Senate Compromise on Detainee Rights, Torture

Senators Lindsey Graham and Carl Leven have reached across the aisle to forge a compromise bill that would give limited judicial rights to those accused of terrorism, including a reiteration of existing policy against torture.

Senators Agree on Detainee Rights (WaPo, A1)

A bipartisan group of senators reached a compromise yesterday that would dramatically alter U.S. policy for treating captured terrorist suspects by granting them a final recourse to the federal courts but stripping them of some key legal rights. The compromise links legislation written by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), which would deny detainees broad access to federal courts, with a new measure authored by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) that would grant detainees the right to appeal the verdict of a military tribunal to a federal appeals court. The deal will come to a vote today, and the authors say they are confident it will pass.

Graham and Levin indicated they would then demand that House and Senate negotiators link their measure with the effort by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to clearly ban torture and abuse of terrorism suspects being held in U.S. facilities. “McCain’s amendment needs to be part of the overall package, because it deals with standardizing interrogation techniques and will reestablish moral high ground for the United States,” Graham said.

Such broad legislation would be Congress’s first attempt to assert some control over the detention of suspected terrorists, which the Bush administration has closely guarded as its sole prerogative. By linking a provision to deny prisoners the right to challenge their detention in federal court with language restricting interrogation methods, senators hope to soften the administration’s ardent opposition to McCain’s anti-torture provision — or possibly win its support.

The Justice and Defense departments have expressed strong support for legislation that would curtail a flurry of civil litigation coming out of the military’s detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to some senators involved in the negotiation. “The truth is, this is something the administration would dearly like,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said of the language curtailing detainee access to the courts.

But Vice President Cheney, a major architect of the U.S. anti-terrorism effort, is strongly opposed to any compromise that includes the McCain provision, the senators said. Cheney personally lobbied against McCain’s measure to ban abuse and torture, contending that its language was too broad and would prohibit the use of interrogation methods necessary to secure vital national security information. After the Senate approved the measure as part of a defense spending bill, he pushed to exempt the CIA from its provisions.

While I share Cheney’s concern about the possibility of congressional micromanagement in national security matters, setting the policy parameters within which the executive may operate is very much Congress’ prerogative, if not their duty. It is the job of the president and the professional bureaucracies he leads to execute public policy and that of the legislature to establish it.

Rick Moran adds some useful information and insights:

It has been a national disgrace that the detainees have been held these past 3 years with their legal status up in the air. The situation was complicated unnecessarily last year when the courts ruled that detainees had a right to a hearing on their status. The resulting flood of motions – both frivolous and serious – became a nightmare for the Justice Department and DoD who had been asking Congress to clarify what rights the detainees had in this unique legal situation. The fact that both the Administration and the Republican Congress took their own sweet time in addressing the issue only gave our international foes an opening in the propaganda war.

The compromise neatly addresses the concerns of DoD in that intelligence gained from interrogations as well as the way certain information on individual terrorists was obtained either through “National Technical Means” (eavesdropping, spy satellites, etc.) or through informants will not be used in open court by activist lawyers seeking to undermine our intelligence capabilities in the War on Terror. The bill will also give the Justice Department some guidance on how to proceed with the appeals process. And incorporating some form of the McCain bill will standardize the the Army Field Manual techniques for interrogating prisoners thus putting the nation on record that it opposes the kind of interrogations that have led to more than 400 investigations by DoD into accusations of abuse with 230 determinations that have resulted in either reprimands or court martials.

hilzoy provides PDF links to the amendments in question. Even after reading them, though, he’s not sure he understands them:

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have done as much as possible to research this issue, which has such a huge effect on hundreds of people’s lives and on what kind of country the United States will be, and to not even really understand what these bills mean on the day before the Senate votes on them. I went to law school, and have very smart people who know a lot about this issue trying to explain this to me, and I still feel like I’ve wandered into this scene. As Judge Joyce Hens Green said of Moustafa Idr’s trial, it would be funny if the stakes weren’t so horribly high.

Norbizness provides a “Cliff’s Notes version,” replete with sarcastic commentary.

Hugh Hewitt, on the other hand, contends,

The proposed Senate resolution is an unmistakable vot-of-no-confidence in the Adminsitration, and the best gift the United States Senate could give Zarqawi and his terrorist ranks. It is almost incomprehensible that Senate Republicans could see this in any other fashion.

