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06/09/2004

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Joe Nagarya

You're hearing the voice of a vindictive, petty, sadistic little prick named Napoleon Mussolini Bushit.

Nixon began the cancer with his assertion, "If the president does it, it isn't illegal." Cheney and Rumsfeld have apparently been all along in making that anti-Constitutional argument successful this time.

Now, if they knew 9/11 was going to heppen, but the let it happen because they needed the "imminent" threat, then they were never about anything positive. Never about love of country. Never about patriotism. They were about undermining and destroying our system; or so radically transforming it into Reagan-Norquist "conservatism" which would make major changes not only in the political landscape but also in the Constitutional. Something of a throwback: those with money have rights; those who do not don't even get to vote.

Oscar

There is much of interest here. Note that the "Reservations and Understandings" on the part of the US which are part of the ratification of the Convention on Torture were made in 1994, during Clinton's administration. And that enabling legislation was not enacted at that time because it was believed "that existing state and federal criminal law as adequate". Thus it would appear that the views in this study are similar to those of the Clinton administration.

That said, torture, reasonably defined is wrong, and also rather useless. The only effective use of torture has consistently been to extract confessions (think of the Inquisition, the Soviet show trials etc.) rather than useful information.

This report makes unpleasant reading, but some reports I saw in the 60's about nuclear attacks and their aftermath were worse. The contemplation of repugnant acts may sometimes be required, but is never pleasant reading.

Maybe I will have more after reading the entire thing, but I am off to a meeting, and wanted to post my first thoughts now.

Oscar

After further reading, the memo available seems way over the top. A good take on it is at:
http://www.discourse.net/archives/2004/06/apologia_pro_tormento_analyzing_the_first_56_pages_of_the_walker_working_group_report_aka_the_torture_memo.html
I can't wait to see Gene Volokh's take on it:
http://volokh.com/

Oscar

Found a good blog covering this topic and others run mostly by lawyers (it seems):
http://punishmenttheory.blog-city.com/

Kingdaddy

Oscar, thanks for the links to other discussions of The Memo.

You raise an interesting point, comparing the nuclear balance of terror to the torture of terrorists. However, the Cold War seemed like a classic Mexican stand-off: out of self-defense, both sides kept their nuclear weapons pointed at each other. Like gunfighters, each side also looked the other in the eye, scanning for any sign that the enemy might lose his nerve about actually pulling the trigger.

That's a situation completely different from Abu Ghraib. There was no "us or them," or ticking bomb about to go off (see my discussion on this in an earlier post), or promise of absolute destruction. There was just a helpless captive, who may or may not have information about future terrorist attacks (which always take a lot of time and care to plan and execute), and a lot of different options for getting information out of him. Or her, like the elderly woman ridden like a donkey.

Ali

Abu Ghraib reminds me of this piece of even greater foolishness:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/troubles/origins/internment.shtml

A military disaster for the Brits. Without the power base that Internment provided for PIRA they'd have withered away. Fortunately the British got much more subtle with time.

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