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September 22, 2006

Comments

Why do you think that the D's suffered no political damage. The article "Punked" by Digby pretty much is the result I see. The R's have a lot to show and D's didn't do anything. I hope it is not the perception voters get. The R's know all about stagecraft. For people who decry Hollywood they do a good job of it.

This seems a little sanguine to me. Marty Lederman seems to say that the Pres now will have the authority to say what Geneva allows, and we all know his thinking on that--it allows torture, pure and simple.

I hear word that Senator McCain thinks the definition of "grave breaches" covers the "alternative" CIA techniques. I hope he can make that interpretation stick somehow, but on quickly reading the language, it still seems to me as if it's carefully crafted to exclude the CIA techniques. See, most importantly, the limiting language defining "serious physical pain or suffering," which is carefully drafted to exclude the CIA techniques such as Cold Cell and Long Time Standing. Also, some Senators apparently are taking comfort in the fact that the Administration's interpretation would have to be made, and defended, publicly. That's a small consolation, I suppose; but I'm confident the creative folks in my former shop at OLC -- you know, those who concluded that waterboarding is not torture -- will come up with something. After all, the Administration is already on record as saying that the CIA "program" can continue under this bill, so the die apparently is cast. And the courts would be precluded from reviewing it.
And it precludes the courts from reviewing the statute.
And then, for good measure -- and this is perhaps the worst part of the bill, for purposes going far beyond the questions of torture and interrogation -- section 7 would preclude courts altogether from ever interpreting the Geneva Conventions -- any part of them -- by providing that "no person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas or civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States, is a party as a source of rights, in any court of the United States or its States or territories." [UPDATE: I've heard some people argue that this language would retain the power of courts to construe Geneva in a criminal proceeding. That remains to be seen (the language is not clear). But even if that's so, it's not at all obvious how or why the question of the meaning and application of Common Article 3 would ever be one that a court would have occasion to resolve in a criminal proceeding.]
And as for the dems, who were silent during the debate about what kind of country we are and what we are willing to allow our government to do in our name, I was with you before but now can't see what the Dems get out of this. Once again they look like they don't stand for anything and won't stand up to Bush. I think that was a mistake. but I don't think this is fatal because I do think that by a very narrow margin people don't want to have our country perceived as being tortuters. But I am getting more and more afraid for where this country is going.

modifying the geneva convention is a war crime
our leaders are now conspiring to commit war crimes
good luck to those of you in the military, or in other countries

Without knowing the language in the bill, I don't see how anyone comes to any conclusions.

I'm not endorsing the bill. I don't follow the "Democrats should have..." argument. Should have what? When?

Actually, what i'd like to see is this pushed back past November. I do not know this is impossible.

DfCT, MK's link contains excerpts. I need to look around for the rest of the markups. I tend to agree that today's swatch of news is the Republican pre talkshow strategy. As ML has noted several times in the past few months, CIA wants an enduring exemption. McCain wants time in the spotlight. Graham has been first to curtail habeas. The President's ostensible compromise still gives him the court stripping which Graham has fostered, as well, since the original McCain amendement, which the president-Addington neutralized with a 'unitary executive' signing statement December 30, 3005. Interestingly today there is news Graham was booted off a military judge panel today on a case in which he wanted to participate; the decision was that to let him sit would be a violation of separation of branches, the military judgeship being part of the executive. Case name: 05-0260 US v Lane. I think Harry Reid has a plan for the Graham Warner McCain 'compromise'; we will see how the Democrats depict the process. To me listing crimes against prisoners is an invitation for the torture experts to invent workaround violations. The denaturing of the Geneva protections is, to me, merely Congress agreeing to let the president abrogate yet another treaty; he has withdrawn from several treaties already, or gotten to the brink and told his representatives to walk out of the negotiations. My sense is his administration is about profit taking and then an exit; but they would like to pass the wand to McCain or someone, like Graham, with more youth, and someone they can prepare for the 2008 transition. One of the classic blind spots in authoritarian styles of governance is inability to pass control, as the leaders need to keep the successors weak until the transition point.

