August 30, 2009

"Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called 'terrorist tutorials.'"

The Washington Post tells us just how much KSM told, as a result of the use of "harsh interrogation techniques":
In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.
The captive terrorist took advantage of the opportunity to act like the kind of teacher who lords his power over you.
Speaking in English, Mohammed "seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group's plans, ideology and operatives," said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. "He'd even use a chalkboard at times."
Does this perhaps mean that KSM was the kind of guy whose vanity and urge to dominate made him vulnerable to manipulation by non-harsh techniques? Or was it necessary to humiliate him in order to generate an overwhelming hunger to be admired by his captors? (I don't mean to suggest that I know the answers to these questions. I am simply asking them.) The CIA report does call him "an accomplished resistor," who offered little before "he was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding."
Mohammed provided the CIA with an autobiographical statement, describing a rebellious childhood, his decision to join the Muslim Brotherhood as a teenager, and his time in the United States as a student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, from where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States -- which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills -- almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to the intelligence summary. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."
Here's a question for Andrew Sullivan, who flaunts his morality but nevertheless thinks it's okay to toss around the expression "Ann Althouse's pro-torture blog": What do you think made KSM view the US as debauched? I doubt if it was our support of harsh interrogation techniques — whether you use the word "torture" for that or not. I assume it was — in part — the liberty and equality — incomplete though it may be — that women and gay people experience. He wanted to mass-murder us because of that. I'm predicting that Sullivan's answer to my question will be to call me "pro-torture" for asking — that is, not to answer. He's an accomplished resistor resister.
Mohammed provided $1,000 to Ramzi Yousef, a nephew, to help him carry out the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. In 1994, he worked in the Philippines with Yousef, now serving a life sentence at the federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, on a failed plot to down 12 U.S. commercial aircraft over the Pacific.

Mohammed told interrogators it was in the Philippines that he first considered using planes as missiles to strike the United States. He took the idea to Osama bin Laden, who "at first demurred but changed his mind in late 1999," according to the summary.

Mohammed described plans to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, East Asia and the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using a network of Pakistanis "to target gas stations, railroad tracks, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York." Cross-referencing material from different detainees, and leveraging information from one to extract more detail from another, the CIA and FBI went on to round up operatives both in the United States and abroad.

"Detainees in mid-2003 helped us build a list of 70 individuals -- many of who we had never heard of before -- that al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations," according to the CIA summary.
"[R]ound up operatives both in the United States and abroad... build a list of 70 individuals..." That doesn't say that 70 individuals were rounded up, only that 70 were on the list.
Mohammed told interrogators that after the Sept. 11 attacks, his "overriding priority" was to strike the United States, but that he "realized that a follow-on attack would be difficult because of security measures." Most of the plots, as a result, were "opportunistic and limited," according to the summary....

Mohammed was an unparalleled source in deciphering al-Qaeda's strategic doctrine, key operatives and likely targets, the summary said, including describing in "considerable detail the traits and profiles" that al-Qaeda sought in Western operatives and how the terrorist organization might conduct surveillance in the United States.
Without KSM's cooperation, what would have happened? Do those who think he shouldn't have been broken truly vividly picture a second 9/11 level attack, then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth, and so on? I understand wanting to say that morality is absolute and these techniques debase us, undermine who we are (or who we are supposed to be), and should therefore never be used. But where would the people of this country would be if those additional attacks had occurred? I don't think they'd even listen to the kind of criticisms of the techniques that we are hearing now, in our comfortable world where the CIA did what it did to KSM. What then?

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan's post, linked above, says: "A commenter on Ann Althouse's pro-torture blog reminds readers what the Washington Post chose to omit from its story - KSM's debriefing from the Red Cross." And then he's got a quote that is in the Washington Post story! Maybe next time, Andrew, read the source material before you trash it. And don't just rely on the random Althouse blog commenter!

85 comments:

rhhardin said...

an accomplished resistor.

Spell check strikes WaPo.

rhhardin said...

Western values are not self-defending. They look like they're a priori but that appearance is exactly a Western accomplishment.

traditionalguy said...

Our Professor speaketh from a reality perspective, and you a Baby Boomer. The idealists want their safe place that has no evil men trying to kill the evil men that are trying to kill them. That is a Boomer desire that has resurfaced.

AllenS said...

From the Hadith:
There are several lesser hadith stating, "if a man comes upon a man, then they are both adulterers,"
"If a woman comes upon a woman, they are both Adulteresses,”
"When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes,” and “Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to."

Abu Dawud (4462) - The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, "Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done."

Abu Dawud (4448) - "If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death."

They hate us because of people like Sullivan.

Jason (the commenter) said...

"He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."

So our policy of torturing foreigners and harassing people with Muslim names will encourage terrorism. Thanks for the confirmation CIA.

Jason (the commenter) said...

But where would the people of this country would be if those additional attacks had occurred?

Hopefully we would have gone to war, rather than have this half-assed police action which is just as excuse by the government to gain ever more peacetime powers.

Peter S. said...

Sounds to me -- according to that opening anecdote and image -- like KSM provided more information when interrogators manipulated his ego and sense of self-importance than when they put the screws to his instinct for self-preservation. Seems like when Tactic A failed (183 instances of weatherboarding), Tactic B worked.

Of course one could say that Tactic B only worked because there was the continued threat of Tactic A, but that's not the image the article provides. Instead, we see a teacher allowed to lord it over his students, not a prisoner cowering and pleading to his torturers.

