Prague Twin

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Not In My Name, Please


In the post below, I had called into question the fact that all of us who were raised in the states (even those like Jeb who went to private schools) had to recite the pledge of allegiance every day. I don't think it is detrimental necessarily but just kind of ironic and weird. When I explain this to Czechs, they usually look at me dumbfounded: they would expect this kind of thing from their old communist masters, but not in a "free" country like the U.S.

I found it very interesting that the detractors who are all Republicans to the best of my knowledge (feel free to correct me on that) generally felt that my light criticism of this practice was groundless because the U.S. stands for the greatest ideals ever to grace the planet. I would generally agree with that last part, but I feel that only lends credibility to my argument that being forced to give the pledge is at least ironic.

One of the ideals that I think is particularly poignant is the idea that all people have certain rights, irrespective of what they are suspected of. Pedophiles, ax-murderers, pension-fund plunderers, and animal torturers are all afforded certain rights. The crimes they are accused of are presented to them clearly. They are given a trial, and even when convicted, cruel and unusual punishment (i.e. torture) is strictly forbidden. As much as I would personally like to hang these people up in the square by meat hooks until they slowly die, I understand that this is not possible if one wants to live in a civilized society.

Another one of those ideals is captured in the first Amendment to the Constitution. The press, by virtue of that grand ideal, is allowed to report almost anything.

So when I read a story like this one I can't help to point out the irony that the same people who believe so strongly in the ideals captured by the Constitution, are ready to cast those ideals away in the name of security. They not only think that a terrorist suspect (suspect mind you, not convict) can be tortured, held indefinitely without trial and without any charges being brought against them, but that the press is treasonous for even reporting that this is going on.

I don't have anymore sympathy for a terrorist than I do for a pedophile, but civilized people should refrain from torturing either of them.

Is that really too much to ask?

As an American citizen, I am calling on my government not to endorse, or abet the torturing of anyone no matter how horrible the crime of which they are accused of is.

As an American citizen, I ask that we live up to the ideals that once made us the most admired nation, and people, on earth.

Won't you join me in that, all of you?

Labels: ,

49 Comments:

  • I agree completely and have been saying the same thing to all. If we are going to hold up our ideals as some sort of blueprint for the rest of the world, then detainees in our custody should be afforded a speedy trial and should either be proven guilty or sent home. How can we demand Geneva Conventions when we so handily violate the conventions when dealing with our own prisoners? What kind of people does that make us that we would degenerate to human rights violations and torture? I'm saddened and disgusted by the inhumane behavior of my country's government officials and I add my voice to yours.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 7:47 AM  

  • Spot on. If we turn a blind eye to breaches of freedom and democracy at home, we hand a victory to the terrorists abroad.

    By Blogger Michael, at 2:12 PM  

  • Rocky,

    Thanks for your support! I appreciate it.

    Michael,

    Thanks, and welcome. Indeed, Bin Laden made it perfectly clear that his intention is to turn the U.S. into a "shell of its former self".

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:21 PM  

  • Of course, I agree.

    By Blogger Graeme, at 7:56 PM  

  • Good post. It seems so cut and dry, I don't know how anybody could be against Constitutional protections for suspects (terrorist or otherwise).

    When people complain about our government spying on American citizens, the rightwing kneejerk response is "you must have something to hide. What are you afraid of?"

    Using that same logic, what is our government afraid would happen if a terrorist suspect had access to a lawyer and a speedy trial? All suspects, whatever they're accused of, need to be tried or released. If we start making exceptions, we start going down a slippery slope (God I hate that cliche).

    Who Hijacked Our Country

    By Blogger Tom Harper, at 9:04 PM  

  • Graeme,

    Thanks.

    Tom,

    I guess that makes two of us. I really, really just don't get it. They admire those who say "give me liberty, or give me death." They chastise those who would rather live than be free. Then they stop on the constitution and advocate the equivalent of lynch-mobs and call US treasonous.

    I just don't get it.

    p.s. those slogans really do rub the wrong way, don't they?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:25 PM  

  • Well said, praguetwin. Heartfelt and logical.

