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Excessive Pride Goes Before a Fall

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I like my lawyer costume, because I am comfortable wearing it and because it permits me to pontificate on things from a different perspective than do many others on this site. I recently did so in an article focusing on the legal aspects of "torturing" terrorists to gain information needed to avoid future terrorist attacks.

The Law is a wonderful thing, often a creature of logical coherence and beauty. It allows reasonable people to live together with minimal friction. It also allows reasonable people to have realistic expectations as to the consequences of their actions. Those expectations involve a basic concept of fairness and, in Western societies at least, a reasonable understanding that obedience to The Law will keep one safe from excessive Governmental abuse. It is not reasonable to expect that a meter maid will shoot one for failing to put coins into a parking meter or that a policeman will cut off one's head for attempting to walk across a street in the middle of the block; or even riddle one with bullets for committing the sin of adultery in a field somewhere. One need not live in constant fear that the Government will behave inconsistently with The Law, even when one fails to do so oneself. The laws and the Constitution are designed to provide rights to all, good and bad, and more often than not, do so.

Despite these wonders, The Law is sometimes very frustrating and there are contexts in which it simply cannot function as one would wish. I shall now remove my Lawyer costume and try to talk about defending against those who are completely outside the law as we know it, who present a very real danger personally, to lawful society and to civilization in general.

Some have probably heard of Krav Maga, a personal self defense system developed in Israel for her commandos and now gaining popularity worldwide for civilian self defense. As I understand Krav Maga, it teaches that in defending oneself in a violent context, such as a street attack by a mugger or a rapist, or in a home invasion by armed burglars, to take every possible advantage even if in a more civilized context to do so would be "unfair." Outside the civilized context, there are no rules of fair play. On defense, one strikes as quickly as possible where it hurts the most, going for the eyes or other highly vulnerable body parts. The idea is to put the attackers on the defensive and to disable them, as quickly as possible. The only rules are to disable attackers efficiently and quickly, and to keep from being hurt oneself; the Marquess of Queensberry probably would not approve, nor would Emily Post. Were I to put my lawyer costume back on for a moment, I would pontificate that only proportionate force should be used, and that no unnecessary harm should be caused to one's attackers. However, I took that costume off when I started this article, so will say nothing of the sort.

Permit me to relate some recent events here, in Panama, which have brought home — literally — and forcefully, to me the idea that there are contexts in which it is unwise if not suicidal to be either polite or "fair." In our quite remote, rural and otherwise tranquil area, we have not yet had any problem of the sort described below, and I of course hope that we never will. It would nevertheless be extremely foolish not to prepare for the worst, and we are doing so as best we can.

Within about ten kilometers of our small farm, several homes have been broken into at night — between two and four in the morning is the preferred time for that sort of thing. Here is an e-mail my wife wrote about these events and which was picked up by a blog site in Panama City, some 450 KM to our east. The burglars apparently  are armed and pretty savvy; they would likely be classified as sociopaths. They typically use some kind of air-borne drug blown in through an open window to disable the residents. Then, they — generally several of them — break in, rape any reasonably attractive woman or girl not menstruating at the time, and steal things. Thus far, they have killed no one. There have been three such incidents recently. Many people in our immediate area are having difficulty sleeping at night, and in some cases someone stands watch at night, just as one would do on a boat out in the open ocean. Out in the open ocean where we sailed, the principal concern involved only the normal hazards of the sea; violent criminals were never a problem.

There is virtually no police protection at all here for various reasons, including that the nearest police facility is more than half an hour away and does not have a car. Efforts have been made to get them a car or a motorcycle. Even with a vehicle, they probably wouldn't have sufficient gasoline to go far. Donations for gasoline have been solicited. Getting the police to respond at our place until well after everything interesting had ended would be impossible.

There have been community meetings with the Mayor of the District and a meeting has been scheduled with the Governor of the Province. Even though Gringos have not, thus far, been victims of such attacks, the local Representante visited us and the very few Gringos living here, to make sure that we were aware of the situation. All seem seriously concerned and quite sympathetic. Unfortunately, they lack the resources necessary to take effective steps to deal with the problem.

We have four large dogs and one small dog, who sleep in our house and can be counted on to bark loudly and ferociously should someone approach. We think and hope that they would be as energetic in attempting to protect us as we would be in attempting to protect them. They sleep in our bedroom, not only because we enjoy their company, but also because these burglars typically throw poisoned meat to distract and kill dogs roaming outside. We also have multiple security lights, a well locked gate, and are sufficiently distant from the road that our house cannot be seen. We are getting a shotgun, a process which takes several months if the laws are followed. In addition to our dogs, we now have an air pistol, two pepper spray canisters, and a spray bottle full of ammonia. I keep my walking cane and the air pistol on my bedside table. The spray canisters and ammonia bottle are on my wife's bedside table. We would not be the least hesitant to use any or all of these things were we attacked, and it would be silly to wait until it could be determined with certainty whether the burglars are, as others have generally been, armed. The purpose would be to disable the attackers, as quickly as possible; with a shotgun, I would aim for the body and not be at all particular where the pellets struck. I am not a marksman, and making a choice between killing and missing is not an option. I would shoot to kill. While some or all of this may be viewed as paranoid, our paranoia is shared by the other residents of our small community.

Another non-option would be to try to sit down and reason together with such people; to understand the problems which drove them to attack us, to understand the pitiful circumstances which may have driven them to misbehave, and to show them the true light. This might, but probably would not, cause them to die of laughter. Far more likely, they would respond by killing me and raping and then killing my wife.

I think that an analogy can properly be made to terrorists who fly aircraft into buildings full of people, who bomb buildings full of people, who lob missiles into civilian areas full of people as in Israel, and who otherwise spread deadly havoc. They do not "play" by any rules to which we are accustomed, and more than likely are quite happy to rely on the fact that we like to follow the sort of rules which they do not. Nor is there any readily available police force to call upon for assistance; 911 calls to the United Nations are not answered quickly, if at all, and even then only eventually and with deliberations, resolutions and at best ineffective sanctions.

In recent days, the United States has been preoccupied with the tales of "torture" and other very unpleasant things done to prevent more terrorist attacks.   We have apparently decided that we are in a boxing match in which we must, to preserve (or perhaps regain) our moral virginity, adhere to the Marquess of Queensbury's rules when our attackers adhere to no rules whatever save one — to kill us and to disrupt our affairs to the greatest extent possible. Our moral outrage at those who would try to protect us has been great and doubtless very comforting to some — including to those who seek to kill as many of us as possible; toward the latter, there seems to have been far less moral outrage.

To seek "exceptionalism" by touting one's extraordinarily superior morality in the face of very real and life threatening dangers at the hands of those who adhere to extraordinarily different moral codes, and who seek their own "exceptionalism" through deadly terror attacks, strikes me as suicidal. The United States is and has long been a good and law-abiding country. In her dealings with other good and law abiding countries, she should continue to be good and law abiding. However, she is now facing, and has faced for several years, dangers which are quite different from any encountered before. She is  currently engaged with neither a good and law-abiding country as an opponent, nor for that matter, even a country in many cases. She faces in macrocosm what my wife and I personally face on a far smaller and quite personal scale. A difference is that the United States has already been attacked, and we have not yet been.

In dealing with terrorists who are trying very energetically to kill us, we should not be so piously stuck up about our beloved moral superiority that we fail to fight them on something approaching comparable terms. To fail to do so evidences the type of pride which goes before a fall, possibly a fatal fall.

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About Dan Miller

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    The first link in the article should be to this.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    And now the link is fixed. That was quick.

