October 6, 2007

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture."

Comparative interrogation techniques.

67 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

While I appreciate the WaPo's attempt to draw comparisons between POW interrogations of uniformed combatants, fully protected by the Geneva Conventions, and those of guys who hack heads off, trigger car bombs in crowded markets and slit the throats of the families of police officers, I don't think it holds up well.

Folks who cite the Geneva Conventions as a reason for treating all these killers as Plows, lose cite of the fundamental flaw in that logic. The GC is there for precisely the opposite reason. It is designed to force combatants to spare innocent civilians from the horrors of war by prescribing that in order for combatants to be protected, they need to; wear uniforms, have a clear responsible chain of command, carry their arms openly, and most importantly conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Our current enemies clearly make a mockery of all those requirements and as such the GCIII makes it clear that they are NOT entitled to classic treatment as described in the article. To do so defeats the intent of the GC by not making that clear to the parties. "obey the GC and get treated nice, break it and get treated otherwise without protection of law".

In fact, by traditional laws and customs of war, most of our captives could be executed on the spot.

rhhardin said...

Probably they tried the liar-puzzle trick, ``What would you say if I asked you whether X,'' already.

Liam said...

Clearly, they had more in common with German general than with a Talibani fighter.

Duh!

The Drill SGT said...

Liam said...
Clearly, they had more in common with German general than with a Talibani fighter.


also mixed in that story were German scientists, who in the timeframe mentioned could only be refugees fleeing Nazi's. so you are talking about American academic interrogators dealing with their German peers.

Jason said...

I don't think they're in a position to know what information we get or don't get from whom.

They're also forgetting that in interrogating German generals, scientists, and high-level officials, they are dealing with an entirely different psychology than a radical Muslim fundamentalist with a sixth grade education.

With the former, given enough time, you could grease them up enough with appeals to intelligence. They are naturally going to want to impress the interrogator with how smart they are.

Such is not the case with many detainees in the current war. If appealing to their candlepower and getting them an ego boost by allowing them to show off their intelligence is ineffective, or just not an option available to them, then options start running out.

I also think these people - and the news media - vastly underestimate how often these "soft" approaches are actually used.

Not everybody get waterboarded as soon as they issue the orange jump suit.

peter hoh said...

Drill Sgt, you seem to be working on the assumption that everyone we say is a terrorist is a terrorist. So what do you make of the fact that we have released some people from Gitmo?

I'm not extending any sympathy to someone who is caught planting an IED, but not everybody we've nabbed is caught red handed. Some of them are picked up because some warlord wants to collect the bounty we offer.

Yes, our enemies conduct gruesome acts of terrorism and hide among the civilian population. That does not make any one more guilty just for having been picked up in a sweep.

Trooper York said...

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.
(Goldfinger 1964)

Jason said...

Peter: You mean we've released people like these guys? http://www.asharqalawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=2758

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52670-2004Oct21.html

Here's the Wiki on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_releashttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_released_Guantanamo_prisoners_who_allegedly_returned_to_battleed_Guantanamo_prisoners_who_allegedly_returned_to_battle

If there are 30 we know about, there are doubtless a number more that we don't know about.

That's a sizeable fraction of the number of people released.

To use language even a Democrat can understand, that's a lot of Willie Hortons on the loose.

Yes, we have released people from G-bay. Maybe we should stop.

EnigmatiCore said...

Of course, Germans of that era are exactly like modern Jihadist Muslims.

And generals are just like religious guerillas.

But let's give it a whirl! Chess boards and ping-pong tables to Gitmo, stat!

The Drill SGT said...

Peter, you are correct at some level. I recognize that. Some folks at GITMO are clear killers, some were sold to Americans, and are in the middle.

Let's take a diversion for a second to talk about the last group. example, those Muslims with Chinese passports, who got to Osama too late to be trained and sent home to China. Likely didn't pull a trigger against the US, but hate us. What do do with them.

Karzai doesn't want them, the Arabs don't want them
Can't set them free in America, they are Jihadis after all.

Their home country, China, wants them back, to torture and kill them. wait :), we're keeping them in GITMO that nasty place with ethnic meals, Korans and soccer, rather than release them to places that actual DO torture people. And we're the bad guys getting lectured on human rights by China a member of the UN Human Rights Commission? a bit of irony there.

But yes, there are or were folks at GITMO caught up in foreigner selling by Afghan warlords.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Drill Sgt, you seem to be working on the assumption that everyone we say is a terrorist is a terrorist. So what do you make of the fact that we have released some people from Gitmo?

I'm not extending any sympathy to someone who is caught planting an IED, but not everybody we've nabbed is caught red handed. Some of them are picked up because some warlord wants to collect the bounty we offer."

So what do I make of the fact that some people have been released from Gitmo? That your second paragraph there is likely true, and that we are trying to do the right thing and care about making sure that the innocent are not held.

Cedarford said...

The Washington Post article on Fort Hunt is a bad case to cite as illuminating the path for interrogating Muslim fanatics.

Complete apples and oranges.

Fort Hunt was set up in late 1944, when the Germans knew the war was lost. Islamoids believe they are winning the current war.
A more appropriate example would be the early interrogations of hardcore SS caught in France, Russia, N Africa 1941-42...the Brits, French, and Soviets found those guys wouldn't talk, wouldn't divulge any info because Nazi Germany was winning - and had to be beaten to a pulp to disclose useful information.

The interrogators mentioned in the Post story were all ethnic Jews, but were German and Austrian natives. Most were left-leaning. There was no huge cultural chasm between captors and interrogators. We have far better luck in interrogating American traitors affiliated with AQ and radical Islam than the ones from the Ummah. The Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis get far more info out of the Ummah ones.