    I'd also agree with you that America has pretty much represented great ideals. But with our tacit legitimization of torture, we've turned a pretty dark corner.

    By Anonymous abi, at 3:38 AM  

  • Regarding the pledge of allegiance, the practice is limited to elementary age students for the most part. I think the intent was to instill in them a sense of "country" and not anything along the lines of brainwashing. At least, that was the way I always saw it. Now, if they had high school age children reciting it daily, that would be a different story.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 10:12 PM  

  • praguetwin, here's a question for you and your friends:

    First, some background.

    It has been said that in the months before 9/11 US intelligence had gathered some information that seems, in retrospect, to have indicated an attack on the US was imminent.

    Suppose an insightful agent had connected enough disparate pieces of information to believe beyond all doubt that an attack was planned and about to occur. Since we already had bin laden and al qaeda on our radar due to earlier acts of terrorism, let us also assume our insightful agent was certain al qaeda was masterminding the pending attack.

    What steps should have been taken under those circumstance? What would have been the appropriate action for the US to take if our intelligence agencies had been absolutely certain al qaeda was within weeks of committing a massive attack somewhere inside the US?

    Perhaps one strategy would have been to tell the population of the US that a huge attack was coming and that everyone should run for their lives.

    Of course, hysteria might overtake a population that had no idea where or when such an attack would occur.

    Perhaps it would have been possible to arrange a conference with some members of al qaeda to suggest they change their plans for killing large numbers of Americans.

    What would have happened if the leaders of our intelligence organizations had met with al qaeda to ask them to find something else to do on 9/11?

    What if the al qaeda representatives promised to cancel their planned attack, but attacked anyway, breaking their promise?

    Think of the demoralizing and destructive power of an attack occurring AFTER US leaders had met with the perpetrators.

    In that scenario, all faith in our government would vanish. Collapse of the nation might follow a loss of faith brought about that way.

    Based on the positions expressed here, those disturbed by the use of coercive tactics meant to protect US citizens are willing to sacrifice innocent Americans to terrorists. It's that simple.

    The Constitution of the US does not guide the planet. Its power is confined to the US. Thus, any force that intends to defeat the US and take away the freedoms it grants its residents needs only to operate by means that violate the Constitution.

    If one side fights with one hand tied behind its back while the other side fights with everything its got, the other side has a good chance to win.

    Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If the US had subjected a few people to waterboarding in the summer of 2001, the world might be a different place today.

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 4:51 PM  

  • Abi,

    Thanks.

    Kathy,

    Indeed, I understand the purpose, and it is effective. Still it is just a little weird in retrospect, especially after talking to people here.

    NS,

    If, if, if, if. Quite a stretch. I just don't have time for such fantasies.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:23 AM  

  • praguetwin, you wrote:

    "If, if, if, if. Quite a stretch. I just don't have time for such fantasies."

    Fantasies? Stretch? Then you accept acts of terrorism as tough luck for the US? You're saying we should do nothing to prevent mass murder.

    Do you see any point to intelligence gathering? Or is it some time-wasting game cooked up by a government hoping to convince citizens that their tax dollars are going to a worthwhile cause?

    By what methods do you think it is possible to obtain crucial information?

    How much effort should the US exert to extract detailed information of planned terrorist attacks?
    The question was only partly hypothetical, and it is a question

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 6:19 AM  

  • No Slappz, the United States has a constitution; a set of ideals set forth as a beacon of democracy in the world. Holding people in secret for indefinite periods of time without charges or trial, torturing them on a daily basis and breaking laws with impunity in the name of "national security" sounds more like Stalin's communist Soviet.
    How far should our government go in order to secure our safety? This is a joke, right? Why would you think you are any safer today than you were 10 years ago? As you pointed out, the CIA had intel that the events of 9/11 were being planned and they gathered that info BEFORE the Patriot Act. Seems to me they are capable of getting information without the heavy handed communist tactics and they always have been. I'm sure there have been covert acts by every government on earth that have crossed the line, but never since the days of the Giant Bear has a government flaunted their disregard for humanity and decency as our government has in regard to the Gitmo detainees.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 5:20 PM  

  • NS,

    Fantasies? Stretch?