    Dan(Miller)

  • M (a)r {….!…} ¶/ ® k

    Damn right, Dan! The whole ends and means thing is so yesterday. In fact, you need to stop being such a pussy and get proactive in your self-defense. Go out and snatch a few people who match the profile of these bastards, cut their heads off and mount them on pikes around the periphery of your property. That ought to serve as a deterrent. (If a few innocents are caught up in error, such is life.)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Thanks for your helpful advice, M (a)r {….!…} ¶/ ® k. I shall certainly consider it. However, until we are able (legally) to buy a shotgun, I shall probably not take it.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    I’m with Mark on this one. If your home is invaded you need to stop the thieves, and that would probably require the use of deadly force if there are more than one of them. But you wouldn’t rape them and kill them, however impressive a deterrence that might be.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think good ole Baronius here was thrown way off by Mark’s biting satire.

    Good weapon, Mark. How else are you gonna get ‘em show their true colors?

    In all fairness to Baronius, though, he stops short of rape, pillage, and murder – displaying once more to all onlookers and bemused spectators his good Christian sensibilities.

    What a show!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius, I didn’t suggest that I would rape them. However, the use of deadly force implies the possibility of killing him or them. I would not kill by preference, but at two o:clock in the morning, in the dark, upon awakening from sleep, one’s options are rather limited. In that situation, better him (or them) than my wife or me — or, for that matter, one of our dogs.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    Dan(M), it’s an extension of your analogy. The US is being attacked by people who torture and kill, so it’s appropriate for the US to torture and kill (rather than just kill). Likewise, you’re being attacked by people who rape and kill, so you should rape them before you kill them. You’ve chosen to move beyond appropriate force into brutality, in order to put yourself on the same playing field as the enemy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Dan

    Your ardent supporter has just disqualified himself, I’m sorry to say. I’m certain you did not mean for your article to have such a radicalizing effect and push him over the edge, but I guess shit happens. Regardless, I would be happy knowing that my words might have such an effect.

    Perhaps there’s a lesson in this to all of us – to think and speak more highly.

  • Baronius

    Roger, you really don’t understand a word I’ve written, do you?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Correction: I wouldn’t be happy . . .

  • Clavos

    I don’t think you got Dan’s point in the article, Roger.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius, when I said, we should not be so piously stuck up about our beloved moral superiority that we fail to fight them on something approaching comparable terms(emphasis added), I did not mean thereby to suggest (and don’t think that I did suggest) that we should fly airplanes into buildings, hack off heads or use children as living shields. That would be not only bad and silly but also quite ineffective. I did mean to suggest that to the extent that we need to be unpleasant in order to obtain information necessary for our self defense, we should be as unpleasant as necessary, and that after the fact we should not mount our pious platforms and complain about what was done.

    Following the 911 attacks on the U.S., many if not most thought that we should respond vigorously. Some of those now claiming a superior morality then did not seek refuge in it, and apparently thought that we should do more. I find their politically useful revisions of history offensive.

    Dan(Miller)

  • M (a)r {….!…} ¶/ ® k

    Following the 911 attacks on the U.S., many if not most thought that we should respond vigorously. Some of those now claiming a superior morality then did not seek refuge in it, and apparently thought that we should do more. I find their politically useful revisions of history offensive.

    Who are these jingoists turned holier than thou rollers with whom you’re doing battle? Do you have some actual folks in mind?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Clavos,

    Please leave your editorial inclinations elsewhere. I haven’t even read the damn article and made no explicit reference to it other than by way of allusion. So back off! If you read things in context, then perhaps we won’t be having these spats every now and then, unless you’re just dying to have ‘em.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    You’re not wiggling out of that one. I’ll be throwing this up your face every time you open your mouth. I’ve already pasted it and framed it as a ready-made response.

    And I don’t particularly fancy anymore to have any polite conversations with such as you. But if you’ll address me, be certain that I’ll reciprocate in kind.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark,

    I’m discerning your strategy. When faced with Ruvy’s incessant rants – sorry, Ruvy, no offense intended because you have more of an excuse! – the only thing one can do after a while is just to say “fuck it.”

    It’s no different here.

  • Baronius

    Roger, I’m not trying to wiggle out of anything. If you’d read the article and my response, you’d see that it’s consistent with other comments I’ve made.

    But maybe this isn’t a good week to carry on a BC discussion. I’ve lost half-a-dozen comments so far. We’re trying to carry on a conversation at a construction site, and while the completed project may be wonderful, it’s awfully noisy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    Will all due respect, I don’t think I need to go by anything other than what was posted immediately before and after. It speaks volumes. I haven’t read Dan’s article yet, but I very much doubt whether it’d change my mind. What is apparent to me, you read into Dan’s article whatever you wanted to read – we all do it – and the cat came out of the bag. Even Dan himself, if you pay the slightest attention, tried to veer you away, however subtly, from this train of thought.
    But no, you’re obstinate enough to continue in the same vein and stick to your guns rather than take a kind advice from your friends.

    So no, I really don’t want to – I’m not interested in understanding you anymore.

    Have a good day.

  • Clavos

    Please leave your editorial inclinations elsewhere.

    Sorry, Roger. My “editorial inclinations” will be wherever I want them to be — stop whining and deal with it.

    I haven’t even read the damn article and made no explicit reference to it other than by way of allusion.

    Yet you feel qualified to comment on another’s reactions to it.

    Curiouser and curiouser…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right! And I’ll editorialize you, too, in that case – whenever I want. You may think I’ve been unfair in taking Baronius’s remark off tangent. Well, I don’t! Threads have integrity all their own – irrespective of the articles they proceed from.

    But I don’t really need to justify myself to you, do I?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And how come it took you half an hour to compose a half-ass response? Were you in the shitter?

  • Baronius

    Clavos, I read every third word of your last comment and was deeply offended, especially about “I to whining with”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t take stupid offenses from anyone, nor have I ever complained about offensive language. But what does offend me are anal personalities. Enough said.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Cindy,

    This thread seems to be working for the time being. So catch me here.

  • Clavos

    Right! And I’ll editorialize you, too, in that case – whenever I want.

    You already do, Roger, you already do. Not only me, but virtually everyone else on these threads — you’re a great source of amusement.

    And how come it took you half an hour to compose a half-ass response?

    I know this will come as a great shock to you, Roger, but I don’t hang on your every word, and you’re not the most important person in my life.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m well aware of that, Clavos. You haven’t busted any illusions. And I hope you have a good time, too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Clavos,

    I don’t worry, BTW, as you may, about creating impressions. If what I say amuses you, good for you. I don’t think that’s entirely the case, though, because there are plenty of times that you take objections.

    Don’t tell me now? Is it out of your innate sense of fairness or fair play? I doubt that very much. If I JUST amused you, you’d let it go rather than scratch and claw.

    So which is it, friend? Have you taken true account lately>

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dan-miller/ Dan(Miller)

    Jeeezzz!

    I seem to have taken the wrong path and to have wound up on the RogerBlog. Please forgive the intrusion.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    rogcritics?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Welcome. You may post your comments at any time.

    And BTW, Clavos. There’s a substantial difference, I should say, between “editorializing” and “spin.” But you just can’t help doing the former, can you? It’s the schoolmaster in you.

    But as I have told you earlier – I’m attending the ESLFIC course in the local community college – “English as Second Language for the Intellectually Challenged” – that’s called an acronym in the English-speaking world, if I am correct.

    So please cut me some slack, senor, but I am working on it. Meanwhile, forgive my deficiencies and poor table etiquette.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Actually, Baronius, it’s rogerisms. But you’re close.

  • Baronius

    “I did not mean thereby to suggest (and don’t think that I did suggest) that we should fly airplanes into buildings, hack off heads or use children as living shields. That would be not only bad and silly but also quite ineffective.”

