For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Commander in Chief or law professor?

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

By ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention camp and ordering a review of methods used to hold and interrogate terrorist suspects, President Barack Obama has reignited a critical national security debate.

The question: Should foreign nationals suspected of terrorist acts be treated as criminals with rights granted American citizens by the U.S. Constitution or as enemy combatants not entitled those safeguards?

For me, the answer is clear. Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism should not be granted the same constitutional protections received by U.S. citizens charged with a crime. My belief is founded upon a case I investigated more than a decade ago while working as a private detective in Washington, D.C.

In June 1997, during the Clinton administration, I was appointed by a federal judge to serve as Hani al-Sayegh's investigator. Al-Sayegh, a reputed member of Saudi Hezbollah and later linked to al-Qaeda by the 9-11 Commission, was arrested in Canada and turned over to the United States.

An indictment charged al-Sayegh with attempting to murder U.S. nationals while he lived in Saudi Arabia. He also was implicated - but not indicted - in the June 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia. The truck bomb carrying 5,000 pounds of explosives murdered 19 American airmen.

Following arraignment, al-Sayegh was held at a safe house, instead of a jail, because he'd agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the Khobar Towers attack. Intelligence officials also thought he could provide information about Hezbollah and Iranian-sponsored terrorism. Because al-Sayegh was classified by the Clinton administration as a criminal defendant - instead of as an enemy combatant - he was entitled to full constitutional protections and legal representation.

In order to meet with al-Sayegh, his attorney and I would stand on always changing street corners at times pre-arranged with the U.S. Marshals Service. An unmarked van accompanied by escort vehicles would suddenly pull to a stop, and we'd get in the back. With blackened windows and a wall separating the driver's area, we couldn't see out of the van.

An agent with an assault rifle sat with us in back while other armed agents were up front and in the escort vehicles. A helicopter monitored our course. At times, we'd change vehicles in garages before continuing to the safe house. Upon reaching the safe house, we'd exit the van in the garage, so we'd have no clue where al-Sayegh was secreted.

Based on the extensive effort to protect al-Sayegh, our knowledge gained in the case and concurrent international reporting by The New York Times and The Washington Post, it was clear the Clinton administration thought they had snagged a significant figure with insight to Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

Unfortunately, al-Sayegh reversed course and decided to not cooperate. Instead, he entered a not guilty plea and stopped talking to intelligence agents. At that point, he was moved from the relative freedom of the safe house and into the D.C. jail.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration, having classified al-Sayegh as a criminal defendant entitled to constitutional safeguards, was frantically attempting to get the Saudi and Iranian governments to provide evidence with which to prosecute al-Sayegh. Both governments turned the administration down - even after President Clinton appealed personally for help. In October 1997, all charges were dismissed against al-Sayegh because of a lack of admissible evidence.

In June 2001, the Bush administration succeeded in gathering enough evidence to indict and prosecute al-Sayegh - along with 13 others - for the Khobar Towers bombing, but it was too late. Al-Sayegh had been deported to Saudi Arabia - where he remains today - by the Clinton administration.

Three months later, when al-Qaeda struck Sept. 11, the Bush administration decided foreign terrorists no longer would be treated as criminal defendants with constitutional rights, but instead would be held as enemy combatants with limited rights. No doubt that decision was reached in part because of flaws exposed by the al-Sayegh case.

Based on my experience with al-Sayegh, I believe Bush was correct in his decision to stop treating terrorists as criminals. I also believe history will reveal the Bush doctrine on enemy combatants saved lives.

As President Obama grapples with how to handle those incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, I hope he will act as a Commander in Chief focused on protecting Americans from terrorism, not as a law professor concerned with the rights of criminals.

Comments

ybul 5 years, 8 months ago

arnonep

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Benjamin Franklin

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

I think that you guys skipped history class in favor tap dancing lessons.

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trump_suit 5 years, 8 months ago

A very thorny issue to be sure.

Does anyone believe that those detainees are innocent?

Does anyone doubt that they have been illegally tortured?

What a mess left by an administration with little or no regard for human rights. There are similar problems across the board with prosecuting prisoners that were mistreated, and/or had their right to privacy invaded by illegal wiretapping.

Just look at the mess in Oak Creek caused by an over zealous officer. Add to that the foreign combatant designation, and mix in some torture/abuse with the obvious hatred of America, and strong evidence of terrorist ties. Pretty much defines an unsolvable problem.

If George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld had taken the podium and stated clearly without prevecation that America would not stand for torture, and would prosecute those that engage in it, our standing in the world community would be much higher. I think that most Americans were appalled to learn that we were not following the principles laid out in the Geneva Conventions.

I do not have any answers for this problem, but I applaud the actions being taken by our new administration to close these facilities and sincerely hope that those smarter than I can come up with a workable solution.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 8 months ago

arnonep - 'Ask John McCain'...........That blew your entire post. The war was the only stance for the Republicans in the election. Give it up already.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

This column starts with a fundamental premise that is simply not true. Obama has not said all detainees have the same rights as US citizens. He has said that US citizens accused to being terrorists have the rights of US citizens. And that others have the rights of captured soldiers or captured spies.

And the history of fighting terrorists clearly shows that arresting particular individuals has a minor impact on the terrorists when there is a ready supply of replacements. The way these battles are won is to drain the support for the terrorists by giving them fewer reasons to feel so wronged.

We had anti-war domestic terrorists in the early 70s. It wasn't the police that put an end to it, but the winding down of the war and Ford's pardoning of draft dodgers and such. There was no more big group of people that felt like they were under attack by the US govt. The massacre at Kent State caused several people to conclude the US govt was at war with them and so these few "fought" back with their own acts of violence.

Note that taking away the anger does not mean agreeing with them - it just means stopping what they see as the most intolerable wrongs such as the draft and killing protesters. A guy I worked with was in Iran during their revolution and had married an Iranian. He was very lucky to get out alive after the hostages were taken and he hated Carter with a passion because the people of Iran always had this hope that while they had to live under the Shah that the US always talked about democracy and so when their time came then the US would help them. Instead the US stabbed the people in the back by supporting replacements to the Shah instead of supporting the people and then did showed complete contempt for the people of Iran by letting the Shah into the US. He said the Iranian revolutionaries were comparing themselves to Washington and Jefferson and instead of supporting them we became the King of England. And this guy was ex military working for the Shah (possibly CIA) was as right wing as they come.

Some of the detainees have been acknowledged to be no threat. the Urghurs from China which no one disputes have no intent to hurt anyone in the US, they were in Afghanistan to learn how to fight the Chinese government's oppression of their people. So we can't return them to China. Best guess is they be released to the US into some city that has other Urghurs refugees.

As the the guy in Rob's article - looks to me as yet another story of incompetence caused by haste. We take a guy without taking any evidence of what he is accused of doing? Pretty bad.

And the end of the story is odd - he is accused of bombing towers in Saudi Arabia that killed many, including Saudis and they see no reason to arrest him? Maybe the Saudis think he did his deal and he cooperated enough.

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trump_suit 5 years, 8 months ago

Well spoken Steve. You have summarized my basic beliefs very nicely.

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Rob Douglas 5 years, 8 months ago

A reader sent me the follwoing article from today's edition of the NY Times. As it speaks to the issue I've raised with today's column, I thought I'd append it here. I'm also providing a link to a piece the NY Times editors posted where 4

From the New York Times:

Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief for the full piece see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/world/middleeast/23yemen.html?hp

The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

"They're one and the same guy," said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing an intelligence analysis. "He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear."

Also from the NY Times:

The Risks of Releasing Detainees for the full piece containing the positions of the experts the Times asked to comment on this issue see: http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/the-risks-of-releasing-detainees/?hp

The Times reports today on the case of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who has emerged as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and is suspected of involvement in the bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen in September.

The case reflects the difficult choices the administration will face in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed on Thursday to shut down the detention center within a year. We asked these experts - several of whom were in earlier discussions on the legal challenges of closing Guantánamo and on the effects that torture charges have on its closing - for their response to this case.

Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Andrew McCarthy, legal affairs editor at National Review Deborah Colson, Human Rights First Glenn Sulmasy, law professor at U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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arnonep 5 years, 8 months ago

LTFO,

Who is the "us" you refer to?

Trump, There is no guilt/innocence, it's called Enemy! Ask John McCain if he was "illegally" tortured. To even mention Oak Creek in this context is so far off the subject it turns my stomach.

All above less tele and Fred, What you people do not seem to grasp is that we are at war. We did not start the war. When a President orders wire taps to protect our country, it is not illegal. In war you do what has to be done to win, or you lose. If we give to many civil rights to the enemy, we will lose. If we believe that the enemy thinks like we do, we will lose (Vietnam). If you are not willing to make the sacrifice of very minor "civil rights", then we will lose. It is a sad day when our commander in chief does not act like we are at war.

Fred, Nice shot, you hit the nail on the head.

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playa46 5 years, 8 months ago

Once again, another Republican Blinded by views.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

What a great article and what a great issue to discuss and debate. Well done!

Some basic facts:

The Geneva Convention is an "agreement" among sovereign nations (but only those nations who actually are signatories) as to how to conduct wars between and among the armies of these sovereign nations. As such, it deals primarily with rules pertaining to combat (e.g. no .50 cal fire against troops in the open but unlimited .50 cal against hard targets) and the treatment of Prisoners of War. It has alwasy struck me as silly that there are rules as to how you can kill enemy soldiers but that just may be me?

POWs under the Geneva Convention enjoy no "rights" and have no "entitlements" but rather their country has agreed with the other signatories as to how prisoners are to be treated.

The clear understanding is that these agreements pertain to soldiers in the ARMY of a sovereign nation making war against soldiers in the ARMY of another sovereign nation.

Terrorists are not soldiers serving in the army of a sovereign nation. And no terrorist organizations are signatories of the Geneva Conventions. Terrorists are indiscrimate killers of women and children.

Even soldiers are guilty of war crimes if they make war against civilians. Their own countries may prefer the war crimes charges against them (remember Lt Calley in VN?).

As a general policy, prisoners are not "charged" with doing something wrong, they simply have the misfortune to have been captured by an opposing warring party and the captors can imprison them for the duration of the war. And maybe plus some, if they win?

Interesting fact: the Russians returned the last German prisoners from WWII in 1969. The Americans kept Werner von Braun forever (though at some point in time he did decide he liked it here).

The notion that a "combatant" who is in the service of a "cause" rather than in the service of a sovereign nation and signatory to the Geneva Conventions is somehow entitled to "rights" superior to a POW is just absurd. In fact, the idea that a "combatant" is not entitled to be treated as even a POW is more intellectually sound.

No POW is entitled to or is within the jurisdiction of the American jurisprudence system or Court system or Criminal Code. It seems logical therefore that since a "combatant" or "terrorist" (my personal favorite term) is not entitled to even treatment as a POW, then they certainly are not entitled to access to the American courts much less habeus corpus or legal representation.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Shame on you, Rob. Do your research, instead of taking anything in the New York Times at face value, given their piss-poor record of reporting national security issues. The article you refer to fails to mention that it was the Bush administration who released this latest "Qaeda #2 man" into the custody of the Saudis in 2007, without a trial, for political purposes. Given that tidbit, just what does this prove about anything, other than "When you know someone is a terrorist, bring them to justice rather than releasing them"?

The Bushies released a terrorist for no discernable reason, instead of trying him in any way, shape or form -- there was no legal process here at all, and I can't imagine a judge condoning his release. The ONLY thing this proves is that Bush's actions have yet again placed America in greater danger than we would have been otherwise. I fail to see the relevance of this issue to the point you were making.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@trump_suit:

Yes, apparently some people do believe that not everyone at Gitmo is as guilty as we've been duped to believe:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7760927.stm

That's why he recently became the SEVENTH Gitmo prosecutor to resign in protest. Had his task been to prosecute people who were actually guilty I don't think he would have quit, nor would the other six.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Now, can we please stop referring to the President as the "Commander in Chief"? He is the CINC of the armed services which 99% of Americans have never joined. To us, he is simply our President, not our Commander -- the President is supposed to listen to the people, not dictate to them, our government is of the people, NOT a military junta!

Barack Obama is NOT my Commander-in-Chief. He is simply my President.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

The sad irony Rob represents: We are quite ready to send our soldiers into war, but here at home we'd sooner shred our bill of rights than face that same enemy.

I thought we were stronger and more resilient than that, as a people. Could we hold Bunker Hill the next time around?

Re: the NYTimes link, the justice system (and it's attempted rehabilitation of Said in Saudi Arabia) will always have drawbacks. Said, a terrorist went back to re-join our enemy.

But the much larger mistake of Gitmo, holding with no filed charges and torture, recruited the army Said now gets to lead.

I believe there are 20 or so cases Obama noted he will treat separately, where civilian court cases are not yet sought. This, to me, acknowledges Bush had similar tough choices, but Bush wasn't as interested in international and U.S. law as Obama is. On the order of 20 vs 1,000 inmates thru Gitmo?

I'd rather deal with 1,000 terrorists than recruit 100,000 more. Close Gitmo.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@JLM:

If terrorists are not protected under Geneva, then why did the U.S. Supreme Court clearly state exactly the opposite?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@JLM:

If terror detainees aren't allowed legal representation, or the right to petition for habeas corpus, then why did the U.S. Supreme Court clearly state exactly the opposite?

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arnonep 5 years, 8 months ago

Duke, Am I to understand that you do not believe we are at war or, that the government should not be allowed to use that fact to do things that it would normally not be doing?

ybul I do not believe a little invasion of privacy is an "Essential Liberty". We would not have won WWI or WWII without the government doing what needed to be done, including invasion of the privacy of the public.

Eric, Try to fathom Enemy and get off the guilty/not guilty band wagon. The Supreme Court only has say over what comes in front of them and can choose to use the Geneva Convention as a basis of their rulings if they choose to do so. Obama is your Commander-in-Chief just as he is my president weather we like it or not. In times of war Commander-in-Chief has to take priority over other duties of the president. Maybe part of the message in Rob's article?

Steve, "I'd rather deal with 1,000 terrorists than recruit 100,000 more. Close Gitmo."

Thanks for a perfect example of "If we believe that the enemy thinks like we do, we will lose".

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"If you are not willing to make the sacrifice of very minor 'civil rights', then we will lose."

Really? Habeas corpus is a minor right? Huh. That's odd, I thought the reason why habeas corpus is the only right spelled out in the Constitution itself rather than in an Amendment, is that it is the major right upon which all other rights depend. If I can't challenge my detention in the first place, then how can I defend any of my other rights?

If you're one of the millions of Americans whose name is now on the Terrorist Watch List, then you're no longer allowed the right to keep and bear arms in this country -- the accusation itself is enough to strip you of all your rights under the law, thanks to the Patridiot Act. When was the Second Amendment repealed, though? Used to be, you actually had to be convicted of a crime before your rights, like keeping and bearing arms, could be taken away.

I never asked the Government to "keep me safe" so why should I give up any of my civil rights, no matter how seemingly insignificant, based on the false premise that to do so could somehow possibly enable those fools to keep me safe? The only thing I've ever demanded of anyone serving this nation, is that they swear an Oath to protect my rights under the Constitution, rights which I am more than willing to lay down my life defending, as so many generations of brave Americans have done before me so that we can even have this debate.

I'm willing to die fighting for the Constitution, if it comes to that. That's the American Way, not the cowardice of giving up our rights to a bunch of freaking politicians that we should know better than to trust in the first place, even if they could keep us safe, which really has nothing to do with taking away our rights. I didn't realize it was our foolish insistence on habeas corpus, or warrants for wiretapping, that caused the Bush administration to fail so badly on 9/11...

Freedom comes with risk. I'm willing to take those risks. To anyone who is not, instead of suggesting that the Constitution itself is a threat to American safety, please move to another country. Throughout history, every authoritarian regime has claimed that freedom would only endanger its citizens -- but none of them have lasted as long as we have, or ever succeeded at keeping their citizens safe, so perhaps the American Way really is the right way?

