January 17, 2010

"I've spent my whole career learning to settle down unruly college students who have not done the reading."

Said John Yoo, about why Jon Stewart couldn't get to him.

103 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

Yoo is a genius. Definitely a good teacher but, quite possibly, a genius.

Jon Stewart is a horse's ass - and it's, finally, starting to show.

HKatz said...

"No matter what the question, Yoo was able to fall back on vagaries about constitutional interpretation, war and peace, and presidential power."

The same people will sometimes see nuance as such a virtue, and other times as something deceptive and frustrating. And then try to give a nuanced explanation for why nuance is good in one case and just a form of slipperiness in another.

Interesting too, how Yoo's critics took a very unnuanced view of him - as a "younger, Korean Dick Cheney" (a description that cracked me up).

lucid said...

Yes, Stewart really did seem like a student who hadn't done the reading but thought he could win an argument about it anyway, to think that he didn't need to actually know anything or have understood the book or something about constitutional law in order to argue with Yoo. Like many left/liberals, he assumed the obvious correctness of what he thinks would sweep away the poor benighted fools who don't agree with him.

former law student said...

My classmate who was best prepared for class flunked out of law school. She didn't realize that the game in class was not aimed at succeeding on the exams. But the unprepared were not unruly, and did not need settling.

I see Yoo is a master of Plausible Deniability. But in an earlier day we could just have reckoned him as an Inscrutable Oriental.

bagoh20 said...

Stewart is the class clown; always capable of making anyone look stupid, but has no real understanding of the issues - only how to ridicule positions. This is easy for his type and probably has been since grade school when he was likely very effective at making the teacher look stupid despite being her clear intellectual inferior. It's a talent not an intellect. This is comedy, not argument.

SMGalbraith said...

I don't think Yoo is the monster that many left critics have portrayed him to be but from everything I've read from "reasonable" legal scholars his legal arguments were just absurd.

Yes, the president's powers expand during war but they are not boundless. Nor are they solely limited by the power of the purse.

Not a bad man but a man with bad reasoning.

Fen said...

Meh. Its not like the Left actually believes in the things the lecture us about.

Take FLS above. When its his family, his city and his life at risk from a terror attack, he'll be begging people like Yoo to waterboard the perp.

All this hate of waterboarding was just about getting at Bush.

Fen's Law: The Left does not really believe in the things they lecture us about

Fen said...

"Not a bad man but a man with bad reasoning."

Uh-huh, thats what Stewart thought before Yoo made him look like an idiot. I doubt you or your "reasonable" scholars would fare any better.

PatCA said...

I think Yoo is adorable.

The Drill SGT said...

Sarge's Corollary to Fen's Law:To the Extent the Left really believes something it is only half the total time

SMGalbraith said...

Uh-huh, thats what Stewart thought before Yoo made him look like an idiot. I doubt you or your "reasonable" scholars would fare any better.

Please, let's not compare Stewart with those who've studied these issues.

Go to the Volokh Conspiracy and do a search.

Those men are eminently reasonable and thoughtful. And they found many of Yoo key arguments in his memos to be not tenable. E.g., the president doesn't have plenary powers even during war.

Again, one can embrace or dimiss their arguments. But one can't ignore them unless one becomes the very thing that one opposes.

Peter V. Bella said...

Jon Stewart is a comedian playing a journalist on TV. His popularity proves the stupidity, gullibility, and overall lack of education of the average American TV audience. His ratings and the fact that people actually tune in and watch is proof enough.

The Drill SGT said...

The last half of the interview as pretty lame. Stewart's brain fried and he was limited to drooling. Yoo was forced to carry on the debate by arguing both sides in order not to have dead air time

former law student said...

Take FLS above. When its his family, his city and his life at risk from a terror attack, he'll be begging people like Yoo to waterboard the perp.

All this hate of waterboarding was just about getting at Bush.

Fen's Law: The Left does not really believe in the things they lecture us about


Nice assumption. About like the left's assumption that abortion opponents would be the first to abandon their principles and rush their teenage daughters to the late Dr. Tiller's Kansas clinic. But many did.

Moose said...

Even though I loath Stewart, I've watched him on a number of occasions - he generally prepares well and has an excellent sense of timing and how to exploit weakness. His critical failing is that he is pretty sure he's smarter than his guests. Adding to that is that he gets to control the conversation and timing of the topics, etc. Generally he gets his guests rattled, then herds them into a corner and butchers them.
Yoo was not allowing him to play that game. Being a lawyer and a teacher (my opinion - I am not a lawyer or teacher) Yoo did as he said he did - he just didnt rise to the bait. He kept the conversation focused on what he wanted to discuss.
Pretty admirable to see Stewart outfoxed at his own game...

SMGalbraith said...

I doubt you or your "reasonable" scholars would fare any better.

Agreed: Yoo would destroy me.

The Drill SGT said...

Peter, while I agree on one level that Stewart is a comedian playing a journalist, it is even a larger and far sadder statement, that in doing so, he is better than most of the network talking heads at being a journalist at the same time.

SMGalbraith said...

Yoo key arguments?

