“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thank the Supreme Court

We can thank the US Supreme Court for twisting a case and finding a way to misapply the Geneva Convention to battle field combatants captured primarily in Afghanistan. Yet somehow a case which involved military tribunals has morphed into a debate of coercion guidelines which McCain and Co. Have refused to clarify. They have chosen instead to leave in place the infamously vague prohibition against "Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" with the implication that the professionals would act as the situation requires and fall on the sword if need be. The President has said that's not good enough and insists that if clear guidelines aren't spelled out, there will be no CIA interrogation, period.

The NRO Editors said this:
A bloc of Republican senators, led by John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham, is determined to disable the intelligence-collecting capabilities of the United States while it is at war with a deadly foe against whom intelligence is the best weapon.

The trio wants to derail the Bush administration's effort to preserve coercive interrogation methods. These methods almost all of them falling well short of torture have been proven to yield intelligence that saves American lives. In their absence, 9/11 would already have been reprised; if they are eliminated now, the likelihood of its recurrence will increase significantly.

At the heart of the controversy is the Supreme Courts disastrous June decisioAndeanaVdan v. Rumsfeld. Ostensibly, the case involved only military commissions, not interrogation. Nonetheless, by misconstruing the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 (CA3) to apply to commission trials for unlawful enemy combatants, and by being coy about whether its reasoning was limited to CA3s terms governing trials or embraced all of its terms, the Court opened a Pandora's box.
As CA3's language plainly indicates, it was not meant to be judicially enforceable, and was intended to apply only to civil wars not to international conflicts such as our hostilities with a transnational terror network that kills globally. But although we may have to live with the Supreme Court's unfortunate ruling, there is no need to treat CA3 as sacrosanct. Congress is always free to legislate standards that vary from treaty terms, and the president may even withdraw us unilaterally from treaties that no longer serve the nation's interests.
In fact, when the Court decision was announced, this is what Senator Lindsey Graham was all over the airways claiming he and others would do immediately. He was going give the President all the tools he needed. Yeah right, just as they did with the Detainee Treatment Act!

The NRO editors go on to say that McCain has already weakened us with his amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act outlawing the vague "Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." Now McCain, Graham et al will do the same to military prosecutions. By the time these brave warriors get down we may as well give up.
...As a clarification of CA3, the McCain Amendment has its shortcomings. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment mirrors CA3's vague terms, and it is not always self-evident what the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments permit in a given circumstance. Still, the McCain Amendment has the advantage of being a democratically enacted American law. Thus, unlike CA3, its meaning and application will not be affected by foreign tribunals (unless the Court takes the internationalization of its jurisprudence much further than it has). The Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, moreover, govern judicial proceedings primarily, what confession evidence is admissible in criminal trials and what sentences may lawfully be imposed after conviction. They don't control interrogation practices for detained combatants. Thus, the McCain amendment has impaired our ability to conduct effective interrogations, whereas CA3 would end our ability to conduct aggressive interrogations altogether.

We are not, and the administration is not, advocating torture. But there are, manifestly, methods of coercion that, though rougher than the Miranda standards of the criminal- and military-justice systems, fall short of torture. Such methods have already saved thousands of American lives, thanks to the intelligence gleaned from the CIA's interrogations of top al Qaeda captives like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Those methods will be effectively outlawed if Congress does not act. President Bush could not have put the matter more directly than he did last week: If legislation resembling his proposal is not enacted, Congress will have killed the CIA interrogation program.

The justifications offered by McCain et al. are vapid. They claim to be protecting American troops because, if we weaken our commitment to CA3, our enemies won't afford humane treatment to captured U.S. soldiers. But nothing we do will affect the savage treatment al Qaeda already gives its captives. Nor does our treatment of al Qaeda suspects portend anything of consequence for the treatment of U.S. forces in future wars. In such conflicts, the obligations of enemy nation-states as opposed to lawless bands of terrorists will be governed by the Geneva Conventions.

