More Evil From the Administration

Phillip Carter, Prisoners' Dilemma – How the administration is obstructing the Supreme Court's terror decisions.

If there is a historical analogy to be drawn here, it is with the legal tactics of segregationists in the years following the Supreme Court's famous 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. In its second Brown decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the segregated school districts to integrate themselves “with all deliberate speed.” Segregationists took that message to heart, literally taking decades to integrate their schools (a task which some say has still not been accomplished). Segregationists used every legal tactic imaginable to delay the progress of integration—from filibusters in the Senate on civil rights legislation, to crazy school districting schemes, to literally standing in the schoolhouse door of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. Eventually, the legal principle of equality won, and segregation faded into the history books, but it took a protracted fight to make the Supreme Court's Brown decision a reality.

The issue here is not so much the detainees' rights per se (although the detainees might say otherwise) as the need to restore the U.S. commitment to the rule of law in the eyes of the world. To date, the United States has not been able to enlist many of its allies to help shoulder the burden of Iraq, and Sen. John Kerry is unlikely to do much better given the current state of animus toward the U.S. in the world. Treating the wartime detainees fairly by giving them a fair hearing before a neutral magistrate (as ordered by the Supreme Court) would go a long way toward rebuilding bridges with our allies abroad. American moral leadership on these issues will also help win hearts and minds in Iraq, where the parallels between the Abu Ghraib abuses by U.S. soldiers and Saddam Hussein's henchmen are all too easy to draw. But none of that will happen if the United States continues to drag its feet, kicking and screaming at every step of the way. Indeed, if the fight to implement Rasul takes as long as the fight for equality after Brown, then many of the detainees at Gitmo could die in captivity before they see their rights vindicated.

Oh, just read it.

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6 Responses to More Evil From the Administration

  1. MP says:

    The premise that our treatment of terrorist prisoners is a key reason for the lack of support (from whom?) we have received in our war on terror is unsupported and fundamentaly flawed.

    To the contrary, the muslim nations from whom we seek support employ harsh and (truly) torturous methods. They have been known to question our resolve against terrorists in the past precisely because of the relatively luxurious accomodations we give our terrorist prisoners. Pakistan and others are now really helping out because they see we have taken the gloves off.

    The reason some dispicable governments have not supported us has nothing to do with our policies. It is because they refuse to act in a situation that offers them no financial benefit. Sudan anyone? The reason we don’t get support from “old europe” was because chirac and putin were lining their pockets with UN “Food For Oil” dollars. Why doesn’t michael moore create a documentary on them?

    We do have allies in the war on terror. We have it from nations that value human life, liberty and freedom. The bribes we would have to pay to corrupt nations like france and russia are simply not worth their toll.

    In short, despite the excerpt’s contention to the contrary, the issue is the rights of the prisoners, per se.

  2. Dem says:

    MP: To the contrary, the muslim nations from whom we seek support employ harsh and (truly) torturous methods. They have been known to question our resolve against terrorists in the past precisely because of the relatively luxurious accomodations we give our terrorist prisoners. Pakistan and others are now really helping out because they see we have taken the gloves off.

    Your assertion that Pakistan “and others” (like who?) is now “really” helping because “we have taken the gloves off” is unsupported and unsupportable. Pakistan joined the “war on Terror” before the bombs began falling on Afghanistan in 2001, and thus before the gloves were “taken off”. The internal political realities the Pakistani regime faced, combined with $1 Billion in promised annual military aid and threats by the US of supporting opposition leaders if Pakistan did not fall in line had everything to do with their decision.

    The reason some dispicable governments have not supported us has nothing to do with our policies.

    You offer a few isolated examples but don’t build a case. There is some merit to your point, in that governments do tend to be influenced by financial incentives.

    But by ascribing all motivations of ruling governments to financial incentives you badly distort reality. The vast, vast majority of citizens in Europe opposed the Iraq war. Governments that have supported the war have taken hits in elections. Those that didn’t were at least in part responding to the feeling of their electorate. (You DO advocate democracy, don’t you, even if the result isn’t to your liking?) You also ignore the fact that most of these same governments supported, with people and money, the invasion of Afghanistan and the first Gulf War. So, clearly, something was different about Iraq. Something that you and your buddies choose to ignore when you pretend the First World country’s opposition to the Iraq War was primarily based on financial interests.

