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11/05/2007

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Wow! This is important information. I might otherwise have flown some jets into buildings killing a bunch of civilians in foreign countries. I won't do that now.

Thanks!

> Remember When We Used To Be a Beacon To the Rest of the World?

Yeah, back in the good old days.

James,

There is just a wee bit of, oh, I don't know, an ideological bent in the site you linked to, not to mention, hmm, what's the term? Oh yeah: falsification.

The Hawaiian revolution was undertaken by Hawaiian citizens after the Queen tried to introduce a new (racist and anti-democratic) constitution that would have greatly increased her power. 162 Marines and Sailors--about 1/10 the number of those mobilized by a local militia called the Honolulu Rifles against the monarchy--were ordered on shore to protect American interests. They did not participate in the coup; they fired no shots.

If the site you linked got this one incident so utterly and completely wrong, how can we trust the rest of it?

As always, Pursuit, you confuse "not being as bad as the other guy" with being good.

He said he would not include or exclude any technique without first considering whether it violated the convention on torture.

So Tom, you are advocating that lawyers should make pronouncements without consulting the relevant authority? While that seems to work for liberal Supreme Court justices, it's not recommended for the rest of us.

I'm saying that this Administration has redefined torture so that activities that have always been considered torture -- waterboarding, for example -- are no longer defined as torture, under the law. Hence, the president says "we don't torture" and his supporters pretend it's true.

By getting Mr. Mukasey to say, up front, that a specific act of torture is, in fact, an act of torture, it removes the possibility that the Administration's redefinition of torture will stand as policy.

One might imagine, given the times we are in, that Mr. Mukasey would already be familiar with both waterboarding and the Convention on Torture. That he claims not to be strikes me as disingenuous and suspiciously convenient.

And please: No one gets to justify waterboarding because it's not as bad as, for example, chopping someone's head off with a knife. Nowhere in our legal or moral systems is "not as bad" justification for doing something wrong. I can't claim innocence on an assault charge because beating someone with a baseball bat isn't as bad as killing them.

What has Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey's got to do with State Department lawyer John Bellinger's refusal to make a legal determination he is not qualified or authorized to make?

Am I missing something, or do you not know who your post is about?

As for whether water-boarding is torture, Dan Levin, when acting head of DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, said it was not torture per se, but could be if not done in a limited way under close supervision.

Levin, unlike Bellinger, had the authority to make this determination. And as for his qualifications, Levin volunteered and underwent actual waterboarding before issuing his opinion.

Squidley, it says military interventions, not unwarranted military interventions. It's just a list of most military actions undertaken by the U.S. military. World War II is on there as well, and it was a "good" war.

But there are a lot of events on that list where we shouldn't have been, which was my point. This is well-documented elsewhere and not a subject open for debate. My link was just the first in a parade of thousands available online, not to mention the many history texts on the subject.

All that aside, I'm not going to give you a pass for, "If it has that one error, how can we trust the rest of it?" That's would be a bullshit argument even if the bit about the Hawaiian revolution was false.

Um, I thought I was going back to John Yoo's analysis of what constitutes torture, which throws out existing definitions in favor of "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." That remains, as best anyone can tell, the administration's standard.

Under that standard, waterboarding is not torture. The US recognizes waterboarding as torture when other countries do it; but now that we're doing it it's not torture. That's what I was referring to, while recognizing the irony that we -- the former beacon of hope and moral clarity in the world -- are no longer able to flatly claim protection from waterboarding for American citizens, because that claim would be laughable.

James,

I see your point, but when it comes to anyone making numerous claims, one or more of which I can show to be false or mistaken, the reliability of the entire data set becomes highly questionable.

Having a few honest mistakes is understandable and forgivable. However, the more there are, or the greater any individual mistake is, the less reliable the whole becomes.

I don't think it's BS; I think it's a reasonable way to assess the overall validity of someone's assertions. Do you have a better rubric?

And yet you still read this blog.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

It's the interactivity that keeps me coming back. Besides, don't you have a lot more fun now than you did back when you never engaged in idle chit-chat with your readers?

Tom,

Interesting that you put something in quotes that I never said. Didn't you just object to this recently?

Gosh, who is smug now?

Best regards,

Pursuit

I put several things in quotes that you never said because I wasn't quoting you. Sorry about the apparent confusion.

I don't advocate torture, but prior to calling Bush's administration evil for trying to keep such techniques as waterboarding on deck, may I remind you that as people who are not faced with the reality of keeping everyone safe, and who are not given detailed reports by the CIA every morning of just what our enemies want to do to us and our families, it's rather easy for us to condemn?

Imagine yourself in the following situation:

YOU: Gotcha! Talk, you fiend! Where's the gas going off today?

TERRORIST: You'll never get it out of me, American! In one hour the gas will go off and kill thousands! Thousands! It's almost already too late!

YOU: What do I do now? The moral conundrum!

ME (REMEMBERING MY CHILDREN LIVE IN WASHINGTON DC): You can fetch me the hose.

Adam - When that situation comes up, give me a call and I'll torture the guy myself, and stand in front of a jury of my peers and take my chances. But that's not how torture is used in the real world, and it's not how torture has been used by the Bush Administration.

Torture is used methodically, to get information over the long term from people who might know something we want to know. There are other, more effective ways to gleen that information.

Torture also grows more pervasive once it's accepted, becoming applicable in situations far beyond those first justified.

And torture has a cost. In the United States, surrendering the moral high ground that is our greatest strength in the world is the cost. That's a lot to pay for information that is, by all accounts, inaccurate and untrustworthy.

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