America, land of torture? It can't happen here...

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Postby GreatCarouser » Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:13 am

Shapley wrote:...However, you're obviously trying to change the subject from the fact that Tora Bora, as a 'fortified. entrenched, or whatever', does not pose a threat. It's a geograpical region, not a fortress. Your question is like asking why Alscace-Lorraine or the Rhine Valley were still standing after World War II...


Debatable....first there is this:Map
then this:Another take There are others as well. At least one of these alludes to a larger fortification(s), I'll search when I return from work if it's still necessary. However, the main point is clear. Whether Tora Bora is the name of the region of the White Mountains or not, it was also the name appended to the fortifications. Since we captured some of the forts/camps why not root out the rest?
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Postby Shapley » Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:01 am

GC,

The date on the first link nytimes.com/images/2001/12/05/international/tora-BOXED-top.gif dates to the a time before the fall of the region.

The second link is even earlier, dated 11/29/2001.

Here is a link for about a week later, in which a Time reporter went into the caves with anti-Taliban forces.

When looking this up yesterday I found a link that stated that the cave network was not as extensive as suspected, and that wind, weather, and earthquakes had reduced many of the fortifications that the CIA had helped build to uninhabitable holes. There was shelter there, and security, but the weapons caches and extensive network of fortifications expected were not there. I'll try to find that link and paste it later today.

The key point is that Tora Bora had fallen, and al-Qaeda had moved on or been captured, more than a year before we invaded Iraq.

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Postby OperaTenor » Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:30 pm

Military Comissions Act = Enabling Act.

If I was a honcho in the military, the title of that "legislation" alone would be enough for me to foment a revolution.

Embracing the Subtle Upside of Terror
By Garrison Keillor
The Chicago Tribune

Wednesday 25 October 2006

We are engaged in a struggle between freedom and the forces of terror, my little macacas, and mostly I side with freedom, such as the freedom to look at big shots and stick out your tongue and blow, but of course terror has its place too. The dude strolling down our street at night does not break into our house to see what's available because he is terrified that if he's nabbed, his girlfriend Janine will run off to Philly with her ex-boyfriend Eddie who's been hanging around. She's the best thing in Benny's life right now. So he walks on by and leaves our stereo be.

The terror of everlasting hellfire kept me away from dances until I was 12 years old and away from smoking cigarettes until I was 15. So that's good. Dancing was briefly thrilling, and then I caught sight of myself in a mirror and I haven't gone to a dance since. Fear of ridicule is powerful too.

A lack of terror may encourage crooks to operate brazenly, knock over the candy stand, trip the nuns, hurl garbage over the balcony, and that's why you have cops, and also to keep the college kids from getting sick in our shrubbery.

But now the federal government is extending the frontiers of terror with the Military Commissions Act of 2006, legalizing torture and suspending habeas corpus and constructing a loose web of law by which you and I could be hung by our ankles in a meat locker for as long as somebody deems necessary. "Any person is punishable ..." the law states, "who knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States" and when it comes to deciding what "knowingly and intentionally" might mean or who is the enemy, that's for a military commission to decide in secret, with or without you present. No 5th Amendment, hearsay evidence admissible, no judicial review.

People came to America to escape this sort of justice. The midnight knock on the door, incarceration at the whim of men in shiny boots, confessions obtained with a section of hose, secret trial by star chamber. One is reminded of Germany, 1933, when the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act to give the chancellor the power of summary arrest and imprisonment, a necessary tool for the defense of the homeland against traitors, Jew-lovers, terrorists.

Not that this is a bad thing. Who am I to say? Maybe we've been too lenient with enemies of the state. A period of stark repression might be a rich and rewarding experience for all of us. But when the Current Occupant signed the act last week, the difference between freedom and terror did suddenly shrink somewhat. It makes you wonder: What if Vice President Dick Cheney does not wish to give up power two years from now? Maybe he has other priorities. If an enemy of the United States - a Democrat, for example - appeared to be on the verge of election, perhaps Mr. Cheney, for the good of the country, would be forced to take the threat seriously and head for an undisclosed location and invoke his war powers and shovel a few thousand traitors into camps and call up his friends at Diebold and program the election results that are best for the country, or call the whole thing off.

OK by me if it's OK by you. I don't imagine that coffee sales will be affected or that Paris Hilton will be, like, "Whoa, this is so not cool," and, like, text-message her buds to join her on a hunger strike. The greeters at Wal-Mart will still smile and the football season will go on. They might flash a bulletin at halftime, "Terror Threat Forces Postponement of Election," and most people would be OK with that. If Mr. Cheney thinks it necessary to suspend the Constitution for a while, surely he has his reasons. The man inspires trust.

