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Pentagon withdraws from Geneva Convention
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, June 05, 2006

I was afraid this would happen. The McCain ammendment required that we "establish the Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for the interrogation of Department of Defense detainees". So what does the Bush administration do when Congress insists we go by the book? They try to rewrite the book.
The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

Well, first of all, this (again) means no more complaining that our enemies do not abide by the Geneva Convention. If we abandon the rule of law and our treaty obligations when it becomes convenient to do so, we can hardly complain that they've done so when it was convenient for them. Indeed, by excusing ourselves, the administration tacitly condones this kind of behaviour from others.

Look, if we're going to effectively abandon the Geneva Convention on treatment of POWs, then let's actually withdraw. Let's not argue semantics, exigencies and tu quoque. If our leadership is confident that we ought not be bound by the Geneva Convention, then let the United States withdraw.

Lies do not become us.


ELSEWHERE:


James Joyner:
Even though our enemy by no means adheres to international law, our failure to do so undermines our moral authority. This is not a small thing, whether we’re talking about sustaining support at home, building coalitions with our Western partners, or even the “battle for hearts and minds” in the Arab world. That they don’t follow the Geneva protocols does not prevent our failure to do so from being used against us for propaganda purposes.

Furthermore, international law is almost invariably a matter of the United States and similarly-minded powers imposing our value system on the rest of the world, not vice versa. As such, it behooves us to live up to our agreements to maximize their legitimacy. To the extent changing circumstances make these agreements problematic, we should work to amend them.
John Cole:
The next time an Abu Ghraib happens (and there will be a next), there will be no wiggle room for Cheney et. al., and those who blindly support this administration are going to have to find new ways to call us all traitors or pussies because we want safeguards put in place for the humane treatment of prisoners.
Andrew Sullivan:
The United States is a rogue nation that practices torture and detainee abuse and does not follow the most basic principles of the Geneva Conventions. It is inviolation of human rights agreements and the U.N. Convention against torture. It is legitimizing torture by every disgusting regime on the planet. This is a policy mandated by the president and his closest advisers. This is the signal being sent from the commander-in-chief to his troops: your enemy can be treated beyond the boundaries of what the U.S. has always abided by. When you next read of an atrocity of war-crime or victim of torture by the U.S., just keep in mind who made this possible. Keep your eyes not just on the troops but on the people giving them the orders.

Jeff Goldstein seems to believe some of us take this position because we believe "US soldiers are simply automatons who are unable to make the fine distinctions", but that's an absurd oversimplification of the legitimate argument. As Dale Franks wrote last year, "without explaining exactly what [appropriate, legal interrogation] methods are, the troops in the field will lack the political guidance necessary to limit themselves to the appropriate techniques. As result what will inevitably happen is that no stressful interrogation methods at all will be approved, or more loosely commanded units will end up going overboard."

Goldstein also argues that "humiliation and torture are different animals", but the simple fact is that the Geneva Convention — to which we are still signatories — prohibits both. If Goldstein wants and "unusually up front and conspicuous" statement of our position, let him advocate US withdrawal from the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.

There is no honor in violating the Genevan Conventions, and there is certainly no honor in merely pretending to respect them.
 
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Humiliation? You are seriously worried about humiliation of terrorists who don’t abide by the Geneva conventions? First of all, terrorists aren’t protected by the Geneva Conventions. I’d much rather we just shot them and got on with our lives.

I don’t, IN ANY WAY, condone torture, but loud rap music and having you manhood questioned are not torture. Having fake menstrual blood smeared on you is not torture. Flushing a Koran down a toilet (which never happened)is not torture.

Seriously, Jon, get a grip.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Make UN "Peacekeepers" who are signatories of the Geneva Conventions quit raping little girls and boys across Africa, and then maybe we could start worrying about the US "humiliating" people.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
All I can think to justify this is that its hard to define and follow the "humilitation" clause for a person that would be humiliated by simply being interrorgated by a woman, or even touched by a non-muslim.

That said, I’d like to hear more info and explainations of this before I buy into the Sullivan moral hysteria or the Goldstein patriotic pooh-poohing.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Look, if we’re going to effectively abandon the Geneva Convention on treatment of POWs,
Detainees aren’t POWs, Jon. You don’t want to treat violators of the Geneva Convention with the same rules as those who follow them. The reason for that is obvious.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Setting aside the morality of the issue, this is unbelievably stupid and counterproductive.
 
Written By: Geek, Esq.
URL: http://
Detainees aren’t POWs, Jon. You don’t want to treat violators of the Geneva Convention with the same rules as those who follow them. The reason for that is obvious.
Here’s the problem Mark:
The detainee directive was due to be released in late April along with the Army Field Manual on interrogation. But objections from several senators on other Field Manual issues forced a delay. The senators objected to provisions allowing harsher interrogation techniques for those considered unlawful combatants, such as suspected terrorists, as opposed to traditional prisoners of war.
Do we follow the Geneva Conventions because we believe in human rights, or do we follow the Geneva Conventions because they allow us the legal cover to differently classify human beings as we so choose and only apply those rights to those we decide fit one group and not the other?

I mean, how hard is it to find a reason to justify (or maybe a better word is "rationalize") changing the classification of a lawful combatant to that of an unlawful combatant on the fly with little more pretext than saying, "well his uniform wasn’t quite regulation" if we seriously wanted a "legal" reason to apply more rigorous and harsh interrogation techniques?

I agree to the single standard of conduct by our interrogators. Then there’s never a question of limits. Argue the limits if you want too, but I can’t agree with different interrogation standards based only in "legalities".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The McCain Amendment was unreasonable. The DOD has responded unreasonably, but about the only way they could.

There is no sufficient reason to apply the treatment accorded to POWs in the Geneva Conventions to most of the prisoners taken in the GWOT. The McCain amendment attempted to force the DOD to apply them by sleight of hand—compelling the Army Field Manual to be used as a standard without specifying the AFM incorporate the GC.

I’m fairly pleased the DOD found a way to tell McCain to stick it and where.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
according to knowledgeable military officials...
I’ll wait till we hear something official on this one...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
McQ wrote:

"Do we follow the Geneva Conventions because we believe in human rights, or do we follow the Geneva Conventions because they allow us the legal cover to differently classify human beings as we so choose and only apply those rights to those we decide fit one group and not the other?"

I think some of the Geneva Conventions are de facto recognition that what I would call human rights exist, others exist purely by their creation by treaty. Jon can’t say that first part, of course, because he doesn’t think human rights exist.

However, no right is absolute, and the persons taken in the field supporting Al Qaeda have to my mind waived our recognition of their human rights, and the only dispositive criteria by which to judge our treatment of them is pragmatism.

It is not pragmatic to incentivize for our short-sighted enemies that they ignore the GC by ourselves always obeying it unconditionally.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
There is no honor in violating the Genevan Conventions, and there is certainly no honor in merely pretending to respect them.
Of course, Jon Henke doesn’t understand them...

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
However, no right is absolute, and the persons taken in the field supporting Al Qaeda have to my mind waived our recognition of their human rights, and the only dispositive criteria by which to judge our treatment of them is pragmatism.
Well this is where we disagree. As far as I’m concerned, human rights are absolute. They have no power unless they’re both universal and absolute.

No one can voluntarily give their right to life to anyone else. Such a right has to be violated.

That’s the point here. We either live up to our billing as a country which believes in, respects and protects human rights or we don’t. Playing silly legal games based on some arbitrary status doesn’t negate anyone’s human rights simply because we declare that to be so. And those are the sorts of games we’re playing here.

Our military has a difficult enough job. It certainly doesn’t need dual interrogation standards based on some arbitrary classification added to the heap. Make the techniques clear, concise and within the bounds of our national philosophy concerning human rights or quit lecturing the rest of the world on the subject and pretending they matter.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"No one can voluntarily give their right to life to anyone else. Such a right has to be violated."
Maybe it can’t be given, but that’s not what I’m talking about. If what you have just said is true, then no one should ever be imprisoned or killed for their crimes, because their rights are absolute.

What did you mean to say?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
How’s about we all read the Geneva Conventions before we get all high and preachy, m’kay?

