September 30, 2006
Liberal Base Pulls Democrats Away from Rational Thought on Anti-Terror Policy

[Reader Note: This post is a full essay, whose length is necessitated in part because it discusses incorrect assumptions made by certain liberals. Since those assumptions are accepted as fact in some circles, a full and well-researched rebuttal is required to examine the issue properly].

Democrats have a problem. Their "base" might well be criminally incompetent in terms of understanding the complexity and history of matters relating to national security and waging war. Such descriptions are not declared lightly, but in light of recent events and statements on the matter of terrorist detainees, it remains the reasonable conclusion. Furthermore, it seems undeniable the McGovernites with Modems now hold considerable sway in Democratic policy making - an alarming thought on matters relating to government's primary duty: the protection of its citizens.

To be fair, the fact one can often disagree with people on policy without necessarily thinking such a person has ill-intent has at times been lost in the partisanship of the day. In some cases, the desired outcome differs, then the situation becomes more complex, but on issues like anti-terror policy, it is reasonable to assume most elected officials, regardless of party, want the American people well protected. Yet, just because an individual's intent may be pure, it does not follow they should not then be excoriated politically for choosing poorly in the pursuit of shared goals. Thus, all those - including Senator Maria Cantwell - who voted against legislation to govern the treatment of terrorist detainees, and the procedures of military tribunals to bring those terrorists to justice, deserve to be held accountable.

As discussed at end of this September 24th post, the ACLU and the New York Times editorial page were already "in a lather" over the deal struck by Republicans on this issue. In the wake of the actual Senate vote, local liberal bloggers have followed suit and are now in rare form as well, serving as a fine demonstration of the Democrats' liberal base. Sound Politics' readers have already discussed Goldy's riff on the subject. But one should examine sometimes Horse's Ass poster Darryl's anger here and here, musings from Washblog here, and a literally despondent Lynne Allen at Evergreen Politics here. Even normally more sane Ridenbaugh Press goes off the deep end here.

A key, unifying theme in liberal opposition to this legislation, as expressed nationwide and locally, is that the procedures outlined for treating terrorist detainees supposedly trample Constitutional rights. Evidently, it has not occurred to these champions of the rights of fellow Americans that the detainees in question are not American citizens - the specific language in the bill refers to "alien unlawful enemy combatants." They have been, and are being, captured as said "unlawful combatants," a particular designation in the rules of war that has not traditionally meant such individuals are obligated to receive a nice hot bath and mints on their pillows before bed time.

Even the Seattle Times story linked above notes this salient fact:

Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions. U.S. citizens designated enemy combatants have not been stripped of their habeas-corpus rights and so have access to civilian courts.

For perspective, one should recall even Constitutional protections have been abridged in times of grave need. Abraham Lincoln, widely regarded and revered as one of America's great Presidents, suspended the writ of habeas corpus for all US citizens during the Civil War in the interests of national security. In current terms, the discussion revolves around not extending the writ of habeas corpus to a classification of individuals who enjoy no right to ever have it conferred on them to begin with given their legal status. The whole notion of lamenting the "suspension" of the writ, which does not apply to non-citizens - though we can afford it if our government so chooses - would be laughable if the subject of how to deal with such detainees were not such a serious matter (for more on the subject of who these detainees are see this excellent column).

Clearly, critics of the legislation lack understanding of the historical context for such policies - a trend many conservatives, including this author, has found on many occasions when debating liberals on matters of foreign affairs, warfare, and national security. So, a brief refresher on a few key points worth considering:

As testified to in 2001 by a former US Attorney General:

[T]rial by jury in a civilian court is not a right enjoyed by such a prisoner. Neither the United States Constitution, nor any international treaty, imposes the incongruous obligation that a captured combatant must receive a trial in a civilian court.

Nor has it been our practice, at any time during the history of this country, to attempt to provide trials for captured combatants in our civilian courts...

Military tribunals were used extensively by this country during and after World War II. Hundreds of German and Japanese prisoners were tried by military tribunals for violations of the law of war following the end of that war. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt convened a military tribunal in Washington, DC, to try eight Nazi saboteurs who were arrested in New York and Chicago after embarking on our East Coast from German submarines.

During and after the Civil War, military commissions were used to try war criminals, including the individuals who participated in the assassination of President Lincoln.

Military tribunals were used to try war criminals during the Mexican-American War, various wars against the American Indians, and the American Revolution.

However,

There are some critics who have argued that certain rights, such as the right to a trial by jury and the right to indictment by grand jury, are essential elements of the "American Way," and must be provided in all contexts, even to enemy prisoners of war. To these critics, I say that our own servicemen are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which does not provide for such rights. It would indeed be peculiar to insist that captured enemy combatants are entitled to greater rights than those provided to our own soldiers.

This excerpt of this full document provides a succinct summary of key issues at hand in this historical context. It notes:

The detainees now in custody at Guantanomo Bay are not ordinary criminal suspects...who must be charged and brought to trail, or released, in accordance with rigorous constitutional and statutory requirements guaranteeing a speedy trial. These individuals were captured in the context of an international armed conflict, and fall in the category of "unlawful belligerents" or "unlawful combatants." Their legal lights and liabilities must be determined with reference to that status, in accordance with the Laws of War.

For reasons of understanding the legal implications of such classifications one should read further:

The classification of unlawful combatant remains fully applicable today, and was not eliminated by the various agreements entered after World War II, in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as some have claimed.

What? That runs against all the liberal talking points saying the United States has a responsibility to provide the same protections to terrorist detainees that are provided to POW's, or even US citizens - else we risk the grave the threat of "world opinion" thinking less of us. The horror!

We have no such obligations, however. In 1977, Protocols I and II were added to the Geneva Conventions, yet when President Regan transmitted Protocol II to the Senate for advice and consent, he did not also transmit Protocol I, saying in explanation of the United States rejection of the later:

Another provision would grant combatant status to irregular forces even if they do not satisfy the traditional requirements to distinguish themselves from the civilian population and otherwise comply with the laws of war. This would endanger civilians among whom terrorists and other irregulars attempt to conceal themselves. These problems are so fundamental in character that they cannot be remedied through reservations, and I therefore have decided not to submit the Protocol to the Senate in any form...

Thus, the United States is reliant on the previous regime of international norms regarding such detainees. Which is what?

The legal regime applicable to unlawful combatants is very harsh. Traditionally, unlawful combatancy was punishable by death, often with little or no formal "process" beforehand. By the beginning of the 20th Century, it was recognized, by at least some states, that unlawful combatants could not be killed out of hand by officers in the field, but that some process was required before such individuals could be executed.