I believe he was the Prime Minister of Thailand in the seventies.

Minister Yoo Key.

Meade said...

PatCA said...
"I think Yoo is adorable."

Why thank yoo!

Fen said...

Go to the Volokh Conspiracy and do a search.

Those men are eminently reasonable and thoughtful. And they found many of Yoo key arguments in his memos to be not tenable. E.g., the president doesn't have plenary powers even during war.


You mean this:

"Arguments about unlimited executive power are nothing but rhetoric. Article II gave the President all general power over foreign policy and the military which was not expressly reserved to the Congress in Article I. The Administration has never claimed otherwise."

PatCA said...

Yoo are tou, Meade!

Fen said...

FLS: "Nice assumption"

Its not an assumption, its history. Take Clinton's sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault as an example. The Left preached against these things until one of their own was in the dock. Then it was "just about sex, MoveOn".

pm317 said...

I would like to see if Cass Sunstein can reduce Stewart to blabbering on this crazy article of his:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/15/sunstein/

It was a pleasure to see Yoo make Stewart squirm. I don't know why because I am not a right wing nut. But may be because he just seemed smarter in this one encounter. What he said to Stewart ("what were you doing there?") after he bent his head and rolled back in his chair out of exasperation, I think, was priceless.

Michael said...

Yoo was masterful at simply remaining calm and answering the questions asked, not questions that should have been asked. Leftists somehow think that there is a bright line that defines "torture", and that line was whatever the Bush administration decided to do that was extraordinary. Now we have the opposite of torture, we have fully lawyered suspects. Alleged. Suspects.

SMGalbraith said...

You mean this:

Sorry, I thought you were serious.

Carry on.

Peter V. Bella said...

Drill Sgt.,
I have to agree.

Methadras said...

John Stewart is to news what a platypus is to a Titus.

virgil xenophon said...

Although I am an avid reader of the Volokh Conspiracy I would caution that when those there counsel that the President doesn't have plenary powers one must remember that it is largely a bunch of lawyers saying this: "Where you stand depends on where you sit." You don't think present-day meddlesome lawyers are going to admit that they are essentially powerless concerning some aspect of constitutional Presidential executive power, do you?

PS: My favorite take-away quote on water-boarding the would-be diaper-bomber was by some wag who stated that if he had his way he would have "water-boarded the guy until his lungs qualified for wet-lands status." LOL!

The Crack Emcee said...

"The Left preached against these things until,...it was 'just about sex, MoveOn'."

It's all about those two magic words.

Fen said...

It's all about those two magic words "Get X!"

X being Clarence Thomas, George Bush, etc.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yoo was masterful at simply remaining calm and answering the questions asked..."

No, he most decidedly did not answer the question asked. He meticulously inspected the question and restated what the question should be. He never allowed the word "torture" to be in the question. He always restated the question not only to get "torture" out, but implicitly to repeat his argument that he was not approving of torture. Stewart's game was to get him to concede something about torture, and Yoo, entirely relaxed, saw and caught it coming every time, easily.

Synova said...

"Take FLS above. When its his family, his city and his life at risk from a terror attack, he'll be begging people like Yoo to waterboard the perp."

(...)

fls: "Nice assumption."

It may not be true for you personally, but for many people it certainly was, and they were willing to say so. I've quoted Matt Damon quoting the left's favorite interrogator person many times saying exactly that except... they still wanted it *illegal*, they just wanted it *done*.

Yoo may have been right or he may have been wrong, but he was asked for a legal opinion on what was legal or not. He gave it and the mere giving it was what made people upset.

Yes, when pressed, people will admit that they *want* the waterboarding, or even far worse, to happen... they just don't want to know about it and they want public deniability. They want to have their waterboarding and their moral superiority at the same time.

And the only reason to *ask*, to find out what the limit of legal actions are, is to make it all official, when what they want is black ops and not to know.

You can look back, if you're really interested, and see that my opinion has always been that I'd rather have any harsh interrogations be monitored, supervised, and done with accountability. Above board. And I'd prefer that we take a public stand of willingness and a private stand of restraint - than the other way around, which I find utterly immoral and dangerous.

It's wrong to ask someone to destroy their life in sacrifice to your safety just so you can remain comfortable about opposing torture.

And that really is what a whole lot of people besides Damon publicly advocated.

And a whole lot of others spent their time making a monster of Yoo for the crime of daring to ask and try to answer an uncomfortable question.

vbspurs said...

I've never watched the Daily Show, outside of clips. Whilst I don't dislike Jon Stewart (I think he's one of those universally likeable types, even if you disagree with him politically -- he's certainly no Michael Moore), I don't find him funny enough to merit regular viewing.

But I did see this clip of John Yoo on the DS a few days back. I expected boos, but though the applause was very sparse from his audience, there were no shoes thrown at him.

Then, in the nicest possible way, Yoo proceeded to unravel the powdered donuts inside the brains of Jon Stewart.

That's the kind of intellectual tussle educated Europeans, especially, love to witness on a daily basis. For shame that it rarely happens on US television, because it's an escapist medium where thinking is secondary to fun.

careen said...