One could argue that the perception that the United States is a nation that tortures its prisoners and practices other than what it’s preaching in the Middle East about the rule of law plays into Zarqawi’s hands, too. But that would, apparently, be tantamount to treason.

Hugh cites a post from Pam Spaulding at Pandagon as proof of his position.

Cat Killer Frist and John Warner of Virginia want to get their party out of the vortex sucking down the Chimp and are moving, with a non-binding resolution, to solidify their position with the equivalent of a no-confidence vote on Bush’s Iraq policy.

One could argue, contrarily, that keeping the party of of a vortex is a good thing but that, too, plays into the hands of the terrorists enemy Democrats.

Ed Morrissey, apparently a Democrat pinko mole, takes a similarly pro-terrorist, anti-American position:

It isn’t unreasonable to have Congress call for some accounting from the White House on the status of Iraq, given the 150,000 troops currently deployed on a police mission there. It doesn’t have to be a net negative for Bush to come to the Senate to present his side of the story; as the events this past week have shown, the President can use that kind of platform to correct many distortions of his record and the state of the effort in Iraq. Given the frustration many in the GOP feel with the White House in communicating all the good that our intervention has created, it sounds like a very good idea indeed, one that might be cast as a long-overdue bullhorn.

Of course, if individual Republicans, including elected United States Senators, are allowed to think for themselves, the next thing you know we’ll have anarchy.

Update: Alex Tabarrok, Kevin Drum, and Megan McArdle all agree that torture is a bad thing but that it might nonetheless be used under the most dire circumstances.

Tabarrok:

By making torture illegal we are raising the price of torture but we are not raising the price to infinity. If the President or the head of the CIA thinks that torture is required to stop the ticking time bomb then they ought to approve it knowing full well that they face possible prosecution. Only if the price of torture is very high can we expect that it will be used only in the most absolutely urgent of circumstances.

Drum:

[I]n the fantastically unlikely 24-esque event that we capture a terrorist who knows the location of a ticking atomic bomb, he’s going to get tortured regardless. The torturer will immediately get pardoned by the president for doing so, and would be unanimously acquitted by a jury even if he weren’t. And I’m fine with that.

McArdle:

I’ve long endorsed Glenn Reynolds’ take on the torture question: if there really is a ticking nuclear bomb in New York City, and the CIA gets hold of a guy who can tell them what they want to know, they’re going to torture it out of him whether torture is legal or not.

Sadly, even in the case of a ticking time bomb, there’s little evidence that torture actually works at gaining accurate information. People will confess to just about anything to stop the pain. And people willing to murder innocents are certainly willing to lie to do so.

Related: Truth Extraction: Honey Beats Vinegar

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Senate deal would give Gitmo prisoners access to courts

    A bipartisan group of senators reached a compromise Monday that would allow detainees at Guantanamo

  2. Herb says:

    Americans, It is OK for a Talaban fighter to take an American Solder Prisoner and th shoot him on the spot or behead him and it is Ok for an Iraqi terrorist to kidnap an American, put him on TV, then in front of the world, behead him slowly as they have done on several occasions. Thats allright Americans, we are to sit back and let any enemy of the US or around the world plant suicide bombs killing innocent people and it is allright for suicide pilots crash airplanes in our buildings killing 3000 Americans. It is allright for these enemies do anything they want. But, when they are captured, We just have to provide them with lawyers, full access to our court system and treat them with kid gloves by providing them with all the necessities of life and then some, at taxpayers expense. After all, We as Americans have to show the World that we are just, fair and out of our minds.

    The likes of Levin and McCain, their misguided sense of fair play and their will to have our country defeated by a bunch or terrorists and their yearning to bring America down is tantamont to treason against every American.

    This whole thing make me wonder what side these guys and gals in the Congress are on. It makes me wonder why they are hell bent on telling every American that he/she don’t count. It makes me wonder why they put their own political agendas ahead of our troops and our fight to stop the terrirism that grips the world.

    Americans, you are witnessing the defeat of America in the making within our Congrass and their misguided, extremist, liberal, and treasonous way of thinking.

    When the defeat does comes, I hope they will be the first to have their heads on the chooping block while saying their last words “WE MADE A MISTAKE”

  3. An Interested Party says:

    One wonders if “Herb” is a parody…

  4. Steven Plunk says:

    Why don’t we let the experts decide what will work.