The people the American Jews tended to interview were not the hardcore fanatic Nazis, mostly Wehrmacht line officers. Those few that were hardcore, were smart enough to know the war was lost or were interogated at Fort Hunt after the surrender. It PAID to express regrets and to fully cooperate. Most of the Germans were convinced the faster the war was over at that point, the more German lives saved and the less the Soviet dominance of Europe.
If the same American Jews in the WP story had tried playing chess or ping pong with Islamoid fanatics as they did in leisurely Geneva Convention style with the Germans, no guard in the room, no shackles - the Islamoid would jab their eyes out with a chess piece, kill them with a leg of the ping pong table.

ron st.amant said...

I have to disagree with the majority here...
If we are willing to throw away respect for humanity, ethics, the rule of law- the very essence of what makes us different from those who want to destroy us- then we are not worthy of what we are trying to save.
It isn't about how the vilest of our enemies treat our soldiers for they will behave as they will given their hatred...it is how we look to those who will see no difference between us and those who torture. It is about the moral authority that is necessary to do the job we said we doing- bringing democracy to those who have lived under the thumb of brutality.
We cannot claim that our way of life is noble when we lower ourselves to the least of them, because they cannot see our hearts, only our actions.

knoxwhirled said...

you seem to be working on the assumption that everyone we say is a terrorist is a terrorist. So what do you make of the fact that we have released some people from Gitmo?

Innocent people always have been stuck in the crossfire, metaphorical or otherwise, during war. They always will be; it is tragic but inevitable.

And the existence of innocents at Gitmo is a direct result of duplicity on the part of the enemy, who were perfectly willing to literally sell one of their own. Does it follow that we should we stop offering rewards?

I guess my point is, the U.S. cannot base its policy on the condition that everything will go *perfectly,* or we will have no chance against this enemy.

SMGalbraith said...

One of my favorite historical figures was the late Moe Berger, a mediocre baseball player turned spy. Fascinating life; always wondered why Hollywood never made a movie about him.

Among other efforts, he was involved in kidnapping German and Italian physicists and scientists who were taken for questioning about Axis military developments. Especially the atomic bomb.

In fact, Berg was sent on a secret mission to Switzerland in 1943 where Werner Heisenberg was to give a lecture. He mission was to determine if Heisenberg said anything that indicated the Nazis were close to completing the bomb. If so, he was to kill Heisenberg.

Sorry Werner, no habeas rights for you.

knoxwhirled said...

it is how we look to those who will see no difference between us and those who torture

If they can't see the difference between us torturing someone with information we believe will save innocent lives (in Iraq, this includes the lives of their own people) -- and al Qaeda, who tortures women and children just to make sure everyone is properly scared of them-- then why should we care what they think?

If we are willing to throw away respect for humanity, ethics, the rule of law- the very essence of what makes us different from those who want to destroy us- then we are not worthy

This reminds me of the PC edict that says we should tolerate everything, even the intolerant... even if it means they will ultimately destroy our tolerant culture. This is happening right now across Western Europe. I guess at least they'll go down with everyone thinking "they were nice!"

SMGalbraith said...

late Moe Berger

Berg not Berger.

I even used preview and still mangled it.

SMG

Cedarford said...

Peter Hoh - So what do you make of the fact that we have released some people from Gitmo?

I'm not extending any sympathy to someone who is caught planting an IED, but not everybody we've nabbed is caught red handed. Some of them are picked up because some warlord wants to collect the bounty we offer.

Yes, our enemies conduct gruesome acts of terrorism and hide among the civilian population. That does not make any one more guilty just for having been picked up in a sweep.


Peter is unfortunately trapped in a criminal justice, not war, paradigm.

"Guilt" and "caught red-handed" are highlighted, as would be "suspects who deserve full due legal process" if Peter had dumbly added that.

Most deadly agents in war do not consider themselves "criminal" but brave men fighting for a cause. The remainder are conscripts that may not want to fight, but are forced by their society to do so, and are no less deadly in their actions.

In Iraq, there is no way that IEDs would be planted, Jihadi fighters sheltered - without tacit endorsement of the enemy civilian population. They share responsibility with the actual combatants for dead or maimed Americans and Iraqis.
And we have been far too easy on the enemy civilian population...one 9/11 is obviously not enough. More blood needs to be shed so that we deal with enemy civilians more rationally and effectively.

But honorable combatants, that obey the rules of war when an enemy agrees to reciprocity? That is a different story.
One of the great Nazi haters, who refused to shake hands or socialize with them, was a German fighter ace with 151 kills - some 800 Brit and American bomber crew members perished by his guns. After the war, he had no "criminal due process". The US Army air force PAID him to visit with our pilots to discuss tactics and drink beer with them. He spent the rest of his life flying for Lufthansa and making appearances...

In WWII, not a single captured enemy was given a lawyer out of some 1.2 million in Allied hands, Peter! Many were 100% innocent German goatherders that "just got caught up in the war by conscription against their will". No matter. If they were lucky, they survived America and Soviet boy's attempts to kill or maim them with weapons. If they were really lucky, they became US or Brit POWs, living in compounds far worse than GITMO for many years.

I would have much greater sympathy for radical Islamoids and the civilians that shield them if those Jihadis and their civilian supporters were treating their Soviet, Algerian soldier, Swiss Tourist, US soldier, US officeworkers targets and captives better than we were treating them.

But we know that Islamoid terrorists and their civilian support base shuns Geneva and rules of War for the rules of Jihad - which mean civilians are fair game and captives may be butchered with Allah's blessings.

It's hard to say our treatment of Islamoids, be they fullbore AQ big cheeses or Afghan goatherders that simply hate the infidel, is worse than how they treat their POWs - how they prove they deserve the Geneva and Hague Conventions reciprocity - because they have no POWs. They kill and engage in real torture of those they capture.