Link to the show?

vbspurs said...

Ann Althouse wrote:

Stewart's game was to get him to concede something about torture, and Yoo, entirely relaxed, saw and caught it coming every time, easily.

Isn't that "something" the fact tied to Stewart's belief that what Yoo and Co. did is inherently illegal?

The problem with those who hate Bush (not just lefties) is that they work under the assumption that he and all like him are stupid. I mean, intellectually devoid of making cogent arguments on anything.

The unspoken dynamic between Yoo and Stewart is that you saw not only the host but the audience bewildered that there was a man who had brains, and wasn't an addlepated "wingnut" who just threw together a few slogans to craft their philosophy on dealing with terrorists.

Another dynamic, unexpressed, is that if you're like Stewart, you have to buy into the fact that terrorism is a law enforcement problem. Torture is not allowed by the constitution, and therefore, "torture" in the form of waterboarding is illegal.

vbspurs said...

Careen: Extended interview link, via Hulu. Hope you're in the US!

Michael said...

vbspurs has it exactly. Left equals smart, right equals dumb. That is why lefties are generally so inarticulate or downright vulgar in most debate because they are not accustomed to being challenged. Thus the smart people believe in science and science has agreed that global warming is a fact. By accepting that without question you align yourself with the smarts and thus become smart yourself. Smug lightweights like Stewart are always good for the easy laugh from their self selected audience because that smart-like-me is the only card he plays.

From Inwood said...

vbs

Spot on @2:28.

vbspurs said...

Here is the link to John Yoo's book on Amazon, tied to the Althouse account. Sadly, it won't come out for the Kindle until Feb (23rd, I believe).

Thanks, Michael and Inwood. :)

lucid said...

Yes to Victoria's point. The liberal/left assume their opponents couldn't possible have cogent positions, so they are surprised when they actually have to argue with them, rather than scoff from a safe distance. Did someone say somewhere yesterday that Stewart with Yoo was like a dog chasing a bus; when he caught it he had no idea what to do with it.

vbspurs said...

I also read a comment elsewhere, Lucid, that I found funny because it shows you how the Stewarts of this world craft an argument to "take down" their interviewees (that's what journalism means for them, not to explore, but to expose). Their 'weasel phrase' is so in other words, where they then get to man-handle the interviewee.

Yoo: The chicken crossed the road.

Stewart: There's a bar at the end of that road.

Yoo: Yes.

Stewart: So in other words, there's this chicken with a drinking problem.

Yoo didn't allow Stewart to make any equivalency to terrorists having the same legal rights to domestic criminals, and the methods used to elicit information from said terrorists.

Lem said...

.. that's why Stewart was set up to fail. No matter what the question, Yoo was able to fall back on vagaries about constitutional interpretation, war and peace, and presidential power.

Stewart "failed" because he set himself up as the arbiter of deceptively comparable roles.
A Trial Judge and a Comedy Central Interviewer. In matters of this magnitude you cant be both.

And tangentially (but essential) Yoo appears not concede a dilution of the real meaning of war.

Does anybody have a link to the Stewart interview?

Lem said...

Oh I got Vic thanks..

Lem said...

Yoo was excellent.. the sad part is that if he was not (excellent) a perfectly cogent reasonable argument would not win the day.

What if there hadn't been a Yoo after 911?

The idea that Yoo should have talked to Bush is so ludicrous.

Alex said...

FLS said:

I see Yoo is a master of Plausible Deniability. But in an earlier day we could just have reckoned him as an Inscrutable Oriental.

I see anti-Asian racism is fashionable again amongst white liberals.

From Inwood said...

Alex @454

Liberals like FLS can get away with racism because, well, they're virtuecrats. They just know in their hearts that they have the moral high ground & beauty, truth, goodness & virtue on their side.

And you're too stupid to see it.

Harry's getting away with it so far.

So there.

FLS

"My classmate who was 'best prepared for class" flunked out of law school.

They give awards for that?

Once again, you're not thinking like a lawyer, or even thinking logically. The false generalization.

It was my experience, & I defer to Prof A here, that unless someone who was well "prepared" had other problems, he/she would not flunk out of law school.

Um, it depends on the meaning of “prepared”, I guess. Some glib person who is now a former law student. Anyone we know?

Deborah said...

Jon Stewart is a comedian playing a journalist on TV. His popularity proves the stupidity, gullibility, and overall lack of education of the average American TV audience. His ratings and the fact that people actually tune in and watch is proof enough.

God. Thank you, Peter Bella, for saying that. Who is Jon Stewart and why does it matter what he thinks or says or does? Isn't this program on Comedy Central for God's sake?

Eric Alterman for The Nation
“Literally no one upheld the honor better of what remains of the media than did this ‘fake news' comedian. He is our leader. How pathetic is that?”


Completely pathetic.

Joe M. said...

hehe. I'm not so much a fan of Yoo's claim to fame, and I do find Stewart funny on occasion, but this is good. Stewart needs more settling down.

former law student said...

It was my experience, & I defer to Prof A here, that unless someone who was well "prepared" had other problems, he/she would not flunk out of law school.

