March 4, 2016

This was, for me — by far — the most alarming thing in last night's GOP debate.

From the transcript:
BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders. So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they’re illegal.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They’re chopping off heads. They’re chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They’re drowning people in steel cages. And he — now we’re talking about waterboarding. This really started with Ted, a question was asked of Ted last — two debates ago about waterboarding. And Ted was, you know, having a hard time with that question, to be totally honest with you. They then came to me, what do you think of waterboarding? I said it’s fine. And if we want to go stronger, I’d go stronger, too, because, frankly… (APPLAUSE) … that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?

TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.

BAIER: Even targeting terrorists’ families?

TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going — and I think most of you know where they went — and, by the way, it wasn’t Iraq — but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening. They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?
At which point, I turned and gave Meade a look of woe and he said "Now, do you see?" This morning, as I was putting the text up, he prompted me to quote him, and at first, I didn't want to, because it implies that I hadn't heard these opinions from Trump before, but I had. I have been seeing this all along, but the effect was heightened by the way Bret Baier framed it — in terms of the point of view of military personnel who are trained to resist illegal orders — and Trump's very severe tone when he said "They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me." That is, there may be law and there may be extensive training about law, but there's something special about Trump, or so he thinks. They’re not going to refuse me. In his mind, Trump trumps law.

UPDATE: Trump changed his position. Law trumps Trump.

225 comments:

1 – 200 of 225   Newer›   Newest»
David Begley said...

Obama has legitimized lawlessness so what the heck?

Who will stop Trump?

Who will stop Hillary? She's an unindicted criminal (so far) and can't be impeached.

Bottom line. Character matter. And Trump has a very, very bad character. Today's Burr.

David Begley said...

Character matters.

We don't need a WWE character as POTUS.

Meade said...

Emotional IQ of a 6 yr-old.

Darcy said...

Huh. It's not alarming to me. Waterboarding is so laughably mild (and effective!)compared to sawing off a person's head while they're still alive. And does not kill them or cause any permanent damage while it SAVES LIVES.

Rough men -- and yes, I mean men because women don't have the stomach to do it - have always been willing to do hard things to protect their people. It's mostly women and feminized men that have a problem with it.

*ducks*

Bay Area Guy said...

Reading the debate transcript is much more enjoyable than watching it on tv.

Trump is a bit loud and bombastic and often careless with his words, but.......he is infinitely better than Hillary.

shiloh said...

"Emotional IQ of a 6 yr-old."

And he's trouncing the Republican "deep bench".

AReasonableMan said...

Is Trump worse than the people who actually tortured prisoners? Most people here voted for and supported those politicians and lawyers.

Darcy said...

Btw, not a Trump fan. He says a lot that alarms me - this thing? Nope.

john mosby said...

His only mistake was not going full Rumsfeld:

1. Your question assumes that waterboarding is torture. Waterboarding is not torture. The US has never said that waterboarding is torture.

2. If a military officer refuses an order on the basis that he thinks it's a war crime, we'll counsel her, educate her, maybe relieve her without prejudice. I'm not going to punish a military professional for honestly-held ethical beliefs. But we'll eventually get an officer in there who understands it's not a war crime, and who will execute the order.

3. Once the US demonstrates that we're willing to waterboard, and worse, to accomplish our national goals, what country is going to be stupid enough to arrest Americans for war crimes? What do they think will happen - that we, who in their view just did some atrocity, are going to sit idly by while they put Americans on trial and sentence them to jail? They can barely do that with African dictators who have no power outside their own borders. How can they do that to the most powerful country in the world, which has just shown its will to do whatever it takes to survive and thrive? What do they think we won't do to disrupt that trial, to make that country feel our pain, until our brave woman is released?

4. And if you think that waterboarding is going to inspire jihadis to cut someone's head off: THEY'RE ALREADY CUTTING PEOPLE'S HEADS OFF. Sheesh....

JSM

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Meade said...

Emotional IQ of a 6 yr-old.

True, but she writes interesting blog posts, so we can see why you love her.

Eric said...

I'm reminded of this scenes from Unforgiven.
Will Munny: All right, I'm coming out. Any man I see out there, I'm gonna shoot him. Any sumbitch takes a shot at me, I'm not only gonna kill him, but I'm gonna kill his wife, all his friends, and burn his damn house down.

Watching that I didn't think Will intended to carry out that threat. But I could see the movie characters believing it.

Same with Trump.

Meade said...

"It's mostly women and feminized men that have a problem with it."

But we're not talking about men protecting women, etc. We're talking about someone who proposes to be Commander-in-chief — and the top administrator of law — commanding our military to perform extra-legal actions.

rehajm said...

I'm with Darcy. Trump calling for 35% tariffs is scarier than admitting war is a dirty messy business. We're already doing the things Trump is calling for doing. They are happening now.

Bay Area Guy said...

For me, the best part was the pledge that all 4 candidates will support the nomination. The biggest way to lose an election is a 3rd party run that throws it to the other guy (Wallace '68; Perot '92) or an intra-party schism that never heals (1980 Dem race- Carter and Kennedy).

rhhardin said...

Next they'll have all-male submarines.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

No fan of Trump but it's hard to get worked up about this while the current administration uses drones to kill and maim suspects, their families and innocent bystanders. Btw, how many of these so-called foreign policy experts have refused to support Obama?

David Begley said...

Agree that waterboarding is not torture but I believe that at this point Congress would have to pass a law to that effect.

Agree with Darcy. Trump just does what he wants. Unchecked tyrant. Just like HRC.

rhhardin said...

Law doesn't operate in war.

There's a Geneva convention only if the other side signs it.

Unknown said...

I liked the john mosby, the first one sounded like Trump, using the same word over and over with a slightly different context until it is warped to mean what the Donald says it means. Only maybe the use of the word "assume" is a little high brow.

Unknown said...

john mosby comment, sorry

Original Mike said...

"At which point, I turned and gave Meade a look of woe and he said "Now, do you see?""

I must say, I've been perplexed at your apparent view of Trump as some master manipulator. He's a simple bully.

AprilApple said...

He thinks the military will be his own personal stash of employees.

Most people, I think, are tired of dancing around the - 'oh the poor terrorist was water-boared. boo hoo.' Only a small handful of Sullivan-esqe weenies whose hearts bleed for criminals, think that water-boarding is too much.

If we are afraid to play rough with Islamic creeps who do horrific things to people, we will never win.
Still, Trump should learn to understand and acknowledge the presidency is not CEO, it's Commander In Chief.

rehajm said...

The only distinction between today and a Trump administration is the political affiliation.

Sebastian said...

"Trump trumps law." I hope you are not assuming he knows what the law is.

Leaving aside for now debate about "what the law is."

I have missed the cruelly neutral posts complaining that O trumps law and Hillary! trumps law.

AReasonableMan said...

Meade said...
We're talking about someone who proposes to be Commander-in-chief — and the top administrator of law — commanding our military to perform extra-legal actions.


You have already voted for someone who did this. If Robert Cook were here, he would say that you have already voted twice for someone who did this.

Ann Althouse said...

"He says a lot that alarms me - this thing? Nope."

Then it's alarming that it's not alarming.

AprilApple said...

Now we have a president who lectures us that Islamic terror is our fault, because we make them mad.

I'd prefer a president with a backbone.

and No - Trump is too strange for me, but if I have to vote or him over a criminal, I will do it.

traditionalguy said...

The Fox News guys are on a mission heading up river to take out Col. Kurtz again. He was deemed a murderer for killing our enemies in a war. He was actually using tactics that win the war.

What the CIA shadow government guy actually said was that the CIA and Special Forces operators(like Col. Kurtz's job in Apocalypse Now) are going to refuse to do their jobs now because last time they did them they were prosecuted for murder under Obama's directives designed to reign them and protect Muslims who are the Peace loving group.

Shorter version: Disarm all US Special Forces.

Darcy said...

We're talking about someone who proposes to be Commander-in-chief — and the top administrator of law — commanding our military to perform extra-legal actions.

He will have a pen and a phone, won't he? ;)

M Jordan said...

Last night Trump lost my vote. Where will it go? As Pee Wee Herman once said, "I DON'T KNOW."

But the GOPe should be very interested in me. I am the guy that can save them. I represent millions. And here's the good news: I am observable. I comment at Althouse among other places. All they need to do is read the comments sections of political blogs, even apolitical blogs like at PredictIt.

Sadly, I fear, they won't discover me and my thinking processes. They'll be in meetings with other chin-gabbing pundits who think exactly as they think. Or perhaps they'll watch a recording of a ridiculous Frank Luntz group. At any rate, those who don't read the comments sections are truly missing the wrist of America, where the pulse is so easily taken.

rehajm said...

Then it's alarming that it's not alarming.

Some people need their leaders to lie to them. Some people accept uncomfortable truths.

shiloh said...

Trump, as always, is playing to his "base". And they will love him regardless. Birthers unite!

Amexpat said...