And, Ann, why in such a huff about being called pro-torture? Isn't it a great example of that strong, dysphemic, immoderate language you value so much in political debate?

Peter S. said...

@AllenS, 7:46

From the Book of Leviticus 20:13 (NIV):

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

We hate us because of people like Sullivan.

/irony

AllenS said...

Good point, Peter. We should all hate Sullivan, and for good reason.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not "in a huff." I'm calling Sullivan a hypocrite.

Ann Althouse said...

Because this isn't a "pro-torture blog" and he's so self-righteous that he ought to be careful about smearing people and being accurate. I've examined the issue of torture without tipping one way or the other. I've maintained a cruel neutrality on this one as a good reader of this blog ought to know.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse is pro-cruelty but not necessarily pro-torture.

Big Mike said...

But where would the people of this country would be if those additional attacks had occurred?

Well, my recollection in the immediate aftermath of 9/11/01 was that liberal pundits were frantically floating the notion that we should just learn to get used to attacks, the way that the British acclimated themselves over the decades to the IRA bombings.

Quayle said...

This is the great irony of 9/11 and the war on terror.

The left was intellectual destroyed by 9/11. They had foisted on the west the false supposition that there is no such thing as good and evil - there are only viewpoints and power.

Yet 9/11 was clearly and unmistakably evil and everyone knew it when they saw it.

But it gets better. Since the 60s the left had taught us that the world hated the west because of the right's desire for colonialism, and exploitation of the world’s poor.

Yet the 9/11 terrorists were educated and middle class, and funded (indirectly) by oil money. Their grievance wasn’t Marxist, and wasn’t revolution – it was the left’s libertinism.

In the wake of a destroyed world view, the left has moved to a fallback position of attacking Bush and Cheney for being…..evil?

(Wait, I thought there was no such thing as evil. Maybe Bush and Cheney just have a different, more diverse, viewpoint that needs to be respected and listened to.)

Totally incoherent.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I could see how Sullivan could be confused. Perhaps he's not a hypocrite, he just looks at things superficially. It would be consistant with his past behavior.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Quale: The left was intellectual destroyed by 9/11.

They had problems long before 9/11. I think some people place too much importance on that date; and the right seemed intellectually destroyed until the left's political victories woke them up.

Don't forget the recent past!

Peter S. said...

Ann,

I'm not sure I see where Sullivan's "hypocrisy" enters into the picture -- at least not in your argument so far. Are you claiming that Sullivan's own words or actions do not conform to his professed moral standards (in this case, his anti-torture standards)? Has he applied his anti-torture rhetoric in a biased way?

On the other had, it seems difficult to support strong negative rhetoric and dysphemic language in some cases -- and in other cases to say that such language is a smear, is unfair, and gets in the way of asking tough questions and having an open debate.

And if I missed all those posts where you aimed your cruelly neutral questions at the pro-torture arguments and the ticking-timebomb scenarios, I apologize. Such equal-opportunity skepticism has seemed scarce of late.

(BTW, I just re-read Sullivan's attacks on the WaPo piece. I don't think he ever uses the "torture never works" argument.)

AC245 said...

So our policy of torturing foreigners and harassing people with Muslim names will encourage terrorism. Thanks for the confirmation CIA.

I don't think reality is going to bend to Jason's rhetorical tricks.

KSM helped plot the attack on the WTC back in 1993. So unless you present a convincing argument that KSM is precognitive or has access to some sort of time travelling device, no honest and informed observer is going to buy the argument that it was treatment at the hands of the CIA over ten years later that convinced him America was so debauched that it deserved destruction.

(A more credible line of argument might be that all of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. since 2003 were encouraged by the CIA's interrogation behaviour -- but have there been any?)

On a related note, can someone point out anyone, anywhere, who now hates the U.S. because of these "torture" interrogations who didn't already hate the U.S. for some other reason(s) beforehand?

Maguro said...

It's worth noting that while interrogators have to comply with the Army Field Manual right now, Obama still has a blue-ribbon commission studying whether any EITs should be used in the future. I hope to see some righteous anger from Sullivan and his fellow moral grandstanders if (when?) most of these hated "torture" techniques are given the Obama stamp of approval and put back into action.

Also - when we start handing our prisoners over to Egypt and Jordan again with assurances (*wink*) that they won't be tortured, will our hands still be clean?

downtownlad said...

It is a pro-torture blog. You can't put the words "torture" in quotes - without it being obvious on which side of the argument you stand.

Anyway - it is perfectly fine to be pro-torture. If you think that torture is an acceptable way to make us "secure" - then argue that position. But stop beating around the bush by refusing to acknowledge that what we are doing is torture. You really do need use Orwellian newspeak to pretend it is not torture.

I assume it was — in part — the liberty and equality — incomplete though it may be — that women and gay people experience.

Do you have any evidence for that? I think any cursory study of the real reasons for Al Queada's hatred of us would bring up our troops in the Saudi Peninsula, our first Iraq War, and our support of Israel.

Let's also not forget that in 2001, it was illegal for gay people in the United States to have sex in half of the country and they were routinely prosecuted when they did so - sodomy prosecutions numbered in the hundreds every year.

Jason (the commenter) said...