    Congress has no idea what works and what doesn’t. For one person torture may yield information that saves lives for another person it may not. I would defer to the people out there doing it to make that decision.

    War is a dirty business and this war is a dirty war on top of that. Political posturing on this subject is doing nothing to make us safe or to secure our own liberties. I can think of many more important things for congress to be working on.

    Even if these discussions are important it would serve our country much better if they were held in secret without our enemies listening in. It simply makes us seem weak.

  5. anjin-san says:

    When I was a kid, we played war games a lot, WW2 to be specific.
    We were very clear on who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. We had fought an enemy that did not honor the Geneva convention and who tortured captured POW’s.

    That made them scum in our eyes, the lowest of the low.

    It’s sad that a child growing up in Bush’s America had to live thru
    Abu Ghraib, and can have no such moral certainty about his country.

    This bill sounds like a good thing. If we are not about anything but being able to sit in our living rooms and “feel safe” watching TV, then America is on a very slippery slope.

  6. Barry says:

    “Why don’t we let the experts decide what will work.”

    Posted by: Steven Plunk

    Just in case you’ve been out of contact for the last several years, the attitude of the administration, and of the GOP Congress, is “we don’ need no stinkin’ experts”. That’s when they’re not leaning on them to come up with the desired answers, or putting whacko’s and incompetants in charge.

    As to what Congress should be doing, I agree. In a better world, they wouldn’t be doing this; they’d have impeached and convicted Bush, Cheney and the entire cabinet.

  7. ken says:

    James, nice post.

    You have taken a first step into the light. Your next step is to ackowledge your mistake in supporting Bush. He is the one responsible for the change in American policy to engage in torture in the first place. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot oppose torture yet support the one person responsible for it.

  8. Bithead says:

    PLunk’s got it correct.
    That point aside, let’s consider the role such a rule will play in the field. You know we’re going to get less info, and more people are going to die because our enemy now knows they can’t be touched. Why give them the added incentive to thumb their noses at us?

  9. […] James Joyner has a very long, quote-filled post about Senate compromises over detainee rights and torture. It’s all well worth the read. However, when I was reading one of the quotes, there was a paragraph from this article that stuck out at me. And that’s this: The Justice and Defense departments have expressed strong support for legislation that would curtail a flurry of civil litigation coming out of the military’s detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to some senators involved in the negotiation. “The truth is, this is something the administration would dearly like,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said of the language curtailing detainee access to the courts. Out of curiosity, just what is the problem with a “flurry of litigation” from the detainees? Is it really something that we can’t handle? I mean, it’s not like court-clogging is a problem–there are something on the order of 3 million people currently incarcerated in the United States, compared to a couple thousand at Gitmo. They’re a drop in the bucket. […]

  10. ken says:

    bithead,

    Put yourself in the place of a captured soldier. The enemy wants to know where your unit will go next and the names of all of your senior officers. You believe they are scum and do not want to give them anything. They torture you into talking. So what do you tell them? Do you tell them what they want to know or do you just make shit up?

    Torture never works. With the Bush policy of torturing people we gain nothing of importance while we lose the moral high ground we once enjoyed.

  11. Herb says:

    Bithead:

    You got it right on. Knowing they can not be touched will only embolden them to keep their beheadings, the killing of innocent people and whatever else they can think of.

    It is sad indeed that there are those amoung us that are a part of the “cut and run” croud that are convinced that “if we treat them right, they will honer our standards” Mis-guided, foolish, stupid, and just plain chickens** are descriptions that fit them perfectly.

  12. BWE says:

    You know we’re going to get less info, and more people are going to die because our enemy now knows they can’t be touched. Why give them the added incentive to thumb their noses at us?

    Aren’t they worried about the air strikes and, um, regular strikes and other stuff? How does it make them feel safer, if they survive the bombing and rap music, they won’t be tortured?

    James, you did well with this one. It seems everyone has a point of view and this is a totally subjective issue. Either the US tortures its prisoners or it doesn’t. Either that’s ok with you or it isn’t. Just because I am a republican doesn’t mean I have to defend what I see as poor policy choices, corrupt politicians and every piece of free trade legislation that comes down the pike. If we want a stronger party that allows competition and demands integrity, then we need to let our ideas compete. If we want to just jump up and down and shout out how god will punish the sinners, we will let our party fall into the hands of those who know how to abuse power and manipulate the masses.

    So, torture is not ok with me. I don’t want to be a part of a group that tortures people. Count me out. I’m with McCain.