    We do have allies in the war on terror. We have it from nations that value human life, liberty and freedom.

    You can’t support this statement. You are saying in effect: “IF you support “war on terror” THEN you value life, liberty, and freedom.” You’re saying Kuwait values freedom and liberty? Uzbekistan? Kazahkistan? ABSURD! And the inverse is equally untrue. That Holland, Sweden, and Germany do not value freedom and liberty? GET REAL!

    Overall, you have demonstrated a total misunderstanding of the motivations of those in other countries who have opposed the United States policy on Iraq and the “war on terror” in general. So it’s no wonder you do not understand why improving treatment of prisoners would be a first step in improving relations with those who oppose the U.S.

    However, it is dangerous for anyone to misunderstand their opposition to the degree you demonstrate. Maybe you really DO understand and are intentionally misrepresenting for rhetorical purposes. If so, I suggest you find a more receptive audience.

  3. MP says:

    Dem-
    In classic Franken-Moore attacks, you make “logical” conclusions derived from hyper-literal readings of my arguments.

    Clearly, foreign suspiscion of our past seriousness regarding terrorist threats was based on a variety of factors. Primarily, we took a “law enforcement” approach rather than the declared war we now have. Prisoner treatment was a symbol of that approach, and caused others to question how seriously we really could get on terror. While Pakistan did receive incentives, our much more practical approach to terrorist prisoners now tends to indicate to our allies that we are not going to let left-wing lawyers loose the war on terror for us.

    You all but concede that the french and russian governments were corrupt vis-a-vis food for oil. Absent financial incentives, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that any european nation not already committing troops or money will do so. Bowing down and “apologizing” to old-europe gains us absolutely nothing. Other than an abstract, hollow, and bitterly polite diplomatic “friendship”, nothing substantial can be gained.

    It was politically impossible to oppose the US invasion of afghanistan. Sympathy, rathter than logic, was the deciding factor for europeans. Iraq however, allowed enough intellectual wiggle-room for europeans to make excuses for their own dispicably self-interested motives. Your comparison of the two is impossible.

    The fact is, the french and german people are simply unwilling to fight for the freedom of others, and history casts serious doubts on whether they will even fight for themselves when jihaad finds its way into their own borders. The spanish rolled over and submitted already. What help will europe realistically give?

    This is all aside from the fact that the US has treated its prisoners more humanely than any warring nation in history. Were there a few isolated problems, sure. But we have nothing to apologize to anyone for.

    This nation can benefit more from the friendship and respect from millions of liberated muslims in afghanistan and iraq than the cowardly scoundrels of france.

  4. Dem says:

    “hyper-literal”???? You do not define the term. You do not explain how it applies. Maybe you mean that you overstated for effect and I took you literally? Well, this is a written discussion … I can only respond to the words you’ve put down. If you overstate for effect, say so.

    I believe that “hyper-literal” has become popular with those on the right in reaction to the solid arguments being waged by some on the left. Essentially it’s a three step process: 1) Rightist asserts X. 2) Leftist points out that X is false. 3) Rightist says Leftist is being “hyper-literal”, and then asserts a watered-down, revised version of X.

    In your first post you asserted Pakistan “and others” were assisting us because we now have “taken the gloves off”. In my response I ask “what others?” and challenged your statement on two grounds: First, Pakistan joined the U.S. prior to any “taking the gloves off action” and second, that other incentives ($1B in aide, U.S. support of shaky regime) were present. You ignore “what others?” and the first point. On the second you acknowledge incentives were present but repeat your assertion without proof or argumentative support that Pakistan was influenced by “our much more practical approach to terrorist prisoners”. Go ahead, accuse me of being hyper-literal. The fact is you are making an assertion without proof and ignoring counter-evidence.