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties...

That is the first line of Article Three [my emphasis], taken from here.

Article 3 is not applicable to the current situation in Iraq.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Jon Henke unfortunately is clueless on what the Geneva Conventions are and its strong specifications NOT to reward unlawful combatants with full POW rights.

In doing so contrary to the Conventions, you create PERVERSE INCENTIVES for armed combatants to disregard the Conventions intended to reduce the danger to civilians. As dramatically seen in Iraq with death squads operating out of uniform, Islamists specifically targeting heretic Shiite population centers and mosques with high explosive bombs, the routine execution of any US soldier, Iraqi Guard bus, police, group of Shiites they capture. The answer is - to then treat such unlawful fighters as Honorable POWs and Avoid Humiliating Them????

WHAT??????

McQ has noble ideas for what "Human Rights" such predators are due.

What about their victims???

The greater danger to our society is that we become so obsessed with enemy rights and criminal rights that we end up favoring the predators and law breakers over the innocents - and lose all confidence of the mainstream, decent people that our system protects their rights.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Just one more incremental step towards a brave new world. I imagine that the German Christians were having similar discussions to rationalize what their government was doing just prior to WWII. Shame on us.
 
Written By: bobby
URL: http://prisonplanet.com
I mean, how hard is it to find a reason to justify (or maybe a better word is "rationalize") changing the classification of a lawful combatant to that of an unlawful combatant on the fly with little more pretext than saying, "well his uniform wasn’t quite regulation" if we seriously wanted a "legal" reason to apply more rigorous and harsh interrogation techniques?
McQ, this seems a far cry away from not defining terrorists/insurgents who follow no rules or customs of war as POWs.

And the standard is not arbitrary- the distinction relies on the opponents in a conflict trying to minimize civilian casualties and collaterial damage, and following a code of overall conduct that seeks to mitigate the possible horrors of war. I don’t think an objective observer could apply such a description to either Al-Queda or most of the insurgent groups in Iraq.

Now, are there certain interrogation approaches that should not be considered regardless of combatant classification? Of course (and we have yet to see the final code of conduct to see where that line is drawn...if at all), but applying the conventions to anyone who could be considered a combatant of some sort undermines the convention as well, because it sets the precident that other nations need not "play by the rules" to expect us to do the same...and while that may seem like a noble position at the moment (when we face an enemy who won’t follow such restrictions regardless of our behavior), I would hate to think of what a more "borderline" nation might take away from such an example.
 
Written By: Some Guy in Chicago
URL: http://
Maybe it can’t be given, but that’s not what I’m talking about. If what you have just said is true, then no one should ever be imprisoned or killed for their crimes, because their rights are absolute.
Nope. What I’m saying is each of us have human rights which can’t be waved away because some legal entity decides they’re inconvenient for their purpose at the moment.

Why are we outraged at the past atrocities of Saddam? Because he violated the human rights of his victims.

Given the above, all he would have had to do to legally torture his victims (or perhaps "harshly interrogate" is a better euphemisim) is to declare they were not entitled to the same basic human rights as others because they were illegal combatants. My guess is it would certainly have been true of some he tortured to death. Maybe he should have put that in a manual or something, eh?

And, no, that doesn’t at all mean we can’t imprison violators of human rights who have proven they can’t live or operate within the accepted bounds of a society which protects and respects those rights. Self-defense is also a basic human right.

Human rights draw a universally applicable bright line that separates acceptable and unacceptable conduct pertaining to those rights. But it isn’t a line which you can arbitrarily move whenever you feel the urge because it suits the purpose of the moment for you to do so.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And the standard is not arbitrary —
It is certainly arbitrary in terms of human rights.

Either we all have them or we don’t. You can’t just arbitrarily decide some of us do or some of us don’t based on your whim of the day.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Ya know I had to read this a couple of times before I realized it wasn’t a weird and bad joke.

We’re not what? Excuse me?

So many cheesy WWII home-front movies play out in my head and I hear things like....
"So sorry prease, Japan not signitory to Genevea Conventions"

Now we can say....
"So sorry, America chooses not to acknowledge that particular clause of the Genevea Conventions".

We start getting weasly about what we do and don’t believe are acceptable behaviors, applied even to arseholes like Saddam, we start down the path to becoming them.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
"...each of us have human rights which can’t be waved away because some legal entity decides they’re inconvenient"

Not inconvenient, inapplicable. Where in any constitution, charter, or treaty do we say we will or should accord persons found violating the rules of war the same treatment accorded POW who have not violated the rule of war? Why is the summary treatment once accorded to pirates not applicable here?

"Because he violated the human rights of his victims."

No. It’s because he violated/ignored/abrogated the human rights of his victims without any pretensions to due process, he did so unfairly—because it was convenient.

"Given the above, all he would have had to do to legally torture his victims (or perhaps "harshly interrogate" is a better euphemisim) is to declare they were not entitled to the same basic human rights as others because they were illegal combatants."

And if there was sufficient reason to think they were illegal combatants, then that would have been good enough. Do keep in mind the differences between your imaginings and reality, though, McQ. Our personnel who appear to exceed guidelines are investigated and when warranted prosecuted—and if convicted imprisoned. What guidelines I have heard of prohibit injury, if not scaring half to death or intense voluntary discomfort. I don’t like and don’t have to like all of them to call BS on you when you deserve it, and you deserve it on this topic at this time.

"Self-defense is also a basic human right."

No. If the right to life is absolute then self defense is not ethically possible. Decide how you want it, get back to us.

"Human rights draw a universally applicable bright line that separates acceptable and unacceptable conduct pertaining to those rights."

No they don’t draw bright lines, at least, none so bright that with humanity can’t fudge them up.

"But it isn’t a line which you can arbitrarily move whenever you feel the urge because it suits the purpose of the moment for you to do so."

I’m not arbitrarily move any lines. I’m saying those lines, ever since they were drawn, were drawn around persons not obeying the rules of war.

That’s the argument you need to address to make any headway here.

The only prisoners we’ve taken to whom the Geneva Conventions have ever applied have been the Taliban taken in Afghanistan.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Why are we outraged at the past atrocities of Saddam? Because he violated the human rights of his victims.
I don’t recall that "WE" were so enraged. Can you point me to the many pixels of the engraged Jon Henke’s , John Cole’s, and Andrew Sullivan’s rage against the mutilated bodies in Fallujah or the taped beheadings? How many pixels have John Cole and Andrew Sullivan used in writing of Abu Grhaib and now Haditha compared to the many atrocities committed by the insurgents? Jon said:
Well, first of all, this (again) means no more complaining that our enemies do not abide by the Geneva Convention.
Yeah, I’m sure the John Cole and Andrew Sullivan really want to do that. I don’t know enough to either endorse or oppose this but I do know that anyone that references those two is not really serious about it.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
No. It’s because he violated/ignored/abrogated the human rights of his victims without any pretensions to due process, he did so unfairly—because it was convenient.
So "due process" however we decide to define it today, trumps human rights?

And who are you to say he "violated/ignored/abrogated" anyone’s human rights? He may have felt his due process is just as good as your due process.

I also love the "unfairly" characterization. I’m sure some of those who we might "harshly interrogate" would agree that they were being ’unfairly’ treated as well. And I’d also suspect they wouldn’t agree with our version of due process either.
And if there was sufficient reason to think they were illegal combatants, then that would have been good enough.
So you agreee that if Saddam’s arbitrary definition of "illegal combatants" had conformed with yours, he’d have had every right in the world to violate their rights, is that correct?

Apparently, if true, it is all about definitions and due process and not at all involved with the concept of human rights.
No. If the right to life is absolute then self defense is not ethically possible. Decide how you want it, get back to us.
Nope. Absolute means we each have the right as an inalienable part of our existence, the right is not transferable. It is universal and it is not different or better for some of us over others.

In absolute terms we are the only owner of our life and the only one with the sole right to defend it. Non-transferable, can’t belong to anyone else, absolutely and only ours.