They won't have to torture me to get a good confession. I am a professional writer of fiction, my little monkeys, and if they turn the bright lights on yours truly, beans will spill by the bushel, names will be named, and dates, and stories will be told one after the other. Everybody who ever done me wrong, I am going to implicate them up to their dewlaps. A trial with hearsay evidence allowed and no cross-examination is tailor-made for a novelist. Throw me into that briar patch, Br'er Bush.


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Postby Shapley » Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:36 pm

To Hell with Godwin...


What's Godwin ever done to you, that you would condemn him to the pit of eternal flame? I would think that a person with 'God' in their name might well find themselves unwelcome there....
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Postby OperaTenor » Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:45 pm

Just heading off the inevitable citation of the "law"...
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Postby Shapley » Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:51 pm

Ah! I see.

My first temptation was to say "To Hell with Garrison Keillor", but then I realized he'd never done anything to me, nor is it my place to decide who gets damned and who doesn't, so I opted not to weigh in on his fate.

I haven't decided if he's trying to be funny or what, but then I've always had that problem with Keiller (and I'm sure a lot of people can say the same about me....).

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Postby OperaTenor » Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:15 pm

I believe he was being quite serious. If you'll recall, he went on quite the rant prior to the 2004 election. I believbe it was derided here on the BBB.

Ah, here it is! Again, just as a reminder:

We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore
How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?
By Garrison Keillor

Image

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned—and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today’s. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. “Bipartisanship is another term of date rape,” says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy—the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president’s personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear—fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn’t the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it’s 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn’t the “end of innocence,” or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn’t prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn’t made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we’re not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It’s a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:35 pm

No, I haven't forgotten. I was one of the ones who derided him, and I still find him wrong-headed and unfunny. He's simply not for every taste, and I don't find him to mine. My brother enjoys his blather, but my brother doesn't like Monty Python and has been known to support Democrats, so there you go. As for my part, it's Greek to me. Oh, wait, we did Shakespeare already, over in the music thread. I just don't get him, he's too serious when he tries to be funny, and he's funniest when he thinks he's being serious, at which time he still isn't all that funny.

But, he makes a living at it, so someone is obviously willing to pay for his stuff. No, sorry, all of us apparently pay for it through our taxes, since he's still being broadcast on public radio. Amazing, I thought a lot of his rant in the previous election was about how President Bush was going to 'kill Big Bird' and otherwise defund the public airwaves. I guess he was wrong about that, too....

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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:37 pm

Garrison Keillor wrote:Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads.

Sadly, that accurately describes a few of them.
Garrison Keillor wrote:...gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii

Also sadly accurate.

Shapley, if you don't get Keillor's sense of humor, don't worry about it. It's a Scandaloovian thing. Many normal people are utterly bestonkered by it.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:56 pm

The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved.

- Confucius -
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Postby piqaboo » Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:00 pm

Freedom is inversely proportional to the illusion of security.
There's always a balance to be maintained. Fear is a strong tool if one wants to tip the balance away from freedom. Confidence is the tool used by those who want to tip the balance toward freedom.
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Postby analog » Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:48 am

People unfit for freedom - who cannot do much with it - are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a "have not" type of self. e hoffer


I like Garrison Keillor too much to be put off by his political leanings. He has toned it down of late - compare the tone of those two cites. He's a wonderful entertainer and folk philosopher, and I enjoy his radio show.


He does have a point - there exist people who would relish administering the Miltary Commissions Act. That's what the first Manchurian Candidate movie was about. Remember Angela Lansbury's line: "They'll sweep me into office with powers that make martial law look like a sunday school picnic"?
Maybe it's why we have an electoral college and a militia.


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Cogito ergo doleo.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:09 pm

piqaboo wrote:Freedom is inversely proportional to the illusion of security.
There's always a balance to be maintained. Fear is a strong tool if one wants to tip the balance away from freedom. Confidence is the tool used by those who want to tip the balance toward freedom.


Perhaps. But selling a false sense of security with the pretense of preserving freedom is dangerous. Buying those empty promises is folly.

There is a balance between freedom and security, to be sure, but the fulcrum is not a fixed point because outside forces affect the balance. When at war, the fulcrum must be shifted toward security, because there are so many that would rob us of it. When peace is restored, the fulcrum must shift back, because our economy is based on the actions of a free people. In wartime and in peace, our enemies seek the same thing, to rob us of our freedom. When we are at peace, that threat is from within, and the security of our freedoms is more important than the security of our estates. When at war, the threat is from without, and the security of our estates is more important than the security of our freedoms. Our governmental checks and balances protect us only from threats from within.

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Postby BigJon » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:29 am

This one is really tough to watch, and may not be for every taste. But watch the 10-minute video first and answer the question.

This article say the technique was used successfully.

From another forum:
The Charlie Rose Show interviewed Ephraim Halevy the former Director of Israel's Foreign Intelligence Service (Mosad).