Perhaps if you'd seen her binder of briefed cases you'd think differently.

former law student said...

racism is fashionable

Nay, I chronicle our progress as a nation.

Robert Cook said...

Fen said:

"Take FLS above. When its his family, his city and his life at risk from a terror attack, he'll be begging people like Yoo to waterboard the perp.

All this hate of waterboarding was just about getting at Bush."


My city (NYC) has been hit by terror attacks twice, and is surely at risk of future terror attacks; I do not support waterboarding or any other torture. So much for your asshat assumptions.

As to whether FLS--or me, for that matter--or any other person might wish to inflict torture on a suspect for fear that otherwise our loved ones might be harmed...who can say? It's an entirely normal, human reaction to want to save one's loved ones from harm, and to wreak dire punishment--revenge--on those who might do such harm. However, our personal feelings do not supersede the law, and the legal system is not an instrument of personal revenge, and should not be, otherwise it's just systematized lynching.

Thus, what any individual might feel in a particular instance and in emotional distress is irrelevant. Is torture against the law? Yes. Have we tortured? Yes. We have broken the law and those who ordered the torture and those who committed it should be tried and, if convicted, be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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

@vbspurs

Thanks, just finished. I think the main thing is that the audience was not behind Stewart's attempts to inject ridicule and so he ended up over-apologizing at the end.

Yoo is younger than Stewart by five years, poised, and has had a real job ;-). Up until now, other than Palin, the "Bad Guys" have mostly been older than Stewart and trying to please the audience. Yoo did not falter in a TV appearance as many do - perhaps because ( as he said) he's used to dealing with lefty students ,so didn't get thrown off his game as much trying to appeal to them.

It somewhat reminds me of the environmental surfer documentary "The Cove". You have a lot of very agitated western liberal surfer-environmentalists who are campaigning against Japan killing dolphins - and then the Big Evil Corporate/Government guy on the other side is quite handsome, sane - almost bordering on cuddly.

It really upsets the narrative visuals.

Seven Machos said...

Robert Cook -- You make stuff up from whole cloth entirely too often. Please show us:

1. the text of the relevant law

2. how that law has jurisdiction over your alleged offenders

3. an instance when the law was broken and charges were not brought by relevant authorities

Seven Machos said...

FLS -- Your allegedly prepared law student obviously did not know how to write a law school exam. Big deal. Common occurrence.

Nomilk said...

"Inscrutable Oriental," "Negro dialect," etc.

Wow, with O as prez the rules really have changed.

Oh, and I see Michelle Obama validated my earlier question about why, if nothing Reid said was wrong, he had to apologize. She said he didn't have to apologize.

From Inwood said...

fls

Perhaps if you'd seen her binder of briefed cases you'd think differently.

What are you that dumb? Would you faint if you were a lawyer & your opponent had a bigger folder than you? (No sexual references here, guys!) No wonder you never made it through.

Good grief, forget the law. Ever play poker?

In any event, her amount of preparedness was judged by results. So it seems that once again you're just another superficial person, here unacomplished & uncertified in the profession you claim to know something about. A little learning....

To repeat, there are those who always wanted to be a scientist, lawyer, etc., but studying was hard & so, like you, they decided to pontificate on blogs. Funny, in many instances, blog peer review is harder & in fact you’re often, & always on a blog like this, being reviewed by thy betters.

Nomilk: You dummy, fls is only “chronicl[ing] our progress as a nation", so he’s more of a Liberal virtuecrat than I gave him credit for & gets a free pass at using racial slurs, which obviously certified racists like you & me can’t get.

From Inwood said...

OOPS

Make that "unaccomplished".

bagoh20 said...

Just watched the interview and my main impression was that Stewart appeared dumber than I thought he was or at least more stubborn.

He repeatedly claims he's trying to understand Yoo's arguments but spends most of the interview interupting his answers and not listening to what Yoo has to say. He is clearly obsessed with trying to make Yoo admit Bush did something wrong. It's kinda silly gotcha stuff that never works. The interview did not teach much because of this insistence on not learning anything by Stewart. Yoo could have explained it to him in about 60 seconds if he just let him. I suspect Stewart knew that and did not want to "learn" it in front of his audience.

bagoh20 said...

Robert Cook said:

"However, our personal feelings do not supersede the law, and the legal system is not an instrument of personal revenge, "

Then:

"...those who ordered the torture and those who committed it should be tried and, if convicted, be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

It's always the other guy who's being emotional and using the law to get his rocks off.

While I expect it to be used to save lives, I do not excuse using it to assuage guilt or score political points.

Freder Frederson said...

The unspoken dynamic between Yoo and Stewart is that you saw not only the host but the audience bewildered that there was a man who had brains, and wasn't an addlepated "wingnut" who just threw together a few slogans to craft their philosophy on dealing with terrorists.

Stewart's problem was that he was unprepared for the interview and when Yoo sat there and told bald-faced lies, Stewart didn't have the simple facts to call Yoo on his lies.