WAPO has some details. As I understand it, Congress is about to legalize torture, albeit "torture-lite", which I sure as hell wouldn't want to be subjected to. Geneva Conventions are compromised. Torturers (and presumably their BushCo bosses) are retroactively protected from prosecution. Habeas corpus is apparently decimated.
Also, if the story about CIA refusing to torture or run the secret prisons is true, this bill would enable them to continue as before. It would apparently also facilitate big show trials, on BushCo's terms, of the 14 prisoners just transferred to Gitmo.
Dems have been silent - have they protested torture in the media, in Congress, in speeches? Have they said this is a great moral issue? Not yet, that I can see. Have they insisted on protecting habeas corpus? Have they protested the treatment of Maher Arar?
As far as getting past November, I think the Repub plan is to get this bill on the floor before the election so that Dems are forced to vote for torture or vote "for the terrorists". The expectation is that Dems will be afraid to risk being accused of being soft on terrorism and so will waffle and avoid taking a stand, which makes them look weak (and that in turn validates the Repub myth about Dems being weak on security).
Are Dems intimidated by this maneuver? Do they think that it is too risky to oppose a Repub Congress that has a 22% approval rating?
I pray that Americans will not accept torture once the facts are well known, but Dems so far seem reluctant to take the risk that they will not have time to clarify their position before November. But caution and fear are poisonous in this situation. Is this going to be a repeat of everyone caving in as they did regarding the Iraq war authorization? I think it is imperative politically, and for our national soul, that Dems take a principled stand against torture and in favor of basic legal rights for everyone, and do so immediately.

DemFromCT,

most so far in this thread are (lets not say disagreeing) differing from you on your take on the situation. You are valiantly positive at all times.

The Democrats are tryng not to get in trouble with the Blogs and not say anything that someone can hold them too, so they are saying little and doing less. Nancy Pelosi was on Charlie Rose and listening to her the Democrats were changing the world. I see why she has that job. She talks good, looks good, is stylish, and going on 6 grandchildren. I don't really like most of her politics but I hope I can do that well in 30 or 40 years.

The Republicans have spent the week working hard and hammering out compromises. Darn if that isn't what politics are supposed to be like.


I think this is not good for Bush.
None of his tricks have worked recently.. what's so fantastic about an agreement to legalize torture?
The public may see through this.

marky, I don't give the public credit for being able to see through the Republican propaganda on this (or much else). Many of us who are trying to can't understand what the so-called compromise accomplished. I cringed when I saw torture-lovers Cornyn and McConnell grinning in the background while rubber-stamp McCain and his fellow-stamps Warner and Graham took their victory walk for the benefit of McCain's adoring media. With a few notable exceptions, the entire stable of jackasses--Democrats and Republicans--in Congress should be thrown out. There's something to be said for coups.

Jodi, if the bill really is as rotten as it sounds, I'm with my commenters. I've learned not to jump the gun without the facts.

As far as the D response, there's a time and a place. I am merely a D citizen, not a pol. I'll come down on them if and when they screw up. For now, I see all of this through a November prism. I see the #1 job as to postpone the bill if it's not clear, and the minority needs to carefully position itself. Having R's set the stage for a line drawn on torture might be the best option when you're outvoted.

But I think it's short-sighted to yell at the D's for the R's dirty work. We're now in the 7th inning, not the third, but there's still more ballgame.

DemFromCT,

I don't read you that closely so I didn't realize you were one of those "let's get elected and screw any principles type Dems."

In comments you give us: Without knowing the language in the bill, I don't see how anyone comes to any conclusions.

Who are you kidding? You're never going to read the bill. You're just going to check out the polling data that captures the public's reaction to decide if you're happy with the way the politics of torture played out.

Re: November, Repubs want to talk about terrorism, Dems want to talk about Iraq. However, Repubs (for now) control the agenda in Congress. Dems will be forced to react to legislation on terrorism; I think they should react forcefully and do so now because it's an extremely important issue and because Repubs want them to look flummoxed by it. Then get back to the Iraq focus, but we can't be bystanders on torture and basic legal rights. I think I see why Dems wanted to let Repubs fight among themselves, but the media are now pointing out that Dems are being passive and have nothing to say, which the Repubs love to see. These Bush Repubs are sly, devious ones, for sure.

