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Cartoon Outrage III
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, May 26, 2005

So, now I'm wondering, is it ever acceptable to criticize the torture and murders that have been committed by our military personnel? Or is that just unfairly tarring the military? Do our brave troops just get a pass from such criticisms?

Would you extend the same pass to police officers, who might sweep you up—inadvertantly, of course—in a dragnet and then beat a "confession" out you in an alley while you "resist arrest"?

And how libertarian is it, neo or otherwise, to argue, in effect, "Our government will investigate these charges of prisoner abuse and killings. We can trust the government. The government is wise and benevolent. The government will do the right thing."

Is that the argument you make for the Real ID act? Or the Patriot Act? Or the income tax. Or drug laws? If not, then aren't you arguing, in effect, that the government can be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to enemy combatants, but can't be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to US citizens? Or, even more interestingly, can a government that inculcates the habits of mind that allows questionable activities to go on overseas without raising any domestic uproar be fully trusted at home not to begin trying out some of those same activities?

After all, wasn't that young Padilla chap—a native-born American Citizen—held in a navy brig for years without formal charges, bail, or access to council?

Discuss among yourselves.
 
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Dale, regarding that cartoon, it wasn’t that it criticized the abuses, but painted generic troops as murderous yokels. By making the troops a generic commanding officer and the killers generic yokel soldiers, it essentially painted all our troops with the same brush. That’s simply miles from the truth - far enough that it hardly makes for even passingly-biting satire.

If you’re comfortable with a soldier who talks like Cletus the Slack-Jawed yokel yelling about them damned "ragheads" who just up and die on us to his apoplectic CO who is busy on the phone with someone cursing about Newsweek, that’s up to you. I’m not at all comfortable with it. That’s not "criticizing the troops". That’s painting all our troops with one generic brush. They deserve far better than that sort of uninformed hackery.
 
Written By: Jimmie
URL: http://www.sundriesshack.com
Dale, regarding that cartoon, it wasn’t that it criticized the abuses, but painted generic troops as murderous yokels.
No, it painted generic MI interrogators in a generic MI interrogation facility—a clkass of people who have, in the real world, apparently killed several guys—as murderous yokels.

But you think it’s unfair to point that out.

Whatever.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Oh, and you didn’t address any of the questions posed in the post, either.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
The age old question of who audits the auditers, and who audits the auditors who audit. And who audits those auditors too? At some point there has to be final authority.

Given that the military is usually the ones discovering the abuse and investigating then it makes the newspapers and not the other way around, I’m not ready to abandon the gov’t investigating it’s own just yet. I certainly don’t want it handed over to the ICC.
 
Written By: Masked Menace©
URL: http://
So, now I’m wondering, is it ever acceptable to criticize the torture and murders that have been committed by our military personnel? Or is that just unfairly tarring the military? Do our brave troops just get a pass from such criticisms?

After the war is over, sure.

That does not preclude investigations of such acts nor punishment of those that do so while the war is going on.

There is no useful purpose served by such public criticism during the war. None. There’s no evidence that the military is sweeping this under the rug, is there?

After all, that fuckstick cartoonist could have made a cartoon that showed the torturers hauled off to jail couldn’t he? That would have recognized that such things happen but that we also are taking care of it. Of course, that would not have painted us in a sufficiently negative light, now would it?

Gee, Dale, am I allowed to question such a cartoonist’s patriotism? Or is that also streng verboten?

 
Written By: Mark Flacy
URL: http://
am I allowed to question such a cartoonist’s patriotism
So it’s unpatriotic to criticize government agents for something the government itself acknowledges is true? I’ll keep that in mind next time you criticize a government action. If you criticize how a government agency is wasting money without also showing how they have helped people, then I’ll be calling you unpatriotic.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Dale,

I think the defensiveness of conservatives and others who generally support the war is a result of the fact that the media and liberals have used every single incident of alleged abuse (let alone those incidents that have been proven) as an indictment of the Bush Administration, the war and the military (in that order). None of these incidents have been characterized by the MSM as a crime to be dealt with by the military justice system. The meme has always been that approval for and knowledge of detainee abuse, implicit or otherwise, reaches to the highest levels of the Bush Administration; it is indicative of an arrogant and hypocritcal American (read: Bush) foreign policy; and it is responsible for anti-Americanism in the middle east. While detainee abuse has certainly contributed to Muslim/middle eastern anti-Americanism, it is part of a long list of factors resulting from years of realpolitik policies pursued by the West. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t ever heard anyone say that they are unconcerned about detainee deaths and other abuse. Likewise, I have never heard anyone oppose the appropriate punishment of the perpetrators.