    Yes, fantasies, yes a big stretch, especially the part about agreeing with bin laden that he wouldn't attack but then he did anyway? That is almost as crazy as the theory that the Jews mastermined the whole thing and it was a controlled demolition.

    Then you accept acts of terrorism as tough luck for the US? You're saying we should do nothing to prevent mass murder.

    No I don't and no I'm not.

    Do you see any point to intelligence gathering?

    Yes, I see the point.

    By what methods do you think it is possible to obtain crucial information?

    By the legal methods that are now described in the Army handbook which, according to the Generals, are very effective. Tactics such as waterboarding should not be used.

    How much effort should the US exert to extract detailed information of planned terrorist attacks?

    A lot, but they should all be legal and humane.

    The question was only partly hypothetical, and it is a question

    A question that is based on no less than four hypothetical premises is purely hypothetical in my opinion.

    Read what Rocky wrote, she is spot on, as usual.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:49 PM  

  • Praguetwin

    Funny you should opine that the notions of "controlled demolition" are crazy. As I recall it wasn’t all that long ago that you yourself posited the “controlled demolition” notion to me as not crazy, but an actual possibility.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 6:12 AM  

  • rockync

    What laws are being broken on a daily basis?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 6:14 AM  

  • The Constitution of these United States answers your question:
    Amendment 8 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    Amendment 6 - Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence
    Oh, and let’s not forget that pesky little thing called habeas corpus.The basic premise behind habeas corpus is that you cannot be held against your will without just cause. To put it another way, you cannot be jailed if there are no charges against you. If you are being held, and you demand it, the courts must issue a writ of habeas corpus, which forces those holding you to answer as to why. If there is no good or compelling reason, the court must set you free.
    I am a patriot, comitted to protecting, honoring and defending the Constitution even if my own government is not.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 6:56 AM  

  • rockync

    The laws and rights you speak of are reserved for Americans whom are protected by the Constitution of their country. Are you suggesting we grant these same rights to enemy combatants?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 3:22 PM  

  • To all and sundry,

    I am beaming in a little late here.

    no_slappz, I confess I did not follow you. I think that if if a perceptive agent connected the dots b/f 9/11, given the Uss Cole, we could have legitimately sought to kill the perps and left it at that.

    I do see a problem in the Kafkaeaque procedures that are applied to detainees at Guantanomo.
    They may not be entitled to all Constituitional guarantees but it is obvious that the current procedures afford them no rights and that is a black eye to the US which considers itself a nation of laws.

    By Anonymous Tony Sokolow, at 5:36 PM  

  • tony

    Are they entitled to ANY Constitutional protections? If so how?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 5:44 PM  

  • NS, anyone being held by our government and being accused of violating our laws should be tried according to those laws. Our laws are written to comply with the tenets of our constitution. And, no, they do not just apply to our citizens but to any person on our soil being charged with a crime. Since we went a picked up these people and interred them on our soil (yes, Gitmo counts), they should be charged and tried accordingly. Prove their guilt and sentence them or let them go. Our Constitution demands it; Geneva Conventions demand it; human decency demands it. Circumventing our laws with smoke screens like "enemy combatants" just doesn't fly. If we are to continue as a democracy we must support and uphold our constitution in the face of all our enemies. You can't choose to invoke these tenets when they are useful and ignore them when they are inconvenient. It's all or nothing at all. I abhor what happened on 9/11. I abhor what is happening in Middle East. I found the actions of the Viet Cong stomach turning at that time. But if we sink into that same dark dirty mire, we are no better than they are. And, as a proud American, I believe we are better than that.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 6:13 PM  

  • rockync

    Guantanamo Bay is not an American territory, we rent it, as such it is not American soil. In addition, no one at Gitmo is being held due to a violation of "our laws", they are being held for interrogation to glean information that may in fact save lives.