Of course that doesn’t give you a right to violate those same rights in others and as a matter of self-defense (the primary reason governments are instituted) we segregate those who can’t operate within the limits of those rights.
No they don’t draw bright lines, at least, none so bright that with humanity can’t fudge them up.
That has nothing to do with the line, Tom. The line remains, it is humanity which chooses to fudge. But again, that doesn’t change the line. Ask Saddam.
I’m not arbitrarily move any lines. I’m saying those lines, ever since they were drawn, were drawn around persons not obeying the rules of war.
And I’m arguing the "rules of war" is the arbitrary moving of the line. It is a rationalization to excuse different treatment toward human beings with the same rights.
The only prisoners we’ve taken to whom the Geneva Conventions have ever applied have been the Taliban taken in Afghanistan.
So simply because they were considered lawful combatants instead of unlawful combatants, we would interrogate them much less harshly than the other even if they both had the identical information, is that right, Tom?

And, of course, that wouldn’t at all ignore the basics of human rights for some arbitrary standard, would it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It is certainly arbitrary in terms of human rights.

Either we all have them or we don’t. You can’t just arbitrarily decide some of us do or some of us don’t based on your whim of the day.
McQ, maybe I’m just unfamiliar with your definition of human rights, but I know a lot of people like to point to this when the topic comes us...

Now, if you want to claim

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

is a human right, I will offer no arguement on the principle. But the terms are loose and I think you have a bit of a leap to go from a reasonable definition of "inhuman or degrading" to what the US seems to be looking to condone (at least based off of the DoD’s revised memos). Now, you can make your leap a lot easier by claiming that the US secretly does condone what it doesn’t (Abu Ghraib) or by setting an incredibly low definition of "degrading" (mild discomfort, affronts to cultural sensitivities), but I don’t think you wish to do either. So when you say "...all he would have had to do to legally torture his victims (or perhaps "harshly interrogate" is a better euphemisim)...", I think you are muddying the waters here. Why not simply claim "interrogate" is a euphemisim (surely it’s been used that way before)? Why not claim "detaining" is a euphemisim? Lay out the specific activities you feel are in volation of human rights and we can discuss them. Right now we are discussing the removal of an inexact clause from a field handbook without knowing what may be in its place.

However, in either case we are now talking about a completely different set of rules apart from the Geneva Conventions.

Which, I guess, leads me to a question: If the Geneva Conventions makes these distinctions in treatment that you feel are arbitrary in the face of human rights (and it would seem that it does), shouldn’t we withdraw from them because they show us to be less than committed to human rights?

 
Written By: Some Guy in Chicago
URL: http://
"according to knowledgeable military officials..."

Who are these people who claim the pentagon has the power to override laws passed by congress and/or treaty obligations entered into by the appropriate branches of our government? These people may be knowledgeable about military matters but I don’t think they know much about the role of the military in our society.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
You can pretty much ID those who would’ve applauded Hitler as someone who would teach the g.d. Commies their place.

Thanks for fighting the good fight, McQ. It’s getting harder & harder to believe America stands for anything any more.
 
Written By: Anderson
URL: http://andersonblog.blogspot.com
McQ, maybe I’m just unfamiliar with your definition of human rights, but I know a lot of people like to point to this when the topic comes us...
Mine pretty much parallels those found in the Declaration of Independence. While the Constitution provides the legal context for our nation, the DoI is it’s soul. And we should reexamine that soul carefully from time to time when we wander off into the ether like we are on this particular topic.
So when you say "...all he would have had to do to legally torture his victims (or perhaps "harshly interrogate" is a better euphemisim)...", I think you are muddying the waters here.
Not in the context of the discussion. It was in answer to an assertion which claimed that due process essentially trumps any human rights consideration. It also points to the vague rationalizations at work to justify abrogating those rights in the name of "legality" or "due process".

I don’t buy into the argument which says that man has the right to arbitrarily abrogate those inherent rights because it is convenient for him to do so at the time and that "due process" excuses that abrogation.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Aside from the fact that the article quoted is from the LATimes, which in and of itself, ought to prompt healthy skepticism for the intellectually honest, I wonder if you even read Protein Wisdom. "[S]oldiers are simply automatons..." was an intentionally absurd oversimplification - it’s Jeff preemptive mocking his obtuse but vitriolic critics who, lacking the patience to read, much less comprehend what Jeff is trying to convey, launch ad hominen laden rebuttals to misperceived arguments.

It appears that, in fact, Jeff agrees with much of what Dr. Joyner has to say. The difference, I believe has to do with definitions, and the ability of intellectually honest to eschew partisan issue framing and make necessary distinctions. (Are interrogation, humiliation, torture really synonymous? Is Gitmo really the new Gulag? Is immigration reform really racist?)

Furthermore, in today’s linguistic and political hypersensitivity, writing explicit guidelines for productive interrogation (a likely occurrence of detention, but not co-equal – a distinction that the Times piece conveniently blurs) opens the doors for dishonest critics, aided by a largely sympathetic media to equate verbally besmirching ones mothers lineage with Mengele-style physiological experiments… or worse, hamstringing the interrogators by denying them the ability to use legitimate forms intimidation.

But knowing where you stand re Gitmo = Gulag, its not surprising to see your stance on this issue. It’s not the Sully style hyperbole, but that’s where it sure seems to be inching closer to...
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
What I wrote:
What McQ wrote:
[em]No. It’s because he violated/ignored/abrogated the human rights of his victims without any pretensions to due process, he did so unfairly—because it was convenient.[/em]

So "due process" however we decide to define it today, trumps human rights?

And who are you to say he "violated/ignored/abrogated" anyone’s human rights? He may have felt his due process is just as good as your due process.

I also love the "unfairly" characterization. I’m sure some of those who we might "harshly interrogate" would agree that they were being ’unfairly’ treated as well. And I’d also suspect they wouldn’t agree with our version of due process either.
In the presence of government, due process effectuates human rights. In the absence of government, the term has no meaning. Nothing can "trump" human rights, but the behavior of individual humans can and unfortunately does jusitfy depriving them of their rights, for example, in this country, a citizen can be imprisoned by a jury of their peers. Hopefully, the other hallmarks of due process are seen in that case.

I’m glad you appreciate my use of "unfairly", I thought it fit well myself. As for "who are you to say", well who are you to say else? Ultimately, the prosecution of the war is to say whose due process will be conducted here—that’s why it’s important to win. Might will tend to make reality, and I think in this case, right as well. We may have to agree to disagree.
[em]And if there was sufficient reason to think they were illegal combatants, then that would have been good enough. [/em]

So you agreee that if Saddam’s arbitrary definition of "illegal combatants" had conformed with yours, he’d have had every right in the world to violate their rights, is that correct?

Apparently, if true, it is all about definitions and due process and not at all involved with the concept of human rights.
To the extent their rights have been violated in accordance to published policy, yes. To the extent he violated them in reality, no.

It is inherently and illimitably involved with definitions of humans rights. Where we disagree is your quixotic notion that rights cannot justly be violated, when in fact that is what effective self defense is about—likely violating someone else’s right to life, and giving your own precedence over theirs. After all, the criminal might not agree with you that your life should take precedence over his*. Perhaps the idea precedence has more value than violability or inviolability.

*Yes McQ, I am mocking your idotic hypothetical found above.
[em] No. If the right to life is absolute then self defense is not ethically possible. Decide how you want it, get back to us.[/em]

Nope. Absolute means we each have the right as an inalienable part of our existence, the right is not transferable. It is universal and it is not different or better for some of us over others.

In absolute terms we are the only owner of our life and the only one with the sole right to defend it. Non-transferable, can’t belong to anyone else, absolutely and only ours.

Of course that doesn’t give you a right to violate those same rights in others and as a matter of self-defense (the primary reason governments are instituted) we segregate those who can’t operate within the limits of those rights.
I never claimed it was tranferrable, is voidable/deprecable as a consequence of our own actions towards others.

"In absolute terms we are the only owner of our life and the only one with the sole right to defend it."

But to do that, we may have to end the life of another. Quelle horreur!