  13. anjin-san says:

    Herb,

    I have a question for you. You are always talking about the virtues of service.

    GWB once refused to take a mandatory physical during wartime. He bragged on national TV about how he “made a deal with the military” to get out of his service obligation 6 months early to go to college.

    What kind of deal did he make” “Let me out early during wartime & I won’t sic my Daddy on you”? How many brave men currently serving in Iraq get to make deals such as this?

    Your hero has a rather spotty service record. Please explain.

  14. BWE says:

    Some kind of problem with my last post. See if it works this time:

    You know were going to get less info, and more people are going to die because our enemy now knows they cant be touched. Why give them the added incentive to thumb their noses at us?

    Aren’t they worried about the air strikes and, um, regular strikes and other stuff? How does it make them feel safer, if they survive the bombing and rap music, they won’t be tortured?

    James, you did well with this one. It seems everyone has a point of view and this is a totally subjective issue. Either the US tortures its prisoners or it doesn’t. Either that’s ok with you or it isn’t. Just because I am a republican doesn’t mean I have to defend what I see as poor policy choices, corrupt politicians and every piece of free trade legislation that comes down the pike. If we want a stronger party that allows competition and demands integrity, then we need to let our ideas compete. If we want to just jump up and down and shout out how god will punish the sinners, we will let our party fall into the hands of those who know how to abuse power and manipulate the masses.

    So, torture is not ok with me. I don’t want to be a part of a group that tortures people. Count me out. I’m with McCain.

  15. Herb says:

    Anjin San:

    Obviously you don’t know a damned thing about serving and the service. When you can cite something obout something you directly experienced, then come back with your questions that you think will “prove you right” and Prove Bush wrong”.

    At that time Anjin San, I will come back to you and request your evidense about yourself as well as your evidense on Bush.

    You are like a broken record, all you do and write are sarcastic remarks that only show you ignorance on the subject.

    Try,, Just Try to say something positive for a change, It woild be a breath of fresh air.

  16. BWE says:

    Your hero has a rather spotty service record. Please explain.

    Obviously you don’t know a damned thing about serving and the service. When you can cite something obout something you directly experienced, then come back with your questions that you think will “prove you right” and Prove Bush wrong”.

    Is this an answer?

  17. Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet) says:

    Why is it when there is a discussion about when or if to use or threaten torture some turkey troll wants to reargue the TANG brouhaha.

    And then when the tt is called on it, someone wants to criticize the whistle blower?

    Let’s stick to the issue.

    I am a veteran who served in Vietnam as a legal officer. Gross violations of the Geneva Conventions were prosecuted there. I participated in such prosecutions. There is always a question about line drawing in combat situations. Lines should be as clear as possible. “The people” through the Congress and the Senate have a clear part to play in the drawing of those lines.

    Having said all of that, I agree with James’s balanced analysis. I wonder how many others will be as responsible?

  18. Herb says:

    BWE

    No, it is not an answer. The subject that is being debated in this blog is the right of enemy combatants to utilize the US Courts. The person that brought up the Tx. ANG questions does not have the mental capacity to address the subjevt at hand and I will not put forth an answer to his “Hate Bush” questions. He will try or do anything in his attempt to “prove his point” but I will not be the one to do it. I have asked him many times previously to produce his “Bush Lied” evidense, and he has yet to do so

    In the event he poses a question that is on subject, I will put forth an answer.

    Jim Rhodes:

    How many prosecutions of the mis treatment and torture cases did you participate in that were charges were against the No. Viets. and VC?

  19. Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet) says:

    No.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Run awayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Herb.

    LOL, cleary it is duck season at Herb’s.

  21. anjin-san says:

    For Herb’s reading pleasure I will repost from an earlier thread.

    >Herb,

    I am very positive dude, The GOP got its ass kicked in the election, and Bush’s ratings are at historic lows. There are a few rays of sunshine thru the clouds.

  22. Bithead says:

    Arent they worried about the air strikes and, um, regular strikes and other stuff? How does it make them feel safer, if they survive the bombing and rap music, they wont be tortured?

    I’ve always considered Rap Music torture, myself.
    Or, Barry Manilow covering AC/DC tunes.

    That small point aside, it works fine. Witness; Once the Democrats started bitching about it (And yes, I consider McCain a Democrat) our info sources dried up. Now, why do you suppose THAT would be?

