Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 13, 2009
WAR: "Do What You Have To Do"

From 2004 - my, how tunes change:

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:01 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

What a lowlife. Let him share a cell with Dick Cheney. Perhaps they can ruminate together about how genocide is good for national security (certainly that argument can also be made).

Posted by: Berto at May 13, 2009 10:14 PM

"Genocide"-as usual.... WTF are you babbling about.

Boo hoo hoo-Sheik Khalid Mohammed, the guy responsible for killing three thousand of your fellow citizens, who was behind plots to kill tens if not hundreds of thousands more, who executed a man by cutting his head off on the internet-he didn't get his sleepy pooh and they slapped him a little bit and we did something to him called waterboarding which has been used in college hazing and as training against lord knows how many of our servicemen for decades and which simulates, repeat simulates drowning. We are very bad people. Boo hoo hoo.

There is a term called a "useful idiot"-you should become familar with it-you self loathing joke.

Posted by: dch at May 13, 2009 11:57 PM

Wow, looks like I struck a nerve (and in the Conservative playbook, that means I'm the winner).
(A moment to tip my cap to the thunderous applause as I round the bases).
WTF am I babbling about? Don't play stupid with me. You know exactly what I mean, you just don't want to face up to your cretenism. Are you saying genocide absolutely, positively, isn't good for national security? I hear that if it saves lives it's worth it (if a Republican does it, of course).
BTW, great job downplaying torture. Especially from a guy who threw a hissy fit over Wanda Syke's jokes.

Posted by: Berto at May 14, 2009 12:29 AM

So, waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used by the CIA and our military is now genocide. I can think of a few million Auschwitz "detainees" who'd have been happy to have been waterboarded as opposed to being gassed, shot or killed during deranged medical experiments. Likewise for several million Cambodians who did not meet the proper requirements of a Communist society as defined by the Khmer Rouge. Add in numerous millions of Rwanadans, Armenians, Ukranians, 3000 office workers who went to the World Trade Center on 09/11 just to do their jobs. The list is endless.

In my mind it is fairly easy to determine a distinct difference between waterboarding a few terrorists (does anyone want to make a case that KSM is not a terrorist since he says that he is one himself), and indiscriminantly killing thousands to millions of people simply because of who they are and not for anything that they've done.

Again, the larger question not addressed by the brilliance of one of the other posters (possibly the true cretin) is Senator Schumer changing his tune to meet the political considerations of the immediate moment. I'm no psychologist, but does the term cognitive dissonance occur to anyone?

Posted by: NRA Life Member at May 14, 2009 12:43 PM

Actually Berto, I think attempts to "strike a nerve" typically through the use of false analogies such as your genocide argument, are right out of the liberal playbook, specifically the Saul Alinsky "Rules for Radicals" playbook. Don't bother to debate whether the specific interrogation methods used were extreme enough to qualify as torture, simply call them torture and move on as if the debate is over. Don't bother to debate whether the specific interrogation methods were justified by the circumstances, simply call it torture again, claim torture is always wrong (and laughably, always ineffective), and then throw in a non-sequitar about genocide.

You can congratulate yourself all you want as you round your imaginary third base, but from where I sit, you took a called third strike and are back on the bench. If you want to actually get the bat of your shoulder next time, try justifying why the specific interrogations measures we know were used against KSM were not justified despite the (indisputable) fact that we knew he continued to plan terrorist attacks. I'm not saying I'll agree with you, but at least you would actually be taking a swing.

Posted by: Paul H. at May 14, 2009 1:27 PM

I keep hearing that torture (which isn't legal or moral) is worth it because it protects national security (Saddam, Cheney, and quite a few posters here believed/ believe it does).
Does genocide (which isn't legal or moral) ever protect national security interests? The case can certainly be made that it does. (By Yoo or Bybee, surely, but by others as well).
Would you support the torture of the children of alleged terrorists in front of them to protect national security interests? What wouldn't you do to protect national security interests?