Nonetheless, the commentors are correct about the cartoon’s general indictment of the military and the war effort. In a hypothetical world where we didn’t have such a politicized environment, I believe there would be a greater willingness on the part of conservatives to criticize these abuses more extensively and openly. That may not excuse their reticence, but I think it explains it.

Finally, while it doesn’t justify abuse in any way, do you know how detainee abuse problems in the War on Terror compare to WWII? As an analogy, I remember Stephen Ambrose in an interview talking about how it was fairly common in WWII for citizen soldiers to shoot enemy combatants who had surrendered when they lacked the manpower and/or opportunity to take prisoners, rather than let them go to fight another day (a dilemma dramatically portrayed in "Saving Private Ryan"). According to Ambrose, our Greatest Generation did things necessitated by the exigencies of war that in Viet Nam or the WOT would be considered a war crime and held out as evidence of malice resulting from U.S. imperialism and warmongering. Are things really worse than the past or are they merely subject to more sunlight in an information age with camera phones and the internet? I am interested to hear what you think as someone with experience in military law enforcement.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
So it’s unpatriotic to criticize government agents for something the government itself acknowledges is true? I’ll keep that in mind next time you criticize a government action. If you criticize how a government agency is wasting money without also showing how they have helped people, then I’ll be calling you unpatriotic.

Well, only if you act as if things occur in a vacuum similar to the one between your ears.

There are all sorts of truths that should not come out during a war because it helps the enemy more than it helps us. Can you possibly understand that and stop bringing up generic bullshit?

 
Written By: Mark Flacy
URL: http://
There are all sorts of truths that should not come out during a war because it helps the enemy more than it helps us.
So we should keep our criminal acts secret. Got it.
Telling the truth about criminal activity = no brains. Got it.
Repeating events already reported by a government agency = unpatriotic. Got it.

Any other information I need to fill the vacuum between my ears? I’m learning a lot here.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Dale, by your own admission, and insistance, governments can and are wrong, at least occasionally. So too, are news orgs, I think we’d agree, and certainly being wrong isn’t something the anti-war nutcases are immune to, either.

So, now, it comes down to how much damage are you going to allow a war effort for people who can be wrong, both for a lack of info, and for a political motivation of their own?? How many people need to be smeared by such as that cartoon you’re so high in defending, during a war effort, for these?





 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads. blogspot.com
According to Ambrose, our Greatest Generation did things necessitated by the exigencies of war that in Viet Nam or the WOT would be considered a war crime and held out as evidence of malice resulting from U.S. imperialism and warmongering.

In most cases it was done out of callousness and convenience, not out of operational necessity.

And it wasn’t right then, either.

Look, one of the things that has always made America great and admired is we don’t accept or put up with that sort of nonsense as a matter of course. We recognize it for what it is ... a violation of human rights. It happens. We know that. And we do something about it.

Nothing anyone has said in any of these strings has justified the homicides which have occurred on our watch in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When you have people in custody and essentially defenseless, you have a duty and obligation to see they’re treated humanely, no matter what those on the other side do.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
So, now, it comes down to how much damage are you going to allow a war effort for people who can be wrong, both for a lack of info, and for a political motivation of their own?? How many people need to be smeared by such as that cartoon you’re so high in defending, during a war effort, for these?
Good lord.

As opposed to what, the DoD reporting the details of the investigations into abuse and deaths of prisoners/

Its assinine to assign all the so-called "damage" to a cartoon. It isn’t the cartoon al Jazera is carrying or quoting, it’s the freakin’ DoD reports.
The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in U.S. custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released Friday.
Why aren’t you questioning the Defense Department as to why THEY are handing all this "ammo" to our enemies if that’s your big concern in all of this?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I’ll assume, perhaps foolishly, that these questions are sincere.

It is never, in my view, per se inappropriate to, in good faith, criticize actual crimes committed by our military personnel.

The time, place, and manner in which such criticisms are made, however, can call a critic’s motives and judgement into question. There’s a right way and a wrong way to issue calls for accountability.

Manifestly bad-faith criticisms are, of course, never appropriate.

I am not arguing, effectively or otherwise, that we should blindly trust the government to police itself, so the remainder of your post is a non-sequitor as far as I’m concerned.

 
Written By: Sinbad
URL: http://
The time, place, and manner in which such criticisms are made, however, can call a critic’s motives and judgement into question. There’s a right way and a wrong way to issue calls for accountability.

Manifestly bad-faith criticisms are, of course, never appropriate.
Sinbad ... who issued the report which spurred the criticism?

What, do we just sit on our hands and not say anything? Or would you prefer to tell us what is and isn’t acceptable as criticism?

Me, I prefer to leave it as it always has been ... to allow the free expression of even the ideas and such that I DON’T like.