    I don’t think it would be ineffective. We’re talking about the Middle East here. I bet if we used those tactics, some people would respect us more, and those who opposed us would fear us more. I bet we’d be more popular in Indonesia and India. But that’s not the point. The badness of an action is enough to take it off the table, I believe, even if it would be effective. I don’t know if you’d agree. That’s what I’ve been trying to get at.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ineffective and silly are the primary terms of consideration. Forget about “bad.”

    Who give a fuck?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There you go again. My second-grade education and mental impairment are showing: no subject-verb agreement.

    I’m so happy BC is so tolerant of illegal immigrants and natural-born scumbags. Otherwise I’d be banned.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dan-miller/ Dan(Miller)

    Ma R K, re your #14 —

    Well, Speaker Pelosi would be a good start.

    Meanwhile, today is a holiday and someone cut the fiber optic cable between here and Panama City, mistakenly looking for copper wire to liberate. Hence, traffic is being routed around it and my internet speed is far less than one tenth of normal. It just ain’t worth the effort to deal with it — no matter how much I enjoy some of the entertaining chatter. I shall return (apologies to Gen. MacArthur) in a few hours (days) when it gets repaired.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Heck with it. I’ll just repost here.

    Dan(Miller),

    It’s is likely thousands of innocent people were abducted and subjected to what you would not call, but I would call, torture. Yet, you continue to act as if it was some small handful of people that are called ‘terrorists’. As if only ‘terrorists’ were taken and locked away and subjected to torture. As if we ‘pious’ and ‘morally superior’ idiots were defending people with guns locked and loaded and pointed at us.

    It’s almost as if, despite the fact of your legal training, you are not some unbiased nonpartisan at all. It’s almost as if you are a very biased table-pounding militant, who would feign ‘expert’ innocence (I’m merely, unbiasedly interpreting the law.).

    Do you recognize this distortion when you make it? Am I to think that perhaps even attorneys pound tables? Despite suave attempts to look all legal and impartial?

    Isn’t law to be designed to protect innocents?

    Pardon my naivete, I’m no lawyer. Nor was I trained in Cowboys vs Indians as a child. I haven’t really learned well who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. So, it’s understandable I might have a hard time believing that the ‘authorities’ (including politicians and torturers) were all ‘supermans’ defending truth and justice, while the prisoners (including mostly innocent people) were all ‘terrorists’ intent on destroying civilization.

    Does Panama have torture? Hopefully they won’t mistake you or your wife for terrorists. I mean, you know, they have every right to ‘torture’ you (of course no one could support that, unless…well, maybe if they called it something more palatable…or argued it wasn’t really torture at all)…they have to protect themselves and all…and you well, are a gringo, after all.

    Those who you denounce for being morally outraged and moved to defend innocent people–I hope you’ll never need us.

    Ut vos animadverto opportunus pro alius sic licet vobis quoque.

    (there is an accidentally made duplicate of this post on your other article at #134)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dan-miller/ Dan(Miller)

    Cindy,

    Lawyers do pound on the law, the facts or the table, depending on which seems most likely to be effective at the time. However, I noted at the beginning of my most recent article that I was removing my lawyer costume for that article. I presented my personal views, be they deemed partisan or not. I did not pretend to offer a legal analysis, nor did I attempt to do so, there.

    You say, It’s is likely thousands of innocent people were abducted and subjected to what you would not call, but I would call, torture. I am not aware of that. Do you have a suitable link? I would be interested in looking at it.

    Yes, the law is designed to protect innocents, and in the United States, at least, has usually done a pretty good job of it. However, I am not aware of any reasonable, factual, basis for describing as “innocents” the people who were water boarded and otherwise treated harshly.

    No, Panama does not have “torture.” It happened under Noreiga, whom most of us here are delighted to have elsewhere. France is more than welcome to him. Should you be interested, there is a fascinating book by R.M. Koster and Guillermo Sanchez entitled In the Time of the Tyrants.

    If you haven’t really learned well who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, you might find it instructive to read In the Time of the Tyrants. I also consider people who cause passenger aircraft to crash into occupied buildings to be in the bad guy category. Those who plan such attacks, those who brag about them, and those who plan more of the same I would put into the same category. And, were I in a position to do so, I would authorize “harsh” interrogation to prevent recurrences.

    Dan(Miller)

  • M A rk

    Dan, while I might have missed it, I don’t recall Pelosi arguing that the Bush administration wasn’t aggressive enough in its techniques following 9-11; I do think that she was not diligent in questioning the administration’s interpretations of allowable techniques at the time they presented them to Congress.

    Do you have some clearer example of the type of person that you have your beef with?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    I presented my personal views, be they deemed partisan or not. I did not pretend to offer a legal analysis, nor did I attempt to do so…

    Yes, you are right. I guess I’m responding to your other article. The one that was presented as nonpartisan legal analysis.

    Do you have a suitable link? I would be interested in looking at it.

    Regarding the number of innocent victims? Yes I can retrieve the information. Do you plan on looking at it if I get it? If so, I’ll be happy to do so. Are you intending to reply to the information I posted to your other article? You said you needed that sort of information. You know, evidence.

    I agree about the ‘bad guys’. People who would blow up planes are bad guys. In fact I will add that my definition of bad guy is much bigger than yours. As it will also include people who torture innocents, to save themselves from ‘bad guys’. It’s just your depiction of the law and politicians and CIA interrogators seems like they are so chaste. Hardly like the people found in those notorious photos from Abu Ghraib. (I didn’t see anyone with white hats in those photos.)

    Regarding your need for the police and being left without any protection:

    Where is your community Dan(Miller)? have you no connections? No people, including you, could take turns watching the community while it sleeps? They could play poker, have coffee, pretend to be human beings who care about each other.

    Maybe everyone is so used to Capitalism’s every ‘man’ for ‘himself’. Even with hundreds of people who could work together, you’ll likely choose to stay alone and afraid…almost as if every ‘man’ was an island.

  • Clavos

    Hardly like the people found in those notorious photos from Abu Ghraib. (I didn’t see anyone with white hats in those photos.)

    No “torturers,” either.

    Where is your community Dan(Miller)? have you no connections? No people, including you, could take turns watching the community while it sleeps?

    There is none, Cindy. He lives in a remote area of the mountains; there’s no town, just widely scattered homes out in the boonies.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    Sorry for your internet outage. I’ll be patient regarding the posts I made to your other article.

    Clav?

    No “torturers,” either.

    The people in the pictures weren’t torturers? I’d have to disagree. Are you sure we’re talking about the same pictures? The ones with dead bodies–people who died being tortured. Live people bitten by dogs, people standing hooded for unbearable hours–arms outstretched–while being told they’d be electrocuted? The ‘thumbs up people’ weren’t torturers in your estimation?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy, re # 42:

    Yes, I would like a link to what you characterize as innocent victims who were “tortured.” I glanced at several of the links you provided before, and couldn’t find much of substances. As I recall, they were in PDF format, to which my computer is apparently allergic and which therefore take forever to load and are difficult to read carefully. What I did manage to read relied, excessively I thought, on anecdotal reports, generally from those who seem to have had axes to grind.

    I already know that people were mistreated at Abu Ghraib. Like so many objectionable incidents during time of war, these appear to have been the work of a relatively small number of rotten apples. People in the military, like those in society as a whole, include too many of such types; civilian jails are full of bad apples — child molesters, murderers, rapists and other violent criminals. However, I would hope that the percentage in the military is smaller rather than larger. In any event, many if not most of those who committed, or failed to prevent, those objectionable acts have been dealt with, through courts martial or administrative proceedings. I very much doubt that history records many comparable punishments by the military authorities of other countries for similar acts. Nor do I think that a reasonable comparison can be made with the acts of, for example, Germany in her concentration/extermination camps, or the Japanese, Chinese, North Koreans or others in or outside of their POW camps.