Yoo kept insisting that the methods contemplated had never been considered by the U.S. government, and Yoo was simply determining what methods were acceptable yet didn't rise to the definition of torture. Utter nonsense. The U.S. has statutory definitions of torture under both the U.S.C and treaties that define torture. Any reasonable reading of those definitions includes all the methods the U.S. used. Even his attempt to define torture as a line that can't be crossed was misguided as the Treaty is the International Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Yoo's premise, that simply not torturing is good enough, is simply wrong.

Freder Frederson said...

Yoo didn't allow Stewart to make any equivalency to terrorists having the same legal rights to domestic criminals, and the methods used to elicit information from said terrorists.

Read the Convention Against Torture and tell me where in it it limits protection to criminals or even residents or nationals of the holding party.

I guess if Bush wanted to withdraw from the Torture Convention or the Geneva Conventions he could have announced he was doing so. That would have raised more interesting constitutional questions. But he didn't. Everyone under our control has the right not to be tortured or treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way--it is right there in the title of the treaty.

Yoo, Bush, Ann and most of the posters on this site choose to ignore fact.

And Victoria, I thought you claim to be a devout Catholic. How do you reconcile the use of torture with your religion?

Freder Frederson said...

He repeatedly claims he's trying to understand Yoo's arguments but spends most of the interview interupting his answers and not listening to what Yoo has to say.

Gee, now you know how I feel. For years I have been linking to the applicable treaties and laws that define torture yet you continue to insist that what we did isn't torture, that there is no accepted definition of torture, or even if there is, it doesn't apply to the detainees.

Fen said...

Tobert: My city (NYC) has been hit by terror attacks twice, and is surely at risk of future terror attacks; I do not support waterboarding or any other torture. So much for your asshat assumptions.

You support waterboarding to prevent your city from being destroyed.

It's an entirely normal, human reaction to want to save one's loved ones from harm, and to wreak dire punishment--revenge--on those who might do such harm. However, our personal feelings do not supersede the law, and the legal system is not an instrument of personal revenge

And this is where you go off the rails. Revenge? Strawman. Its about gathering warfighting intelligence, not revenge.

is torture against the law?

How I long for the days when I could afford to be so simplistic.

Freder Frederson said...

How I long for the days when I could afford to be so simplistic.

The underwear bomber's father called the U.S. Embassy and expressed his concerns about his son's radicalism to U.S. authorities. If the U.S. was known as a country that routinely tortures and mistreats prisoners, do you think it would have been more or less likely that the bomber's father would have contacted the authorities?

There is a strategic component to torture that you dismiss out of hand.

AllenS said...

You sound depressed this morning, Freder.

Fen said...

And contadictory:

If the U.S. was known as a country that routinely tortures and mistreats prisoners, do you think it would have been more or less likely that the bomber's father would have contacted the authorities?

The US is already "known" as a country that routinely tortures, and yet the father still called to alert us.

I also find it morally repugnant that you would consign millions of your fellow New Yorkers to incineration instead of waterboarding the perp, simply so you can claim a moral high ground. One would think that such a burden would mark you.

But I don't sense that burden in your defense of righteousness. So I'm left with the belief that your position is more about attacking Yoo, Bush and all those other right-wing "monsters".

Freder Frederson said...

I also find it morally repugnant that you would consign millions of your fellow New Yorkers to incineration instead of waterboarding the perp

So far we have not been presented with a ticking nuclear time bomb scenario. And everyone here appears to be willing to waterboard for reasons a lot less dire than incinerating millions of New Yorkers. So spare me your moral approbation. You are holding me up to a standard much higher than you hold yourself. You are apparently willing to torture low-level people for routine intelligence--not just use it for a nuclear ticking time bomb.

You also seem to ignore that even beyond the moral component, there are numerous and well-documented tactical and strategic disadvantages to the use of torture.

careen said...

@Freder:

I'm guessing the father was thinking that, if successful, his son would be dead, so it would hardly matter if he were tortured. He was calling to save his life.


WV: NYMESS --- yes, it certainly was.

Nichevo said...

The father may have also thought, If my son gets caught doing this, the US will wipe out our whole family, so I'd better write the kid off and at least they'll take that as a good faith gesture.

Of course I don't believe that - AQ seems more likely to do such in revenge for Dad spoiling their attack - but I'm surprised it hasn't been thrown out there yet. Maybe our lefties are low on coffee this Monday morn.

From Inwood said...

Fred Fred

Yawn. Here we go again. Torture. Numerous posts sidebarring the main issue of the thread. You're hard at work exposing your ignorance. And, anyway, your stuff is old wine... Asked & answered.

Some virtuecrat like you, in high dudgeon, takes the descriptive language of an international treaty and applies dictionary definitions about the legal meanings of specific terms to support his position. (“Any ‘reasonable reading’ of those definitions….”) And then, goes in for the killer emotional blow by asking how a “devout Catholic” could disagree.

Funny, you probably disagree with “devout Catholics” who say that abortion is “murder” or “killing” & therefore a crime, but I digress.

Let me wear my hat as a Former Eng Lit Major (my new nom de blogue here):

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Fred Fred’s a poopyhead
He hasn’t a clue.