If terrorists want to attack us because they hate our freedom (propagandistic nonsense I've never bought into), then aren't we handing the terrorists the biggest WIN they could possibly ever imagine by giving up our freedom in response? Also, could someone please point me to where in the Constitution the writ of habeas corpus is limited to American citizens? No wonder the Supremes said it applies to all detainees.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"In times of war Commander-in-Chief has to take priority over other duties of the president. Maybe part of the message in Rob's article?"

Yes, perhaps the most disturbing thing I've ever read of Rob's. The President's job is to keep us free, not to keep us safe. That's why he takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, not an oath to keep us safe regardless of what the law says. Again, I'd much rather die for my freedom than give it up for a false sense of security.

I am not in the military. I do not have a Commander-in-Chief, nor do I want one. Our nation is run by the People's Chief Executive Officer, not a military junta's General Officer.

There's a reason the President's powers are spelled out in Article II, not Article I, and do not include the power to declare war. That reason is, We the People decided to have a Republic instead of being ruled by a military Commander-in-Chief.

If President Obama orders me to shoot someone, I am free to tell him where to stick his gun. I don't take orders from him.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"I also believe history will reveal the Bush doctrine on enemy combatants saved lives."

Believe what you will, but the record pretty clearly shows otherwise. Bush's detention policies at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, etc. have been flagged by all 16 of our intelligence agencies (Do we really need that many if they always all agree?) as the key motivating factor behind terrorism since those scandals broke. These policies ARE al-Qaeda's recruiting program! Our intelligence agencies tell us that while the "homeland" has been free from attack, global terrorism has literally exploded as a result.

So, you're saying that the tens of thousands of dead and wounded American servicemen and servicewomen shouldn't be included in the tally of how "safe" Bush kept us? I'm sorry, but our intelligence agencies have drawn a very clear line between U.S. policy and our subsequent combat fatalities. If we weren't whacking the hornet's nest with a broomstick, maybe we wouldn't "have to fight them over there" either?

Bush's War on Terror detention policies have only empowered and emboldened the terrorists, while the foolish Iraq invasion has given Iran everything it ever wanted, too. Epic, epic FAIL all around. We are the best thing our enemies could hope for, so long as we continue to be our own worst enemy.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

The terrorists think in terms of thousands of years, we think in ten year terms, or the next election. O can kiss up all he wants, they will just laugh at him. The Palestinians pick a fight with Israel, get women and children killed, peddle propaganda worldwide, and become beloved victims. The lefties take the bait and decide that we need to be nice. The Palestinians have gained ground, will lay low for a few years, and start all over. It may take forever, but they keep gaining, as long as the lefties join them. Hillary and George Mitchell say that their diplomacy will bring a settlement. These people will use them the same as always. In the meantime watch the aid pour in to these poor victims. We are not liked around the world? Europes politicians like reelection, it is not popular to send money and blood to help out, so the logical excuse is to side with the left, declare the U.S a bully, and have another beer. Hitler would have loved a second chance like this. It's comforting to know that we are in good hands.

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Rob Douglas 5 years, 8 months ago

A reader of the SP&T sent me the following article from Wired Magazine with a note arguing that Obama is being balanced in his view of national security issues. As the article is in the same vein of the broader topic, I'm appending it to the column. I am providing some abbreviated text from the piece, but for the full text please use the link below.

Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/01/obama-sides-wit.html

The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.

In a filing in San Francisco federal court, President Barack Obama adopted the same position as his predecessor. With just hours left in office, President George W. Bush late Monday asked U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to stay enforcement of an important Jan. 5 ruling admitting key evidence into the case.

Thursday's filing by the Obama administration marked the first time it officially lodged a court document in the lawsuit asking the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Bush administration's warrantless-eavesdropping program. The former president approved the wiretaps in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"The Government's position remains that this case should be stayed," the Obama administration wrote in a filing that for the first time made clear the new president was on board with the Bush administration's reasoning in this case.

further on--

The Obama administration is also siding with the former administration in its legal defense of July legislation that immunizes the nation's telecommunications companies from lawsuits accusing them of complicitity in Bush's eavesdropping program, according to testimony last week by incoming Attorney General Eric Holder.

That immunity legislation, which Obama voted for when he was a U.S. senator from Illinois, was included in a broader spy package that granted the government wide-ranging, warrantless eavesdropping powers on Americans' electronic communications.

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arnonep 5 years, 8 months ago

Eric, That is a very well written rant of your beliefs. It warms my heart to see such emotion without loosing the points. Where I agree with you on the citizen level, I still have a problem treating the enemy with all of the niceties of OUR constitution.

I guess the question is if the Patriot Act and the WIN we are giving the enemy now are acceptable or not as a means to the perceived end?

Could you please enlighten us as to the Bush administration failure on 9/11:

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Arno, "If we believe that the enemy thinks like we do, we will lose".

What does that mean?

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ybul 5 years, 8 months ago

Arnonep,

The habeus corpus right, is being challenged for all US citizens.  This is a very slippery slope we are on.  The US is in a precarious place similar to that of Germany in the late 20's (that did not turn out too well).

 Financially the government is predicting 1-2 trillion deficit next year.  2 would equate to $10,000 for every adult citizen of this country.  I hope that the Obama cult club, realizes how far down the debt road we are, the fact that we produce almost nothing to offset our debt (except dollar bills today, that China still buys to extract our mfg base).

 Bringing the troops home from everywhere so we can financially survive.  Your freedom, and the countries survival, is more dependent upon being financially solvent rather than militarily stronger.  Add onto this years projected deficit the current debt and you are at 60,000 for every adult, toss in the obligations of social insecurity and you are closer to 200,000 per adult.

 Maybe the debate should center on financial solvency of the union than Gitmo and fear of another terror attack.
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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

It is not entirely unreasonable to say that terrorists always win.

When there is a population so disenchanted and angry that they are willing to support a small portion of their population that ruins their own lives in order to cause violence against the civilians of another people then you have terrorism that will not be solved by an arrest or two.

Look at Northern Ireland - the British did able all that could be done using law enforcement and that didn't solve anything. What finally made the difference is when the Catholics were being protected and not oppressed and ordinary people got so sick of the violence that they stopped supporting the terrorists. And the peace accords gave the Catholics a much better deal than they had before.

Terrorism is the weapon of those that consider themselves oppressed without political options. Once it gets started the only way to defeat is to deal with that population's list of grievances until you can separate the general population from the terrorist die hards. And then you can pick off the terrorists one by one.

The West takes the oil and other natural resources of these countries and becomes rich and these countries' leaders become rich while often treating their citizens poorly. And these people know that we talk about democracy and the rights of all, but that we don't apply that to them.And then when someone like bin Laden comes along that shows how to channel that anger into acts of terrorism that hurt the West then you have a sustainable terrorist group.

It is going to be beaten only after we make life better for a whole lot of people so that they have schools, hospitals and roads. And we have to show that a Palenstinian civilian's life is just as important as an Israeli civilian life.

Anger is the fuel that drives terrorism. And so yes the recent fighting in Gaza will only make the terrorists stronger because 1,000+ civilians died while the rockets killed only a few Israelis and the slow response to the humanitarian crisis indicates we think they are expendable. And then it is not that hard to convince a person whom already believes their life is worthless to show the world how a worthless life can still have a big impact.

It is better to close Gitmo and let those them all those that cannot be convicted in a fair and just court to return home even if they resume their terrorist plotting. We need to stop making it so easy for them to recruit new terrorists. Giving them some old known terrorists, some of which might be informants for us, is much better than letting them easily recruit new members.

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playa46 5 years, 8 months ago

Sorry, Republicans have it right this time.

Why do we have to go through every law for someone who doesn't even live here? McCain was never "illegally" interrogated, why do we have to oblige to our laws? Someone can walk in to a store and blow us all up, but he is protected by the Constitution? Sorry, I feel very different about many beliefs here.

Good article Rob, while we may not agree with many things, you always bring an interesting article to our table.

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arnonep 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve & Scott, Muslim extremists will never think the way westerners think as they have been raised in culture that we can never imagine. Their culture has no need or desire to teach tolerance. Their "bible" teaches intolerance. I use the label 'extremist' because it is the extremists that we are at war with. All this crap about Muslims that just want to do their own thing and just get along is just a distraction from the real enemy. Suffice to say, we will never understand their thinking and they will never understand ours. Believing that they think like us leads to Scotts post above that in my mind will help them to believe we are soft and that if they get caught, they will be eventually released. To me this can only make them braver.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

playa46,

In 1993 someone parked and detonated a truck bomb under the World Trade Center. The perpetrators were arrested, tried and convicted. They will live out their lives in the Supermax down in Florence. This was a successful prosecution under our laws, and the Constitution wasn't waived to do it.

If our system had somehow required that we let those men go, then I could see how folks would have a problem with handling terrorism as a crime. As it is, the system worked, and worked in such a fashion that it did not result in tens of thousands of new terrorists signing up for al-Qaeda because this country had ignored its own laws. After 1993, Bill Clinton kept us safe from foreign terror for the rest of his term without waiving the Constitution or torturing.

(Clinton's use of rendition was limited to known terrorists like Carlos the Jackal, I have no problem with extraordinary rendition in such a case. But Bush made it routine rendition, on folks like Maher Arar of Canada who only might have been a terrorist. Of course, he wasn't, so what bad end would have come from allowing him to challenge his detention?)

Nope, that was what resulted from Gitmo and the hypocrisy of throwing out the laws we claim to live by. One of our top FBI investigators recently explained how the most cooperative al-Qaeda detainee, who's given us more actionable intelligence than the rest, cooperated with us when we didn't torture him. See, he'd been led to believe that the U.S. tortures -- so when he wasn't tortured, he began to question everything else he'd been told about us, and came over to our side.

All-Qaeda's words become a self-fulfilling prophecy when we play right into their hands by torturing. I only wish we could call them liars, that would be much more effective for our cause than torturing ever will be.

Arno,

Why would the fact that so many caught terrorists will be living out their lives in a tiny cell in Florence, send a message that we're soft and will let them go if they're caught? I don't understand.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"Could you please enlighten us as to the Bush administration failure on 9/11:"

Flight schools. We had all the information we needed. Perhaps if the Bushies hadn't cavalierly ignored the Aug. 6th Presidential Daily Briefing as Clintonista paranoid delusions and actually responded to the threat, the dots would have been connected. Reference:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/64762/output/print http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-lance/al-qaeda-and-the-mob-how_b_34336.html

Of course, before that day ever arrived, we knew that al-Qaeda was responsible for WTC '93, embassy bombings in Africa and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. So why did both the Clinton and Bush administrations order the FBI to back off of any investigations involving Saudis, particularly Saudis of the bin-Laden family -- members of which were the only people flying our skies on Sept. 12 as they were spirited out of the country with no questions asked, which fits a years-old pattern of protection, like dropping the investigation against Abdullah bin-Laden:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4293682,00.html

Had our intelligence professionals been allowed to do their jobs instead of having their hands tied due to Saudi-bought-and-paid-for political pressure from above, then perhaps by Aug. 6th, investigations into flight schools would have been moving forwards:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/05/04/MN56625.DTL&type=printable http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A531-2002May23 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/may/26/september11.terrorism http://www.judicialwatch.org/2469.shtml

Perhaps, had flight schools been scrutinized as they should have been, the authorities would have latched on to that school in Venice, FL -- owned by a man whose planes keep on getting busted running drugs, like the one caught in Y2K with 5 1/2 tons of heroin aboard. That would certainly have thrown up some red flags, particularly since Mohammed Atta was a student there, and we knew who he was...

http://www.madcowprod.com/issue42.html http://www.madcowprod.com/issue07.html

...and that he had connections to other known terrorists, particularly those who attended the Jan. 2000 al-Qaeda planning convention in Malaysia. The most intriguing story about foreknowledge of 9/11 comes from Sibel Edmonds, a name certainly worth googling, for those not familiar.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Or perhaps the government would have let him alone, given all the shady connections to Untouchables within our government who were involved. Exactly like we shut down investigations in Boston and New Jersey in the aftermath of 9/11, thanks to the suspects' ties with the likes of Michael Chertoff and their large donations to the Republican Party (how shrewd):

http://www.madcowprod.com/index45.html http://www.madcowprod.com/01122004.html

While at the same time, Bush was personally praying with those responsible for financing 9/11:

http://www.madcowprod.com/10292004issue.html

When asked to name terrorists they've heard of, most Americans don't mention "Ali the American" Mohammed, trained by our own special forces, despite his involvement in every al-Qaeda attack against this country. He remains free to this day. Why? Why is he being protected?

So, yes, we did indeed posess all the tools and all the information necessary to have prevented the 9/11 attacks. The failure to connect the dots, is a buck that stops in the Oval Office, not any deficiencies in American law (lack of a Patriot Act), and certainly not because we weren't wiretapping without warrants, torturing, conducting a bogus war, insisting on civil liberties, etc.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, in our Constitution was responsible for the failure of our Government to prevent 9/11. Therefore, attempting to prevent future attacks by dismantling the Constitution, seems the height of absurdity to me.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Following the Florida flight-school story leads inexorably to more drug running by agents of our government, as well as human smuggling, all occurring under the watchful eyes of a thoroughly corrupt Customs agency -- the same operators given a pass for potential 9/11 involvement are still operating with impunity:

"Discovery of Brassington's participation in the rampant Customs corruption in South Florida raises questions about whether the criminal turpitude of officials there may have contributed to the breach in American national security which allowed 19 terrorist hijackers, whose identities in some cases were already known to authorities, to roam freely in the U.S. before the 9/11 attack.

In other words, was a dirty operation engaged in drug trafficking and weapons smuggling, run with assistance from the highest levels of the U.S. Government, responsible for creating the opening which allowed 19 terrorists to murder 3000 people?"

http://www.madcowprod.com/06252007.html http://www.madcowprod.com/05072008.html http://www.madcowprod.com/01312008.html http://www.madcowprod.com/05212008.html http://www.madcowprod.com/09102008.html http://www.madcowprod.com/09302008.html

Thank goodness for the intrepid independent press in this country. How safe are we, when corruption amongst Untouchables within our government is so endemic? Instead of the government wiretapping the citizenry, perhaps it is We the People who should be wiretapping the government (if Bush was phoning the bin-Ladens, we want to know what was said). Because this is all just too incestuous to be a string of unrelated coincidences.

How does anything in the Patriot Act protect this country from further attack, when the terrorists can just hop a clandestine drug-smuggling flight, and zip right through Customs with no scrutiny due to corruption? In this post-9/11 world, how the hell does Mario Donadi Gafaro get an FAA pilot's license, with his record of smuggling drugs to finance terrorism (using planes involved with CIA renditions, no less)?

Oh, yeah, I'm totally sold on the notion that giving up my rights will keep me safe...

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"A reader of the SP&T sent me the following article from Wired Magazine..."

An article which contains a glaring factual inaccuracy. If Qwest is to be believed, then warrantless wiretapping began well before 9/11:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/12/AR2007101202485_pf.html

Qwest appears to have been asked to participate in the program, which almost caused a mutiny in the ranks over at Justice, in February 2001. Maybe the Bush administration should have been paying attention to actual terrorists at that time, instead of spying on American citizens without probable cause. Certainly, spying on Americans without warrants in 2001 (while actual terrorists roamed the nation at will) did nothing to prevent 9/11...

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ EJB

You incorrectly describe the implications of Hamdan v Rumsfeld.

This case decides the matter of whether the POTUS has the unilateral authority to set up military tribunals without obtaining legislative approval or authority from the Congress. It really does not deal with the rights of a terrorist but rather is a terrorist's clever attempt to forestall justice by arguing that the venue is improper or illegal or improperly constituted. A clever legal argument nonetheless and in this instance successful.

It decides the case based upon the issues of President authority in times of crisis and the necessity to include Congress in the creation of special courts even in times of crisis. Justice Breyer's concurring Opinion is particularly clear on this matter and provides the road map to address the situation. Go to Congress and ask for permission!