    The Geneva Conventions pertain to regular uniformed combatants; this is of course why we never saw any members of the regular Iraqi army take up residence there. As such, Geneva protections simply don’t apply here.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 7:41 PM  

  • You can spin it any way you like but these people are being held against their will and they are being tortured by American military/government agents. This kind of behavior violates the tenets of our society not to mention the violation of basic human rights and is unacceptable behavior for a so-called free democratic society. If these actions are accepted by our citizenry without question, how long do you think it will be before the powers that be start making dissenters like me disappear?
    "Those that forget history are condemed to repeat it."

    By Anonymous rockync, at 8:15 PM  

  • FYI -- if you "rent" property, you are still responsible for what takes place there-- for all intents and purposes, that makes Gitmo "American" soil.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 8:19 PM  

  • praguetwin, you gave me a rather disappointing response to the questions that our government has already answered.

    What is the point of intelligence gathering with respect to terrorism?

    In my view, it is to learn -- in advance -- of planned attacks, among other matters.

    Perhaps it is news to you, but 1,000 Americans were killed by muslim terrorists BEFORE 9/11.

    Since we know there are muslim terrorists determined to commit more acts of terrorism against Americans, what should we do?

    You answered by stating we should interrogate suspects in a manner that is "legal."

    In other words, terrorists need only to understand the limits of our techiques of coercion to prepare themselves to withhold crucial information.

    Once they know OUR limits, they'll endure detention without giving up a shred of useful information.

    If a detainee is certain the worst he'll experience is heat, cold, loud rap music, loss of sleep and a few slaps to the face, why should he talk?

    Thus, you have admitted you will trade thousands of American lives for "honor and integrity."

    You will accept the deaths of thousands of Americans rather than waterboard a handful of terrorists. That's a foolish standard.

    Why? The muslim terrorists hate the US. Do you suppose they'd become admirers if we abandoned waterboarding?

    Meanwhile, for other responders, the Constitution lays down the foundations for law INSIDE the US. It carries no weight in other countries. In fact, the freedoms granted to Americans by the Constitution are the chief reasons muslim terrorists are at war with the US.

    Here's the next question.

    Since you are willing to sacrifice American lives because you are unwilling to waterboard a few terrorists, how many lives are you willing to sacrifice?

    After you have arrived at a number, consider what the country should do to keep the death toll under your limit. Finally, let me know what the country should do if the death toll due to terrorism exceeds your total.

    It appears you are unable to see that anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism plans are forward-looking activities. In other words, we are attempting to uncover real threats with details known only to a handful of perpetrators.

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 3:16 AM  

  • rockync

    I have no interest in dissuading you from your philosophical notions regarding habeas corpus as it pertains to prisoners at GTMO, I am only trying to show you that they are in fact philosophical in nature and have little or no legal foundation as you contend.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 3:26 PM  

  • no slappz and lysander,

    There is a fundamental flaw in your reasoning. The flaw is that you have predetermined that the detainees are guilty and off you go.

    When I listened to a radio piece on the SC argument this week, there was cited the case of some foreign national detainee, a German as I recall, who purportedly was an associate of a known terrorist who had blown himself up.

    The problem was the guy who had blown himself up was alive and well in Dresden. This occurred b/f the most recent passage of whatever procedures are in place now. The detainee was released.

    If we are going to stand as "a nation of laws" it is encumbant upon us to afford those accused of intending us harm an opportunity to prove their innocence. Otherwide, we are back to Kafka.

    By Anonymous Tony Sokolow, at 3:43 PM  

  • "And he could not see the forest for the trees that were in the way..."

    By Anonymous rockync, at 3:44 PM  

  • Habeas Corpus is NOT a philosophical notion, but a LEGAL premise supported by the laws of the land. Perhaps you didn't know that the Supreme Court took up the issue of Guantanamo inmates in 2004 and again in 2006, ruling both times that detainees had a legal right to contest their indefinite detention before an independent judge; that would be habeas corpus.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 4:07 PM  

  • tony sokolow, you wrote:

    "There is a fundamental flaw in your reasoning. The flaw is that you have predetermined that the detainees are guilty and off you go."

    Perhaps I have been unclear. Gathering intelligence means following many many hints of illicit activities, followed by the discovery a handful of true leads.