Even then, at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, German soldiers captured while disguised in American uniforms were executed shortly thereafter by firing squad, primarily because the act of disguise changed their status from lawful combatants worthy of POW status, to unlawful, subject to different treatment. In contrast, based on their calls for Constitutional rights for such unlawful combatants, certain liberals appear to be retroactively favoring a search warrant and Miranda rights in the apprehension of terrorists, including the likes of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Most Americans likely believe the actual tactics utilized and outcome achieved in that case proved more beneficial.

This brings us to a fundamental point about America's current debate. The legal ramifications and duties to unlawful combatants are clear, the complaints of liberals and Senator Specter not withstanding. The moral dimension, however, deserves mention as well.

Rich Lowry at the National Review recently laced into Sen. John McCain over his short-lived opposition to initial legislation on this issue proposed by the Bush administration. Since Democrats initially took a "we're with McCain" position on this matter, and continue to stick to his original arguments, Lowry's analysis remains relevant; particularly on the moral question. After describing the beheading and mutilation of a captured American soldier by Al Qaeda in Iraq, Lowry observes:

This is savagery immune to a domestic legal debate in the U.S. Maybe McCain and Co. think that U.S. debate will influence more reasonable adversaries. But since when have we fought a regime - Saddam's Iraq, Milosevic's Serbia, North Vietnam, North Korea, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany - that is not barbarously committed to repression and murder? ... A government will abide by the Geneva Conventions only if it is civilized; and if it is civilized, it is unlikely we will be fighting it, which is why we don't have to worry about defending ourselves from, say, the Danes.

Thus comes the crux of the issue: the United States is at war, atypical though it may be, against an uncivilized and brutal enemy. When that enemy is taken into custody, his very actions and behavior merit a legal standing unlike those afforded to US citizens under the Constitution. What is afforded them? See this fact sheet and this Q&A. The later document notes the tribunals in question including the following protections:

- The right to be tried before an impartial military judge and impartial commission;
- The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt;
- The right to counsel, including a JAG defense counsel and retained civilian counsel;
- The right to obtain witnesses and evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and to appropriate discovery;
- The right against self-incrimination and the right against double jeopardy; and
- The right to at least two appeals from any conviction, including to a Federal Article III appellate court.

Out of the magnanimity of this nation, these detainees, violent enemies of our nation, are being provided higher legal rights and personal comfort than have been historically afforded, or which this nation is obligated to render. One would not know that in the least from listening to the sanctimonious liberal gnashing of teeth, however.

Senator Cantwell said this on the matter:

The legislation voted on by the full Senate will permit the Bush Administration to undermine the Geneva Conventions, broadly expand the definition of enemy combatants, allow for coerced and secret evidence and abandon habeus [sic] corpus. For more than three years, our ability to try terrorists has been hampered by the Administration's refusal to abide by U.S. law.

Sadly, Senator Cantwell has fallen for liberal argument against such measures couched in incorrect assumptions and feel-good mythology about what constituents historically and legally correct treatment of terrorist detainees.

She did, however, make one statement with which conservatives can agree: "Short-term political goals should never come ahead of America's long-term success in the war on terror." In all candor, she herself seems to have succumbed to "short-term political goals" by way of mollifying her base, since the history of war and law do not support her position, nor did even 12 other Democratic Senators. If she is serious about "long-term success in the war on terror" she should have voted for this bill. She did not. Mike McGavick would have.

The difference is clear, on the most fundamental and basic duty of government, protection of its citizenry. Those familiar with the history of our country know such differences have been with us from the dawning of our nation, the sharp political disputes between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton being an excellent example. As with then, it is healthy for the body politic to see, hear, and debate such contrasts.

Senator Cantwell and her liberal base want more rights for terrorist detainees, rights never before conferred upon such individuals, rights that are both morally undeserved and decidedly impractical to implement. She, and all those seeking office holding similar positions, should be held to account.

Posted by Eric Earling at September 30, 2006 09:37 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Hooah!

Posted by: sgmmac on September 30, 2006 09:46 PM
2. you lost your reader Eric keep it simple to the point when you try so hard to rubut each point you lose the overall point your trying to make.
I can just guess you'll make fun of me but just take the critisisam for what it is.

Posted by: sSW on September 30, 2006 10:51 PM
3. So is torturing innocent people an acceptable cost, and will it help us stop terrorism? I find it troubling that the same people who supported going into Iraq without a realistic plan to win are the same ones who support the right to torture, while the military and prosecutors who will have to clean up the mess, both legally and practically, oppose it. When did ignoring reality become a conservative virtue?

Posted by: Nancy on September 30, 2006 10:54 PM
4. Eric writes: these detainees, violent enemies of our nation

Says who?

Therein lies just one flaw in your reasoning.

Posted by: Bruce on September 30, 2006 11:20 PM
5. You used the words "Rational Thought" and "Democrat" in the same sentence?

Posted by: Right Wing Wacko on September 30, 2006 11:36 PM
6. These terrorists don't wear uniforms and they didn't sign onto the Geneva conventions. What are the Dems THINKING?? This is far too serious a worldwide problem to leave this to Dems. We will end up in Burkas if the (sorry, but it deserves to be said) the AL-DEMOCRAT party gets power. They will cower like scared kittens in the face of terrorists, wrongly assuming that they will be spared because they were trying to appease. They do not realize that they will be the first to be beheaded,

Posted by: Reality Check on September 30, 2006 11:55 PM
7. Great post Eric. I will probably comment more when I have more time tomorrow. And when there have been a number of folks trying to debate this topic.

Posted by: Jeff B. on October 1, 2006 12:02 AM
8. Sept 11, 2008

The Al-Clinton administration is proud to announce that a negotiated settlement has been reached with Al-Queda. In exchange for a few simple changes to the way we live; Al-Queda has agreed not to kill us (unless they change their mind).

1. The first ammendment to the US Constitution is revised to read: "There is one god Alla and Muhammad is his prophet".

Homosexuallity, Premarital Sex, Extra Marital Sex, or any other sex that is deamed offensive to Alla is hearby banned - Penalty: DEATH.

Speach deamed offensive to Alla is headby banned - Penalty: DEATH.

Posted by: Right Wing Wacko on October 1, 2006 03:56 AM
9. "When did ignoring reality become a conservative virtue?" jeez, Nancy--join the world--this is not Mr Roger's neighborhood. at times you need "a persuader" you need good intel. spies.whatever. all your resources. your enemy is certainly using all resources.

remember recent head cuttings? dragging our charred GIs' bodies in Mogadishu? people jumping from buildings on 9-11? do you think we are dealing with bullies merely taking our lunch money?

how have other countries treated our prisoners/hostages? how would YOU be treated in Iran or N. Korea? "turn the other cheek" is not a universal cure-all. sometimes one has to be brutal to insure one's survival. you forgot history. 1940's Dresden, ww2 London bombings, recent IRA terrorists, Bataan death march. all sides were brutal and did not back down "to be noble" the Gitmo b-stards are exploiting our nature. being noble and "but we're not like that" or "we're better than that" does not stop sarin gas nor a suicide bomber in an outdoor cafe. just ask our Israeli friends. ask our own soldiers too--they live it every day.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 1, 2006 05:13 AM
10. Nancy, Nancy: Try thinking critically: 50 yrs from now, the prevailing opinion will be that 1/3 of the 77 million baby boomers suffered from extreme self absorption and arrogance, were unwilling to defend anythig but their own self absorption and arrogance, actively worked to trash any and all of the standards of behavior and civilization, loved the concept of self liquidation aka abortion, sexualized their children and grandchildren in grade school, spent their children into extreme indebtedness both personally and as a nation, it goes on and on.