AC245:So unless you present a convincing argument that KSM is precognitive or has access to some sort of time travelling device

They asked him his motivations, he told them. The point of the question was to see what causes terrorism, he told us that it was pretty much the same sort of thing as what "enthusiastic supporters of America" have been doing in response to 9/11. No time traveling required.

On a related note, can someone point out anyone, anywhere, who now hates the U.S. because of these "torture" interrogations who didn't already hate the U.S. for some other reason(s) beforehand?

It's not just torture. They were burning Obama in effigy a short time ago in India because of a snafu with airport screeners. We've been doing many things in the name of security that make us less secure and not paying attention to unintended consequences.

rhhardin said...

But stop beating around the bush by refusing to acknowledge

We forget much we owe to cliches.

Maguro said...

They were burning Obama in effigy a short time ago in India because of a snafu with airport screeners.

Look, it's just not possible for a country as big and powerful as the US to please everyone all the time. If it wasn't airport screeners it would be something else...let them have their little protest, it's no skin off our nose.

AC245 said...

Jason, so do you believe that KSM is precognitive, or a time traveller?

Or are you saying that he wasn't convinced America was debauched back in 1993 when he was plotting those terrorist attacks?

Also, in your last paragraph -- are you claiming that India now hates America because of airport security?

Michael McNeil said...

What do you think made KSM view the US as debauched? I doubt if it was our support of harsh interrogation techniques — whether you use the word &ldqu;torture” for that or not. I assume it was — in part — the liberty and equality — incomplete though it may be — that women and gay people experience. He wanted to mass-murder us because of that.


There's no need to wonder. Osama bin Laden answered this question quite clearly in his “letter to Americans” from a half-dozen or so years back. Here are some excerpts from that document:

“What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?

“(1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.

“(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). […]

“(2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.

“(a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.

“We call you to all of this that you may be freed from that which you have become caught up in; that you may be freed from the deceptive lies that you are a great nation, that your leaders spread amongst you to conceal from you the despicable state to which you have reached.”

(To be continued)

Michael McNeil said...

“(b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:

“(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?

“(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. […]

“(iii) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. You also permit drugs, and only forbid the trade of them, even though your nation is the largest consumer of them.

“(iv) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object. […]

“(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich.

“(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women.

“(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it.

“(viii) And because of all this, you have been described in history as a nation that spreads diseases that were unknown to man in the past. Go ahead and boast to the nations of man, that you brought them AIDS as a Satanic American Invention. […]”


(Emphasis added.) Thus, it's quite clear that, in addition to granting freedom, sexual and otherwise, to people like women and gays, Al Qaeda hates America because its people have the temerity to think that they can and should make their own laws, without reference to Islam. Horror of horrors!

As a result, George W. Bush's famous statement — which caused such risibility amongst the left — that “they hate us for our freedoms” is absolutely correct.

Michael McNeil said...

Link to Osama bin Laden's “Letter to America.”

garage mahal said...

Instead of pro torture blog, let's call it a pro "torture" blog. There. Better.

Jason (the commenter) said...

AC245, I am saying that the actions you are endorsing have the ability to stop and the ability to encourage terrorism. I am acknowledging both, while you refuse to acknowledge any negative consequences.

You have a blind spot that is being used by terrorists to hurt this country. Also, talking to you I get the impression that racism is your motivation, not security. But then people have all sorts of motivations, so who knows.

AC245 said...

Instead of pro torture blog, let's call it a pro "torture" blog. There. Better.

We should also call everyone who defended and eulogized the guy who drove the young lady off a bridge and left her to asphyxiate in her sinking car as "pro-torture, as long as it's a Democrat doing it."


Congrats on being "pro-torture as long as it's a Democrat doing it," garage!

Jason (the commenter) said...

Maguro: ...let them have their little protest, it's no skin off our nose.

How does that go? The wheel of injustice turns and turns, eventually you thoughtlessly harm the wrong group of people and chaos ensues.

AC245 said...

Sweet, the racist card.

Your defeat and desperation are acknowledged, Jason.

AlphaLiberal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maguro said...

How does that go? The wheel of injustice turns and turns, eventually you thoughtlessly harm the wrong group of people and chaos ensues.

"The wheel of injustice" is kind of a melodramatic way to describe an ordinary bureaucratic fuck-up with airport security. I guess I should go burn the prime minister of India in effigy the next time an American gets unfairly hassled by the Indian cops. Because that happens too, ya know.

AlphaLiberal said...

This is reckless reporting based on anonymous sources. We had the same type of anonymous sources telling us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons and that we had drones to deliver strikes to the American mainland.

Those were false and this is false.

There are a lot of people, including Dick Cheney, who have a lot to lose if the rule of law prevails. They broke the law, domestic and international.

Whatever happened to law and order? It shouldn't be applied to Republicans, I guess.

AlphaLiberal said...

For all those torture supporters and apologists out there, I ask you to take a few minutes to review the Convention Against Torture, signed by Ronald Reagan.

The various torture techniques we have seen used in our nation's name violate this treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan.

So are you now saying that Ronald Reagan was wrong?

AlphaLiberal said...

Cheney and Bush parted company with Ronald Reagan who said:

Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

Freder Frederson said...

So Ann, if you are so all-fired convinced that torture works and worked, and that it is necessary, why are you so upset when others call you pro-torture? You obviously are. You have done nothing but dismiss those who object to torture as pansies who are unwilling to do what is necessary to save the country.