"we segregate those who can’t operate within the limits of those rights"

We deprive of the effective exercise of their right to life, to movement, to their operation is society. We deprecate their rights. We ignore some of them. We fail to respect them. And that’s ok.
[em]No they don’t draw bright lines, at least, none so bright that with humanity can’t fudge them up.[/em]

That has nothing to do with the line, Tom. The line remains, it is humanity which chooses to fudge. But again, that doesn’t change the line. Ask Saddam.
I am referring to Saddam’s and the insurgent’s actions as causing the "fudging", McQ. We are not fudging those rights or lines when "harshly interrogating" or holding indefinitely the AQ/insurgent detainees because they have already removed themselves from the category of those (virtually every other person on the planet) who are entitled by right to them.
[em]I’m not arbitrarily move any lines. I’m saying those lines, ever since they were drawn, were drawn around persons not obeying the rules of war.[/em]

And I’m arguing the "rules of war" is the arbitrary moving of the line. It is a rationalization to excuse different treatment toward human beings with the same rights.
Then so are the criminal codes against murder, rape, and theft also rationalizations to excuse different treatment toward human beings with the same rights. If you condemn one you should provide an explanation as to why you either support or condemn the other.
[em]The only prisoners we’ve taken to whom the Geneva Conventions have ever applied have been the Taliban taken in Afghanistan.[/em]

So simply because they were considered lawful combatants instead of unlawful combatants, we would interrogate them much less harshly than the other even if they both had the identical information, is that right, Tom?
Yes. As it is however, I condemn the administration for, AFAIK, not treating the Taliban as POWs instead of illegal combatants.
And, of course, that wouldn’t at all ignore the basics of human rights for some arbitrary standard, would it?
Prisons do the same, in many cases for less reason. Self defense may well end the life of a criminal. I presume you criticise the concepts of self defense and incarceration at least as strenuously?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Do we follow the Geneva Conventions because we believe in human rights,
Whose rights, McQ? How about the human rights of the non-combatants in the AO? The bloody purpose of the Geneva Conventions was to reduce the amount of suffering of the civilian population by providing a means for armies to tell soldiers from civilians.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Timactual wrote:
"Who are these people who claim the pentagon has the power to override laws passed by congress and/or treaty obligations entered into by the appropriate branches of our government?"
Tim, the Pentagon is claiming no such thing, neither is the Administration. They are evading a pretentious amendment to a bill passed by McCain which would specify the most stringent interpretation of the proper treatment of POWs as being the one which should apply to all person detained by the American military regardless of circumstances, including whether or not those persons are war criminals not meeting the description of POWs. The Geneva Convention does not specify how such illegal combatants are to be treated, hence the McCain amendment goes above and beyond the GC. Since McCain cannot be said to have any respect for the Constitution or human rights (a la the 1st Amendment) I assume he caused the amendment to be inserted to suit his own vanity.

Since no laws have been broken in evading it and the amendment is genuinely unwise—incentivizing the breakage of the rules of war by our enemies—I applaud the Pentagon for the spirit of its actions. I trust another document which is not the Army Field Manual will be forthcoming which will specify the treatment of the detainees continue as before—then and now perfectly legal in almost every respect, if not always what I would undertake if the decision were solely my own.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
If Goldstein wants and "unusually up front and conspicuous" statement of our position, let him advocate US withdrawal from the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.
Perhaps you should read them first.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Perhaps the idea precedence has more value than violability or inviolability.
/=
Perhaps the idea of precedence has more value than violability or inviolability.
Also, [em] and [/em] /= and

Argg, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
To my enormous distress and true sadness, there are people I will no longer engage on certain subjects, because doing so sickens my soul. As John Cole notes, Jeff Goldstein defends the practice of waterboarding and believes it is not torture. That, even tho the Japanese who so tortured our men in WWII were tried for war crimes.

Some sort of madness has overtaken people who had been decent. Islamic nutjobs commit some atrocities, or are foiled from doing so, and as a result some of us become willing to move many steps closer to the barbarism we are fighting. Thank you Jon and McQ for your posts and comments. I can’t really add much else, because I get too upset and overly emotional on these GC and/or torture matters, but it heartens me to know there are non-leftist sites where the moral compasses are functioning on these supremely moral issues.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
"They are evading a pretentious amendment to a bill.

" Since no laws have been broken in evading it and the amendment is genuinely unwise—incentivizing the breakage of the rules of war by our enemies—I applaud the Pentagon for the spirit of its actions"

I must be missing something.
If it is part of a bill enacted into law, why is the pentagon not bound by it? This is a new legal theory to me. And since any amendment IS part of a law, how can you say no laws have been broken? Whether it is wise or not is irrelevant.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Your right Mona, our enemies are far more moral that we... we should just submit.
/snark

Tell me, just what barbarism are we stepping up to? Violent demonstrations because we found a cartoon offensive? Ostracizing people because we don’t like their religion? Mutilating and killing our kids because of their gender? Killing people because we don’t like their sexual orientation? When ones moral compass turns against supporting the US, prosecuted blemishes and all, in favor of excusing real “atrocities“ - for mere political gain - well, that saddens me.

Sacrificing the good for the perfect…

 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
"Some sort of madness has overtaken people who had been decent..."

I concur. I have been a little stunned, myself, at the legalistic hair-splitting and essential amorality used by many to justify just about anything in the name of national security or force protection. I heard many of these arguments and justifications used during the court martial of William Calley(anyone remember My Lai?). Times change. When I grew up, John Wayne was the iconic role model, and I just can’t picture him waterboarding anyone. Today, Clint Eastwood wouldn’t bat an eye, as long as he thought he was waterboarding the right person, for a just cause.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Well, first of all, this (again) means no more complaining that our enemies do not abide by the Geneva Convention.
Well, the Geneva Conventions haven’t been too helpful on that front, considering that we’ve never fought an enemy who even hesitated to torture American POWs.
To my enormous distress and true sadness, there are people I will no longer engage on certain subjects, because doing so sickens my soul. As John Cole notes, Jeff Goldstein defends the practice of waterboarding and believes it is not torture. That, even tho the Japanese who so tortured our men in WWII were tried for war crimes.
Our soldiers have to endure waterboarding during training:
Waterboarding is also used by the US military on US troops that have a high probability of capture. This training exercise is to help familiarize the soldiers to the sensation so that they are not unprepared if captured. Jet fighter pilots are also subjected to similar experiences where they are dumped with great force into deep pools of water and left to unbuckle their harness and find their way to the surface while upside down and wearing full flight gear. The fear induced in pilots during this training phase was well captured in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman.
Oh boohoo. Poor Mohammed al-Jihadi.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Our soldiers have to endure waterboarding during training:
Yes, to prepare them for torture. The same torture condemned when the Japanese did it in WWII.

I had a diffiuclt root canal a few years back, for which I, like the soldiers you cite, volunteered. For days the not-dead and quite angry nerves the dentist had been hacking at drove me to pain-induced insanity (even the strong narcotics didn’t much help), until the second visit when the job was finished. So, I guess drilling on the raw nerves of detainees isn’t torture, because sometimes we have to put up with that during a voluntary root canal.

Really, any medical procedure — the more painful the better — should be adopted by the govt and defended as not being toruture by claiming that, after all, Americans volunteer for this all the time.

My country, the America I am fiercely proud of, does not sanction torturing people. Period. We are not Nazis, Stalinists or jihadis, and the line between us and those is thinner than you think, given human nature, and must be held fast.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
My country, the America I am fiercely proud of, does not sanction torturing people. Period. We are not Nazis, Stalinists or jihadis, and the line between us and those is thinner than you think, given human nature, and must be held fast.
You’re right, because waterboarding isn’t torture. If you want to win a war, you have to go a little further than hurting somebody’s feelings.
Really, any medical procedure — the more painful the better — should be adopted by the govt and defended as not being toruture by claiming that, after all, Americans volunteer for this all the time.
Ignoring the fact that you had anesthesia during the actual procedure and pain medication afterwards (you brave torture victim, you!), waterboarding is terrifying and certainly uncomfortable, but it doesn’t hold a candle to having your teeth drilled open and the nerves pulled out.

