Creative Destruction

June 30, 2006

My Sentiments Exactly

Filed under: Current Events — Off Colfax @ 3:05 am

John Cole puts it better than I could, even with a thousand parenthetical comments.

Put those aside, and there is still something even more offensive about this passage:

They will challenge the “judicial interference with national security” and challenge dissenting Congressmen and civil libertarians to either stand with the terrorists or the American people.

It never gets old, being told you are a traitor and in league with the terrorists because you disagree with current administration policy.

Let me be the first to tell Andrew Cochran, whoever that is, to go fuck himself. Twice.

Well, I’m doing it next. And if Cochran really is talking about what the Republican Party is going to do this year, they can all go impale themselves on a certain work of art I once heard about. Repeatedly.

I stand by American principles; the spirit of America itself is more important than any single human or building. Even should bin Laden himself be captured and brought to justice, we must maintain the standards that the American justice system is founded upon. And the enemy-combatants/prisoners-of-an-undeclared-war/poor-bastards- dumb-enough-to-get-caught down Guantanamo way should fall under the same category.

We should allow no enemy force us to break those principles, as bin Laden’s followers have goaded the current administration to do. For breaking our time-honored principles has caused us to continue losing the media war throughout the world.

39 Comments »

  1. Are you volunteering to be a prison guard at Osama’s prison for the next twenty years or more?

    A prison where Osama gets to make phone calls, talk to his lawyer every third day, sees his wives for a little conjugal, has maybe a nice little job in the metal shop?

    That’s what American justice for Al Qaeda would seem to require. To borrow a phrase, I certainly would not want to “send my sons and daughters” to toil as a jailor in such a place.

    YMMV.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 4:28 am | Reply

  2. Are you volunteering to be a prison guard at Osama’s prison for the next twenty years or more?

    Sounds boring as crap to me, but I imagine that there are plenty of people willing to be bin Laden’s prison guard for enough pay. Do prisoners convicted of capital crimes really get conjugal visits? But the US federal justice system has a death penalty*. Why do you assume that OBL wouldn’t get the death penalty if given a fair trial?

    I’m with Off Colfax on this one. If the terrorists force us to become like them they will have been given a victory and revenge better than they could ever have hoped for.

    *I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it’s there and if there was ever a good candidate for it…

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 10:27 am | Reply

  3. Oops, one other point. Twenty years? Not a chance. OBL has kidney failure. I’ve seen the way medical care works in prisons. They’d bungle the dialysis within a year tops, even assuming everyone controls their desire for revenge well enough to not do it intentionally.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  4. I’m with Off Colfax. The irony of the war on terror is that our own government would have us live in a constant state of terror, perpetually afraid of the next attack, which, I note, is a virtual inevitability. That state of terror is being used to attempt to roll back civil liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights (and elsewhere) — those that haven’t been invalidated in practice already.

    Yes, a tension exists between elements of government that wish to ignore or repeal rights of its citizens — elements that use national security to justify un-Constitutional agendas — and those elements that wish to protect the citenzenry and the Constitution from improper trampling by government. Resolving that tension — one power checking another — is precisely how the different branches of government are meant to interact, and characterizing the result when it doesn’t fit one’s agenda as judicial interference is monstrous.

    To answer Robert’s implicit question, yes, bin Laden, if captured, should be granted the same prisoner’s rights as any other. It’s a statement about us, not about him, and we’ve already lost too much moral and ethical high ground to yield more by mistreating him or anyone else.

    Comment by Brutus — June 30, 2006 @ 10:37 am | Reply

  5. Jesus H. Christ. The man is actively plotting warfare against us, and you’d set him up in what amounts to a secure private office and make sure the government doesn’t cruelly violate his rights by listening in on his phone calls.

    Left side of the political spectrum, meet twenty years out of power. You’re not to be trusted with power over a popsicle stand, let alone a nation state.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  6. The alternative to adhering to our own processes, procedures, and rule of law is, in effect, to cast a no confidence vote that they don’t really work and that all bets are off. It’s fine with me if you don’t agree. Luckily, you’re not in power. Those who are in power have been stepping all over the law, and the courts just issued a reproach. Spin it this way or that as you will, but I’m glad to see hawkish behavior being restrained.

    Comment by Brutus — June 30, 2006 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  7. The alternative to adhering to our own processes, procedures, and rule of law is, in effect, to cast a no confidence vote that they don’t really work and that all bets are off.

