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Friday Talking Points [78] -- A Mixed Week

[ Posted Friday, May 22nd, 2009 – 17:38 PDT ]

President Obama and the congressional Democrats just had their first spat. While others have more-than-adequately delved into the fracas of Obama's national security speech and Harry Reid stripping out funding to close Guantanamo, what I was struck by this week was how Obama is better defining his character as president. This is going to be important later this year, when energy plans and health care reform legislation become protracted fights in Congress.

And I was beginning to get a little nervous, I have to say. But now, after Obama pushed back on his national security policies, I feel a little bit better for the prospects of both health care reform and a new energy policy. Because while Obama always starts the debate by projecting an image of "can't we all work together" on any difficult subject, it is becoming more and more clear that, when pushed, there is simply a point where Obama draws a line in the sand and decides to push back. And so far, he's done a fairly good job of holding his ground on a few crucial issues.

Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't agree with everything Obama said in his national security speech -- in fact I strongly disagreed with large chunks of it. And the gap between his words and his rhetoric was on full display, in front of the actual Constitution itself in the National Archives. Republicans are already crowing about this, in effect calling Obama "Bush lite," and saying that Obama's policies vindicate the Bush/Cheney policies.

But setting that nonsense aside, I thought it was interesting that in this, his first big intra-party fight with Democrats on Capitol Hill, he stood up for his principles (even if I don't agree with all of them). Harry Reid had gotten cowed into supporting a measure by the fear-mongering of the rightwingers, who (with a straight face, last week) were stating that Obama was going to move all the Guantanamo prisoners into American neighborhoods (possibly NEXT DOOR TO YOU!), give them American citizenship on a platter, and then sign them up for welfare checks and turn them loose on the public. Sadly, this is not an exaggeration or parody of their position. The ludicrousness of this was apparently lost on the Senate Majority Leader, who immediately joined in the Republican idiocy.

Obama rightfully tried to lay such nonsense to rest in his speech. Now, Reid does have one valid point, and that is that the Obama administration hasn't given them a plan for what exactly we are going to do with the people in Guantanamo once we shut the place down. Even in his speech, Obama merely laid out broad outlines. But Obama made a good point too -- we already hold a bunch of terrorists in supermax prisons within America, and none of them has ever escaped.

Seeing Obama push back in this fashion was a good sign. Because, up until now, Obama has shown that he much prefers to back away from the details, and only give broad outlines of what he would like from Congress. The one notable exception to this so far has been on budgetary matters. Obama let House Democrats take the heat for crafting both the stimulus plan and last year's budget, and only drew his line in the sand in the later innings of those games. Politically, it's a smart tactic -- Obama stays above the fray of competing ideas by using sweeping rhetoric to outline his general goals, and then looks good at the end when he succeeds in getting something passed.

But that is simply not going to work on health care. Because the battlelines are already drawn on the issue. Republicans already have their talking points ready to go. They don't have an alternate plan, but they sure know how they're going to attack the Democrats' plan. And Obama is going to need to draw the line -- with a veto threat, if need be -- on at least one major contentious issue in this fight: the "public option."

I wrote about this a few weeks ago, when the Republican talking point playbook was made public. Since then, the Democrats have actually been given an enormous gift. For once, the media has picked up on their framing of the issue. Everyone now talks about the "public option," and not "government-run health care" (which Republicans obviously favor). This doesn't normally happen, but it is a rare and fragile flower. It could easily be crushed once the Republicans crank up their message steamroller (which is waiting in the wings, even as I write this). All the GOP has left is fear -- scaring citizens with the imagined horror of the Democrats' secret health care plan. But Republicans know the game of fear-mongering quite well, so it's a formidable opposition Obama and the Democrats face.

The problem is, nobody seems to be championing the "public option" from the Democrats' side -- at least no one with a big enough megaphone to get through the mainstream media's filter. This problem can be traced directly to President Obama. Obama is in his early-innings "can't we all just agree" mode right now, which recently produced a spectacular photo-op with health care industry leaders pledging to voluntarily cut their profits. Which didn't last long, and you can expect they'll wind up contributing to the fight against the public plan over the next few months.

How Obama handles this situation could define his presidency, to a large extent. The fur is really going to start flying in June and July, when Congress actually starts hashing out the details. But if Obama is not the lead voice for the public option, it likely will not survive.

Now, I have gotten worried about Obama's aloofness before (most notably, during the campaign), and later been forced to admit that Obama's sense of political timing was better than mine. So perhaps he's still warming up.

But when it comes time for lines in the sand on health care (complete with veto threats), I am a bit more hopeful this week than I have been recently that Obama will indeed stand up not just to Republicans but also to opposition from members of his own party.

Which could be the difference between health care reform that might actually mean something (with a public option), and health care reform which gets lots of bipartisan votes, but which, in the end, will only tinker around the edges of the problem. The goal is not 80-plus votes in the Senate, it is to change the system and fix it so it works. And Obama has now shown that once he decides on a course of action, he will stand up for it and defend it, and not back down -- even against fellow Democrats. That makes the chances for real health care reform (as opposed to some window-dressing measure that everyone feels good about, but which doesn't solve the problem) a lot better, in my opinion.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

President Obama does deserve at least passing mention here, even though his actions this week don't even rise to an Honorable Mention. He did sign a credit card reform bill, and also a military procurement bill, both of which he had set a deadline of Memorial Day for passage. It's tough to get Congress to actually do things on these "deadlines," so Obama at least gets a hat tip for managing to do so. And he did stick to his pledge to close Guantanamo, when many were predicting a week ago that he would back down from his promise.

But the first Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week goes to Senator Chris Dodd, who wrote the Senate version of the credit card bill, and was the main force behind shepherding it through the Senate. Of course, it's not as good a bill as it could have been, most notably in the fact that it refused to cap credit card interest rates. And it won't take effect for nine months, which gives the banks plenty of time to hike rates before the new law takes effect. But it is a very big step in the right direction, and should be seen as such. And we have Senator Dodd to thank for getting it passed (again, by an arbitrary Obama deadline) before Memorial Day.

And although his voice was mostly lost in the Pelosi/CIA debate, the other MIDOTW award goes out to former senator Bob Graham. In the midst of the fray over Pelosi and the CIA briefings, Graham wrote a thoughtful opinion piece for the Washington Post where he goes to the root of the problem: reforming the rules for secret briefings to allow some sort of dissent to take place. While his proposals don't go far enough (in my opinion) he was certainly a voice of reason in the shrill debate on the subject. And for that alone, he also gets a Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

Congratulations to both Senators Dodd and Graham this week on their MIDOTW awards.

[Congratulate Senator Chris Dodd on his Senate contact page to let him know you appreciate his efforts. Senator Bob Graham is retired and has no official public contact page that I am aware of.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

While President Obama's speech on national security was disappointing in several respects, it didn't rise to more than the level of a (Dis-)Honorable Mention this week. Because after last week (where he won the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week for reversing course on torture photos and military commissions), this was actually a step (or half-step) in a better direction. Obama defended his actions (which he largely failed to do last week), and stood firm on closing Guantanamo, so this week for Obama was actually a bit better than last.

Obama was not alone in the (Dis-)Honorable Mention category this week, though. Because Republicans are once again trampling all over their supposed devotion to their "get the federal government off the backs of local government" stance, by dictating from the House of Representatives what the District of Columbia may and may not do. The local D.C. government passed a half-measure on gay marriage (which would not have legalized it in the District, but would have recognized gay marriages performed in states where it is fully legal). Republicans, predictably, went berserk. They introduced a bill in the House which would unequivocally ban gay marriage in D.C. The bill likely doesn't have much chance of passing (or even making it out of committee), but the (Dis-)Honorable Mention goes to the two Democrats who co-sponsored the bill: Dan Boren from Oklahoma, and Jim Jordan from Ohio.

But the real Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award goes to the all-time champion for the category, winning his tenth MDDOTW (nobody else has won more than six), none other than Senate Majority "Leader" Harry Reid. Because this tenth award is a special occasion, I vow forevermore to use quote marks in his title. He will no longer be referred to herein as Senate Majority Leader, but as Senate Majority "Leader" instead.