Your views regarding the enemies of civilization are so childlike and dreamy in that you assume they think just like you, or, in your case, cant think.

Thank the Good Lord there are real adults in this world like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush who will make sure you, Nancy, dont get stoned to death just because you open your mindless mouth.

I just hope you, Nancy, and your ilk, have an epiphany regarding your own stupidity and survival before you leave this earth. But I am not counting on it.

Posted by: Hank on October 1, 2006 06:38 AM
11. When the Dems take power in 2008, they will almost certainly be tested by a terrorist attack that well dwarf 9-11. It's inevitable. With all his obvious faults (particular his horrible communication skills and vastly under-estimating the insurgency and poor fiscal management).....Bush has successfully stopped terrorist attacks on our soil.

The Leftists unbelievably feel they can successfully pander to the terrorist elements or ignore tham and they will magically go away. Ain't gonna happen.

Sadly, too many Americans buy into this "DENIAL" of the character of the enemy. It's easier to buy the Democrats rosey Utopia. Bush has helped create that frustration...no doubt.
But inevitably, the terrorists will test the Democrats in a bigger way. They hate ALL Americans folks. PERIOD.

Posted by: dude on October 1, 2006 08:27 AM
12. Nancy wrote,
So is torturing innocent people an acceptable cost, and will it help us stop terrorism?
You seem to be assuming a couple things that are not self evident:
1) The people detained and "tortured" are innocent.
2) The "torture" you mention is what you feel is "torture" (i.e. beheading with a slow knife, beatings with rubber hoses, hot irons, etc.)
The question you framed is a false one because there is no right answer (Yes, I support torturing innocent people; no, I don't support torturing innocent people). It's like the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
When did ignoring reality become a conservative virtue?
I don't know--when did it become a liberal virtue?

And then Bruce pounds his head on the keyboard and these words come out:

Eric writes: "these detainees, violent enemies of our nation..."
Says who? Therein lies just one flaw in your reasoning.

Says who? Surely you jest, Bruce. It's what THEY say, over and over and over again.
Because you are a member of the "reality-based" party, you must know exactly who is detained, and where and why they were captured. But since you seem to be playing ignorant, let's give you the information you seem to be ignoring:
1) Not all detainees are innocent. Some were indeed "turned in" by neighbors with a grudge. Many of these have been released.
2) Other detainees were caught on the battlefield with weapons. They weren't shooting at rabbits, though--they were shooting at Americans. But, of course, they were only shooting at Americans you don't like, so that makes them less violent, I suppose.

Getting back to the original post:
The Geneva Convention ONLY applies if the governments of the combatants agree to abide by them. I haven't read that AlQaeda, or the Taliban, or any of the Shiite/Sunni Militias that infest Iraq have subscribed to these conventions. If they did, they would follow certain rules:
1) dress in clear uniforms;
2) target soldiers, not civilians;
3) follow the Conventions regarding captured combatants.
But because they don't do any of these things, then the "rules of war" don't apply them.

Ah, but then the progressive voices ring out, "But we have to take the higher ground, and show we aren't as bad as they are!"
To which I answer: We already have the higher ground. We don't have to prove that we are nice guys who don't hurt people to these guys, because they don't give a darn. They're not like us in very specific ways--the moral equivalence, relativistic argument is false in this situation.

Posted by: pseudotsuga on October 1, 2006 09:02 AM
13. Excellent detailed analysis by Eric.
The devil IS in the details, and sometimes you have to go thru them.
If only the MSM would do half as well (don't hold your breath).

Posted by: Methow Ken on October 1, 2006 09:31 AM
14. Eric thinks that his arguement is with liberals, but actually it is with the 7-to-2-GOP-appointed supreme court, who ruled this summer in Hamdi Vs. Rumsfeld that enemy combatants do fall under the Geneva convention.

Eric has convienently forgotten about this ruling, which is a shame because it is the very reason that the torture legislation was necessary.

If Eric was actually able to present more knowledge than his wikipedia searches have resulted from above, he would have realized that the very real arguement made by our Senator and shared by several Senate republicans is to protect our special forces troops (non-uniformed) from being tourtured by the governments of N. Korea, Iran, and others who otherwise have honored the conventions in such cases.

Once again Eric tries to educate liberals, but winds up making a fool of himself.

Posted by: Sorry Charlie on October 1, 2006 10:00 AM
15. Eric:

Just wondering if you can point to actual examples of any Democrats in the federal govt, or any other mainstream liberals, who have protested the lack of search warrants and Miranda readings in the pursuit of Al-Zarqawi.

Your essay presents no evidence of this, but I'm sure it's just an oversight.

Posted by: scottd on October 1, 2006 10:26 AM
16. So does torturing both actual and suspected terrorists help us win? The military understands that it causes the portion of opposing forces who might surrender to instead fight to the death, that it leads to more enemies, that it leads to faulty intelligence, and that it places our troops in greater danger if they are captured (greater danger, not that they wouldn't have been in danger anyway, so spare us the straw man arguments). Prosecutors understand that we're going to have to do something with the detainees eventually, and they don't want to have their cases thrown out based on evidence obtained through torture. What do we gain? In some hypothetical television scenario, we stop a catastrophic attack by torturing the right person while the clock is ticking. So it works great on 24, but in the real world, it's going to lessen the chances of stopping terrorism, similar to how Cheney and Rumsfeld are doing everything they can to keep our troops from winning in Iraq and Afghanistan through their incompetence and demagoguery.

Posted by: Nancy on October 1, 2006 10:52 AM
17. Naive Nancy--
If terrorists who are captured know we are going to give them white wine and Brie Cheese instead of a heavy-duty grilling.....perhaps they will surrender on their own in droves!
I've heard your BS rap that "Violence begets violence"
The problem here is these terrorists want to kill you and I know matter how well we treat them just CUZ!!! Cuz we don't believe like them.
You have certainly been sucked deep into the Leftist BS Naive Nancy.
Perhaps you Lefty's will get your opportunity to be in charge in 2008. The terrorists will test you like there is no tomorrow. Massive violence...to see how you will respond.
Mark my words....when Anerica (or Amerika to you) is targeted under your watch, you will be singing a different song....or maybe not....
You will always blame Bush...even when you are in-charge!