    Bullshit, Brutus. We’ve fought wars for 230 years without running into this problem – now suddenly if we don’t treat enemy soldiers like shoplifters its the end of the Republic?

    Your thinking on this question is simply unserious.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

  8. So, Robert, what would you suggest doing in the following scenario:

    Osama bin Laden is found to have been living in a hotel room in Detroit for the past 5 years. A SWAT team raids the place and finds Osama, fetchingly attired in a burka that hides his identity from casual visitors, five Middle Eastern looking men, and a white guy in a Domino’s Pizza uniform with a box of pizza. In this situation would you:

    1. Arrest them and hold trials to separate the guilty from the innocent and punish the guilty according to the rule of law
    2. Drop them all in an oubliette and eat the pizza to celebrate a job well done
    3. Drop OBL in an oubliette, try the others
    4. Let the pizza guy go and drop the rest in an oubliette
    5. #2, followed by a little punitive bombing of Detroit for harboring him

    Just curious.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  9. …and Dianne cements the impression.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  10. Tell you what, Dianne. Maybe I’m being unfair.

    Why don’t YOU tell us what should be done under your scenario. Explain how we should balance the national security interest with the Constitution in this delicate matter. I eagerly await your bold defense of American lives.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  11. Why don’t YOU tell us what should be done under your scenario.

    I would have gone with #1. But then again, I have some level of confidence in the legal system. But why are you so afraid to answer the question?

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  12. We’ve fought wars for 230 years without running into this problem – now suddenly if we don’t treat enemy soldiers like shoplifters its the end of the Republic?

    Two thoughts on this comment:

    1. This sort of problem has never come up before? No one objected to the treatment of Confederate POWs (and the occasional US citizen civilian suspected of Confederate sympathies) at Camp Douglas? No one objected to the internment of civilian Americans of Japanese ethnicity during WWII? I suppose it’s possible, though I’d like to think that the forefathers weren’t such sheep.

    2. Richard Reid (the shoe bomber) received a life sentence. So was Zacarias Moussaoui. Timothy McVeigh was executed. If this is the way the average shoplifter is treated then the penalties for shoplifting are way too harsh.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  13. I have little confidence in the legal system, but even if I had every confidence in it, it isn’t the tool I would use to fight a war.

    We’re in a war. You guys don’t want that to be the case, and so you’re acting as though we’re not. That’s entirely acceptable behavior – from people who aren’t part of the decisionmaking. Get used to that status.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  14. We’re in a war.

    With whom? When did Congress declare war and against what country?

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

  15. We are in a war with adherents of a philosophy that goes by various labels; Islamic fascism is as good a name as any.

    Congress made declaration with this statutory act.

    Serious thinkers on the war issue already know this. I assume that you, as someone apparently bound and determined to demonstrate exactly why most leftists cannot be trusted to prosecute a conflict – are doubtless going to quibble with it.

    Please do that with someone else.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  16. Congress made declaration with this statutory act.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. All Bush has to do is say “September 11” and he can justify attacking Canada if he wants to. And not a declaration of war. The 9/11 attacks acts of terrorism. They were no more–or no less, if you want to look at it that way–acts of war than the Oklahoma City attacks. Neither was the act of a foreign government attempting to invade the US or alter its behavior.

    Serious thinkers on the war issue already know this.

    For example? The 95th Flying Keyboardists are not “serious thinkers.”

    why most leftists cannot be trusted to prosecute a conflict

    Indeed. Leftists generally do soooo badly at wars. FDR, Wilson, Lincoln…Oh, wait a minute. They all won their wars. On the other hand, Nixon presided over the only unequivical loss of a war in US history. Although, to be fair, Johnson did set him up.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  17. Argue with Congress, Dianne.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  18. from people who aren’t part of the decisionmaking. Get used to that status.

    You’d best hope that that’s not true, because one party systems inevitably* lead to corrupt, incompetent, and dictatorial governments. If you really want the Reps (or conservatives or Fundies, or whomever) to always be in charge, be prepared to get used to living in a third world backwater.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

  19. Argue with Congress, Dianne.

    I’ve tried. My rep buys the argument, but he’s in the minority at the moment. That doesn’t make that act any smarter.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

  20. I agree. That’s why it bothers me to see Democrats throwing away their credibility the way you have. The moment when you say “what war?” – as body bags are coming home and sorties are being flown – is pretty much the moment it becomes completely unacceptable that you would EVER have any political power.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  21. he’s in the minority at the momentpermanently

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  22. The moment when you say “what war?” – as body bags are coming home and sorties are being flown

    Oh, I know that there’s a state of war going on right now. But this state of war is not happening because of any attack on the US. It’s occurring because Bush led two undeclared first strike attacks. A leader who likes to make illegal first strike attacks seems to me to be a worse leader than one who insists that all the legalisms are in place*.