Sigh. Maybe the recent polls are right, and he'll get voted out by the good citizens of Nevada. The fact that I am even remotely hoping that a Democratic senator be defeated in the polls shows the depths of my disappointment with Reid. Because at this point, I think Democrats might actually get more done with 59 seats in the Senate (and someone else leading them) then they are going to with 60 seats and Harry Reid at the helm. That's an awfully harsh assessment, but then I've been calling for Reid's ouster from the leadership for a long time now, so you'll have to excuse me.

Reid, this week, let the Republicans walk all over him on the Guantanamo issue. And, even more telling of his "leadership," he allowed Senate Republicans to attach to the credit card bill an amendment from the Republicans to allow people to carry loaded and concealed firearms in national parks. No hunting is allowed in national parks, I should point out, so this isn't a deer rifle we're talking about.

This was unnecessary, and showed how incredibly weak Reid is. The Senate leader is supposed to have more control about this sort of parliamentary maneuvering, and a strong Majority Leader can be almost as powerful (if not more so, on legislative issues) than the president himself.

That this does not describe Reid should be patently obvious to all by now.

For this continued display of spinelessness, Senate Majority "Leader" Harry Reid wins his tenth Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Contact Senator Harry Reid on his Senate contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 78 (5/22/09)

Seems like we've got a lot of Republican foolishness to address this week (more than usual, I mean). So let's get right into it here, in the Friday Talking Points part of the program, where we outline the way Democrats could be framing these issues (some would say "should" but this column is, of course, way too modest to make such a claim). Ahem.

Without further ado, here are this week's talking points.

 

1
   What do you do with him after you torture him?

It is rumored that the reason President Obama is accepting the concept of "preventative detention" for some of the prisoners in Guantanamo is that they were tortured so fast that all of the information against them would not be allowed into any court which is not referred to in the same breath as a large bipedal marsupial native to Australia. So to speak.

Confessions obtained under torture simply aren't "evidence" in court, in other words. And if you don't have any other evidence to charge them with, then what are you going to do with them? That may be where Obama finds himself (although there are nothing but rumors to back that up with, I fully admit). This talking point isn't really a defense of Obama's "preventative detention," but rather a way to put it in perspective.

"Obama finds himself in a difficult situation, which he inherited from his predecessor. If there are prisoners in Guantanamo whose only reason for being there is statements they made under torture or other duress, then trying them in any sort of court or tribunal is impossible. This is one of the major problems with torture -- what are you supposed to do with a prisoner after he's been tortured? That is the problem Obama inherited from George Bush and Dick Cheney."

 

2
   The gift that keeps on giving

Dick Cheney, meanwhile, has gotten so much media attention recently that the media is actually getting embarrassed about it, and timidly suggesting he might be a wee bit "overexposed." But when Cheney himself seems to be the driving force behind it, well, sometimes you've just got to play the hand you're dealt.

"I guess since Rush Limbaugh resigned the position, the real leader of the Republican Party right now is Dick Cheney. I think I've seen more of Cheney in the past week than we saw of him throughout his entire 'secret bunker' term in office. (pause for laughter) I have to say, if the Republican Party truly believes that Dick Cheney is the face their party wants as their poster boy, more power to them. I would personally like nothing better than to see Dick Cheney on the campaign trail next year, appearing with as many Republican candidates as possible."

 

3
   Stopping war profiteering

This was a lot bigger issue than you would have known from the scant media attention it got. Military procurement reform isn't exactly a sexy subject (for instance: I threw the word "sexy" in there, just so people wouldn't fall asleep reading that sentence). But Democrats need to beat this drum very loudly this weekend, which was the whole point of Obama's deadline in the first place.

"On this Memorial Day weekend, Democrats are standing up to some of the worst abuses in the way the Pentagon spends money, which I see as standing up for our troops and ending what can only be called war profiteering. For far too long, while we were fighting two wars, Republicans blocked every effort Democrats made towards reforming the handshake deals and outright waste and fraud in the system of providing our fighting men and women with the tools they need to do their jobs. I consider my vote on the bill which ended such war profiteering my most patriotic vote this year, and I am glad that it happened before this Memorial Day weekend."

 

4
   Democrats stood up to the banks

OK, the credit card "bill of rights" (seems like every bill these days is a "bill of rights" of one species or another) wasn't as strong as it could have been. Lots of very strong reforms wound up on the committee-room cutting floor. But even what did pass simply would not have been possible under the Republicans, and this needs pointing out. Democrats really need to take credit for their accomplishments a lot more than they have been doing.

"This week Democrats passed the most sweeping reforms of the worst practices of the credit card industry in living memory. Congressional Democrats were on the side of the consumer, and Republicans were on the side of the big banks, once again. This is why Democrats being in charge of Congress is a good thing, because we can finally pass some laws which protect the little guy instead of always protecting the profits of the credit card industry. Republicans fought this idea tooth and nail, which is why passing this bill under a Republican Congress never had a chance. Democrats made it happen. We consider this a good beginning towards the goal of making the credit industry a lot better for the consumer, but by no means the end of that road."

 

5
   Michael Steele spoils our fun

I have to say I am massively disappointed in Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, because he apparently prevailed in an "emergency" meeting of the RNC this week, which was supposed to vote to rename the Democratic Party the "Democrat Socialist Party." Saner heads actually prevailed. Which spoiled the barrels of fun I've been having on this issue since I first learned of it. So I have to say to Steele: "Spoilsport!"

"I noticed that the Republican Party met this week on the pressing emergency of renaming their opponents' political party. But apparently it was a big enough emergency to call the meeting, but not a big enough one to win the vote. I find it interesting that every time a single Democrat says something a bit off-script, the media immediately rolls out gigantic 'Democrats Divided!' headlines, but when there is an actual, ongoing, bitter internecine struggle for the leadership of the Republican Party, the media mostly yawns."

 

6
   Back to the future!

Michael Steele, while giving his speech to the emergency RNC meeting, loudly proclaimed that the time for Republicans to stop their disastrous slide with the public was now officially over, and there would be no more looking back at the past. Here's the punchline: in pretty much the same sentence, he repeatedly referenced the burning Republican question: "What would Ronald Reagan do?" The irony was, of course, completely lost on Steele. But that wasn't even the funniest irony from them this week, incredibly enough.

"The Republican Party seems to be caught in nostalgia for better days. First we had Michael Steele telling Republicans there would be no looking back, and from now on they were going to look to the future -- by asking what Reagan would do. Then, later in the week, the RNC released an ad which referenced not only a campaign ad from 1964, but one run by a Democrat. Since they seem to be going 'back to the future,' I would like to help them out by suggesting a new campaign slogan for them to use in 2012: 'I like Ike!' "

 

7
   Pelosi Galore

Incredibly enough, that wasn't the worst Republican ad of the week.

"The Republican Party continued down their Memory Lane stroll to 1964 this week by putting out an ad which compared Nancy Pelosi to the James Bond villain Pussy Galore. I guess this is their outreach program to try to improve their standings with women voters. Or something. To tell you the truth, it's kind of hard to tell what they were thinking with this ad."

 

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

46 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [78] -- A Mixed Week”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    I thought President Obama's national security speech was pretty impressive and will probably be counted among the most critical and important of his presidency.

    It certainly made the former Vice President's rebuttal pale in any comparison.

    What did you disagree with?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Do you think that a Democratic primary may be possible in the Nevada senate race?

  3. [3] 
    fstanley wrote:

    Yet again I find myself wondering what Obama is waiting for. Why is he procrastinating? Then I have to take some deep breaths and give him a chance to do the right thing. I just can't believe that he would sanction indefinite detention of people without a trial, even in a kangroo court. That is not why he was elected. He is supposed to be stopping all the awful things that the Bush administration was doing.

    ...Stan

  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    Mostly the rationalization for preventative detention, which is the same one Bush used.

    As for a primary, there was a pretty dismal Reid approval poll last week, but there really hasn't been a strong candidate (either Republican or Democratic) who has emerged from the field yet. The GOP would LOVE to take down Reid, though, so they're going to fight this one pretty hard. Sadly, this is why Reid keeps tacking to the right, because he thinks he's vulnerable. But we shall see what we shall see... it'll be one of the closest-watched races next year, that's my bet right now.