To Paul H.,
If you haven't paid attention to conservatives "the Left is up in arms, I must have said something right" argument, you've been asleep during the Limbaugh, Coulter, Savage years. Or you're just being disingenuous.
Moving along: The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.
After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."
Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

Do you support the US paying reparations to the members of Japan's government or elite (or their families) who were convicted of so called frat-boy hazing by the US?

KSM was ONE alleged terrorist to be waterboarded. I await your case against the other detainees tortured and killed by representatives of the US government. Or (as an analogy), if I slaughtered Richard Speck along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, do I walk because Speck was a vicious murderer?
Finally, can you define the difference between a terrorist and an alleged terrorist? And at what point in time can you ascertain the difference?

Posted by: Berto at May 14, 2009 2:41 PM

*shrug* - I guess I was tortured by my own government by these standards.

At boot camp in Parris Island we walked into a CS chamber (tear gas) with our gas masks on. We had to take them off after doing jumping jacks to assure that we would be breathing heavily. we then had to march out in an orderly fashion. Anyone trying to bolt for the door in a fit of panic would of course be sent to the back of the line. Surely an extended amount of time in that enclosed space would have caused me to die of asphyxiation. And what if no medical personnel had been present? (Of course there was, just as there was with KSM.)

Of course none of this compares to losing, fracturing, or piercing a limb or an organ, much less having your head sawed off after you confessed that your mother was a Jew. I honestly don't get the fuss, and haven't lost a wink of sleep over this whole affair.

Posted by: tsmonk at May 15, 2009 10:06 AM

Congratulations Berto, now you are taking a swing. This post was much more thoughtful than the previous ones. Howver, I still can't agree with you.

To start, the left has historically had far more bomb throwers than the right, not just the notorious ones like Olberman and Moore, but down through the liberal opinion columnists, talking heads and especially local activists. Anybody that has attended college in the last 40 years has been harraunged by liberal interests groups at some point...much less likely to have happened on the conservative side. That is not to say that conservatives don't throw bombs, but this is a more recent phenomenon, and they are simply adapting to the liberal playbook that has been in place since at least the Vietnam era.

The torture prosections of Japanese soldiers did include charges of waterboarding, but there were many far more serious claims, such as forced labor, rape camps and even canibalism (read Flyboys for descriptions of the canibalism). Furthermore, it appears that the Bush administration was careful to design the interrogation technique in a way to differentiate it from the tactics used by the Japanese soldiers (the so-called torture memos considered those cases and distinguished the proposed methods from the ones used by the Japanese).

Your reparations question is misguided. As noted above, there is ample evidence of atrocities committed by the Japanese during WWII, not just to American soldiers, but to civilians (especially in China), that we can all sleep soundly about the fate of those leaders, even if we are now using the same waterboarding technique (which is not a settled point). Furthermore, is Japan paying reparations to Pear Harbor victims? How about to the soldiers and their families that fought and died in the Pacific Rim theater after Pearl Harbor? Are we paying reparations for Hiroshima and Nagasaki? A lot of bad stuff went on during WWII (including the internment of innocent Americans, something the left always seems to forget when claiming Bush was trashing civil liberties in a way never before seen in the country), and I don't think we want to revisit it now.

Your analogy of Richard Speck is even worse. The purpose for enhanced interrogation techniques is to prevent planned terrorist attacks. The justification for that is pretty obvious, even if you don't agree with it. I'm not sure how killing the entire Morman Tabernacle Chior addresses the murders of Richard Speck. Are you suggesting the Choir was somehow complicit in his murders? A closer analogy would have been to suggesting killing Speck (without slaughtering innocent choir members) before he went on his killing spree. Of course, this analogy would also fail if Speck's spree could have been prevented simply by apprehendig him rather than killing him.