    Incidently, you’re in very poor form with this argument. Ad hom attacks, unsupported appeals to authority… What gives? You can do better than this.

    *Not that I’m implying that I am or ever will be a political leader. Dog forbid!

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  23. he’s in the minority at the momentpermanently

    If you’re right, take a good look at Mexico, because that’s the future of the US. If you’re lucky. With less luck, North Korea.

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  24. Oh, I know that there’s a state of war going on right now.

    Then why are you wasting time with sophomore “there’s no war” crap?

    It’s occurring because Bush led two undeclared first strike attacks.

    Except for the part about the declarations, and the fact that neither was a “first strike”.

    You’ve already demonstrated that you aren’t serious. Now you appear to be attempting to demonstrate that you aren’t capable of thought.

    I’m done here.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  25. Except for the part about the declarations, and the fact that neither was a “first strike”.

    Ok, I was going to stop responding on the grounds that things had degenerated too far to have a reasonable conversation, but this one’s too good to resist.

    1. No declaration of war has been made. The US has not declared war on Afghanistan or Iraq and neither Iraq nor Afghanistan has declared war on the US or any of its allies. Hence, it is undeclared.

    2. One could make the argument that Afghanistan’s government made an attack on the US. It’s a pathetically bad argument given that none of the 9/11 terrorists came from Afghanistan, the attack was supported by al Qaeda not the Taliban, and the attackers were not representatives of the Afghani government in any way that I’ve ever heard. Still, the Taliban allowed al Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan and refused to co-operate with the US in bringing them to justice, both before and after the attacks. So one could argue that they had some role in the attacks and that the attack on Afghanistan had some justification.

    But how can the attack on Iraq possibly by any stretch of the imagination be called anything but a “first strike”? No Iraqi was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Saddam Hussein had no connection to al Qaeda and, in fact, probably hated OBL et al’s guts. SH is a secularist, a Bathist, not an Islamic fundie. The WMD were a myth. Even if they had been real, they were never used on the US. How can the US invasion be called anything other than a first strike? You could say it was a justified first strike or even that it was done in the interests of democracy and, though I don’t believe either argument, I would agree that they are arguments that a reasonable person could make. But not a first strike? Not unless you can provide some strong evidence that SH was at least planning to attack the US.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    On reflection, I decided that this was a little too compacted, especially if Daran or any other Brits are reading this. I’ll attempt to expand.

    The Constitution sets up an intricate system of “checks and balances” to try to assure that all of the branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) have roughly equal amounts of power. One of the checks on the executive branch (the president and his staff) is that, although the Pres controls the military, only Congress can declare war. Contrariwise, a check on Congress is that, although they can declare war, only the Pres can execute a war since he or she controls the military.

    The act Robert referenced circumvents this check by declaring that the Pres can make war (although, again, war has not officially been declared) on any country or entity that he pleases, as long as he can claim it has to do with the 9/11 attacks. So, while an act authorizing an attack on Afghanistan in response to the attacks would be a reasonable move (a wrong one, IMHO, but reasonable). An act allowing the Pres to attack any country any time anywhere, on the other hand, is stupid at best.

    You’ve already demonstrated that you aren’t serious. Now you appear to be attempting to demonstrate that you aren’t capable of thought.

    Shorter Robert: “La la la, I can’t hear you.” Still think that shoplifters get LWOP?

    Comment by Dianne — June 30, 2006 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  26. And now you’re demonstrating that you don’t read. Pretty much every point you attempt to make in this latest one has been demolished over the last three years. It is a declared war, under the meaning of the statute. Sadddam Hussein has plenty of documented ties to Al Qaeda. The Taliban has plenty of ties to 9-11. We’ve been engaging in combat operations against Saddam for years prior to the war. And so on.

    Nobody serious and intelligent disputes these points any longer. And I’m done discussing it with you.