Just as I’m blasting this idiot Italian judge for his nonsense defamation charge concerning a writer’s criticism of Islam, I see the same sort of thing going on here, with a number of people blasting a cartoonist because they feel he ’defamed’ the military.

Well neither defamed anything. Both the writer and the cartoonist based their criticism on facts.

You don’t like badly timed criticism? Well take it up with the Army:
The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in U.S. custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released Friday.
To me that’s something worthy of criticism.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The meme has always been that approval for and knowledge of detainee abuse, implicit or otherwise, reaches to the highest levels of the Bush Administration
I wonder why.
There is no useful purpose served by such public criticism during the war. None.
And since the War on Terror (just like a war on evil or a war on poverty) can never actually end (let alone be won), then by your logic there can never be a useful purpose served by public criticism. I had always thought libertarians were pretty much in agreement to the contrary.
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
"I wonder why."

David in AK, you link to a website that summarizes governmental findings regarding the applicability of the Geneva Convention in regard to detention of terrorist suspects. Nothing at that linked site even remotely supports the proposition that the Bush Administration okayed the detainee abuse/torture I was referring to (i.e. nudity, humiliation, beatings, fake electrical wires applied to testicles, etc.). Instead it relates to the Administration’s position on the inapplicability (is that a word?) of the Geneva Convention to terrorists. Guess what? They’re right. Whether or not you think the detainees have a right to due process (they probably do) which has been abused, the evidence you proffered doesn’t even remotely show an "approval and knowledge of detainee abuse" reaching "to the highest levels of the Bush Administration." It merely shows that the Administration has been dealing with a very difficult situation for which the Geneva Convention has little application. FYI, the SCOTUS ruling in the Hamdi case did not rely on the Geneva Convention, it relied upon the U.S. Constitution. David,I don’t know if you are liberal, but you argue like one when you make a statement and then cite as supporting evidence something that doesn’t support your statement.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
"When you have people in custody and essentially defenseless, you have a duty and obligation to see they’re treated humanely, no matter what those on the other side do."

McQ, I completely agree with everything you said. I merely referenced the Ambrose anecdote as a point of comparison in regard to proportion. It is definitely wrong when any detainee is abused let alone tortured or killed. I just think that politicians have relied on the actions of a relatively small number of U.S. Soldiers and tried to implicate the entire military, Bush Administration and war supporters. I think using the detainee abuse as an indictment against anyone except those who were responsible (i.e. the abusers and their commanders) is out of proportion with its true meaning. As another analogy, if a group of black gang members committed a crime it would be considered bigoted to attribute culpability to the entire black community.

Once again, I am not trying to justify what has happened, but the message of the cartooon is out of proportion with the crime. As bad as some of the abuse has been, I don’t think there are many more than 100 soldiers total that have been involved when you include the various perpetrators and their commanding officers. Maybe it has been 200 or 300 but how does the number of abusers relate to the total number of soldiers that have been detailed as guards at detention facilities in the WOT? How does the number compare to the total military personnel currently engaged in the WOT? I would be willing to bet that is its a very small percentage. So, let’s investigate and keep pressure on the military and the Administration to punish the guilty no matter who they are. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to maintain proper proportion in doing so.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
Once again, I am not trying to justify what has happened, but the message of the cartooon is out of proportion with the crime. As bad as some of the abuse has been, I don’t think there are many more than 100 soldiers total that have been involved when you include the various perpetrators and their commanding officers.

I understand and appreciate your point about proportion. Perspective is important. But that said, this has gone on far too long, whether done by 100 soldiers or a 1,000,000 of them.

It’s time some heads roll among the officer corps (and I say that being a retired officer myself). This is entirely unacceptable (and avoidable) and something I mostly attribute to poor leadership. Examples do wonderous things in the military to right wayward behavior. I think the time is right for an example or two.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
My 2 cents, Gotta agree with jt007. I don’t like the fact that any of our guys are abusing/ murdering detainees. And I want every one of them punished. The problem is that each and every time, not to mention a fake but accurate story here and there, will be used to ram it down our throats. As if in we need to flog ourselves because we are the dumbasses that supported the removal of a thug. That people over there are dying, as if that wasn’t happening before we showed up. Frankly its my opinion that the the msm acted as a chicken little, and ended up desensitising us. I used to be upset with the acts of abuse, now the first thought that crosses my mind is that they, the msm, just got another hammer. Report the facts. I want to know whats going on. And I hope every one of those that cross the line get caught a prosecuted. But lets not dwell in it excessively. Even a high school athelete knows that excessive dwelling on the negative is a drag on their performance. And it seems thats what the msm want.
 