    I agree that people who torture innocents, to save themselves from ‘bad guys’ are themselves “bad guys.” Why would anyone “torture innocents” to “save themselves?” As far as I understand the situation, the people conducting harsh interrogation consistently with the Justice Department memoranda to obtain information needed to prevent future terrorist attacks were not doing that. I have no reason to assume that they were trying to protect themselves; instead, they were trying to protect “innocent” people in the United States and elsewhere from further terrorist attacks by people quite undeserving of the appellation “innocent.” Nor have I any reason to assume that those harshly interrogated consistently with the Justice Department memoranda were “innocents.”

    I do not choose to stay alone and afraid…almost as if every ‘man’ was an island, and there are far from hundreds of people who could work together. . . here. In our “community,” the nearest house is located on our finca and is roughly one hundred and fifty meters away from our house. We provide it for our worker and his family; we would certainly provide mutual assistance were something to happen. Aside from that, there are roughly eight houses, and all are well over a kilometer away in different directions. There simply are not enough adults here for a useful community watch, and this situation is exacerbated by the fact that only a few have cars. Most do not know how to drive, never having had the need or the resources to learn how. In villages of adequate size, there are community watches. People here do cooperate very well on keeping the roads passable, repairing the school or fixing hot lunches for the students. The school is located approximately five kilometers away in a small village. Although the people here are quite accustomed to doing that sort of thing, there quite simply are not enough adults here to have a useful community watch. Hence, it is necessary to rely primarily on oneself.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    I am not sure what pdfs or any other information (except the photos of Abu Ghraib) on torture I ever would have would have provided. It’s possible, of course, but I recall not posting things as I was working on an article. So, I don’t really remember anything. (I plead oldness.)

    I will be happy to provide information on this subject, if we could just clear up the last subject first please.

    In your other article thread, I researched your objections and posted some (but not all the info I have) of the arguments you said were needed for you to rethink your legal analysis. It took a lot of time. There are no pdfs in my links, and my content is not about grinding axes of any kind. It is bonafide legal analysis.

    Here is my post 103 (in full):

    #
    110 – Cindy
    Apr 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Dan(Miller),

    “There appear, however, to have been good faith efforts to stay within the law, while acting within the law to prevent terrorist attacks, when the memoranda were written and relied upon; I think that the memoranda, etc. were well done and accurately reflected the intent of the statutes in question while accommodating the need to prevent terrorist attacks….I have no reason, at least yet, to assume otherwise.” (DM)

    “To me, law and ethics coincide in the view that to punish people for writing or relying in good faith upon legal memoranda…,” would be unethical. (DM)

    The two ideas here are the ones I want to give arguments against (for now). I can’t do it all at one time, though; so, this post is just a start. My main points are:

    1) There was a lack of good faith or professional standards used in the writing of the OLC memos.
    2) The CIA failed to rely in good faith on the OLC memos.

    In your post to Mark, you reiterated the same thing:

    (a) were the various memoranda provided by the Justice Department, as amplified by others in the Administration (and in which those in Democratic Party leadership positions who are now crying “bad!” apparently acquiesced), and apparently relied upon by those unfortunate schmucks in the field, reasonable interpretations of the law and (b) were they actually followed? (DM)

    Okay, so I provided information that suggests that both of those conditions were not met, in posts #112 & #113.

    Now, I have no problem if a person doesn’t want to reply to something, for whatever reason. But you can see, can’t you, why I would be hesitant to embark on yet another fact collecting expedition if in the end it ends up being a waste of time. So, if you could at least mention whether or not you’d care to reply to those it would be helpful.

    I am sorry to hear you are so far away from help. But I am happy to hear your community actually acts like one.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Should read: Here is my post 103 (in full):

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Good news (to me at least). The Boeing renditions case is back on.

    Court allows landmark torture renditions case to proceed

    Ruling strikes major blow to Bush/Obama position on state secrets

    A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to reinstate an ACLU lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary that allegedly helped the CIA transport terror war prisoners to so-called black sites where they were tortured.

  • Ruvy

    Hi Dan!

    Welcome to Israel. Now you understand in your gut what we live with here all the time. Keep to the krav magá approach and don’t listen to any of the moralizing bullshit you read here. Nobody is walking a mile wearing your shirt. I come closest, and now I’ll tell you the difference between your situation and mine.

    In your situation, the government has made clear to you that barring something that would really piss on Panama’s image abroad – like having heads on spikes around your property – you are pretty much at liberty to do what you need to defend yourself against a bunch of criminal terrorists who are attacking you. They have admitted that they cannot do the job, and rely on you to take the law into your own hands if need be.

    G-d forbid we should do that! If some Arab SOB comes on our property, if we shoot him, it becomes an international incident, with all sorts of shit-holes (including self-righteous finger-wagging types here, but more commonly on Desicritics) whining about what evil “Nazis” we have become. And our government will not come to our aid. It will kiss the ass of the self-righteous bastards who criticize us endlessly while they praise endlessly the Arab murderers as “freedom fighters”.

    Hence the tone of my comments here.

    But you and your bride are in my prayers. Practice with the air pistol and make sure you are shooting more than air! Get good at it, and yes, do shoot to kill. It’s you or them.

    Have a good week!

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    …we should not be so piously stuck up about our beloved moral superiority…

    You know, I just noticed something. When people don’t agree with one on a moral issue, they seem to use phrases like this one. I could hear say a racist or a sexist using a similar phrase to you Dan(Miller), were you to uselessly attempt to argue against her/his ideas.

    So, what do you think when someone says something like that to you, I wonder?

    Do you practice anti-racism or anti-sexism for the sake of piously proclaiming your moral superiority?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dan,

    Nobody is walking a mile wearing your shirt. I come closest, and now I’ll tell you the difference between your situation and mine.

    In your situation, the government has made clear to you that barring something that…you are pretty much at liberty to do what you need to defend yourself against a bunch of criminal terrorists who are attacking you. They have admitted that they cannot do the job, and rely on you to take the law into your own hands if need be. G-d forbid we should do that! If some Arab SOB comes on our property….

    Now let’s drive that point home with a sledgehammer. First read the “mainstream media” bullshit at Ynetnews about this clash on Shabbat near Bat ‘Ayin in Judea. Now read something far closer to the truth at Arutz Sheva. There is a reason I tend to quote Arutz Sheva over any “mainstream media” source in Israel, and this demonstrates the reason. Consider yourself lucky that the Panamanians have the honesty to admit they cannot handle the problem at hand. And again, don’t let yourself be distracted by finger-wagging moralizers.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    What the fuck is wrong with America?

    “What kind of fucking country do you live in where you have to debate whether torturing someone is a crime? What kind of country do you live in when you can spend 3 years prosecuting the President for a consensual sexual act but won’t prosecute a President for authorizing illegal wiretaps and torturing people? What kind of country do you live in where the supposed ’spiritual’ and ‘religious’ leaders think it’s OK to torture non-Christians? What kind of country do you live in where you can’t even use the word ‘torture’ but have to say ‘interrogation techniques’? What kind of country do you live in when their Nuremberg defense (’We were just following orders’) becomes the mantra for not holding war criminals accountable for their actions? What kind of country do you live in where a major candidate in a Presidential primary openly advocates for doubling the size of America’s illegal detention centers and increasing the use of torture?

    Obama, you won the fucking election. Everyone despises Bush and his administration — they spent 8 years spitting on international law, good sense, and common decency. Fucking prosecute them. God damnit.”

    That’s the best blog post I saw yesterday. It says it just right (I love the cursing too!)

    So, Archie, What if you were renditioned? What would you think about that?