    Stan -

    The question that Obama tried to answer this week was "what do we DO with all the Guanatanamo prisoners?" He was forced into it by the ravings of the Republicans, and he did his best to lay out exactly what he was thinking and exactly what he was trying to do. The best thing I heard in the bit about the preventative detention is that he wants it to be out of the sole hands of the president, and make it so that one man can't decide on an individual basis who to lock up and throw away the key. The whole speech is worth reading, I can dig up a link to a transcript if you'd like.

    -CW

  5. [5] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Chris, great TPs this week.

    Did you happen to catch Paul Begala's memo on health care reform today? (Via Politico) I think Begala must be a reader of yours, because he framed it the same exact way you did in your blog.

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    cross-posted:

    anti war profiteering is a GREAT cause. what makes it un-sexy is that it doesn't have a cool sounding name. sure the republican policy ideas are mostly insane at the moment, but even in "the worst ad" against pelosi, they knew how to make it sound sexy. come on, you have to at least give them that.

    just as a first attempt, i'm going to call this the HALLIBURTON bill, after the most publicly hated abusers of war profiteering. i'm sure you can do better, but i figured i'd start the ball rolling.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    @CW

    and saying that Obama's policies vindicate the Bush/Cheney policies.

    But setting that nonsense aside,

    Why exactly is this, "nonsense".

    By continuing, with little (or any) modification, the policies of the Bush Administration, Obama is agreeing with Bush that these actions ARE necessary to protect this country.

    How many people on EITHER side of the political spectrum must say that the sky is blue and water is wet before people accept it as fact???

    I thought it was interesting that in this, his first big intra-party fight with Democrats on Capitol Hill, he stood up for his principles

    This isn't as big of a shock to me. Since his principled stand on FISA, I have come to accept that Obama is NOT solely a political animal. Which is why, when he DOES bow to a political agenda, it's very disappointing to me.

    @Liz

    It certainly made the former Vice President's rebuttal pale in any comparison.

    In what way??

    @Stan

    That is not why he was elected.

    You are confusing a campaign with a presidency. A President does not have the luxury of being a campaigner instead of a President.

    It's like I said in a previous post. Many of the Left's positions on their hot button issues are simply NOT compatible with the reality of today's world. The Left simply CANNOT have all peace and light and goodness and love when there are people out there who would as soon slit your throat as look at you and who wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire.

    It simply cannot be done.

    @CW

    He was forced into it by the ravings of the Republicans,

    Aww, com'on, CW! Let's be fair.. Obama's own FBI Director and MANY Democrats in Congress have those exact same "ravings". You can't fairly put it solely in the laps of those evil-doers, the Republicans. :D

    @nypoet22

    I thought liberals were against any kind of prejudicial labeling??

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here's the "Top Ten" of Vice President Cheney's points.

    Can anyone find any fault with any of them? Please provide details and supporting facts.


    No. 10: The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security.

    No. 9: In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.

    No. 8: If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

    No. 7: Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.

    No. 6: To completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.

    No. 5: This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.” It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.

    No. 4: Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance.

    No. 3: To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.

    No. 2: In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy.

    No. 1: Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

    I especially like #1. "When an entire population is targeted by a terror network, NOTHING is more consistent with American values than to stop them."

    Let's lay it out, shall we.

    Would ya'all order the torturing of a known and proven terrorist if A> You absolutely KNEW for a fact that he had actionable intel and B> You absolutely KNEW for a fact that torturing him would PRODUCE said actionable intel that would, in turn, save a million innocent men, women and children?

    Or would you preserve your principles and morality and have a million innocent people die?

    THAT is the question that is at the VERY heart of this issue.

    Michale......

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale:
    I thought liberals were against any kind of prejudicial labeling?

    who said i was a liberal? or any other label for that matter? i'm center left on most social issues, center right on law-enforcement, and outside any traditional box on economics. but i do recognize the reality that most people seem to like putting complex, messy issues into neat little boxes they don't really fit. was it mencken who said something about solutions that were neat, plausible and wrong?

    10. no factual issue, it's just a condescending potshot. the president is coming up with a solution to that tricky problem. the former veep still refuses to admit there even was a problem. nobody said it would be easy.

    9. mr. "enhanced interrogation techniques" wants to take issue with someone else framing an incident poorly? while i agree that the incident he cited (if it exists) was a poor word choice, cheney simply has no standing to criticize anyone else on those grounds.

    8. our unity is not gone, and our resolve is not shaken. the main fault dick seems to find here is that we as a nation don't agree with him. he focuses on what terrorists think or believe. what's important isn't what THEY think about us, it's what WE think about ourselves. keeping our self-respect is not the easy way, but it is the right way.

    7. it's important for our national image that at the very least we don't publicly support a policy of torture. perhaps we haven't "resolved" the moral dilemma, but it's nice to at least have a president who acknowledges that such a dilemma exists.

    6. hey wait, in point seven cheney called the president hypocritical for keeping this authority. now he's contradicting his own criticism, unless it was actually praise disguised as criticism.

    5. major matthew alexander, a USAF reservist and an army interrogator in iraq, gave testimony to congress indicating that torture as a "recruiting tool" is a fact, not just a theory. he testified that non-abusive techniques were both more effective and did not produce the recruitment effect. not all people who hate us are terrorists, and every time we confirm those beliefs by our public actions, it brings a few more into the fold.

    4. maybe we can tell justice from vengeance, but we still don't seem to know the difference between iraq and afghanistan. Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi was tortured until he provided the (false) intelligence the bush administration wanted to hear. again, cheney blames the rank and file interrogators for the torture policy initiated from above.

    3. another way of saying this is that the bush administration did such awful things to our own country that terrorists did not act against us for fear of getting in the way of our self-destruction. thus, they were able to focus on more domestic matters. how nice for them.

    2. The idea that there can be no action outside of two polar extremes is beyond outdated. it's dangerous. there are many possible courses of action that are not "half-measures," but policies aimed at really protecting us instead of just beating up on other countries that are unrelated to the conflict. and this critique from the guy who wanted to sell our port security to dubai?

    1. there is no "either-or" decision here. in nearly all circumstances we can both keep ourselves safe and be true to our values. i have no doubt there are terrorists currently plotting to destroy us in any way they can imagine. it's not a question of if they will hit, but when. and if such a scenario comes up where torture is the only remaining chance to save thousands of lives, i trust that our intel people can decide for themselves when the need trumps the rules. but those rules have to be there, or else we've already lost.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    Fair warning to all... This is gonna be a long 'un.. :D

    who said i was a liberal? or any other label for that matter? i'm center left on most social issues, center right on law-enforcement, and outside any traditional box on economics. but i do recognize the reality that most people seem to like putting complex, messy issues into neat little boxes they don't really fit. was it mencken who said something about solutions that were neat, plausible and wrong?

    So, you would agree with me that cutsy labeling is "neat, plausible and WRONG" whether it comes from the Republicans or the Democrats, right???

    10. no factual issue, it's just a condescending potshot. the president is coming up with a solution to that tricky problem. the former veep still refuses to admit there even was a problem. nobody said it would be easy.

    What "solution" would that be?? CLOSE GITMO!! That's not a solution, it's a cop out.. It's making a COMPLETELY and SOLELY political grandstanding gesture without ANY clue whatsoever on exactly how to do it. The White House even admits that it was "hasty" and "not well thought out". It was an appeasement to the Hysterical Left and nothing more. And I'll lay bets that when Jan 2010 rolls around, Gitmo will still be open. Because, despite President Obama's penchant for bonehead political moves, more often than not he DOES do the right thing. And keeping Gitmo as a holding pen for terrorists IS the right thing to do.

    9. mr. "enhanced interrogation techniques" wants to take issue with someone else framing an incident poorly? while i agree that the incident he cited (if it exists) was a poor word choice, cheney simply has no standing to criticize anyone else on those grounds.