What's scary is that Trump is thin skinned and has to answer any perceived personal insult. Not the best quality for someone in control of the most powerful military in the world.

ddh said...

Trump is advocating as US policy the commission of war crimes and forcing the US military to carry out illegal orders. That is disgraceful and appalling.

Gahrie said...

Birthers unite!

They have...they're voting for Hillary the original birther

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not going to debate where exactly the line is between what is torture and what is getting closer and closer to torture but is still not technically torture. To me, the question is what should we do and what will we do if X/Y/Z becomes President.

And this passage is not mainly about waterboarding. It's about a military mission targeting a terrorist's wife and children.

When the military broke in on bin Laden, they took some care not to just blow all the women and children away. They targeted bin Laden. In Trump's scenario, the women and children are in a completely different place from the husband/father who is a known terrorist, and THEY are targeted, as a way to deter terrorism. If you act, your family will die. Trump has said, the terrorists don't care about their own death, but they do care about the wife/wives and children they leave behind, so he wants the terrorists to be deterred by the promised action against the loved ones.

Meade said...

"He was actually using tactics that win the war."

Col. Kurtz won that war? Do tell.

tim in vermont said...

You have already voted for someone who did this. If Robert Cook were here, he would say that you have already voted twice for someone who did this.

Can't bring yourself to admit that Obama has ordered assassinations? There was not even a pretense of taking bin Laden alive. Not that I agree with Trump. "No worse than Obama" is not a high enough standard.

Ann Althouse said...

"Some people need their leaders to lie to them. Some people accept uncomfortable truths."

And if they ask you, did you know what was happening, did you know you made this man your leader, you can say I knew nothing. And right now, you are saying to yourself, yes, I am voting for this person who will keep me safe and permit me to say, if I am ever called to account, I did not know.

traditionalguy said...

Murder is against the law. So disband the military whose only job is to kill people who have not been convicted of anything except being the enemy.

And while you are at it take down all Memorials to Civil War criminals like W. T. Sherman who killed and destroyed across a wide swath of Georgia without a fair trial...just to obey the orders from some evil President Lincoln guy.

AprilApple said...

This is leadership.

BTW - I thought these democrats promised us due process for the terrorists at Gitmo. How & why are they being released?

Meade said...

"He will have a pen and a phone, won't he? ;)"

"the [voters] are always fighting the last [election]"

Phil 3:14 said...

"he is infinitely better than Hillary."

A BETTER shit sandwich...

with hot sauce!

Hagar said...

Waterboarding is torture; it takes a lawyer to argue otherwise.

And Gen. Hayden is full of it; when faced with disobeying a superior officer for some esoteric claptrap from people they don't think much of to start with, it is no contest; they will follow orders.

And all presidents have given "illegal" orders - or at least orders illegal in some peoples' opinion - just consider Thomas Jefferson's opinions of the President Washington's actions, and that while serving in Washington's cabinet!

rehajm said...

...and the top administrator of law — commanding our military to perform extra-legal actions.

Meh. So the Seals deal with the all legal stuff, then let the Israeli's open the helicopter door and start tossing guys out until they find one that will talk.

Ann Althouse said...

If you do embrace full knowledge — "accept uncomfortable truths" — and to you, right now, that knowledge means my military will torture prisoners and conduct missions targeted at killing the families of enemy combatants, you are evil. Your self-praise at your willingness to accept the discomfort of embracing evil is ludicrous and disgusting.

tim in vermont said...

Col. Kurtz was right about how to win. Where he was wrong was whether the war was worth becoming that.

SayAahh said...

Even given the powerful emotions engendered by a presidential election year, it is obvious that Donald Trump is completely unfit to be POTUS.

Original Mike said...

It is interesting that Trump avoided directly answering Baier's question about targeting families.

pm317 said...

But what is Trump supposed to say to that hypothetical? He is using an eye for eye argument for going after the barbarians who don't play by the rules (there are no laws like we know them in their world) which is resonating with the people who support him. So something has to change in the way we are operating with these barbarians. He does not know what shape that change will take nor the others. So he puts it to rest with a simple, statement like that.

Ann Althouse said...

"Murder is against the law. So disband the military whose only job is to kill people who have not been convicted of anything except being the enemy."

Now, that is just silly. There's a name for the logical fallacy you just committed. "Murder" is limited to killing that is against the law. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder.

Fabi said...

I wish I could reel in ten-pound bass the way Trump reels in literalists. He's shown to be smashing Overton windows left and right and the pearl-clutchers can't keep up.

jr565 said...

There is the argument that the president, being the commander in chief has more power in time of war. And even Eric Holder, of Obamas White House made the point that hypothetically a president could use drone strikes to kill American citizens despite not giving them due process rights.
But he was talking about a hypothetical and extraordinary circumstances.

Trump seems to think he can do whatever he wants just because.thats pretty dangerous. Trump needs to learn that he isn't running for Emperor. Though he probably agrees with Obamas numerous executive actions that bypassed congress. That's the way Trump rolls.

David Begley said...

AA makes an excellent point about the bin Laden raid. We didn't kill the wives and kids.

Did we get any credit for that from the Muslim community? Did we use the media to make that point. We are the good guys.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

Trump is a wanna bee warlord. Is his family going to travel in heavily armed motorcades for the rest of their lives? He doesn't think very deeply. As Althouse has said, he has a disordered mind.

traditionalguy said...

No Meade. The whole idea was the rules against killing too many people stopped Col. Kurtz from using his winning tactics.

It took the evil Nixon and evil Kissenger's tactics to stop the US part of the war by Criminally bombing Cambodia and threatening the same to Hanoi and other targets. Two years after that, Congress decided to gave it back to Jane Fonda's heroic Red Army..

Freeman Hunt said...

So what happens when it's time to vote in November and two people who don't care about the law are on the ballot?

rhhardin said...

Women want what works in a neighborhood-sized problem. Men want what works in a country-sized problem.

You need both but crossover isn't great.

Ken B said...

Now THIS is the way to attack Trump. No sneering about his supporters, no inflated Hitler comparisons, no hysterical shouting about the end of democracy. Drawing out a clear inference that isn't quite obvious and calmly explaining why it's a problem.
Well done.

pm317 said...

People are supporting Trump because things the way they are are not working. The Cubans with their canned rhetoric and preachy condescension do not give confidence to people who want a strong leader to change things the way they are now. They give the impression they don't even understand the extent of the problems we have.

tim in vermont said...

Now, that is just silly. There's a name for the logical fallacy you just committed. "Murder" is limited to killing that is against the law. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder.

I think it's called "begging the question." Wiki gives the example:

God exists.
How do you know?
It's in the Bible and God wrote the Bible.

I think though that Trump is opening the Overton Window to the point that Cruz could step through it to the presidency standing up.

Unknown said...

1. If wives knew about the attacks in advance and did nothing but return to Saudi Arabia, they are guilty too. That is the point.

2. Terrorists are human and care about their
Families. This is also a deterrant.

I don't see the problem.

Scott McGlasson said...

Il Duce?

Mary Beth said...

Illegal military actions like killing Americans with drone strikes?

MarkW said...

"Your self-praise at your willingness to accept the discomfort of embracing evil is ludicrous and disgusting."

I couldn't agree more strongly.

Original Mike said...

"So what happens when it's time to vote in November and two people who don't care about the law are on the ballot?"

Personally, I'll have to vote for the one who'll (hopefully) put someone on the Supreme Court who respects the Constitution.

Nyamujal said...

"TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me."

They won't. He'll drop his pants and the massive girth of his member will cause them to pay immediate obeisance.

Gusty Winds said...

Ann Althouse said...I'm not going to debate where exactly the line is between what is torture and what is getting closer and closer to torture but is still not technically torture.

But isn't that the whole point? Dems knew what was going on to extract information, and then Diane Feinstein came out for had wringing political gain after useful information was extracted Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Trump is just blurring the line again. It's always blurry.

And before America got its own hands dirty, didn't we just outsource 'enhanced interrogation techniques' no other countries for plausible deniability?

rehajm said...

Your self-praise at your willingness to accept the discomfort of embracing evil is ludicrous and disgusting.

Your opinion is not a compelling argument but since you're sharing you're denial of the realities of war and your willingness to make a distinction between the past actions of the current president and a possible future one stating he'll engage in those same actions is flaky and childish.

Original Mike said...

"1. If wives knew about the attacks in advance and did nothing but return to Saudi Arabia, they are guilty too"

Just for the record, I don't think that happened.

tim in vermont said...

"He get's a little carried away. He's the first to admit it!" - Apolalypse Now


Bonus footage of Romney running into the GOP base.

Hagar said...

That particular answer - Flying 767's into skyscrapers is also illegal; and act of war, and I do not see Trump any more than acknowledging that and saying that he considers it as such and would have responded in kind to the people responsible.
I think a lot of New Yorkers are on board with this.

jr565 said...