  • M A rk

    AC, you’ve got a serious case of monomania. Also, if you examine the record, you’ll find that Cindy has been more critical of Obama’s administration than have most ‘conservatives’. The ‘political vendetta’ is against all of the Immorals.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Would all the immortals include Archie as well?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Lastly. I would never be renditioned because I’m not a terrorist scumbag.

    Bush said Guantanamo held the “worst of the worst.”

    10 people at Guantanamo were charged with a crime–ever! Ten people!

    Yet hundreds of people were tortured there and even more were imprisoned. Children among them. And they lied and lied about the numbers.

    It’s because you imagine that it cannot happen to you, that you ca maintain the opinion you do. You believe you are above those people.You believe you count more than they do. You believe whatever is done to them doesn’t matter, because they don’t matter.

    But you do matter right? If you believed for one moment it could happen to you, you wouldn’t be able to maintain those beliefs.

    People say we have to attack and torture and kill to protect ourselves from those who would destroy us. But the people who say that are the same ones that do all the destroying. They just won’t stop. They just don’t see it’s them the rest of us need protection from. It’s you Archie that human life needs to be protected from.

    You just support a different kind of terrorist–a terrorizing nation. Does size make terrorism more legitimate?

    Like a zombie robot running on a dangerous program–you make the world a terrible place for humans.

  • M ark

    Would all the immortals (Immorals — me) include Archie as well?

    Isn’t there a special level in hell for apologists?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Archie,

    You think I’m defending Obama? That’s pretty funny. As I seem to upset people who do.

    I’m not playing with your Bush vs Obama dichotomy. It’s something I suspect people do to avoid looking at real issues. That you view it like that means either: a) you haven’t been around to read my posts, or b) it wouldn’t change your perception anyway.

  • Clavos

    Lastly. I would never be renditioned because I’m not a terrorist scumbag.

    You are if the government says you are. Even you have implied that.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Thanks, Ruvy. It is difficult to understand some things simply by reading about them in the abstract, particularly when lacking personal experiences to help relate to them. A brief and hopefully not too harmful introduction to some of the less pleasant aspects of the real world helps. As to Arutz Sheva, I agree. The on line version has been part of my daily reading for quite some time.

    Cindy, re your #50: Please read your #s 54, 57 and 58. Bertrand Russell, a “liberal” in the old fashioned sense of the word, commented that one’s anger with those of different views is in proportion to the lack of confidence one has in one’s own views and in the factual bases for them. It strikes me that Zombie robot thinking is bad for everyone.(emphasis added)

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Strangely, comments 21, 41, 61 and the like do not appear until 22, 42, 62 and the like have been posted. Hence, this number 62 to see whether my comment 61 “took.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • M ark

    Bertrand Russell, a “liberal” in the old fashioned sense of the word, commented that one’s anger with those of different views is in proportion to the lack of confidence one has in one’s own views and in the factual bases for them.

    I’ve heard similar things said about the use of sarcasm, Dan. Personally, I thinks it’s poppycock.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    #69 – Clavos

    “Lastly. I would never be renditioned because I’m not a terrorist scumbag.” (Arch)

    “You are if the government says you are. Even you have implied that.” (Clav)

    Quoted for truth (and elegance).

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Arch,

    What if you lived in a country that was invaded by another country. This invader was trying to find terrorists, but as they did this, they were blowing up your relatives and friends (accidentally, of course). Would you support the invader? Would it be okay for the invader to kill your children under such circumstances.

    How do you think this invader would view you if you objected? What if you spoke against this invader? What if you were carrying supplies in support of the innocents this invader was attacking and you found yourself ‘behind enemy lines’. Can you see how you might end up imprisoned as an ‘enemy’?

    Just a random thought about 3 young British citizens who went to help the Afghanis and found themselves transported to the desert with no way to leave an outpost. They were swept up and sent to black sites for torture and finally to Guantanamo. One of them kept telling his interrogators that he was on probation the whole time they were questioning him about. That is, he was reporting to the British government the whole time the US interrogator was claiming he was seen on film in another country (a blurry photo, taken at a distance of someone in a crowd is shown to him).

    Why didn’t they just check with the British government? Why did they just keep him imprisoned and never even check his story? A British officer cam in to question him. He thought this officer was protecting him because he was a citizen.

    All this, yet they never checked his story. Why didn’t they just check his story?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Here is a link to an article about the “leftist mindset.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Cindy’s anger is not an expression of lack of confidence in her views. It is more a question of her repulsion that there are still people around who espouse abhorrent practices under whatever guise. It’s a perfectly normal reaction when dealing with whom one regards as despicable people.

    Mark, as regards a special place in Hell for the apologists? I’m coming to a view that the distinction between acts and speech is greatly exaggerated. I realize I’m breaching an important distinction, but there is a sense in which perhaps it ought to be breached.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Which isn’t to say they’re all like Hitler, not yet. But change the circumstances and give them the opportunity, then who knows? The line is getting thinner and thinner.

    But my diagnosis is – it’s the last line of defense as the world they know is rapidly fading into oblivion.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You are the nitwit, Arch. And yes, Cindy is being repulsed by people like you who think that we have nothing better to do than to protect your hide. Your extreme preoccupation with your own personal safety in nothing but a sign of underdeveloped personality. Anal-retentive, I should say. Why should I think your life any more important than anyone else’s?

    But don’t worry, the Obama van is coming. The one with the hammer & sickle logo. And when they’re done with you, you’ll be a brand-new man. You’ll thank me yet.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    I wonder about the confidence of lawyers in the factual basis for their own positions, when they hold out their analysis as a sort of expert legal reasoning–whilst disclaiming everyone else as partisans–and yet fail to either look very closely at their peers’ criticism, reveal such criticism, or provide counter arguments in their ‘objective’ analysis.

    Maybe lawyers do things differently. I was always taught that one had to do those things to be taken seriously.

    I wonder if Bertrand Russell had anything to say about that?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It comes with the territory. Lawyers are a class unto themselves. They’re immune to ideological labeling and partisanship.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Arch,

    I wonder how “abhorrent” Cindy and Roger would find waterboarding if it were done on someone that had information to save the life of their spouse or child.

    That you continue to believe this despite the fact that the head of internal CIA investigations said it is not so. What does that say about your thinking?

    You do know that torturing people actually fuels terrorism and increases recruitment, don’t you? If not, why are you refusing to look at that?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good old Archie here can’t help but thinking that everybody is like him. It’s inconceivable to him that number one is not the utmost thing on everybody’s agenda. Consequently, he thinks all such people are from another planet.

  • M a rk

    (Work around: when this problem occurs, go to the address bar and enter the next number where it reads ‘comment-page-x’.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    This thread has been dysfunctional for over an hour now. The page won’t turn beyond the 80 comments mark, even though at least ten have been posted since.

  • M a rk

    address bar: change ‘comments-page-x’ to ‘comments-page-x+1′

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy, most of my articles and comments embed intrinsic perceptions of right and wrong, good and bad, along with a belief that society functions better with than without laws. Call it partisan or whatever you wish. I am not, and do not function as, a judge; I normally do function as an advocate, as should be apparent. I do not think that I intentionally omit or twist relevant facts. I do try to ignore spins placed on facts when I think that those spins are absurd or otherwise deserve to be ignored.

    Looking at the various comments on this thread, I find it very difficult to conclude that you and various others bring completely non-partisan, unbiased and objective perspectives to the table.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks for clarifying this, Archie. So now you’re a super patriot, thinking of all of us.

    And by the way, how many Islamic terrorists have you met? Are you certain now it’s not a figment of your imagination – a kind of bogeymen?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Which goes to show that Mr. Miller is no different than the rest of us, still affected by the usual prejudices and biases that are part and parcel of being a human. Except that his legal expertise and mode of expression happens to obscure the rather basic fact because everything is couched with the cloak of objectivity.