Your last question finally gets to the heart of the matter. Most conservatives (by which I mean pretty much all of them) would agree that they don't want our government waterboarding people unless it is absolutely necessary. I agree that the government should be extremely hesitant to use these techniques even when they are sure a detainee is a terrorist. I have a significant problem with the thought of such techniques being used on innocents. I acknowledge that the potential for such mistakes is a strong argument against enhanced interrogation. However, I will not concede that such interrogation methods should be taken completely off the table, even if it means failing to prevent terrorist attacks that could kill thousands of people. While the left believes it has the moral high-ground on this issue, I simply can't fathom how one can smugly state that they would be willing to let thousands die to assuage their own conscience about terrorists being subjected to enhanced interrogation. To bring this back to your Speck analogy, if his killing spree could not have been stopped unless he was killed first (for instance if apprehension prior to the killing spree would have simply delayed rather than prevented the attack), is it more moral to kill him and save the lives of the innocents, or to let him slaughter all of those poor nurses.

This is an issue with signifcant gray area, and pronouncements of absolute moral certainty are simply unrealistic.

Posted by: Paul H. at May 15, 2009 10:07 AM

Nice response, Paul.
I still believe it's a false dichotomy between torture and saving lives. Even Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to W's Sec. of State (no lefty, he) says these extreme interrogation techniques were not used to save American lives, but to provide a smoking gun link between Iraq and Al Quaeda. Torture is one of the best ways to get false confessions. I'd tell you my 4-year old niece is a top Al Quaeda operative, if that's what it takes to stop the torture. You would too.
Cheney had already been told there was no connection, but he pushed for torture because it leads to false confessions, and he got to hear what he wanted.
Despite what Crank and his ilk think, 9/11 was the excuse, not the reason for attacking Iraq. Clearer eyes can see that those who pushed for attacking and occupying Iraq had financial ties to those in line to profit from such an attack. Also, there is ample evidence that these same folks pushed for War long before 9/11.
Personally, I think 9/11 is overblown. As I've written here before (and almost made Crank's head explode), it's hard to take 9/11 seriously when the President of The US did everything in his power to prevent the 911 Commission from finding out exactly how it happened (he underfunded the commission, stonewalled it, and even made Rice his Sec. of State after she bald-face lied to it). Either Bush didn't think 9/11 was important or he had something to hide (I'm no 9/11 Truther, so I lean to the former). My condolences to those who lost family and friends on that date, but those who make it the centerpiece for excusing war and torture need to reconcile Bush's actions re: the commission and his excuses for doing something his handlers (who had many rea$ons to pu$h for it) wanted all along.

The Speck/ Mormon Tabernacle Choir association is about this: In order to save lives we swept up a bunch of alleged terrorists, if the MTC happened to be swept up too. My analogy would be erroneous if one could show that only terrorists were tortured and not innocents.
Torture (and genocide) are always immoral. the ticking time bomb scenario is from TV and cinema, not from real life.

Posted by: Berto at May 15, 2009 11:35 AM

Also, you might feel that we don't agree about whether the US tortured or not. I'm willing to bet I could get you to agree with me if I "interrogated" you. I'm also willing to bet I could get you to agree that the Detroit Lions won this year's Super Bowl.

Posted by: Berto at May 15, 2009 11:40 AM

Berto, you are presuming that enhanced interrogation is being used to extract confessions. I sincerely doubt that was the case, though we'll probably never agree on it. I will agree that I don't favor enhanced interrogation simply for the purpose of obtaining confessions (either for prosecutorial or political purposes). Interrogations for confessions certainly could lead to your four year-old niece admitting to being a terrorist. Howver, that sort of information would not be particularly useful when interrogating for intelligence purposes. Simply put, there is no motive to beating (so to speak) a false confession out of a terror suspect for intelligence purposes, since the information you obtained would be useless. I don't presume that is how the CIA interrogation sessoins were conducted.

It is sophistry to suggest that the ticking time-bomb scenario never occurs outside of Hollywood. There is a period of time before every terrorist attack where additional information would help to prevent such attack. That is what the torture/enhanced interrogation argument is all about. If we have a terrorist suspect in captivity, and we have reason to believe this person has information about an imminent attack (which doesn't mean within the next five minutes, but within a period of time close enough that alternative methods of intelligence gathering are simply not feasible), is it justifiable to use enhanced interrogation methods?