It includes the implications of the Geneva Conventions only under the slim relationship of their reference in the US Uniform Code of Military Justice. Neither the UCMJ nor the GCs are dispositive of the case. They are only joined by tangential reference. The real question is one of President v Congressional authority in the creation of special courts or tribunals.

At the end of the day, it does not make any pronouncement as to exactly what rights a terrorist is entitled to. It only stands for the proposition that in dealing with a terrorist, the POTUS must obtain Congressional approval for the creation of a new military tribunal, if the POTUS decides that is the way to go. It neither compels nor forbids the Executive Branch or the military from treating terrorists in a manner which is not referred to in the GCs.

The GCs are murky at best as it relates to issues related to where the terrorist is captured and confined. These are the "territories" arguments. This is exactly why the CIA wants to keep terrorists on territory which is not sovereign US territory --- a perfectly understandable legal consideration.

The fixation with "trying" terrorists --- which I attribute to the desire to execute them --- creates the confusion of a more elegant and simple solution --- hold them as POWs forever under the determination that "hostilities" have not ceased.

I appreciate the cleverness of your mind in attempting to make your point, but I learned a long time ago to read the entire case cited before making any pronouncements. I am sure we are boring the snot out of the rest of the audience and for this I apologize.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Arno, Islam is not our enemy. Radicals are. If we freak out and grossly over react, we create more radicals. If we look to and apply the values that made us so proud of America, the balance turns in our favor.

When you cannot see your opponent, you are waging a war more about ideas, than about bombs. Yes they are in their wars for a longer term than we. But the equation remains the same - reduce the attraction of radicalism..

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ ERJ

The Great Writ!

Habeas corpus is the "big one" --- the right that is so fundamental that it applies to every situation in which an individual is confined and requires the confining entity to answer the question of why exactly is the person confined. If an adequate answer is not given, then the detainee is almost always released.

It should not be a huge undertaking nor a threatening question to be asked --- why is this man being detained? Neither to the detainee or the detainer. Sometimes the answer is very, very simple --- he's awaiting trial or he's a POW. The answer does not have to be complex.

The issue of terrorists and habeas corpus has to do with from whence the terrorists come --- in the case cited, the terrorist was from Bosnia - Hercegovina (sp?) and was not the product of a military operation. Hence, the argument that he was arguably a POW was not relevant.

The case simply does not have anything to do with an "entitlement" to legal representation or access to American courts or by reference to habeas corpus. I make the thin and perhaps overly legal distinction between being "entitled" and having an action "available" to a clever lawyer.

The entire issue of what terrorists are, how they are to be detained and what rights, if any, they have is an area of some very silly law which is being routinely decided by 5-4 votes with even the concurrences showing them to be fairly shallow issues.

The bottom line is that the SC believes, by the margin of one vote, that the POTUS has to go to Congress to sort out the issues of courts, rights and penalties. With our new leftward leaning Lawyer in Chief, it is likely that terrorists will simply become a new type of international criminal clogging the courts and prisons.

Funny thing about it is that there is an existing Executive Order (which even the new President is unlikely to rescind) providing for the assassination of terrorists any place they are found in the world. Why do you think we have had no terrorist attacks in the last 7.5 years? Cause the CIA has been killing them worldwide.

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justice4all 5 years, 8 months ago

I feel that many of you that oppose this closing and the methods used to extract specific info to protect us all would chang your minds if one of your family members or a close friend was murdered by one that NOBAMA chose to protect. Well written Rob. Keep it coming.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Mariane Pearl lost her Wall Street Journal reporter husband Daniel to terrorists. In order to validate the decision to torture KSM, the Bush administration is choosing to believe KSM's bogus, torture-derived claim to have murdered Daniel Pearl...

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mayer?printable=true

...which had the direct effect of overturning the Pakistani's conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh for the same crime in 2002. What do you think Mariane Pearl thinks about the Bush administration's decision to protect her husband's killer in order to provide themselves political cover for torture?

That's the problem with the notion that torture is "used to extract specific info". That has never been the purpose of torture, which has been proven to only be effective at generating bogus coerced confessions whose only value is as propaganda. Just because we "broke" KSM doesn't mean he told the truth, meanwhile the real murderer of Daniel Pearl gets to walk because of it.

The Pearl family has been deprived of Truth and Justice, because we abandoned the American Way.

One must also wonder how the families of 9/11 victims feel about Bush's decision to protect Yeslam Binladin:

http://www.arabnews.com/services/print/print.asp?artid=56623&d=26&m=12&y=2004&hl=French%20Magistrate%20Widens%20Bin%20Laden%20Finance%20Probe

The lawsuit was dropped because Switzerland refused to turn over his banking records. But here we have a case where the Europeans took Osama's half-brother to trial, discovered a large wire tranfer related to 9/11...

"US authorities are aware of the existence of those funds, which they believe were transferred into an account belonging jointly to Osama bin Laden and someone of Pakistani nationality, it said."

...that US authorities were apparently aware of. Yet for some reason, we have never even bothered to ask him questions about it -- because Bush chose to protect him. So, despite Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and the rest, the real terrorists continue to roam freely due to absurd political decisions by the Bushies. How does torturing, or permanent imprisonment without due process, protect us from the likes of Ali the American, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, or Yeslam Binladin?

But oh, noes!!! Obama might release those teenage sheepherders we have no evidence against, and paid bounties for to begin with!!!

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ ERJ ---

"That's the problem with the notion that torture is "used to extract specific info". That has never been the purpose of torture, which has been proven to only be effective at generating bogus coerced confessions whose only value is as propaganda."

While there are a multitude of legitimate concerns as to whether torture should be used against high value targets or what exactly constitutes torture, the notion that "enhanced initerrogation" does not result in the acquisition of substantial amounts of useful information is simply not true.

While one may wring their hands about how KSM was treated to say that his interrogation did not result in a goldmine of information would be to contradict even his most ardent supporter. Even al Qaeda acknowledged that info obtained from KSM was used effectively against them.

Count me as one who has no reservations whatsoever as it relates to torturing and executing terrorists. Kill Americans, suffer the consequences.

As a young Army officer, I volunteered to be waterboarded as part of SERE (survival, escape, resistance, evasion) training. A sergeant smacked me good and while I was protesting, dunked me into the water backwards strapped to a board. I lasted about 30 seconds. It was very, very effective.

It is said that KSM started talking when he first saw the rig and hasn't stopped since.

The issue of torture must be balanced on the merits of the proposition of to what lengths will we go to protect Americans against terrorists. Take it to the limit!

But, hey, that's just my opinion and I could be wrong!

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"While there are a multitude of legitimate concerns as to whether torture should be used against high value targets or what exactly constitutes torture, the notion that 'enhanced initerrogation' does not result in the acquisition of substantial amounts of useful information is simply not true."

Please cite references. What specific piece of factual, actionable intelligence has been derived from torture? Careful, I've looked into 'em pretty closely over the years and most of the claims are clearly refutable. Like that we didn't know who KSM was until we waterboarded al-Libi. This is simply not true, a search of Lexis/Nexis will reveal references to KSM dating back to the mid-90's, so the claim that our intelligence agencies hadn't heard of him is laughable on its face.

"While one may wring their hands about how KSM was treated to say that his interrogation did not result in a goldmine of information would be to contradict even his most ardent supporter. Even al Qaeda acknowledged that info obtained from KSM was used effectively against them."

Those in the know such as Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, have maintained that the good information we got wasn't tortured out of him. He came in blabbing, like so many egomaniacal martyr-wannabe terrorists. We decided to torture him anyway, and guess what? He still claimed to have been responsible for every terror attack under the sun. His whole purpose is to provide cover for everyone else in al-Qaeda. He served Bush's purpose, too, since the excuse for not catching bin-Laden is that we don't need to, we have KSM and he's the real 9/11 mastermind. So this is propaganda, unless you cite references that can convince me otherwise.

The strawman argument in your position, is that the alleged valuable information obtained from torture, couldn't have been obtained in any other way. But there's simply no proof of that. In fact, the justification for torture always seems to come back to the "ticking bomb scenario", which doesn't exist in the real world. KSM's torture was drawn out over a long period of time, which implies that the justification has nothing to do with reality. The problem is, so little of what he told us was corroborated.

"Count me as one who has no reservations whatsoever as it relates to torturing and executing terrorists. Kill Americans, suffer the consequences."

Have you not watched "Taxi to the Dark Side"? Many of those we've tortured and executed weren't terrorists to begin with. That's what people should have reservations about! We've made torture routine, instead of extreme, on suspects instead of on convicts. These abhorrent policies aren't worthwhile, we just shoot ourselves in the foot when the rest of the world hates us for torturing and executing people who were never our enemies to begin with.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"As a young Army officer, I volunteered to be waterboarded as part of SERE (survival, escape, resistance, evasion) training. A sergeant smacked me good and while I was protesting, dunked me into the water backwards strapped to a board. I lasted about 30 seconds. It was very, very effective."

And what was the purpose of your SERE training? To avoid giving actual intelligence to the enemy? No, as I understand it, SERE trains our troops to resist being tortured into spouting enemy propaganda -- like John McCain did during his stay at the Hanoi Hilton. Did McCain give them any valuable information? No. His value was as a propaganda tool.

In fact, the entire basis of SERE training came about due to research done in the Korean War on how our enemies were getting our downed airmen to break and start spouting Communist propaganda -- not critical American secrets. So the purpose of SERE, just like torture to begin with, never had anything to do with intelligence. Just propaganda.

When you experienced waterboarding, it was at the hands of people you trusted. It was not at the hands of the enemy, after you were first driven out of your mind by sleep deprivation, and in considerable pain due to stress positions. So it was not the same thing, but that doesn't matter anyway.

Had an enemy broken you on that waterboard, would you have started telling them the truth and betraying your country, or would you have started telling them what they want to hear, since propaganda won't get any of your buddies killed?

KSM started lying to us before he was waterboarded, while he was waterboarded, and after he was waterboarded. But that doesn't mean a single damn thing he says isn't a bald-faced lie, unless it can be corroborated. If you want to play the "enhanced interrogation" word-game, then let's use the word "coercion" instead. Coerced testimony has absolutely no intelligence value whether the coercion rises to your definition of torture or not.

Finally, we have 16 intelligence agencies who all tell us that Gitmo has created exponentially more new terrorists for each one we've rounded up. So it clearly does not keep us safe from terrorists. In fact, global terrorism is up, and our troops are the ones bearing the brunt of it, many in their 3rd, 4th or even 5th combat rotations.

Gitmo and torture put our troops in much greater danger than they would otherwise face, and has gotten far too many of them killed to no purpose. Haven't you noticed the terrorists are winning in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Looks to me like empirical evidence that our anti-terror policies are creating a terrorism problem of epic, and perhaps insurmountable, proportions.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 8 months ago

It is not persuasive to claim that warrantless monitoring of overseas telephone calls and inclusion on lists of known terrorists is the type of infringement of our constitutional rights that threatens our freedom or polity. There is no credible concern for these inconsequential government interventions other than fear that they are the beginning of a pattern of increasing restrictions and losses of privacy. Obviously most Americans well understand the need and scope of these programs and are not threatened by them. By way of example, which is more intrusive, the intrusion of privacy under the Patriot Act or land use controls, some of which are aesthetic? Neither existed when Franklin uttered his maxim. The closest comparison of the time would be of Iroquois Indian raids into the frontiers of New York. Washington sent Generals Sullivan and Clinton to lay waste to Iroquoia and they did. The hositle tribes were not allowed back into America until the 1800s. Zoning, professional licensing and other modern safeguards affect us all and genuinely inhibit what we can do. Are we individually and genuinely less free because of them? Yes, but the social good accomplished is acceptable to most Americans. Not having our great cities destroyed by a terrorist nuclear weapon is a sufficient social good for me. Even the finest legal minds stall, make bad law, or otherwise ratify the executive branch's acts in times of warfare, at least declared warfare. This is so because, as rational (men), they recognized that if the nation survived there would be time enough to go back to the way things were. That is why, for instance, no Japanese Americans are liviing in internment camps, or that Maryland no longer exists under Lincoln's suspension of the great writ . The Constitution is not a suicide pact. Punctilious application of the law to an ideological force that is utterly ruthless is foolish.

Bin Laden was following the letter of the Koran when he invited us to convert. Our refusal, according to the Koran, justifies our deaths. It is singularly frustrating to see the repeated rehash of arguments that we bring this hatred upon ourselves, when the hatred is institutionalized in the fundamental teachings of Islam. Why else do terrorists quote their own scriptures to justify their acts? Why has Islamic aggression been dormant for four hundred years? I don't know, but we are in a struggle that may last fifty or a hundred years until this most recent flare-up burns itself out, as we are in no position to tamp it down with gestures of good will that they regard as weakness.

While some of the commentators have indicated that we should risk the occassional terrorist attack, my opinion is that every effort should be made to save even one American life, here or abroad.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ ERJ ---

You silly goose, do you pretend to know what the CIA actually did or did not do to KSM or what the intelligence take actually was? I am not absolutely sure that Salon mag has got it perfectly right. But I could be wrong as I am sure that the CIA is constantly leaking to Salon. LOL

More to the point, I can assure you that you know next to nothing as to what the point of SERE training was. The first and most important point was --- don't get captured because bad things always happen immediately thereafter, try to escape immediately because it's only going to get worse and evade with skill and vigor because getting recaptured is going to irk the captors.

The Code of Conduct (name, rank, serial number) was more than a bit unrealistic as my personal waterboarding experience taught. Nobody but nobody but nobody can resist that kind of interrogation. I saw plenty of prisoners who told everything they knew --- bad news: the average prisoner didn't really know a whole lot of useful information.

That is exactly why high value targets such as KSM are so few and why they are treated so specially. This is why their treatment has garnered such focus. Frankly, I doubt that any written account of his treatment has much more than a tiny grain of truth. You would have to believe that some of the very best and most dedicated intelligence professionals ran their mouths --- not bloody likely! And to Salon mag? LOL

Last I would say that not very many of the folks who are captured have any real training in these kind of things. Though the American military tried to provide SERE training --- again the emphasis was on evasion, survival and escape --- to every soldier going to war, it was purely tangential to the training provided to fight. We were taught to let the other guy die for his cause and to capture them. That was the primary mission.

Remember most of what was learned about the horrific treatment of our POWs in N VN was learned after 1973 when the majority of them came home.

Few of these terrorists are particularly well trained and I doubt that their SERE training was any better than ours. They are exactly the people they seem to be --- blood thirsty killers (well except for the many who are de-frocked Episcopal ministers).

Remember KSM's first reaction was --- give me a lawyer and take me to NY. There is a school of thought that he rolled over and started talking before his hair was even wet.

I am not sure that the most pragmatic approach might be to interrogate the crap out of the KSM's of the world and then turn them loose after telling their buddies that they spilled the beans. The Mafia Rat approach. Their buddies will take care of them.

Having been around this class of folks quite a bit, I can only caution you: "Those who know don't talk; and, those who talk, don't know."

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ ERJ ---

"Haven't you noticed the terrorists are winning in Afghanistan and Pakistan?"

Uhhhh, well, no I haven't to be perfectly frank about it. And apparently nobody else particularly shares that opinion.

What I have noticed is that the job of #2 in al Qaeda has been kind of a rotating position. Also that Predator attacks have become fairly routine and that having cleaned up Iraq, Gen David Petraeus is getting ready to deliver some more of the same in A'n. Also that A'n and P'n have been having pretty regular free elections --- small point but an important one nonetheless.

Me? I'm a bit more worried as to whether any more terrorists visit Manhattan any time soon. The record recently on that has been OK and I pray that Pres O does not mess it up. Pres Bush apparently figured it out. Seems to being OK just now, don't you agree?

If we are going to have problems with folks who don't like us --- let's have them discuss it with the 101st, the 10th Mn and others in far away zip codes. That's a bit of alright in my book.

But hey that's just me!

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playa46 5 years, 8 months ago

Eric- Terrorists are not winning. What rock have you been living under?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@JLM:

You said:

"The clear understanding is that these agreements pertain to soldiers in the ARMY of a sovereign nation making war against soldiers in the ARMY of another sovereign nation.