I had a root canal which required 3 followup treatments. I don’t advocate that at all. Would I care if some scumbag had to deal with the pain of recovery that I went through? Nope. You can’t interrogate someone without making them uncomfortable.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
I guess "terrifying someone" (waterboarding) became torture around the same time that Gitmo became the "Gulag of our times."
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Despite Jon’s not so flattering protrayal, I think Jeff Goldstein puts it well:
I disagree with James here on certain points, specifically, I think our tendency to define torture down to include “humiliation”, coupled with “humiliation’s” effectiveness as an interrogation tactic against an honor and shame culture, has precipitated the Pentagon’s changes (changes, it should be noted, that were agreed upon by Congress as a stipulation for signing UNCAT) moreso than some slippage of our own moral authority—which is to say, I think the changes simply pragmatic, both as a response to a Western culture so steeped in PC posturing that it has lost the ability to recognize torture and distinguish it from other (legal) techniques for gleaning information from enemy captures who are not part of some standing army (and so should not be given Geneva Convention treatment) and as an argument for the effectiveness of the techniques themselves.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
What to me seems the fundamental problem in this debate is the idea of rights-based humanitarian warfare. The Geneva Convention worked when fighting European powers who were invested in it’s utility over the past 150 years, is that the case at the moment?

If we can figure out a way to amend and reform the Geneva Conventions, I will heartily support it. Any proud and effective military needs a code of conduct, a moral guideline in the treatment of prisoners and other trying situations one often encounters in armed conflict. However, it is very debatable that this has been the case in the past 50-60 years. The ideals of the Geneva convention have been much diluted when our opponents don’t seem to share our similar conceptions of honor and humanity.

That is the debate I should like to see; instead we have politicians squabbling and bureaucrats circumventing to subvert (or even worse, comply) with outdated suggestions and practically unworkable guidelines with little relation to the enemy we fight or the condition it’s fought in. Why do you have to be a lawyer to fight a war?

This hypocrisy is reaching a point where it makes little sense to comply with the abstractions imposed upon commanders and their combatants with the responsibility of accomplishing a mission and protecting their men. I don’t want to get into the discussion of certain techniques- that’s missing the forest for the trees in my book. It’s the moral vacuum and uncertainty that bothers me, is the answer really let’s do this until we get the latest revision? Sounds like the Soviets waiting for the updates to the party platform.

I would wish the commanders and combatants do what they think is right; then justify it later. War must mean war, those who raise weapons and other means should answer to that- whether they hide behind kids or wear uniforms is almost meaningless. ’Humanitarian war’ just encourages more of the same, with little incentive to change. If our warriors actions in countering this threat are unjustifiable, they should answer to it. But all this handwringing is nothing but mental masturbation.
 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
From a purely utilitarian standpoint, one could make the observation that our adherence to the Geneva Conventions brings about two goods: (a) the forbearance of our adversaries and (b) a popular appreciation of our moral good standing which could translate into increased diplomatic and law enforcement cooperation internationally. Whether you are talking about torture, uniformed militia, targeting civilians, it is flatly obvious that our adversaries have NEVER in any phase of the war shied away from wholesale violations of the Geneva Conventions. Ever.

So we should be basking in the glow of (relative) admiration, right? Wrong. And it is the media with their wildly unbalanced negative portrayals of American troops that takes that away from us. From the fixations on bondage scenes and dog leashes of Abu Ghraib to hunger strikes in Guantanamo (there’s an oxymoron in there somewhere) to the coming fixation on Haditha, the focus is always driven to magnify the wrongs done by Americans and minimize the wrongs done by our adversaries, so that if 1% of GC violations in this war were due to American troops and 99% due to the enemy it would seem the other way around.

I leave you with two brief examples from NPR, notable for their minimal and almost subliminal operation. I paraphrase because each of the stories was so short (3 sentences each), but I don’t have transcriptions. I apologize in advance if my recollections left something important out.

STORY 1: The killers of Margeret Hassan were sentenced to death in Baghdad recently. Marget Hassan was a British aid worker who was kidnapped and killed by insurgents. She lived and worked quite happily in Iraq until US troops invaded and violence increased.

ANALYSIS: The insurgents have had a policy of attacking international agencies and foreign civilians in a bid to undermine the (then coming) democraticaly elected government and deprive that government of direct foreign aid. In accordance with their policy, the kidnap and murder Margaret Hassan. Using sleight of hand, NPR manages to blame the US for Margaret Hassan’s murder.

STORY 2: Saddam Hussein’s trial continues in Baghdad. Saddam is accused of ordering the murders of villagers. The defense team claimed that he had to do it because there was a plot to assassinate Saddam Hussein. (End of story passes without further comment.)

ANALYSIS: Saddam Hussein, in one of the most under-reported trials in history for its scope, manages to elicit no comment on the idea that the murder of innocent civilians is OK as long as there was an assassination plot. Think any of those people got a trial?

So you know what? The Geneva Conventions? Screw ’em. In fact, one might argue that we should ratchet up our field brutality to Roman levels to better match the rhetoric coming out of the media. What have we got to lose? And maybe eventually our enemies would be persuaded that the Geneva Conventions are/were a good thing after all.

 
Written By: pdq332
URL: http://www.pdqviews.org/pdqviews
Mona, you keep conflating the torture part of the Article 3 of the GC with the part about humiliating and degrading acts. Do you believe that putting women’s panties over a detainee’s head constitutes torture? This is Article 3:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
What is at issue is: (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;For instance, assume you have a female guard at Guantanamo and the following occurs.
Fuss over a handshake

Dutch Queen Beatrix will not shake hands during her visit to the Mobarak Mosque in The Hague. This has been agreed to out of respect for Islamic rules.
’In principle men and women don’t touch one another if they’re not direct family’, Hibatunnoer Verhagen says, chairman of the Ahmadiyya movement in the Netherlands. ’So it has nothing to do with inequality. On the contrary: it’s a sign of respect.’
Do you really want us getting entangled in something like this. I worked at a prison for 12 years and for a short time was the Compliance Officer-ensuring the institution was in compliance with court orders. I was sued by an inmate when I denied his "right" to a deer antler-he was American Indian-because it was his religious right to keep this in a dorm of 25 men. Have you ever seen what inmates can make shanks-homemade knives-out of.
I can envision where this vague statement on "humilating and degrading treatment" will lead and the problems it will engender for our troops?
It needs to be addressed and defined. As it stands it is too open to interpretation. And I know where Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch is going to come down. Right there with Jonn Cole, Andrew Sullivan, and Jon Henke.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
I’m clearly too late to respond to every objection. Suffice it to say:

1) Yes, I know what the Geneva Convention says. I’ve written on it fairly extensively. There are some very few people who may, after due process, not be given POW status. I’m not sure that’s always a wise decision, but the due process is required.

2) I didn’t discuss torture. It’s not relevant. The GC prohibits torture, abuse and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment." Now, perhaps you think that is an unwise policy. Fine. That’s a separate debate, though. Prohibition of coercion, degrading and humiliating treatment is a part of the GC.

The question, then, is not whether we have violated the GC — we have. That is settled. The question is whether we ought to continue that policy, discontinue it, or continue to pretend to abide by the GC when we clearly are not.

3) Yes, I am concerned about the treatment of terrorists. (while noting that it’s pure speculation on your part that this will only be applied to terrorists) I am aghast that so many Americans think otherwise.

I am concerned about the treatment of terrorists for the same reason that I am concerned about the treatment of murderers. Not because they’re wonderful fellows, but because we ought to be. It’s not about who they are, but who we are. (well, some of us, anyway)

Finally, due process does not exist because "due process" is a moral principle. Due process exists because humans are fallible and we require extensive safeguards to prevent us from making mistakes. And contra Goldstein, humans (even US soldiers) are very prone to an inability to make moral distinctions. Research has proven time and time again that, without clear boundaries, people will go too far. See the Stanford Prison Experiment. See the tests in which one person applies what they think are positively lethal levels of electrical shocks to subjects simply because they’ve been told to do so.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s not about who they are, but who we are.
Jon, McQ,
thanks
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
But is war the place to be haggling over ’due process’ when people are dying?