    In other words, your miffed that Darth Vader himself would point out a bonehead move by the Obama administration. Hokay.. I can understand that. I can imagine it WOULD be galling to the Left, made even more so by the fact that it's dead on ballz accurate...


    8. our unity is not gone, and our resolve is not shaken. the main fault dick seems to find here is that we as a nation don't agree with him. he focuses on what terrorists think or believe. what's important isn't what THEY think about us, it's what WE think about ourselves. keeping our self-respect is not the easy way, but it is the right way.

    Our unity is not gone?? You serious?? When you have the hysterical Left siding with the likes of Al Qaeda and the Taliban?? When you have Americans who say that terrorists show more honor and compassion than their own government?? I am not sure what planet you live on, but there isn't any "unity" in this country.

    As far as "keeping our self respect", let me ask you... At what cost??

    What is your "self-respect" worth to you? Is it worth the life of one innocent person?? A dozen?? A hundred?? A million??

    Are YOUR own personal principles worth more to you than the lives of a million innocent people??

    If the cost of my "self respect" is the death of a million innocent people then I will gladly AND proudly loathe myself until my dying day..

    My self-respect, my morals, my principles are not worth even ONE SINGLE innocent life.


    7. it's important for our national image that at the very least we don't publicly support a policy of torture. perhaps we haven't "resolved" the moral dilemma, but it's nice to at least have a president who acknowledges that such a dilemma exists.

    Whaaa?? You think that people like Cheney, Bush et al LIKE that these measures are necessary?? Do you HONESTLY and truly believe that they got a nut off by ordering evil and immoral actions such as this?? If you do, then that's just political bigotry talking..

    No one in their right mind would WANT to do or order actions such as these. But if the alternative to ordering such actions is another 3000 innocent men, women and children dead, I am thankful that our leaders had the moral courage to make the right choice. As you should be too..


    6. hey wait, in point seven cheney called the president hypocritical for keeping this authority. now he's contradicting his own criticism, unless it was actually praise disguised as criticism.

    Well, isn't it hypocritical for the President to condemn such actions, but then keep them available in case HE deems them necessary??


    5. major matthew alexander, a USAF reservist and an army interrogator in iraq, gave testimony to congress indicating that torture as a "recruiting tool" is a fact, not just a theory. he testified that non-abusive techniques were both more effective and did not produce the recruitment effect. not all people who hate us are terrorists, and every time we confirm those beliefs by our public actions, it brings a few more into the fold.

    3 things wrong with this argument.

    1. It assumes that, if there wasn't torture, terrorists wouldn't be able to recruit. This is TOTAL BS completely unsubstantiated by ANY evidence whatsoever.

    2. You are talking about a military interrogator and interrogations. I am talking about a Counter Terrorist interrogator and interrogations. It's like comparing Apples and Eskimos..

    3. Yes, if time and circumstances permit, it's always better to use psyops instead of torture to secure information. Such information is usually more reliable.. However, it's time-consuming and sometimes there just isn't time..


    4. maybe we can tell justice from vengeance, but we still don't seem to know the difference between iraq and afghanistan. Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi was tortured until he provided the (false) intelligence the bush administration wanted to hear. again, cheney blames the rank and file interrogators for the torture policy initiated from above.

    Please cite your source...


    3. another way of saying this is that the bush administration did such awful things to our own country that terrorists did not act against us for fear of getting in the way of our self-destruction. thus, they were able to focus on more domestic matters. how nice for them.

    Yea, you can SAY that.. But it is so much BS as to have brought a smile to my face... :D

    Regardless, the point is clear. The Bush administration has an undisputed record of keeping this country safe since 9/11. This is a bona-fide fact that NO AMOUNT of hysteria from the Left can change..

    So, whaaa?? Do you HONESTLY think that the terrorists just gave up and went home???


    2. The idea that there can be no action outside of two polar extremes is beyond outdated. it's dangerous. there are many possible courses of action that are not "half-measures," but policies aimed at really protecting us

    For example.....?????

    Let me ask you. How much experience do you have in the field?? Do you feel that you have enough to counter what people who know everything about everything with regards to this issue??

    OK.. OK... Let's put this to the test...

    You have 1000 men in custody. One of those men is a terrorist and will be instrumental in detonating a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Your NEST (Nuclear Emergency Search Teams) units need 7 days to search the LA area to locate the device.

    You cannot determine which of these 1000 men are guilty.

    So, here's your choice, Commander..

    Do you incarcerate all 1000 men for 7 days, knowing that 999 of them are completely and 1000% innocent of any crime??

    Or do you stand by your principles and morals, let them all go free and see Los Angeles go up in a nuclear cloud, killing millions of innocent men women and children??

    Those are your only two choices.. Your "Kobyashi Maru", if you will...

    For me and for those in the field, it's a completely black and white issue..


    1. there is no "either-or" decision here. in nearly all circumstances we can both keep ourselves safe and be true to our values. i have no doubt there are terrorists currently plotting to destroy us in any way they can imagine. it's not a question of if they will hit, but when. and if such a scenario comes up where torture is the only remaining chance to save thousands of lives, i trust that our intel people can decide for themselves when the need trumps the rules. but those rules have to be there, or else we've already lost.

    WOW!! :D

    I wish I would have read this last part before I wrote all of the above..

    You seem to be of the same opinion that CW is.. Towhit, keep torture illegal, but pardon those who can show that they did so with the best of intentions and results..

    On the surface, that appears to be an imminently logical and rational solution.. And, maybe on Vulcan, that would work..

    However, we are on Earth and this solution is wrong for two reasons.

    1. As we saw in the TelCo fiasco, doing the wrong thing for the right reasons does not guarantee one absolution. There will always be political dirtbags (in the TelCo case, the Democrats) who insist on persecuting people and entities solely to serve and satisfy a political agenda.

    2. Is it really fair to ask our men and women to resort to utterly immoral and barbaric acts in the name of saving innocent lives and then PROSECUTE THEM FOR IT!!??? What kind of horseshit is that!?

    No sir.. In very specific circumstances, when no other option exists and there is the very real threat of loss of innocent life or lives, this tool MUST be available to the men and women tasked with this countries safety..

    It's THAT simple.

    Michale.....

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale:

    of course cutesy labels do not address the true complexity of issues, but that's what most people respond to. good policies need supportive propaganda just as much (and sometimes more) than bad ones, regardless of which party puts them out.

    10. closing the prison at gitmo is one of many things required to restore our country's image. it's not a full solution, but the president will find a safe way to do it. whether or not that takes beyond 2010, i think it will happen.

    9. cheney attributed the quote to a newspaper, but you attributed it to the president. want to re-check that assessment, cousin vinny?

    8. there has always been a wide range of opinion in our country, so if by "unity" you meant conformity, that has never been the case, and never should. my point is that on the whole we're very resolved, just not in dick's favor.

    7. i certainly hope cheney doesn't support torture just to be sadistic; i'm in no position to make judgment on that, though it wouldn't entirely surprise me if he did. either way, he and the bush admin suffered from severe tunnel-vision. since you acknowledge that their actions were evil and immoral, you (like the president) are clearly aware of the inherent dilemma. cheney gives no such indication.

    6. it's not hypocritical at all. obama has acknowledged it's a complex issue, and disagreeing with one extreme on an issue does not make him a slave to the opposite extreme.

    5. you're incorrect. there's no assumption on my part that terrorist recruitment would cease completely if not for bush era torture policies, merely an informed hypothesis that it would slow down instead of increasing. furthermore, major alexander directly countered your assertion about the potential speed of non-abusive tactics.

    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_al-Shaykh_al-Libi

    3. of course they didn't just get up and go home, but if your opponent is fumbling and bumbling toward his own end zone like Jim Marshall, Garo Yepremian or George W. Bush, there's no need to tackle him before he gets there.

    2. for example, employ better security at our ports and borders, give full funding to police and both domestic and foreign intelligence operations, invest in preventive measures the way israel does. in your doomsday scenario i would evacuate los angeles under threat of "killer earthquake."

    1. it is not fair to ask our men and women to resort to utterly immoral and barbaric acts at all. they should know there may be personal consequences if they choose to do so. that's part of what guides their decision process: is performing this procedure at this moment important enough to possibly go to jail for? if not, chances are that a better option is still available.