That bit of doggerel would meet the first definition of “poetry” in any standard dictionary. But unless one were a deconstructionist or an affirmative action hustler, no one would think that this attempt by a poetaster, moi, was poetry.

Perhaps Slick Willie had it right: depends on your definition of torture.

I know, I know, this kind of derision with regard to such a serious issue will not be tolerated while you do your moral preening about it as well as the GWOT, WMDs, & gurgle, gurgle….

Nichevo said...

So far we have not been presented with a ticking nuclear time bomb scenario.

So, Freder, how about $20? (We've just established what you are, now we're haggling.) ;>

So far the awful, horrible, terrible, very bad, no good, tortuous torture of waterboarding has been used on a total of three people, and has been authorized at the highest levels. So, not a routine low-level tactic.

And no, I don't care about a little smacky-face here and there. There are limits - I'm glad waterboarding seems to work so well, it would be regrettable if we had to get into electroshock, bamboo manicures, flaying, etc. - to what I would like to tolerate, but pearl-clutching aside, there just hasn't been a great deal of abuse beyond what I would describe as normal limits.

Abu Ghraib aside (which was just ridiculous - it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder), you just can't point to much more than ticky tacky fouls here and there. And the odd problem here or there is neither here nor there; war has rough edges and perfection is not the standard. We've tried harder and done better than I would have expected or required.


I can explain Yoo's point very briefly...Then again, Yoo probably does not need my help in making himself clear. If you don't get it, you probably don't want to get it.

Freder Frederson said...

Asked & answered.

Sorry no. It has certainly been asked but never answered. Ignored, ridiculed, responded to with petty insults, yes. But never answered.

Funny, you probably disagree with “devout Catholics” who say that abortion is “murder” or “killing” & therefore a crime, but I digress.

Well, yes I do disagree with them. I understand and respect their position, but I do disagree with it. I'm not Catholic.

Freder Frederson said...

Abu Ghraib aside (which was just ridiculous - it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder), you just can't point to much more than ticky tacky fouls here and there. And the odd problem here or there is neither here nor there; war has rough edges and perfection is not the standard. We've tried harder and done better than I would have expected or required.

You need to rent Taxi to the Dark Side. When you are better informed we can discuss this further.

Nichevo said...

I'm sure I don't want the makers of Taxi to the Dark Side to have any of my money. If it is available for free, or if you'll provide it, I'll consider it. But I try not to contribute to the well-being of people who do not have my best interests at heart.

Why don't you summarize Taxi for me, as watching it will most likely be X minutes of my life I'll never get back. Besides, isn't it just going to point out every single ticky tacky foul, and claim a pattern?

I remember this general having a heart attack and that guy dying on them and the other one being a case of mistaken identity. That all comes under the province of friction. Nobody wanted any of these people to die, as dead people can't rat on their friends, which was the whole point of pressuring them.

If there were disclosed a systematic, purposeful torture apparatus, you wouldn't need some indie agitprop to point it out to me.

Freder Frederson said...

I remember this general having a heart attack and that guy dying on them and the other one being a case of mistaken identity. That all comes under the province of friction.

It all comes out of a conscious decision to throw the rules that had served this country well for over sixty years out the window in a moment of panic.

And remember, the uniformed military reinstated those rules, practically unchanged, after all that happened.

Fen said...

I also find it morally repugnant that you would consign millions of your fellow New Yorkers to incineration instead of waterboarding the perp

Freder: So far we have not been presented with a ticking nuclear time bomb scenario.

Ah, you note the need for an exception.

ie. IF we are presented with that scenario, you'll be begging me to use any and all methods to prevent it. With a wink/nod that you'll pardon me afterwards.

former law student said...

The hypocrisy of the Bush Administration bothers me the most. If W. believed waterboarding was necessary to save the country, why not just tell the American people he was waterboarding three people because he could not get information for our safety and security any other way?

Instead, to avoid being known as the "torture President," he gets some lawyer who doesn't know dick about international law to provide a CYA legal memo. Presuming that Yoo didn't know what conclusion his boss wanted is laughable. And a half-century of US respect for international humanitarian law ended.

Nichevo said...

It all comes out of a conscious decision to throw the rules that had served this country well for over sixty years out the window in a moment of panic.

Yes, yes, and gentlemen don't read other people's mail. BTW I suppose with your reference to "sixty years" you consciously exclude WWII? (Or do you mean we were FF-morality-compliant in WWII but not in WWI? That seems incoherent but is the only alternative I see.)

I'm looking for that Keynes quote...ah yes: When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?

This is not a war you can win by taking Berlin or Tokyo.

...Although, if by citing WWII as your standard, you mean that we can use nuclear weapons if we see fit, I might be willing to make that trade. That, and our Marines can cut the gold teeth out of AQ skulls.

Nichevo said...

why not just tell

Do you know what a "secret" is?

TW: lumbo. Yes you are.

Fen said...

FLS: The hypocrisy of the Bush Administration bothers me the most.

Laugh line of the thread. A liberal "concerned" about hypocrisy. Ha.

Freder Frederson said...

Ah, you note the need for an exception.

I didn't not the need for an exception. I noted the hypocrisy of you using the worst case scenario (which of course is a pure hypothetical) as justification for routine use of torture.