Terrorists are not soldiers serving in the army of a sovereign nation. And no terrorist organizations are signatories of the Geneva Conventions. Terrorists are indiscrimate killers of women and children."

I pointed out that the Hamdan v Rumsfeld ruling says otherwise. You then said:

"You incorrectly describe the implications of Hamdan v Rumsfeld."

I think not. Do you have any articles for anyone to reference as regards your position? Instead of a point-for-point rebuttal, I'll just invite anyone who cares to read this article, written by someone who co-authored a brief the Supremes reference in their decision, which achieves the same purpose:

"Thus, although the judicial-enforceability issue technically remains open, Hamdan indicates that at least five Justices are appropriately skeptical of the Administration's position on this issue."

http://gulcfac.typepad.com/georgetown_university_law/2006/06/hamdan_and_the_.html

My interpretation of Hamdan v Rumsfeld comes from reading the likes of Carlos Vazquez, there. Where are you getting your ideas from? The shameful thing here, is that we have two Supreme Court justices (Scalia and Thomas, of course) who have a fundamental misunderstanding of their role in our tripartite form of government. Legislature enacts the laws; Executive enforces the laws; Judicial interprets the laws.

I see no provision in the Constitution which allows the Judicial Branch to abrogate this duty to the Executive, let alone suggests it, yet somehow Scalia and Thomas argue that the rest of the Justices aren't wrong, they just should have deferred to the Bush administration's interpretation of relevant law. This is an example of two activist judges attempting to legislate from the bench, their views certainly aren't "strict constructionist" in their nature.

In response to your hypothetical, "Why do you think we have had no terrorist attacks in the last 7.5 years? Cause the CIA has been killing them worldwide," I must point out that you're falling into the same specious reasoning trap George Washington warns of in his farewell address. From "The Simpsons":

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm! Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad. Homer: Thank you, honey! Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away. Homer: Oh, how does it work? Lisa: It doesn't work. Homer: Uh-huh. Lisa: It's just a stupid rock. Homer: Uh-huuuh... Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you? Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock!

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"Eric- Terrorists are not winning. What rock have you been living under?"

You didn't notice in today's news that the terrorists have cut our supply lines in Afghanistan? We can no longer bring in supplies over the Khyber Pass. That's "winning"?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@JLM:

First, who is ERJ?

"@ ERJ

You silly goose, do you pretend to know what the CIA actually did or did not do to KSM or what the intelligence take actually was? I am not absolutely sure that Salon mag has got it perfectly right. But I could be wrong as I am sure that the CIA is constantly leaking to Salon. LOL"

There's no reason to resort to name-calling and personal attacks, here. I have a friend who is a Lt. Colonel in the Marines, who saw action in Gulf War I as an artillery captain and holds patents on wifi technology which he isn't allowed to profit from since they were developed by the military with our tax dollars. While nothing is certain, I am hopeful that he and his family will relocate to our friendly neck of the woods to take over as President of my company, after his tour is over (if they let him out).

Never has he resorted to name-calling or the logical fallacy of argument from authority, in our debates. While we agree on an awful lot, we have agreed to disagree on many things (Bush, in particular). He earned my respect not only for his service to this country, but also because he treats me with the respect I'm due as a citizen -- he has earned my respect. You're losing mine, rapidly, with your name-calling. I have not shown you anything but respect, here, so I politely ask that you show me the same.

BTW, you're also "pretending to know" about the CIA interrogation of KSM. The difference between us, is that I am citing references that anyone can read for themselves, before judging my position. You are not, preferring to argue from authority that I don't think you posess. Can you cite any credible references which support any of your viewpoints? I consider Jane Meyer and Seymour Hersh to be credible references. You may not, but at least I've posted mine...

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ riccy ---

You, my friend, must have a learning disability!

H v R was about the issue of whether the President's initiation of military commissions was subject to Congressional oversight or whether the POTUS unilaterally held such power. The Supremes decided it was subject to Congressional oversight but averred in saying that POTUS could always go to Congress and ask for the permission to consititute military tribunals as he would like.

Read the damn Opinion, rube.

You take the rock, I'll take the CIA and we'll call it even. Sheesh!

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Whoops, I forgot to re-mention that another of my credible sources on KSM is Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. Is he also a silly goose, for saying exactly what I have said?

@JLM:

"More to the point, I can assure you that you know next to nothing as to what the point of SERE training was. The first and most important point was don't get captured because bad things always happen immediately thereafter, try to escape immediately because it's only going to get worse and evade with skill and vigor because getting recaptured is going to irk the captors."

Apparently, you're the one who knows next to nothing about the history of SERE despite having gone through it. We've had training for our soldiers in escape, survival and evasion for a lot longer than we've had SERE. What was new with SERE was the addition of Resistance (to torture). As I said, this came about not because our soldiers were spilling vital secrets after capture, but because they had been tortured into acting as propaganda tools for the Vietnamese just as they had been for the Chinese and North Koreans.

"Resistance exercise. The third phase of SERE training is taught in the unique Resistance Training Laboratory, or RTL. The RTL -- a mock prisoner-of-war camp -- offers what is quite possibly the most challenging training that the students will ever experience. The four days spent in the RTL test students' individual and collective abilities to resist enemy attempts at exploitation. Students learn quickly that they must work together as a team in order to survive captivity.

During the last day of the resistance exercise, students receive individual and collective debriefings from the RTL cadre. The purpose of the debriefings is to give students an understanding of how well they performed while in captivity. During the debriefings, the students learn how they might have reacted differently in certain situations, so that if they are ever held captive, they will have a better chance of resisting and of returning home with honor"

http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=27937 http://valtinsblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/nuts-bolts-how-us-organized-their.html

See in particular in the second link, "Biderman, Brainwashing, and U.S. Torture". As is plain to see, my position on SERE is based on the facts, and those facts are a matter of Congressional record now. Some, apparently, talk of what they know -- so it is not inconceivable that I'm well-versed on the subject, despite your rather lame attempt to discredit me via ad-hominem.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"Read the damn Opinion, rube."

There's still no cause for that, but your coming unhinged without being able to provide any reference to what you're saying that anyone else agrees with, is showing your true character. Why don't you quote exactly the part of the opinion that says what you think it does? Since you're obviously confused on this issue, perhaps if you'd do that, I could help you sort it out.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ abcdefg ---

It is simply wonderful that you have a friend who is a Marine Lt Col. That's just peachy. I'm sure it's great for both of y'all. LOL

Having been a professional soldier, please forgive me for not being overly impressed. I am sure I had a few classmates who did not make Lt Col but I can't think of one just now. I can remember quite a few who wore stars though.

I apologize for not treating you with the respect you are due as a civilian. I simply wasn't aware of this right, Precious. Please forgive me. I promise not to do it again.

The point I was making is that nobody really knows anything about how KSM was really treated. Again, those in the know don't talk and those who talk, don't know. I hope they tortured the crap out of him. Only seems fair.

Seymour Hersh? Really? That hack. He had one good story in his lifetime and then he traded on it forever --- he was the first to report the Army's investigation of the My Lai incident. He tried to sell the story that he had "discovered" the My Lai goings on but in reality he stumbled on a well developed and longstanding investigation that the Army had commenced some considerable time earlier. They should have executed Lt Calley.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

I forgot this link about SERE, the techniques of which were banned as interrogation methods by the Pentagon last October:

http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Pentagon_bans_SERE_interrogation_te_10152008.html

Torture isn't banned because to do otherwise would be mollycoddling; it's banned because it is not a valid intelligence-gathering technique and never has been. It was created during the Inquisition to torture Jews into admitting that they feasted on Christian babies in their rituals. Does anyone believe that? Even though there's hundreds of years of coerced evidence which "proves" it to be true?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"I apologize for not treating you with the respect you are due as a civilian. I simply wasn't aware of this right, Precious. Please forgive me. I promise not to do it again."

It's not a right. It's common courtesy, and something I have come to expect from professional soldiers, most of whom display none of the attitude towards me that you have. And, it's also part of the rules for commenting here, is it not? Again, your true colors are coming out. If you hold that much hate towards people who disagree with you, it's no wonder you interpret Supreme Court decisions to mean exactly the opposite of what they say.

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playa46 5 years, 8 months ago

Eric- That's not what I call winning. I say winning is when the bad guys start to run out of people and run out of goods to fight, and they eventually have to surrender.

I agree with your stance on the war, but your idea of "winning" is on more of an economic stand point.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

I had the great fortune of serving with and knowing Col Nick Rowe. He knew a thing or two about SERE and developed the SFQC curriculum on the subject. That was and is the gold standard on the issue.

There is much pedantic gibberish in recent musings on the subject by folks whose frame of reference is pretty damn recent and has morphed from purely military concepts to applications in which the interrogators are often likely paramilitary or intelligence types and the subjects are likely to be raghead terrorists.

There is a general misapplication of the term SERE in recent times to apply it to the training establishment in which the term is meant to apply to the teaching and trainers of SERE concepts as well as interrogation techniques utilized as part of the training. This is a bit of a bastardization and serves to confuse the subject.

There is plenty of dissent among the professional military (who might be subjects of interrogation) and those who might be practitioners (e.g. intelligence types) as it relates to the realities of the outcomes.

Most military types are reluctant to believe that one could really resist interrogation or torture. I certainly agree with that and the VN experience among our POWs supports that view. Most valuable operational information that a soldier would posess expires worthless in a couple of days.

The issue of the utilization of SERE concepts to the interrogation of terrorists lies more with the intelligence community rather than the military.

I find it to be extraordinary torture to listen to Keith Olbermann. I would give up my favorite fishing holes after the first 5 minutes.

But hey that's just me.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@MrTaiChi:

"Zoning, professional licensing and other modern safeguards affect us all and genuinely inhibit what we can do. Are we individually and genuinely less free because of them? Yes, but the social good accomplished is acceptable to most Americans."

I don't understand. Which rights in the Bill of Rights are violated by zoning or professional licensing? Whereas warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, and has been used in the past and the present by Presidents to spy on their political enemies. Without the oversight provided by the warrant requirement in the Fourth Amendment, wiretapping will be rampantly abused, as the historical record attests.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

@JLM:

I appreciate the tone of your last post.

"The issue of the utilization of SERE concepts to the interrogation of terrorists lies more with the intelligence community rather than the military."

Please read, "Officer: Military Demanded Torture Lessons"

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/25/terror/main4476962.shtml

This is what led to the Pentagon's October decision I referenced above. At least the military is putting a stop to the practice and falling in line with the Army Field Manual, so yes the problem now lies with the intelligence community rather than the military.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually there is no real problem --- both the Army and CIA should be dunking those ragheads wholesale. I'm in favor of dunking them until they grow gills.

But hey that's just me!

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

As to whether or not we are winning in Afghanistan. I'm basing my opinion on what some professional soldiers are saying about it. So, here are some folks who agree with me, first our allies:

"Britain's most senior military commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war against the Taliban cannot be won. Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said the British public should not expect a 'decisive military victory' but should be prepared for a possible deal with the Taliban.

His assessment followed the leaking of a memo from a French diplomat who claimed that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul, had told him the current strategy was 'doomed to fail'."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4882597.ece

Then there's the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just recently:

"The trends across the board are not going in the right direction."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/10/world/asia/10military.html

While I'm not sure what that means, I sure don't think it means we're "winning". Neither, apparently, does the intelligence community -- if leaks about the upcoming Afghanistan NIE are to be believed, the conflict is in a "downward spiral":

"Henry A. Crumpton, a career C.I.A. officer who last year stepped down as the State Department's top counterterrorism official, attributed some of Afghanistan's problems to a 'lack of leadership' both at the White House and in European capitals where commitments to rebuild Afghanistan after 2001 have never been met.

Mr. Crumpton, who was in charge of the C.I.A. teams that entered Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks but who said he had not seen the draft report, said that Afghanistan was 'bad and getting worse' and that officials in Washington were just beginning to wake up to the problem."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/world/asia/09afghan.html

So I hope my pessimism may be understood, rather than dismissed as unfounded, particularly since none of the news since these statements were made has pointed to any improvement. Afghanistan won't be a stable, insurgent-free country until it has a government which can provide basic services. But, thanks to the rampant corruption of our Untouchable military contractors, we've screwed the pooch on rebuilding and it is not likely we'll get a second chance.

Had we gone about rebuilding properly instead of corruptly, then perhaps it would be possible now to regain the initiative. But we didn't, so I don't think we can.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175019

Is there some good news I've been missing which would discredit what's apparently being said by our intelligence community, as well as the upper echelons of command in charge of the Afghanistan operation, or anyone else in the know who has reported on their experiences there?

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/23612315/how_we_lost_the_war_we_won

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

It is simply not true to say that the Koran is more hostile to other religions the the Bible.

There is actually a pretty solid history of Muslims tolerating and largely ignoring people of other religions. The Moors in Spain tolerated Jews and Christians. Unlike the Christians that followed the Moors and persecuted anyone not Catholic.

Islam also has a history of accepting science and it was Muslim countries that created great libraries that preserved Greek philosophy and mathematics while the West descended into the Dark Ages. Christianity has a history of difficulty of dealing with science when it discovers something that differs with what is stated in the Bible. How many centuries did it take for the Catholic Church to accept that the earth was not at the center of the universe?

I think it is true that too few Muslim countries have been successful since the 1920s and that some religious leaders have decided to blame the West. And unfortunately people like George Bush have done much to show that the anti-Muslim stereotype of the West is accurate and confirming their worst fears.

But it is an easier argument to appeal to the history of Muslim tolerance of others than to argue that there is such a strong history of Christians tolerating others.

My point is not to start a fight over religions. My point is that regardless of the past, current Christianity has largely made peace and accepted the Jews and most all other religions. If Christianity can overcome it's past then Islam can overcome some leaders of the present.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott,

Christians and Jews have lived in peace under Islamic states, as second class citizens, Dhimmis in Arabic. For the privilege of living under sharia law they paid a tax that Muslims don't. While I am unaware of any modern Muslim state that enforces dhimmitude, Egypt, Syria and other "secular" states still have it in their statute books. Refusal to submit to the supremecy of Islam by refusing to pay the tax is a capital offence, as an insult to Islam under sharia law.

Islam is a supremacist religion. It does not recognize the validity of other faiths. The Koran and Hadiths, their holy scriptures compel the faithful to jihad, which is of two types, personal and political. The same scriptures enjoin a Muslim as a matter of faith to kill polytheists.

Muslims trumpet personal jihad and obfuscate the political jihad, which is well summed up in the quote from the Koran, "By the sword you shall convert them." The prophet also said, "War is deceit." There is a practice, particularly by the Shia and Sufi, but now more uniformly practiced by all Muslims known as Takyyia which entitles a Muslim to lie to a non-Muslim to protect himself, and more recently, to advance the faith. In Andalusia, (Spain), non-Muslims could not give testimony against Muslims for grievances in court. Muslims were entitled to use force, including murder, to retaliate against non-Muslims for wrongs committed, but the reverse was not the case, as the Muslim clergy declared infidels as not equals under the law. Yes, Christians and Jews committed violence in the faith, but you're missing the "ago." Modern Islamic commentators can't bring themselves to repudiate the passages in their holy books that fundamentalists are using to justify their acts.

Here in America we are being fed a selective diet from those portions of the Koran in which the prophet was generous and liberal as distinguished from the later portions in which he had been kicked out of his home city and was seriously pissed off. By the Muslim doctrine of abrogation, the pronouncements later in time,("By the sword you shall convert them") are the valid ones, because God changed his mind.

1492 was a good year for explorers and a good year for Christians in Spain, for that was when the Moors were finally repusled after hundreds of years of aggression and occupation.

Islam is a religion of peace, if you submit, which is the literal transaltion of Islam. If you don't, (and you have no choice), it is an insult to Islam. In Islam, the prophet said that it is worse to be insulted than to be killed. Islam is not an equivalent faith to Christianity or Judaism because it tolerates no apostasy. That is why 'moderate' Muslims are silent and dare not criticise the holy books. The peace of Islam for the West is the peace of the grave.