  12. [12] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Michale needs to get his own damn blog.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    From a careful read of your Cheney points, I am more convinced than ever that the former Vice President is on a concerted mission to save himself from hearing accountability come knocking on his door.

    Here’s my take on your top 10:

    No. 10 - nothing to argue with here;

    No. 9 - actually, I would have to one-up the former Vice President on this one! I guess he must have forgotten the whopper that came out the Obama administration that eliminated the use of the phrase, “ the (global or long) war on terror” and replaced it with the tragically euphemistic ‘overseas contingency operations’...just who is writing Dick Cheney’s speeches these days, anyway. Geesh!

    No. 8 - this is all a matter of personal perspective; Dick Cheney may believe that the terrorists do not stand in awe of our legal system...to which, I would say, who cares!? And, if they see weakness and opportunity, then that would be their great and grave misjudgement. Because, how we interrogate terrorists, and suspected terrorists, has no bearing on how we plan and implement a strategy to bring about the demise of al-Qaeda. You might say that the actions of the previous administration, in this regard, proved that axiom, in spades!

    No. 7 & 6 (they’re related!) - Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Cheney contradicting himself, here, in No. 7? If this is an actual quote, it makes no sense to me. And, he further contradicts himself in No. 6. I’m confused.

    No. 5 - this also has to do with personal perspective and Dick Cheney’s, I’m sorry to say, is delusional...assuming, that is, that he actually believes what he is saying. I’d like Dick Cheney to give us just one name of someone who believes terrorists are victims. I found this part of his speech particularly pathetic. By the way, does Dick Cheney believe that America has any moral standards, one way or the other?

    No. 4 - I would sincerely hope that is the case. In fact, I would wholeheartedly agree with the former Vice President on this assertion.

    No. 3 - Oh, yeah... the Bush/CHENEY administration definitely kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems...like how they could possibly come up with more novel and effective ways to kill US soldiers with IEDs, and the like, so as not to become completely bored in Afghanistan. If you don’t believe me, then ask any US or coalition soldier on the ground in Afghanistan. The rest of Cheney’s assertions in No. 3 are asinine, at best and downright dangerous, at worst.
    You gotta give me a break on No. 3, Michale!

    No. 2 - “Half-measures keep you half-exposed.” Well, that’s the first intelligent notion Cheney had - to bad he didn’t demand that it be the basis for his administration’s policy in Afghanistan. As for the rest of No. 2, he lost me again.

    No. 1 - once again, the former Vice President, makes no sense when he tries to formulate a connection between several notions - he appears to be lost, wandering aimlessly in a conceptional fog. This is because Dick Cheney really has no idea - whatsoever - as to what constitutes American values or what will be required to stop al-Qaeda. Nothing proves this more than how his administration so blatantly dropped the ball when it came to stopping al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    @nypoet2

    of course cutesy labels do not address the true complexity of issues, but that's what most people respond to. good policies need supportive propaganda just as much (and sometimes more) than bad ones, regardless of which party puts them out.

    So, instead of educating the public, one must stoop to the lowest common denominator...

    And how has that worked out so far for this country??

    but the president will find a safe way to do it

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

    1. it is not fair to ask our men and women to resort to utterly immoral and barbaric acts at all.

    And yet, that is what is asked of them daily. My afore mentioned example of a US sniper forced to take out a 7 yr old girl who is acting as a lookout is a prime example..

    The point is, it's an evil world out there. You cannot stop terrorists by being kind to them and looking out for their rights..

    It's just not possible. And those that are and have been in the field know this.

    Those who aren't or haven't... don't...

    It's really that simple..

    @Osborne

    Michale needs to get his own damn blog.

    THanx.. :D

    I'm fatter..... er Flattered...
    -Eddie Murphy, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR

    @Liz

    Just more of the same of what I said before..

    The simple fact that President Obama is continuing many of the Bush Administration policies is proof that they are the right thing to do..

    I asked before and no one bothered answering...

    How many people in a position to know must tell ya'all that these are necessary before you accept it as fact??

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    NEW YORK (CNN) -- A former CIA agent who participated in interrogations of terror suspects said Tuesday that the controversial interrogation technique of "waterboarding" has saved lives, but he considers the method torture and now opposes its use.

    The former agent, who said he participated in the Abu Zubayda interrogation but not his waterboarding, said the CIA decided to waterboard the al Qaeda operative only after he was "wholly uncooperative" for weeks and refused to answer questions.

    All that changed -- and Zubayda reportedly had a divine revelation -- after 30 to 35 seconds of waterboarding, Kiriakou said he learned from the CIA agents who performed the technique.

    The terror suspect, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly gave up information that indirectly led to the the 2003 raid in Pakistan yielding the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged planner of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Kiriakou said.

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/11/agent.tapes/index.html#cnnSTCText

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Obama gets schooled on terror: Cheney bests him in speech duel — by sticking to the facts

    It was a tale of two speeches. One was clear, direct and powerful. Barack Obama gave the other speech.

    It would have been heresy to write those words any other time, so commanding has President Obama been with the spoken word. But the real Mission Impossible was to imagine that wheezy old Dick Cheney would be the speaker to best Obama.

    Yet that happened last week, and I predict it won't be a fluke. From here on out, results will increasingly trump the sensation of Obama's high-toned lectures every time.
    -http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/columnists/goodwin/index.html

  17. [17] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    darth vader also gave clear, direct and powerful speeches. to quote one of cw's earliest ftp's:

    "The Imperial Stormtroopers are buying an ad in tomorrow's New York Times to clear the name of what they consider to be a fine upstanding soldier and member of the military: Darth Vader would like an apology for being compared to Dick Cheney."

    as for the underlying facts of the matter:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-alexander/whats-not-said-is-more-im_b_207151.html

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    There is absolutely NO evidence to suggest that torturing terrorists at Gitmo or elsewhere has created more terrorists.

    There is PLENTY of direct evidence (plus my own personal experience) that PROVES torturing terrorists has saved lives and made this country safer.

    Given these FACTS, can ANYONE come up with a LOGICAL and RATIONAL reason NOT to torture terrorists under the afore mentioned circumstances??

    Anyone?? Anyone?? Buehler??

    Michale.....

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Here is one example of the kind of credibility that impresses me. Take a look and tell me what you think.

    http://vetvoice.com/userDiary.do?personId=797

  20. [20] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Bull.

    There is just as much circumstantial evidence that torture has increased terrorist recruiting as that it has worked in stopping plots and saved lives.

    I've read a few your links and they have all been countered by other links and articles.

    Other than your usual nudge, nudge, wink, wink, we really don't know the truth either way regardless of how many times you write "fact" or "proves" in all caps...


    Would ya'all order the torturing of a known and proven terrorist if A> You absolutely KNEW for a fact that he had actionable intel and B> You absolutely KNEW for a fact that torturing him would PRODUCE said actionable intel that would, in turn, save a million innocent men, women and children?

    Or would you preserve your principles and morality and have a million innocent people die?

    Ah, pulling out this old chestnut...I find this argument much like the old question: what happens when an unstoppable force hits an unmovable object. Interesting mental exercise but as there is no such thing as an unstoppable force or a unmovable object, so meaningless for the real world. The terrorists are unlikely to kill a million people. If we knew absolutely that the terrorist knew and would give up intel, then we would probably know enough already that torture would not be needed. Also torture is not an absolute. It will work and work quickly on some, take a while and give too much bad information to be useful on others and not work at all on a select few. So, saying that torture WILL produce intel is ridiculous. You hope that torture will produce intel, it might even have a very good chance of producing intel but you will not know until you try whether it will work or not.

    Personally, I side with Lt. Col. Robert Stephens. Sounds like he knew what he was doing in a much, much more dangerous time against an infinity more dangerous enemy.

    Torture should not be used. Period. If people die because of that stand, then so be it. No one ever said freedom should be easy.