    The point about a single subject lying is well taken, but do you really think anyone acts without verification? Com’on.

  23. anjin-san says:

    Does anyone act without verification???

    Ummm, where are the WMD Saddam had poised to hurl at us on a moment’s notice in Iraq?

  24. dutchmarbel says:

    About your link to Obsidian Wings: Hilzoy is a she and the piece you quoted was actually from Katharine. They did a great series about the amandment, doing investigation about what Graham adresses and what the background story is.

    The same blog also has a post by a conservative who explains why the republican party should not justify torture.

  25. DL says:

    Moral high ground is fine, as long as we don’t confuse it with the right..nay..obligation to survive first, as the highest morality.

    Today’s critics would complain that Christ wasn’t fair because He never allowed Satan equal time on the Sermon on the Mount.

    When you use power for the right and good things, don’t apologize to those who prefer someone else’s approval first!

  26. LJD says:

    Anjin- try to stay on the subject. Although I know how difficult your brainwashing has made it…

    Note the following: “400 investigations by DoD into accusations of abuse with 230 determinations that have resulted in either reprimands or court martials.” This is significant. We are policing ourselves, and the system is working. Allegations are being investigated, without input from the media or Anjin San (stuck on Abu Ghraib). We’re running about a 58% conviction rate.

    I sleep well at night knowing that Islamo-fascist extremists are awake listening to AC/DC.

  27. Anderson says:

    Steven Plunk writes the most clueless thing I’ve read in days:

    Congress has no idea what works and what doesn’t. For one person torture may yield information that saves lives for another person it may not. I would defer to the people out there doing it to make that decision.

    Hey, Steven—the McCain Amendment legally restricts U.S. personnel to the ARMY INTERROGATION MANUAL. You know, the people who DO have some “idea what works and what doesn’t”?

    The ones who have no idea are Cheney and his yes-men.

  28. Herb says:

    LID:

    It’s no use to attempt to cite facts or to try and let Anjin San know anything that would show him that he is and has been on the “wrong side of the tracks”. You are correct in your observation that Anjin is totally brainwashed by the ultra left wing extrenists. After all, what more would you expect from a California lefty. He tends to dwell on matters that were news long age and are no longer pertinant to whats going on today. He will do or say anything to “prove his point” even if it’s a big fat lie like his extrenists buddies are spewing. I must also say that it is impossible to keep Anjin on subject as he only has the mental capacity to occasionally remember what what the actual subject is.

    In other words LID, Once you have heard from Anjin on a post, you can expect for him to talk about it for months to come no matter what the current subject is,

  29. BWE says:

    But, in the end, if we DO stick to the moral highground and treat the enemy civilly, then we have a chance at winning their “hearts and minds”. If we torture them, we continue to make new enemies.

    If torture is justified for short-term gain at the expense of long term gain then what we essentially have is a foriegn policy on crack. (That is a metaphor not a smart-assed comment) If we get a long term gain from using torture, i.e. information that allows us to win the war in Iraq, then all we are left with is the moral quandry (which is where I’m stuck).

    So the machiavellian question is “does torture undermine our efforts to win the war – supposedly winnable only through hearts and minds – or does it have little negative long-term effects?

    I would argue that, if it were me (and it takes someone pretty far right to call me a lefty), I would never submit to a foreign power who tortured my countrymen.

    Viet-nam is instructional. The VC were able to recruit more and more people simply on the grounds that the Americans were killing them and they should resist. Our power to keep killing the resistors was hampered by domestic revultion at the methods we used to try to win that war. The American people rose up against an administration who thought that we could fight that way. So the national character, though nebulous, tended toward being opposed to torture which means that the military, in abandoning the moral high ground, abandoned its domestic support and was eventually strangled financially. It was a lousy way to end that particular foreign policy choice and we are running the risk of doing the same thing again-voting our guys out of iraq. That would have the REAL effect of dishonoring our troops’ commitment to our country’s foreign policy decisions.

  30. McGehee says:

    GWB once refused to take a mandatory physical during wartime.

    No, he didn’t. The date of the physical he was allegedly ordered to take was a holiday. The order was a fake.

  31. LJD says:

    There are too many variables in what might be required to “win hearts and minds”. First, what is torture, or more specifically, cruel and unusual? Does Capital punishment of an individual whose religious belief prohibits execution apply? Is there very act of detention, whether it is with five meals a day and cable TV, too offensive to the detainee? Is asking too many, or the wrong type of questions a from of torture?