    Those leads should eventually steer investigators to people close to the terrorists and their murderous plans.

    I support the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques of information extraction when a compelling case of terroristic activitity has been uncovered.

    Like capital punishment, these techniques are not for everyday interrogation. Frankly, few terrorists will have information of the quality that matters.

    But some will. Like osama bin laden.

    If osama were captured, would you approve of forcing him to tell everything he knows?

    Or would you allow him to sit undisturbed in a cell while his subordinates carry out terrorist acts that he planned of approved?

    Perhaps osama and his crew have established plans to conduct terrorist acts triggered by his capture. If I were osama, I'd prepare contingency plans like that.

    Let's start with osama, since he's the most wanted man in the world.

    If we catch him, how should we treat him? Waterboarding or stern words?

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 9:08 PM  

  • rockync

    So now you are saying they in fact have been granted habeas corpus rights???

    While they are certainly entitled to due process via Combatant Status Review Tribunals or protection under the Detainee Treatment Act, the idea that they enjoy the same habeus corpus rights as the average American citizen (rights you would presumably grant them) is silly. So yes, in the context that you use the phrase, it is only philosophical.

    tony

    I have made no such predetermination. It is unlikely that the staff at GTMO have little interest in keeping anyone imprisoned unless it is likley that the prisoner has a good chance of providing valuable information. However, it is possible that inspite of the above mentioned fillters in my response to rockync, there could in fact be "innocents" held at GTMO

    But just to turn the tables, what percent do you think are innocent?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 12:42 AM  

  • Lysander,

    I entertained the idea of a controlled demolition of the main towers for couple of days, and then dismissed it.

    WTC 7 is still shrouded in mystery and is still very strange, but I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Much less use the theory as a premise in an argumentative line of questioning as No Slappz does here. Surely you can see the difference.

    NS and Lysander

    Indeed, what Tony says is true. The other points you are failing to understand is that there is no guarantee that torture is effective (assuming you have the right people). You can't train for sleep deprivation or the other tactics that the Army legally uses.

    And yes, prolonged detention of suspects may save lives. So would locking up every suspected criminal without trial for ever. But we don't do that. Why?

    Because it is against the principles on which the United States was founded.

    How hard is that to understand?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:46 AM  

  • PT

    Glad to see you have come around on 9/11

    We don't lock up lock up every suspected criminal without trial for ever because of the Constitution of the United States of America, a document that pertains to Americans and it's guests.

    Why is it that no one here can see what is patently obvious; Enemy Combatants (a term that should not even be granted the detainees at GTMO) are not entitled to Constitutional protection or Geneva Conventions protections.
    I understand that, philosophically speaking, you would like to see those protections extended to the people at GTMO, but as I said before, the notion that they already exist is silly.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 1:23 AM  

  • Perhaps you don't fully understand habeas corpus:
    "A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody."
    The Supreme Court has ruled twice now that the detainees who filed the writ were entitled to habeas corpus rights. There is no different habeas corpus rights for American citizens. It literally mean "produce the body." In other words, show the evidence. So far, the government has ignored the Supreme Court ruling. Apparently the Bush adminstration is now above the law of the land. Philosophy has nothing to do with it.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 1:23 AM  

  • Lysander

    No, I never said extend full constitutional rights to every person in the world.

    What I said is that no one should be held indefinitely without charge or tortured by agents of the country to which grants me my citizenship.

    Try to read what I wrote, and not what you think I think.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 2:05 AM  

  • praguetwin,

    I asked you a very simple question.

    If we captured osama bin laden, would you subject him to waterboarding or other harsh forms of coercion if he refused to give you any useful information after being subjected to lesser forms of coercion?

    I think you said no, you would not waterboard him. But you wove a lot of silliness around your hazy response.

    You wrote:

    "The other points you are failing to understand is that there is no guarantee that torture is effective (assuming you have the right people)."

    Let's say we've got osama. Is there any higher priority terrorist on the planet?

    Ask yourself this: If YOU were subjected to waterboarding, would YOU answer questions your interrogators asked you?