To equate American resistance to jihad as a Bush policy is more than stupid.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 8 months ago

E.J.B.,

There is a lunatic fringe who still assert that zoning violates the Bill of Rights as a confiscation of property without compensation. Some contend that professional licensing interferes with the freedom of contract arguments rejected after Roosevelt packed the Supreme Court. The point is that there are examples of govenment interference in our daily lives that we have come to accept as part of the social contract. How do you feel when you get a subpoena to attend court that says, "Laying all other business aside...?" How did Americans feel when they got a draft notice?

You are entitled to feel threatened by incremental intrusions into your privacy by security lists and warrantless wiretaps of overseas calls, but I don't. I see a reasonable response to the threat the nation is facing. I believe, that as we have done in the past, when the threat is gone, we can sunset the statutes.

Did you know that the greatest amount of illegal domestic wiretapping was done by the left's hero, Bobby Kennedy, when he was attorney general? Somehow we survived.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ Mr Tai Chi ---

What a great post @ 8:11 AM.

I have for the last couple of years been reading up on the history of Islam as a means to understand what is going on in the world.

I have devoured probably 25 good books but I learned a bit from just your short post so I will have to do some more research.

I am reluctant to offer any opinions as the entirety of my knowledge is purely academic but I would have to say my general sense is that the leaders (as opposed to the faithful followers of Islam) are generally as secular as American politicians; however, as you point out the frame of reference is hugely different.

When American politicians are pontificating about their religious beliefs (which is almost a requirement at some point in every political campaign these days) they have a frame of reference created by the contents of the Bible while folks in that part of the world have a frame of reference guardrailed by the Koran.

I have traveled in that part of the world at two different times in my life and at different ages and I must say that the yearnings of the people seem to be the same --- everybody is looking for a better life; but, the portfolio of mischief they are prepared to employ is much broader and more violent than ours.

I suspect the most dangerous weapon in the Western world right now is Power Point while the Middle East still seems to regard beheading as a useful tool. Could be a bit extreme assessment.

Thanks.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 8 months ago

JLM,

Thanks for the strokes. Your experience suggests that you should have made the post. I have generally been in agreement with your posts and respect both your academic integrity and intellectual honesty. Thank you.

If you want a quick study to the point about the political agenda and historical context of Islam, I'd suggest the Robert Spencer book, THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO ISLAM AND THE CRUSADES. He also has a daily website: Jihadwatch.org. Spencer is criticised as an Islamaphobe and of taking portions of the Koran and Hadiths out of context, but his critics never seem to specifically refute his points and continuue to use the polemical strategy of discounting his work entirely with that accusatiion. Additionally, the two major American Muslim front organizations have financial associations with Wahabbi fundamentalists and in one case one was founded by persons of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the twentieth century genesis of radical and violent Islamists. The same organization was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist conviction to launder American charitable contributions and to transmit the funds to Hamas or Hezbolla. The one fault I find with Spencer is that he offers no suggestions for ways to deal with the world's Muslims other than to confront them with the inconsistencies of their faith and literature. The most hopeful news I've heard is that an American convert has founded an Islamic seminary to teach a reformist Mulsim doctrine that abandons the supremicist teachings of Islam and all that goes with that. We can hope that it catches fire, and probably will, but in the wrong sense.

Blessings be upon you, notwithstanding the Prophet, may he burn in Hell.

For the rest of you self-deluded idiots slathering at the mouth for my lack of sensitivity and respect for the diversity of religious faith, stop and ask yourselves if you would be as incensed if the criticism had been directed at Christianity, and if not so, why not so? My uncle, an otherwise intelligent man, while a divinity student at Drew University, marched in a peace protest prior to WWII carrying a banner that said, "Stop provoking the Japanese", this while they were holding beheading contests in Nanking, openly reported in the Japanese press. Get your head out of the ground and help fashion a policy that is based on fact rather than feelings!

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

Mr TC ---

I have read Spencer and I agree completely with your assessment.

I admit to taking a certain perverse pleasure in reading and studying the most extreme views of a subject (knowing your enemy's thinking perhaps) in order to set the limits of the subject and then trying to find or reason to the center.

I must say I find a bit of truth at both extremes but it is sometimes difficult to get to the real facts with all of the shouting. Nonetheless, I know I am better informed when I know fully the arguments with which I disagree as well as those with which I agree. Again, I find a bit to agree with both and much to disagree with both.

The challenge seems to be to be able to translate the intellectual certainty of an argument (and believe me I am as far from an intellectual as it is possible to be) into action. Well, make that effective and meaningful action.

As an example, I am convinced that our new President wants to do the right thing but he cannot get the Nancy Pelosis of the world to abandon their self assured views of punitive scorched earth politics. And, so he falls into their trap --- "we won the damn election, didn't we?" It is not spoils that were won but the mantle and responsibilities of leadership. Leading even those who did not vote for him.

On the other hand, President Obama seems unable to stop campaigning and get down to the business of governing as he moves his entire political opertion into the WH.

The greatest thing is that the American people are so resilient and able ultimatey to cope with anything. Thank goodness for the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, eh?

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 8 months ago

JLM,

I didn't vote for the President, but do support him in office until he does something to harm the country.

He's smart and glib, 100% qualified on those attributes alone by the standards of the left.

We've had more than a few presidents who grew into the job once they got it. If they had to be judged on a resume then George H. W. Bush #42 would have to be our greatest president. He wasn't.

It will be interesting to watch the left fracture if and when ideology gives way to pragmatism for the skinny guy behind the big desk.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

Mr TC ---

I love a good contest and I think the recent Presidential election was a good one.

I support the President wholeheartedly and enthusiastically regardless of the fact that I did not favor him as a candidate. If I disagree with anything, it will only be his policies or his ideas never him personally. He is OUR American President period. I would never disrespect him as it disrespects our people. Just the way I am wired. For me, the election is over and is no longer relevant. It was just a contest.

I decry the huge waste of money but I must say that the use of technology and the expansion of a newly energized electorate are fascinating developments. This was a generational change election --- like the Kennedy - Nixon election which followed 8 years of Eisenhower --- and the next generation is in power. A 5-star General turned the country over to a Lt (jg) who managed to get his only command sunk. Good luck.

We allow ourselves to fall into hugely misleading stereotypes and to attribute these ideas to either the left or right when more appropriately they are characterized as correct or wrong. The simple truth of the matter is that the Stimulus is either a good or a bad plan; and, if one is to characterize it so, then they should do it based upon their fact based opinion. We will know in about 12 months which it is. I think it is a disaster and we are entering a very, very dangerous time.

We are 100 miles from the airport and we don't know if we have enough fuel to make it.

We seem to be unable to find common virtues (integrity, thrift, hard work, charity, love) and to use them as the mortar to bind the other less universal ideas together. We seem to be unable to get beyond the continuing campaigning to the realities of governing. Every element of governance has to be viewed through the lens of an upcoming election.

I must say that as I look at what has made us a great Nation, it is difficult not to conclude that a bit more of those virtues tend to be on the right side of the ledger.

I suspect that President Obama likes being in charge enough that he may find a way to deal with the real issues --- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the unquenchable left.

I agree with you about GHWB. I think he was of such service to others that he never found the right way to promote himself. His resume was unbelievable.

It will be very interesting to see how Michael Steele's election as Chair of the RNC redounds in the press and with the American electorate. He is quite a guy and I noticed that he is an African American. But I could be wrong.

Good luck to us all. I think the Stimulus has cooked our goose.

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playa46 5 years, 8 months ago

JLM- You continue to say "I just don't disrespect people".

Didn't you call Obama a....what was it..... Faker, Naif and a Poseur or something like that?

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

@ playthang ---

You gotta read all the words and even think about some of them, playthang, cause I was making the distinction between the candidate and the President.

For the record, I still do think that President Obama was and is a fakir, naif and poseur but as he is our and MY President I don't intend to give voice to those observations cause he is, in fact, our President and I respect the office of the President regardless of who occupies it.

I do think that his protestations that he would not hire lobbyists --- of which he has hired a reinforced platoon --- and that he would be a post partisan President --- not having garnered a single Republican vote for his Stimulus Plan --- are troublesome governing/policy shortcomings and these are fair game.

What I actually said was: "I would never disrespect him as it disrespects our people." Of course as you correctly surmised, I was speaking of candidate Obama v President Obama. I have called candidate O a number of things including as you have noted a fakir, naif and poseur. I have not said a mean word about President Obama for the reasons that I have previously articulated.

Does this clear it up for you playa and can you understand that subtlety? I hope so. Thanks for letting me help you with that.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Not only does the GOP easily manage to turn our Core Values into partisan issues depending on which way the political winds are blowing, but the GOP also easily manages to not stand for what it claims to stand for. Nobody in this country ever thought to assume that politicians had values, at least not since the 18th century, until the GOP decided to make "family values" its marketing message -- required in order to preach on about the "sanctity of marriage" which doesn't seem to matter if the politician is Rudy Giuliani or John McCain... or Mark Foley, given the chair of a committee dedicated to stopping the exact behavior he was known to exhibit at the time!

In fact, when it comes to making a mockery of family values and the sanctity of marriage, nobody beats the Party of Craig and Vitter...

http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/Republican_Sex_Scandals

Find me similar dirt on Democrats. Oh, yes, I know... Barney Frank. Elliot Spitzer. The point is not that you run out soon and rely on lots of old stuff, but that the Democratic Party to its credit, never created a false dichotomy between politicians and family values in the first place.

Perhaps the availability of political cover for their dalliances (the image being more important than the truth for the GOP) is what drove the absurd roll-call linked above, to the Republican Party in the first place. To have these same cretins preaching about the "sanctity of marriage" does indeed make a mockery of this term.

Contrast the preferred treatment given to the GOP's own homosexual politicians, with the way their operatives treat government employees merely rumoured to be gay:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100147494

Monica Goodling, just like everyone else in the Bush administration who said "to hell with the rules, I'm sticking with my ideology" to the detriment of the public interest, will escape any accountability.

History's judgement of Congress' failure to impeach Bush won't be any prettier than history's judgement of Bush is bound to be. Taking impeachment "off the table" was a betrayal of our Constitution, which doesn't give the Speaker of the House a line-item veto over prosecuting high crimes and misdemeanors.

The majority, i.e. the public interest, will of course, not be served. We Independents who could give a damn about Republican vs. Democrat concerns but just want the government to do what's right, aren't partisan enough in our campaign contributions to outweigh the special interests served by the established Parties.

Time and again, our voices go unheeded and our majority interests unserved, because we've renounced partisan politics - because of ongoing shenanigans in both parties, which of course, George Washington himself warned us against allowing to happen, in his farewell address.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Juries are the ultimate arbiters of Law in this nation, not the Office of Legal Counsel. Bush and Cheney say they got the necessary legal opinions beforehand. But this was only after they were informed that waterboarding was completely against the law, backed by centuries of legal precedent including our prosecution of Japanese soldiers for waterboarding U.S. troops. The Jury System is a product of liberal political thought. It is the antithesis of the authoritarian approach, of "what the President says, is the Law" which is not supported in the Constitution.

If Juries have said waterboarding is torture and a war crime, then it is not in the President's power to order his lawyers to tell him otherwise, to immunize him against future war-crimes charges. I fail utterly to understand which of our Core Values the Republican Party actually stands for, since it voted in lockstep with the Bush administration on every issue regarding the Constitution.

"We seem to be unable to find common virtues (integrity, thrift, hard work, charity, love) and to use them as the mortar to bind the other less universal ideas together."

Those virtues are to be found in the Constitution. Your Party has abandoned the Constitution, try as y'all might to lay the blame on Bush for this, or claim that to care about this makes one a "liberal" to be hated and scorned. The Constitution, as George Washington points out in his farewell address, is the common virtue which binds us, which must transcend partisan concerns. Well, in the case of the GOP, epic fail. Re-embrace the Constitution. Allow Bush to be prosecuted for far, far more serious issues than you required of yourselves before foolishly impeaching Clinton. Stop obstructing every single bill which passes through Congress and start doing what's right for the public interest, instead of voting in lockstep every time based on rank partisanship.

"On the other hand, President Obama seems unable to stop campaigning and get down to the business of governing as he moves his entire political opertion into the WH."

You say this as if it ever applied to Bush. Bush spent eight years systematically turning the entire apparatus of the Government to partisan political purpose. Had a recount in Florida been allowed, it would have started by undoing the -16,000 votes Gore received in one precinct and handed Gore the election. Yet Bush went in as if he had an Obamesque mandate from the voters, rather than a partisan Supreme Court ruling, to rule the nation as an ideological partisan conservative. He never lead those who did not vote for him. He openly called us traitors, and worse.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

G-dub also had this to say about treatment of enemies captured on the field of battle, in 1775:

"Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause: for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country... Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands."

(The difference between G-dub's and W's use of mercenaries? Washington shot his Hessians who tortured or killed civilians, Bush put his Hessians beyond the reach of the law. The difference between G-dub's and W's treatment of contractor fraud? G-dub would never deal with that contractor again. W rewarded them with an endless string of no-bid contracts while turning a blind eye towards fraud. In WWII, the Truman Commission eliminated enough waste by cracking down on contractor fraud, to create and activate another combat brigade.)

Instead, the U.S. has yet to ivestigate over 130 cases of detainee deaths the military has classified as homicides, preferring instead to scapegoat a few rotten apples on the night shift, for systemic failures engendered by the laws-don't-matter behavior of the Bush administration. It was the GOP's decision to go right over the cliff with Bush, by never standing up and saying "yes, laws do matter, and so do deficits for that matter." But they didn't, not when it mattered. Yet, as with family values and deficit-hawking, the GOP still expects to fool people into believing they stand for the Rule of Law.

Yet another Core Value the Republicans have turned into a political hot-potato... torture. Nobody used to disagree about this, until the Republican Party failed to stand up against a President run amok, deciding instead to turn torture into a partisan political issue. The history about the prosecution of waterboarding as torture and war crimes by the U.S. against our own citizens and soldiers dates back to the demise of the ducking stool in Colonial times, and carries into the 1983 prosecution of a Texas Sheriff for waterboarding his black prisoners.

Yet the Republicans have consistently argued that the Bush administration didn't torture, because at the stroke of a pen some memo from the OLC overturned centuries of established legal precedent in this country concerning waterboarding? The Laws forbidding this treatment of captives were the product of transpartisan Core Values of this nation, as reflected by centuries of Jury verdicts penalizing water torture in its various forms and incarnations, and the personal opinions of Presidents going back to #1.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"We allow ourselves to fall into hugely misleading stereotypes and to attribute these ideas to either the left or right when more appropriately they are characterized as correct or wrong...

We seem to be unable to find common virtues (integrity, thrift, hard work, charity, love) and to use them as the mortar to bind the other less universal ideas together. We seem to be unable to get beyond the continuing campaigning to the realities of governing..."

OK, I'm with you so far...

"I must say that as I look at what has made us a great Nation, it is difficult not to conclude that a bit more of those virtues tend to be on the right side of the ledger... [blather snipped] the unquenchable left."

But I'm not sure you agree with yourself, since you manage to make every single issue out to be liberals vs. conservatives, Democrats vs. Republicans, when the majority of registered voters in this country have always been Independent. This is the same flaw exhibited by the establishment media.

Fundamentally, the core values of this nation are liberal in nature. They are a product of the Enlightenment Deist view of the world, which nobody could possibly label "conservative". Human Rights is a big part of the Constitution (see Bill of Rights, habeas corpus), as such it is a core value. Nobody ever suggested that Human Rights was a partisan issue until W. and Rove decided to ignore Human Rights and make it a partisan issue.

Witness the Helsinki Accords, the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions -- all promoted globally via transpartisan U.S. initiative, ratified with broad bipartisan support, and signed into Law by Republican Presidents. Core Value, not partisan issue... until suddenly that all changed when Bush decided to torture and Congress let him. Where are the Libertarians who used to belong to the Republican Party? They've left in droves because, silly them, they thought Human Rights and the Constitution were Core Values, not subject to partisan renouncement as "pre-9-11 thinking".