Of course you personally haven't had to do anything to fight the war on terror. I don't think you have even shelled out the $1.98 for a yellow ribbon magnet for your car (God forbid, that might scratch the finish).

Hell, you don't even have the courage to say "I love torture and am proud of it!".

AlphaLiberal said...

Maguro:

"I hope to see some righteous anger from Sullivan and his fel"zlow moral grandstanders if (when?) most of these hated "torture" techniques are given the Obama stamp of approval and put back into action."

You don't have to wait. Obama has already been heavily criticized from these quarters for putting off torture accountability, for not departing more with Cheney policies more.

Obama has been harshly criticized from the left for these and other moves. We are consistent.

Freder Frederson said...

I've maintained a cruel neutrality on this one as a good reader of this blog ought to know.

This is nonsense. Not once have you discussed the legal definition of torture. Does the law or the application of the law mean nothing to you?

Balfegor said...

Re: homosexuality and sexual equality, are you sure it wasn't just square dancing? (See page 327, if the link isn't taking you directly there). The bar for decadence is actually set pretty low.

AlphaLiberal said...

Hilarious from Althouse:

I've examined the issue of torture without tipping one way or the other.

That this "neutrality" would even be desirable is a laugh. That a person can't muster an opinion on torture betrays a moral cowardice.

How about murder, Ann? Are you neutral on that, too? Rape?

Althouse routinely forwards right wing torture apologies and falsehoods. But she can't be bothered to mention the law on the subject.

Face it, Ann. You are a torture apologist.

elHombre said...

Seems like when Tactic A failed (183 instances of weatherboarding), Tactic B worked.

Well, that's one of at least three possible interpretations. Not the most logical, but the most consistent with the current left wing narrative.

Given the discomfort most people of the left have with arguments based on morality, I guess it's important to keep the "not effective" myth going.

WV "gausler" = One of the gasbags who keep hustling us.

AlphaLiberal said...

Althouse's words:

Critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn't even work. How unusual it is for the media to disillusion us about that and force the moralists to get by on moral ideals alone! .

This is the same technique used by torture apologists around the world and throughout history. "What we did isn't really torture."

Though you can look at the plain language of the Convention Against Torture, which I cannot recall Althouse ever having done here, and see that it is torture.

Hell, when the Japanese waterboarded Americans in WWII, it was considered torture.

Just because you go along with the re-definition of a word doesn't get yoou off the hook, Ann.

Add to that her rush to find absolution in the quotes from anonymous sources and to drop all critical thinking in the process and you have a torture apologist.

AlphaLiberal said...

One of Ann's "harsh interrogation techniques": beating a man to death.

One of Ann's "harsh interrogation techniques": threatening to rape a man's wife and kill his children.

One of Ann's "harsh interrogation techniques": hanging a man by shackled wrists from the ceiling for hours or days.

AlphaLiberal said...

elHombre:

"Given the discomfort most people of the left have with arguments based on morality,"

We are arguing that torture is immoral. You guys are brushing off arguments over morality as "grandstanding."

And you think WE have trouble with moral arguments?

Also, notice how no conservative can ever answer the question about how you all have betrayed Ronald Reagan on this issue?

Michael McNeil said...

Whatever happened to law and order?

Typical leftist narrative. International power politics and relations with multitudinous megalmaniac tyrants and mass murderers — the burning out of the heart of America's largest city along with the burning alive of 3,000 innocent office workers — is simply a matter for “law and order.” The criminals responsible should be arrested, Mirandized, tried with all due process and “hearsay” evidence ruled out, and — if not convicted beyond a reasonable doubt — immediately released with our profuse apologies.

Above all, one should never even think of going to war with rogue states and organizations. After all, war is illegal — the Kellogg-Briand pact (adhered to by sixty-three nations at the time — and at the time there were a lot fewer nations) made it so back in 1928. And, as Wikipedia points out, “The 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact […] remains a binding treaty under international law. In the United States, it remains in force as federal law (see U.S. Const. art. VI).” Dream on, folks!

Peter S. said...

@ ElHombre

"Seems like when Tactic A failed (183 instances of weatherboarding), Tactic B worked."

Well, that's one of at least three possible interpretations.


That's why I tried to acknowledge alternate interpretations (e.g., Tactic B worked because Tactic A worked -- or B worked only because of the continued threat of A). That alternate interpretation, though, does not seem to match the evidence as well -- the image of KSM allowed/coaxed to play out his role as blustering teacher. But I do not think that either interpretation is more or less "logical." (And I'm not sure you do either, Hombre, unless you're using "logic" as a way to describe a scenario's plausibility.)

Given the discomfort most people of the left have with arguments based on morality....

I thought Ann's whole complaint was that "the left" was too hung up in this case on moral absolutes, refusing to acknowledge the pragmatic and pressing demands of safety and security.

AlphaLiberal said...

Ann makes the torture supporters leap to judgment, across unfortunate facts and unsupported assertions"

Without KSM's cooperation, what would have happened? Do those who think he shouldn't have been broken truly vividly picture a second 9/11 level attack, then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth, and so on .

KSM was talking before he was even captured. In the media, al Jazeera, etc.

You have no RELIABLE evidence that it required torture to get this information from him, or that he did not offer up the information before he was tortured.

Ann, why do you put so much stock in anonymous sources when they have been shown to be false in the past?

On torture, Ann is harshly critical of torture opponents such as Sullivan and Greenwald. But she is softly gullible for anonymous sources.