The consensus seems to be that this was a win for Bush (assuming it was a real contest). Torture 'lite'; presidential discretion, etc. Thumbnail on the substance from Publius, and Lederman is here.

I don't agree with DemFromCT on this one (a rare thing). The politics of this are bad for the dems, and good for the GOP. This 'debate' focused attention away from things the GOP wanted, and at things it wanted (away from Iraq; away from Pak/Afghanistan; toward 'protecting the American people', toward 'toughness'; toward 'compromise'). I'm not going to wring my hands as much as Digby (who I also admire greatly), because I don't think anyone won or lost BIG, politically, but he/she is basically right, IMO.

The GOP won 'ugly', just as they so often do, and of course they're fine with that. The GOP position is indeed principled, though: it's OK, morally, to torture these people because this is a 'new kind of war' (so these must be a 'new kind of people'); and that it's efficacious to torture. They are wrong on both counts, but that is their principle. There has been no countervailing principled stand on our side. I understand why that was the case. I'm not going to waste any time berating the dems, because they were in a trap. But it's a very sad day. Let's just hope nothing passes before the election.

Also, to be fair to DemFromCT, he's not suggesting that everything's rosey. For me, Mimikatz said it best when she said she wasn't quite as 'sanguine' as he. Dem is trying to make lemonade (or sangria!) and he doesn't deserve scorn for it.

Just once it would be nice to see the Democrats act on principle rather than wait to see whether the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot and the Dems will therefore benefit. If Bush is rejoicing about the "compromise," who honestly believes he didn't get every dishonorable thing he wanted. We have become a totally immoral country thanks to the officials elected by an uneducated and/or disinterested public. "The price of gasoline is dropping; how great is that." Fools.

Maybe there's still time for a principled stand, actually. If there was a really adroit Democratic pol out there, he or she could grab this issue right now. I'm not holding my breath, but it could happen. I don't see why it's too late. The intra-party fight is over, so now have a bi-party one. Why not? Dems don't have the votes, but they have MOUTHS.

Too bad this WH can't be trusted.

Strictly speaking, no WH should ever truly be trusted.

We'll see, folks. CMike, i won't begin to pick apart your silly comments.

My position on torture was well spelled out last year when i opposed Gonzales for same, very publicly.

The question here is a narrow one about the politics and content of this bill. The broader (torture is always bad) is a no brainer. If the bill doesn't pass, i shrug my shoulders.

I don't see this hurting Dems at the moment, whereas it clearly up until now has hurt Rs. Tomorrow and next week are tomorrow and next week. Patience.

Strictly speaking, no WH should ever truly be trusted.

I think that's true.

I do think that there should have been more Dems at least echoing the experts who say that torture doesn't work, pointing to the episodes in 2004 when people were scared about shopping malls, supermarkets and apartment houses being targets when Abu Zubaydah was blabbing under torture, saying that they were all targets. Dems saying that we have always taken the high moral road and it got us much prestige abroad. Now we are putting ourselves on the same plane as tyrannical governments we have opposed in the past.

I realize that we probably tortured spies in the past, and certainly trained Lain American police and others how to do it, but we never made it national policy, and that gave us the clout to go in and criticize other countries when they did it. But we seem to have thrown so much overboard that made us a good example in the world. Now we are saying the Pres can define what is acceptable under Geneva and the prisoners for life can't go to court and get any kind of review. It is medieval.

well, as to that, there was a concerted tactical effort to say little and let the R infighting happen. It certainly worked in the sense of the press narrative (R rebellion, hurts R's re the stories about how good it is for the Rs to get it resolved - if it's resolved, etc).

The tradeoff is that the D's didn't get to define themselves as anti-torture, though i suspect the opportunity will present itself soon enough.