    Let’s remember we’re talking about individuals who, for their crimes may never again see the outside of a cell. Let’s acknowledge that many of the ones we were encouraged to release, returned to the battlefield. Not because of how we treated them, but because they are evil and their ideology centers on the destruction of our way of life.

    Let’s put the shoe on the other foot here. Did the NVA use of torture prevent Jane Fonda from doing what she did? Does the insurgent kidnappings, beheadings, and bombings of innocent women and children prevent the anti-war crowd from thinking (even in this country) that we somehow deserve it? Does it rally non-violent Muslims to our side, to defeat this evil?

    You say of Viet Nam “Our power to keep killing the resistors was hampered by domestic revultion at the methods we used to try to win that war. The American people rose up against an administration who thought that we could fight that way.”

    No. Our power to win the war effort was hampered by those who would spread propaganda for their own political purposes, and spit in the faces of Veterans. The belief in their ideology, their self-defeating perspective that WE are evil, surpassed the belief in the moral values of their countrymen. Not brainwashed soldiers, or baby-killers, but the boy next-door (with an M-16). We haven’t learned a damned thing since then.

    In Iraq, this same type of propaganda deeply damages the war effort, and our standing in the world community, much more deeply than the scandals themselves. So to answer your question, I would say of “torture” depending on what your defininton is, that no, it does not damage the war effort in comparison.

    Let me qualify that by saying that I do not believe we should be applying thumb-srews or electrocuting people. The fact that there is bipartisan support for techniques outlined in the FM is a good thing for the future of this country.

  32. anjin-san says:

    McGhee,

    Lets say I conceed that point, though I would like to see some documentation. Do you have a rebuttaly for “Fighting George’s” skipping out 6 months early?

    LDJ,

    Good to see some accountability. Any senior officers among those disciplined?

  33. LJD says:

    You like bringing up Abu Ghraib, how about a General?

  34. BWE says:

    Ok. I am with you LJD, but follow me here and let me know what you think:

    I think the important background issue is that we win this war and leave with an Iraq that can be self-policed. Can we agree on that?

    Variables included in winning “hearts and minds” would include America’s ability to claim with good justification that it does not torture captives. If there were no gray areas in the definition of torture, that statement would carry a lot of weight. For example, when the law in america is written that you can’t smoke, those that choose to smoke see the law as a bad thing. There is nothing we can do about that. But when we tell them that the tobacco companies have systematically lied to them and mislead them with fake research and false claims about tobacco’s safety, and marketed heavily to impressionable youth with the objective of creating the addiction before they are competent to really weigh the issue, our FDA’s credibility comes into play. So too does the tobacco companies’. Who is telling the truth? As a consumer, do you trust the FDA? We have been told of Government’s inefficiency and collective stupidity for a long time now. What if we choose to think that the FDA is lying? However, the track record of the FDA lying systematically didn’t really start till after the tobacco issue was firmly planted in our collective minds through a concerted PR, Propoganda, Advertising, Education or whatever kind of program you want to call it. So they had a tremendous amount of legitimacy whereas the tobacco companies were caught lying over and over and over untill they had no real ability to convince us that they could be honest.

    Now, if torture were black and white, there would be little question about whether it hampered our efforts to win “hearts and minds”. Are you with me? So, if we define torture and then don’t do what we have defined as torture, we have moral high ground. You may call incarcwerating someone torture but we don’t so therefore, we are not torturing. Our rules are clearly laid out to the Iraqis and they know that we keep our word and so they are more likely to allow a government that we create.

    Anyway, that’s my contribution to the logical side of the debate.

    My contribution to the moral side of the debate is that, I do not condone torture and I will revile those who do. If they are Americans that’s too bad. I don’t care who they are. They can’t come to my house for dinner. I will not hjire them for a job. I will not speak up for them in court. I will not allow them a voice in my house. It is wrong for any reason. I will not lend my support to anyone who condones torture as I define it. Hooking electrodes to testicles and sodomizing prisoners with batons counts as torture in my book. Perhaps I need to define the gray areas myself but if the government would do it at least I would have a jumping off point.

    You say:

    No. Our power to win the war effort was hampered by those who would spread propaganda for their own political purposes, and spit in the faces of Veterans. The belief in their ideology, their self-defeating perspective that WE are evil, surpassed the belief in the moral values of their countrymen. Not brainwashed soldiers, or baby-killers, but the boy next-door (with an M-16). We haven’t learned a damned thing since then.

