Have You Hugged A Terrorist Today?

Saturday, November 26, 2005
Charles Krauthammer does an excellent analysis of the empty posturing of the illustrious Senators who supported the abysmally short sighted 'no torture' amendment to a defense appropriations bill.

In a world where there was a Senate composed of people prepared to defend the inanities they commit on a daily basis, one could hope for a response from each of the pompous blowhards who put posturing above security interests. In this world it is doubtful that we will hear a word. Cheap posturing wins over reasoned and honest analysis among the current members of "the world's greatest deliberative body" on a regular basis.

Dr. Krauthammer lays out a reasonable and practical approach to classification of those who are so far outside the bounds of human conduct that they have forfeited the right to to feel secure about their treatment when captured. I agree with him and furthermore I explicitly trust the judgement of our military in making such determinations.

UPDATE:

Neurocon notes in a commenta pertinent quote from Krauthammer's pieces that should actually be a focus point point for discussion:

People seem to think that the postwar Geneva Conventions were written only to protect detainees. In fact, their deeper purpose was to provide a deterrent to the kind of barbaric treatment of civilians that had become so horribly apparent during the first half of the 20th century, and in particular, during the Second World War. The idea was to deter the abuse of civilians by promising combatants who treated noncombatants well that they themselves would be treated according to a code of dignity if captured--and, crucially, that they would be denied the protections of that code if they broke the laws of war and abused civilians themselves.

Breaking the laws of war and abusing civilians are what, to understate the matter vastly, terrorists do for a living. They are entitled, therefore, to nothing.

16 comments:

neuroconservative said...

Rick -- You beat me to the punch -- I was going to make this my first post here. This is one of the best essays I've read in a while.

Apropos of Syl's PC thread from yesterday, I would like to call attention to this passage:

People seem to think that the postwar Geneva Conventions were written only to protect detainees. In fact, their deeper purpose was to provide a deterrent to the kind of barbaric treatment of civilians that had become so horribly apparent during the first half of the 20th century, and in particular, during the Second World War. The idea was to deter the abuse of civilians by promising combatants who treated noncombatants well that they themselves would be treated according to a code of dignity if captured--and, crucially, that they would be denied the protections of that code if they broke the laws of war and abused civilians themselves.

Breaking the laws of war and abusing civilians are what, to understate the matter vastly, terrorists do for a living. They are entitled, therefore, to nothing.


As with PC, as with welfare dependency, as with appeasement, the Left once again stumbles upon a policy solution that makes them feel good about themselves in the short run while actually sustaining the underlying problem in the long run. All because of a denial of the darker parts of human nature. In fact, I would almost postulate that there is a law of human nature in this cycle of denial/repression of the darkness-->sustaining of the darkness.

Rick Ballard said...

Neurocon,

Feel free to post yours on top if it's close to completion. Krauthammer's piece is one of the more important that he has done recently and I did not do it justice.

That's what happens when no one has posted by 7AM Pacific. I join Nature in abhoring a vacuum. This one can go in the oubliette without dissent from me.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the moral relativism here. Torture is wrong, and the law should say so. Even if you believe exceptions exist, why do they need to be codified into law? If you jaywalk to cross the street to perform CPR on an old man, you are indeed breaking the law, but its unlikely you would ever be accused. You are basically saying, I am willing to deal with the consequnces of jay-walking for a chance at saving a life. Similarly, if an administration wants to break an anti-torture law for what it considers the greater good, it should be prepared to suffer the legal consequences if their "moral calculus" was flawed.

Peter UK said...

There is a corollary to the adoption of an absolute moral stance,there is obligation to spell out exactly what the pros and cons of that stance are.

Whether it be forbearance a particular type of weaponry or tactics to avoid civilian casualties,or abjuring coercive interrogation techniques.

It must be explained that particular choices are not cost free,for example, that there is a trade off of military lives for civilian lives.That extending the due process of a society to one who would destroy that society carries the high risk of recidivism,those released have every intention of taking up arms again.

There must be an admission that the shape of the battlefield will change,not only will prisoners have no value,planning will deliberately omit the taking of prisoners.Why take risks when there is no benefit.

Finally,whose morality trumps whose?
Is it moral to put the life of one person above thousands,in the ticking bomb scenario,it must be explained beforehand that tens of thousands might die for a principle.

This is a utilitarian argument which goes beyond the political,it must be spelled out clearly by those proposing it.

Rick Ballard said...

Anonymous,

I do not believe that Krauthammer calls for codification nor do I. At the same time, this feel good amendment grants undeserved status to people who have chosen to operate completely outside the law.

IMO the terrorists who made bombs out of toys in Iraq should not have seen sunset. Nor have I any qualms about wringing information out of someone known to possess information that could prevent an attack.

There is a very good reason why the Geneva convention is hazy about how an illegal combatant is to be treated. Further definition is unnecessary.

Peter UK said...

anonymous.
The definition of torture is very loose and wide,ranging from inflicting physical agony,mental anguish,fear,exhaustion,sleep deprivation,humiliation,withdrawal of privileges to the use of drugs.
The recent Koran abuse episode would lead one to also have a definition of what does NOT consitute torture.
Even imprisonment can defined as torture.

Anonymous said...

My comment is reference to the McCain definition.