If you are drone striking a terrorist and he happens to be living with his family and they are with him when the bomb hits you might technically have targeted his family. That is different than locating his family members who may not be involved in terrorism and shooting them in the face or carrying them off to be tortured.
Bush hired John Yoo to find out the legal limit of torture. They weren't memos on how to torture. They were memos where the line was. Because he didn't want to cross it. They came to the conclusion that water boarding didn't shock the conscience, since we used it so routinely with SERE cadets. But the memos said other things WERE torture and Bush didn't want those to be done. And even here, these extraordinary measures were only to be used in extremely rare cases for high level targets.

Trump though seems to think torture itself is ok. And not just torture of high level targets but torture of family members of high level targets.
Now, when Obama sends people off to be interrogated at black op sites by non Americans they are getting treatment far worse than water boarding. But it's not us doing it.

Trump seems to think we should be the ones doing it.

Gusty Winds said...

When talking about torture, we should consider what is done to a third trimester fetus during a late term abortion procedure.

And the fetus doesn't even have access to any good actionable intelligence.

We really have our moral head up our asses.

Ken B said...

To those who didn't notice. Althouse's alarm isn't about Trump's policy of targeting families.(She disaproves but that's not what alrms her.) It's about his apparent unconcern for the law and limits of his office. It's about his determination to follow the policy and laws be damned. You might like this particular policy so nod in approval, but what about some policy you don't like? You want a president determined to ignore the laws and constraints on his office? Obama on steroids imposes single payer perhaps, or bans Bibles?

rich hahn said...

That's one interpretation. Another is that as President, he will check with his attorneys and other experts before he issues such an order, making sure it is legal before he gives it.

I took his comment about family members to mean we won't allow terrorists to hide behind women and children with no consequences. The same with using hospitals and mosques as safe havens. Terrorists violate international law and we have called off strikes because we might hurt women and children or because we might damage a mosque. Should we allow terrorists safe haven when they do so in violation of international law?

traditionalguy said...

War is not a Judicial Act supervised by Courts and Lawyers. Trying to make it one is like starting a colony on Mars, which only a good story to make imaginary heroes.

We have 30,000 troops permanently staring down a stop temporarily Truce line across Korea 20 miles north of Soul in an ongoing Korean War. That U N Police Action cost millions of innocent lives, but no Court or Lawyer was seen anywhere near combat until the murdering job was finished...temporarily.

Unknown said...

Original Mike- I guess someone should fact check this. Wouldn't you at least want to talk to the wives before they go back to Saudi Arabia? Trump isn't saying he is just going to kill them.

jacksonjay said...

I'll know what I think when we hear from Dilbert and Gotta Pee Lil Lena.

Matt said...

Professor, someone who considers abortion to be murder but still believes it should be legal should not be so quick to label others as evil.

Original Mike said...

@Ken B: yep. Trump is like Obama

ddh said...

Trump is advocating war crimes premised in part on stories that the wives and families of the 9/11 terrorists all left the country shortly before the hijackings. The 9/11 Commission found that none of the immediate family members had ever been in the US and that none had any inkling of the attacks before they occurred.

I guess Trump got the idea because he remembers seeing them on television among the thousands of Arabs in Jersey City who cheered the collapse of the World Trade Center. But then, dedication to the truth has never been one of his traits.

Unknown said...

What rich said.

He's saying generals won't refuse to obey the commander in chief. It's their fucking job to obey.

Michael said...

People are so easily gulled,
Trump is not going to build a huge wall at the border but his promise to do so makes clear the fact that the border will not be invisible It will be honored.
Trump is not going to deport 12 million people but his promise to do so puts those here illegally on notice that a change is coming that is going to require some pain and some patience to get through.
Trump is not going to order the military to kill the wives and children of terrorists but is putting terrorists on notice that he is crazy enough to do it.
Trump is not going to order the illegal torture of captured terrorists but he is putting terrorists on notice that he is crazy enough to do it.

Unlike the lies that college will be free and Wall Street will pay for smooth new roads to the kindergartens these "lies" have the benefit of possibly changing behaviors. For free.

Chuck said...

Welcome, Professor Althouse, to the good fight.

I wish you had taken on Trump earlier, on that business with First Amendment press protections in libel litigation. I've risked rudeness, trying to draw you into that discussion. (Rudeness, that is, which cites your expertise.) That dispute was basically one of Donald Trump versus free speech. And not in service of a larger cause for much of anything, save for Trump's own vanity and tough-guy image.

Original Mike said...

"Wouldn't you at least want to talk to the wives before they go back to Saudi Arabia? "

He'll, in the hypothetical, it'd be a long, long time before I let them return, sure.

"Trump isn't saying he is just going to kill them."

As I noted up thread, I think Last night Trump avoiding directly answering the question. Previously he had said he would "target" the families. I agree with jr565 on this: "If you are drone striking a terrorist and he happens to be living with his family and they are with him when the bomb hits you might technically have targeted his family. That is different than locating his family members who may not be involved in terrorism and shooting them in the face or carrying them off to be tortured."

AReasonableMan said...

If someone who had been a principled consistent critic of US war policy, like Robert Cook, wrote this post I would take it seriously. But, when someone who voted for Bush and his odious team, including John Yoo, makes this argument they need a stronger argument than 'it makes me uncomfortable'. There is no principle here, just a matter of degree.

pm317 said...

Trump is definitely not saying all torture to all people is OK. He is using the context of the barbarians who are chopping innocent people's heads off. How do you deal with those barbarians? I don't think he is suggesting doing bad stuff to the wife and the family. He is suggesting that they should certainly not be given safe passage at the very least. Why not hold them and interrogate them about what they know is his suggestion. He is not being intellectual about any of this and only suggesting common sense stuff which is why it is resonating with so many. You guys including Althouse are making this a big intellectual exercise which it is not.

Freeman Hunt said...

Trump is out there saying all these wild things and showing no respect for the law or common decency. But on the other side, there's Hillary, who may not be saying wild things, but shows no respect for the law or common decency.

My Facebook feed is full of people denouncing Trump, which makes sense. But some of them are planning to vote for Hillary. How is that an improvement?

There's the no vote option, but what good is that when you're going to get one or the other?

This is a difficult election.

john mosby said...

Regarding the families: Yes, Trump missed an opportunity here to refine his point.

1. It's not a crime to investigate the families of terrorists, to see if they are supporting the terrorists, or just to get information that could lead to locating and arresting the terrorists. And if you find that the families have supported them, you use all the tools in the legal toolbox: asset forfeiture, deportation, or prosecution for substantive crimes. Anyone who supports treating the GWOT as just another criminal prosecution should have no problem with this. Trump was inarticulately referring to these types of investigative tactics in his reference to the Saudis fleeing the US on 9/12. He meant that they should at least have been detained long enough to figure out what they were doing and why.

2. His original statement several months ago about taking out terrorist families was in response to a question about human shields. His response boiled down to shooting right through the human shields. Again, this is totally legal under the classical law of land warfare. If the enemy uses an illegal advantage by fighting from behind protected people or assets, you take the advantage away by revoking the protection. Absolutely no military officer or lawyer would have a problem with this. If you make this illegal, every surviving member of the Eighth Air Force, Tokyo Raiders, Enola Gay crew, etc, would have to be rounded up and sent to Leavenworth.

3. He also showed a sophistication of thought on the family issue that unfortunately he is unable to match with sophistication of speech. Rumsfeld would have just said "they claim to be a State? Alright, we'll treat them as a State. That means the territory they use to plan and support their operations is a target. If that territory also happens to house their wives and children, that's the risk they take."

4. Or if he can't do the Rumsfeld, he should go full Trump: "American lives are worth more than anyone else's lives, anywhere else in the world, period. Men, women, babies, soldiers, civilians, anything. If you're not willing to say this, then you shouldn't be the president of the US. Go be the secretary-general of the UN, or the OIC, or the EU, or something. But don't try to be the president of the US with an attitude like that."

JSM

Bobby said...

Unknown,

"He's saying generals won't refuse to obey the commander in chief. It's their fucking job to obey."

Not illegal orders. We are specifically trained NOT to follow illegal orders.

For the record, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, of the 19 9/11 hijackers, only 2 of them were married and there is no evidence that either of the wives had ever traveled to the US, much less left two days before the attacks. (One of them had a German girlfriend who did visit him in the States, but her last visit was several months before the attacks).

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
Now, that is just silly. There's a name for the logical fallacy you just committed. "Murder" is limited to killing that is against the law." Well, unless it's abortion. Then it can be murder and not against the law. Right Althouse? RIGHT?

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm inclined to think that Trump has the edge in that he seems like a big talker, but perhaps a smaller doer. Hillary is a known quantity, a doer for sure.

And there's the Supreme Court, as Original Mike pointed out.

traditionalguy said...

When Seal team 6 was finally allowed to go into Pakistan and raid BinLaden's home, the Special Forces went for an instantaneous kill shot of three rounds to the face.

Does that shock you? It is not how they do it on Law and Order with great lawyers and Baliffs and Black Robed Judges. Why not order them to risk their lives bring the dude back in handcuffs and give him a fair trial...we are not uncivilized killers.