    You wrote:

    "You can't train for sleep deprivation or the other tactics that the Army legally uses."

    Sleep deprivation won't kill a person. It may disorient someone to the point of talking. Perhaps talking nonsense. But it might work. Then again, it might not.

    But a detainee has to know that there's always a more severe form of coercion to follow any form that he withstands.

    Who told you torture doesn't work? It seems to work 100% of the time when thugs want ATM card code numbers from victims. Pointing a gun or knife at people and asking for the access numbers to their accounts always works.

    But the threat is binary. Talk and live; Or keep silent and die. It's effective.

    For what reason do you think people detained for reasons related to terrorism are made of steel? If they know US interrogators won't kill them and if they know US interrogators won't inflict extraordinary pain -- according to your rules -- why would they ever talk?

    You wrote:

    "And yes, prolonged detention of suspects may save lives."

    Detention only stops the detainees from personally committing additional acts of terrorism. It does not stop the execution of plans involving others.

    You foolishly wrote:

    "So would locking up every suspected criminal without trial for ever."

    You have to learn the difference between criminal justice and its goals of the criminal justice system vs military solutions to external threats aimed at the country.

    You wondered:

    "But we don't do that. Why?"

    In case you didn't know, criminals can no longer be interrogated in the US.

    As soon as the arrestee says he wants a lawyer, the cops must stop questioning him. That's the chief reason violent felons avoid conviction.

    Meanwhile, non-US citizens living outside the US are not protected by the US Constitution. Therefore, your attempt to create equivalence between people arrested in the US for crimes vs people detained for terrorist activities elsewhere on the globe is invalid.

    I still want a straight answer on osama. Would you torture him for information about al-qaeda and its plans?

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 1:15 AM  

  • rockync, you wrote:

    "Why would you think you are any safer today than you were 10 years ago?"

    Simple. The muslim terrorists of the world now know attacking the US will result in a counter-attack that is both massive and relentless. Most of the leaders of al-qaeda are dead. Others have been captured.

    In other words, the terrorists miscalculated our response. They are paying in ways they never envisioned.

    Moreover, it's always a mistake to provoke a powerful giant. I think middle east muslim leaders realize there is a pain threshold for oil prices. It is possible for the US to reach a point at which seizing middle east oil reserves is discussed.

    The US discussed dropping the atomic bomb on Korea in November of 1950. Truman decided against it. The US lost almost 10,000 men from the start of the Korean War in June 1950 and the end of the year. In six months we lost almost 10,000. The US lost 38,000 before the Korean War ended in 1953.

    To answer your question, YES, we are safer today because the terrorists of the world understand that our counter-offensives are punishing.

    Here's what's changed: Awareness. It took till 9/11 for Americans to understand that much of the muslim world hates us. Ten years ago osama was bombing embassies in Africa. But those attacks left many, if not most Americans, unfazed. September 11 revealed everything we had been unaware of. The attack ended all possibilities of retreat into blissful ignorance.

    Now we are safer. Now we realize how vulnerable we have always been.

    You said I said:

    "As you pointed out, the CIA had intel that the events of 9/11 were being planned and they gathered that info BEFORE the Patriot Act."

    No. I said that some agents believed something was afoot.

    But no agent had concluded or theorized that an attack involving airplanes hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 was in high gear.

    You wrote:

    "Seems to me they are capable of getting information without the heavy handed communist tactics and they always have been."

    We knew little. I am sure we could have known more. It's within reason to believe we could have learned a big attack was imminent.

    One of the hijackers was stopped for speeding by Oklahoma state police in April 2001. If the OK state police had known the speeder was on our terrorist watch list, he might have been detained.

    Would waterboarding that muslim speeder have led to the prevention of 9/11? I say yes.

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 1:56 AM  

  • praguetwin, you wrote:

    "WTC 7 is still shrouded in mystery and is still very strange..."

    No mystery. No shrouds. Nothing strange at all. It's all basic facts and basic physics.

    Unfortunately, 100% of the people who claim that mystery surrounds the unremarkable collapse of this building have zero knowledge of physics and engineering.