Not that she is pro-torture or anything.

AlphaLiberal said...

Michael McNeil:

International power politics and relations with multitudinous megalmaniac tyrants and mass murderers — the burning out of the heart of America's largest city along with the burning alive of 3,000 innocent office workers — is simply a matter for “law and order.” .

Duck, duck. Weave. dodge. squirm. Return to talking points.

Wrong. You are literally putting false words in our mouths.

We are saying that the President should follow the law. If he doesn't, then the law should be enforced. That's why they are laws.

What other laws would you suspend? Rape? Murder? Abduction?

And, yes, the rule of law is the best of all possible outcomes in fighting terror organizations. It reinforces civilization, not the barbarity you endorse.

It is very telling that conservatives see America's judicial heritage as a liability to be jettisoned at the first opportunity. Not very American of you.

Michael McNeil said...

It is very telling that conservatives see America's judicial heritage as a liability to be jettisoned at the first opportunity. Not very American of you.

It is very telling that leftists see America's war-fighting heritage as a liability to be jettisoned at the first opportunity. Not very American of you.

The right for the nation to go to war (as it quite legally has in the war on terror) is also in the Constitution and fully constitutional. Nor is it “murder” when the country kills an opponent in war.

AC245 said...

We are saying that the President should follow the law. If he doesn't, then the law should be enforced. That's why they are laws.

What other laws would you suspend? Rape? Murder? Abduction?


AlphaLiberal, we all already know you're one of the "pro torture as long as it's a Democrat" apologists for Ted Kennedy, so your wailing about the "torture" of terrorists rings very hollow. But let's get you on the record for these other topics:

Were you calling for the prosecution of Clinton for his rapes?

Are you in favor of prosecuting Obama and his administration for war crimes for their targeted extrajudicial assassination attempts (via predator drones) in sovereign foreign countries, and consequent murder of dozens of innocent civilians?

Do you think both Clinton and Obama should be prosecuted for their abduction of foreign nationals as part of their rendition and extraordinary rendition programs?

Or, are you willing to suspend the laws against rape, murder, and abduction when it's a Democrat in charge?

AlphaLiberal said...

Can you find Ann Althouse in this video?

Crimso said...

"We are saying that the President should follow the law. If he doesn't, then the law should be enforced. That's why they are laws."

Are you selective in that belief? Because if you aren't then you certainly supported the removal of Bill Clinton from office, right? And if you didn't, then your above cited statement is bullshit. When you don't consistently apply your logic and beliefs, you are engaging in bullshittery. And no, this isn't a "but they do it too" defense of Bush/Cheney. It's pointing out that yours is a "We do it too but it's okay when we do it" defense of Clinton. Assuming you believe he shouldn't have been removed, which I very strongly suspect is the case.

"It is very telling that conservatives see America's judicial heritage as a liability to be jettisoned at the first opportunity. Not very American of you."

See above.

AlphaLiberal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AlphaLiberal said...

Crimso avoids the question by raising a tired old argument:

Are you selective in that belief? Because if you aren't then you certainly supported the removal of Bill Clinton from office, right? .

No. Not right. A highly parsed denial over a blow job is not worthy of impeachment. It was a contrived prosecution.

An no-one died when Clinton got his blow job. There were no ramifications beyond Monica and her blue dress. No innocent people were tortured.

And this is all very obvious. You excuse Bush and Cheney violating laws and treaties over torture but have the nerve to raise the blow job scandalette.

Ahh, waffles!

Chip Ahoy said...

As an independent voter not beholden to either of these miserable political parties that unrelentingly seek to shape our thoughts, I will never ever EVER trust the security of my country to an ossified liberal, the likes of which appear here. Period. Presented with new material they're utterly incapable of adjusting and resort to recycling the same argumentation forcing us to cover again the same worn out war paths. It reminds me of something hard but porous, like lava rock, but more poorly interconnected, incapable of forming new pathways.

But the truth is, most liberals in positions of national importance are not so mentally ossified. They're much more competent than that and do in crisis recognize what is at stake. As Vice President, Gore himself in unpublicized meetings was eager to attack at the early stages but was held back by more legal minds, and if he had been president most likely would have. So was H. Clinton, from what I've read, early on was most belligerent, reactionary, and ready to authorize force, and as Senator did so. Pelosi too, was informed, aware of, and so allowed the techniques being condemned presently. These people have changed their positions, not because they truly believe them but rathe under persistent pressure by their less-informed more ossified base, people they need to keep their positions and advance them by appearing to lead when in these cases they're following, and so by doing show a flexibility that is not apparent in the comments here.

Yes, I'm impressed by this rock-solid inflexibility. It's positively monumental. It's why you're doomed to die angry rigid old farts.

Don't you find it odd that OBL can contrive a letter so full of excellent points on precisely how debauched our society is without once acknowledging how his own society is so totally fucked it can not even exploit its own resources without the help of those debauched societies because those resources are useful only to societies that have advanced beyond his own by 1400 years, and by several magnitudes of order in civil organization?

As to the sheik, I mock the term "mastermind" because it connotes a masterful mind when what we observe is an egoistic mind poisoned by an obsession and adherence to archaic language of an antique religion that has been superseded by history and that has completely failed to adjust.