  21. [21] 
    ChicagoMolly wrote:

    "What do you do to them after you've tortured them?" You do what they did during the Holy Inquisition, and kill them as soon as possible. After all, you're not waterboarding them for your health (certainly not for theirs), but because if they bear the stain of mortal sin on their souls for blasphemy, heresy, and having sexual intercourse with Satan they'll go straight to Hell. And since you already know they've committed all these sins or they wouldn't be in the dungeon, it's your duty as a loving Christian who cares for their souls to encourage them to confess their sins. And once their souls are free from sin, the sooner they go to Heaven, the better. It's for their own good, you see.

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Liz

    That soldier is talking about other soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, not terrorists that are targeting US soil.

    Apples and Eskimos...

    @Bashi

    Torture should not be used. Period. If people die because of that stand, then so be it. No one ever said freedom should be easy.

    We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.

    For me, any innocent life is much more valuable than the comfort and convenience of a terrorist..

    I have to wonder, though, if you would feel the same way if it was your family or loved ones at ground zero of a terrorist attack that was allowed to happen because of squeamishness of those who don't have the moral courage to do the right thing...

    Somehow, I think you would and that just makes me more sad...

    It's a documented fact that torture CAN produce actionable intel, HAS produced actionable intel. Now, you can call into question those who prove you wrong, but that doesn't change the facts..

    @Molly

    "What do you do to them after you've tortured them?" You do what they did during the Holy Inquisition, and kill them as soon as possible.

    I don't have a problem whatsoever with that.. It's not as if we are talking about human beings or anything like that.

    We are talking about terrorists. Scumbag murders and cowardly thugs who murder, maim and destroy innocent men, women and children.

    Do YOU have a problem with killing them?? Because I sure don't..

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I think you may have a serious problem with your web browser.

    Matthew Alexander is talking about detainees that he has personally been responsible for interrogating. He is also talking about why torture is bad policy.

    It really is worth more than a cursory look so I hope you get your browser fixed!

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Just in case you didn't see this, here is a pertinent quote from Matthew Alexander's last post over at VetVoice,

    "Thirdly, the former Vice President never mentioned the Senate testimony of Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator who successfully interrogated Abu Zubaydah and learned the identity of Jose Padilla, the dirty bomber, and the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) was the mastermind behind 9/11. We'll never know what more we could have discovered from Abu Zubaydah had not CIA contractors taken over the interrogations and used waterboarding and other harsh techniques. Also, glaringly absent from the former Vice President's speech was any mention of the fact that the former Administration never brought Osama bin Laden to justice and that our best chance to locate him would have been through KSM or Abu Zubaydah had they not been waterboarded."

  25. [25] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Michale -

    Spare me your faux morals.

    It's a documented fact that torture CAN produce actionable intel, HAS produced actionable intel. Now, you can call into question those who prove you wrong, but that doesn't change the facts..

    In your delusions maybe.

    The more I look in to the torture issue the more I find your position questionable. I see you did not respond to old "Tin Eye". This guy went toe to toe with the best Nazi Germany had to offer and won. Pretty much puts his credentials far above anything you have come up with. And yet he disagreed with torture...

    Then there is Hanns Scharff, a Luftwaffe interrogator. I assume if your military intelligence claims are true, you already know who he is as his methods are still taught in the US armed forces to this day. He not only did not use force, he didn't even raise his voice. Yet, he was considered one of and possibly the best interrogator in Nazi Germany. Considering his competition was the Gestapo, I'd call that a serious point for the non torture side.

    Speaking of the Gestapo, even they found torture to be some of the least effective techniques and they went far beyond water boarding. The Japanese equivalent also found torture ineffective calling it the "clumsiest possible method of gathering intelligence."

    Most of the pros I have found on the subject think torture is ineffective and amateurish. I'm curious as to why you grasp on to it so strongly?

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Liz

    "As a senior interrogator in Iraq"
    "That is simply untrue. Anyone who served in Iraq, and veterans on both sides of the aisle have made this argument, knows that the foreign fighters did not come to Iraq en masse until after the revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay."

    We are not talking about psuedo-soldiers who enter a theater of combat because of some transgression, real or imagined.

    We are talking about terrorists who are intent on making terrorist attacks here at home..

    My position stands. You are comparing Apples and Eskimos.

    @Bashi

    Spare me your faux morals.

    You sidestep the question.

    Would you feel any differently if it was your family and loved ones at ground zero??

    In your delusions maybe.

    Apparently, Obama's National Director Of Intelligence's "delusions" as well..

    “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country”

    "The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances"

    So, who is delusional??

    Maybe it was CIA Interrogator who is delusional when he said:

    "that the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding has saved lives"

    You have no facts to support ANY of your contentions. You only have hearsay from people who are on the outside looking in.

    Your arguments are not based in facts and logic, but rather emotion and hysteria.. You look 70 years past to find some rational justification for your position and are still found wanting.

    Of course torture is not the PREFERRED way to go. Of course there are better options, given time.

    So, yes.. If you have 6-10 months warning of an impending attack and you have that long to use psyops on a scumbag terrorist, then by all means, let's try other means..

    But if you only have 6-10 HOURS or 6-10 MINUTES to save a million lives, those methods won't work..

    Look at Abu Zubayda. "wholly uncooperative for weeks". Interrogators got NOTHING out of him for weeks. 30 seconds of torture and he was singing like a canary..

    These are the facts, my dear Bashi, that no amount of terrorist sympathy can erase..

    Let me lay the facts out for you again.

    Torture HAS produced actionable intel. This is fact.

    Torture HAS saved innocent lives. This is also fact.

    No matter how much we debate and argue this issue, it still amazes me that there are those out there who actually believe that the comfort and convenience of terrorists is more important than the LIVES of innocent men, women and children.

    Michale.....

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    Ask yourself this question.

    Why do you think it is that shows like '24' and movies like The Dark Knight enjoy such popularity?

    It's because, at a deep visceral level, Americans WANT to see the good guys win. And, if that takes bending some rules and cracking some heads to do it, then Americans don't have a problem with that.

    Consider the following question.

    If you could save a million innocent lives and all you had to do was to pour water into a terrorist's mouth for 30 seconds, would you do it.

    I think that the majority of Americans would answer "YES" to this question and the others would answer "HELL YES!!"

    Compassion is all fine and dandy.. But when one's compassion blinds them to the realities of a very dangerous world, said compassion becomes a liability that gets innocent people killed.

    Michale.....

  28. [28] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    You sidestep the question.

    Would you feel any differently if it was your family and loved ones at ground zero??

    Well, as you pick and choose the questions you answer, I am never bothered doing the same...

    But to answer that question, I would be sad. I would not spend the rest of my life wallowing in self pity because I did not support torture.

    You have no facts to support ANY of your contentions. You only have hearsay from people who are on the outside looking in.

    Your arguments are not based in facts and logic, but rather emotion and hysteria.. You look 70 years past to find some rational justification for your position and are still found wanting.

    I look back 70 years for two reasons. One is much of this information has only been declassified in the last decade. It's what I have to work with. Second, WW2 is a good lesson on the effectiveness of the whole thing. In the most trying test the western world has yet to endure where every method of warfare was thought about and most tried, torture was found ineffective.

    Look at Abu Zubayda. "wholly uncooperative for weeks". Interrogators got NOTHING out of him for weeks. 30 seconds of torture and he was singing like a canary..

    These are the facts, my dear Bashi, that no amount of terrorist sympathy can erase..

    Talk about proving my point... Actually the FBI was getting good intel using classic techniques before the interrogation was taken over by CIA contractors who had never interrogated anyone before. Using harsh techniques, they got some good intel. What you conveniently leave out is the huge amount of false info he gave up. If he was "singing like a canary" after 30 seconds, then why was he waterboarded 83 times? Rank amateurs use torture. Professionals don't need to.

    As usual your "facts" don't meet the definition of the word.

    Why do you think it is that shows like '24′ and movies like The Dark Knight enjoy such popularity?

    It's because, at a deep visceral level, Americans WANT to see the good guys win. And, if that takes bending some rules and cracking some heads to do it, then Americans don't have a problem with that.

    Yes, fantasy worlds are entertaining. Does not make them accurate.

    Consider the following question.