Written By: wilky
URL: http://
What, do we just sit on our hands and not say anything? Or would you prefer to tell us what is and isn’t acceptable as criticism?

Actually I’d prefer to tell you what I think is and isn’t acceptable (or helpful, or constructive, or responsible, or good-faith, et cetera) criticism.

How you choose to react or respond is up to you. Sitting on your hands and not saying anything is certainly one option. Sometimes it might even be a good option.

Me, I prefer to leave it as it always has been ... to allow the free expression of even the ideas and such that I DON’T like.

It sounds like we’re agreeing violently, then.
 
Written By: Sinbad
URL: http://
What I noted in the cartoon and resented was the door which is labeled "torture room number 4." That suggests torture rooms 1,2,3, and possibly unlimited. That means, to me, that torture is policy. It rules out the misfits, the bullies, the sadistic, the murderous. It is not an unwanted result. It is a planned and desired policy.
I don’t believe that. I resented that door.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
My 2 cents, Gotta agree with jt007. I don’t like the fact that any of our guys are abusing/ murdering detainees. And I want every one of them punished. The problem is that each and every time, not to mention a fake but accurate story here and there, will be used to ram it down our throats. As if in we need to flog ourselves because we are the dumbasses that supported the removal of a thug. That people over there are dying, as if that wasn’t happening before we showed up. Frankly its my opinion that the the msm acted as a chicken little, and ended up desensitising us. I used to be upset with the acts of abuse, now the first thought that crosses my mind is that they, the msm, just got another hammer. Report the facts. I want to know whats going on. And I hope every one of those that cross the line get caught a prosecuted. But lets not dwell in it excessively. Even a high school athelete knows that excessive dwelling on the negative is a drag on their performance. And it seems thats what the msm want.
 
Written By: wilky
URL: http://
Wilky:

Report the facts. I want to know whats going on. And I hope every one of those that cross the line get caught a prosecuted. But lets not dwell in it excessively.

The facts were reported—by DoD. It isn’t our MSM the terrorists will be quoting, or the cartoonists ... it will be the facts from the DoD report.

Sinbad:

Re: "sitting on your hands"

Sometimes it might even be a good option.

In your opinion ... and that’s the crux of this argument isn’t it? In this case, I don’t agree.

It sounds like we’re agreeing violently, then.

Or "passionately" if you prefer. ;)
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
No, I don’t feel that the left should criticize our troops for the abuses. Their purpose is to damage the administration and hurt the war effort. They don’t give a shit about the prisoners, they’re just useful tools.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
And it’s the urge to flog ourselves like this that makes me more and more pessimistic about our chances to ever make real headway. This nation collectively has no sack anymore.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
shark;
Full agreement here.

Back to Basics time, perhaps?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Let me get this straight. Several posters in this thread have objected that the cartoon somehow "painted all our troops with the same brush" by showing four thugs. That’s quite a leap. And yet...
...the evidence you proffered doesn’t even remotely show an "approval and knowledge of detainee abuse" reaching "to the highest levels of the Bush Administration." It merely shows that the Administration has been dealing with a very difficult situation for which the Geneva Convention has little application.
Why does the U.S. not want the Geneva Conventions to tie its hands? Is it so hard to see that a clear "benefit" of sweeping aside the Geneva Conventions is increased "flexibility" in how we treat detainees? Are you seriously arguing that the two are not linked?
I don’t know if you are liberal, but you argue like one when you make a statement and then cite as supporting evidence something that doesn’t support your statement.
I can’t really address this since I don’t know what your definition of a liberal is. I note, however, that those on the right frequently demonize liberalism without defining it, and that name-calling is the last refuge of a weak argument.
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
Perhaps the larger question: Why do the ’blame America First" corwd want the Geneva Conventions to apply where they clearly do NOT apply?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
David,

If you apply the Geneva Conventions to Al Qaeda you set up a dangerous precedent and create a moral hazard. The idea is you are given rights when you fight according to the rules. It’s designed to encourage fighting according to the rules. If you don’t obey the rules, you risk losing your rights.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
If you apply the Geneva Conventions to Al Qaeda you set up a dangerous precedent and create a moral hazard.
Not really. You apply a dangerous precent if you apply POW status to Al Qaeda. If you apply the GC to Al Qaeda, you merely give them 1) a tribunal to determine their status, and 2) a tribunal to determine their outcome.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
From my understanding, the tribunal to determine their status is not needed. Even if it was, it would be a simple one. I don’t think this is a critical matter.

Just curious, did we do this with every prisoner we captured in other wars? I guess: NO. If we did, it would be such a procedural matter as to be trivial.

They do have tribunals to determine their outcome. Others have been released already even though the war is not over.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

 
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