Again, going back to WWII, British intelligence found Hitler was talking about executing all downed Allied bomber pilots as war criminals. Churchill's response was that he would kill all captured Luftwaffe pilots in reprisal. Hitler backed down. And, as Ken Burns related, after the Malemody SS killing of POWs, the US retaliated by machine gunning several packs of "innocent" Germans not "caught red-handed" from Malemody, but convenient reprisals, to better ensure the Germans did not stray from Geneva reciprocity.

The Drill SGT said...

If they can't see the difference between us torturing someone with information we believe will save innocent lives (in Iraq, this includes the lives of their own people) -- and al Qaeda, who tortures women and children just to make sure everyone is properly scared of them-- then why should we care what they think?

On that point, I noticed the article the other day that featured the capture of an AQI (non-Iraqi as I recall) who was captured by the Iraqi 6th Division with some American support. At first I was shocked about how soon his name was made public, but the article went on to say that he had financed the destruction of the Golden Mosque and the execution of 3 Americans earlier this year. My thought was, "bet we didn't take custody of him, the 6th Division knew exactly who he was and handled it themselves according to their sense of justice and cultural values"

SMGalbraith said...

In WWII, not a single captured enemy was given a lawyer out of some 1.2 million in Allied hands

I've read that the number was well over 2 million. In any event, it was a helluva number.

As I understand it, before this war the US had never extended habeas rights to any of the millions of soldiers/detainees/combatants we had captured on soil during war.

Either foreign or US soil.

Never. Not a one.

And yet somehow Bush is engaging in some horrific practice that transgresses some long held traditions of American values.

Please. It's legitimate to question these tactics and to even dissent from them.

But let's get our history straight. Giving habeas rights to combatants captured overseas and allowing them access to civilian courts has never been done before in the history of this country.

And AFAIK, no other country has done it either.

SMG

Liam said...

Let's also remember that there were thousands of German prisoners housedin POW camps in the US. Many of these (in the midwest for example in Minnesota) were not even fenced off. People could just wander away. Which they didnt.

After the war, large numbers of the German POWs elected to stay in the US, and were allowed to.

Again, the Geneva accords were negoitated amongst western nations, sharing similar cultural traditions, particularly WRT to warfare. There is nothing shared in this fashion with Afghans and Pakastanis.

In fact, as shown by the terror plots in the UK among muslim doctors working in hospitals there, even when educated in western schools, the cultural differences still control their actions.

Using exmaples from WWII in this context only go as so far as to show the threat to our culture, but not the way to deal with that threat.

The WaPo article was a non-starter - there just for its pot-stirring qualities.

SMGalbraith said...

Using exmaples from WWII in this context only go as so far as to show the threat to our culture, but not the way to deal with that threat.

Good point.

But I think citing previous examples is simply to show that what the Bush Administration is doing - right or not - is not something that is at odds with previous practices by other Administrations.

Still, the question arises, why didn't previous administrations extend such rights to detainees/soldiers?

Because of, among other things, the sheer impracticality of doing so. If we start to extend habeas rights and access to civilian courts for this group of prisoners, will we then have to do so in future wars?

The old saying that it is better that a thousand guilty men go free before one innocent man goes to jail is an unworkable rule when applied to the battlefield.

Just can't be used.

SMG

ron st.amant said...

If they can't see the difference between us torturing someone with information

I understand the point, however you're making an assumption (that they have information) into an absolute (that torturing someone will save lives). It's an omniscience argument. Why stop with enemy combatants? When police arrest a suspect (say someone who made bomb threats against an abortion clinic) shouldn't they be allowed to torture as well (to see if there's really a bomb)? It would presumably save lives.

I'm arguing that we can't save something by destroying it ourselves.

This reminds me of the PC edict that says we should tolerate everything, even the intolerant... even if it means they will ultimately destroy our tolerant culture.

I don't see the 'PC edict' claiming 'tolerate everything', in fact what is wrong with a 'PC' mindset is that only what the observer sees as true IS true. Thus one holds the position that you can't pubilsh a cartoon of Mohammed, but you can of Christ or vice versa.

A 'conservative' edict would be that there is an unknowable element in the equation, and therefore it is a moral choice that pushes beyond what is in the limits of our physical understanding, therefore we do not act as if we (and only we) possess the truth.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Ron, you are confusing two concepts.

The abortion clinic bomber is a criminal, not a warrior. He needs to be handled by civilian law enforcement by civilian standards.

The AQ bomber is a warrior, although an ununiformed, non country sponsored one, and, especially in Iraq, needs to be treated with the conditions of war.

I am also curious where the trolls are today; does Soros give them weekends off?

The Drill SGT said...

Ron and ER,

there is another distinction to make.

In the case of the clinic bomber, as ER says, he may be a criminal (that may is not because of my love of abortion clinic bombers, but a statement that applies to criminal defendants). As such we are trying to PROVE he is a criminal and the information he has, if gathered correctly (e.g. without torture etc, can be used against him). The ultimate purpose is not to cause him pain, or to get the information regardless of the method, but to get ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE.

In the case of the AQI bomber, he is a illegal combatant, operating outside the laws of war, not covered by either law or tradition. We can shoot him on the spot or hang him if we wish according to historical standards. We seek information to catch more of his friends, not to punish him. We will not take him to trial. we care about the information, not the provider of the information. I'm not suggesting that we cause gratuitous pain, or violate our own standards of conduct, but We're the judge of that. We have to consider the PR impact with our enemies and our friends, sure, but when the value of the information is great enough, tough decisions are made by hard men.

That non-Orwell quote sums it up:

Good People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Freder Frederson said...