Actually, it is a perfect example of the slippery slope torture justification leads you down. If it is okay to torture to find the location of a ticking time bomb, well then we can torture someone to find the location of Osama's favorite deli. After all, if we find out where he gets lunch, we might be able to catch him.

Nichevo said...

Gedankenexperimenten:

1) If we had a viable truth/mind-control drug which would not cause pain or damage, but would make them talk and/or cooperate, could we use that?

2) Would it be OK if we publicized various horrible means of interrogation (or alluded to them nonspecifically), but didn't actually use them?

3) Are degrading but non-painful methods, like the use of pig's fat, Koran abuse or menstrual blood, OK to get results?

4) Since even Geneva and Hague type accords allow, for instance, use of gas against an enemy who has used gas against you, does AQ's nature means the gloves can come off? For instance, could we make videos showing somebody cutting off KSM's head, like they did with Daniel Pearl et al?

Freder Frederson said...

Gedankenexperimenten:

1) Prohibited under international law and treaty (as is withholding medical treatment as a means of coercing someone to talk).

2) That would involve explicitly renouncing our treaty obligations, although I guess if we never actually did what we claimed we were going to, there would be no actual breach.

3) No--read the title of the convention again.

4) Since when? Show me in the Geneva Conventions it permits a signatory to breach and respond in kind if the other party uses prohibited methods.

Besides, the torture convention is binding on the signatory alone. There is no other party to the agreement.

Nichevo said...

So, you have no personal moral or ethical objection to any method of interrogation, only on legal grounds? So, if Geneva allowed us to grind KSM's wives and kids into sausage meat and feed it to him, no problemo?

TW: catil. Indeed, you catil at a hair.

Nichevo said...

Re: 4, I'm pretty sure on that. Factored into Hitler's calculus on the use of gases (that, and German logistics would have been hard hit by use of gases). If someone wants to chime in they're welcome - I'm a little busy.

Also, the war in the Pacific was much more savage in part because Japan was not a signatory to some accords, and violated others they had signed.

Fen said...

Freder: I didn't not the need for an exception

Yes you did.

Instead of simply responding "no waterboarding, even to save NYC from a nuclear time bomb scenario" you instead qualified it with "so far we have not been presented with a ticking nuclear time bomb scenario."

ie. even you are willing to leave that door open. Possibly because you realize that sacrificing millions of Americans because of quaint legalisms is madness.

Fen said...

Of course, we've already seen where Freder's legalisms leave us: under-bomber is all lawyered up and will likely be released on some hyper-technicality of the law.

Steyn: "If this were a war, we would question him about who he hooked up with in Yemen, who did he meet with in London, and maybe get a lead on attacks to come. Instead, the authorities, having issued the Knickerbomber a multi-entry visa, having permitted him to board the plane, and having failed to detect his incendiary unwear, now allow him to lawyer up and ensure that we'll never know who he knew in Yemen or anywhere else.

This would be a big enough gamble in the best of circumstances. Up against the broader background... it makes disaster inevitable."


http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Y2U2MTlmNDQ1ODg0MmQzODI0MGY5ZGJlMGI0NzlkNzA=

Fen said...

Actually, it is a perfect example of the slippery slope torture justification leads you down. If it is okay to torture to find the location of a ticking time bomb, well then we can torture someone to find the location of Osama's favorite deli.

No. You invoke Geneva but then want exceptions made for the worst case scenario. You cant have it both ways.

Freder Frederson said...

No. You invoke Geneva but then want exceptions made for the worst case scenario. You cant have it both ways.

Where did I make an exception?

From Inwood said...

Fred Fred

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Fred Fred’s still braindead
Can’t say anything new.

Opinions are not analysis. Even if they are repeated ad nauseam .

All your opinions have been addressed &, I would say, refuted in many past threads.

As the saying goes, you're entitled to your own opinions but not to your own law. And you certainly are not entitled to such moral preening in the absence of anything more than your opinions, which are no more valid than any other opinions.


fls

Practicing law again & criticizing thy betters. You say:

"[Bush] gets some lawyer who doesn't know dick about international law."

It would seem that you have a small (in your phrase) "binder" of law materials to rely on for your would-be legal opinions as to "international law".

Freder Frederson said...

All your opinions have been addressed &, I would say, refuted in many past threads.

Bullshit, just like John Yoo did in the torture memos and on The Daily Show, instead of arguing the facts or looking to the actual laws and treaties, you are just making stuff up to fit the situation as you think it should be.

You, and Yoo, have simply ignored the plain language of the law because it is inconvenient.

From Inwood said...

Fred Fred

You now say

Bullshit, ... [I am] just making stuff up [about your points being asked & answered] to fit the situation as [I] think it should be.

You new to this blog?

And you repeat your moral preening, yet oh once more, by again alleging that:

[I] have simply ignored the plain language of the law because it is inconvenient.

Good grief I have answered your "plain language" argument (the argument formerly known as the “Any ‘reasonable reading’ of those definitions argument”) with my “Roses are red as poetry” analogy. Or are you analogy impaired?