Due process strikes me as the entitlement for those who share the same compact of values- signatories of an abstract treaty such as the GC, or citizens of a society. ’Asymmetrical’ warfare, if that’s the name of the day, specifically is against this. Do we then continue to p*ss in the wind?

That is a hard argument to make for me.
 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
As I’ve been arguing for some time here and elsewhere, Bush’s legal theories as delivered to him By John Yoo and Cheney’s legal advisor, David Addington, mean, literally, that the President can simply ignore ANY law that at all touches on national security. So, Bush’s signing stmt, when he signed the McCain anti-torture bill, emphasized nothing therein supersedes his Article II authority.

This decision about what to removed from the AFM is ultimately irrelevant. George Bush believes, and acts as if, he can do as he wishes — whether it is warrantless wiretapping in violation of FISA, or torturing people beyond the bounds of American and international law. In secret and with accountability to no other branch, legislative or judicial.

I know I keep flogging it, but this is why Greenwald’s book is impt. It is not primarily about warrantless wiretapping, and instead focuses on the legal theories behind that, including but not limited to how those theories impact on the President’s "authority" to torture in violation of law. That is the core of the crisis, not this latest instance of what is added or removed from the AFM — altho that onbviously is of great import for the soldier’s on the ground, as Dale and McQ have made clear.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
timactual wrote:
"I must be missing something."
And you are. McCain’s clause which he inserted into the bill said "da rules" were the ones in the Army Field Manual. It specified no language in particular or version of the manual. It was a poorly written act of vanity on his part. The Army took that out of the manual—no rules now exist. In light of that void, I’m sure the rules previously existing will continue to be applied by US servicemen, who are not in fact slavering to be off the leash leash to violate the actual rules of war.


Mona,

OK. Feel free not to reply.


Bains wrote:
"our enemies are far more moral that we... we should just submit"
Good one. Not exactly on point, but still chuckleworthy.

More to the point, if Mona’s evidently preferred course of action would cost the life of so few as one other innocent person, is she willing to write the letter to their loved ones justifying her support for the course of action that killed them? Mona, there’s blood in your halo polishing cream. Just saying.

timactual then wrote:
"I heard many of these arguments and justifications used during the court martial of William Calley(anyone remember My Lai?)."
And they failed to justify his actions. These are very different actions taken under much different circumstances. To conflate them is to muddy waters best left unmuddied.

The fact you need to stir them to try and make your point is a measure of how weak your point is.
"When I grew up, John Wayne was the iconic role model"
John Wayne is a fictional archetype. Eastwood’s Unforgiven character getting a shotgun after his eyes have given out is more real.


Mona lied (more likely, she’s ignorant) and wrote:
"The same torture condemned when the Japanese did it in WWII."
No they are not the same thing. The specific procedure as outlined in several media outlets makes drowning and even hypoxic injury almost impossible. It is also solely applied to the "high value" detainees, who I candidly admit I don’t care much what is done with them—the punishment can fit the crime in some slight measure for all I care. I would not approve of torturing them to death, I’d just shoot them, but if they have information, I just can’t be bothered to care if it is scared out of them.
"We are not Nazis, Stalinists or jihadis, and the line between us and those is thinner than you think, given human nature, and must be held fast."
There is no respect for that line to be seen in treating lawful and unlawful combatants equivalently.



Then Jon Henke wrote:
"There are some very few people who may, after due process, not be given POW status"
This is an assertion on your part, and my assertion you are quite wrong is also just that.

And in fact while most if not 100% of the Taliban deserve POW status, and I cannot too strongly condemn their not being granted it, essentially none of the Al Qaeda or Iraqi insurgents deserve that classification, and due process can at least initially be the discretion of the commanding officer in the field. I agree (preemptively) that it seems to me that the disposition of persons so seized should be faster than has been the case to date.
"Prohibition of coercion, degrading and humiliating treatment is a part of the GC."
And what is and isn’t in the GC is irrelevant when the people we are discussing aren’t covered by the GC except by ommission.
"The question, then, is not whether we have violated the GC — we have. That is settled."
With the inclusion of Taliban personnel, yes we have. With holding it to AQ and Iraqi insurgents, no we haven’t—it doesn’t even apply.
"Yes, I am concerned about the treatment of terrorists. (while noting that it’s pure speculation on your part that this will only be applied to terrorists) I am aghast that so many Americans think otherwise."
It is of course also pure speculation on your part any torturous or degrading treatment of terrorists (I presume that is your shorthand for illegal combatants) will not remain solely the lot of captured terrorists. If it did not, that would be wrong and a crime.

It is also your opinion that the degrading and frightening things that are being done to terrorists ought not to be allowed. You are very much in the minority there. You can take a lesson with that or sit on a cloud with Mona polishing your halo. That polishing cream has the blood of the innocent as its first ingredient. I’m sure your soul shines so much more brightly thereby.

Pardon me while I retch.
Not because they’re wonderful fellows, but because we ought to be."
The first rule to being a wonderful fellow is to be alive. It is pragmatic to be effective. It is pragmatic to use means proportional to your ends. I think we are still in that realm here.
"Finally, due process does not exist because "due process" is a moral principle."
Well, given that you don’t think human rights exist, I’m not surprised to read you also have no moral principles.

;) Jon’s a schmuck.

Did you read this before you posted it?
"Due process exists because humans are fallible and we require extensive safeguards to prevent us from making mistakes."
No plethora of safegaurds will prevent mistakes.

"And contra Goldstein, humans (even US soldiers) are very prone to an inability to make moral distinctions."
No, they are no more prone to such problems than other people.
"Research has proven time and time again that, without clear boundaries, people will go too far."
The boundaries are clear, and the soldiers who have violated them have been investigated and where applicable, tried, where guilty, punished. I digress to say that their officers are more cupable in most cases than the records seem to show.
"See the tests in which one person applies what they think are positively lethal levels of electrical shocks to subjects simply because they’ve been told to do so."
Which if it happened in real life would mean a murder charge, so what do you imagine your point is, Jon?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
As I’ve been arguing for some time here and elsewhere, Bush’s legal theories as delivered to him By John Yoo and Cheney’s legal advisor, David Addington, mean, literally, that the President can simply ignore ANY law that at all touches on national security. So, Bush’s signing stmt, when he signed the McCain anti-torture bill, emphasized nothing therein supersedes his Article II authority.

This decision about what to removed from the AFM is ultimately irrelevant. George Bush believes, and acts as if, he can do as he wishes — whether it is warrantless wiretapping in violation of FISA, or torturing people beyond the bounds of American and international law. In secret and with accountability to no other branch, legislative or judicial.

I know I keep flogging it, but this is why Greenwald’s book is impt. It is not primarily about warrantless wiretapping, and instead focuses on the legal theories behind that, including but not limited to how those theories impact on the President’s "authority" to torture in violation of law. That is the core of the crisis, not this latest instance of what is added or removed from the AFM — altho that onbviously is of great import for the soldier’s on the ground, as Dale and McQ have made clear.
Mona is quite wrong. This is a habit with her.

The signing statement merely asserts that without explicit constitutional authority for the Congress to the contrary and a directly applicable law to the contrary, the war powers of the executive remain what they have been. Whatever the President’s legal advisors may have theorized to the contrary, that is all the Appeal to Article II means. Greenwald’s and Mona’s abstruse assertions to the contrary are meaningless.

There is no constitutional crisis WRT to how this administration has used its war powers, because every time the Supreme Court has spoken it has caved, and every time the Congress has written a law that clearly applies it has obeyed. There is no political crisis because the fraction of people who think it is VERY, VERY IMPORTANT that panties not be placed over a terrorist’s head is miniscule one and thankfully so.

The fraction who think the handful or so of the high value detainees should never be threatened with much less experience "water boarding" is thankfully smaller still, proving the resilience of some sense of proportion in most of us.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"Did you read this before you posted it?"
That wasn’t fair, I apologize. Everyone’s written something at some point that didn’t say what they meant.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Our soldiers have to endure waterboarding during training.
Yes, to prepare them for torture.
Aw, I overlooked this gem earlier. So live-fire exercises can now be defined as combat then. Better tell our pilots that training on a flight simulator is really flying, too.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
"considering that we’ve never fought an enemy who even hesitated to torture American POWs."
You sure about that?