So Fox News is for disarming such killers. Not the Baliffs on Law and Order though, because the Lawyers need reality protection. Maybe add a few more Baliffs with guns while we are judicially deciding it. But the Seal Team Special forces must never be killing on their own in an instant decision.

Michael K said...

"But we're not talking about men protecting women, etc. We're talking about someone who proposes to be Commander-in-chief — and the top administrator of law — commanding our military to perform extra-legal actions."

This is nonsense. Democrats, for their own purposes, have declared waterboarding torture and beyond the law. Tell that to US pilots who go through SERE training and it includes waterboarding.

This goes back to the Vietnam war and Kerry's allegations of torture by US troops. It was nonsense then. In World War II especially at Guadalcanal, Marines learned that men were killed by Japanese wounded they were trying to help. The solution was almost no Japanese prisoners for the rest of the war. They all were KIA, no matter how little action was going on at the time.

Roosevelt decided to shoot down Yamamoto. The pilots argued for years about who got the credit.

Trump is certainly a blowhard and I don't like him but he is running against unlikeable people. I supported Walker and then Fiorina until she went PC about Muslims.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, why not read the a career foreign service officer.

Our country and the West would be in much better shape today if Romney had won in 2012. I had a very minor role on Romney's foreign policy team and did my best from my lowly position to get the campaign to sharpen its message on foreign affairs, especially on Benghazi--to no avail. His campaign was dominated by "the oh-so-clever-ones" who think things to death, and analyze until they paralyze. The papers we sent up to Romney were wordy "on the one hand, but on the other hand" expositions of little to no use in a campaign. They read like something written for a transition team, not a campaign team. It was impossible to get Romney's main handlers to recommend that he go after Obama and Clinton hard on Benghazi and the rest of the misadministration's foreign policy disasters. They thought that was "too politicizing" and "unbecoming." Well, what happened, happened.

His conclusion ?

I had been sitting uncomfortably on the fence re the GOP candidates. After listening to the Romney speech and the other "establishment" types, and hearing the anchor pundits, the pundit anchors, and all the other assorted wise ones, I have jumped off the fence. I have landed in Trump's farm. He is not perfect, far from it. I might even change my mind, but for now I support Trump.

I kind of agree.

shiloh said...

btw, if fanatical terrorists will fly a plane into a building, and female suicide terrorists will blow themselves up, hard to see how waterboarding will have a positive military effect/outcome. It's a catch-22. The more "we" intervene, torture whatever, the more they will hate us.

If you have no hope for a better life you don't care if you die.

So much for "our" advanced civilization. The more things change, the more they stay the same. And advance technology has both made life better and worse.

ok, what was my original point? Was in the USN during the Iran hostage crisis and many of "us" said just make Iran a parking lot and call it a day. Unless one is willing to make the ME a parking lot just go home and batten down the hatches!

>

Like Reagan did when he cut and ran from Beirut, Lebanon after the Marine barracks bombing. I digress.

>

Tommy Lee Jones quote in Under Siege:

William Strannix: I got tired of coming up with last-minute desperate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.

< tangent off >

Steve Uhr said...

Maybe the torture chamber should be set up in the White House basement. We all learned from Nixon that if the president does it then it must be legal.

tim in vermont said...

There is no principle here, just a matter of degree. - ARM

Said the man who voted for Obama, who orders hits like he's the Godfather.

Original Mike said...

"2. His original statement several months ago about taking out terrorist families was in response to a question about human shields. His response boiled down to shooting right through the human shields."

You have a link for that, john? It would influence my opinion on this.

Unknown said...

I wonder if terrorists ever take a break from planning the next attack to consider these
important ethical issues.

dreams said...

I'm becoming resigned to four years of Hillary. Looks like things are going to have to get a lot worse before they get better and getting better might not ever happen again.

Unknown said...

Bobby are Generals trained lawyers? Who decides what is "illegal"?

tim in vermont said...

Oh yeah, and we are capturing ISIS combatants in Syria. We have three choices, basically. We won't bring them to Gitmo. The other alternatives? The old "double tap" that was used on bin Laden, or we can leave them to the tender mercies of allies who don't have the same rules we do about civilized treatment of prisoners. Obama chooses... Two out of three, guess which two!

Original Mike said...

"If you have no hope for a better life you don't care if you die."

Because the 9/11 hijackers were all destitute. Right.

Gusty Winds said...

Ken B said...It's about his apparent unconcern for the law and limits of his office. It's about his determination to follow the policy and laws be damned.

Over and under stepping are the same thing. Obama does the same thing with laws he chooses not to enforce. Sanctuary cities...

The Supreme Court just overstepped their authority with gay marriage.

It just matters what side your on and how well you can pretend to be intellectually neutral.

tim in vermont said...

By the way. What the FUCKING HELL are we doing in Syria? Trying to overthrow a brutal dictator?!? Why are our soldiers on the ground there in a proxy war with Putin?

Paul Snively said...

"They won't refuse me."

Not "I'll force them." He's saying they'll follow his directives of their own free will. Why? Because it will be legal. Why? Because legal justification can be found. And if there's one thing I trust Donald Trump to understand, it's how to find legal justification.

john mosby said...

Original Mike, ref a link for the human shield remark:

It was on Fox & Friends, December 2, 2015. I can't find a transcript. Best quote I can find is on The Hill:

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/261757-trump-on-terrorists-you-have-to-take-out-their-families

Asked about the possibility of civilian casualties, Trump initially pointed to civilians being used as human shields before suggesting the families of terrorists should be targeted.

"I would do my best, absolute best — I mean, one of the problems we have or one of the reasons we're so ineffective, you know, they're trying to, they're using them as shields. It's a horrible thing," the real estate tycoon said.

"But we're fighting a very politically correct war. And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families," Trump added.

"When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. But they say they don't care about their lives. You have to take out their families."

JSM

Freeman Hunt said...

Too bad there isn't a stellar third party candidate waiting for a break. This would be it!

Mike said...

So what happens when it's time to vote in November and two people who don't care about the law are on the ballot?

Easy! You vote for the one with an R after their name because the Democrat-Media-Entertainment complex is the ONLY check on lawlessness and you ONLY get that check when the President is the opposite party to the "Press" as it is colloquially known.

Sal said...

"If someone who had been a principled consistent critic of US war policy, like Robert Cook..."

"I only vote for politicians who will end racism, poverty, and war!" There, now I'm principled too. I think I'll go smile at myself in the mirror.

tim in vermont said...

John Huntsman, Jim Webb. Either could waltz to the presidency if they got any oxygen.

Bobby said...

Unknown,

Assuming that you really care to learn, this is a pretty good short write up on the military's obedience and unlawful orders problem set.

mccullough said...

I wonder why anyone joins the military anymore. I guess it makes sense to get a paycheck and learn some useful skills as long as you are not going anywhere near a combat zone. Probably fun to be stationed in Germany.

But our foreign interventions are hopelessly naive at best. And the last time we had a President who saw action in war is almost 25 years ago. And the most prominent recent military person was Petraues, who gave his girlfriend classified information while he was the head of the CIA. There are some excellent people in the military but our leaders are not worthy to lead them and we are morons for voting these people into power.

jr565 said...

Other shocking moments. Did you notice how Trump changed his positions on H1-B visas? Suddenly he wants more of them. That's a thing someone like Marco Rubio, someone who's soft on immigration Wants. Is that what he was saying in his off the record comments with the NYT? That he's flexible on stuff like visas for guest workers? Did you also notice how he praised Rubio for negotiating with democrats on the Gang of eight bill. That's the kind of negotiations and deals he'd be pushing. By the way, shouldn't someone tell him that the president doesn't actually make the deals? He signs the bills. Congress makes the deals. Sure, he can say I want x, and z, but all the sausage making is done by the house and senate. Then he either signs off or vetoes. Why does he assume that he personally is going to make all of these great deals?

Also, dugthis up:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/trump-u-to-illegal-immigrants-heres-how-to-buy-a-home/article/2001383

In addition to Trump U being a scam, he also had advice for illegals on buying houses. Does that strike you as someone who is against illegal immigration? He would actually facilitate home ownership for people here illegally? If they own a house, aren't they less likely to leave? So, trump when left to his own devices hires illegals outsources jobs, helps illegals buy houses, says he's flexible when he's president on immigration and that his tough stance is only an opening bid. And says that when he kicks out all the illegals will then set up an expedited process to allow the good ones back in. Who will then be legal.


For those tough on immigration who think trump is your guy. Why do you actually think that? Because he SAYS something that sounds tough? He said something tough on H1-b visas and now he changed his position. Beciase he suddenly sees the economic need for them. He also sees the economic need for his own hotels to not hire Americans. And to outsource. Why wouldn't other companies have that same economic need then? for Trump, his own sins on immigration are perfectly justifiable. Because that's the way business works. But for those other companies, they are sinners denying American people jobs.

Is he really the right messenger for the brand of populism he's pushing?

dbp said...

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

--I think most Americans will gladly accept a president who strikes fear into the heart of our enemies.