  • Ruvy

    Cindy,

    I really don’t mind if you go on and on and on like a broken record about torture and waterboarding and all that shit. But this article is about how the Panamanian gov’t can’t handle criminals behaving like terrorists in the outer province Dan lives in and how they were honest enough to admit that even to an outsider like Dan Miller. Frankly, whatever their weaknesses, that ranks them pretty high in my eyes. He’s on his own in Panama and its a damned scary experience for him.

    From ALL the commenters, I’m the only one who has even attempted to empathize with him and his situation. I guess I’d feel better if some of you attempted som empathy for the retired lawyer in the tropics.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Except that there really is no dispute about morals – only as regards the application. Which is the only “effective way” of disputing what’s indisputable.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But that’s a different environment, Ruvy. It’s a matter of individual survival and therefore a totally different context. The problem is with analogizing from that context to a full-fledged society with all the mechanisms intact.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And yes, Ruvy. I’d behave exactly as Mr. Miller does if in the same circumstances. But I wouldn’t be extrapolating from this position to a full-fledged society.

  • Ruvy

    Sorry, Roger, all that yakking looks like a lot of road apples to me….

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    I do not think that I intentionally omit or twist relevant facts. I do try to ignore spins placed on facts when I think that those spins are absurd or otherwise deserve to be ignored.

    I don’t think you do it intentionally (most of the time*) either.

    The point is that you don’t see that you do it. And no one is perfect Dan(Miller), so we all have biases.

    That does not mean we are all full fledged zombie robots. The definition of zombie robot includes more than simple bias. Bias alone isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. No–zombie robots repeat the unexamined dangerous ideas that have been ingrained in them by their culture. Cultures stabilize themselves by enculturation. The problem is when culture inculcates ideas that are based on domination, ones that are non-egalitarian, racist, sexist, lookist, ageist, violent, and shallow. Followed by good and regular doses of ‘don’t think’ messages. So, it’s not just the ideas that are reinforced night and day by media and institutions–also reinforced is the imperative to ignore other views and voices.

    Members of society who do not challenge these ideas and imperatives, simply replicate them, thereby reinforcing them over and over, stabilizing the system–keeping it in place and unchanging. Didn’t you ever wonder why it takes generations for ideas to progress. (Consider this my tentative theory about why and how that happens.)

    We all have some zombie robot in us Dan(Miller). I am always surprised when I learn of yet another thing I never examined and yet just think is so… It’s undone through challenging ideas I take for granted. (Often with intentional or unintentional help from others.) Specifically, challenging the ideas that the dominant culture holds as ‘how things are’, ‘reality’, ‘givens’, the things we don’t look at because they are so obvious to us–what Galbraith called the ‘conventional wisdom’. Throughout history those who have esacped zombie robotism have called out to us to change and to wake up. Unfortunately, most people just get all teary and sentimental and touched when hearing or seeing these calls to change–then they just ignore them and promptly go about continuing to do the same destructive things.

    My tentative theory, by the way, applies to liberals as equally as to conservatives–to Democrats and Republicans and whomever. Its a nonpartisan theory.

    *Well, except where I asked you about the posts I made several times; that sort of would have to be intentionally ignoring relevant information.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Forget it, Ruvy. Obviously you’re being too affected by your own situation to be able to analyze things objectively. I’m sorry I tried.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As a matter of fact, Cindy, that’s what I’m working on now – the painstakingly slow, snail-paced manner of human progress. It does take generations. That was the point, BTW, of earlier reference to “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Ruvy,

    My comments are completely relevant to Dan(Miller)’s article. His position is that one cannot afford to be ‘piously’ moral when protecting oneself against ‘terrorists’. Specifcally, it alludes to the situation at hand–the torture issue.

    My position is that this way of looking at the world is a gross oversimplification, one which requires denying or discounting part of reality to maintain. It is rather like the cowboys and Indians game some ‘boys’ were taught as children–where the cowboys are the good guys and the Indians are the bad ones. It’s like some ‘boys’ never get past this thinking. (Some girls too.)

    When the cowboys talk the Indians are always the terrorists.

    Besides, how can ‘being at war’ be an excuse for committing war crimes? (Just musing to myself.)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Roger, In that case, I am going back to your thread in a bit to add to that conversation.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Mark, Thanks for the page turning trick.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It refuses to move beyond comment #100, Franco. It’s been stuck at that page for four hours now. For all intents and purposes, this thread is dead.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Don’t worry, Roger, we are monitoring all the problems and they will be sorted out in due course.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    This is my third attempt to post this comment. If it doesn’t work, I shall try again tomorrow.

    Cindy, I asked you about the posts I made several times; that sort of would have to be intentionally ignoring relevant information.

    Quite some time ago, I looked on the threads following my two “torture” articles as well as on the other “torture” threads, but found nothing from you which I did not consider “spin,” second or third hand anecdotal stuff rather than probative materials, or in which it seemed as though you were providing hints about arguments which you intended to pursue later but, as best I could determine, did not. I did mention something quite long (about 900 pages, as I recall) that you had linked in PDF format on one of the threads to which, as I said elsewhere, my computer seems to be allergic and which I find very difficult to read and study. Unfortunately, wasalive does not seem to be picking up much in the way of neo-BC comments, and unfortunately looking there is not productive; I hope that changes.

    If you would be kind enough to refer me to what you have in mind on this or perhaps on another “torture” thread (as I seem to recall having requested before), I would be happy to look at and comment on it if I think it warrants comment.

    As to your other remarks in Comment #99, I agree that it is clearly useful to dispute the factual causes of what happens in the “real world;” some changes are clearly needed in how we perceive things through our various filters. However, it does not seem useful to claim that the “real” world does not exist, that people (and their colleagues) who intentionally crash passenger aircraft full of “innocent” people into buildings also full of equally “innocent” people do so innocently because they and their colleagues have been religiously or otherwise unjustly slighted; or that sometimes even the rare use harsh methods to find out what they plan next constitutes “torture” and is therefore highly perverse.

    I also think it less than helpful to attempt to create an equality between the sorts of harsh treatment meted out by the U.S. to likely “high value” detainees and the sorts of treatment routinely meted out to many by the Nazis, Saddam Hussein and more recently by Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the UAE with the complicity of the police. Examples of that torture are shown graphically on video tapes recently smuggled out of the UAE, which showed him beating a man with a nailed plank, setting him on fire, attacking him with a cattle prod and running him over with a car. The link includes a link to related videos. To attempt to create an equality between such things and harsh interrogation techniques rarely employed by the United States in order to prevent further terrorist attacks greatly diminishes the meaning of the word “torture” and, along with it, to me at least, your arguments.

    The U.S. harsh interrogations were apparently done under medical supervision and pursuant to memoranda reflecting legal analyzes of the pertinent laws, in the aftermath of the most deadly attack on U.S. soil, before or since. If interrogations were done by rogue agents in intentional contravention of the parameters there established, then the conduct of those agents should be investigated and, if such instances are shown through probative evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt (for such is the nature of our legal system) to have occurred, those agents should be punished. If more benign ways of preventing future terrorist attacks are viable, they should be used to the extent possible instead. However, again, to claim that “torture” however whimsically defined is “Torture” regardless of statutory definitions strikes me as absurd. Statutory definitions can be changed, but to do so retroactively would be bad.

    Here is an article somewhat on point, with which I find myself in substantial agreement.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s good to know, Chris. I apologize for being so bitchy, but sometimes the frustration is taking over. I’ll calm down.

  • Franco

    Dan, truly and excellent article.

    First, I would like to say I hope all remains well for you and your wife, your neighbors, and all your animals there in Panama.

    “To seek “exceptionalism” by touting one’s extraordinarily superior morality in the face of very real and life threatening dangers at the hands of those who adhere to extraordinarily different moral codes, and who seek their own “exceptionalism” through deadly terror attacks, strikes me as suicidal.”