    In the next paragraph you say “You all but concede that the french and russian governments were corrupt vis-a-vis food for oil.” I’ll concede the French and Russian governments make policy decisions in the interests of the own industries and often against the interests of their own people. It’s a pretty easy argument to make. Most of the food-for-oil scandal info came from Chalabi so I’m withholding judgement on that. But, applying the argument to Iraq, you’ve ignored a couple of key points. First, France and Russia were not the only ones opposed to Iraq, just the two WW2 allies with permanent UN security council seats who opposed it (if the UN SC had voted the US would have lost 4-11). They were joined by most of Europe, Asia, and indeed the world. Were all those countries similarly tainted? Second, you replied to my point about Afghanstan but not specifically about GW1. You write: “Absent financial incentives, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that any european nation not already committing troops or money will do so.” Sorry, I already mentioned GW1 in which nations throughout the world sent Billions of dollars and large troop allocations. Try to explain that one away. No, it’s not just financial incentives that motivated the opposition.

    And of course you ignored my point about democracy. The vast, vast majority of citizens of the world’s democracies, outside the US, opposed the invasion. Britain participated against the will of their citizens. Are you only in favor of democracy when the people support your position?

    Your following paragraphs return to the unsupported overstatements that characterized your original post. “Iraq however, allowed enough intellectual wiggle-room for europeans to make excuses for their own dispicably self-interested motives.” I won’t bother arguing with this because a) you don’t offer any evidence or argumentary support, and b) I don’t want to have this discussion get distracted from the original point. But it is clear you haven’t a clue why the vast, vast majority of people in Europe opposed the war.

    Your other statements are provably false: “the french and german people are simply unwilling to fight for the freedom of others, and history casts serious doubts on whether they will even fight for themselves when jihaad finds its way into their own borders.” This is wrong on so many counts, but I’ll remind you the French were present militarily in GW1, including air fighters and troops. Probably you’ll respond I’m being “hyper-literal” and that the French presence was not that great in GW1. But your statement is clear: “simply unwilling to fight for freedom of others” … and yet in very recent times they did. [Germany was prohibited from doing so at the time by their post WW2 constitution (at the insistence of the allies), but they contributed non-military personnel.]

    I won’t dignify the opinions you express in your last two statements with a response.

  5. MP says:

    By hyper-literal, I refer to the nit-picky, playground approach to argumentation and interpretation. For example, in our exchange:

    Me: We do have allies in the war on terror. We have it from nations that value human life, liberty and freedom.

    You: You can’t support this statement. You are saying in effect: “IF you support “war on terror” THEN you value life, liberty, and freedom.” You’re saying Kuwait values freedom and liberty? Uzbekistan? Kazahkistan? ABSURD! And the inverse is equally untrue. That Holland, Sweden, and Germany do not value freedom and liberty? GET REAL!

    I did not state, nor imply, that all of our supporters in iraq are model democracies. Nor did I state that all non-supporters do not value the afformentioned values. At most, my statement implies that non-supporters are suspect. You can take satisfaction, if you like, that I have “watered down” my statement for you. But I suspect your perceived “victory” over a conservative is hollow, as other readers you would like to persuade recognize your approach for the game-playing that it is.

    Your last post is all over the place. Much of it is irrelevant to the original argument. The original excerpt claimed our nation would benefit from treating our terrorist prisoners better. I disagree, for the following reasons:

    1. The muslim nations we really need help from are indifferent to our prisoners, they treat theirs much worse. In fact, their cultures respect a tough jailor.
    2. The underlying premise, that western nations that have high standards for prisoner treatment would somehow change their posture towwards us, is not supported by the excerpt or full article.
    3. Even if we were the world’s cushiest jailor, it would not result in more help from european nations in our war on terror. france, russia and germany have shown themselves motivated by financial gain only.
    4. The entire premise that we need apologize for our treatment of terrorist prisoners is absurd. The majority of our prisoners exist in very humane conditions.

    I need not waste time supporting number 1–anyone knowledgable about the middle-east would agree.

    Number 2, so far as I can tell, has not been addressed by either of us.