--The rate at which we have to resort to violence may be less if it becomes a near certainty that violence will be visited upon anyone who harms an American anywhere in the world.

--The current occupant murders whole families and razes whole villages to kill one high level terrorist. Not because we couldn't raid and capture, but because he has made it politically impossible to house the prisoner in Guantanamo, properly interrogate him or accept that we may take casualties in such a raid. Does anyone think Hillary would act differently? Will any debate question come up to ask her or Bernie about this choice?

tim in vermont said...

Yes, you read that right: Trump is the most popular GOP candidate — despite the fact that he's the only candidate who's gone as far as calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the US.

This is the kind of honest information broker reporting one gets from Vox. It's like framing a guilty man, they he gets off because of the dishonesty used to prosecute him. I get so inoculated to anti-Trump crapola because so much of it is dishonest, but to reference Reagan, there probably is a pony in all of the bullshit about Trump. It just takes some digging to find.

Henry said...

I don't even know how to respond to people justifying torture or collateral damage as desirable tools of war.

However, it is worth considering that Trump always pushes his bright hard line tactics as a consequence-free fantasy. He will cry havoc and let slip his dogs of war and pretend that there will be no consequences. This is perhaps the fundamental points made by the (mostly very hawkish) foreign policy experts.

shiloh said...

"Because the 9/11 hijackers were all destitute. Right."

No, they just hated our continual, non-sensical ME intervention. IOW, Americans mind your own fucking business!

And why were we there to begin with ~ oil. So we made it "our" business. Propping up one dictator after another until it bit America's ass!

It's so hard for American presidents to control their propped-up, fussy dictators.

tim in vermont said...

And why were we there to begin with ~ oil. So we made it "our" business. Propping up one dictator after another until it bit America's ass!


Except now with Hillary and Obama, it's toppling dictators. Not to mention doing our best to prevent us from having reliable sources of North American oil! But on some vector on a 3-D chessboard that only Obama and Hillary can see, it's all really smart!

mccullough said...

Henry,

There are no foreign policy experts.

Steve Uhr said...

It is crazy that so many commentators always point to Obama to justify anything. Try the mind exercise of pretending Obama never existed the next time you judge someone else. It's not that hard.

Kirk Parker said...

"When the military broke in on bin Laden, they took some care not to just blow all the women and children away"

Yeah, but we don't do that any more.  

Jack Wayne said...

So poor "moderate" Althouse is afraid and worried about Trump's possible impending lawlessness. Dear Ann, try to remember the day when you were an adult that you opted for big government. I'm sure it was for a "good cause". Now you have bigger government and you don't want it. The true irony is that the one candidate that proposes small government - Cruz- frightens and disgusts you. It is to laugh.

Kirk Parker said...

"Then it's alarming that it's not alarming."

Nope.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

This - by itself - disqualifies Trump. We don't need anything more.

If he's President and orders this, he should be impeached and removed from office.

And "Obama, Obama, Obama" is not a defense. "What about Jimmy?" is a child's retort.

sunsong said...

Trump is saying he will commit war crimes! He must have sold his soul long ago...

Kirk Parker said...

The most alarming thing to me is that we have this event, and the host who have this kind of huge involvement in the actual arguments still get to call themselves "moderators"???

mccullough said...

We are in the Middle East to protect the global oil market because our European allies who actually buy most of the ME oil don't have adequate militaries. Europeans are ungrateful so let them deal with the ME and its refugees. They can cut a deal with Putin and they can then bitch about him and Russia and long for the days when the stupid cowboy Americans took care of them.

Let's just frack here.

mccullough said...

Sunsong

War crimes is a term that's so overused it is useless. There is no such thing as international law. Moses didn't come down with tablets on the laws of war that apply everywhere or are self enforcing. No one is going to haul Putin before some Europe "international" court. Laws are useless unless they are enforced and they aren't. The US has elaborate policies, etc and we wring our hands and we still kill a lot of people every year as does Russia.

Nonapod said...

It's a little silly to say that just because Obama (and Clinton) has ignored or subverted the law at various points that it makes it OK for our next president to ignore the law too. I'm also a little tired of this whole "deal making" defense of the big outrageous ask. I mean, I get it, I just don't particularly like it in a president. But we live in extreme times, so people want an extreme leader I guess. Pretty sad.

Barry Dauphin said...

Are Trump's comments an example of the brilliant 4-D chess game he has going on? Sometimes reckless comments are reckless. Perhaps he doesn't really want the nomination but is looking for a way to parlay this attention into something else business-wise.

ellamentary said...

I'm with you, Ann. The comments grabbed my attention last night and I was doubly disturbed when he returned to the subject late in the debate, repeating his insistence that "they will do what I tell them, believe me." His strong-man talk is scary but the commenters on here who shrug it off with "other people have done it" is probably even more scary.

And this is a man who in the same exchange could display his total ignorance on terrorism and foreign affairs generally, yet I am not suppose to be concerned when he insists that it's okay to target the FAMILIES of terrorists? Notice in the transcript he mentions that old debunked nonsense about the 9-11 terrorists getting their families out of America in the run-up to the World Trade Center attack. He says wives got safely to the middle east and watched on television as their husbands crashed the planes. Kinda of like those NJ celebrating middle easterners he saw that day as well. The problem is that only two hijackers had a wife at all, and those women were never in the united states.

Robert Cook said...

"Obama has legitimized lawlessness so what the heck?"

If you think Obama is the first president to have legitimized lawlessness, I have to assume you haven't been paying attention for...probably the whole of your life.

khesanh0802 said...

My first reaction to the "we won't obey an unlawful order" BS was: what a stupid thing for a retired general to say. This was a purely political statement by a guy who is no longer covered by the UCMJ.

What the hell is an unlawful order? Take that hill; drop that bomb there; use nukes; destroy that supply train; take that island or just one I don't happen to like at the time? Certainly the Joint Chiefs are going to advise any President on the appropriateness of any military activity, but once it becomes an order they say "aye, aye sir" and execute. If they don't like the order they can resign. Today we are free to argue whether Truman's decision to drop the atom bomb was right or wrong - therefore unlawful. Truman had every right and duty to make that decision and issue that order. The armed forces had the duty to carry it out -not debate it.

jaydub said...

"He's saying generals won't refuse to obey the commander in chief. It's their fucking job to obey."

There was this little thing that happened after Germany was defeated called "The Nuremburg Trials" where a whole lot of senior German military officers got the opportunity to experience first hand how a firing squad works. A few Japanese generals got the same opportunity in the other theater. As a former senior military officer I can state without hesitation that the Joint Chiefs will never carry out an order that leads to a war crime, but they just might stage a coup if the civilian leadership becomes criminal. And, the troops will follow them for the same reasons. You have to remember that the military swears "to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; to obey the orders of the President...according to regulations..." No one swears allegiance to the President. He gets his authority over the military through the constitution. Regardless what people may think, those vows are taken seriously. There's not a chance in hell!

And, could ARM just put a plug in it. Waterboarding was never judged to be a criminal act by any US court, and if invading Iraq was a criminal act you really need to take it up with the Democrat leadership, including Hillary because they were all for it until they weren't.

shiloh said...

Forgot the other reason "we" intervene in the ME ~ Israel.

carry on

poker1one said...

What's the Corrupt Bargain Fox and all the media have and with whom, to destroy Trump? If the corrupt bargain phrase doesn't ring a bell, that is what stole the election of 1824 from Andrew Jackson, who received the plurality of the popular vote, but not a majority of electoral votes and gave it to John Quincy Adams. The corrupt bargain was Adams then appointed Speaker of the House (where the election was decided) Henry Clay to Secretary of State, where it was assumed by Clay to clear a path to the presidency for him in four years. Jackson who took the election results in a remarkably mild manner was furious when the details were revealed to him. He spent the next four years running for the presidency and despite a vicious campaign of smears by Adams and Clay won the popular vote in a landslide. The elite at the time were having a case of the vapors over Jackson, a westerner, a Tennesseean, a rough, vulgar, uncouth man taking control of the country. Jackson was a man of the people who would serve their intersts and won in a landslide and I can only hope Trump wins in a landslide and the lot of you, kept men and communists, can clutch at your pearls for four years or maybe eight.

Robert Cook said...

"Your question assumes that waterboarding is torture. Waterboarding is not torture. The US has never said that waterboarding is torture."

But, of course, waterboarding IS torture, and has long been considered torture and is illegal around the world. That the United States refuses to own up to its own practice of torture does not make the crimes go away...our refusal to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture is simply the typical denial of any criminal who lies to mitigate his actions.

(This is not even to point out that our practice of torture hardly ends with the "three terrorists we waterboarded," and doesn't even end--or begin--with waterboarding.)

kennymac said...

"Your self-praise at your willingness to accept the discomfort of embracing evil is ludicrous and disgusting"

The is why women have no business talking, writing, running or making any decision shot war. Talk about a hothouse flower. My God woman, you're in your 60s and you still sound like some stupid teenager when it comes to the topic of war. Do yourself a favor and leave it to men.

khesanh0802 said...