    Suicidal yes, and wants worse, it’s predicated in a pretense of virtue that is itself immoral.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    Yes, I recall the pdfs now. The info I mean is something different.

    I’ll say I saw (and disseminated elsewhere) the video on Sheikh Issa prior to your posting it. Believe it or not, I am not merely against ‘American imperialists’ (as Ben Voth, in your ‘leftist mindset’ article claims). I also read Suzanne Fields article. Both appear reactionary. (However, Voth has one point that vaguely resembles a problem place where leftists can get stuck in our thinking–and need to work to move past. But that is for another time.)

    I have placed links in this thread before. So, if you didn’t see them, then maybe it is the confusion caused by the temporary glitches and multiple pages of comments.

    Rather than discuss this ad infinitum in 42 more posts. It will likely take up less space to just repost all three right here.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    This thread is still stuck at comment #100 since noon yesterday, and it refuses to budge. May the technicians please look at it, because it’s unusable at the moment.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    110 – Cindy
    Apr 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Dan(Miller),

    “There appear, however, to have been good faith efforts to stay within the law, while acting within the law to prevent terrorist attacks, when the memoranda were written and relied upon; I think that the memoranda, etc. were well done and accurately reflected the intent of the statutes in question while accommodating the need to prevent terrorist attacks….I have no reason, at least yet, to assume otherwise.” (DM)

    “To me, law and ethics coincide in the view that to punish people for writing or relying in good faith upon legal memoranda…,” would be unethical. (DM)

    The two ideas here are the ones I want to give arguments against (for now). I can’t do it all at one time, though; so, this post is just a start. My main points are:

    1) There was a lack of good faith or professional standards used in the writing of the OLC memos.
    2) The CIA failed to rely in good faith on the OLC memos.

    In your post to Mark, you reiterated the same thing:

    (a) were the various memoranda provided by the Justice Department, as amplified by others in the Administration (and in which those in Democratic Party leadership positions who are now crying “bad!” apparently acquiesced), and apparently relied upon by those unfortunate schmucks in the field, reasonable interpretations of the law and (b) were they actually followed? (DM)

    Okay, so I provided information that suggests that both of those conditions were not met, in posts #112 & #113. (Which will now follow here.)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    112 – Cindy
    Apr 30, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Dan(Miller),

    These 3 arguments regard my first point. I didn’t make much of a summary from the articles, as I figured you would have to read them to get all of the details, like the case information, and things.

    How Justice Erred on Waterboarding
    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (former US Atty)

    A) The standard used was inappropriate:

    This standard was taken from, of all things, health-care reimbursement law, not from precedents regarding torture. And there were plenty of precedents concerning torture, and waterboarding in particular.

    B) Ignoring precedent that waterboarding was determined to be torture:

    For decades, the U.S. government said the same thing, initiating war-crimes prosecutions against Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American aviators in World War II and condemning the use of water torture by U.S. soldiers in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th Century. This substantial body of precedent has been documented by Evan Wallach in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

    C) The failure to cite a “…U.S. appeals-court case on point, a case in which DOJ itself had brought the charges, and a case whose prosecuting assistant U.S. attorney is still in the department…”

    Another article worth reading:

    Reagan’s DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff for Waterboarding Prisoners By Jason Leopold Posted April 27, 2009.

    Ignoring the 1983 case is just one of the flagrant violations committed by Bush lawyers who crafted the newly released “torture memos.”

    (Interestingly: Not one MSM outlet in my search carried this story. It appears in alt media, personal blogs, the MSN Encarta Encyclopedia and on Senator Whitehouse’s web site.)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    113 – Cindy
    Apr 30, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Dan(Miller),

    I do have more toward my first point. But for now I’ll put this in regard to my second point. It’s an analysis from from a legal blog. It’s not the only evidence available. I have a variety of different things. Just one, for example, is the statements made by one of the interrogators that performed the torture describing it in detail. He also calls it torture.

    The CIA’s Failure to Rely in ‘Good Faith’ on the OLC

    Consider the following footnote from Bradbury’s May 10, 2005, memo, discussing the CIA Inspector General’s Report on Counterterrorism and Detention Activities. Pay attention to the quoted language, which was redacted in the version of the IG Report released to the public:

    “51. The IG Report noted that in some cases the waterboard was used with far greater frequency than initially indicated, see IG Report at 5, 44, 45,103, 104 and also that it was used in a different manner. See id. at 37 (”The waterboard technique was different from the technique described in the DOJ opinion and used in the SERE training. The difference was in the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed. At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the Interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrorgator [sic]… applies large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose. One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the Agency’s use of the technique is different than that used by in SERE training because it is ‘for real’ and is ‘more poignant and convincing’.”)…. The Inspector General further reported that… “[c]onsequently, according to OMS, there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used by the psychologist/interrogators was either efficacious or medically safe.” Id. at 21 n.26.”

    The footnote makes clear that the CIA’s waterboarding regime was different from ” and much harsher than ” the waterboarding regime approved by the Justice Department. The interrogators involved in waterboarding, therefore, cannot argue that they were simply “relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice…”

  • Baronius

    Cindy, thanks for posting those three articles together.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t understand exactly why Dan had problems seeing that his long comment above had in fact posted but hopefully most of the bugs will be knocked out of the system during the next few days.

  • Clavos

    Because the system doesn’t flip to the next set of twenty comments on the X1 comment, and doesn’t show the “next 20″ button either, Chris. That doesn’t happen until the X2 comment is posted, so it’s easy to think your X1 didn’t post.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Wouldn’t his second, third and fourth posts have got him past that though?

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Just like this?

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Hmm, apparently not. I can’t get to this page without manually changing the URL, so what you said is right but there is a second issue as well.

    We’ll get there.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy,

    Thank you for supplying the requested links. I regret the tone of my earlier comment to you, and feel that perhaps an explanation is in order — if not for the tone of the comment then certainly to explain why I may not deal with the links immediately.

    Although I am confident that the technical folks at BC are working diligently to get the site, particularly the @*&$#$&$ comments pages, working smoothly, I have been quite frustrated of late. The comments pages still appear to be suffering from chronic constipation (I am tempted to suggest Castor oil, even though I doubt that it would help), and I have had to post and re-post various comments only to find that they or at least some of them eventually appear (most recently, the next day) in multiple iterations. It has also been frustrating to post comments only to find, when they eventually manage to appear, that I screwed up the HTML tags, which I probably would not have done had a preview window been available. Remember the caution on the old site to the effect that we really should review comments prior to posting? It has also been excruciatingly cumbersome to look for various comments posted by others; the wasalive search function has not of late been working for BC, and the awkward pagination within the comments sections is atrocious.

    These problems have been exacerbated, for me, by the change of seasons here. The rainy season began a few days ago, with a vengeance (probably coincidentally; paranoid as I am though, I have my suspicions that it was somehow related to the BC changes). The rainy season is called “winter” here, even though we are above 11 degrees north latitude. With the onset of the rainy season come thunderstorms, since the ITCZ is hovering and moving back and forth from just north to just over us to just south. Last year, we lost more than $1,500 worth of locally difficult to replace computer equipment due to a direct lightning hit and due also to assorted weather related power surges (yes, I have multiple surge protectors and a pretty good UPS; I did then, as well). Hence, I find it necessary to keep an eye out for thunderstorms and to turn off and unplug everything computer related when they seem imminent. Obviously, that slows me down.