    Comment by Robert — June 30, 2006 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

  27. Robert, you know that little declaration you’re referring to? Well, I’ve already given it some very serious thought, and posted it here. And, as the title of the post would suggest, it does conclude that we are not at war. It’s all there in black and white. (Well, I guess you could call it a light tan, but it’s still the same principle.)

    Oh, and there’s someone who agrees with me on the issue… Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.

    There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force.

    I only want to clarify that, because there are implications. Obviously, when you talk about a war declaration, you’re possibly talking about affecting treaties, diplomatic relations. And so there is a distinction in law and in practice. And we’re not talking about a war declaration. This is an authorization only to use military force.

    Care to demolish that one, Robert?

    This is only a war to the ones on the sharp end of the stick. After all, when the bullets are in the air, there’s very little real-life difference between a war and an armed conflict. And that difference becomes even slimmer when the other side sets up a guerrilla campaign. So I understand how it can be confused as being such, even here at home.

    Comment by Off Colfax — July 1, 2006 @ 1:39 am | Reply

  28. After all, when the bullets are in the air, there’s very little real-life difference between a war and an armed conflict.

    But the distinction can have consequences after the fact, at least in the US. Remember all the trouble Vietnam vets went through to get recognized as veterans of a foreign war? It may be that with the precedent set by the Vietnam vets, vets of OIF won’t have the same amount of trouble, but I wouldn’t count on it. Bush is trying to gut the VA system and has imposed rules that make it much more difficult to establish a disability as service connected, even when it clearly is. A minor reason for wanting one’s wars to be clear and defined, with a definite acheivable goal, perhaps, but nontheless a reason.

    A more serious reason is that, if we are at war with “terrorism” or some such abstract entity, how will it ever end? War is peace for the politicians, because it keeps people like Robert loyal and controllable, but it’s not so great for those who have to do the fighting or those dealing with the consequences.

    Sadddam Hussein has plenty of documented ties to Al Qaeda.

    Evidence?

    Comment by Dianne — July 1, 2006 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  29. Off Colfax, thanks for the information. Apparently they’re playing the legal game close to the chest for some reason, and I’m wrong on the legal question. I would think it would be easier for them to make the opposite argument, but oh well.

    Comment by Robert — July 1, 2006 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  30. Robert, believe it or not, I would have much prefered that the Congress had declared war, using their powers under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Unfortunately, there enters the sticky question of whether a country can enter into a state of war with a non-state entity.

    Both Iraq and Afghanistan definately qualify as state entities, though. Even under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan was capable of entering into diplomatic agreements. And few would argue that the Hussein regime was not a state actor. Those could have been accomplished with an actual Declaration of War quite easily and legally. Instead, they took the easy way out, using a simple AUMF under the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

    But when it comes to al Qaeda itself, the AUMF was all that Congress could reasonably do. Non-state actor, not bound by geographic borders, national criminal case rather than geopolitical… al Qaeda simply does not conform with the rules of international war, so it would have been senseless to go through an actual declaration against them.

    Also, seeing as how Sen. J. R. 23 did not name a specific target outside of those “nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001,” that rather nebulous target sample has allowed them to legally stretch the AUMF to include Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, in which the Taliban were part and parcel of the al Qaeda network, all the President had to do was determine that Iraq was part and parcel of the 9/11 attacks and he could make the call of weapons-free and green-light.

    And as I put it here, that’s the weaseling path of doing things. The Iraq issue deserved its own formal DOW. As would Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea (Actually, no. We still haven’t finalized a peace treaty with North Korea, so the US could resume active operations against the PRK at any given notice, particularly seeing as how we could view their LRBM developments as a hostile act. Probably also why they’ve still been bankrupting themselves with military growth after all these years.), or anyone else that Junior wishes to blow to smithereenies.

    Comment by Off Colfax — July 1, 2006 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  31. You’ve already demonstrated that you aren’t serious. Now you appear to be attempting to demonstrate that you aren’t capable of thought.

    I originally signed up at “Creative Destruction” based on the idea that it would be a place for respectful left/right discussion. Lately I’ve been questioning whether or not there’s any reason for me to be posting here at all, largely because of comments like this one.

    Robert, your condescension and rudeness on this thread have been extraordinary, and reprehensible. You’ve convinced me that you’re incapable of intelligent discussion on this issue; if that was your goal, congrats.

    Edited to add: Actually, I don’t think you’re “incapable.” I think you’re unwilling, which is worse.