If they were really lucky, they became US or Brit POWs, living in compounds far worse than GITMO for many years.

This is an outrageous lie. German POWs in American and British camps were treated extremely well, receiving commissary privileges and often eating in the same (white--if they were in the south) mess with their guards. They received the same rights and privileges of persons of similar rank in the capturing Army (flag officers in the U.S. had private homes and were allowed to have servants). If they were accused of a crime while they were a POW, they received a full military court martial. And they got lawyers, so you are wrong about that, too.

Again, going back to WWII, British intelligence found Hitler was talking about executing all downed Allied bomber pilots as war criminals. Churchill's response was that he would kill all captured Luftwaffe pilots in reprisal.

Please provide a cite for this outrageous claim.

You are a lying sack of shit who just distorts history to suit your own racist and anti-American bias.

I don't know why you people keep discussing how the military is using these tactics in Iraq. The military explicitly rejected these tactics that Cedarford, the President, and others think are so wonderful when the refused to loosen the standards of treatment contained in the Army field manual on interrogation.

So STFU about how you think the military should be treating captured insurgents in Iraq. The military has made the decision that the tactics the President thinks are effective are not fitting of the proud tradition of the American military, counter-productive, damage the image of America in the world, and are ineffective.

If you blood-thirsty bastards want to drag the CIA into degradation and inhumanity, fine. But leave the military out of it, they have unequivocally rejected these tactics.

jane said...

Many thanks for the compelling case you make, Drill SGT.

According GC treaty civilities to those who don't reciprocate is not only contrary to their reason for being, it’s near suicidal and certainly an invitation to heap more scorn and atrocity upon us by those who avowedly believe we don't believe we're worth defending in an anti-terror effort self-circumscribed by Queensberry Rules.

Evidently, all’s not fair in love and war if you’re the enlightened one fighting barbarians. Hope we can continue to afford this nice, narcissistic conceit to the hyper-legalistic extent we do. My betting's that the electorate will get war and terror weary before we defang the bad guys the uber humanitarian-legal way. Worse will happen on their part and then much, much worse will be forthcoming on ours. Probably on Hillary's watch. Such irony ahead that we could all live without.

Freder Frederson said...

In the case of the AQI bomber, he is a illegal combatant, operating outside the laws of war, not covered by either law or tradition. We can shoot him on the spot or hang him if we wish according to historical standards.

Didn't you say your wife is a military JAG? If so, how can you keep repeating this outrageous lie? It is simply not true. Under Geneva and the UCMJ, we have no right to shoot or hang anyone on the spot who has been captured, disarmed or surrendered. Heck, as a Drill Sergeant, you should know that.

If you don't believe me, ask your wife.

SMGalbraith said...

German POWs in American and British camps were treated extremely well, receiving commissary privileges and often eating in the same (white--if they were in the south) mess with their guards

Well, as I understand it, because of war circumstances, that isn't completely true.

There are some questionable (my opinion) allegations about how harsh Eisenhower was to captured Germans but the evidence is pretty clear that, due to war conditions, treatment was pretty "tough".

We also had the terrible decision by the US to turn over German and Russian prisoner to the Soviets. Many of whom were immediately killed.

Here and Here.

Again, it seems that most of the mistreatment was due to war conditions. E.g., lack of supplies, not enough guards, et cetera.

SMG

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

If they were accused of a crime while they were a POW, they received a full military court martial. And they got lawyers, so you are wrong about that, too.


This is the difference- as a POW they are provided lawyers if they commit a crime in custody, not provided a lawyer to determine if they should be a POW or not.

And Freder you are still confused about the enemy combatant issue. As ununiformed fighters AQ terrorist have no rights to claim protection under the GC.

If they are unwilling to live up to the responsabilities of the GC, how can they claim protection under it?

Freder Frederson said...

There are some questionable (my opinion) allegations about how harsh Eisenhower was to captured Germans but the evidence is pretty clear that, due to war conditions, treatment was pretty "tough".

You are referring to conditions immediately after the surrender of Germany when the decision was made to treat German soldiers as disarmed former combatants rather than POWs. That decision was made because if they had been treated as POWs, Eisenhower would have been forced to provide rations and housing to them equivalent to what the Allied soldiers were receiving, which would have strained allied logistics to the breaking point and meant that the former soldiers would have been well-fed while the civilian population of Germany starved to death.

Cedarford was referring (I assume) to German POWs held in POW camps in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. The conditions in those camps were exactly the same as conditions for soldiers in the U.S., Canadian, and British Armies at home bases (and often better than for Black soldiers in the U.S. Army). German POWs were even able to send food packages home from commissary purchases.

If you visit Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas, there is a small section of the National Cemetery there where some German POWs are buried who were tried, sentenced and executed under U.S. military court martial for murdering fellow POWs during the war.

peter hoh said...

Drill Sgt, I'm sure we could come to some agreement if we were to explore this further. I'll concede that during military operations, stuff happens, and I'm okay with the fact that war is messy. That's why it's called war.

I assume that there is -- or should be -- some difference between actions in theater and when we have detainees that are wholly within our control.

I'm not going to pretend that I can work out all the details. I do appreciate the perspective that you bring to this discussion.

Freder Frederson said...

And Freder you are still confused about the enemy combatant issue. As ununiformed fighters AQ terrorist have no rights to claim protection under the GC.

I'm not. You and the Drill SGT are. You apparently cannot read the plain language of the GC. Nowhere do the GC allow for the summary execution of anyone. Regardless, U.S. law (both civilian and the UCMJ) prohibit it.

SMGalbraith said...

Cedarford was referring (I assume) to German POWs held in POW camps in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

My error. Or maybe our error. Or his error.

As you stated, from everything I've read, German POWs held here were treated incredibly well.