    You attempt to attack #3, implying that europeans participated in the first gulf war out of moral obligation. I think that is silly, even if said about the US. That war was about stability of our nations and our allies vital oil supply in that entire region. Yes, as many liberals like to mindlessly scream, “blood for oil”. It is not necessary to discuss the role of petroleum in our society. It is enough to say that the first gulf war does not prove a european desire to fight for their allies. I said fight, as in combat units.

    The europeans were not even willing to fight to stop a slaughter of their neighbors to the east; Oh sure, france is a nato member…thank God that Clinton had the stones to defy chirac and bomb the danube bridges. And who were the first muslims to jump to our aide in iraq? The very ones that were saved by the bombs that european and american liberals decried.

    It is no coincidence that the nations named as axis of evil states fly french and russian planes, and drive russian and german tanks. again, where is the michael moore crockumentary?

    Liberal faith in “old europe” is one of the most dangerous ideas of our day. Faith in the corrupt UN is even worse.

    Contrary to your assertion, I “have a clue” as to why europeans oppose the war. Their stated reasons are the cliche anti-war reasons that are part of post ww2 european culture. They believe a nation may moraly go to war only when attacked. They did not believe iraq posed a danger to the us.

    The problem is that you do not “have a clue” as to the real reasons behind their position. Surely, there is some truth to their stated reasons. But one cannot ignore their financial motives, nor their cowardice before islamofascist terrorism. The latter is simply unforgivable, a failure to learn from their own history. further, one cannot ignore their creeping sense of inferiority, the same feeling that drives terrorists. there was a time when french was the international language, the de facto esperanto. today it is english. american english. who paid for western europe’s freedom from communism? we did. the french didn’t even have the courtesy to say thanks at the gipper’s funeral.

    I don’t think we need the germans, french, or heaven forbid the russian’s approval on how we treat our prisoners. Their ww2 history in that regard hardly qualifies them as experts.

    You don’t even address point #4.

  6. Dem says:

    “hyper-literal” “game-playing” “hollow victory”

    I’ve seen these terms a lot lately. They seem to becoming popular as excuses.

    Look up the Socratic Method. The idea of dialog is that each side makes assertions and the other side tests them (sometimes also referred to as the “Devil’s Advocate” method). Some times your assertions are logically shown to be incorrect. When that happens you acknowledge and revise. Some times when you attempt to disprove another’s assertions you find you cannot. When that happens you acknowledge that the statement has survived scrutiny.

    In other words, it is OKAY to admit you made an incorrect statement. You don’t need to try to explain it away. People respect that sort of thing. It’s a natural part of discourse.

    Let’s go to the key point from your last memo:

    MP: I did not state, nor imply, that all of our supporters in iraq are model democracies.

    No, you said the nations supporting the war “value human life, liberty and freedom”. I pointed out that they contain Uzbekistan and Kazakistan, two nations which certainly do NOT value human life, liberty or freedom. Read the Amnesty International reports on them.

    This isn’t a minor point, it’s central. The theme of your posts is that it is more moral to support the war than not. You assert that those nations that support it place higher values on moral qualities like life, liberty and freedom. I point out that the list of nations who support the war include some of the worst violators of those very freedoms. Ergo, your assertion that the supporters value those qualities is wrong, and your implied assertion that they are more moral than those who oppose is also wrong.

    You would do better to admit you overreached and try another approach than to accuse me of game-playing.

    For completeness, I will comment that the remainder of your post has one very valid statement: “The underlying premise, that western nations that have high standards for prisoner treatment would somehow change their posture towwards us, is not supported by the excerpt or full article.” You’re right, the article does not support that. If that had been the topic of your original post I’d have had to agree. But instead you made other assertions that were both unsupported and unsupportable, so I responded.

    Regarding your point #1, the first sentence is correct as a general observation. The second is an opinion, not universally shared by experts in Muslim cultures.

    I don’t agree with the opinions you express in #3 or #4. Or with yoursubsequent diatribe on the French. But I won’t bother arguing those points.

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