I try to reverse roles with Power Glutes and imagine myself attempting to forfeit my American citizenship for British citizenship but being blocked because of a disease I carry that Britain doesn't care to accept, but living there anyway and publishing regularly on why a majority, and if not a majority then a significant minority, are so stupid and wrong and vile that it keeps me alive writing, making up names for them and attributing my own projections onto them in order to argue my case more forcefully, and why Britain must fundamentally change to suit me. I don't get very far with that imagining and so I don't give Sullivan much thought beyond the thoughts I'd give any other rude visitor, or parasitic complaining uninvited guest.

How our country fascinates these people so, OBL, KSM, A.S., that they come here, live here, write about us and seek desperately to destroy or simply change us, and one way or another become consumed by us.

raf said...

"Without KSM's cooperation, what would have happened?"

After another one or two attacks, the Democrat opposition would DEMAND more effective action, would win control of congress in 2002, win the presidency in 2004, and wage all out war against someone or other from high altitude, to the general approbation of everyone on the left. That's what really gripes them. A perfectly good crisis that they couldn't take advantage of.

cronow: Depends, I guess on whether one is proclaiming it or eating it.

John Lynch said...

Wow. Long post from Chip Ahoy. And a good one.

chefmojo said...

@ Alpha Liberal

The UNCAT is, and always has been, something of a joke, and an ironic one at that.

You toss out Reagan’s name in an unsuccessful bid to bait conservatives. That’s because conservatives know better. Indeed, he did sign it, but you provide no context for the circumstances.

The Cold War made for some interesting and twisted treaties. UNCAT was top amongst them. The Soviets – Remember your old pals, Alpha? – jumped right in and signed the thing, along with the entire Warsaw Pact, China and Cuba, all within a 2 month period in ’85 and ’86.

Wrap your tongue around that tasty irony, Alpha. I mean, look at the signatures on that treaty, will you? If ever anyone needed to see what a hoax the UNCAT is, just look at the signatories.

Now, Reagan was a clever guy, contrary to your thinking. He knew this was an empty treaty without force, typical of any UN document. Towards the end of his presidency, he signed it, knowing full well it would not be ratified in his remaining time in the White House. In fact, it was not ratified until the Clinton administration got around to it. And when Clinton proceeded to abuse it, nary a peep from the left.

Well, let’s see who else signed that worthless piece of crap, shall we?

Oh, hey. The British signed it back in 1985! Back when they were torturing IRA suspects and looking the other way in Northern Ireland while the RUC was running assassination units.

Mexico. Argentina. Nicaragua. Columbia. Panama. Peru. All early signatories. No torture there, right?

I could go on all day, Alpha. You prove yourself to be disingenuous at worse and naïve at best.

wv: comet - armageddon outta here!

Jason (the commenter) said...

AC245: Sweet, the racist card.

When someone defends torturing one group of people it fits. There's really few things to call it: racism, bigotry, take your pick.

Jason (the commenter) said...

culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding

And this is a victory? Sounds more like a humiliating defeat to me. Look at how tough the people on the other side are! Was he broken, or did he just get bored?

m00se said...

I'm perfectly willing to entertain the concept of "torture" being repugnant 'n stuff, if someone can reconcile how killing people in their sleep via drone attacks in a country we are not at war with is, somehow - OK. I mean on context to waterboarding. We'll narrow it down so we can get it figured out quicker.

I mean, Obama is fine with drone attacks on Taliban/Al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan. There is no semblence of due process there, no consideration for "collateral damage", no outraged Sully storming the rhetorical bulwarks beagles in hand. Apparently we as Americans are besmirched by waterboarding 3 guys, but are cleansed by our extra-legal targeted missle attacks (we won't call them assasinations - that'd be, uh, awkward).

Let's remember folks, what is expeditious to one administration is also expeditious to the next. Obama is not going to burn down the house to get rid of a single cockroach. He's also not going to limit his options by forcing an anti-"torture" law thru Congress.

Get off your high horses here - Obama is a pragmaticist first, and a power-hungry Chicago pol second. The good liberal schtick is on the side for flavor...

Crimso said...

"Crimso avoids the question by raising a tired old argument:"

Oh no no no. I addressed the "question" by posing one of my own: "Are you selective in that belief?"

The answer is indisputably "yes, you are."

YOU said: "We are saying that the President should follow the law. If he doesn't, then the law should be enforced. That's why they are laws." And then later tried to transmogrify perjury into fellatio. When he committed perjury, he didn't follow the law. Your argument had absolutely nothing to do with how many people died any more than it was based upon how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If you would care to change your stance to say that the POTUS should follow the law only when lives are at stake then please do so. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Keep referring to perjury and obstruction of justice as a blowjob and it will continue to be difficult to take you seriously.

Michael McNeil said...

We may not be “at war with Pakistan,” but the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was passed by Congress after 9-11 specifically states “That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Pakistan, wittingly or unwittingly, is clearly harboring “such organizations or persons,” and thus the application of force to kill, capture, or otherwise circumvent “such organizations or persons” is warranted by that declaration of war (and it is a declaration of war, as the present Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden rightly articulated, at a time when he was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he authored the AUMF in question).

EDH said...

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

Hence, the need for quotes around allegations of "torture"?

Joe said...

Isn't it likely that the water boarding provided KSM a face saving way to cave? That the water boarding itself massively boosted his ego? I'm amazed at how many "tough" guys have a masochistic streak to their behavior. Tolerating pain is a mark of machismo. Get them in that state and they start bragging to further inflate their self-image.

elHombre said...