My point is that it's very difficult to control vast numbers of prisoners - or even smaller numbers - in the middle of a war. And that extending habeas rights to such prisoners or detainees (whatever term) captured overseas is just not tenable.

That doesn't mean it's okay to abuse them or mistreat them. It just means, as I stated above, the standard that it's better that a thousand guilty men go free before one innocent man goes to jail simply isn't workable on the battlefield or in a POW camp.

SMG

Freder Frederson said...

Drill Sgt, I'm sure we could come to some agreement if we were to explore this further.

Give it up. Even though the Sgt. claims to have been in the military and claims his wife is currently a JAG, he is woefully ignorant of the most basic aspects of the UCMJ. Or perhaps he thinks by trotting out his military experience, he can intimidate others into believing things about the law of war that are simply untrue.

But he is full of shit. He may want these things to be true. But they aren't. And no matter how many times he says they are true, it doesn't make them true. He is simply misstating the requirements of the GC and the UCMJ.

There is no doubt that in a combat situation rules are broken and our aspirations are not always met. But that does not mean that the policy of the military is that we shoot and torture unarmed illegal combatants or that it is legal to do so or that such a policy is even desirable.

Freder Frederson said...

I'm not suggesting that we cause gratuitous pain, or violate our own standards of conduct, but We're the judge of that. We have to consider the PR impact with our enemies and our friends, sure, but when the value of the information is great enough, tough decisions are made by hard men.

So then you agree that the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, which prohibits physical abuse and waterboarding should be followed. And presumably since a summary execution is murder under the UCMJ that would violate our "standards of conduct" too. So how can that possibly be an appropriate decision that a hard man would make?

The Drill SGT said...

Freder,
I normally don't bother responding to your hyperbolic idiocies but I'll make an exception just this once since you decided to bring my wife into this.

You said: But he is full of shit. He may want these things to be true. But they aren't. And no matter how many times he says they are true, it doesn't make them true. He is simply misstating the requirements of the GC and the UCMJ.

I didn't ever claim that executing captured illegal combatants was appropriate with regard to our current UCMJ, or the GC. The UCMJ and the GC as I recall require a properly constituted court and trial before execution. However I wasn't making claims about what they authorized. What I said was: according to historical standards.

In the context of history, enemies that moved through the population in civilian clothes and carried out terror attacks with the intent of purposely killing civilians would have been summarily tried and executed if they were lucky. If unlucky, they would have been turned over to the civilian populace for local handling. The Afghans (and for that matter our Apaches) turned prisoners over to the women.

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!


Kipling

ron st.amant said...

The issue I have with the argument that al-Qaeda are not signatories to the GC, or are illegal enemy combatants etc., is the idea that somehow our moral and legal code is somehow predicated on the actions of those we're trying to combat.
I agree that on the battlefield, rules of engagement are different, but that is why there are rules of engagement to begin with...because we recognize a difference between the field of battle and outside of the arena.
Once we capture, arrest, or otherwise detain somone we have removed them from the battlefield and therefore the rules (laws, code of conduct) necessarily change.
Now if you buy into the premise that everywhere is a battlefield, and thus we are all soldiers, and everyone else is the enemy then I suppose you can make that connection...but it is a very dangerous connection and one with which I cannot find myself buying into.

A problem that I have (and not one which I have met here thankfully today) is that there are certain types who think to oppose the Bush administration on this point are somehow 'soft' on terror. After all I don't think anyone would call John McCain soft of terror.

Where things get really dangerous is the Bush Administration refuses to outline in their policy what is and is not torture. (Especially when one mixes into it the idea that any of us can be labled an enemy combatant at the President's discretion.)

knoxwhirled said...

I don't see the 'PC edict' claiming 'tolerate everything', in fact what is wrong with a 'PC' mindset is that only what the observer sees as true IS true

Ron, do you know what happened to Theo Van Gogh? Hirsi Ali? What led up to it? A direct result of the "tolerance at all costs" culture of PC.

ron st.amant said...

Knox, I do know a bit about TvG...how exactly do you think it was 'tolerance of everything' that was responsible for his murder, unless you are arguing he should have been censored? Are you saying that it was the victim's fault?

I'm not being a smart-ass btw, I'm actually trying to get your take on this.

jane said...

We elevate best intentions and feel-good emotions over results out of an ethical vanity that's more about posturing than ultimate morality:

"In other words, utopia-lite ends up being process, not system; journey, not destination. The point is not to build something, but merely to care passionately about the idea of building something. It’s this which lifts the failed or frustrated utopians onto a higher moral plane than, say, “the American government”… How is President Bush materially different from those “complex, articulated characters, doing their imperfect best to solve the hardest problems with which existence confronts us”? He is at least partly, and to the extent that he believes a democratic government can be imposed on the Iraqis, a victim of the great modernist paradox, which is that we don’t want the utopias themselves anymore, but we want the utopian style. And we want it because it is a self-validation. It shows that we believe in the right things—in peace, in progress, in compassion for life’s victims, and in universal principles—even though we no longer have any intellectually coherent program for institutionalizing them among men. It also shows that we don’t believe in the wrong things. And the principal of all the wrong things we don’t believe in is the hero, the man on the white horse (a fascist emblem, we now believe) who seeks to win glory for himself and honor for his people by fighting against those who would do evil.