A little more. FDR decided to concentrate the war effort in Europe, as a result thousand of civilians died in the Philippines. Was that unlawful use of his powers as C in C? Should the Joint Chiefs( or whatever they were called then) have gone into open revolt because they might not have like the order and questioned its "legality"? I did not watch the debate and Trump may not have handled the matter as well as it could have been, but he is correct in saying that the generals will do as the C-in C orders. That's the way our system works. Do a little reading on McClellan and Lincoln's relationship. It illustrates how dangerous a General who decides he "knows better" can be.

n.n said...

Look at America. They're disarming, decapitating, and trafficking in human bodies. The terrorists yearn for abortion rites and cannibalistic trials. The pro-choice cult preceded Islam's rampage and competes with it to destroy and subjugate human life.

Obama opened the door to assassination of leaders and citizens alike, civil rights violations, human rights violations, undeclared coups, mass exodus, and progressive wars. He didn't even seek a consensus. Hopefully, the next president will not follow the precedents set by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Robert Cook said...

"You have already voted for someone who did this. If Robert Cook were here, he would say that you have already voted twice for someone who did this."

I'm here. I don't know who Meade voted for, but if he voted for Obama, then, yes, he has voted for someone who ordered extra-legal--i.e., illegal--actions.

Original Mike said...

@john mosby (9:21) - thanks for the effort. Not sure that put my mind to ease, though.

AprilApple said...

To me Trump and Hillary are almost the same person.

I’ll give Hillary credit that while her voice is nauseating, and she pedals BS like any other pol, she at least holds it together. Trump is unable to hold it together.

The kicker: We already know Hillary used the government as a vehicle for her criminal activity.


I don't have a lot of confidence in Trump, I find him embarrassing most of the time, but I do not think he will ever use the government, like Hillary did, to stuff his coffers. I doubt Trump will ever set up a private server.

The Clintons require lots of money to maintain their extravagant lifestyle. Besides speeches, (and insider pay-backs) they offer nothing.

khesanh0802 said...

Trump's a negotiator first. If I take the threat of harming the families of terrorists off the table I have lost a very valuable negotiating tool. If I take the threat of "torture" off the table I have done the same thing. The worst current example of abandoning a negotiating tool needlessly was Obama's decision to remove all troops from Iraq; or maybe his failure to follow through on his redline threat to Assad; or withdrawing support for Ghadaffi, or the entire nuclear process with Iraq. You choose.

machine said...

soooo...it's only torture if someone does it to an American.

got it.

Robert Cook said...

"Now we have a president who lectures us that Islamic terror is our fault, because we make them mad."

It's not that "we make them mad," it's that we have interfered--violently and otherwise--in their internal affairs for decades. I doubt if Russia or China had spent the better of the last century intruding into our affairs--attacking us directly or, more often, helping put compliant tyrant after tyrant into the White House, funding these successive tyrants' imprisonment, torture and murder of American citizens, supporting these tyrants as they enriched themselves as we suffered in poverty and political impotence--that you or any of us here would be well-disposed toward those inflicting or aiding in the infliction of these crimes against us.

jaydub said...

"But, of course, waterboarding IS torture, and has long been considered torture and is illegal around the world."

I said "Waterboarding was never judged to be a criminal act by any US court." Don't change my words. Can you cite the specific world court that ruled waterboarding is a illegal? BTW, I was waterboarded during SERE training. It wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't torture. Can I sue my old DI?

Robert Cook said...

"As a former senior military officer I can state without hesitation that the Joint Chiefs will never carry out an order that leads to a war crime...."

Maybe you need to hesitate before making such a statement.

Livermoron said...

This is Althouse at her second-worst. Virtue signaling nonsense. Yeah, we get it; war is bad, eh professor? What a wonderful, caring person you are hating war and all that... And I'll bet you've really experienced the full terror of being at the frontlines there in Madison. It must have scarred you deeply; laying it all on the line so that your son can live a full and free life being fed traffic from your blog. Quite the sacrifice.

I don't see any real virtue in your position. Let'-sacrifice-the-sons-and-daughters-of-other-people-to-protect-my-way-of-life is not an honorable position to take. The 'best' wars are the ones you win and win quickly.

Killing families has been part of war since at least Alexander the Great's time.
If a few families get wiped out to stop the deaths of many more people...well, if it works then that is a good thing. I guarantee you one thing; enough bad guys start believing that we, will stop at nothing to stop them, then they will moderate their behavior. We may have to prove we mean it a few times. But it will work.

We killed a lot of families in wars. WW2 was won, at least in part, by killing a lot of families. And we looooove that war.
Those people trying to kill us haven't held back because they were afraid of killing our families. Just look at the Boston Marathon Massacre to see how much they cared about killing children.

What we know doesn't work is fighting a war in a half-ass way, feeding an endless chain of young men and women piecemeal into a meat-grinder while being afraid to even give name to your enemies.
If Hitler's ancestral family had been wiped-out in, say, the Silesian Wars, would that really have been as awful as the Holocaust? Would it have been better to drop the atomic bombs (if we had them)on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor or should we have held them back for a few years or even never use them?

I'm not a Trump fan, but he'll get my vote if nominated. And I'll hope that my vote at least will give us a president who will prosecute the war without regard to the PC police.

So spare us your moral superiority. Cast not your pearls before us swine. Getting hit by pearls thrown from such a lofty Ivory Tower as yours can bring welts.

elcee said...

jaydub:
"if invading Iraq was a criminal act you really need to take it up with the Democrat leadership, including Hillary because they were all for it until they weren't"

On the facts, the decision for OIF was correct on the law.
Answer to "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?".

Fabi said...

jr565 remains unable to differentiate between saying something about legislation during a campaign and actually doing something. And -- as he pointed out in his own damned comment -- the president doesn't write legislation. Rubio was a member of the Gang of Eight. Legislation. In office. Big difference.

jaydub said...

"Maybe you need to hesitate before making such a statement"

Which actual war crime have the Joint Chiefs been convicted of? Cook's opinion counts for zip point shit; just cite the actuals.

Kate said...

This is strategy to keep the Middle East guessing. Trump has said elsewhere how offended he is when candidates answer questions about foreign policy and give away their whole hand.

jaydub said...

Khesanh0802 said...

" I did not watch the debate and Trump may not have handled the matter as well as it could have been, but he is correct in saying that the generals will do as the C-in C orders."

I didn't watch it either, but if Trump "handled the matter as well as it could have been" then it was the upset of the century. Someone said it best when they described him as a six year old child.

Tank said...

Livermoron said...

This is Althouse at her second-worst. Virtue signaling nonsense. Yeah, we get it; war is bad, eh professor? What a wonderful, caring person you are hating war and all that... And I'll bet you've really experienced the full terror of being at the frontlines there in Madison. It must have scarred you deeply; laying it all on the line so that your son can live a full and free life being fed traffic from your blog. Quite the sacrifice.

I don't see any real virtue in your position. Let'-sacrifice-the-sons-and-daughters-of-other-people-to-protect-my-way-of-life is not an honorable position to take. The 'best' wars are the ones you win and win quickly.

Killing families has been part of war since at least Alexander the Great's time.
If a few families get wiped out to stop the deaths of many more people...well, if it works then that is a good thing. I guarantee you one thing; enough bad guys start believing that we, will stop at nothing to stop them, then they will moderate their behavior. We may have to prove we mean it a few times. But it will work.

We killed a lot of families in wars. WW2 was won, at least in part, by killing a lot of families. And we looooove that war.
Those people trying to kill us haven't held back because they were afraid of killing our families. Just look at the Boston Marathon Massacre to see how much they cared about killing children.

What we know doesn't work is fighting a war in a half-ass way, feeding an endless chain of young men and women piecemeal into a meat-grinder while being afraid to even give name to your enemies.
If Hitler's ancestral family had been wiped-out in, say, the Silesian Wars, would that really have been as awful as the Holocaust? Would it have been better to drop the atomic bombs (if we had them)on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor or should we have held them back for a few years or even never use them?

I'm not a Trump fan, but he'll get my vote if nominated. And I'll hope that my vote at least will give us a president who will prosecute the war without regard to the PC police.

So spare us your moral superiority. Cast not your pearls before us swine. Getting hit by pearls thrown from such a lofty Ivory Tower as yours can bring welts.


This pretty much expresses my thoughts. And better than I would have done it.

Henry said...

If I take the threat of harming the families of terrorists off the table I have lost a very valuable negotiating tool. If I take the threat of "torture" off the table I have done the same thing.

Who exactly are you negotiating with? You think terrorists are represented by sports agents? Like, okay you win Mr. Trump, if you're going to shoot my family, we'll base half the salary on incentives and make the last year non-guaranteed. And no more waterboarding. My client promises to lose weight by spring training.