Similarly, deficit spending. While some level of deficit is needed in order to establish credit, nobody in this country ever suggested that the size of the deficit doesn't matter. Until Dick Cheney said so, and "deficits don't matter" became the mantra of the borrow-and-squander rubberstamp Republicans who presided over the greatest increase in deficit spending and the size of government... since Reagan. Ah, but now that a Democrat is in the White House, suddenly the Republican Party are all deficit hawks again. "Watch out for those tax-and-spend Democrats! They favor big government and unlimited deficits!" Get real, GOP.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

Bush's "Justice" Department was dedicated to the investigation of Democrats and the cover-up of Republicans, as witnessed by the actual crimes of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, uncovered in the Siegelman investigation, which the prosecutor ignored in favor of going after the Democrat running for Governor for something that wasn't actually a crime, and the entire US Attorney firing scandal, and weeding out anyone who wasn't a Republican ideologue from career positions in Government (Leslie Hagen) and replacing them based not on credentials, but on partisan loyalty. When they weren't undoing enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, in defiance of that duly-enacted and ratified Law.

I notice the latest right-wing talking point is that the Democrats want single-party rule in this country. Sorry, but I've not seen any evidence of that, whereas the eight years Bush was in charge were dedicated to exactly that philosophy -- by the GOP. Certainly, even if it were true, it's too early for there to be any proof of that when Obama hasn't even been President for a month? Sounds to me, more like it's the right that's "unquenchable":

"[A]nd that he would be a post partisan President not having garnered a single Republican vote for his Stimulus Plan are troublesome governing/policy shortcomings and these are fair game."

Wait a minute... Obama came up with a plan that, despite his mandate to reject Republican economic policies out-of-hand (McCain ran on tax cuts as economic stimulus, and lost, get over it), consisted of 20% infrastructure and 33% kowtowing tax cuts, throwing a bone to the Republicans whose support he didn't need in the first place, and the GOP, true to form, voted in lockstep against anything that wasn't 100% inline with their own ideological economic views, which have led this nation straight into a disaster of historical scale and global scope...

But this was somehow a failing of President Obama to be post-partisan? Give me a break. Frankly, Obama looks like a fool for even trying, as if anyone would have expected any different result had his proposal been 100% tax cuts -- which would also have failed to garner a single vote simply by virtue of being Obama's plan. There are no moderate Republicans left in the House to reach out to, and the GOP will continue to vote in lockstep along partisan lines for ideological reasons instead of doing what's right for the country, i.e. business-as-usual on behalf of special interests who fund their reelections, is all that vote showed.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 8 months ago

"It will be very interesting to see how Michael Steele's election as Chair of the RNC redounds in the press and with the American electorate. He is quite a guy and I noticed that he is an African American. But I could be wrong."

I don't understand how the Republicans will ever convince anyone that their Party isn't beset with racism or sexism, in the face of their actual positions, by using such shamelessly transparent ploys as running a woman for VP expecting to appeal to disgruntled Hillary voters (as long as nobody was allowed to ask her questions) despite that candidate's racist insinuations against Obama being blamed by the Secret Service for the uptick in white-supremacist assassination plots...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/sarahpalin/3405336/Sarah-Palin-blamed-by-the-US-Secret-Service-for-death-threats-against-Barack-Obama.html

...or by the selection of Michael Steele combined with statements like, "I notice he's an African-American" as if that had any bearing on anything. It's wishful thinking to believe that a token black or two will convince anyone of color to join the GOP (see Colin Powell and Condi Rice). I think voters are smarter than that, and will judge Michael "I don't play golf" Steele on the basis of his words...

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/07/06/md-discrimination/

Expecting a bunch of new African-American Republican registrations because of Mr. Steele's skin color? Yeah, good luck with that, it's the same flawed logic which didn't result in droves of disgruntled Hillary voters for McCain.

The problems with today's GOP are fundamental in nature. Crony ahead of Country. Rule of Man over Rule of Law. Believing, as Monica Goodling did, that she swore an Oath to serve the President when her Oath was actually sworn to the Constitution. And, the concerns of rich white men trump all else. This is not a matter of re-branding, or better messaging...

http://vodpod.com/watch/1292852-samantha-b-rebranding-gop

...this is an issue of being out-of-touch with the American electorate. But instead of allowing our message to get through to your Party, your Party keeps manufacturing lies and sticking to its guns in the face of rejection. Oh, well. You didn't get it in 2006, you didn't get it in 2008, and you won't get it in 2010 when the Democrats will assume de-facto single-party rule which none of us wants, due strictly to thick-headedness in the face of being drubbed at the polls by the GOP today.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

EJB, breathe, babe, breathe, breathe, you're hyperventilating! LOL

Democats --- all good! All Republicans --- very bad! OK?

George W --- good. George W Bush --- bad!

President Obama --- good black guy! Michael Steele --- bad black guy!

Sheesh!

I guess unemployment is not agreeing w/ you? You really need to find full time employment.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 7 months ago

EJB

Your post was an impressive display of a fine analytical mind and use of the language.

I don't think any thinking person can claim the political center. It is a real dullard of either extreme who doesn't incorporate some concepts of the other pole into his world view. I think you are at least partially chargeable with 'ideas of central reference', in which an individual views himself as the norm and others as skewed to one side or the other.

LIberals repeatedly weight hope for outcomes over the reality of experience. You repeat the mistaken and failed concepts of the past in hope of a different result. Your view of human nature is that it is essentially good, while conservatives view human nature as essentially selfish. Both are partially right. Government has a role to play to encourage behavior that benefits society. Liberals, first cousins of socialists, believe that government can perfect human nature by indoctrination, and if necessary, statutory coercion. Conservatives believe that human nature can't be perfected, in government incentives to steer it; and in allowing failure to result from antisocial choices.

Partisanship is an equal opportunity vice. Up until the last few years, I never heard the expression, "left wing" in the main stream media or from academia. Since the sixties, it has been common to denigrate all conservatives as "right wingers", or the nastier, "right wing nuts." When did you ever hear the expression, "left wing nut?" Liberalism would like to define itself as defender of the Bill of Rights and conservatives as opponents, but it was FDR who interred Japanese Americans. An entire social services industry has grown up to insinuate itself into our schools and homes to interfere with the upbringing of our children. That is a more practical and personal loss of personal rights to be laid at the feet of 'social engineers', few of whom are conservatives.

There was an article in the Atlantic magazine in the last couple of years about torture. The author concluded that in hard cases, to prevent mass murder, that it would be warranted. Water boarding, if defined specifically as torture by treaty is torture. Other harsh interrogation techniques seem to be wholesaled by you as torture and a greater offense to the nation than the evil intended to be prevented. How many Americans do you think it appropriate to sacrifice to your exquisite human rights sensibilities; another 3.7 thousand? a million? loss of one of our great cities?

Obama says we can have both security and a scrupulous respect for European sensibilities about our human rights, but any thinking person knows that we can't. His 'reactive' view of the law is misapplied to prevention of horrors, and wholly ineffective. The conviction and imprisonment of terrorists after the fact of mass murder or even just one child murdered is ashes in the mouths of the families who are impacted.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

Gee, if only I'd waited a little longer before mentioning GOP sex scandals, I could've included this link:

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_11637020

Why is it always little boys? How come so many of them are associated with Young Life, or are Scoutmasters? Ick. One Republican I always voted for was Scott McInnis. But he sure blew his assessment of this guy.

"EJB, breathe, babe, breathe, breathe, you're hyperventilating! LOL

Democats all good! All Republicans very bad! OK?

George W good. George W Bush bad!

President Obama good black guy! Michael Steele bad black guy!

Sheesh!

I guess unemployment is not agreeing w/ you? You really need to find full time employment."

Sheesh? You're the one who has now added misstating my position to your repertoire of personal attacks. While it's too early to tell about Obama, he has a huge hole to dig himself out of with me. But my reasons for opposing Obama have nothing whatever to do with yours. First, the FISA capitulation last June. Obama couldn't have been clearer in his opposition, until he voted in favor of telecom immunity, and responded to criticism by belittling and condescending to his critics in what can only be described as a Cheney-esque fashion. My worry isn't that he's a commie; it's that he's a conservative.

The FISA capitulation, against the will of the public, is an example of just how thoroughly corrupt Washington, D.C. is regardless of party affiliation. The debate was dragged out for over a year. The Democrats consistently opposed it. The telecoms consistently donated more and more campaign money to the Democrats, until the Democrats quit bluffing. It was shameless political theatre designed to hide a quid-pro-quo purchase of immunity on a matter which any rational American knows should have been left to the Courts to decide. The icing on the cake, was Obama's vote. Gosh, I wonder how the telcos swung that? Easy. In the face of his popularity, Obama's campaign couldn't possibly have funded the Democratic National Convention in Denver last summer. Or didn't anyone else notice that affair was "brought to you by at&t"?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

Nothing Obama has done has convinced me he is a sleazeball politician. But my personal jury's still out, because nothing he's done has quite convinced me that he isn't. His stated support for this is not the sort of change I can believe in:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7870049.stm

Is it really wise to send such a clear message to our allies that we're only interested in helping to prevent another terrorist attack in London if they provide us with political cover on torture? Then there's this:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090206/ap_on_go_co/cia_panetta

Uuuuuh, huuuuh... I had hoped the Obama administration would stand for the Rule of Law, not "if the President got a legal opinion from the Justice Department before ordering the law to be broken, it must be OK." If that viewpoint is never challenged in a legal proceeding, it becomes the law of our newly-lawless land. It can only be valid if it undergoes the crucible of the Courts.

If the Supreme Court decides that the President has unitary power, then I suppose I'll have to live with that. But you can't expect me to abide by such a fundamental shift in how this country is governed, without due process, no matter which political party favors it from one administration to the next.

So, just as I've always claimed, skin color and party affiliation have nothing to do with anything. I vote for the Person, not the Party. When presented with evidence that a politician is indisputably a sleazeball, I won't overlook that fact in favor of skin color (as the GOP has with Steele) any more than I will attribute that fact to skin color. As if the history on this guy wasn't bad enough already, this is from today's news:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/06/AR2009020604151.html?wprss=rss_politics

This is in addition to the story from Election 2006, where an anonymous GOP Senate candidate gave an interview which severely criticized the George W. Bush, particularly as regards the Iraq War and the Katrina response. When outed, Mr. Steele claimed this was all just a joke he was playing on his "homeboy" George W. Bush...

Sleazeball politician. Sorry, that is neither a racist nor a partisan perspective.

So I stand by my statement above. Michael Steele won't attract black voters to the GOP. He simply has no credibility within that community. Never has he taken a stand on a single issue African-American voters care about. Not once has he denounced racist comments by Rush Limbaugh or other white Republicans. His indifference to those issues is neatly summarized by "I don't play golf" which is absolutely beside the point of the question asked, but certainly qualifies as a sleazeball politician tactic.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

That should have been, "if it undergoes trial by fire in the crucible of the Courts", the same as must be done if this nation truly desires to renounce the Geneva Conventions and other human-rights accords. I'll shut up, but only if we transform what we are about by following the proper procedure, instead of just winging it. Which doesn't look to be soon. Or indeed, by having a Thomas Jefferson-endorsed Revolution to reject the Constitution and replace it with a new form of government, instead of undermining it at every turn.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"I don't think any thinking person can claim the political center. It is a real dullard of either extreme who doesn't incorporate some concepts of the other pole into his world view. I think you are at least partially chargeable with 'ideas of central reference', in which an individual views himself as the norm and others as skewed to one side or the other."

Quite the contrary. Despite the fact that Independent, moderate voters in this country outnumber (granted, not by much, but this is hardly a new phenomenon) Democrats or Republicans, when confronted with a Moderate the conservatives always make quite the bend-over-backwards effort to portray me as a liberal, than ramble on about liberal this, liberal that. It's as if you're channeling Ann Coulter.

This is the same fallacy as calling me a "pacifist" for being against both of our wars. Quite the contrary. I believe in "Just War" and the Powell Doctrine. I've modified my beliefs in recent years, to allow for the draft, because the lesson learned from the collective experience of Vietnam and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that the best way to prevent endless wars with no exit strategy may very well be to bring back the draft. I believe the case may be made that the Afghanistan War is a Just War, however that doesn't mean I ever thought it was a good idea to invade the "graveyard of empires" in the first place, let alone abandon that mission in favor of invading Iraq so shortly thereafter.

President Bush demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of, or disrespect for, the American form of government when he argued that the Iraq War was also a Just War. He cited "the authority of the sovereign" and then pointed out that this was done on his authority, and he's the sovereign. How disgusting. In America, the people are sovereign, which is why the Executive Branch is described in Article II of the Constitution, not Article I, and why the People's representatives in the Congress were given the power to declare war.

The notion that the Congress is in violation of its oath in arrogating this responsibility, is hardly one of "liberals vs. conservatives" but rather, one of Core Values. Being in favor of our Core Values seems to make me a de-facto moderate in this day and age, as both our political parties throw them to the wind in the name of conservative or liberal ideologies. Instead of our Courts bowing to the AUMF as if it were allowable to give over the war-declaring power of the Constitution to a different branch of Government without so much as an Amendment, the Courts should have held the AUMF to be un-Constitutional.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"When did you ever hear the expression, 'left wing nut?'"

Granted, that's an obscure term. But that isn't the case with "leftist", "radical", "leftist radical", "dirty stinking hippy", "socialist", "communist" or any of the other thought-stoppers you righties (another obscure term) resort to in argument after argument, despite a past failure to ever convince anyone of anything using that tactic, except those who already agree with you based on strictly ideological grounds.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

Don't tell me what you think an Atlantic article might have said; find it and link to it. Linking to pertinent opinions isn't that hard...

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/01/29/the_confusion_over_renditions/

...see? Was that so hard?

"Other harsh interrogation techniques seem to be wholesaled by you as torture and a greater offense to the nation than the evil intended to be prevented. How many Americans do you think it appropriate to sacrifice to your exquisite human rights sensibilities; another 3.7 thousand? a million? loss of one of our great cities?"

Because the Laws as they are written define torture to be any cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment -- any coercion at all -- to be torture. If you don't like those Laws that the Republican Party spearheaded and were signed into Law by Reagan (or in the case of the 1996 War Crimes Act, Clinton) after being ratified by Congress, then change them. Until such time, poll results, gut instinct, and other reasons don't outweigh the will of this nation as expressed in our duly-enacted Laws.

My exquisite human rights sensibilities, as you call them, are what I call the transpartisan core values of this nation. That's what happens when, in the aftermath of the Phillipine War and the World Wars, we came up with things like the Geneva Conventions. Never, ever had human rights been denounced as liberal notions in this country before this century -- those Laws you seem to think will get us all killed were put there by Republicans and Democrats alike, with the backing of Independent voters. You Republicans helped define those coercive intelligence techniques to be torture, with nary a protest.

Unlike you, I reject out-of-hand the notion that human rights will get us all killed. It has been shown, by our own intelligence agencies, that our rejection of human rights is directly responsible for getting more of our soldiers killed than died on 9/11, while increasing global terrorism to unprecedented levels. How many more American soldiers do you feel is appropriate to sacrifice, in order to continue disproving Bush's policies?

If you believe the Constitution puts us all at risk of being killed, then by all means come out and say so, to let us know where you really stand. To argue against human rights is to renounce the Constitution, you may as well be clear about it. I will not sacrifice my Liberty for a false sense of security. I certainly don't need Benjamin Franklin or Patrick Henry to tell me that.