Anyone know if any Dems will get face time this Sunday on the chat shows to attempt to define the Dem position here?

very interesting Ignatius article on the R storyline.

jamfan, good question. who'd be the spokesperson? jane harmon?

Bad vibes on D's resisting a compromise from the Note while confirming it was, up until now, hurting R's...

Politics of torture:
On "Good Morning America," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos explained the McCain/Bush deal on detainees thusly:

"We've all been in fights when we can't really remember how it started and we really wanted it to end."

More Stephanopoulos: "Both sides gave something, both sides got something, and they want to close ranks before the election." And still more: Democrats "took a pass" on this. "They can't really fight it either. . . Sen. Reid basically signaled that he's not going to fight it." The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith and Charles Babington report that yesterday's deal "could help settle an intraparty fracas that worried GOP leaders in the run-up to the November elections." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck and David Rogers describe yesterday's detainee accord as "crucial for Republicans" while Noting that Republicans privately admit that completing work on warrantless surveillance of communications in and out of the US "will be difficult" to complete before lawmakers go home for the elections.

Washington Post editorial headline: "The Abuse Can Continue: Senators won't authorize torture, but they won't prevent it, either." LINK

USA Today's coverage of the deal: LINK
The Los Angeles Times: LINK
The New York Times: LINK

The next R to cave is Duncan Hunter, whose opposition to sharing some classified info with the accused can delay a deal.

this is a nice little analysis with respect to political implications. thanks.

I've got to hand it to the Democrats. The strategy of allowing the Republicans to "thrash out" their differences on the treatment and prosecution of detainees has played out exactly as planned...for the Republicans. Don't let anyone convince you that you can go to the well too often...that is if you are a Republican and your opponent is a fully inept Democratic Party.

Amidst a trend of favorable polling data and a firestorm of speeches by the President to refocus the voting public on their fear of terrorism, the Democrats stood in the background for the past two weeks and watched what the GOP will call the difficult work of creating legislation that preserves our commitment to civil liberties while at the same time providing our determined President with the essential tools needed to pursue those who seek to kill us all.

OK, perhaps I'm being too harsh. There is a possibility that in the past two weeks the Democrats were able to devise their sixth iteration of a campaign slogan and strategy to roll out with less than 50 days to the election. Perhaps they could call it "Fifty States, Fifty Days...But Never Fifty Percent"! It's catchy, it's succinct, and it may well be accurate come November 8th. Arrgghh, not again!

Read more here:

www.thoughttheater.com

It looks like the wiretap bill won't make it out. On balance, it's harder to paint the Dems as weak because they won't approve torture vs weak because they won't allow warrantless wiretapping. Still, I wish the Dems had taken more of a stand.

I'm sorry to say it's playing out pretty much as I feared. And I can't say I agree that the Dems' "concerted tactical effort to say little and let the R infighting happen" "certainly worked in the sense of the press narrative" -- if you saw Olbermann the past few nights you'd have to question that. I'm with Mimikatz and jonnybutter (tho' not with CMike): there's still time if the Dems can suddenly find a deft, clear voice (and a voice is all that's been required of them during all this), but it's getting late.

A related tidbit did make me smile, though: Sam Seder on Air America has taking to calling McCain "John McCave." Pretty catchy.

That's another story altogether. McCain has been bloodied amongst conservatives and others.

About time; let's hope it lasts. (I sometimes wonder if he has dreams in which St. Peter signs his application for heaven, only to have God attach a signing statement defining heaven as a place that includes a really, really hot basement...)

Juliette Kayyam's view seems right to me. We should never let Bush define what is acceptable behavior. He has done nothing to indicate he is capable of moral discernment, let alone good judgment or even real manners.

Democrats are abdicating setting standards for the country. Parties which seek tactical victory win only tactical voters. Historic Democratic voters (low income, people of color, etc.) are not tactical voters. They want something to vote FOR. Shilly-shallying around in DC when principles are at state de-energizes the real Dem base, however much they may hate Bush.