"That’s why President Bush gets no credit for his utopianism from the sentimentalist-utopians of the left: because it depends on people—and, in particular, on Americans—being good and fighting what he calls “evil-doers.” “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes,” says the Galileo of that heretical utopian, Bertolt Brecht, whose belief in the existence of the happy land that has no need of heroes was still undimmed by disillusionment with Soviet-style utopianism. He was making a point very much like that of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. We don’t want Tom Doniphan any more than we want Liberty Valance, since both are free men, unconstrained by the laws and regulations of compassionate social engineers. We may have lost confidence in the ability of those engineers to design a perfect system, or even to live up to their own high expectations of humanity, but it is easier to go on clinging to their fantasies as if we believed them to be real than to submit to the despair of admitting to ourselves that life is still for us what it was to our great-grandfathers who believed—or at least pretended to believe—that there was nothing in it more important than being good."

Being good, as in fighting evil doers and making sure we win, I would think. The article is a terrific read, btw.

SMGalbraith said...

Especially when one mixes into it the idea that any of us can be labled an enemy combatant at the President's discretion

But that authority was given to the President by Congress (and can be taken away as well) and if the enemy combatant is a US citizen, the combatant has habeas rights to challenge his detention. IOW, access to civilian courts.

Additionally, there are review tribunals that the combatant can appeal his detention to.

Enough safeguards? Well, I guess that's what the debate is all about. Security vs. liberty; freedom vs. order. We've been debating this since day one of the Republic.

I think the evidence is overwhelming that the actions by the Bush Administration emanated from a sincere concern about attacks here killing thousands. And not in an attempt to stifle dissent or arrest opposition figures.

Sincerity isn't enough, admittedly.

SMG

The Drill SGT said...

Ron,

thanks for a reasoned argument, unlike some.

I can understand most of your points and agree with many, but I will take exception or seek clarification on two of them.

1. capture, arrest, I think it is the position of everybody on the "more rigorous" side of this discussion that one clearly needs to understand and make a clear distinction between those "captured" and those "arrested".

2. John McCain is not soft of terror. He has his viewpoint and though I don't agree with some of it, he has thought about the issue. However, there are others "oppose" the adminstration on this point who would either oppose them on anything regardless, or who are effectively on the side of AQ. I'm thinking of the ANSWER people for example, rather than the ACLU, though there is overlap. Sure, reasonable people here can disagree and there is no purpose in name calling.

ron st.amant said...

Sarge, I conflate the capture and arrest merely as a way of pointing out that, as I see it, the danger of shifting the language of battlefield and who is and is not a military combatant. However I also use them as such to highlight my other point: that once someone has been otherwise detained by the jurisdiction of the US (whether that be in a foreign battlefield, a foreign intelligence investigation, or on domestic soil) the nature of their 'being' (I can't think of an appropriate phrase) falls within our moral and legal jurisdiction- no matter what the opposite policy, belief system, or intent would be.
And of course there are those who loathe the administration and would oppose it no matter what, just as there are those who support it no matter what...I try to shut out the bleating of either group.

What I'd hope is that the majority of us understand that these are complex questions and go the heart of who we are as Americans and what we hold as self-evident truths.

Of course there are those in the world who will hate us no matter what our country does, and the projection of our idealism matters not in that respect. But they are but a small piece. Our image is important beyond that because in an increasingly interdependent world we cannot function alone. We are a great nation, we are a great people, but we are not all-powerful and the more we draw to us the less there is to fight against.

It is important then to our friends, as well as to ourselves, that we lead not only by the force of our might, but by the power of our character.

and thank you for your comment about reasoned argument...the world could use a lot more of it and less of what has been passing for 'discourse' of late.

ron st.amant said...

SMG, you raise some fair points...and actually the recent legal decisions I think have proven that our system works. All three branches of government pulling at one another and balancing those very debates that we have and always will.

The fear I have (and this may go venture off) is not that the Executive Branch has broadened its powers (after all every President tries to do that...it's human nature and the reason Madison et al crafted the system as they did), but that the recent Bush SCOTUS appointments (Roberts and Alito) are extremely pro-Executive authority. Will that tilt to balance? another debate for another time I suppose.

Freder Frederson said...

SMG, you raise some fair points...and actually the recent legal decisions I think have proven that our system works.

Actually, what the revelations of the last week has shown is that when you have a complacent and compliant Congress and a secretive Executive, the executive can pretty much do what it damn well pleases, even violate the law and ignore the Supreme Court, without any fear of consequences.

In fact you can rely on a good chunk of the fearful populace to buy the lies of the President as he stands in front of the American people and shreds the constitution and authorizes serious human rights violations.

SMGalbraith said...

the executive can pretty much do what it damn well pleases, even violate the law and ignore the Supreme Court, without any fear of consequences.

Please. I'll trot out the (admittedly somewhat tiresome but still relevant) Lincoln and FDR analogies.

Those Presidents exercised far more power than anything Bush has done. Without any congressional or judical oversight (hell, the internment of hundreds of thousands of Americans was done simply by Executive Order; not to mention executing Germans captured here with zero oversight).

This President has had more restrictions placed on his wartime powers than any other Executive in our history.

And whenever the Supreme Court has ruled that he overreached, he stepped back.

There's legitimate criticism of how they have waged this extremely difficult threat. But one has to level that criticism, it seems to me, with some sort of historical perspective.

Without that, we don't advance the discussion much.

SMG

EnigmatiCore said...

"Under Geneva and the UCMJ, we have no right to shoot or hang anyone on the spot who has been captured, disarmed or surrendered."

By the letter of the treaty, if someone is captured out of uniform, like everyone we are battling right now, then Geneva doesn't apply (excepting, of course, that our SCOTUS has decided to say that it does even when the treaty itself says it doesn't).

SMGalbraith said...

internment of hundreds of thousands of Americans

Let me correct that: Over a hundred thousand Americans. Not hundreds of thousands.

Japanese Americans (90,000-95,000) plus German and Italian Americans (10,000+).

SMG

The Drill SGT said...