Your Detriot Lions example pretty much sums up our point of disagreement. You seem to think that the CIA is waterboarding for the fun of it, without actually caring what information they obtain. I believe that they are very selectively using this technique on only the most high-level terror suspects in order to obtain specific information about future terror attacks, or specific information leading to the capture (and thus neutralization) of additional terrorists. Also, I'm a pretty big guy with a pretty high pain threshold, and I'd almost certainly tell you anything you wanted to know, true or not, if you began using enhanced interrogation on me. You are absolutely correct on that call. Of course, the more important the information to me, the less likely I will let you know (for me that would be information about my children's well-being, for a suspected terrorist, it would likely be information leading to the capture of their cohorts).

Lastly (since I should get back to work), your Mormon Tabernacle Choir example still makes no sense. If you are arguing that we used enhanced interrogation on all detainees, no matter how flimsy the purported connection to terrorist activities, then the analogy would make a little more sense (but only if it were also presumed that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was complicit in helping Speck in his murderous rampage, and that it would also help future killing sprees).

Posted by: Paul H. at May 15, 2009 3:03 PM

They were told to obtain ties between Iraq and 9/11. When the boss tells you to get something (in this case Cheney), you get it or you're out on your butt.
We may not agree that people were tortured for false confessions, but people like Wilkinson, who was there, does.

Posted by: Berto at May 16, 2009 8:48 AM

Wilkerson supported Wesley Clark and Jim Webb, not necessarily a liberal, but certainly not a conservative, and likely not a Republican. Furthermore, his boss Colin Powell, in addition to supporting Barack Obama, has never been invested in the Republican party. I think it is fair to call their motives into question (they let Scooter Libby get hung out to try despite knowing all along that Richard Armitage was the source of the Plame leak, just one example of the power struggle between Powell's camp and Cheney's camp).

Regardless, this line of argument is simply a distraction from the actual point, which is torture ever morally acceptable. Chuck Schumer seemed to think it was, until it became politically advantageous to take the opposite point of view. Speaker Pelosi and many other fellow Democrats seemed to agree, and then change their minds for political purposes.

From my point of view the use of torture or enhanced interrogation must be viewed on a sliding scale. The greater the potential harm, and the more imminent the occurance of such harm, the greater justification for using enhanced interrogation. The reverse also applies. The level of corroboration is also a significant factor. Thus if you have strong evidence that a nuclear attack is going to be carried out within the next 24 hours, and you are unable to get the specific information necessary to stop the attack without enhanced interrogation, I believe that it would be morally acceptable to use enhanced interrogation to extract the information necessary to save thousands of lives. On the other hand, enhanced interrogation is not justified when the subject is unlikely to have specific information regarding an imminent terrorist attack. Everthing else is just political posturing.

Posted by: Paul H. at May 16, 2009 3:31 PM

As long as you have no problem with other nations torturing US soldiers (or other US government representatives) if they believe US attacks are imminent, I applaud you for your thoughts (even though I disagree) and consistency.

Posted by: Berto at May 16, 2009 8:49 PM

Berto, the whole purpose of the Geneva conventions is that wars between signatories would not subject the soldiers of those countries to torture. Unfortunately, that is not the situation we face today. We are not facing uniformed soldiers representing a sovereign nation who are planning attacks on legitimate military targets. We are facing terrorists seeking to inflict harm upon innocent civilians for political purposes.

I will agree that if the U.S government sent undercover (non-uniformed) operatives to another country with the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks against civilian targets in those countries, that the country that is the target of such attacks would be justified in using enhanced interrogation methods to try to prevent such attacks. Frankly, I doubt there is any country that wouldn't use enhanced interrogation under such circumstances, prior breathless protestations against Gitmo notwithstanding.

I didn't expect that I'd change your mind on this issue, but it was good to be able to have an honest exchange of opinions on the matter.

Posted by: Paul H. at May 18, 2009 9:14 AM
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