"You can’t interrogate someone without making them uncomfortable."

Such a delightful little euphemism.

" They are evading a pretentious amendment to a bill passed by McCain which would specify the most stringent interpretation of the proper treatment of POWs as being the one which should apply to all person detained by the American military regardless of circumstances, including whether or not those persons are war criminals not meeting the description of POWs."

Perhaps you can understand my confusion about the amendment. "the most stringent" implied, to me, a certain specificity to it.

"And they failed to justify his actions. These are very different actions taken under much different circumstances. To conflate them is to muddy waters best left unmudd..."

I compared arguments and justifications, not actions.

"Eastwood’s Unforgiven character getting a shotgun after his eyes have given out is more real."

Perhaps more real, but irrelevant.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
You sure about that?
If you’ve got something to say, say it.
Such a delightful little euphemism.
Well, waterboarding, fake menstrual blood, koran "mishandling", lap dances, panties on head, and dogs barking are all uncomfortable (your mileage may vary with the lap dance). These have all been heaped upon the list of "torture" by those such as you.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
The fraction who think the handful or so of the high value detainees should never be threatened with much less experience "water boarding" is thankfully smaller still, proving the resilience of some sense of proportion in most of us.
Fortunately we still have a sense of proportion, and know who to torture, when, for how long, and how, to achieve the desired result.
What’s important is that we get the answers, not worry about details like who we become in order to do that.
Blood in the halo polish is better when it’s from a high value detainee.
"See the tests in which one person applies what they think are positively lethal levels of electrical shocks to subjects simply because they’ve been told to do so."
Which if it happened in real life would mean a murder charge, so what do you imagine your point is, Jon?
Hmmmmm, you really think that during a torture session, say, water boarding, where something ’goes wrong’ that the interrogator is going to be charged with murder? Yeah, I can see that court martial now.

I love ’reality based’ theory where the ends justify the means. Here those of us who would prefer not to formalize and approve of torture are ’weak’ and ’willing to sacrifice innocents’ and those of us who condone it are ’getting the job done’ and ’protecting American society’.




 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I am both amused and appalled at the people here who see no problem flushing a Koran down a toilet but want a constitutional amendment stating no one may desecrate the American Flag.

Every time you think it’s idiot-proof, they build a bigger idiot.
 
Written By: jimmer
URL: http://
And here’s a very key point Jon made that seems to be lost in the rush.
If we abandon the rule of law and our treaty obligations when it becomes convenient to do so, we can hardly complain that they’ve done so when it was convenient for them. Indeed, by excusing ourselves, the administration tacitly condones this kind of behaviour from others.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Oh, almost forgot - what about the INEVITABLE mistakes where someone is tortured day in and day out and is innocent.

If you don’t think it happens, you may be a moron.
 
Written By: jimmer
URL: http://
Looker wrote a pile of pointless drivel:
"not worry about details like who we become in order to do that"
I stay me.
"Blood in the halo polish is better when it’s from a high value detainee."
The point was that the blood was of the innocents who die when we fail out of squeamishness to respond effectively to a problem, which is that the high value detainee knows something we need to and he won’t tell.
"Hmmmmm, you really think that during a torture session, say, water boarding, where something ’goes wrong’ that the interrogator is going to be charged with murder? Yeah, I can see that court martial now."
If an interrogation of such a high value detainee went seriously awry, and the information died, there would certainly be an investigation. There would have to be some evidence of mens rea for there to be a crime.

If someone without such extenuating circumstances were to apply a lethal charge to an innocent person, and the victim dies, then there should be murder charges.

Which part do you disagree with?

The ends do not justify the means, it is that sins of ommission are still sins, and that means should be proportionate to ends. Here they are, with the few exceptions that have been prosecuted since they were NOT approved means.
"Here those of us who would prefer not to formalize and approve of torture are ’weak’ and ’willing to sacrifice innocents’ and those of us who condone it are ’getting the job done’ and ’protecting American society’."
You may want to rewrite that. It seems incoherent.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jimmer, no one here said anything about Koran flushing or flag burning. Soundbites are for bullsh!tters.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"If you don’t think it happens, you may be a moron."

No tool or procedure is perfect, which does noy excuse ineffectiveness. You have to accept humanity if you want to be human.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"And here’s a very key point Jon made that seems to be lost in the rush."

Jon hasn’t made a point in this thread yet. The overwhelming majority of the people we are talking about never qualified to have the GC applying to them in the first place, so we break no treaties in not applying it.

This change to the to the Army Field Manual changes nothing about the current treatment of detainees, and is not "breaking" any law or treaty in and of itself*.

* Of course, not applying the GC to the Taliban in most cases does violate the GC. I think I have made it very clear I do not support that.

Only if the guidelines currently in place are substantively changed in violation of the GC would that be happening. Jon has at best jumped the gun.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Wow. Talk about absurd oversimplifications...

I don’t advocate we pull out of those treaties. I suggest that "humiliation" is necessarily predicated on the condition of the receiver of treatment as s/he defines it; further, I noted that Congress stipulated in signing UNCAT that the new manual revisions be taken into account.

It makes no sense to treat those who aren’t POWs as POWs. And so as I said in my post, that the Pentagon’s changes struck me as pragmatic. Where I brought up "automatons" was to highlight how some don’t think military personnel are able to make the same distinctions between torture and humiliation that others of us claim to make without much difficulty.
 
Written By: Jeff G
URL: http://www.proteinwisdom.com
Jon hasn’t made a point in this thread yet. The overwhelming majority of the people we are talking about never qualified to have the GC applying to them in the first place, so we break no treaties in not applying it.
Well, now, that’s interesting. Nothing like having people who aren’t protected under the Constitution, OR under the Geneva convention isn’t it? I mean, why are we even considering them to be human at all? Hell, since they’re not really people in a legally binding treaty sense or documentary sense, we could just as well start flaying them alive until they give us what we want to know right?

As for that small minority of people we torture who DO qualify under the GC -
tell yourself that our choice not to adhere to a portion of a treaty we signed is not essentially a ’contract violation’ that someone else can use as an example when they also choose to expediently ’violate the contract’ when one of our people is the object of violation. Tell yourself that’s not a justification that someone else might use, after all, I’ve only seen it here several times as we’re reminded about what other people do to US that justifys our descent towards barbarism.
If an interrogation of such a high value detainee went seriously awry, and the information died, there would certainly be an investigation. There would have to be some evidence of mens rea for there to be a crime.
in other words - if we screw up, but didn’t do it intentionally, it’s okay that this guy died because we were trying to get info and our methodology was simply a bit ineffective, but we didn’t MEAN to kill him, but durn it, we lost that information....this summary board returns a finding of "wow, bummer dude".
If someone without such extenuating circumstances were to apply a lethal charge to an innocent person, and the victim dies, then there should be murder charges
.
Tom, Tom, Tom, let’s not pretend we’re talking about anything here but sanctioned torture, okay? That way you can leave your strawmen on the co-operative prisoners cots where they’ll be of more use.
Looker wrote a pile of pointless drivel:
"
not worry about details like who we become in order to do that"
I stay me.
Hey Tom, your morals are your problem, I have a problem with you deciding they’re acceptable morals for a place that is my country too. But it was a small pile, which pales in comparison to the piles of drivel you’re publishing to justify immoral behavior as an expedient for potentially saving lives.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I am both amused and appalled at the people here who see no problem flushing a Koran down a toilet but want a constitutional amendment stating no one may desecrate the American Flag.
Perhaps you can point me to somebody who said anything about the flag amendment (besides your cro-magnon self, of course)?
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
tell yourself that our choice not to adhere to a portion of a treaty we signed is not essentially a ’contract violation’ that someone else can use as an example when they also choose to expediently ’violate the contract’ when one of our people is the object of violation.
As I said before, the GC has never kept our soldiers safe. Name an enemy who has captured an American soldier and not tortured him.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Man, I love these impersonal discussions....
(guilty....as charged)
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Tom Perkins offers unfounded assertions:
Mona is quite wrong. This is a habit with her.