Threatening families and proclaiming a regime of torture will be recruiting tools for terrorists. It will dry up intelligence and radicalize the casually alienated. It will dramatically undermine our interactions with other national governments which will impair intelligence sharing, derail joint operations, and hamstring extradition. It will lead to massive anti-war protest within the U.S. which will freeze Congress in indecision, create a huge fracture between blue states and the Federal government, and guarantee years of foreign-policy flip-flops when Trump's disastrous policies are replaced by the inevitable anti-Trump that comes after. Russia and China will happily use U.S. isolation to pursue their own expansionist policies, while middle eastern despots will justify predations on religious and ethnic minorities within their borders in the name of U.S. anti-terrorism.

Pookie Number 2 said...

Livermoron - phenomenally well-said.

Original Mike said...

"BTW, I was waterboarded during SERE training. It wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't torture."

Yeah, I have a hard time getting excited about something we do to our own troops during training.

Robert Cook said...

"I said 'Waterboarding was never judged to be a criminal act by any US court.' Don't change my words. Can you cite the specific world court that ruled waterboarding is a illegal? BTW, I was waterboarded during SERE training. It wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't torture. Can I sue my old DI?"

I wasn't quoting you. I was quoting John Mosby, who said, ""Waterboarding is not torture. The US has never said that waterboarding is torture."

It seems water-boarding was considered a war crime when the Japanese did it a few years ago.

As for your training, you submitted to water-boarding training voluntarily. To those who ask about SERE training and whether the waterboarding out troops in training submit to is torture--assuming it's a "gotcha!" question and the answer is "no"--the answer is, of course it's torture. The purpose of it is to attempt, insofar as possible, to harden our troops against this form of torture in the event they might be subjected to it in the field. The other distinction between torture-as-part-of-training and torture in the field is that when one submits to torture as part of one's training, and when that torture is being performed by one's own fellow soldiers or officers, one has an innate confidence it will not go too far, and that one's safety will be assured. When one is subjected to the same treatment involuntarily by persons who are one's enemies, that innate confidence doesn't exist. (Put another way, sex between willing partners is sex; sex between unwilling strangers is rape.)

If you feel you, in fact, had no choice, and that you didn't submit voluntarily to being waterboarded, then, yes, I'd say you could sue your old D.I.

Robert Cook said...

jaydub:
"if invading Iraq was a criminal act you really need to take it up with the Democrat leadership, including Hillary because they were all for it until they weren't"

Who said Hillary and the Dems who voted to surrender their Constitutional authority and responsibility to declare war to Bush were not equally complicit in and guilty of war crimes? Of course they are. As Obama is.

machine said...

such manly men...so brave.


but didn't we prosecute the Japanese...

Henry said...

The 'best' wars are the ones you win and win quickly.

And what "wars" would those be?

This war?

This one?

jaydub said...

Cookie, I do not enjoy a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, so I'm dropping out of this one.

Freder Frederson said...

Since when are you against torture? You had no problem with it when the Bush administration was torturing detainees.

And I'll hope that my vote at least will give us a president who will prosecute the war without regard to the PC police.

It is not a question of the "PC Police", it is rooted in international treaties and laws that in many cases the U.S. was instrumental in drafting and advocating. It is also a question of domestic law and the constitution.

Freder Frederson said...

If I take the threat of harming the families of terrorists off the table I have lost a very valuable negotiating tool. If I take the threat of "torture" off the table I have done the same thing.

Neither should even beyond the table. They are illegal tactics under U.S. law and international treaties to which we are a party. Threatening to harm your adversary's family is not a negotiating tool, it is a criminal act.

Michael K said...

Men and women sleep soundly in their beds because Freder stands ready to do violence on our behalf.

As long as it is politically correct.

Michael K said...

"
It seems water-boarding was considered a war crime when the Japanese did it a few years ago."

Complete with link to something that has no similarity to waterboarding.

Robert Cook said...

There are many and varied ways of performing waterboarding. In the end, it is still the infliction of pain and suffering on a bound and helpless captive.

Torture. Period.

shiloh said...

"Do yourself a favor and leave it to men."

Indeed, men have made sure the world has been at war continually since Cain/Abel. ok, it's just human nature er all downhill since Eve forced Adam to eat that damn apple!

Original sin and all that jazz.

Go with the flow ...

Michael K said...

"Manly" machine said: "but didn't we prosecute the Japanese..."

Yes and the Germans. As Churchill said, after a war is lost, the leaders of the losers will be executed. You just don't want to be a loser.

The comparison of waterboarding to the Japanese "water torture" is bullshit but common on the left. Especially with the keyboard commandos.

rhhardin said...

What does Althouse think of Three Conjectures by belmont club, written long ago and still current.

Elliott A said...

Ronald Reagan bombed Qaddafi's family . It was effective in changing his behavior.

machine said...

soooo anti-torture = keyboard commandos?

you're right...USC ripped you off.

Livermoron said...

The Japanese filled their prisoners with water and then jumped on their stomachs.

Freder: What laws were broken when 'we' killed hundreds of families in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or Tokyo. Or Hamburg. Or Dresden?
What laws were broken when we told countries to surrender or suffer devastation?

PC police is correct. And Mike K. calls you out appropriately.

Tank, Pookie...thanks for the comments.

Howard said...

Y'all act like this is serious.

It's just another con from Trump to win over the blood-thirsty republican base (e.g. white-trash welfare cowards). The funny thing is that Trump/Christie will be the more librul ticket as compared with Hitlary and whomever she can get to be her wingman.

rcocean said...

So people who have no problem with illegal immigration or Obama's executive orders are now suddenly concerned about the rule of law.

LOL. Its amazing how people latch on to these esoteric issues like Waterboarding to signal show how sensitive and virtuous they are.

Kinda like constantly calling everyone else a racist.

Howard said...

ElliotA: Cut -n- Run Ronnie Raygun weaponized al Queda and gave then safe haven in A-Stan. What a Hero, just like Bruce Willis!

rcocean said...

I simply don't care about waterboarding. I'm perfectly willing to let the "experts" decide this one. It affects a handful of potential terrorists.

Others may get all worked up about it, just like they get all worked up over some Ax murderer getting executed.

There are more important things to worry about.

elcee said...

Livermoron:
"What we know doesn't work is fighting a war in a half-ass way, feeding an endless chain of young men and women piecemeal into a meat-grinder while being afraid to even give name to your enemies."

Counter-insurgency does in a sense fall half way between conventional major combat operations and post-war security and stabilization operations, but it's not a "half-ass way".

We don't win a war until we've secured the peace. We didn't win WW2 in 1945. We won WW2 in the decades following VE and VJ days as we progressively secured and built the peace. Which is what we were doing with Iraq, where we were back on track with the COIN "Surge" adjustment, before the vital US-led peace operations were prematurely disengaged under Obama.

It's not always the case that 'phase 3' major combat transitions neatly to 'phase 4' peace operations. In post-WW2 Korea, for example, the 'phase 4' turned far more brutal than the terrorist insurgency we competed against in the 'phase 4' in Iraq. Since 1950 to this day, we've been "feeding an endless chain of young men and women piecemeal into a meat-grinder" in Korea.

The enemy is trying to win, too. Terrorists understand that in a conventional fight against US forces, they're dead. They tried taking the fight from the open field to the city, eg, Fallujah, and they got dead there, too. So, that left them guerilla warfare. Insurgency. Which is their strength, anyway.

The enemy can't always be expected to do what's convenient for us. When the enemy goes outside our comfort zone, he still needs to be beat in order to secure and build the peace to win the war on our terms. The COIN "Surge" isn't the first time in US military history our soldiers adjusted from conventional warfighting to counter-insurgency to satisfy the needs of the mission.

The US military has proven again and again it can adjust to win with a protracted counter-insurgency. The question isn't our "young men and women". US soldiers historically don't always win right away, but they adjust to win given the opportunity. The question is whether our civilian leadership can keep up their end for that kind of fight.

Henry said...

Livermoron, Pookie, Tank -- Who are you fighting? In what decade?

The GWOT is an asymmetric transnational conflict. There is no Tokyo to firebomb. Even the attempt to use special forces and drones to hit individual targets is compromised by intelligence and logistical failures.

We are fighting in 2015. The U.S. hasn't fought a fully mobilized war of destruction since 1945, and without an existential threat, it won't. If Trump or any other president attempted to initiate a full-fledged war of destruction (against what country? what army?), the political will of the country would turn overnight. The imposition of torture, punitive attacks, and ethnic targeting by such a president would rip the country in half.

The fact that Trump says that he can such wage war by dictat demonstrates profound ignorance as well as megalomania.

elcee said...

Robert Cook:
"Who said Hillary and the Dems who voted to surrender their Constitutional authority and responsibility to declare war to Bush were not equally complicit in and guilty of war crimes?"

Good thing that neither Bush nor Hillary and the Dems are "complicit in and guilty of war crimes" with the decision for OIF. Recommendation: How to talk about your Iraq vote (advice to Hillary Clinton).