SMG said...not to mention executing Germans captured here with zero oversight).

actually as I remember reading, those 6 Germans were tried by a military tribunal and DOJ took it to the SCOTUS to review before they were shot.

justice, swift and sure.

Freder Frederson said...

Those Presidents exercised far more power than anything Bush has done. Without any congressional or judical oversight (hell, the internment of hundreds of thousands of Americans was done simply by Executive Order; not to mention executing Germans captured here with zero oversight).

Actually, in those cases, it was just the opposite. FDR did all those things in the open and publicly. Bush assures us "we do not torture" or "all wiretaps require a court order" and issues secret memos that contradict his words and hides the extent of his programs from the courts and the Congress. He uses legal maneuvers to keep his programs from the scrutiny of the courts as much as possible.

By the letter of the treaty, if someone is captured out of uniform, like everyone we are battling right now, then Geneva doesn't apply (excepting, of course, that our SCOTUS has decided to say that it does even when the treaty itself says it doesn't).

So you know what the GC means better than the Supreme Court? Right.

The Exalted said...

why the hell do you all bring up the geneva conventions and the prisoners' POW status? this article is about morality and efficacy, not the legal status of the prisoners. it is about what we ought to do not what we have to do.

try reading the article, you might find it enlightening.

(

The Exalted said...

jane,

the president's uptopianism gets no respect from "the left" because his so-called strategy is founded on error, incompetence and, if not outright wrongdoing, then gross negligence.

noah zark said...

Want to see how al Qaeda prisoners behave? Try watching Hannibal Lector in "Silence of the Lambs". We're not dealing with Col. Klink or Sgt Schultz ("I know NUSSING!") here, folks.

As for the canard that "torture doesn't work", I would like to know how THIS generation has suddenly discovered such an amazing and counter-intuitive fact, whilst torture has been used, and successfully, from time immemorial all over the wolrd..

I'm NOT advocating the use of torture, only pointing out its likely efficacy, even when dealing with "I-will-die-for my-cause jihadists--- AND wondering how people in the past could have missed the alleged "fact" that torture doesn't work.

(but hey, it's like liberals believing, in spite of evidence, that "tax cuts don't work", and that setting a minimum wage benefits the poor, so I guess historical precedent exists for delusional policies)

You can bet that if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had info on where/when a nuclear bomb was set to go off in America I sould not hesitate to hang him on a meathook and start ripping out his fingernails, IF all else failed.

Anyone who thinks that inhumane ought to get a grip...on reality.

Can you imagine explaining to the survivors and relatives of the thousands of dead, dying and injured that "Well, we couldn't torture him, you see, because then ....the terrorists would have won."

NEVER MIND that the terrorist successfully obliterated an American city!

There are concretes, and there are abstracts, folks: smart people know the difference.

noah zark said...

Want to see how al Qaeda prisoners behave? Try watching Hannibal Lector in "Silence of the Lambs". We're not dealing with Col. Klink or Sgt Schultz ("I know NUSSING!") here, folks.

As for the canard that "torture doesn't work", I would like to know how THIS generation has suddenly discovered such an amazing and counter-intuitive fact, whilst torture has been used, and successfully, from time immemorial all over the wolrd..

I'm NOT advocating the use of torture, only pointing out its likely efficacy, even when dealing with "I-will-die-for my-cause jihadists--- AND wondering how people in the past could have missed the alleged "fact" that torture doesn't work.

(but hey, it's like liberals believing, in spite of evidence, that "tax cuts don't work", and that setting a minimum wage benefits the poor, so I guess historical precedent exists for delusional policies)

You can bet that if Sheikh Mohammed had info on where/when a nuclear bomb was set to go off in America I sould not hesitate to hang him on a meathook and start ripping out his fingernails, IF all else failed.

Anyone who thinks that inhumane ought to get a grip...on reality.

Can you imagine explaining to the survivors and relatives of the thousands of dead, dying and injured that "Well, we couldn't torture him, you see, because then ....the terrorists would have won."

NEVER MIND that the terrorist successfully obliterated an American city!

There are concretes, and there are abstracts, folks: smart people know the difference.

SMGalbraith said...

Freder:
Actually, in those cases, it was just the opposite. FDR did all those things in the open and publicly

Sorry, not so.

The trial of the German agents was all done in secrecy. Secret military tribunal, executive orders, no Congressional oversight and only a cursory review (after six of the agents were executed) by the Supreme Court.

Second, as the story above mentions, FDR secretly held thousands of German scientists in secret facilities where they were interrogated and no one, not even the Red Cross, had access to them.

It's only now, 60 years later, that the interrogators are talking about their work.

Thirdly, FDR's internment policy was a simple Executive Order. No legislative approval or consultation was done. Congress had no role in his decision. Nothing Bush has done comes even close to that. Over 100,000 Americans imprisoned with no trials, no habeas rights, simply with the stroke of a pen.

Again, there is legitimate criticism of the Bush Administration's response to this threat, however large or small one views it. But that criticism has to be done within the historical context of previous executive decisions.

FDR could have been wrong (as he was). So was Lincoln. So was Wilson. And so may be Bush.

But Bush's actions are clearly within the scope of actions taken by earlier presidents.

SMG

Revenant said...

With all due respect to these men's service in WW2, the fact is that the public knows neither what interrogation techniques have been used at Guantanamo nor who information has been gathered by those techniques. So the quoted sentiment about "chess or Ping-Pong" is without basis.

al said...

Getting back to how to get information out of captured Jihadists - maybe Chris Muir is on to something

Cedarford said...

smgalbraith - Although this thread has died down, if you come back I want to detail better the canard you have fallen into that "100,000 Americans were imprisoned".

Freder is a terrorist rights advocate - so no need to debunk his hysteria - but your posts are well-reasoned for the most part.