The signing statement merely asserts that without explicit constitutional authority for the Congress to the contrary and a directly applicable law to the contrary, the war powers of the executive remain what they have been. Whatever the President’s legal advisors may have theorized to the contrary, that is all the Appeal to Article II means. Greenwald’s and Mona’s abstruse assertions to the contrary are meaningless.
Tom, please, order Greenwald’s book, How Would a Patriot Act? I wish I were wrong, but I’m not. And I offer these various items for your consideration, with torture specificaly more toward the end:

Form today’s USA Today
The White House and Congress continue to jockey over who has the last word on the treatment of terror suspects. Congress approved an amendment banning torture over the objections of Vice President Cheney. Bush signed the legislation in December but issued a "signing statement" in which he reserved the right to waive the ban, which he suggested violated his constitutional authority as commander in chief. Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner of Virginia and Arizona Sen. John McCain of Arizona, both Republicans, then issued a joint statement vowing "strict oversight to monitor" implementation of the law.

The dispute has delayed the release of a new Army Field Manual on interrogation this spring. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that several senators say the proposed manual sets standards for terror suspects that violate the congressional ban.... On Saturday, the American Bar Association’s board of governors voted to establish a bipartisan task force to investigate whether Bush has gone beyond his constitutional authority in asserting a right to ignore provisions of new laws. Bush has issued more than 750 "signing statements" — more than all previous presidents combined — that state his interpretation of new laws and sometimes declare that they infringe on his presidential powers.

Now, about half of Americans surveyed by USA TODAY/Gallup from Thursday to Sunday say the Bush administration has "gone too far in expanding the power of the presidency." About one-third say it has struck the right balance. Just 14% say it hasn’t gone far enough.
From WaPo (my emphasis)
"In light of the president’s complete authority over the conduct of war, without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president’s ultimate authority in these areas," the [Whitehouse] memo said. Prohibitions on torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority. . . . Congress may no more regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield." The same would go for "federal officials acting pursuant to the president’s constitutional authority." ... "They’re in a time warp," [arch-conservative, Reagan
DoJ, Con Law Scholar Bruce] Fein said. "If you look at the facts, presidential powers have never been higher."
Rabid Republican Con Law Scholar Fein, in The Washington Times


Mr. Bush has adamantly refused to acknowledge any constitutional limitations on his power to wage war indefinitely against international terrorism, other than an unelaborated assertion he is not a dictator. Claims to inherent authority to break and enter homes, to intercept purely domestic communications, or to herd citizens into concentration camps reminiscent of World War II, for example, have not been ruled out if the commander in chief believes the measures would help defeat al Qaeda or sister terrorist threats.
Volumes of war powers nonsense have been assembled to defend Mr. Bush’s defiance of the legislative branch and claim of wartime omnipotence so long as terrorism persists, i.e., in perpetuity. Congress should undertake a national inquest into his conduct and claims to determine whether impeachable usurpations are at hand.
From the article Bush Chanllenges Hundreds of Laws:
In October 2004, five months after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq came to light, Congress passed a series of new rules and regulations for military prisons. Bush signed the provisions into law, then said he could ignore them all. One provision made clear that military lawyers can give their commanders independent advice on such issues as what would constitute torture. But Bush declared that military lawyers could not contradict his administration’s lawyers.

Other provisions required the Pentagon to retrain military prison guards on the requirements for humane treatment of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, to perform background checks on civilian contractors in Iraq, and to ban such contractors from performing ’’security, intelligence, law enforcement, and criminal justice functions." Bush reserved the right to ignore any of the requirements.

The new law also created the position of inspector general for Iraq. But Bush wrote in his signing statement that the inspector ’’shall refrain" from investigating any intelligence or national security matter, or any crime the Pentagon says it prefers to investigate for itself...

Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ’’to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

’’This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ’’There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn’t doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."
From Greenwald’s blog, on torture, quoting WaPo:



But this exchange, highlighted by today’s Editorial in the Washington Post, is independently indefensible:

AT THE SENATE intelligence committee hearing Thursday on Gen. Michael V. Hayden’s nomination to head the CIA, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked the nominee a simple question: Is "waterboarding" an acceptable interrogation technique? Gen. Hayden responded: "Let me defer that to closed session, and I would be happy to discuss it in some detail." That was the wrong answer. The right one would have been simple: No.

Last year Congress banned cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment of detainees; one of its explicit aims was to stop the CIA’s use of waterboarding, which induces an excruciating sensation of drowning and is considered by most human rights organizations to constitute torture. So why couldn’t Gen. Hayden say clearly that the technique is now off-limits?
The American people, through their Congress, decided overwhelmingly when the McCain anti-torture amendment was enacted into law that we do not want to be a country which uses interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. In light of the president’s signing statement reserving the right to violate that law, followed up by anonymous administration officials expressly claiming the president’s power to do so, whether the administration intends to obey this law is a pressing issue, and there is no excuse for Hayden’s refusing to answer that question publicly.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Jon and Tom at a ballgame:

Jon: "I can’t believe it, that player with the ball took like 20 steps and didn’t dribble even once! How did he not get called for traveling? Are the refs blind???

Tom: "Well, the reason could be that we’re not watching a basketball game; we’re watching a football game. The traveling rule doesn’t apply here.

John: "What are you, some kind of non-rule-obeyer guy? Maybe you think YOU can do whatever you want with no consequences, but as for me, I think we have rules for a reason!:

Tom: ""


...and in case my (snarky) point was insufficiently clear, I side with Tom that we are bound by the GC only insofar as the text actually binds us. My understanding is we did not SIGN the GC out of good will, but in large part to secure protections for our own troops. I think, in fact, a very compelling argument can be made that continuing to adhere to a treaty when the treaty-partner has violated the terms, or by extending treaty grounded considerations to non-signatories, is a very self-destructive practice that transforms each treaty we sign into a club our adversaries can use against us.

It’s a variation of prisoner’s dilemma. Imagine A and B sign a treaty. If they both abide by the terms, they get 50 utility. If they both violate, they get 25 utility. But if one violates while one abides, the violator gets 90 utility while the abider gets 10. Now imagine if A knows that B will ALWAYS abide, no matter what? Where do A’s incentives lie?
 
Written By: CNH
URL: http://
Since some guys aren’t signatories we can do anything we please to them?
Oh goodie.
Same apply to any females we capture who are pistol packin mamas?
Kids, between the ages of 15 and 17, say, son of some high profile target
who might know something useful?

Be good to know where the line finally gets drawn on this for future reference ya know?



 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Since some guys aren’t signatories we can do anything we please to them?
Oh goodie.
Same apply to any females we capture who are pistol packin mamas?
Kids, between the ages of 15 and 17, say, son of some high profile target
who might know something useful?

Be good to know where the line finally gets drawn on this for future reference ya know?
You can draw the line wherever you want. Some on this thread have insisted that we already drew the line when we signed the GC, and I’m agreeing with those who point out that this is simply not the case.

We can debate where to draw the line on each of the hypotheticals you raise, and you can argue as you like about A, B, and C are reasons we shouldn’t do X, Y, and Z to anyone, treaty or no. But in this discussion, as pertains to non-signatories of the GC, your reasons cannot include the insistence that we are going back on our word. We simply have not given it in the first place.
 
Written By: CNH
URL: http://
Mona, Greenwald may be right, or he may be wrong, but quoting him as an authority simply ignores the fact that he is, and will always be, a partisan.

and because Goldstein features in this thread, I’ll repost what I think is his most caustic, and most accurate comment:
Not that any of this will matter to you. You have your story, told to you the way you wish to hear it, and you’ll stick to it.
Remember, John Birch used to publish a widely read paper...
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
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Written By: Bogda Noble
URL: NONE
(Regarding the original posting.)

Well said McQ, very well said.

(I accidentally clicked on another comments section posting the same exact thing, in case you find yourself confused.)
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://

 
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