Posted by: dude on October 1, 2006 11:44 AM
18. Dude! So are the generals opposing it "leftist" and "naive" (as opposed to Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz, who obviously have extensive battlefield experience)? Are we winning in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I don't remember ever arguing that violence begets violence, but I'm glad you found a convenient straw man to converse with. If you pull your head out of a B-rate spy novel and look at the real world, it's going to be a revelation.

Posted by: Nancy on October 1, 2006 11:56 AM
19. Nancy, Nancy: Siding with the Generals? Careful..

Did it ever occur to you that Rumsfeld is dragging some chunk of the Generals out of WWI mentality, and they dont like it at all. So those Generals more concerned about who knows what(tanks, divisions, trenches, artillery) than actually fighting terrorism are your useful idoits.

Clearly you have no understanding of Mid East mentality, which despises weakness and respects strength and brutality. You are their useful idoit with all this blathering about torture. And, you would be in the first group they would torture because they despise your weakness.

What part of all this do you just plain dont get, Nancy?

This is not a cumbaya campfire, it is a struggle for our survival. The terrorists at Gitmo are so lucky most American's views on torture are not being practiced.

If the majority view on torture was being practiced, those scum at Gitmo would be screaming so loud you could here them in Seattle...

Posted by: Hank on October 1, 2006 12:06 PM
20. Hank, you and Rumsfeld clearly understand the Middle East mindset, which is why we've been so successful so far. Bin Laden could not ask for better allies. We could've taken him out and secured Afghanistan. Instead we're doing all we can to lose both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The military opposes the right to torture because they want to win, and they have to deal with the consequences. The neocons support it because they think they're living in a television show, and they'll never set foot on the battlefield. For every situation where it could help stop terrorism, there are dozens where it actually increases the risk, which is why it's foolish policy.

Posted by: Nancy on October 1, 2006 01:02 PM
21. Nancy and Hank:

As best as I can determine the two generals and one colonel who spoke up last week do not oppose the war - only its conduct.

I think it difficult to refute that there have been some bad decisions made in the current war and that Rumsfeld has been the source of some of them.

This argument however does nothing to advance the theme of Eric's post though. Which relies on our answer to the question: "Do our islamic enemies deserve the rights and protections afforded to OUR citizens under the US Constitution?"

I for one do not think a yes answer is rational, but neither do I condemn Cantwell for making what was clearly political face-saving vote to retain her seat.

She undoubtably knew which way the vote would end up and chose not to alienate her less rational supporters.

Since I am not ideologically wed to either party but very committed to the necessity of winning this war I have welcomed Cantwell's support for the war. I am a little dissappointed in her recent back-tracking, but have yet to see or hear anything from her or her campaign that would indicate a substantive change of heart.

Eric's analysis of the Democratric Party rings too true though. They appear willing to sacrifice this nation in order to regain political power. Their complete ignorance of Historical perception is very disturbing.

With the polls as they are I can only hope that what we are hearing from them is rhetorical and not substantive. I fear otherwise and will likely vote for McGavick though.

Posted by: deadwood on October 1, 2006 01:47 PM
22. Sorry Charlie says "Eric thinks that his arguement is with liberals, but actually it is with the 7-to-2-GOP-appointed supreme court, who ruled this summer in Hamdi Vs. Rumsfeld that enemy combatants do fall under the Geneva convention."

I think you are a little mixed up. The Hamdi decision was released in 2004. The Hamdan decision was released earlier this summer (in June). It wasn't a 7-2 decision--it was 5-3, and it wasn't conservative judges that were in the majority, it was Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter and Kennedy. Thomas, Scalia and Alito were in the minority (Roberts recused himself because he had ruled in favor of the administration when he was on the Federal Appeals Court).

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 1, 2006 02:13 PM
23. Nancy: Catching Bin Laden is a liberal mantra-it will have no positive effect whatsoever on the war on terror. More likely a negative effect as he will become a martyr. Probably been dead since Tora Bora anyway.

If you actually bothered reading something other than the Seattle Times, you would know the Iraqis have turned against AQ, are turning them in like mad, and AQ is in desperate straits in Iraq. 17 of 19 Iraqi provinces are peaceful.

If you think rights for detainees/no torture will make things better, there is no hope whatsoever for you. Weakness brings contempt....AQ is laughing themeselves silly over how we treat Gitmo detainees.

Lets hear your strategy, Nancy, for winning this thing. Oops, not interested in winning, sorry. Just interested in power, right? Thank God you are in a dreamy minority......and will stay so...

Posted by: Hank on October 1, 2006 02:47 PM
24. Hank--
You hit the nail on head.
For those of Nancy's ilk, it has everything to do with power....and nothing to do with winning or the right thing.

Fortunately, most Americans (vast majority in fact) have little sympathy for the terrorists and the efforts to give them the same protections we citizens are afforded under the Constitution.

It is this defining issue that will likely cause the Dems to fall short in the November Elections. Folks are not willing to risk their security on a "touchy-feely" approach to terrorism. For the majority....it is win or else.
Have you seen the early-2000 video of all the terrorists, incl. Bin Laden and 9-11 killers?? It is amazing. Will be interesting to see WHO is all identified on that tape. Are their any Iraqi's??

Time will tell.

It was chilling.

Where was Bill Clinton on this date???
What intelligence did Clinton have on this grandios meeting?
Why didn't Clinton act??

The answers could shift the focus of this election.

Posted by: dude on October 1, 2006 02:56 PM
25. Eric, I think the validity of any proposition can be measured on the moonbat scale, the measure of the number of moonbat and/or inane responses. You scored high on this one.

Posted by: South County on October 1, 2006 02:57 PM
26. I'm curious, Nancy, how you are defining "torture". You throw it around pretty casually. Do you consider what the US military defines as agressive interrogation as "torture"? Or do you think that our guys are pulling out fingernails, beheading, raping, electrocuting, whatever?

You need to be more careful with your terms, otherwise you participate in the wholesale smearing of honorable servicemen. Funny, John Kerry did that in testimony in front of Congress oh so many years ago. But the Democrat party embraced him, and never called him on his heinous remarks. I guess Nancy is just one more of the bunch.

Posted by: Janet S on October 1, 2006 03:14 PM
27. The United States has treaty obligations to guide our conduct-- the rules of war. If the world's most powerful country abrogates its treaty obligations, then it leads the world in lawlessness. Our enemies can then say, "see, the Americans really are evil. We can kill them with impunity." How will we then respond? So much for moral values and leadership!