    Comment by Ampersand — July 2, 2006 @ 9:57 am | Reply

  32. But when it comes to al Qaeda itself, the AUMF was all that Congress could reasonably do.

    I don’t agree. I think it was both too much and too little of them to have done. Too much because, as I stated earlier, it gives Bush (and, presumably, all subsequent presidents) too much power to invade where they please. All a president has to do if he wants to invade a country is make a claim that al Qaeda operates there. As Iraq shows, evidence is not necessary and anyway any president worth his PAC contributions should be able to trump up some sort of “evidence”.

    Too little in that it directs energy and resources away from actions that might actually result in decreased al Qaeda activity. We have a word for non-state actors who committ violent acts. That word is “criminal”. And the way to catch criminals is police work and prophylactic measures to prevent crime, such as improved airport security, etc. Yet Bush is already taking money away from programs that might improve security in NYC and Washington, DC–the only two targets yet attacked in the US. How does this make us safer?

    We still haven’t finalized a peace treaty with North Korea, so the US could resume active operations against the PRK at any given notice, particularly seeing as how we could view their LRBM developments as a hostile act

    Yet we haven’t attacked them. Probably because they really do have WMD. Pakistan, which clearly does have a number of al Qaeda operatives in it and is moving laxidasically at best to try to bring them to justice, has not been attacked or threatened. Probably because it definitely has nukes. The message? The US will not attack any country that can defend itself. If I were the leader of a small, poor country I’d put everything I had into developing nukes too–and demonstrating that I had them. It’s the only way to be safe from invasion by the US.

    Comment by Dianne — July 2, 2006 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  33. It’s been a difficult few days. I am exceptionally weary of the dishonesty and disingenuity of some (by no means all) anti-war voices. However, that shouldn’t have led me to being rude. My apologies for the intemperate language.

    Comment by Robert — July 2, 2006 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  34. It’s understandable, Robert. I’m far from the last to admit that quite a few of the folks on my side of the double-yellow-line have a pile of tapioca (liberally laced with granola) (pun intended) where the rest of humanity keeps their brain. And that is enough to try the patience of a saint, much less a conservative.

    But you should know by now that I’m not counted among that number. I almost pride myself on my moderate/classical-liberal outlook, which means that I can’t allow myself to take the flying leap into the deep end. (Also, I have a serious phobia of deep water, along with falling and sharks.) But if I ever am seen heading in that direction, I’m certain I’ll be called on it.

    Comment by Off Colfax — July 2, 2006 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  35. OC, you seem to be one of the more sensible liberal types around. And tapioca-for-brains knows no party. So we can be friends…at least until it comes time to lock you into the Halliburton concentration camp.

    Comment by Robert — July 2, 2006 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  36. I am exceptionally weary of the dishonesty and disingenuity of some (by no means all) anti-war voices

    The man who claimed that shoplifters get life imprisonment is talking about dishonesty? Well, since you seem to be impressed by links stating the incredibly obvious, an example of penalties imposed for shoplifting. Note that LWOP is not among them. Likewise, I’ve never seen a convicted terrorist sentenced to a $250 fine, not even for a first offense. Still think terrorists are treated like shoplifters?

    Comment by Dianne — July 2, 2006 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  37. until it comes time to lock you into the Halliburton concentration camp.

    It’s okay, Robert. We have a nice bright-pink loft reserved for you in Berkeley.

    You have your prisons of cruel and unusual punishment. We have ours. It’s jsut that ours are more creative.

    Comment by Off Colfax — July 3, 2006 @ 12:32 am | Reply

  38. Hey, if I’m getting lots of hot gay sex in my pink Berkeley loft, that means the terrorists have lost. So I can deal.

    Comment by Robert — July 3, 2006 @ 3:18 am | Reply

  39. […] I made a similar argument about lost faith in comments to Off Colfax’s post called My Sentiments Exactly. As I recall, no one responded to my comment. Unlike forward-looking detentions — which implicate war powers and where courts lack comparative expertise — tribunals that look retrospectively at guilt intrude on areas where civilian courts have competence and protect our Constitution’s checks and balances. E.g., In re Yamashita, 327 U.S. 1 (1946); Quirin, 317 U.S. 1; United States v. Grimley, 137 U.S. 147 (1890); Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866). […]

    Pingback by Creative Destruction » Rule of Law in SCOTUS Decision on Tribunals — July 3, 2006 @ 10:47 pm | Reply


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