This focus on the storyline of this disgusts me. We are about to watch our elected leaders enshrine torture as the law of the land. Our political discouse has become so debased that there is apparently no one of national stature who is willing to stand up and say that torture is wrong, ineffective, and incompatible with American values. Is everybody here ok with the fact that we're going to give the government the power to kidnap anybody in the world (including you and me) hold them indefinitely without access to counsel or the right to challenge their detention, torture them, and then convict them in a show trial where they won't be allowed to see the evidence against them. Is that really the kind of country you want to live in?

Obviously not, William, which is why we're all so concerned about how this is playing out.

Did anyone watch clinton on Larry King. It was a complete breath of fresh air. He had answers and solutions and he strongly stated that torture weakens us and puts us in more danger. He made Bush look stupid and lost without ever saying his name. We need a message and it can't be "not republican". We need to be framing issues. Right now the dems are letting the republicans frame it and then it is much harder to "re-frame". He has the image of "tough guy" everything will be framed within that idea. Dems are seen as "weak" if we don't find a message of strength and undermind the "tough guy" image we are sunk.

Uh..."undermind" that is actually the condition of # 43's brain.

Of course I meant undermine.

DemFromCT,

Here's that language you need to read before your "well spelled out" moral imperative kicks back in. They get right to it in Sec. 7 (a).

I'll await your comments during some confirmation hearing after the elections.

Daniel DiRito,

I like the way you lay it out. I would like to add that we should wait to see if pigs, I mean donkeys, start flying.

Maybe something concrete will come up that DemFromCT can really be proud of.

Here's my language, CMike, and the date is Jan '05. Since research doesn't seem to be your strong point, here's another link on the topic from 11 months later. I haven't changed my mind.

Thank you for the link on the language.

"We're clever because in the heat of battle we're coreless." You can use it, DemFromCT.

Let's Partay like its 1992. Now let's hope Bill Frist publicly challenges the president on illegal wiretaps.

To all.
This is from my oldest brother that was in the military and actually in Afghanistan initially, but now is pursuing a speciality in medicine. "His father's son."
This is not from the active duty section of the family!
My brother says that lots of people like to think or say that torture doesn't work. He states simply that if that were so, then it wouldn't be done. The people that state that it doesn't work usually give an example of where a confession is obtained by torture that is worthless, and actually incorrect. Those people are correct.
What they ignore or don't understand is that if you are not asking for a confession which is an end result where the torture stops, but rather you are asking for information such as where a body or a weapon or the cash is buried, or when and where the next attack is to be directed, then torture is useful because the information is verifiable and the torture will continue until the information is elicited. Unfortunately for the victim, he might not know the information.

Now that doesn't condone the torture, but it does explain why it is done. To say it doesn't work flies in the face of thousands of years of human experience. If you want to agree with that person that said it then fine for your moral compass. But if you are a cop, or a soldier or the mafia, or the militant muslim, it can be a useful tool for you if you have the disposition or the driving need for it.

Again like I said somewhere ealier I am against it morally, but I have to admit if my brother or father who are on active duty were half alive and being held bound and gagged in a dirt hole under a floor somewhere, and someone knew where he was, and torturing had the chance of getting the location, then I would take the red hot iron in my own hand. Perhaps that is a part of being human, that we will do what we feel we have to.

jodi

Right, well, abortion works too. So does turning your mind and choosing to be a loving host. The same is true for torture. According to some cia experts there are a variety of techniques that garner information as effectively that include befriending the detainee. This administration is focused on only one precedure and it is an immoral procedure. This is narrow minded and the symptom of an authoritarian mind.

How often does it actually help? how useful is it 5 years later?

It's important to separate the poitics of torture (which I was discussing to CMike's consternation) and the ethics and efficacy of torture, another kettle of fish altogether.

Anecdotal stories do not make data. The consensus amongst the professionals is that the information is not trustworthy.

I suppose the balancing of Jodi's dilemma is the idea that if you do it, you are subject to judging afterwards. Should you indulge, you will have to answer for it re the what/where/why and outcome in some other venue than your own opinion. It's one of the things that makes pre-approval so difficult and worthy of scrutiny.