The exceptions Krauthammer suggests do not belong as a premeditated "loophole" in the law, but rather are merely suggested "defenses" to a torture charge under McCain. In a murder case, there is no codified "right" to self-defense, it is only a potential argument used in defense of the charge. Every murder is still subject to examination by the criminal justice system and the due process of law. If you commit murder in self defense, your moral calculus is about being able to get off based on the specific facts of your case, not about avoiding charges in the first place. You are basically risking life in prison or death, on the faith that the justice system will see it your way. Similarly, if an adminstration wants to engage in torture such as waterboarding, they need to be prepared to defend themselves either legally, or in the court of public opinion when such abuses become known. They should be willing to endure the potential consequences including (as we are now seeing) risking the public confidence in the administration itself. They should not be given a cart-blanche exception up front as Krauthammer suggests.

terrye said...

It is against the law to torture people. Why do we need another law?

I resent the grandstanding by people like McCain because I think it is redundant and oppurtunistic.

If the military had cut a deal with the guards charged with crimes at Abu Ghraib, those pics would never have ended up in the hands of Mary Mapes and CBS. In which case the whole bogus torture issue would never have become an issue in the first place.

Thr truth is these detainees are without a doubt the most coddled, nurtured, represented and obsessed over in military history.

I had a teacher in high school many years ago who had been a prisoner of the North Koreans, trust me, being rapped in an Israeli flag was not the kind of thing he had to worry about.

Nope, having boiling water poured down his throat and being hobbled so that he could not run away were the kinds of things he had to worry about.

Peter UK said...

anonymous ,
Torture still has to be defined,otherwise your opponents will define it for you.The wording of McCain is loose enough to allow the claim that a particular action is cruel or inhuman.
Lawyers will have a field day with this.

Rick Ballard said...

Anonymous,

McCain didn't have the backbone to propose a stark definition. He referenced a an Army FM and the UN.

All the amendment does is to accord terrorists an unwarranted status - and even that is questionable. The amendment is pure feel good hot air and our congressional clown corps in the Senate knows it.

The risks that you identify exist under the present law and McCain's BS amendment neither increases nor diminishes the possibility of prosecution for misconduct. It does confer an unwarranted and undeserved status upon terrorists.

Peter UK said...

Anonymous
"If an adminstration wants to engage in torture such as waterboarding, they need to be prepared to defend themselves either legally, or in the court of public opinion when such abuses become known."

The word "wants" is somewhat gratuitous,the point is that the administration may feel it has to.
Are people willing to accept the possibility of death to abjure the use of torture,because ultimately that might be the choice.
The "court of public opinion" needs the consequences pointing out to it with great clarity before it makes any judgement.This is not being done

terrye said...

Is water boarding torture?

Who makes that decision?

I have heard that many of the detainees at Gitmo feel it is degrading to have their food brought to them by women, so should we consider that "degrading" treatment and make sure only men can serve them?

gumshoe1 said...

peter uk said...

Anonymous
"If an adminstration wants to engage in torture such as waterboarding, they need to be prepared to defend themselves either legally, or in the court of public opinion when such abuses become known."

The word "wants" is somewhat gratuitous,the point is that the administration may feel it has to.
Are people willing to accept the possibility of death to abjure the use of torture,because ultimately that might be the choice.
The "court of public opinion" needs the consequences point[ed] out to it with great clarity before it makes any judgement.This is not being done.

_________________________

The word "wants" is *extremely* gratuitous...

and a phrase of that type
comes from the lips of
someone who debates issues they can't comprehend.

"Are people willing to accept the possibility of death to abjure the use of torture...[?]"
-Peter UK

of course not,Peter.
it's all hypothetical.

"D'ailleurs, c'est toujours les autres qui meurent."

i have really been wishing lately there was a way to create an international video of the people
Islamist terror hasn't killed,
(they're just "statistics" most people tune out purely for survival value)...

....but rather a dignified video
of the people Islamist terror has MAIMED...people,
...right now...today...
living with the deformities and
permanent injuries this "religion"
rains down on the global populace.

maybe 60 Minutes would do one.
Dan's not too busy,hey?

the chattering snobs with the
*moral perfection* arguements
still seem to need Daniel Pipes'
"education by murder"
to get the picture.

they never have to *do* anything.

just talk.

wait'll their arm blows off,
or they lose an eye,...

or a child.

or a spouse.

then watch them
sing their lungs out.

Rick Ballard said...

gumshoe,

That's pretty near perfect. The utter lack of imagination shown by those elevating the horror to the level of "principles" is indicative of their isolation from reality.

Pretty cheap talk if you feel you have nothing on the line and no one that you know in danger.

gumshoe1 said...

"Pretty cheap talk if you feel you have nothing on the line and no one that you know in danger."

Rick -

i was listening to
Daniel(Denial?)Schorr,
"Senior NPR Analyst",
droning on and on and on
the other day about
how lousy Bush's policies are,
how disastrous,how ineffective,etc.

several thoughts occured to me:

-nobody has elected this guy.

-he doesn't have to pass
*any* tests.

-his main activity is *talking*.

-when disaster strikes he...
...*talks some more*.

-there is no metric,other
than continued employement,
to determine if Schorr is "succeeding".

i kept having the mental image of a fish (Schorr) flopping around in the muck at the bottom of a barrell,
as he droned out his criticism of the Bush administration.

i get the same mental image now,
every time he comes on.

Peter UK said...

Gumshoe.
"the chattering snobs with the
*moral perfection* arguements"

I call this the Sir Galahad Syndrome,any particular action can only be taken by the purest of pure.

The most egregious example being,it is imposssible to invade Iraq because the government,at one time supported Saddam Hussein's regime.There are countless other examples, the "Chickenhawk" argument where only those who are able to enlist have a right to support the conflict,this devolves down to Cindy Sheehan's moral superiority.

Anyone see a connection with the game Dungeons and Dragons and the current left dementedness?