    But I say that the reason that people decided that “we” are evil is because they couldn’t morally condone our methods. It is tragic that they spit in the faces of the soldiers rather than the politicians but the fact is, Americans didn’t want to fight that kind of a war.

    There weren’t very many people who spit in the faces of the WWII vets or the 1st Gulf War vets because, in WWII, we were attacked by the Japanese and in Gulf War 1 we made darn sure what we were doing before we did it and we got broad international support. Neither of those conditions were met by Gulf War II.

    So if we don’t call 5 meals a day torture and they do, so what? We have allowed for stability and proven that we have honor. If we allow torture, especially legislatively, then we are proving that we have no honor and it’s gonna be hard to win hearts or minds.

  35. LJD says:

    A few things…
    First, this issue is not directed uniquely to Iraq. It applies to the larger GWOT, domestically, in Iraq, Afghanistan, GITMO, everywhere. So I would not say that citizens of Iraq feel the same as would an international terrorist with no ties to a country.

    Second, I think most people would agree that sexual assault, personal injury, etc. are clearly torture and should NOT be condoned. However, there are those in this country that feel the protections of the Constitution should extend to non-citizens. Clearly, I do not. There are those who feel that combatants arrrested in an “illegal war” are “illegal prisoners”. Surely you can appreciate the danger of releasing violent criminals who have taken arms up against us. So a “black and white” status is extremely difficult to get any agreement on.

    Lastly, who is “WE”? I have a hard time lately referring to my fellow countrymen as “WE”, because of a deep and ugly division. I will reiterate my earlier point about THEM: “The belief in their ideology, their self-defeating perspective that WE are evil, surpassed the belief in the moral values of their countrymen.” With this mentality, the war is lost, the struggle for freedom and justice is pointless. Because regrdless of the good we do in the world, we are the criminals.

    I still disagree with you about Viet Nam, but perhaps feel more strongly on Iraq. It’s not so much the actions we undertake, or the policy, as it is the perspective of them. Not all Americans agree with you on Gulf 1. Many love to remind us of WWII internment camps. We get no credit whatsoever for providing military assistance in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia… THEIR agenda is clear.

    You say if we take the higher ground (as we should) “We have allowed for stability and proven that we have honor.”
    I believe that is exactly what we have done. I believe in the character of our troops. I believe the military is effective in punishing policy violators. Congress has done the right thing and gone with a compromise bill. This country wasn’t born yesterday. We, as all countries do, have some dark spots in our history. However, we more than any other continue seek the higher ground. Because those are the principles we were founded upon.

  36. anjin-san says:

    LJD,

    So a general has been discliplined in the Abu Ghraib torture scandel? Good there is some justice being applied then.

    It is also very clear then, that Bush was lying when he said “We do not torture”

    Thank you for being man enough to admit it.

    🙂

  37. BWE says:

    So what about the CIA exemption? Things like this aren’t a left/right divide. The political process is where we hash these things out. It is why we consistently move to the moral high-ground. Johnson and Nixon, through their tendencies to try to force things through the political process and stifling debate, had a tough time maintaining the high ground. Bush is doing that too. He is asking that we just be quiet and let him do things that are messy. Reagan did not operate this way. He appealed to our sense of common purpose and waited until he had consensus before he acted. Consequently, Reagan’s overall presidency stands out as mostly positive. Clinton too, built consensus before he took action in Bosnia et.al. Maybe we get more honesty and integrity if ideologies have mirrors up to them. In both Reagan and Clinton’s terms congress and president were different parties. THat seems to makee a more palatable agenda. Call me a centrist if you want.

    It is right and proper that our American political process should expose our actions to the light and that we judge ourselves on those actions. The downside is that others will judge us too.

  38. LJD says:

    Anjin- try some research, it might shake the very foundation of your wierd philospohy.

    I guess I have to spell it out:

    “We do not torture” applies to the policy of the United States as a whole. I suppose it is subject to what you might consider to be torture (see my comments above).

    In Abu Ghraib, Reserve soldiers with limited training and supervision, were thrown into a difficult situation. Add a few dimented individuals and you get pyramids with panties. The officer responsible was reprimanded for not controlling the situation properly.

    If you seriously believe that this in any way represents evidence ofthe President “lying”, then you are lying to yourself.