This reminds me of the "spanking" kids argument. Tons of research makes it clear that kids who are not spanked are more successful, have less learning disorders and better social skills. The research stacks up in longitudinal and short term studies. The american Academy of Pediatrics says clearly that spanking is not recommended. Yet, many parents swear that this is the ONLY way to make a child behave.

Yes, spanking works to make some children behave. Not every kid who has been spanked ends up with behavioral problems and violent behavior, but the point that cannot be quantified is how using violence affects the integrity of the child and the parent. Does a child obey out of fear or out of respect.

My children behave well because they respect me and see validity in my approach. They seek to follow me because they value who I am. Children who obey out of fear are far more likely to rebel, to cheat, and to lie. If we were not torturing we would have far more chance of garnering respect as we interrogate, which would be a priceless commodity in the war on terror. Fear is a false God.


We can all rationalize why we do things we know we shouldn't, but routine torture is not one of those things. Plain-vanilla interrogation may take longer, but we wouldn't be ashamed of, and (rightly) roundly criticized throughout the world for, using it. How often is information so time-sensitive that torture, rather than humane interrogation, seems to be the only answer? It doesn't make any more sense than it does to go to war rather than engage in diplomacy that may take some lengthy discussion.

I have been a loyal Popular Front Democrat all my life, even before I could vote. I've stood with the Dems because they were the only party - in my lifetime - that offered an alternative (even though many things the party did made it difficult for me to persuade citizens to vote D. I was critical - sometimes ferociously so - but when the time came to enter the voting booth, I never chose a third party. Perhaps I was lucky. I never had to pull the lever for a Zell Miller, although I had reservations about many of those I did vote for.

The Democratic cowardice I have witnessed this week over a matter that for the party ought to be bedrock principle for a civilized people - has made me question my future allegiance. Not least because my stepson, born in America but raised in the squalid dictatorship of Libya, has chosen to move from the United States because he thought liberty and democracy meant something different that what the Bush Regime and its Demcoratic enablers seem to think it is.

The party has been pathetic on this. Why should we expect anything better from it on lesser issues?

DemFromCT wrote: It's important to separate the poitics of torture (which I was discussing to CMike's consternation) and the ethics and efficacy of torture, another kettle of fish altogether.

You are being extremely gracious here after I got way too personal in this thread. I'm like the Pope and I can't say I'm sorry but I do regret if you were offended.

Meteor Blades, it's a choice between the lesser of two evils. Some choice. I have gone from Republican to Democrat but am so angry with this latest display of Democratic incompetence I am considering giving up the fight and joining the millions who don't vote because they suspect their vote counts for nothing positive in their lives. I don't want to install a warm body in Congress who will do as little as possible to ensure he or she is a Senator or a Representative for life. Our Constitution is no longer a safeguard against a bankrupt Congress and presidency.

Why I'm counseling patience until the facts are in:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Democrats were skeptical on Friday of a deal negotiated by three hold-out Republican senators to rein in President George W. Bush's program to interrogate and try terrorism suspects.

As Bush's fellow Republicans prepared to move the agreement through Congress next week, lawmakers checked the fine print of a compromise bill that would allow aggressive CIA interrogations of foreign suspects but require that they comply with Geneva Conventions, which ensures humane treatment of prisoners of war.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the deal "a substantial improvement" over Bush's plan, but said it still had "a number of problems."

But Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, derided it for using "legal mumbo jumbo to obscure the fact that the CIA will continue to be allowed to use torture and will actually be insulated from legal liability for previous acts of torture."

Many Democrats were formulating their positions on the bill.

more:

A number of Democrats also object that the deal strips detainees' habeas corpus rights to challenge their detentions.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said excluding habeas corpus rights was unconstitutional and set a hearing on the issue for Monday.

We are not done with the congressional discussion.

CMike, your heart's in the right place. So, of course, is everyone else's, including an impatient Meteor Blades.

DemFromCT, thanks for this welcome and encouraging update.

There is torture for information and torture for humiliation and torture for confession and tirture for terror and probably other kinds as well.