How many more cities will we let be destroyed, because needed infrastructure funds were diverted by Bush to pay for wetlands rehabilitation along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, money completely wasted since the inability to provide basic sanitation in Iraq (you can see the sewage-sludge puddles from satellite) thanks to contractor fraud re-destroyed it?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

On the American side, my family has a long history of naming their kids "Patrick Henry", or P.H. for short. I had a Great-Uncle P.H. whose brother Joe Hardin has a lock and dam named after him on the Arkansas River, because he was a driving force behind making it a navigable waterway. He was also famous for leading a conservative political party referred to as "The Happy Few" and losing election after election to the Democratic political machine of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus:

Perhaps you should just take me at my word that I'm an anti-partisan moderate, as I say, instead of trying to deny that such a thing exists, or that I'm a dullard if I believe it does. I happen to know a thing or two about American politics, and politicians. I'm 1/3 conservative, 1/3 liberal, and 1/3 in-between. Contrast this with Republicans, who are against abortion but won't even consider compromising in cases of rape or incest, or the life of the mother. The conservative in me despises abortion otherwise. The liberal in me sees the futility of legislating against it -- perhaps from reading "The Cider House Rules".

The moderate in me sees the possibility of compromise. But that's my idealistic side speaking. My inner realist tells me much the same as blogger and noted ex-Republican John Cole had to say:

"I really don't understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years."

http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=16770

So perhaps it's true that only a dullard could believe that a moderate position is possible on any issue, let alone abortion, given how completely and insanely opposed to compromise those on the obstinate side of the debate are. Silly, dullard moderate, me. BTW, on the abortion issue, the liberal in me beats the conservative and the moderate in me. If restricting abortions can only be done in a no-compromises-ever GOP fashion, then abortions shouldn't be restricted at all, moderate beliefs aside until the GOP reconsiders its belief in intractable obstinacy.

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JLM 5 years, 7 months ago

@ Erb ---

You take everything to an extreme and apparently can see only a single shade of color at a time.

You extrapolate from a single anecdote to a world colored by that singular instance thereby losing context and ignoring complexity.

You characterize everything in terms of political party affiliations thereby losing the subtlety that people develop values and opinions without first checking with their national party affiliations, if at all.

Why must a sexual predator be a "Democratic" or a "Republican" sexual predator --- why can't that be just behavior which is condemned and reprehensible and not have to be characterized as being pertinent to their political affiliation?

Why not note their religion?

Sure the pendulum swung a bit in fashioning the Nation's response to terrorism. It's understandable -- nobody really knew what was going to happen next. So, in America, we correct course and get on with things. FDR suspended habeas corpus during the Second WW and things worked out just fine. Should he have ordered the internment of the Japanese? Did it work out OK? Was it reasonable given the circumstances?

Are we seeking racial equality, color blindness, affirmative action? I really don't see President Obama as a "black" man though I honor and respect the struggle that black Americans celebrate with his election. [I actually think it is quite interesting that he has not a drop of slave blood in his veins and is equally white and black; and, at first, was criticized as not black enough.] I see him as a capable man who has emerged victorious in the Nation's proscribed methodology for choosing our leader. I see him simply as MY President.

Even when I may disagree with his political views, policies or actions, he is still MY President and is deserving of the respect that such a distinction makes.

I don't really see Michael Steele as a "black" Chair of the RNC. I see him as a capable man who has emerged victorious in the Republican Party's proscribed methodology for choosing its leader. I see him simply as the Chair of the party with which I most frequently agree.

I am certain that I don't want to attract a supporter to a political endeavor when the only characteristic they can see or the determinant factor is the color of a man's skin. I hope for our Nation an epidemic of colorblindness which sees only policy, talent, competence and values as the drivers of support.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

But I digress.

"Obama says we can have both security and a scrupulous respect for European sensibilities about our human rights, but any thinking person knows that we can't. His 'reactive' view of the law is misapplied to prevention of horrors, and wholly ineffective. The conviction and imprisonment of terrorists after the fact of mass murder or even just one child murdered is ashes in the mouths of the families who are impacted."

What European sensibilities? Granted, habeas corpus dates back to the Magna Carta. But most of the American Bill of Rights is uniquely American, and was used as the model for all Republican-promoted human rights accords of the 20th century -- those things you call "European" sensibilities in a sick effort to discredit them as somehow not being the very virtues this country was founded upon.

Any thinking person knows Benjamin Franklin and plenty of others since then are absolutely right, that trading Liberty for security is a false choice. I have yet to find a voice I respect more than that of the Founders, claiming this to be otherwise. I absolutely reject this notion, and further state that to claim we must set aside our Liberty for a false sense of security is as anti-American a sentiment as anyone can utter. Generations of Americans have preferred to die fighting for their Liberty, than to give it up, even for an empty promise of security. That simply is not our way as Americans.

You speak of how this view is "misapplied to the prevention of horrors". I will again counter with the argument, since nobody has bothered to refute it except to call me names or blather on about my "liberal" views: As Richard Clarke states in his op-ed I linked to above, the Clinton administration treated terrorism as a Law Enforcement problem, and the results were a stunning success by comparison with the Bush administration's.

As a result, we caught the Millennium Bomber. We then tried him in front of a real court, rather than denying him his habeas corpus rights and torturing him. He was convicted. In exchange for a lighter sentence (life imprisonment instead of execution) he cooperated, and told us of al-Qaeda cells operating in America. These cells were responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

Except that by the time he told us this, Bush was in office and didn't recognize terrorism to be either a Law Enforcement or a Military problem, preferring instead to ignore it and hope it would go away. But it didn't. It turned out that the intelligence we got from the Millenium Bomber was true, after all. There were al-Qaeda cells in America planning an attack. MB will live out his days slowly losing his mind in Florence. Bush will live his out trying to convince us that he kept us safe; when 9/11 itself is empirical evidence that he did not.

So I agree with you, it's pretty empty justice to convict and imprison terrorists after the fact that the Bush administration screwed up as badly as anyone could ever have imagined would even have been possible, by ignoring all the evidence obtained through our existing legal system, and failing to prevent the mass murder of thousands.

Contrast this with the Bush administration's decision to deny terrorists due process and treat terrorism as a military problem. Has this solved anything? Well, no. Out of hundreds of detainees released from Gitmo, if Dick Cheney is to be believed (and I suspect he's not), then 61 of them harmed us again. Isn't that a failure of the Bush administration's policies? Without any judicial process or review, 61 terrorists were released without explanation from Gitmo, and returned to the battlefield? So even if we believe these bogus recidivism numbers, it still doesn't prove the point they're cited to prove.

Wouldn't 9/11 victims' families be happier (despite the fact that it never should have happened in the first place) if, like the Millenium Bomber, those responsible for 9/11 had been brought to justice and incarcerated within the Law? Wouldn't the families of dead American troops be happier if Abu Ghraib hadn't led to a complete disintegration of the situation in Iraq and gotten thousands of our soldiers killed by IEDs as a result?

Wouldn't it be better for all of us, victims' families included, if "Ali the American" Mohammed had been brought to justice for his repeated murder of innocents in the U.S. and abroad, and given a choice to cooperate to reduce his sentence from death, to life imprisonment? Instead of the Bush administration, with no due process or review by any Court, deciding to put him into the Terrorist Protection Program, wherein he lives anonymously in America to this day? If his conviction in a Court of Law would be ashes in the mouths of his victims' families, then what I wonder, must they taste knowing he's been released to live amongst us -- a result which history shows us does NOT happen when terrorists are tried in our civilian courts?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

What has been the result of Bush's decision to treat terrorism as a military matter? The best and the brightest have been drummed out of the service for stating it was against the Law and the UCMJ, or for blowing the whistle on Gitmo, or were forced to resign as so many Gitmo kangaroo-court prosecutors have, because they couldn't abide by the mockery Bush's policies made of the notion of Justice itself?

Plus, two never-ending Wars killing more of our soldiers, eating away at our economy, failing to bring any terrorists to justice while torturing based on mistaken identity, empowering Iran and Russia... Are you absolutely sure this isn't best handled as a Law Enforcement issue?

I don't know about the vengeance factor, but from a standpoint of cost-benefit analysis as well as one of outright effectiveness, I'd have to say Bush's policy of making terrorism a military matter was an abysmal failure as compared with Clinton's policy of leaving it to our mostly-competent-at-this-sort-of-thing civilian Law Enforcement and Courts of Law.

Under Clinton, terrorists were brought to Justice. Under Bush, they've been released by Executive Fiat to allegedly attack us again, if not released uncharged and with assumed identities, right into the unsuspecting population of this country -- like Ali Mohammed. What an absurd failure Bush was. I'd like to see us get back to the tried-and-proven policies of Clinton, instead of the neoconservative fantasies that drove the Bush administration.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"You take everything to an extreme and apparently can see only a single shade of color at a time."

Still at it with the ad-hominems, I see. Since you can't actually discredit any of my sources or facts, you resort to calling me an extremist. Therefore you lack any ability to prove your assertion. That's why resorting to ad-hominem attacks only makes you look like an idiot, not me. Given a choice between being right, or not being called names, I'll take being right every time.

"You extrapolate from a single anecdote to a world colored by that singular instance thereby losing context and ignoring complexity."

That doesn't sound at all like me. You, yes, with your unreferenced ideological positions driven by the received wisdom of talking points, having no basis in fact.

"You characterize everything in terms of political party affiliations thereby losing the subtlety that people develop values and opinions without first checking with their national party affiliations, if at all."

Nice try, but I've pointed out many times that the issues I care about transcend Party, and used to enjoy the full backing of both Parties, before the Republicans renounced those things to endorse Bush's lawbreaking and started characterizing all opposition to Bush as "liberals". You're still trying to discredit me using insinuation and innuendo, but by resorting to such tactics (as with your name-calling), you only discredit yourself.

"Why must a sexual predator be a "Democratic" or a "Republican" sexual predator why can't that be just behavior which is condemned and reprehensible and not have to be characterized as being pertinent to their political affiliation?"

I don't know. It was the Republicans who decided to brand themselves as the Party of Family Values, which comes with the implicit criticism of the Democrats as being anti-Family. That's certainly an integral part of modern Republican rhetoric. This would make sense, if the Democrats would use this as their branding and point out the endless roster of Republican politicians caught with their pants down.

As it is, this rhetoric is the World's Largest Monument to Hypocrisy. The Bible has sayings about this, i.e. throwing the first stone, looking to the order of one's own house before diparaging the house of one's neighbor, and the like. There are two very good reasons for the GOP to knock it off. First, it isn't true. Second, what if I'm right, and the systematic cover given to the likes of Mark Foley is what attracted so many sexual predators to the GOP in the first place?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

The question I was asking was not, "Why are Republicans sexual predators?" That would be partisan. The very legitimate question I ask, in light of the facts, is "Why are so many sexual predators attracted to the Republican Party?" Because it certainly has happened, GOP politicians involved in sex scandals has become so routine as to hardly be newsworthy anymore -- except for the mulishly obstinate insistence on the "Family Values" meme, and the constant claim that Democrats oppose the sanctity of marriage, on the part of the Republican Party.

"Why not note their religion?"

Well, I did, but it was subtle. I'll get back to that. I was raised Catholic, my Dad was an altar boy as a kid, I had good friends who were altar boys. We had some hip priests, we had some stodgy priests, to the best of my knowledge none of them were child molestors. But, they were pretty much all Democrats even if they weren't part of the problem. The problem with child molestation in the Catholic Church isn't a problem with politician sex scandals, so it's a problem with the Catholic Church, not the Democrats.

(I've never been more disillusioned with a public figure in my life, than I was several weeks ago when the Vatican confirmed the authenticity of a document that was surfaced on the Internet. It turned out to be a Papal Bull signed by John XXIII ordering Dioceses not to cooperate with local authorities investigating allegations of child molestation, but to instead provide cover by moving the accused to a different Diocese. I had thought that particular Pope's reign was one of honor and integrity.)

Certainly, we see a problem with sex scandals amongst Evangelical Christians, nobody can dispute that long roster of high-profile incidents so I won't repeat the story of Pastor Ted down in Colorado Springs. While many of these men are political figures as well, I consider this a problem of Evangelical Christians, and not part of the problem with Republican politicians. I bear no prejudice against Evangelicals, but I also note that Bristol Palin is merely the poster-child for the fact that unplanned teenage pregnancies are far higher amongst Evangelicals than any other group in this country -- empirical evidence that abstinence-only doesn't work, since this also leads to pretty high numbers on STDs. These are merely sad facts, as the situation with Catholic Priests is a sad fact, not an indictment against Republicans. I limit myself.

Now, is it possible the Republicans, in light of the facts, could limit themselves? I mean, by refraining from character-assassinating members of the Democratic Party over the Family Values nonsense, given the record of their own Party? Too much to ask?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"Sure the pendulum swung a bit in fashioning the Nation's response to terrorism. It's understandable - nobody really knew what was going to happen next. So, in America, we correct course and get on with things. FDR suspended habeas corpus during the Second WW and things worked out just fine. Should he have ordered the internment of the Japanese? Did it work out OK? Was it reasonable given the circumstances?"

If nobody is held accountable for violating our Laws, then nobody can ever be held accountable for violating those Laws, as it would amount to selective prosecution. Failure to hold Bush and his cronies accountable for documented war crimes, means that any President can decide whether or not to follow the Laws. Obama's decisions to back off of Bush policies may be correcting course, but it would be far worse not to mark that reef as hazardous.

FDR suspended habeas corpus during time of war. While overblown, and certainly considered to have been way over the line in retrospect, at least FDR's suspension of habeas at least paid lip service to that line in the Constitution which states that the President may indeed suspend habeas in the case of invasion or insurrection. Which is why Lincoln's suspension of habeas was later judged to be Constitutional.

Now, why do you assume that I don't think FDR should have been held to account for that? Because he's a Democrat? I guess I'll have to throw a shoe at you to get it through your head that I'm against war crimes, no matter the Party affiliation of the guilty party. FDR died before WWII ended. Had he lived, perhaps he would have been held to account for his concentration camps. At least no atrocities were committed within -- we weren't putting them in solitary confinement when not torturing them, or holding them for "the duration" of a war that is, by definition, unending.

"I actually think it is quite interesting that he has not a drop of slave blood in his veins and is equally white and black; and, at first, was criticized as not black enough."

Yes, the right-wing smear machine certainly did make an issue of Obama's heritage. When not trying to convince us he was a Muslim because his Kenyan father was a Muslim, they were trying to convince us that his lack of African-American blood made him even more of an Oreo -- a term used multiple times on Fox News, so it must not be racist, right?

Like I said about Michael Steele, though. Skin color doesn't matter, if one is attempting to gain black votes, then one's credibility on issues of importance to black voters is what matters. Remember Bill Clinton? White as they come. Didn't matter to black voters, as Clinton had long established his credibility with them. Just as Obama's skin color doesn't really matter, nor does his non-American father matter, what matters to black voters are the things that Republicans mocked Obama for -- like being a "community organizer" inside the ghettos. Contrast with Michael Steele.

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JLM 5 years, 7 months ago

ERJ, nobody can make you look like an idiot but the arguments that you advance are sometimes just silly.

Do you really think that any reasonable person would attribute Bill Clinton's perverted conduct in the White House --- the most powerful man in the world and arguably the least powerful person in the government (an unpaid intern barely of majority age) desecrating his office and the Oval Office --- with his "political" views?

I could care less whether he was a Democrat. He was a an adulterer, a creep, a lech and a pervert --- that's enough for me. Being a Democrat, icing on the cake? Not really, irrelevant to me.

Would you need to know that John Edwards was a Democrat to be grossed out by the assertion that his wife's cancer was in remission when he was cheating on her? Pretty creepy? Time out, hair flip, OK! Thanks.

There are some things that are against simple decency and don't have to be politicized as part of the bargain.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"I don't really see Michael Steele as a 'black' Chair of the RNC. I see him as a capable man who has emerged victorious in the Republican Party's proscribed methodology for choosing its leader. I see him simply as the Chair of the party with which I most frequently agree."

You're trying to draw a correlation between Obama's election by a highly flawed, yet open and known, system and the RNC's behind-the-scenes machinations, to imply equal legitimacy between the two. Steele's selection was every bit as based on Image Marketing as Sarah Palin's selection (and subsequent wardrobe expenditures). By putting a hard-charging all-American hockey-mom face on the same tired old GOP messages, Palin was to re-invigorate the Party, and such. It didn't matter that she was under bipartisan investigation into abuse of power.