The very idea that "aggressive techniques" will work on religious fanatics is excruciatingly stupid on its face. It is the attitude of bullies, and of cowards who submit to bullying. (Those two groups have plenty of overlap.) Torture has never been a reliable means of obtaining useful information-- the victim just says whatever will get the torture to stop. Given that this administration refused all warnings for eight full months prior to 9/11, what good would information gained "aggressively" have done anyway?

Posted by: Paddy Mac on October 1, 2006 03:31 PM
28. The Republicans have a problem, Democrats have a problem, America has a problem. And this massive, overly-intellectualized effort (I thought we liberals were the pointy-heads!) by Mr. Earling sheds no enlightenment as to a solution. It's but a dressed-up, cobbled together exposition of the "state of denial" which apparently surrounds our President and his cabinet; as so discouragingly described in Bob Woodward's new book

Not sure what it might take to convince Mr. Earling- the disturbing NIE, the chaos and inflexibility described by Woodward- but every inside witness to the war's conception and prosecution has testified to incompetence, if not malfeasance, on the part of the administration.

I gain no satisfaction seeing my country and my president go down so spectacularly.

Both sides of the aisle in Washington have known of this abject failure for at least year or so, and even some of the most partisan Republicans are beginning to swear off the koolaid. They must be re-elected next month, and for the Republican majority it's not looking so good.

Don't know that Democrats should want to inherit this Iraq mess- as in Vietnam, they could find themselves caught in the quagmire of this deadly folly. All I know is- I won't be voting any R's to the federal level this season.

Mr. Earling: please put your considerable mind into figuring out an honorable way out of this mess instead of trying to re-justify staying a course that's leading us off a cliff.

Politics aside, I fear for our country.

Posted by: uncle worried on October 1, 2006 03:58 PM
29. Paddy Mac wrote,

The United States has treaty obligations to guide our conduct-- the rules of war.
If the world's most powerful country abrogates its treaty obligations, then it leads the world in lawlessness.

But who else has signed that list? Did AlQaeda? Zarqawi? If not, then there is no treaty between anybody who signed it and those who did not. That treaty ALSO says that these rules don't apply to stateless, un-uniformed fighters, like Al Qaeda, and the Sunni/Shiite thugs who like to target civilians. So what's the point of the treaty in this case? To pat ourselves on the back and show people who don't care that we're Mr. Nice Guy?

Our enemies can then say, "see, the Americans really are evil. We can kill them with impunity." How will we then respond? So much for moral values and leadership!

But you miss the obvious--when we follow the rules, our enemies say, "See, the Americans really are weak. We can kill them with impunity."
This is, after all, what Bin Laden concluded long ago. You seem to be thinking that they are considerate, progressive people like you--when they clearly are not. They don't look to you or me or the rest of America for values and leadership.


The very idea that "aggressive techniques" will work on religious fanatics is excruciatingly stupid on its face.

That's funny...it's worked so far. You must think that religious fanatics have some kinds of super powers that enable them to resist. This is the case, of course, when you give them three halal meals a day, a nice cushy bunk, and so on.
It is the attitude of bullies, and of cowards who submit to bullying. (Those two groups have plenty of overlap.) Torture has never been a reliable means of obtaining useful information-- the victim just says whatever will get the torture to stop.
And of course interrogators don't know this, and never actually *check* this information out. You say "torture" (without defining it) has never worked...but your blanket statement is in error.

Given that this administration refused all warnings for eight full months prior to 9/11, what good would information gained "aggressively" have done anyway?

Oh come on, lay off the BDS already! If yer man Clinton had acted on the information that he had for 8 years, then you wouldn't have Bush to blame, right?

Posted by: pseudotsuga on October 1, 2006 03:59 PM
30. Janet S., Good point on Kerry slandering our troops in the Viet Nam war, but he has also done the same thing in the Iraq war. He said "And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs."

He just can't help himself...Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 1, 2006 04:06 PM
31. Pseudotsuga, good post. I would also add that Brian Ross (ABC investigative reporter and not generally believed to be part of the vast right wing conspiracy) has reported that all 14 of the high value Al Queda prisoners broke under aggressive interrogation and gave us a lot of information that has been helpful both in rounding up further terrorists as well as in stopping attacks--the attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles being a prominent example. That information came from Khalid Sheik Mohammed and potentially saved thousands of people.

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 1, 2006 04:19 PM
32. "Our enemies can then say, "see, the Americans really are evil. We can kill them with impunity." How will we then respond? So much for moral values and leadership!"

"But you miss the obvious--when we follow the rules, our enemies say, "See, the Americans really are weak. We can kill them with impunity."
This is, after all, what Bin Laden concluded long ago. You seem to be thinking that they are considerate, progressive people like you--when they clearly are not. They don't look to you or me or the rest of America for values and leadership."

And what of those persons who are yet neither our enemies nor our allies? What will convince them more to join our side: us acting like civilized persons, or us eagerly diving to the moral level of terrorists? (I suppose that you can riposte, "Allies? After five years of our current foreign policy? BWAHAHAHAH!" How could I argue that?)

"That's funny...it's worked so far."
Please give examples, demonstrate that this was the only or best way, by including calculations on the cost of doing it this way, as opposed to other ways.

"Given that this administration refused all warnings for eight full months prior to 9/11, what good would information gained "aggressively" have done anyway?"

"Oh come on, lay off the BDS already! If yer man Clinton had acted on the information that he had for 8 years, then you wouldn't have Bush to blame, right?"

Thank you for not answering my point. I can easily answer yours. Clinton attacked Al-Qa'eda after it killed Americans. But the Republican Congress refused to rally around our President, even after terrorists attacked us. They denied him the authority he sought-- which was far less than this law gives our current President-- on the grounds that terror attacks did not merit it. He did the best he could, with his hands tied by the Republican Congress, who still tried to force him from office for a "crime" not even in the same league as attempted child-molestation. That sure made us look strong!

Posted by: Paddy Mac on October 1, 2006 05:35 PM
33. Nancy, You might actually try talking to soldiers who have served at GITMO about who these guys are. My unit served there and I can tell you that these are not nice Guys. Also, have you ever truly read the Geneva Convention? As others have posted AL-Qaeda never signed on, they dont wear uniforms and they are not from a country or nation state. With this being the case you could classify them as sabateurs or spies. The Geneva convention has rules dealing with both of these and that is to take them out and execute them. Convention IV Part III Article 68 states, "The penal provisions promulgated by the Occupying Power in accordance with Articles 64 and 65 may impose the death penalty against a protected person only in cases where the person is guilty of espionage, of serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power or of intentional offences which have caused the death of one or more persons, provided that such offences were punishable by death under the law of the occupied territory in force before the occupation began."
This is why the President and his administration has come up with the enemy combantant classification. Also, the Geneva convention is very vague on what is allowed and what is not. It states you can not use texhniques that are"Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment". That is very broad and is up to interpretation. Some could say that playing load music falls under this statement and therefore our interogators could be prosecuted, even though we as Americans are subjected to it daily on our roads by other drivers. This is why we needed to have this clarified. And while we are on the topic where is your outrage of the Terorists violation of the Geneva Convention? They have violated many a law in the COnvention to include these:


Article 3

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;


c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on October 1, 2006 05:44 PM
34. As I was writing this post, Bill H made his excellent points. I'll post this anyway.