    No responsible professional is going to offer an off-the-cuff opinion on this crucial event when obtaining huge sums for consulting services is possible.

    Why give away a valuable opinion for free?

    Anyway, to make a long story short, two tanks of diesel fuel were inside WTC 7. Both were ignited as a result of debris falling from WTC 1 onto WTC 7.

    Internally, the building was supported by a truss system that collapsed after weakening from hours of exposure to the heat from the burning diesel fuel.

    The building fell as theory predicts. Its internal legs collapsed, allowing the center of the building to drop straight down.

    These buildings were not like trees. These buildings were 95% air. Inertia causes them to fall straight down. It's very simple. Very basic.

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 2:20 AM  

  • No, I would not waterboard him.

    I'd try him, just like any other mass-murderer.

    Is that what you wanted?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:35 AM  

  • rockync

    While there is a case before the SCOTUS (Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush) that will decide the habeas corpus rights of detainees at GTMO, the cases you are likely referring to (Rasul v. Bush and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld) simply don’t due what some believe them to have.

    Now, while the pendulum of judicial activism can swing both ways (Korematsu v. United States), I don’t believe Ginsburg, Souter Bryer & Stevens (some of which gave us the dreaded Kelo decision) will get their “super legislature” way and that the Constitution and the will of the people via their freely elected legislature will prevail.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 3:31 PM  

  • PT

    I read what you wrote and understand your philosophical position, but it is just that, a philosophical position.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 3:35 PM  

  • no_slappz,

    I did not follow your segue from the issue of giving detainess some fair form of review to determine the legality or appropriateness of their detainment to whether I would approve of waterboarding OBL.

    I continue to favor some form of fair review. I continue to hear that whatever they are afforded now falls way below fairness. If we are going to hold ourselves out as a nation of laws and a just society, we have to change the current protocol.

    As for what to do w/ OBL, the first thing would be to apprehend him. How close did we actually come in Tora Bora?

    What tactics do you favor now that he seems to be ensconced in the territory of our purported ally, Pakistan?

    By Anonymous Tony Sokolow, at 5:41 PM  

  • I read what you wrote and understand your philosophical position, but it is just that, a philosophical position.

    Yes, a philosophical position that stems directly from my belief in the rule of law and presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

    The cornerstones of our constitution, which is of course based on a philosophical position.

    Indeed, what is any system of laws but the formalization and ratification of the details by which a society must live if they are to adhere to the philosophy to which they subscribe?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:04 PM  

  • praguetwin, you wrote:

    "No, I would not waterboard him...I'd try him, just like any other mass-murderer."

    Then you are willing to accept the deaths of innocent people when al-qaeda strikes again.

    Your humanity and concern for innocent people around the world is stunning -- by its absence.

    Exactly what is demonstrated by imprisoning and possibly executing the one person on Earth who knows more about terrorist networks than anyone else?

    Unless he's bled dry of every al qaeda detail, he's almost as dangerous in prison as in the mountains of Pakistan.

    According to you, prosecutors would be seeking life in prison or the death penalty. Either way, spilling his guts won't free him. It's doubtful, even in your world, that prosecutors would have the power or the willingness to bargain a death-penalty down to life in prison if he talks.

    He needs a reason to name all his cohorts and the details of al-qaeda activities. He needs a reason to tell US interrogators the locations of all the al-qaeda hide-outs.

    Pain can provide the motivation to talk.

    Maybe you believe al-qaeda is already finished as a terrorist organization. Maybe you think osama and his crew are impotent.

    I don't. I think they've got plans. They are likely consulting with other terrorists and possibly moving money to help them obtain what they need to kill innocent people.

    If osama were serving a life sentence and al-qaeda committed a terrorist act, would you wonder if information about the attack could have been gotten from him with a little persuasion?

    You asked:

    "Is that what you wanted?"

    No. But it is what I expected. You are willing to show kindness to mass murderers and callousness to their future victims.

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 1:08 AM  

  • tony sokolow, you wrote:

    "I did not follow your segue from the issue of giving detainess some fair form of review to determine the LEGALITY or appropriateness of their detainment to whether I would approve of waterboarding OBL.