Torture for information works, if at all, only if the person tortured actually knows something useful, such as ratting on comrades. It is useless on people who were turned in because of a bounty or otherwise in the wrong place at the wrong time. In those cases, or of the torturer is not satisfied, it leads to false information.

Torture is often used in order to make people "confess" to something generic that it is within their power to confess to--witchcraft, for example, or in McCain's case, denouncing his own government. It "works" in these cases, but the gods help us if that is what we are doing. Same with torture for the purposes of intimidation. (And that didn't work so well on Ayman al-Zawahiri.)

It is also used for humiliation, and this is what a lot of what went on at Abu Ghraib was about--humiliate men and photograph them to coerce thim into becoming informers. This may "work" too, but one assumes that many of its victims join some local jihadi or insurgent group as soon as they can. It didn't get us much in the way of useful information, judging by conditions in Iraq.

Torture should be illegal. It should be illegal so that our personnel have to think long and hard about following orders to torture. It should be illegal so that it is used, if at all, only in the extreme situations where the benefit is such that a pardon or acquittal would be the likely result. The minute it becomes routine, it brings out the worst in some people, as we saw already at Abu Ghraib, and those people are coming back to live amongst us in the not so distant future.

Fuck patience. I want to see Republicans bleeding from the ears after being pummeled by a massive, vicious Dem media assault campaign.

What is this "formulating their positions" bullshit? Torture is an act perpetrated by evil men, and denial of habeas corpus is the moral equivalent of pissing on the Bill Of Rights.

I've spent the whole day upset and half-productive because I am disgusted and furious over the dual issues of Presidentially sanctioned abduction and torture. I want to see Reid and Pelosi standing on the steps of the Capitol giving the President and his lapdogs the finger.

I believe that killing every male between the ages of 8 and 50 in Iraq and Afghanistan would be a very effective way to end the fighting.
Let's give it a try, ok?

"I want to see Reid and Pelosi standing on the steps of the Capitol giving the President and his lapdogs the finger."

Wouldn't it be pretty.

You won't, though. Pelosi will make a speech. Reid will hint at some maneuvers. Both will concede the first premise, that accepting torture is even debatable, in the name of "keeping Americans safe."

Anyway, they'll get their screen time (maybe; MSM coverage is so slanted it's hard to know if we're not seeing or hearing from the Democrats because they're not saying anything, or because they're saying something but the MSM can't be bothered to cover or report it) and there will be a vote and the bill will pass.

And the GOP will use it to show how serious they are about protecting Americans, and to show how the Democrats aren't just "wrong," they're completely ineffectual.

It's the ineffectuality that'll kill us.

People might not like the GOP, but they look at the alternative and see... nothing. No standing up for principle, no canny tactics to derail the GOP's Torture/Surveillance/Endless War train, not even an unequivocal promise to overturn the law once they're in the majority.

The Democratic message is, basically, "We won't fight for ourselves, even, much less fight for you."

Why would people vote for that?

``our leaders are now conspiring to commit war crimes''

So what else is new?

On the question of legalizing torture, the US ratified the Convention on the Prevention of Torture in 1994. Can they pass the law in its present form without repudiating that treaty?

Torture has very little to do with extracting information. It is mostly used to break social solidarity. That's why the Republicans like it -- social solidarity, the bond between people, is the enemy of authoritarian states. They like nice neat top down pyramids where everyone keeps their heads down and all authority passes up and down the chain.

The Democrats disgust me on this. There has to be some principle that is so important you'll fight for it. Apparently there is NOTHING in that category for our "other" party.

And as I said above, this is not even smart tactics -- people won't get off their duffs for a set of people who they percieve to represent nothing.

MB, A place on the Mediterranean in west Libya seen from the air shows it a plant covered corner of a desertified land. The desertification occurred over a timespan about triple the length of time to now from Periclean Athens; I think some of the mythic figures in classical Greece were generalizations about places and people prehistoric; for example, the homework image of a strong person whose name was the same as a mountain, now an entire mountain range in Algeria, with a tapering portal thru Tunisia extending toward Libya.