Sorry Charlie is tying to make the point that it was a "Republican" court that decided Hamdan, although he cites Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, which was a 6-3 decision in 2004 regarding habeas corpus rights of an American citizen, Hamdi, who was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

Maybe if Sorry Charlie was actually able to present more knowledge than his Wikipedia searches, and regurgitation of the "drinking liberally" talking points, we could take him seriously.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was decided 5-3. The details about the decision are too complex for SC, so I'll summarize: Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, and was joined by Justice Souter, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer. Justice Kennedy agreed that Hamdan's military commission is unauthorized, but didn't agree that the Court needed to rule on the applicability of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

Justice Alito, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas dissented and filed various dissenting opinions.

Chief Justice Roberts took no part in the consideration or decision of the case since he voted with the majority when Hamdan was decided by the D.C. Circuit Court. It is this D.C. Circuit ruling that SCOTUS overruled. Had he taken part in the decision one can probably assume that he would have voted the same way as he did on the D.C. Circuit Court. That would have made the decision 5-4.

President Clinton appointed Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer. Republican Presidents appointed the remaining seven current Justices.

These are the same five Justices that gave us the Kelo decision, and we know how well that decision was received.

SC would have us believe that "Republican" Justices decided Hamdan and Kelo. I would argue that except for the two "Democrat" Justices we would have had a much different decision.

Once again Sorry Charlie tries to educate conservatives but winds up making a fool of himself.


Posted by: Obi-Wan on October 1, 2006 05:47 PM
35. Whack-job sez; "Clinton attacked Al-Qa'eda after it killed Americans. But the Republican Congress refused to rally around our President, even after terrorists attacked us. They denied him the authority he sought-- which was far less than this law gives our current President-- on the grounds that terror attacks did not merit it. He did the best he could, with his hands tied by the Republican Congress, who still tried to force him from office for a "crime" not even in the same league as attempted child-molestation. That sure made us look strong!"

Maybe in your favorite delusion, but that's not the way it happened in the world that the rest of us inhabit. Try again patti-whack...

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 1, 2006 08:20 PM
36. Thanks Bill H and especially Obi Wan for the assists. I made inexcusable errors first in confusing similarly named SCOTUS cases, and then in being unclear with my language.

As Obi seems to understand, I have pointed out that an overwhelminly conservative court (7-2) has brought us the need for new torture legislation via Hamdan Vs. Rumsfeld. Can someone please explain to foolish little me why Eric completely missed this detail in his post?

Was it because he wanted to blame the reasonable decision of the Court on Senator Cantwell? Does he realize that the final legislation has been presumed constitutionally DOA by legal scholars and legislators who voted against it. We're here because SCOTUS rejected Bush's policy of treating "unlawful combatants" differently from captured criminals. Passing an unconstitutional bill in this area is worse than doing nothing at all. It sets the process of finding a solution backward many months, even years.

The point is that the people who have argued above that terrorists shouldn't have rights are not argeing with Cantwell. They are arguing with the justices of the Supreme Court.

Posted by: Sorry Charlie on October 2, 2006 12:40 AM
37. Citizens, I'll ask you to think of a few things in relation to what's been said. When you think of the terrorist, who is he? Is it that person you see on the dispicible videos of journalists being beheaded, ready to die at a moment's notice solely to kill Americans? Surely, that person does exist, we've seen him. There are more like him, as well. But haven't some of you allowed that person to represent every person we have captured? I surely do not need to present evidence that many who are captured are not those people, for the public record is so full of such things that only the willfull ignorance of those who no amount of reason can penetrate would be unknowing. Have indeed you allowed that terrorist to become your entire understanding of a region? Some of you speak of a mideast mindset that only respects power and brutality. Is that because you can only picture the Arab as a weak coward, able to be ruled only by terrible tyrants like Saddam Hussein? This blatantly racist ignorance cannot stand because it undermines our very efforts abroad. No, the average person in Iraq is just like the average person in America. They want to live their lives peacably and comfortably. If we treat them with respect, if we show them the power of democratic institutions, they will cleave to them and when Osama comes and says die to save your children from the Great Satan, he will turn against Osama because he must plow his field and Osama threatens his wellfare. If, however, you bomb his field, take from him his children, torture his neighbors, he will believe that America does threaten his welfare, and do what he thinks he must to defend his children. Is that so difficult to understand? I cast no aspersions upon the heroes who daily fight and die to protect our great nation. But I also remember similar young people an ocean away from home, meaning no ill but afraid of a populace full of those who would sooner see them dead, fire in self defense at an angry mob in Boston. It was the policies to ensure security that so offended that people that led to a group of irregulars to gather in a square in Concord, and start a war. As to the policy implications, a review of what the JAG, FBI, former Military interrogators, and any other credible source will show you that torture is counterproductive.

Posted by: M Tullius on October 2, 2006 01:30 AM
38. Sorry Charlie, you can say that a 7-2 majority of justices were appointed by Republicans, but you cannot say that a 7-2 majority are conservative. The court is split with 4 liberals (Stevens, Souter, Breyer and Ginsburg), 4 conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) and one moderate (Kennedy). The fact that Stevens and Souter were appointed by Nixon and Bush does not make them conservative. Also, the only reason Kennedy (appointed by Reagan) is on the court is because of the "Borking" of Robert Bork.

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 2, 2006 04:02 AM
39. M Tullius,
you seem to be confusing, or think that others on this blog are confusing, the Arab or Iraqi population that we are helping with the jihadists that we are fighting. You say "When you think of the terrorist, who is he? Is it that person you see on the dispicible videos of journalists being beheaded, ready to die at a moment's notice solely to kill Americans? Surely, that person does exist, we've seen him. There are more like him, as well. But haven't some of you allowed that person to represent every person we have captured?".

While there are certainly some jihadists that are more extreme than others, the fact is that they are all still illegal enemy combatants that are not eligible for treatment as POW's under the Geneva Convention (regardless of what our Supreme Court has ruled--the same 5 justices also ruled wrongly in the Kelo decision). We have seen what these terrorists are capable of on 9/11 (remember that?). The difference between us is that I would rather us err on the side of making sure we get whatever intelligence we can out of these high value prisoners in order to stop the next 9/11 and you don't. I am confident that if that difference in views is expressed to the American people as a whole, the vast majority will agree with me and not with you.