Ephraim Halevy said that in 1998 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that torture was not legal and that Mosad stopped using any form of torture after that decision. Interestingly, Charlie Rose leaned over and said "Really?". To that Mr. Halevy confirmed emphatically that Mosad no longer uses toture. He said that Mosad had looked into the efficacy of torture before that 1998 ruling and had convinced themselves that it was useful. However, after they obeyed the 1998 ruling Mosad observed that the softer interrogation techniques produced more reliable results and cut down on all the false leads coming from torture. His conclusion was that Mosad had been wasting resources chasing down false leads from torture and that out weighed the more rare situation where torture resulted in correct intel.

Ephraim Halevy recently publish his memoirs in "Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with the Man Who Led the Mossad".


Lastly, this article explains why long detainment is needed and explains a lot of other things about torture and interrogation that weren't clear to me before.
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Postby OperaTenor » Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:29 pm

I'll ask it over here as well:

Why haven't the Abu Ghraib scandal convicts been freed?
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Postby Shapley » Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:37 pm

Why haven't the Abu Ghraib scandal convicts been freed?


I would suspect that it is for one of two reasons:

1.) Because the abuse perpetrated by the Abu Ghraib guards is not exempted by the new legislation, and/or

2.) Because the retroactivity does not eliminate existing charges, it merely prohibits new charges arising as the result of exempted actions. I seem to recall in a past case that this was the criteria used to allow similar retroactive legislation that would pass the 'no ex post facto' test. Apparently you can prohibit new charges, but cannot end existing ones, by passing retroactive laws.

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Postby OperaTenor » Thu Nov 02, 2006 7:34 pm

Nope, and nope. Not according to this law.

We're just going to go on crucifying the guys on the low end of the totem pole for the crimes of their superiors. Meanwhile the biggest thugs get away clean.

Some support of the troops.

Sheesh.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Nov 03, 2006 9:56 am

If, as you suggest, the law would allow them to stop ongoing prosecution by virtue of retroactivity, then the law will not pass the 'no ex post facto law' test and will be judged unconstitutional.

You cannot pass a law to stop ongoing prosecution, just as you cannot pass a law to allow you prosecute someone who was not prosecutable before the law was passed. You can, apparently, pass laws that will prevent prosecution of persons who are not already charged, at least that has become the practice, for good or ill.

Personally, I don't agree with the concept of retroactivity in laws. a number of years back there was a case in which a car skidded off an embankment in East St. Louis, IL. The accident occured in an area where people frequently sped through town, endangering the people who lived there. One resident saw the accident and apparently thought "serves them right", so he went inside and went to bed. The occupants of the vehicle drowned. When the townspeople heard about it, and that there was a witness to the accident, there was a clamour to prosectue him, but the State's attorney said he had broken no laws. The city decided they needed to pass a law and then prosecute him under it. The State's attorney told them they couldn't do that. Popular opinion at the time was in favour of dispensing with the ex post facto limitation, passing the law, and prosecuting him anyway. Cooler heads finally prevailed and the matter eventually dropped.

When Clinton first assumed office, one of his first official acts was to repeal the 'luxury tax on the wealthy'. That was, you may recall, the tax that President Bush passed that broke his 'read my lips' pledge, and probably cost him his presidency. The Democrats, despite insisting on the tax as being needed to save the country, quietly repealed it, retroactivily. It was a bad tax, no doubt, and its' repeal probably did more to improve the economy during President Clinton's term than anything else he did, but I think making the repeal 'retroactive' was bad law. I would say it sets a bad precedent, but that precedent was set long ago.

But, you're inclined to believe anything evil that will be attributed to this President, and discount anything positive, so there's no point in my arguing the legal issues involved.

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Postby piqaboo » Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:35 am

Shapley wrote:But, you're inclined to believe anything evil that will be attributed to this President, and discount anything positive, so there's no point in my arguing the legal issues involved.


And conversely, you can see no wrong, mistake or error in anything he does.

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Postby Shapley » Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:13 pm

And conversely, you can see no wrong, mistake or error in anything he does.


Not true. But I usually choose not to express those items with which I disagree. Particularly in light of the fact that the opposition offers no viable alternative to the Presidents' actions. Instead of being the 'nattering nabobs of negativity' that the Democrats have become, they need to 'put up or shut up', as the saying goes. 'Stay the course' may not be the best plan but it is a plan, which is more than the opposition is offering.

In my previous post on this thread I expressed my disapproval of his use of 'retroactivity' in passing laws, whether by President Bush or any other President (actually, by any Congress since they are ultimately responsible for the content of the laws, but the President does sign them). I've expressed this sentiment before. I choose not to expound those points, as I see no need to do so.

Also, I often offer explanations as to why the President may do something, as I did with the question OT asked, without offering judgement as to whether or not I view that reasoning as right or wrong. Again, having just expressed my distaste for retroactive laws, it stands to reason that I extend that distaste to this one, despite expressing my understanding of the logic employed in passing it.

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