1. The number was 110,000. They were Relocated, not imprisoned. And it is an important distinction - not splitting legal hairs. Because Japanese Americans outside the West Coast were free to go about their business, and there was an effort to get West Coast Japanese, Japanese-Americans to relatives East of the Rockies rather than put them in relocation camps.
Enemy Japanese rejected proposals that they be relocated without their citizen children.
During the War, Japanese and Japanese Americans were free to leave the camps for work in daytime jobs. 5,000 Nisei were given college scholarships and left the camps by that route.

2. Relocation was the demand of powerful West Coast interests to avoid going under martial law, as Hawaii, Alaska, Puget Sound, the Philippines, and certain Caribbean islands under us, did.

3. The canard 100,000 Americans is not true. Almost 85% of the relocatees were enemy Japanese aliens and their under age 18 dependents who get birthright citizenship, in rare cases, US citizen spouses from outside the Japanese race. The remainder were "over 18s" Niseis from those enemy alien families. Not 100-120,000 "Americans" - but 35% enemy alien, 98% enemy alien families...

4. There were serious loyalty issues. The FBI, which opposed relocation, said 40% were utterly loyal to the USA. 20% leaned that way, 20% neutral, 10% leaned to the enemy Jap nation, and 10% were completely disloyal and still served the Emperor. 33% of eligible West Coast Japanese Americans refused to renounce the Emperor and be Drafted. 10,000 volunteered to be exchanged for Allied prisoners - which the Japanese rejected because they had their own loyalty suspicions.

(The 442nd Regiment "the most medaled and decorated Regiment in history" is over-hyped as a symbol of "Japanese American loyalty". Most were from Hawaii, not the more recent West Coast Japanese. They exceeded expectations, but so did several dozen other regiments that had similar casualty levels and valor. The plethora of medals that separated out the 442nd from other regiments happened decades after WWII ended - the result of lobbying by ethnic Japanese Democrats and liberal white Dems and just a part of the overall Japanese special interest movement at play in Hawaiian and California politics.
It culminated in Clinton showing up in 2000 with a wheelbarrow full of some 500 retroactive medal goodies for his constituents who dominated Hawaiian politics - including 20 Medal of Honors Clinton tossed to the Congressmen and Senators (like "Spark" and Daniel Inouye) plus 18 constituents...)

The actual "loyalty" matter is far from cleared up by the "Nisei heroes". In the only contact with the enemy and Hawaii Japanese, they aided the downed Zero pilot, did not turn him in. In the Philippines, where some 1200 Japanese had been permitted to set up a trading Center at Davao, all went over to the enemy side. Some 1100 Kebei - Japanese-Americans sent to Japan to learn to become "proper" Japanese - served in the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. Compared to 7500 Japanese Amricans who served on the Allied side. There were spy efforts by German & Japanese agents in Hawaii and early efforts to recruit a network on the West Coast from Chile to Canada that failed for lack of time before war started and Relocation happened.(The MAGIC network)

5. There were safety concerns for the enemy alien Japanese and dependents that played into Relocation and Martial Law decisions. And not primarily from "white mobs" - if the Pacific War had gone worse or if the media had hyped Jap atrocities more..The real worry was the Chinese and to a lesser extent, the Filipinos in Hawaii and California. They knew the Japs were the butchering monsters in Asia - and wanted ethnic payback.

AlphaLiberal said...

Thank you to Ann Althouse for posting this interesting read and so raising the issue.

To the writers here who ae so quick to defend torture, you have lost your way.

Further, your world view is cartoonish, not an accurate reflection of our enemies, our challenges or the likely outcome of these actions.

By your zealous defense of despicable treatment of human beings, you debase our nation and engender the hatred of the world for us all.

STFU.

AlphaLiberal said...

Who Would Jesus Torture?

angie said...

Alphaliberal said...
By your zealous defense of despicable treatment of human beings, you debase our nation and engender the hatred of the world for us all.

STFU.

AlphaLiberal said...
Who Would Jesus Torture?

----
Too irony rich for my blood these days. It's everywhere.

Meanwhile, the well-intended do-goody libs live in comfortable Yankee affluence while people suffer throughout the world under leaders our conscientious Left supports or at least would have nobody actually interfere with or intervene against, besides doing yakkity-yak or levying corruptible sanctions, if China and Russia were to allow even that much.

Would Jesus have been a human shield against our bombers in an intervention against the sickening Saddamite regime?

AlphaLiberal said...

FDR openly consulted with the partisan opposition. He brought them into his cabinet and made them part of the government to build national unity.

Bush does none of those things.

Bush and Republicans, instead, use the national crisis to their private partisan advantage.

Jason said...

It's obvious why:

We had a better class of opposition members then.

Once Pearl Harbor was hit, FDR could count on Republicans not to sabotage the war effort. He knew they wanted to win the war.

The difference between FDRs republicans and today's Democrats is many of today's Democrats are gung-ho to lose with all deliberate speed.

And that's not Bush's fault. Democrats have no one to blame for that but themselves.

Jason said...

It's obvious why:

We had a better class of opposition members then.

Once Pearl Harbor was hit, FDR could count on Republicans not to sabotage the war effort. He knew they wanted to win the war.

The difference between FDRs republicans and today's Democrats is many of today's Democrats are gung-ho to lose with all deliberate speed.

And that's not Bush's fault. Democrats have no one to blame for that but themselves.

angie said...

Thank you, Jason. There's no honor in honorable cooperation, compromise and opposition, anymore, in some quarters.

NSC said...

This is such bullshit . . . except for the SS, most German soldiers, especially the officers, had a sense of honor. Comparing them to Islamic fanatical terrorists is utter nonsense.

Oh, and we don't do ANY torture at GITMO. None.

Gawd, the stupidity.