about you, but I voter for Reagan twice. Think he was a hell of a guy and a fine president.
Simply labeling those who disagree with you as “leftists” is intellectual laziness…
How my decades does one wait, before one is at what you in your infinite wisdom would consdier a ‘last restort’?
For the record, quoting Froomkin on anything at all is anything at all but a strong argument. Do try again.
Read it again my friend. I first designated you as my fellow countrymen.
Signing off for 07/04 duties… bless you all.
What exactly did Iraq do to justify Bush’s war? Be an asshole? The world is full of them. Plenty of nasty, brutal, even genocidal people running countries. We do business with a lot of them every day of the week.
Take a few pot shots at our aircraft? Big deal. They usually go a HARM in reply, which I consider an adaquate response.
Repeat. GHW Bush pulled Saddam’s fangs and contained him. He did it with a minimal loss of life among our forces, and spent only a small amount of national treasure (which is finite) doing it. He did it in a way that increased our stature in the world.
And his idiot son has pretty much undone it all…
Congratulations. You just provided Bin Laden with a moral framework for 9/11. Nice work skippy…
They were, as has been amply prven since, sponsoring terrorism.
Clearly, he’s smarter than you, having understood that basic first.
I presume you’d try negotiation with the guy, first?
No, Democrats want Bin Laden dead. Unlike Bush, who had other priorities. Clearly justice for the thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11 is not on the GOP radar.
Thats funny, I thought we went to war because they had WMD, or wait, was it to spread democracy in the mideast. Or is it to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them in Omaha? Now there is a new reason du jour?
Wait for what, exactly?
You win a war by removing your enemy’s ability and/or desire to conduct the war. Killing people is only one of many means to that end. We won the Cold War by removing the Soviety Union’s desire to continue it. We won the first Gulf War by removing Saddam’s ability to conduct it. In both cases, there was never a need to kill as many of the enemy as possible.
Yes… “We begin bombing in 5 minutes’.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to work, in this case.
But not his will, which is the reason we ended up having to go back and finish the job. I don’t suppose it would occur to you that had we told the UN to stuff it, and finished the job back in 92, hat a lot less people would have died, in the end?
Really? You mean you’re unwilling to follow through n the lofty anti-war ideas?
You sound like a twit, Bit.
War is sometimes necessary. But Iraq was not such a case.
We did not “finish the job” in ’92 because GHW Bush was experienced enough to understand the law of unintended consequences. BTW there is video of Cheney giving a very lucid, and correct explination of why this policy was the correct one. Saddam may have still had the will, but his means were destroyed and that is what counts.
How many Arabs do we have to kill so that you can “feel” safer while you are at home watching TV?
The problem with the war on terrorism is that they need very little in the way of means to effectively conduct their war against us. On 9/11, their means included 11 people with box cutters, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to reduce their means beyond that. If we can’t remove their will to conduct war, then the war will never end.
Almost everybody was in agreement that proceeding on to Baghdad in 1992 would have ended badly, for our coalition and for Iraq. Just because waiting 10 years to make that mistake ended badly, doesn’t mean it would have been better had we made it earlier.
Fortunate for us, that’s not a decision you’re charged with making.
You don’t know me very well if you think that kind of nonsense is going to sell me. There’s not question that it would have been a hard row. But it still would have ended up saving lives, in the end.
Here is Dick Cheney in 1994 explaining why taking Baghdad and deposing Saddam is a horrible idea.
Who is this “us” you refer to? The armchair tough guys who cheer for the war while real men do the fighting and dying?
That’s an interesting hypothesis, how do you propose to prove it?
Retaking ground is often as costly as taking it the first time. We already had troops on the ground. We had the opportunity to end the thing right there. Wold have saved us the manpower and the losses involved with going back and finishing the job.
Pure speculation without consideration of any facts. You can believe it’s true all you want, just don’t expect anybody else to believe it’s true based on such a flimsy argument.