Excerpt from "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?":
There is no domestic legal controversy. According to American law, the whole 1990-2011 Iraq mission, including the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations, was legal.
...
Lawsuits against OIF have claimed Public Law 107-243 did not rise to a Congressional declaration of war or that Congress improperly delegated the power to declare war to President Bush. Yet P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 fulfilled the "specific statutory authorization" standard of 50 USC 1541 (1973 War Powers Act), which is legally equivalent to a Congressional declaration of war. In fact, the statutory authorization for the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations in Iraq conformed to the modern norm for US military deployment; the last Congressional declaration of war was in World War 2.

Tank said...

Henry said...

Livermoron, Pookie, Tank -- Who are you fighting? In what decade?

The GWOT is an asymmetric transnational conflict. There is no Tokyo to firebomb. Even the attempt to use special forces and drones to hit individual targets is compromised by intelligence and logistical failures.

We are fighting in 2015. The U.S. hasn't fought a fully mobilized war of destruction since 1945, and without an existential threat, it won't. If Trump or any other president attempted to initiate a full-fledged war of destruction (against what country? what army?), the political will of the country would turn overnight. The imposition of torture, punitive attacks, and ethnic targeting by such a president would rip the country in half.

The fact that Trump says that he can such wage war by dictat demonstrates profound ignorance as well as megalomania.


You've missed the larger point. It's not about specific tactics. Reagan did not bomb every country we had a dispute with. But our enemies knew better than to fuck with him, because he made it clear that we would win, and they would die.

It's one of the things I do like about Trump. He is for the US first. Not them. Us. If someone is going to die, let it be them, their families, their building knocked down with people in them.

Freder Frederson said...

What laws were broken when 'we' killed hundreds of families in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or Tokyo. Or Hamburg. Or Dresden?

Their was serious consideration at the beginning of the war of declaring indiscriminate bombing a war crime (and Hap Arnold himself admitted that if the Japanese had won the could have tried him for war crimes), however it was never acted upon. But in 1949 (with the U.S. playing a lead role), the Geneva Conventions were amended to increase the protection of civilian populations. Under the current conventions (which is a binding Treaty that the U.S. is a signatory to), the strategic bombing campaigns of World War II would indeed be a war crime.

Freder Frederson said...

Men and women sleep soundly in their beds because Freder stands ready to do violence on our behalf.

As long as it is politically correct.


It is not an issue of political correctness, but of law and morality. If you want to withdraw from the Geneva Conventions and the International Protocols against Torture, repeal U.S. laws on torture and get rid of the Eighth Amendment, make your argument, not some bullshit statement about "political correctness".

Henry said...

@Tank -- Even Reagan could not solve asymmetric warfare. Lebanon for example. Nor could he create political will that extended beyond his presidency.

Our next president will have a fraction of the political support for foreign-policy decisions that Reagan had.

It was the Reagan Administration that negotiated and signed U.N. Convention Against Torture.

Throughout the cold war it was long-term U.S. policy to maintain our own standards of human rights. George Kennan's 1946 discussion of U.S. response to Soviet Communism should still apply:

Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society. After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism, is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping.

Freder Frederson said...

Reagan did not bomb every country we had a dispute with. But our enemies knew better than to fuck with him, because he made it clear that we would win, and they would die.

Yeah he sure stood up to them in Lebanon and made the Iranians quake in their boots.

elcee said...

Tank:
"Reagan did not bomb every country we had a dispute with. But our enemies knew better than to fuck with him, because he made it clear that we would win, and they would die."

Actually, you reinforced Henry's point.

President Reagan may have intimidated other nation states, but he also encouraged the terrorists with his poor response to the 1983 bombing of the USMC barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

To wit, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, 18JAN09:
The key to success in Iraq, insists Crocker, was the psychological impact of Bush's decision to add troops. "In the teeth of ferociously negative popular opinion, in the face of a lot of well-reasoned advice to the contrary, he said he was going forward, not backward."
Bush's decision rocked America's adversaries, says Crocker: "The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, 'Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won't have the stomach to stick it out.' That assumption was challenged by the surge."


In other words, the lesson you attribute to Reagan was actually taught to the terrorists under Bush via the COIN "Surge" in Iraq, where al Qaeda had thrown in everything they had and got beat really really bad. (Unfortunately, Obama then reversed the hard-earned expensive lesson that the terrorists had been taught under Bush.)

Michael K said...

"Blogger machine said...
soooo anti-torture = keyboard commandos?

you're right...USC ripped you off."

Well, it was a better education than you got in your high school. Although I'm not sure 2016 USC would be worth $17 a unit.

" he also encouraged the terrorists with his poor response to the 1983 bombing of the USMC barracks in Beirut, Lebanon."

Yes, leaving was a major mistake but the positioning of the Marines was a worse one. The sentries at the barracks did not even have loaded M16s. They watched the truck driver grinning as he drove into the garage.

They were there as a hostage to the Hezbollah.

Robert Cook said...

Elcee:

Your post at 12:25 pm is immaterial. Under our treaty obligations as signatories to the UN Charter, we violated the law in invading Iraq, (and subsequently, other countries in the ME) without UN Security Council approval, as there was no self-defense basis for our invasion. Given also that our invasion of Iraq was predicated on lies, it was a fraud and would therefore be illegal even if the UN Security Council had approved it.

One will, of course, expect the courts of a nation that has perpetrated international crimes to justify those crimes, and to declare them "legal."

hombre said...

During Katrina, there were videotapes on the Net of U.S. Military personnel entering people's homes and seizing their weapons without warrants or evidence of any crime. When interviewed the officer in charge saw no problem. He was "just following orders."

Trump is right. They'll do what they're ordered to do either because they don't know any better or because they are afraid not to. Like the police, they have become political tools.

Bobby said...

Tank,

"You've missed the larger point. It's not about specific tactics. Reagan did not bomb every country we had a dispute with. But our enemies knew better than to fuck with him, because he made it clear that we would win, and they would die."

Beg your pardon, sir, but this is historical revisionism. Besides the aforementioned bombings of the US Embassy (Apr 83) and Marine barracks (Oct 83) in Beirut, there was also the bombing of the US Embassy in Kuwait (Dec 83), kidnapping of CIA station chief in Lebanon (Mar 84), the bombing of the US Embassy annex in Beirut (Sep 84), and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (Dec 88) -- all on Reagan's watch. There were also numerous individual Americans killed in other hijackings and terrorist attacks.

hombre said...

During Katrina, there were videotapes on the Net of U.S. Military personnel entering people's homes and seizing their weapons without warrants or evidence of any crime. When interviewed the officer in charge saw no problem. He was "just following orders."

Trump is right. They'll do what they're ordered to do either because they don't know any better or because they are afraid not to. Like the police, they have become political tools.

Robert Cook said...

"Lawsuits against OIF have claimed Public Law 107-243 did not rise to a Congressional declaration of war or that Congress improperly delegated the power to declare war to President Bush. Yet P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 fulfilled the 'specific statutory authorization' standard of 50 USC 1541 (1973 War Powers Act), which is legally equivalent to a Congressional declaration of war. In fact, the statutory authorization for the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations in Iraq conformed to the modern norm for US military deployment; the last Congressional declaration of war was in World War 2."

Which means every war we've fought since WW2 has been illegal. Congress' authority to declare war is not just a legalism; it is the governing body of our nation--representing (purportedly) the people of the United States--granting authority to the President to initiate military actions against another country. Declaring this or that engagement a "police action" or a "peace-keeping mission" or referring to "the modern norm for US military deployment"--which deviates from and violates the Constitution--is simply rhetorical sleight of hand.

Bobby said...

hombre,

"During Katrina, there were videotapes on the Net of U.S. Military personnel entering people's homes and seizing their weapons without warrants or evidence of any crime. When interviewed the officer in charge saw no problem. He was "just following orders.""

I do not know this to be true or false, sir, however, you may not be aware that under Title 32 of the US Code, when activated by the State Governor, the National Guard have some very distinct authorities that other military services do not possess. Not all the military is the same.

Lydia said...

Never mind (at least for now) -- Donald Trump shifts stance on torture, says he wouldn't order military to break international torture laws

The one Trump constant seems to be flip-on-a-dime.

Chuck said...

PROPS, TO PROFESSOR ALTHOUSE...

So of all the loony things that Trump has said in recent weeks, Professor Althouse has been pretty quiet. More quiet, than I would have liked to be sure.

She picked out this one thing in the Fox Theater debate -- about ordering illegal torture -- and held it up for questioning.

Althouse was right.

Trump couldn't survive with that position hanging out there for even 24 hours and right on cue, as soon as his handlers could show him the error and craft a statement for him... Trump reverses his position.

http://www.aol.com/article/2016/03/04/wsj-republican-candidate-donald-trump-reverses-stance-on-tortur/21323024/

I think that leaves 10,476 other positions Trump will have to reverse between now an November.

Original Mike said...

"During Katrina, there were videotapes on the Net of U.S. Military personnel entering people's homes and seizing their weapons without warrants or evidence of any crime. When interviewed the officer in charge saw no problem. He was "just following orders.""

Yeah, cuz seizing weapons is exactly like shooting women and children.

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