With Steele, the goal is to put a black man's face on the same tired old GOP messages, to broaden the appeal to minorities. It didn't matter that he was under investigation for campaign-finance abuse. If these selections weren't being driven by a small cadre at the top of the GOP, but by the open process you're trying to credit for their selections instead, then it would be highly unlikely that Palin or Steele would have emerged victorious, given their downsides. Unless, seriously, that's the best the GOP can do? Really?!?

The rot and corruption in the GOP power structure is so extensive, that going with Steele because he's black is exactly the sort of cynical political maneuver the public has come to expect, from a Party that harbors Mark Foley to keep his seat from the Democrats, while simultaneously accusing Democrats of being anti-Family.

It's as absurd as the old saw about "Tax and Spend Democrats" when the Republican record of governance is "Borrow and Squander". Conservatism, and a point with which I agree, means to be for lower taxes and lower spending. Bush, just like Reagan, lowered taxes and radically increased spending. The governing record of the Republican Party has nothing to do with the claims to stand for smaller government and less spending.

I guess the explanation is that Republicans are all about Party loyalty rather than the public interest, so if a Republican President violates every principle of conservative governance it's OK, but not so for a Democratic President. Oh, the hypocrisy.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

OK, I must confess. I had every intention when I went out to vote last November, of voting third-party for President, and voting for our new DA because we had a nice chat when she knocked on my door in Oak Creek campaigning and seemed sensible. I had other Republicans picked out, as well, because every fiber of my being requires me to not base my vote on party affiliation, and I never have. Until now. Despite all the evidence of the past decade, it took until 2008 for me to decide to vote against Republicans, all of y'all right down to the local level (except OC Town Board).

Why did I decide, in the voting booth, to vote straight-ticket Democrat? Why did the GOP unequivocally lose my vote and every last shred of my respect?

http://www.google.com/search?q=republican+voter+suppression+in+Colorado

(To paraphrase Star Trek) It isn't you I hate, Republican. I hate what I became, because of your Party.

I voted straight-ticket Democrat. But, I had to do what I had to do. I believe in "One Man One Vote" and that is, in fact, the law of the land. But, instead of working to change it through any legislative action, the Republican Party decided to simply disregard the Law and proceed with election tampering in this State even after being told not to by this State's Supreme Court. Sheesh.

I didn't hear any Republican politicians in this State denounce those nefarious tactics. Or declare themselves to be on the side of the Law, which is One Man One Vote, whether you Republicans like it or not, just like I have to abide by that damn Patriot Act. At least until such time as it's legally repealed by adhering to the methods prescribed by the Constitution for the enactment and repeal of Laws.

Go ahead, keep calling me a partisan, but the simple truth here is that I can't abide by Republican lawlessness and hypocrisy any longer. It's destroying my country before my very eyes, and I'd rather be accused of being a blowhard than remaining silent about it.

You Republicans who remain, need to either take back your Party, or renounce it and leave. Of course, it would be best if we could have a third party in this country, for the rational majority, and leave the dysfunctional parties for the extremists.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

Who is ERB, or ERJ for that matter? You can't even get someone's initials right, or you deliberately get it wrong as a method of flamebaiting.

"ERJ, nobody can make you look like an idiot but the arguments that you advance are sometimes just silly."

Still trying the ad-hominem approach to discredit me. Instead of actually coming up with a point to invalidate any argument I've made, you try to dismiss all my arguments out-of-hand by calling them silly.

I can be talked down from my positions, but only if presented with rational arguments against them. You have yet to make one, so you have yet to convince me that any of my positions lack merit. If you can actually come up with a factual, rational argument against a position I've taken, you never know, I might just change my mind. But you'll never find out without trying!

"Do you really think that any reasonable person would attribute Bill Clinton's perverted conduct in the White House the most powerful man in the world and arguably the least powerful person in the government (an unpaid intern barely of majority age) desecrating his office and the Oval Office with his 'political' views?"

Sure, if Clinton had run as a Republican, or if the Democrats had branded themselves as the Party of Family Values and gone around smearing Republicans as anti-Family, then yes, his banging Monica would indeed have been relevant to his political views. The Oval Office was hardly a virgin before Clinton, sexual dalliances seem to happen with politicians in high office, so I'm not sure how Clinton "desecrated" the Oval Office.

That was nothing, certainly not anything worthy of impeaching a President during a time of war. What really desecrated the Oval Office was a President who made a habit of lying to the American people and trampling all over the Constitution. I would've cared just as little about Bush banging an intern as I did about Clinton. Bush was a disgrace to his Office, that of President. Clinton's behavior in his office was merely disgraceful.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"There are some things that are against simple decency and don't have to be politicized as part of the bargain."

You mean things like Family Values and the Sanctity of Marriage? Oh, I agree totally, just as I agree that the Republicans muddling about in Terri Schiavo's life went against simple decency and shouldn't have been politicized.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

Meanwhile, chalk up another resounding failure for Bush antiterror policies:

"Efforts to prosecute alleged members of the network in Switzerland touched off a series of squabbles between Swiss and U.S. officials. Swiss prosecutors accused the Bush administration of withholding critical evidence needed to put three Swiss businessmen - a father and two brothers who worked with Khan in the 1980s and 1990s - behind bars."

Even if you're with us, you're against us? Oh, well. As I pointed out elsewhere, the Swiss are guilty of not turning Osama bin Laden's banking records over to the French courts.

"Last month, one of the brothers confirmed in a Swiss television interview that he had been working undercover for the CIA, prompting the Swiss parliament to ask why Switzerland had not been informed about covert action inside its territory."

I imagine the Bush administration told the Swiss to just shoot him up with Haldol until he quit claiming to be CIA.

What a travesty the whole A.Q. Khan thing turned into. Under pre-Bush rendition practice, we would have snatched Khan off the streets of Pakistan and put him on trial in the U.S. Given Bush's propensity for renditions and completely unwarranted incarcerations, why on Earth did he agree to house arrest for Khan in Pakistan? Oh, yeah. To buy Musharaff's help fighting the terrorists.

I forget, how well did that work out? Yet again, Bush's policies result in a real threat going about his business with immunity from further prosecution, like Ali Mohammed, instead of bringing him to justice under the auspices of our Judicial System.

I predict that in 20 to 30 years, historians will still be discovering just how spectacular a failure Bush was, not exonerating him.

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JLM 5 years, 7 months ago

E, babe, the open secret of the Khan affair was that Musharraf placed AQ Khan under house arrest (and ultimately pardoned him) to protect Musharraf's and Pakistan's role in the development of nuclear weapons.

There was never a chance that Khan was going to fall into the hands of the US, he knew too much.

Khan was a huge figure in the Pakistani development of nuclear weapons. Pakistan had almost nobody who could handle the technical aspects of making a nuclear weapon at the time that its national prestige and defense against the Indians (who had nuclear weapons) was in play.

Nuclear power gave P'an a seat at the adults table though the only other seatmates were all scumbags --- Syria, China, N Korea, Iran, etc.

Musharraf was a military leader and was scared to death that the Indians were going to attack Pakistan. America was in great measure his insurance policy.

The American relationship w/ Pakistan has been weird to say the least. It is only w/ the recognition that America intends to routinely violate the sovereignty of P's air space that they have even come around at all.

That and the new President of P'an who is one of the richest guys in the country. He recognizes that the Taliban is a huge threat to the peace and economic stability of his country and he is a businessman --- widower of Madame Bhutto. The Taliban have become the worst kind of problem for him --- "bad for businesss."

The new Pres is ultimately going to allow the war in Af'n to be fought where the Taliban now live --- the sanctuary of Pakistan but not until there are enough troops on the ground to get the job done. Then he will feed them to the US like candy.

Why did the US not tell the Swiss what was going on? Because the US was spying ON the Swiss. The Swiss are the coldest SOBs in the world and are far from the neutral chocolatiers they would want the world to believe. They actively supported and financed the Nazi war machine and allowed Nazi troops to be transported on the rail system through Helvetia to Italy. The Swiss are the worst cheats in the world and literally have no allies.

Spycatchers follow the money and the money usually goes through Switzerland.

Hell the way President Obama is unifying the Republicans, Bush will probably end up on Mr Rushmore! LOL --- Hey, wouldn't that create a bunch of jobs???

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 7 months ago

"Hell the way President Obama is unifying the Republicans, Bush will probably end up on Mr Rushmore! LOL Hey, wouldn't that create a bunch of jobs???"

I'm not laughing. What I told my Republican friends and family members, was not to worry too much about Obama. For starters, the notion that he was the "Most Liberal Senator Ever" were concocted by William Kristol and disseminated without question through the mass media. In reality, Obama was the 39th most liberal Senator, and on many issues he voted "present" to avoid having a voting record anyone could really pin down.

Then, I brought up the issue of Oak Creek and its Police Department. The Town is as broke as everyone else including the State, and a little federal budget assistance could directly finance the PD and even free some money up to fund other obligations. So don't worry, Obama's stimulus plan includes infrastructure funding which puts people straight to work, budget assistance to State and local governments, funding for needed school repair, and a boost to the COPS program -- none of which were in McCain's tax-cut-only plan.

Of course, "nobody could have predicted" that Senate Republicans would strip out every last one of those provisions, and the Democrats would cave to them as surely as if McCain had won the election last November. So none of that will likely happen, thanks to "bipartisanship" and another neoconservative-thinking President. Anyway, here's an interesting read:

http://blogs.ft.com/maverecon/2009/02/fiscal-expansions-in-submerging-markets-the-case-of-the-usa-and-the-uk/

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JLM 5 years, 7 months ago

EJ, babe, have you been smoking something?

Cause you are way, way wrong on then Senator Obama's voting record and recognition as the "most liberal member of the US Senate."

"For starters, the notion that he was the "Most Liberal Senator Ever" were concocted by William Kristol and disseminated without question through the mass media."

Huh?

You may want to acquaint yourself with the work of the National Journal which has been making these rankings since the early 1980s based on information prepared by Polidata which is then submitted to the Brookings Institute for number crunching and analysis. The methodology is precise, non-partisan and conclusive. This is the gold standard of "liberal" assessment -- understanding that there are actually many members who want to be noted as being "liberal".

Sen Barack H Obama was the most liberal Senator in the US Senate in 2007 and not by a close margin. This analysis was based upon 99 specific votes in 2007 and, again, was the NJ, Polidata, Brookings Inst assessment. Sen Obama missed a whole lot of votes in 2007 cause he was out campaigning.

Your reference to then State Senator Obama's having voted "present" is only germane to his voting record in the Illinois Senate and has nothing to do w/ his US Senate voting record. He missed a whole lot of votes in the US Senate but he never voted "present".

In all fairness to President Obama, he doesn't actually have a plan --- it's Speaker Pelosi's plan and Majority Leader Reid's plan. President Obama has proven to be completely ineffective in fashioning a plan. Not too big a criticism given that he is the head of the Executive branch rather than the Legislative branch. In the long run, President Obama's greatest problems are going to be with his own party rather than the Republicans.

One of the problems with having a majority in the Congress is intellectual laziness. Right now the President Obama reaction to almost everything is to give a campaign speech and to take it to the people.

The people think the Stimulus is crap. President Obama DID win the election and now it is time to lead and to govern. And he is proving woefully inexperienced in getting folks who matter to meet with him and to listen to him.

He is about out of political capital and he is starting to look a bit impotent. I frankly had much higher expectations for him and wished him nothing but success as the issues are more universal than partisan but alas he cannot keep Speaker Pelosi under wraps. He is in for a tough ride.

Again, only President Obama has been able to unite the Republicans and for that they are undoubtedly thankful.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 7 months ago

EJB

I surrender.

At your Thanksgiving table are arguments allocated a reasonable time, or does your food get cold while the rest of the family listens?

My opinion, (and its still a free country in which to have one, I think), is that interrogation of suspects taken from the theater of battle that does not result in severe infliction of pain, permanent loss of body function or physical injury is justified to attempt to interconnect facts to thwart mass murder attacks. If it is your definition of torture, I agree that it is worthless to use to obtain confessions, as everyone breaks down and confesses eventually, just to make it stop, but it does gain facts that can be connected with other facts to produce useful information, and did produce information to prevent attacks here and in Europe. You cite Bush administration failures to follow up on information from the Millenium bomber's plea bargain coercion. Fair enough. Will you acknowledge Bush administration successes in thwarting terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11? Why are you so quick to discount Bush administration statements that information was obtained by harsh interrogation means that saved lives? How does reactive law enforcement deter a jihadi with the intention of commiting a suicide murder?

We can't know what the founders would have done with our circumstances. In their time, the closest thing to jihadi terrorism was recurrent Indian attacks, mostly on the frontiers of New York, where outpost settlements and farms were destroyed, men and women killed, scalped and mutilated. General Washington ordered Generals Sullivan and James Clinton to invade and lay waste to hostile Iroquoia. They totally destroyed Indian setlements and crops and drove Senecas, Cayugas and Onondagas into Canada where they were not allowed to return until the 19th Century. I really doubt that the founding fathers anguished much about the lack of due process afforded to the innocent. Franklin's maxim is a non-sequitur as applied to a religiously based ideology that has no state or capital, bent solely on destruction of everything we are. Reasonable measures will be accepted by the public. There will be some, such as yourself, legalists satisfied to tell posterity that we died fighting fair and that was more important than living.

The pejoratives of 'right winger' and 'rightist' and the like are commonly used in main stream media, whereas those you identify as left center pejoratives don't. Or is it just me and Bernard Goldberg?

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playa46 5 years, 7 months ago

Eric- Your posts are very informative, but MrTaiChi is right, your "rant" soon just becomes a rant, and you strive at anything to prove your point. If you keep doing this, people will stop listing to you...

JLM-

"President Obama has proven to be completely ineffective in fashioning a plan." So, Obama just got in office and has presented us with a plan, which, according to your standards, isn't even his own. Now, what did McCain want? (Sorry to bring up this topic again!) Well, he wanted to keep everything almost the same, where did that bring us?

Obama's plan wants to stimulate our economy by giving tax breaks for motor companies (Ford, Toyota etc...) Republicans say he is just wasting money, but what would they do? They would keep things the same!

My point is, what would your do for this economy? Please tell me the flaws in this plan.

Even Obama said, no plan is perfect. Many people want perfectionism and criticize him.

"The plan is not perfect," the president said. "No plan is. I can't tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans." -MSNBC.com

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29107790/

He is starting from scratch, give it a moment and then you can criticize all you want.

MrTaiChi- Have to agree with you on the whole Bush Administration thing. People may not have agreed with him, but he still might have made some bad choices to many people.

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JLM 5 years, 7 months ago

playa ---

Read carefully, I am not finding fault w/ the Obama Plan but rather sympathizing w/ him that he never really got his fingerprints on the murder weapon because Sister Pelosi and Brother Reid beat him to the punch. President Cool gets high marks in my book for going to Capital Hill to visit w/ the Republicans (a bit of showmanship to boot) but nonetheless it is not his plan.

Hell, I even give him very high marks for his articulate and passionate defense of the plan at his news press tonight. I don't agree with some of what he said, but he said it well and he is entitled to doing it his way cause he is the President.

The plan sucks by the view of the folks --- who overwhelmingly favor tax cuts. The President is engaging in a bit of revisionist history saying the current problems were caused by tax cuts, they were caused by abuses in the mortgage market which lead to securitizaton problems which led to financial institution failures which led to the bailouts. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on having it his way but he is not entitled to make up his own facts particulary as the reality of the situation is irksome enough without any hyperbole. He is a hot dog but he needs to lay off the mustard and stick to the meat of the matter.

See some of the critical assessments made by reputable news outlets like Bloomberg. There is a particularly juicy tidbit about the new Health Care Coordinator. This is just old fashioned perfidy. It is the beginning of universal health care hidden in the Porkulus.

Stay sharp and fight fair!

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