In modern comfortable times, I think Reid is waiting, as some have observed, to see what the draft commissions remake legislation evokes from mainstream Republicans; then there is the actual time senators will have to discuss it in open session; then there will be elections. If congress can fit all that in the abbreviated time before its recess.

I think if the Neo-commissions law is cast as a wartime law, the nation will support it but not as a permanent, non-martial-law measure; even though it is profoundly flawed. But if people begin to consider it as a longterm restructuring of jurisprudence and civil rights as the US historically has viewed those the bill's proponents will have to go back to the drawing board.

One more thing on a most unpleasant subject -torture.

Any kid on a playground knows what intimidation is.
The latest man/woman released from Life in Prison or Death row was I think 2 days ago. (I am moving around too much to keep a real sense of time.) I might be off on the years 1 or 2. He was put in prison about 15 or 16 years ago, and was 15 or 16 years old, or that was when the crime was committed, the rape and death of a girl, a classmate, 1 grade younger.
The police interrogated him months after the death because he went to the funeral and was nice to the family afterwards. Who knows what happened, but he confessed for one reason or another and says now he thought the DNA test they were doing would clear him. Well there was another person's DNA in the girl, but the prosecutor said that might have been her having consensual sex separately, AND THEY HAD A CONFESSION about the murder.
So now they have another guy in jail for the same type crime and he says he did kill the first girl also, and HEY his DNA matches the one found in the girl 15 years earlier.
There is of course a call for cameras in the interrogation room and retraining the police.

OF COURSE WHY THE HELL WAS THE KID BEING INTERROGATED ALONE BY THE POLICE. WHY WAS HE TALKING TO HIM WITHOUT HIS LAWYER? IS IT OK BECAUSE HE WAS STUPID OR IGNORANT OR SCARED?

Then when you say well maybe confessions aren't a good idea. The prosecutor/politicians say "oh no" they are a valuable tool.
Or course how many prosecutors go into politics?

THAT MAN WAS THE 184th MAN TO BE RELEASED FROM LIFE IMPRISONMENT OR DEATH ROW BECAUSE OF DNA EVIDENCE!

Intimination, lying, "torture" are common every day in our police departments. Of course it is called "aggressive interrogation" or "aggressive interviewing," or "good cop/bad cop" or some such,.

I do not say torture or intimidation should be done routinely to POWs or to kids or anyone else. And the confession shouldn't be any good at all, BUT if the POW tells you where your brother is buried alive or the kid tells you where the gun is, then you should pay attention, and in the case of the kid don't let the cop and the kid then both walk free. Kick the cop out of law enforcement forever at least, and then check the ballistics on the gun. And you decide what to do with the CIA interrogator/(or me.), because I would gladly go to jail to find my brother.

(Don't get upset. That is just an example, my brother was ok 2 days ago and hasn't gone back yet.)

See, but that's the deal, Jodi. One of the things that makes us oppose this "no fault" administration is that there are no consequences to them for their actions.

Whereas I lean towards John Lopresti's POV, I fear Meteor Blades and the other might in the end have the right of it in the short term. These two articles suggest some improvement as per the watchdogs, but maybe not enough.

This is a win for Bush and the GOP.

He gets to keep his torture, and the GOP (McCain especially) gets to say it opposed the President. The "rubber stamp" criticism is thrown out the window.

That much is crystal clear.

Given that, the Democrats lose. There's no such thing as "win win" in politics, especially a few weeks before an election.

I'm working for the Democrats to win. But by God, it's hard to root for them when they're too chickenshit to stand up and speak the truth. I'm sick of Pelosi and Reid and the rest. Wimps.

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I haven't been up to much , but I guess it doesn't bother me. Pfft. I just don't have much to say lately, but maybe tomorrow. Basically nothing seems worth doing.

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have a nice day

Not much on my mind right now. I haven't been up to anything. Today was a complete loss. That's how it is. Not much exciting going on these days.

Juvenile delinquents should be sentenced to bootcamp

My mind is like a fog, not that it matters. I just don't have much to say these days. That's how it is. I haven't been up to anything recently.

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