    So, I shall get back to you as soon as I am able. It may take awhile. In the meantime, permit me to leave you with this thought: prescience is available only to the gods, should they exist, and is denied to us mere mortals. Had our leaders enjoyed god-like prescience on or before 911, things might well have turned out quite differently. They did not, and regardless of our hindsight, they did about as well as could reasonably have been expected of them. To apply even the foggy hindsight we now have, and on that basis to hold them to a god-like standard of prescience, seem quite unreasonable. True, we should (but rarely do) learn from our mistakes. To apply what we now think we know, still imperfectly, to what happened years ago, prospectively, may make sense. To to do retroactively does not. If you have not done so, please read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, an exceptionally well written analysis of the first month of World War I and the events leading up to it. Insightful though her analysis is, I very seriously doubt that she could have done much better had she been in command of the French, Russian, German, Belgian or British forces then in battle.

    Since this, should it get posted, will be comment #121, I am saving a copy for later posting should that be necessary.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    What should be my comment #121 has yet to appear. Perhaps posting this will force it. Or, perhaps not. The subtleties are doubtless beyond my comprehension.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Nope, still not there! We remain stuck on #120. Writing these things seem to have become a form of intellectual masturbation.
    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    I give up. We still seem to be stuck on #120. While it is a valuable comment, and well worth considering, I repeat what I said in what should have been #121: The comments section is suffering from chronic constipation, and maybe a healthy dose of Castor oil would help — for the BC computers, not necessarily for those posting comments.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Now I really, honestly and truly, do give up, for now.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Chris — After comments #20, 40, 60, 80, 100 etc, the next comments do not appear even after +1, +2, et etc. have appeared, for a very long time. Then it happens as if by magic. You might look at the comments pages occasionally in order to understand the problems.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Dan,

    I know the bugs in the new system can be frustrating but surely you’ve seen at least a few of the many emails that have been going round the writers group about this and other comments issues?

    Or any of the many comments that have addressed the same issues?

    Or the email I sent you personally explaining a temporary workround that I read in one of those comments?

    I know what the problems are and so do the tech boys and we all want to get things sorted asap. Please send any previously undocumented problems you might encounter to the editor group email. Thanks for your patience.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Chris,

    I got your e-mail after attempting to post my comment #130, and I responded to it. Had I seen your e-mail, I would not have posted my Comment #130 or various others.

    As stated in my responsive e-mail, I do appreciate the info and understand the problems. Had I not seen your e-mail, I would not have been able to see this page of comments.

    Since I am not an editor, I do not have access to the editor group e-mails. When I become sufficiently frustrated, I vent at Clav, and I think that he forwards my vents to the editor group.

    I am not aware of the writer’s group e-mails. I do receive the routine BC newsletters, but that’s all.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Chris,

    I really don’t enjoy being a pest, but once again, and it still is not here.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dan(Miller),

    Ah good, you found my comments. I’m glad your computer hasn’t been struck by lightening again. I’ll have the utmost patience. At least I know you found the comments.

    I’ll check out The Guns of August. Thanks. I’ll respond to the rest after I sleep on it.

  • http://twitter.com/darthvader Darth Vader

    Dan(Miller),

    Happy belated Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.

  • http://twitter.com/darthvader Darth Vader

    Can’t tell if I have the swine flu or just need a fresh air filter cartridge in my mask.

  • Ruvy

    My comments are completely relevant to Dan(Miller)’s article. His position is that one cannot afford to be ‘piously’ moral when protecting oneself against ‘terrorists’. Specifically, it alludes to the situation at hand–the torture issue.

    I’m not a woman, so I cannot talk with any authority on the matter, but I view rape, mentioned as one of the activities of these robber terrorists is the outback of Panama as inflicting sexual torture. You may wish to correct me on this viewpoint.

    The way I see it, he is trying to protect his wife from sexual torture at the hands of criminals who deserve to be castrated, if not executed. Dan is also trying to protect his property, but if he is the kind of fellow I suspect him to be, his wife comes first, then himself, and then his favorite horse, and then his pipe. Then comes his (and her) property.

    While I did go to law school, and comprehend to a degree the some of the legal issues involved here, the bottom line is that the government of Panama, lacking the resources to assert it, has abdicated its sovereignty in this region, and has told the residents that they are on their own. Thus, Dan resorts to the concepts of krav magá which is the most efficient method of disarming an enemy.

    As I pointed out, the Panamanian gov’t at least had the decency to tell Mr. Miller that they couldn’t handle the situation and wish him vaya con Dios.

    As for war crimes, I’m waiting for you (or anyone else around here) to get worked up into a lather about the war crimes the Arabs commit against us in Israel, like firing rockets on civilian settlements, bombing buses, tearing children apart in caves, etc., etc., etc. and the American government’s tacit backing of this terror and war crime activity, by backing the apparent goal of these terrorists, a sovereign state. I have the feeling I will have a long wait.

    As for the attitude of the Israeli government with respect to asserting sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, something which is theirs by right (the Resolutions on Palestine of 24-25 April 1920), and its attitude toward protecting its citizens in Judea and Samaria, they are just below the shit stains in the toilets of the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.

    That is about what they rate, from Shim’on Peres to Bibi Netanyahu to Ehud Olmert to Avigdor Lieberman. They are mere puppets of the American and European powers who have bought them off, and they are no better than the Arab terrorists they pretend to fight.

  • m A Rk

    …and the American government’s tacit backing of this terror and war crime activity, by backing the apparent goal of these terrorists, a sovereign state.

    More than slightly ungenerous logic.

  • http://pwinn.tumblr.com/ Phillip Winn

    This should be comment 140, but the cache is still showing 121 comments.

  • http://pwinn.tumblr.com/ Phillip Winn

    Worse, it now shows 122, so it’s not just “stuck,” it’s 18 behind. Perhaps some of the comments are of a different status behind the scenes?

    This is 141, article will probably report 123 comments total.

  • http://pwinn.tumblr.com/ Phillip Winn

    There are 18 comments attached to this article with status = 3. The count at the top of the article and the pagination at the bottom accurately understand that to mean there are only 123 valid comments (status = 0), but the list of comments itself counts all 141 (soon to be 142).

    To fix it, I’ll need to remove what are now comments 39, 47, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 61, 63, 66, 84, 86, 87, 105, 108, 112, 124, and 133. Then the two counts will match, and no comments will appear to be “hidden.”

    Unfortunately, this will take about a day to accomplish site-wide, but I’ll fix up this particular thread right away, since I’ve polluted it with my series of diagnostic comments here. :-)

  • http://pwinn.tumblr.com/ Phillip Winn

    Much better!

  • Baronius

    Power outages, roving gangs – Dan, now’s the time to come back, and you’ve got the perfect opportunity. You could be Souter’s replacement! Think about it. You could say that you moved to Panama in protest of Bush’s policies, and to show solidarity with the poor of the world. You’re bilingual, which will take some of the edge off your whiteness. And you don’t cling to guns or religion. You’d be in a robe before anyone noticed that you take the Constitution literally.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Ruvy,

    My comments were addressed to Dan solely regarding unfinished business with his last article–and the relationship it had to this one (which I pointed out).

    I am against all terrorism. I don’t support it by anyone for any reason–including Palestinian terrorism against Israelis.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Hey Phillip Winn, you have a very cool tumblr page. I never saw that site before. Now I can put all my photographic statements there.

    (Thanks for fixing up the problems. :-)

  • M ark

    Dan, you appear to be prescient with yesterday’s news that Pelosi might have known more about the actual use of enhanced techniques than she has let on.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That was in the news way before, Mark – e.g., in the WSJ’s editorials (one by Dorothy Rabinowitz) – (as per my article, “To Investigate or Not to Investigate …”

  • Mar k

    Boy, are you and Dan right, Rog. 12/10/07

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, there was complicity on this from both sides; and when I argued for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into it, it wasn’t just to get Bush, like some say, but to clean house.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, “The Nation” is a good magazine, going beyond the regular liberal media.