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 2, 2006 04:21 AM
40. As an addendum to my last post, Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent article in National Review Online today entitled "Traitors to the Enlightenment". It is found here: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=M2JlMzJhNjIxZGZkYjdmZGU0ZGUyOWM3MzEwMTk0ZWQ=

Sorry, I'm not sure how to make this a link.

Hanson discusses the differences between Europe's response to Islamic radicalism versus the U.S. response, but there are many many liberals in the U.S. that are on the same page as the Europeans. They want to believe that "they are just like us", while they cave to their intimidation. We don't need more appeasement, we need to DEFEAT them.

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 2, 2006 06:47 AM
41. Their "base" might well be criminally incompetent in terms of understanding the complexity and history of matters relating to national security and waging war.

Oh. Really. I'm ever so curious. I consider myself a member of the liberal base. What parts did I get wrong? I especially would like details where my positions were criminally incompetent.

This should prove interesting.

Posted by: zappini on October 2, 2006 04:56 PM
42. Zappini, you have to read beyond the first two lines to get to the good part.

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 2, 2006 05:08 PM
43. Two questions to consider regarding Lincoln's controversial suspension of Habeas Corpus:

1. Under what conditions did he do it, and how do those conditions compare to today's situation? If I'm not mistaken, the constitution allows suspension when public safety is threatened by rebellion or invasion - and that article applies to the legislative branch.

2. Why did the supreme court end up rebuking Lincoln for doing it, and ruling that military trials were illegal in areas where civil courts could function?

Posted by: Harry N on October 2, 2006 05:49 PM
44. I still havent been answered. Is Eric Dumb, or is he lying?

Posted by: Sorry Charlie on October 2, 2006 09:28 PM
45. How's this for some rational thought:

Torture, no matter how broadly or narrowly we define it, is coercive.

Coercive interrogation does not produce reliable results. Ask an expert. Academics and intelligence professionals alike will agree: pulling fingernails, inducing hypothermia, waterboarding, beatings and psychological torture all produce essentially the same result--a subject who is desperate to end the torture.

Under these circumstances, the subject of the torture/interrogation is essentially useless. He will lie, fabricate and imply anything that he can to show that he is useful and compliant in an attempt to stop the torture. Anything that a suspect or witness says while being tortured, after being tortured or even when torture is feared is unreliable. This doctrine has been a cornerstone of Western law for centuries, and for good reason.

Leaving aside the moral arguments to be made about human rights and the repugnance of torture, we should never use torture on a criminal suspect or a witness for the purposes of interrogation simply because it does not produce reliable information--it does not work.

Posted by: Charlie on October 3, 2006 09:13 AM
46. Charlie, you need to get input from some actual experts, not the weenies that the Democrats put out. Brian Ross (ABC investigative reporter and not generally believed to be part of the vast right wing conspiracy) has reported that all 14 of the high value Al Qaeda prisoners broke under aggressive interrogation and gave us a lot of information that has been helpful both in rounding up further terrorists as well as in stopping attacks--the attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles being a prominent example. That information came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and potentially saved thousands of lives.

You are just verifying the Republican stance that the Left is not serious about the war against islamic fascism. Like the Clinton administration and like Kerry, you think this should be handled as a police exercise. This is an existential war!

Bill H

Posted by: Bill H on October 3, 2006 10:59 AM
47. Paddy Mac @ 32 claims,

"But the Republican Congress refused to rally around our President, even after terrorists attacked us. They denied him the authority he sought-- which was far less than this law gives our current President-- on the grounds that terror attacks did not merit it. He did the best he could, with his hands tied by the Republican Congress...."

Unfortunately his claims are supported by the FACTS. Poor libs, Lexis-Nexis has made it too easy to refute their DNC talking points. They seems to believe in the old adage that if one repeats a lie often enough it will become the truth. For the record I have included a good rebuttal of the claim that the Republicans didn't support President Clinton. I've included the link to the entire article.

Bill Clinton, Bin Laden, and Hysterical Revisions
(emphasis added in the original)
**********************************************
Nothing but GOP support for getting bin Laden

With that in mind, a thorough LexisNexis search identified absolutely no instances of high-ranking Republicans ever suggesting that Mr. Clinton was obsessed with bin Laden, or did too much to apprehend him prior to the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. Quite the contrary, Republicans were typically highly supportive of Clinton's efforts in this regard.

As a little background, prior to the August 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, there is hardly any mention of bin Laden by President Clinton in American news transcripts. For the most part, the first real discussion of the terrorist leader by the former president - or by any U.S. politicians or pundits for that matter - began after these bombings, and escalated after the American retaliation in Afghanistan a few weeks later.

At the time, the former president was knee-deep in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, so much so that the press was abuzz with the possibility that Clinton had performed these attacks to distract the American people from his extracurricular activities much as in the movie Wag the Dog.

Were there high-ranking Republicans that piled on this assertion? Hardly. As the Associated Press reported on the day of the attacks, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) said the following on August 20, 1998:

"Well, I think the United States did exactly the right thing. We cannot allow a terrorist group to attack American embassies and do nothing. And I think we have to recognize that we are now committed to engaging this organization and breaking it apart and doing whatever we have to to suppress it, because we cannot afford to have people who think that they can kill Americans without any consequence. So this was the right thing to do." [emphasis added]

Gingrich was not alone in his support. CNN's Candy Crowley reported on August 21, 1998, the day after cruise missiles were sent into Afghanistan:

"With law makers scattered to the four winds on August vacation, congressional offices revved up the faxes. From the Senate majority leader [Trent Lott], 'Despite the current controversy, this Congress will vigorously support the president in full defense of America's interests throughout the world.'" [emphasis added]

Crowley continued:

"'The United States political leadership always has and always will stand united in the face of international terrorism,' said the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [Jesse Helms]." [emphasis added]

It was vintage rally around the flag, just as they did for Ronald Reagan when he bombed Libya, for George Bush when he sent armed forces to the Gulf.

The Atanta Journal-Constitution reported the same day:

"'Our nation has taken action against very deadly terrorists opposed to the most basic principles of American freedom,' said Sen. Paul Coverdell, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 'This action should serve as a reminder that no one is beyond the reach of American justice.'" [emphasis added]

Former vice president Dan Quayle was quoted by CNN on August 23, 1998:

"I don't have a problem with the timing. You need to focus on the act itself. It was a correct act. Bill Clinton took--made a decisive decision to hit these terrorist camps. It's probably long overdue." [emphasis added]

Were there some Republican detractors? Certainly. Chief amongst them was Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana:

"I think we fear that we may have a president that is desperately seeking to hold onto his job in the face of a firestorm of criticism and calls for him to step down."