Your opinions are your opinions & would allow you to preen only when a commenter answers you with an asinine opinion, & further to preen morally only when a commenter answers you with an obviously immoral opinion.

It’s easy for you to sit in your chair in front of a keyboard & preen out of ignorance about the efficacy & morality of waterboarding when your silly ass was being protected by the Military/CIA & to try to impose your interpretation of the law, the law, I hasten to remind you, not being a suicide pact.

And, BTW, now only Dem Kool-Aid Drinkers still believe that the appropriate Dems in Congress were not briefed & didn’t approve.

How’s that for high moral principle?

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Fred Fred & retread
Alas, adieu.

Robert Cook said...

"...BTW, now only Dem Kool-Aid Drinkers still believe that the appropriate Dems in Congress were not briefed & didn’t approve."

It doesn't matter what anyone "believes" about who in Congress was briefed about our criminal torture regime...do you know who was briefed, and to what extent?

Also, all those in Congress who were briefed as to what we were actually doing and who approved of it or did nothing to try to impede or halt it are complicit in war crimes. The Dems are scarcely less guilty than the Republicans, especially now that we have a Dem President continuing Bush's terror wars of mass murder abroad.

Synova said...

"The underwear bomber's father called the U.S. Embassy and expressed his concerns about his son's radicalism to U.S. authorities. If the U.S. was known as a country that routinely tortures and mistreats prisoners, do you think it would have been more or less likely that the bomber's father would have contacted the authorities?"

Captured, alive. Provided medical care. Well fed. Waterboarded, but alive. Not electro-shocked, not beaten, no fingernails pulled out, not raped, but alive. And probably not even waterboarded... just interrogated without the opportunity to lawyer up.

Oh, my freaking dog.

The man is from Nigeria... probably one of the places people get all faint and queezy about "rendition" to.

And yet, as someone else mentioned, we ARE supposedly known as a country that tortures. Fixing that is the whole reason for the need to lie about what we do, to not admit it, to keep our reputation clean even while our hands are dirty.

And the world is willing to go along with us on that self-hatred, willing to make the right noises like we're actually *torturing* people because that's what we've been told it is even when a prisoner is only lied to or threatened.

But when our soldiers are caught they're tortured to *death*. When we want to send someone back to their home country again, suddenly there is an important difference between how we treat them and the treatment they'd receive in their home countries.

A clean cell, acceptable food, a Koran, medical care. And now lawyers.

The world has got to be laughing at us.

From Inwood said...

Synova

The world has got to be laughing at us.

That's bad enough, but it's the serious reaction of the guys who are planning to destroy us that I'm really concerned about.

And, I'm a little worried about the nuts who think that defending ourselves by taking the fight to the Bad Guys amounts to "terror wars of mass murder abroad". They are not as marginalized in the Dem party as one would hope.

Seven Machos said...

Robert Cook -- Under what statute is anyone guilty of any crime? It's not enough to run unpleasantly at the mouth.

You can't put people in jail by fiat based on your own warped ethical sense, though, of course, you would love nothing more.

Robert Cook said...

Seven, if you don't have the wherewithal to look it up yourself, you could at least have seen references in Fredor Frederson's posts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture

http://www.amnestyusa.org/counter-terror-with-justice/reports-statements-and-issue-briefs/torture-and-the-law/page.do?id=1107981

http://www.slate.com/id/2100460/

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/01/18/prosecutions/

Also, our Constitution bans torture in its prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment." Obviously, the 8th Amendment is not a statue, but the Constitution lays out the foundation of what is permitted under the law and is the lodestar of our system of government and law.

Robert Cook said...

The full Greenwald link is:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/
2009/01/18/prosecutions/

Robert Cook said...

We all know the 8th Amendment is not a "statue," but it's also not a "statute."

Seven Machos said...

What does the Constitution have to say about jail time and fines? What are the elements that must be proven to show cruel and unusual punishment?

And you obviously missed the whole point that Yoo was trying to make: the reason he is famous is because he advised the government concerning what was legal under current law.

Okay. Go back to fantasy world now.

Robert Cook said...

Seven, the Constitution was only part of what I pointed to, and the least of it.

As for Yoo, he's essentially insignificant, if grotesquely evil. The "point he was trying to make" is just his standard cover story excusing his complicity in the crimes that have followed from his work. He's just a toadying little functionary who served his purpose, who was chosen because they knew he would serve their purpose: to offer specious cover of false legality to that which is expressly illegal. Jack Goldsmith called Yoo's opinions slapdash and poorly reasoned and he rescinded Yoo's memo. (Also, the laws against torture have not been rescinded or revised; Yoo simply crafted his own ad hoc redefinition of torture to fit the administration's needs.)

It it hadn't been Yoo, it would have been some other previously anonymous administration hack willing to advance himself on the backs of those we have kidnapped, tortured and murdered in our terror war, (a few of whom have even been actual terrorists).

Seven Machos said...

Please cite a law against torture that was broken. What is the relevant text? Who broke it? What is the punishment? What court has jurisdiction?

You ignore these questions because you are an unserious half-ass.