    If you could save a million innocent lives and all you had to do was to pour water into a terrorist's mouth for 30 seconds, would you do it.

    Addressed in a post above: see Old chestnut et al.

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Bashi

    I look back 70 years for two reasons. One is much of this information has only been declassified in the last decade. It's what I have to work with. Second, WW2 is a good lesson on the effectiveness of the whole thing. In the most trying test the western world has yet to endure where every method of warfare was thought about and most tried, torture was found ineffective.

    Comparing WWII to the war against terrorism is like comparing a Sunday drive to the Daytona 500. Yes, they both involve cars, but that is where any similarity ends..

    What all of you simply cannot seem to understand that this is not a conventional warfare situation and, therefore conventional warfare rules do not apply...

    Talk about proving my point… Actually the FBI was getting good intel using classic techniques before the interrogation was taken over by CIA contractors who had never interrogated anyone before.

    Once again, yes.. Using "classic" techniques is preferable if there is time.

    If there isn't time, what is your solution?? Oh wait.. I know.. You said it above. If there is imminent loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children's lives, your solution is to throw up your hands in despair and say, "so be it."..

    Sorry, that's not a solution. That is a cop-out..


    Using harsh techniques, they got some good intel. What you conveniently leave out is the huge amount of false info he gave up. If he was "singing like a canary" after 30 seconds, then why was he waterboarded 83 times? Rank amateurs use torture. Professionals don't need to.

    Actually, it's been proven that Abu Scumbag wasn't waterboarded 83 times. 83 times is the number that water was employed which included such innocuous times as a glass of water thrown in his face.

    OH MY FRACKING GOD, THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!!! SOMEONE CALL THE ACLU!!!!! :D

    Can't be mean to the terrorists, right?? Can't upset them or make them in ANY way uncomfortable, right??? :^/

    Wouldn't it be nice if ya'all had a TENTH of the compassion for the VICTIMS of terrorists that you show towards terrorists themselves.

    Yes, fantasy worlds are entertaining. Does not make them accurate.

    So, why do you think shows and movies like that are so well received?? Are you saying that it's SOLELY because it's a "fantasy world"?? That is not logical. If that was all it is, then shows like "Lynching With The KKK" and "Let's Rape A Neighbor" would also be popular. After all, they are just "fantasy" shows, right??

    Let's face it. That type of entertainment is popular simply because, deep down inside, that is how the majority of Americans feel about terrorists and terrorism..

    Addressed in a post above: see Old chestnut et al.

    Yea, we know.. You would let the millions die rather than upset a terrorist or make a terrorist uncomfortable.

    You, and those that think like you, are the exception that proves the rule...

    Michale.....

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yes, fantasy worlds are entertaining.

    So, what you are saying is that millions and millions of American find torturing and killing terrorists "entertaining"...

    I rest my case...

    Michale.....

  31. [31] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    So, what you are saying is that millions and millions of American find torturing and killing terrorists "entertaining"…

    I rest my case…

    Not a very good case as they also love slasher flicks. Are you actually saying we should base national policy on the entertainment choices of the people? I wonder where Star Trek fit in to that...

    Comparing WWII to the war against terrorism is like comparing a Sunday drive to the Daytona 500. Yes, they both involve cars, but that is where any similarity ends..

    What all of you simply cannot seem to understand that this is not a conventional warfare situation and, therefore conventional warfare rules do not apply…

    Exactly, getting worked up over terrorism is hard to do considering it's a Sunday drive in the vehicular scheme of things. Or did you mean the reverse? I would find that hard to believe as 50 to 70 million people died in WW2. Just a few more than terrorism...

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    Not a very good case as they also love slasher flicks. Are you actually saying we should base national policy on the entertainment choices of the people? I wonder where Star Trek fit in to that…

    Not at all...

    I am simply saying that if everyone thought like ya'all do regarding torturing and killing terrorists and scumbags, then shows like '24' and Dark Knight et al wouldn't be so popular..

    It's simply an interesting anecdote pertaining to the discussion at hand. No more, no less..

    Exactly, getting worked up over terrorism is hard to do considering it's a Sunday drive in the vehicular scheme of things.

    Is it??

    So, your reasoning is that terrorism isn't all that big of a threat so it doesn't make sense to torture non-existent terrorists regarding a non-existent threat..

    Well, at least your "so be it" attitude makes a little more sense.

    You don't think there is a threat..

    That's kewl.. On Sep 10th 2001, many, MANY people felt as you do now.

    History shows what happened next..

    You DO realize that, when we are hit again on Obama's watch, the American people are going to DEMAND people like Cheney come to power.

    Is THAT what you want to see???

    Don't you think a little waterboarding of terrorists here and there is worth it to prevent a President Cheney???

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    You seem to imply that if America gets hit again, God forbid, that it will have been a result, in no small part, to the fact that President Obama has banned torture.

    Now, I know that's not the implication you mean to make here. Am I right?

  34. [34] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Michale-

    Why must everything be a dichotomy with you? There is a huge range of possibilities between a threat that could bring down a country and none at all. To say terrorism is not a threat is silly but it is equally so to exaggerate it to the level of the Axis during WW2.

    That's kewl.. On Sep 10th 2001, many, MANY people felt as you do now.

    Including George Bush and Dick Cheney.

    Don't you think a little waterboarding of terrorists here and there is worth it to prevent a President Cheney???

    Now there is a tough one...but no, waterboarding is not worth even that.

    What if the torture and abuses of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib are directly responsible for the next attack? What then?

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Liz


    You seem to imply that if America gets hit again, God forbid, that it will have been a result, in no small part, to the fact that President Obama has banned torture.

    Now, I know that's not the implication you mean to make here. Am I right?

    I am saying that when (not if, but when..) we get hit again, it's possible that torturing an in-custody terrorist might have gotten us intel that would have prevented the attack.

    If that were to come to pass, you can bet that the American People would be royally pissed off at the Democrats and that we would see a Republican Super Majority overwhelmingly voted into office.

    Further, said royally pissed off American Public would BEG for more laws that would make the Patriot Act look like a liberal's wet dream.

    And all this will come about because of a vocal minority's squeamishness about torturing some worthless cowardly animal..

    So, let me ask you a new question.

    If saving hundreds, thousands even millions of innocent lives is not enough of an incentive to torture a couple terrorist animals, what about a US Government in power for decades, made up of men and women who make the Nazis look compassionate??

    Is preventing THAT worth torturing a couple terrorist animals??

    @Bashi

    Why must everything be a dichotomy with you? There is a huge range of possibilities between a threat that could bring down a country and none at all. To say terrorism is not a threat is silly but it is equally so to exaggerate it to the level of the Axis during WW2.

    When one considers a terrorist group armed with nuclear and biological weapons, the threat is considerably larger than the Axis during WWII.

    Especially when one considers that it is relatively easy to anticipate a military attack, with few notable exceptions. Further, the MAD doctrine comes into play when considering Nation on Nation warfare. Terrorist entities have no fear of the MAD doctrine.

    This being the case, the terrorist threat is imminently more dangerous and insidious than a conventional warfare threat.

    Now there is a tough one…but no, waterboarding is not worth even that.

    We were talking about the deaths of thousands maybe MILLIONS of innocent lives and THAT was the "tough" one? :D


    What if the torture and abuses of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib are directly responsible for the next attack? What then?

    Terrorists will always have something to blame their attacks on. There wasn't any Abu Ghraib back when the USS Cole was attacked. There wasn't any Gitmo when the WTC was attacked. Twice..

    As I said, terrorists will always have something that they can point to as the reason for their attacks. If there ISN'T anything, then the terrorists will just make something up.. And there will always be people who will buy into their BS and give the terrorists the benefit of ANY and EVERY doubt imaginable, all the while castigating their own government for keeping them and their loved ones safe from harm..

    .... the nature of the beast.
    -Col. Hadley, THE FINAL OPTION

    Michale.....

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    @Liz

    Ya wanna talk about Human Caused Global Warming? :D

    Michale.....

  37. [37] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    When one considers a terrorist group armed with nuclear and biological weapons, the threat is considerably larger than the Axis during WWII.

    Ah...back to fantasy land eh?