Peter S wrote: el Hombre: That's why I tried to acknowledge alternate interpretations (e.g., Tactic B worked because Tactic A worked -- or B worked only because of the continued threat of A). That alternate interpretation, though, does not seem to match the evidence as well .... But I do not think that either interpretation is more or less "logical." (And I'm not sure you do either, Hombre, unless you're using "logic" as a way to describe a scenario's plausibility.)

As I recall, you only acknowledged one, not two, alternative interpretations, but never mind.

I'm using "logical" in a way that I understand to be fairly common usage, i.e., reasoning clearly and consistently based on facts previously known or readily and reliably inferrable. Fair enough?

For example, one might reason logically that: Harsh interrogation techniques abide because they have been successful; They were no less likely to be used successfully on KSM than on anyone else; Since KSM's disclosures occurred after the techniques were used, and, according to the CIA, resulted from their use, they probably were successful; Posturing and denial by someone broken under interrogation is a predictable response.

I don't find it logical to reason backward from a WaPo account describing KSM's posturing and denial to conclude that harsh interrogation techniques were unsuccessful and that "rapport-based questioning" was just the ticket to secure his cooperation. If you do, I assume your conclusion is political,not logical.

elHombre said...

Peter S wrote: I thought Ann's whole complaint was that "the left" was too hung up in this case on moral absolutes, refusing to acknowledge the pragmatic and pressing demands of safety and security.

I'm not sure that she has complained and I doubt that she would ever attribute "moral absolutes" to the left.

She may have postulated that the documents released by the CIA "vindicated" Cheney's claim that important information had been acquired by using harsh interrogation techniques and that "they don't work" is a speculative and spurious argument.

If I have overstated her position, I apologize, but it is clearly the more defensible position.

Steven said...

International law clearly establishes that there are forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that do not constitute torture.

So, here's my standing challenge to everybody in the stress-positions-are-torture camp, issued for the last six years without any takers: Name a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that is not torture.

elHombre said...

Alpha Liberal wrote (10:42): elHombre: "Given the discomfort most people of the left have with arguments based on morality..."

We are arguing that torture is immoral. You guys are brushing off arguments over morality as "grandstanding." And you think WE have trouble with moral arguments?

Also, notice how no conservative can ever answer the question about how you all have betrayed Ronald Reagan on this issue?

First, even if people agree with many of his ideas, I am unaware that they have a moral obligation to Ronald Reagan to allow themselves to be blown up.

Finally, you evidently claim that the moral high ground is occupied by some lefty who says, "Water boarding is torture. I don't believe in torture. Therefore, even if several thousand innocent lives are at stake, I will not waterboard the terrorist who can provide information to save those lives, but refuses to do so.

This is not morality. It is political posturing by "men without chests!"

elHombre said...

Name a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that is not torture.

UN conventions require that the treatment be "intentional" in order to be torture. Ergo, any unintentional, inhuman, degrading treatment is not torture.

PS I apparently returned to late to respond to A.L. and Peter S in timely fashion. Sorry for the long, untimely posts.

Fred4Pres said...

The key to KSM and Saddam Hussein is carefully working their egos. There is a science to interrogation and you can do it, and be extremely effective, without betraying your own morals.

That said, I am not going to second guess Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush on this and say they should be prosecuted as war criminals. I think some of the "taking off the gloves" and "dark side" approach was a big mistake, practically and politically--but when you consider the evil we are fighting and the potential risks I understand why they went there.

My problem with Andrew Sullivan is Sullivan fails to understand just how evil and dangerous al Qaeda really is or engaged in a balancing test of what Bush was combating after 9/11. And Sullivan was more than willing to abandon Iraq rather than admit a surge strategy (and one that expressly denounced torture under General Petreaus) might actually work. Sullivan cares ulitmately about Sullivan and his ego is so inflamed (or he is so insecure) that issues of truth or balance are routinely ignored.

m00se said...

Heh - to quote the other professor.

I know people would quote me chapter and verse regarding the authorization to use force.

The point here is rather simple - "torture" when considered in the same context as "force" (we'll use quotes to make them equal, shall we?) are both as moral and immoral as the methods used in their application and the care taken when using them.

Clearly, the administration and the agents in the field tooke great pains in administrating the "torture". It would appear - from accounts I have read - that the drone war being waged in Pakistan right now is being waged with the same care.

Now, Sully would have us beleive that these 2 efforts are *not* linked. That they are seperate. The "torture" is morally abhorent - the "force" is regrettable but judiciously applied - therefore "moral". As it does not have the word "torture" in it.

Sully has become a one trick pony, as has most of the guest bloggers. They reflexively reject "torture" as they reflexively accept Sully's definitions of said "torture". Thus the appellation of Ann's blog as a pro-"torture" blog.

The simple fact is that there is a fine, gray line between conducting a drone war on terrorists in a "friendly" country and applying a rigorously defined process of enhanced interrogation techniques on roughly a little over 100 detainees (how and why are we not calling them POW's, BTW?)

It's clear that Cheney et. al. had a six pack of whup ass in the fridge for any and all parties captured in the GWOT - it's amazing that they took such care and restraint in interrogating them.

Nagarajan Sivakumar said...

It's not just torture. They were burning Obama in effigy a short time ago in India because of a snafu with airport screeners. We've been doing many things in the name of security that make us less secure and not paying attention to unintended consequences.