    I never mentioned "legality." I said there are few times when detainees will possess truly valuable information. Our job as intelligence gatherers is to zero in on the people who possess it.

    Like known al-qaeda operatives.

    Any al-qaeda big-wig you can name is a person interrogators should have the power to torture. If such high-value detainees are cooperative without torture, well, that's great. A compliant al-qaeda big-wig is something to hope for. But it's not likely the big names in the organization are so weak willed.

    "Legality" is a relative term. From my perspective, people in the business of planning terrorist acts always possess knowledge aimed at killing innocent people.

    On the other hand, obtaining that knowledge would save lives.

    Furthermore, you seem to look at these dirtbags from a criminal justice perspective. You think it's enough to capture them and jail them. That's not enough. Their plans must be thwarted and their organizations smashed.

    Plans for mass murder must be uncovered and the participants must be stopped. But that does not happen by throwing the terrorists in jail or killing them. Their plans and organizations live on.

    Hence, information about pending attacks is of extraordinary value. Obviously many lives hang in the balance. Thus, I feel no compunction about US interrogators torturing acknowledged al qaeda members. By the defining fact of their involvement in al qaeda, they know stuff, and we need to know what they know. At any cost.

    I continue to favor some form of fair review. I continue to hear that whatever they are afforded now falls way below fairness. If we are going to hold ourselves out as a nation of laws and a just society, we have to change the current protocol.

    As for what to do w/ OBL, the first thing would be to apprehend him. How close did we actually come in Tora Bora?

    What tactics do you favor now that he seems to be ensconced in the territory of our purported ally, Pakistan?

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 1:29 AM  

  • tony sokolow, I missed a few of your paragraphs at the end of my previous post.

    You wrote:

    "As for what to do w/ OBL, the first thing would be to apprehend him. How close did we actually come in Tora Bora?"

    We missed him that time. What of it? You did not answer the question. Would you torture osama to get him to talk?

    You asked:

    "What tactics do you favor now that he seems to be ensconced in the territory of our purported ally, Pakistan?"

    The difficulties of dealing with Pakistan are separate from handling osama if we catch him in Pakistan, where is he most likely hiding.

    Pakistan is on the verge of a revolution. The conflict between Bhutto and Musharraf may get wildly out of hand. It's all the worse because Pakistan has a nuclear bomb which some people in that country would use on other people in the country.

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 1:35 AM  

  • PT

    I think if you were to sit opposite Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and suggest to them that the purpose of the document that they had helped to craft was so that the Barbary pirates that the U.S. had captured and imprisoned were to be afforded trials in American courts, they would have either laughed in your face or slapped it.

    Yes, the Constitution is for everybody; everybody who wishes to embrace it that is. For it’s detractors who would just as soon shred the document there is another system. What type of system? One of due process and law.

    You see there is still lawfulness without granting full or partial constitutional protections.

    Were the 6 Nazi saboteurs who were executed in the United States entitled to habeas corpus?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 3:35 PM  

  • In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote that "Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume."

    I wonder if he laughed in the mirror or slapped himself after he wrote that.

    Now human rights are not only reserved for citizens but for those who embrace them? Wow, that is losing scenario if I ever heard one.

    If two people are supposed to have a meeting, but both refuse to show up until the other one does first, will the meeting ever happen?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:43 PM  

  • It is agreed that constitutional habeas corpus protections are to be extended to citizens and aliens. How we differ is in how "enemies of the state" or "enemy combatants" etc. are handled.

    Now, try as I might, I just cannot find any body of historical evidence that suggests that people who fall into that category have ever been extended those rights.

    Can you find and instance?

    Now, I think that if you can find something to indicate that this was commonplace in American history, I will “show up to the meeting” and cede the point. If however you cannot, I would like for you to reciprocate that notion.

    Bear in mind, I will not be asking you to abandon your philosophical position, but only that your philosophical position can not be backed up by any reasonable historical reference.

    Fair enough?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 3:44 PM  

  • p.s.

    When did I say anything about "human rights"?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 11:39 PM  

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