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) also questioned the timing at first. However, other Republicans pleaded with dissenters on their side of the aisle to get on board the operation, chief amongst them, Gingrich himself. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Speaker felt the "Wag the Dog" comparisons were "sick":

"'Anyone who saw the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, anyone who saw the coffins come home, would not ask such a question,' said the House speaker, referring to the 12 Americans killed in the embassy bombings."

In fact, Gingrich did everything within his power to head off Republican criticism of these attacks as reported by the Boston Globe on August 23, 1998:

"Indeed, Gingrich even saw to it that one of his political associates, Rich Galen, sent a blast-Fax to conservative talk radio hosts urging them to lay off the president on the missile strikes, and making sure they knew of Gingrich's strong support. [emphasis added]

"That's the same Rich Galen, by the way, who is openly urging Republican congressional candidates to try to take political advantage of the president's sex scandal in their television advertising this fall."

Sound like Republicans were complaining about President Clinton obsessing over bin Laden? Or, does it seem that Mr. Clinton pulled this concept out of his... hat in front of Chris Wallace, and ran 99 yards with the ball, albeit in the wrong direction?

Regardless, in the end, sanity prevailed, and both Specter and Coats got on board the operation:

After reviewing intelligence information collected on bin Laden, Specter said: "I think the president acted properly." [emphasis added]

As for "neocons," one so-called high-ranking member, Richard Perle, wrote the following in an August 23, 1998, op-ed published in the Sunday Times:

"For the first time since taking office in 1993, the Clinton administration has responded with some measure of seriousness to an act of terror against the United States. This has undoubtedly come as a surprise to Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist believed to have been behind the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and to the regimes in Afghanistan and Sudan who provide him with sanctuary and support.

"Until now they, along with other terrorists and their state sponsors in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea, have manoeuvred, plotted, connived and killed with confidence that the United States would do little or nothing in retaliation.

"So Thursday's bombing is a small step in the right direction. More important, it reverses, at least for now, a weak and ineffective Clinton policy that has emboldened terrorists and confirmed that facilitating terror is without cost to the states that do it." [emphasis added]

Does that sound like a "Bush neocon" claiming that Clinton was "obsessed with bin Laden" to you?

In reality, the only person that appears to have said that Clinton was fixated with the al Qaeda leader was Richard Clarke, who stated the following on CNN on March 24, 2004:

"Bill Clinton was obsessed with getting bin Laden. Bill Clinton ordered bin Laden assassinated. He ordered not only bin Laden assassinated but all of his lieutenants."

Well, at least somebody felt Clinton was obsessed with Osama. But Clinton referred to Clarke quite favorably during his tirade.

Moving forward, conservative support for Clinton's Afghanistan attacks didn't end in the weeks that followed. On October 25, 1998, high-ranking Republican senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said the following on CNN:

"You've seen the great work of the FBI and the CIA in particular with regard to the Osama bin Laden matters."

Yet, maybe more curious than the delusion by Mr. Clinton that Republicans were claiming he was obsessed with bin Laden is the fact that he believes he was. After all, if Clinton had been so focused on this terrorist leader that Republicans would have thought it was over-kill, wouldn't there be indications of this obsession in the record?

Quite the contrary, much as there is no evidence of any Republican expressing such an opinion, there is no evidence that anti-terrorism efforts were a huge focus of the Clinton administration. For instance, just five months after the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Africa, President Clinton gave a State of the Union address.

Think terrorism or the capture of bin Laden was a central focus to the supposedly obsessed former president? Hardly. In a one-hour, seventeen minute speech to the nation on January 19, 1999, this is all President Clinton had to say about such issues:

"As we work for peace, we must also meet threats to our nation's security, including increased danger from outlaw nations and terrorism. We will defend our security wherever we are threatened--as we did this summer when we struck at Osama bin Laden's network of terror.

"The bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania reminds us again of the risks faced every day by those who represent America to the world. So let's give them the support they need, the safest possible workplaces, and the resources they must have so America can continue to lead.

"We must work to keep terrorists from disrupting computer networks. We must work to prepare local communities for biological and chemical emergencies, to support research into vaccines and treatments."

Furthermore, twelve months later, even though he spoke for almost an hour and a half during his final State of the Union address on January 27, 2000, according to a Nexis-Lexis search, the name Osama bin Laden was never mentioned. This appears almost impossible to believe given revelations that very morning about a connection between the individual apprehended trying to cross the Canadian border with explosives in December and bin Laden.

So much for obsession.
**************************************************

So, Paddy Mac, are you man enough to admit you're wrong? I don't agree very often with Sorry Charlie, but I respect his sense of honor to admit when he's wrong.

How about you? Will you're wife let you have your b@lls back long enough to admit to a mistake?


Posted by: Obi-Wan on October 3, 2006 10:08 PM
48. Damn Obi-Wan, that's an awesome post! It's lost on a loser like patti-whack, but not on me. They say that the truth hurts, but only if you have an ounce of integrity. Those without it just waggle their fingers and fleck spittle and lie.

Ain't that right, patti-whack?

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 3, 2006 10:24 PM
49. Thanks, alphabet soup.

Ack, the last sentence should read, "Will your wife...."

Posted by: Obi-Wan on October 3, 2006 11:30 PM
50. Hi Bill H-

you have to read beyond the first two lines to get to the good part.

I read the "essay". Twice. I must of have missed "the good part".

There's some fundamental misunderstandings on the part of torture enthusiasts.

I'm not qualified to argue constitutional law. Fortunately, others (actual conservatives and the reviled liberals) have already covered those bases. The basic idea is that our constitution applies to all persons, not just citizens, which was an explicit choice on the part of the framers.

I won't argue morality and ethics. Because I think even considering torture debases us.

I can argue pragmatism. Torture doesn't work. Torture harms our national interests.

If stating the obvious makes me criminally incompetent, then I guess Eric Earling and I will just have to agree to disagree. With the understanding, of course, that he is wrong and I am right. (Pun intended.)

Posted by: zappini on October 4, 2006 08:31 PM
51. Zappini -

The Constitution most definitely does not apply to all persons, it applies primarily to citizens, and in some cases certain protections are afforded non-citizens in judicial settings in this country. In addition, if my memory in researching this issue is correct, certain Constitutional rights for citizens have been conferred upon non-citizens in the United States by statute rather than the Constitution itself. However, and this remains the key, the Constitution in no way applies to alien unlawful combatants, particularly those detained in foreign countries. That is one of the key differences between the two sides of this debate. One side wants to stay with the essential legal structure that has governed such detainees for decades (and which has historical foundations going back centuries). The other wants to grant Constitutional rights to a group of persons who have never enjoyed them to begin with. Since the group of persons in question consists of sworn enemies of the United States, the previously unheard of conferring of Constitutional rights is fabulously nonsensical, however well-intended or naive it might be.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 5, 2006 07:25 AM
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