ROFL!!!! Jason, your naivete is astounding here - you know nothing about how emotional people in India or for that matter in the subcontient can get - and it has next to nothing to do with "unintended consequences" of US policy.

A former President of India was frisked by Continental Airlines security In India on his way to Newark, NJ - we would never ever pull such a stunt or any former US President if he visited India.

Burning Obama effigies is an emotional reaction to the disrespect shown to a former Commander in Chief/President of India.

However terrorism is a whole another ballgame. Planning and executing mass murder is way beyond any emotional response like effigy burning... besides, terrorism is politics/war by other means - an angle which you dont seem to understand or appreciate.

Islamic terrorism has a political angle to it and its just plain politically incorrect to talk about it in this world today - you immediately get called "an Islamophobe".

William Teach said...

I have to wonder, what business is this of Excitable Andy's? He isn't an American citizen, he doesn't get a vote, and he will never be an American citizen.

He should get back to writing what he knows about, circumcisions.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Nagarajan Sivakumar : ROFL!!!! Jason, your naivete is astounding here - you know nothing about how emotional people in India or for that matter in the subcontient can get...

Burning Obama effigies is an emotional reaction to the disrespect shown to a former Commander in Chief/President of India.

No, they burnt Obama in effigy over what happened to a Bollywood movie star.

I may be naive, but at least I read the newspaper.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Oh, and by "newspaper" I mean The Times of India.

AC245 said...

Also, talking to you I get the impression that racism is your motivation, not security.
When someone defends torturing one group of people it fits. There's really few things to call it: racism, bigotry, take your pick.

Jason, I realize that you have so far avoid answering every single direct, specific question I've posed to you, and instead resorted to playing the race card. But here's an opportunity to demonstrate that you were not just being lazy and intellectually dishonest. I predict you will squander it, but perhaps you'll surprise me.

Since you said you got the impression I was a racist, let me ask you three questions:
1. What race am I?
2. What race was I showing racism against?
3. What specific parts of the conversation led you to that conclusion?

Jason (the commenter) said...

AC245: Jason, I realize that you have so far avoid answering every single direct, specific question I've posed to you...

You asked this one:

can someone point out anyone, anywhere, who now hates the U.S. because of these "torture" interrogations who didn't already hate the U.S. for some other reason(s) beforehand?

and I answered it.

You've gone out of your way to misrepresent things I've said, you've accused me of rhetorical tricks, being lazy, and intellectually dishonest while showing all of those traits yourself.

It's 9:30 PM and this thread is cold, so you're calling me out with no witnesses? And for saying I had an impression!

You've already said:

Your defeat and desperation are acknowledged, Jason.

You AC245 are the one who left, you declared victory and ran away. Not my fault if you feel bad about it now.

I stand by everything I said, it was brilliant.

Nagarajan Sivakumar said...

Jason,
The Times of India is not much of a newspaper - you were right to put it in quotes.

Well, be afraid then Jason - if you guys do anything we consider bad,we will .. burn.. effigies........

You are so "thoughtful" of the unintended consequences though. May be if we could make enough Americans threatened like you, who knows what else you may be willing to do ?

Lets see.. we have some long standing disputes at the WTO about protectionist trade barriers created by Big Agri Business - so, may be Indian farmers need to do some American flag burning and Obama effigy burning ? is this how we get a point across ?

What ever you can say about Al Qaeda - they sure as hell were right to count on American "sensitivities". Threats do seem to intimidate people like you, Jason.

Chrsitopher said...

A bit off-topic, but since Teddy Kennedy had such a sense of humor, especially about Chappaquiddick, I wanted to come up with my own Chappaquiddick joke as a sort of send off to the funny man himself — I’m sure Ted would have fallen off his chair over this one (enjoy!):

What’s the difference between Mary Jo Kopechne and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

When it comes torturing someone with water, Khalid talked but Mary Jo didn’t.


You read my full “tribute” to the funny man here:

And Now Ladies & Gentleman, Here’s Ted Kennedy, Mr. Chappaquidick Himself, with a new Chappaquiddick Joke!

Nagarajan Sivakumar said...

You asked this one:

can someone point out anyone, anywhere, who now hates the U.S. because of these "torture" interrogations who didn't already hate the U.S. for some other reason(s) beforehand?

and I answered it.


Let's go back to the original question - Which of these countries which HAVE NOT ALREADY HATED the US ( strong hint, they are in the Arab world) have now suddenly started hating because of torture ?

And the answer was Indian protestors burning Obama effigies because... of .. a.. Bollywood star.. detained at the airport?

Jason, the commentator, a better name for you would be Jason the Joker.

You just counted India as among those countries which hate the US.

How , i mean how are you so smart ?

John Lynch said...

Moose has a good point about the drone attacks.

I would go farther. We assassinate so many enemy leaders because capturing them is more trouble than it's worth. This seems stupid, since we could get valuable intelligence from them about how the Taliban and Al Queda work.

However, that's pretty much closed off now, isn't it? So better to kill them with drones than ever allow them to fall into our hands.

wayne said...

If there is ever a list made for people who are willing to be a part of the execution squad for KSM and the rest of Al Qaeda, I hope that someone will make sure my name gets on the list - especially if the method of execution is horrific.

Why you ask?

If you can still find them, watch the videos of KSM hacking off Danny Pearl's head some time.

There is no fate that can be committed against KSM that is sufficient to the suffering he deserves.