    Are you that unknowledgeable about WW2? The Germans Discovered nuclear fission in 1938. Think about that. A large chunk of the scientists behind our nuclear and ballistic missile programs were made up of German scientists who left Germany shortly before or after the war. They were not only close to getting their own bomb, they were close to inventing it before us.

    Yes, to equate islamic terrorism to the axis is not only silly, it is the extreme far end of it.

    As to the rest: it will be very interesting to see where the book by the Air Force interrogator with the pen name Matthew Alexander goes. If true, he contradicts both your stand on torture and recruiting...

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    Are you that unknowledgeable about WW2? The Germans Discovered nuclear fission in 1938. Think about that. A large chunk of the scientists behind our nuclear and ballistic missile programs were made up of German scientists who left Germany shortly before or after the war. They were not only close to getting their own bomb, they were close to inventing it before us.

    Your continued claims that today's terrorism is less of a threat to the US than WWII simply indicates your complete and utter ignorance of terrorism today.

    By trying to equate the war against terrorists to WWII simply shows the depth of this ignorance.

    As to the rest: it will be very interesting to see where the book by the Air Force interrogator with the pen name Matthew Alexander goes. If true, he contradicts both your stand on torture and recruiting…

    Unless Mr Alexander is claiming that torture NEVER works and NEVER produces actionable intel, then his claims do not contradict mine in the least.

    In fact, by conceding that torture HAS produced actionable intel (as he must do if he is being intellectually truthful and honest) Mr Alexander's claims would simply re-enforce my own.

    Further, unless Mr Alexander can prove beyond any doubt that such torture actually produces more terrorists (which we all know is the true fantasy) then, once again, my claims are intact.

    Finally, by treating terrorists with compassion and giving them comfort and rights that they are denied elsewhere even in their own homelands, a case can be made that the compassionate and sympathetic treatment of terrorists that is being advocated here would be the instance where more terrorists are created.

    Terrorists in Gitmo have more rights than even American civilian prisoners have and, at Gitmo, their needs are catered to a LOT more extensively than if they were in a US prison..

    Who knows how many more terrorists this is creating. It's a WIN/WIN for the terrorists. If they don't get caught, they get to kill innocent Americans. If they DO get caught, they get the country club treatment and never have to worry about anything.. That is, if the hysterical Left has their way.

    Michale.....

  39. [39] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Your continued claims that today's terrorism is less of a threat to the US than WWII simply indicates your complete and utter ignorance of terrorism today.

    By trying to equate the war against terrorists to WWII simply shows the depth of this ignorance.

    Blah, blah, blah...lots of accusations of ignorance and no proof beyond the old nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

    Been there, done that.

    Unless Mr Alexander is claiming that torture NEVER works and NEVER produces actionable intel, then his claims do not contradict mine in the least.

    So you don't know of him...he seems to think and have proof/experience that methods very similar to what Hanns Scharff is noted for not only work better than torture but is generally faster and more reliable as well. So, yes he definitely contradicts your ideas on torture. Not that torture doesn't work, but that it is a inferior method both in terms of speed and reliability.

    From the many interrogations he has done in Iraq, he seems to think the huge influx of foreign combatants is directly related to the abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

    He has an article on the Huffington Post with pages and pages of comments. I'd have figured you would be in the thick of it already...

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    Blah, blah, blah…lots of accusations of ignorance and no proof beyond the old nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

    Fair enough.

    State your qualifications, expertise or experience that would allow me to believe you are knowledgeable in the area of terrorism and counter-terrorism..

    Watching '24' doesn't count.... :D

    So you don't know of him…he seems to think and have proof/experience that methods very similar to what Hanns Scharff is noted for not only work better than torture but is generally faster and more reliable as well. So, yes he definitely contradicts your ideas on torture. Not that torture doesn't work, but that it is a inferior method both in terms of speed and reliability.

    No one is claiming that torture is the most reliable way to go. No one is claiming that torture is the BEST way to go all the time.

    I simply claim (and have the facts + personal experience to back it up) that, in certain circumstances, torture is the best way to go.

    And nothing that has been posted has refuted that claim.

    He has an article on the Huffington Post with pages and pages of comments. I'd have figured you would be in the thick of it already…

    HuffPo has already proven time and time again that they push a certain viewpoint and agenda mutually exclusive from the facts and the reality of today's world.

    Michale.....

  41. [41] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Wow. I take it easy over a holiday weekend, and you all are burning up the electrons on the site like there's no tomorrow.

    OK, I promise I'll read all of these today, but may not get the chance to answer them just yet. I do try to live up to my pledge of reading every comment, because I think you deserve it.

    More later...

    -CW

  42. [42] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    State your qualifications, expertise or experience that would allow me to believe you are knowledgeable in the area of terrorism and counter-terrorism..

    Ah, the old I'm not qualified to discuss the subject with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, "professional" dodge.

    We really are re-treading old territory here...

    Hilarious.

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    You're too funny! And, I think you're comparing apples with eskimos, to be perfectly honest. :-)

    Actually, I'd love to talk about catastrophic climate change and what humans can do to mitigate it and how it is all related to national security.

    But, not now...and not here. We'll have to wait for the right opportunity!

    It will be fun.

  44. [44] 
    Michale wrote:

    @CW

    Wow. I take it easy over a holiday weekend, and you all are burning up the electrons on the site like there's no tomorrow.

    OK, I promise I'll read all of these today, but may not get the chance to answer them just yet. I do try to live up to my pledge of reading every comment, because I think you deserve it.

    More later…

    Ahhh THERE you are!! :D

    I thought you were cowering in a foxhole, screaming, "Please for the love of god, make it stop!!!" :D hehehehehehe

    Looking forward to your rebuttals. :D

    @Bashi

    Ah, the old I'm not qualified to discuss the subject with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, "professional" dodge.

    We really are re-treading old territory here…

    Hilarious.

    I think it's safe to say that the entire subject of torture has been hashed, rehashed and hashed all over again. :D

    But there is a LOT more evidence today as to just how effective torture has been. When you have senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration flat out stating that torture has saved lives and made this country safer, when you have the Dem's messiah reversing himself on publishing the torture photos, when you have Dems refusing funding to close Gitmo and when you have the White House themselves saying that the decision to close Gitmo was "hasty" and "not well thought out"......

    When you have all that and more in the pipeline.... Well, it just makes the "torture DOES work and CAN save lives" argument for me... :D

    Because, when it comes right down to it, your NO TORTURE argument is based on one thing and one thing only.

    Compassion for terrorists...

    And you won't find many Americans willing to swallow that argument.

    As to the "qualifications" argument, it IS logical. Let's say you have two opinions on the inter-operability of PCs. One opinion comes from Bill Gates. The other comes from Peter Griffin..

    Which opinion holds more weight??

    Let's say you have two opinions on the state of counter-terrorism in the USA circa 2009. One opinion comes from National Intelligence Director Admiral Dennis C. Blair. The other comes from Cindy Sheehan...

    Which opinion holds more weight??

    Regardless of your feelings on the matter experience, expertise and training DOES play a part in discussions.

    I don't mean to insult you by saying you are ignorant of the field.

    "There is no dishonor in not knowing everything"
    -SubCommander T'al, STAR TREK, The Enterprise Incident

    @Liz

    Michale,

    You're too funny! And, I think you're comparing apples with eskimos, to be perfectly honest. :-)

    Actually, I'd love to talk about catastrophic climate change and what humans can do to mitigate it and how it is all related to national security.

    But, not now…and not here. We'll have to wait for the right opportunity!

    It will be fun.

    I don't know how 'fun' it can be since, if I recall correctly, you and I are on the same page when it comes to Human Caused GoreBull Warming. :D

    Maybe CW will throw in another "Cap & Trade" (AKA Scheme & Ream, Deceive & Thieve, Spook & Loot or (my personal favorite) The No-Dollar-Left-Behind Tax) commentary.. :D

    Michale.....

  45. [45] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    No, Michale...it will be LOTS of fun...rest assured!

  46. [46] 
    Michale wrote:

    Woot! :D Can hardly wait.... :D

    Michale.....

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