McCain has suggested that action by Congress to clarify CA3 would encourage other nations to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions; but this argument is absurd. Clarification is something always and necessarily done when terms are vague. Indeed, the whole point of the McCain Amendment itself was to clarify vague UNCAT terms.

It is essential that this wartime Congress preserve the CIA's ability to question jihadists aggressively and that McCain & Co. lose their battle to destroy one of our most important tools in the War on Terror.


  1. Cardinal Pell: Pope Rage "showed the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence"

    The Pope is getting help from the Aussies whether he wants it or not. Read a short, blunt report for a lift.

    How can we get some Aussie genes in the pool?

  2. wellll, ya gotta start "down under".

  3. The expert at pulling threads down to the belly-scratching level is at it again.
    McCain, in New Hampshire, Gets an Earful From the Right
    Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, said in an interview that he disagreed with Mr. McCain, and offered a forceful endorsement of Mr. Bush.
    “I am foursquare behind the president on this,” Mr. Romney said. “I believe that we should do everything possible to support those people at the front line who are responsible for enforcing the war on terrorism.”

    Mr. McCain said Sunday that he was acting out of conscience, not political calculation...

    Asked if this was his sharpest difference with Mr. McCain, Mr. Romney said: “No. There are a number of things. We have different views on McCain-Feingold, differing views on immigration policy, differing views on the interrogation of terrorists. There are also many other areas where we see eye to eye.”

    Told about Governor Romney’s position on the treatment of terrorism suspects, Mr. McCain noted tartly, “He doesn’t have a vote.”

    Still, many conservatives have criticized Mr. McCain for his support for campaign finance legislation, his backing of what they believe are permissive immigration laws, and now this. “

    The question is being asked: in the midst of the most difficult and challenging war we have ever faced, can the nation afford a President McCain?” The Union-Leader — the largest newspaper in the state, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary — asked in a front-page editorial on Saturday. It was one of two editorials it published this weekend attacking Mr. McCain’s views.

  4. Mr McCain believes the Forest Service folk more than his constituents, seemed a Federal Judge had to set 'em all straight. Mr McCain does not qualify for electoral support.

  5. I couldn't find Allen's Oz link--this was atop Jihadwatch, tho. Seems less than 2000 USA anti-muz incidents, of all types including 'job discrimination', were reported to CAIR in 2005. I'd've expected ten times that many (assuming half are probably bogus, anyway). What sweet, forgiving people are Americans.

  6. They all get their share of blame.
    Mr Bush by waiting so long to go to Congress, allowing the Supremes the opportunity.

    The Supremes for being more Progressive than ever, but that was to be expected, if they were given the opportunity.

    Mr McCain, Warner, Graham & the rest, the fence sitters, like Mr Allen included. For not backing the President, excommunication is the only solution.

  7. The Jihad Watch story is the third from the top; the top being the link you installed.

  8. It is hoped that a thread beginning with the admonition of a Roman Catholic Cardinal cannot descend too far. Right?

  9. None of you SUV drivers hit a possum trying to cross the road did you?

  10. His wife was going to fix the computer, or he was walking to Montana.

  11. MTV MTV on the Brain:
    You couldn't DRAG me to Madonna.

  12. Has anyone ever seen Habu and Dawg in the same picture?
    89% of the Outstanding Murder Warrants in LA County are Illegals!
    But we send Dawg down to the s...pit for catchin a rapist.

  13. Drudge has a link from Breitt Bart or Bart Breitt. Seems the democratic frorces in Iraq are burned up and want to return the same to the Pope:

    Pope Burned in Effigy in Iraq as Mideast Anger Simmers

    Sep 18 12:04 PM US/Eastern

    Iraqis have burned effigies of the pope and Al-Qaeda have vowed to pursue holy war, as an apology by the pontiff failed on Monday to quell anger in the Middle East.
    Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei said last week's controversial comments by Pope Benedict XVI linking Islam and violence were "links" in a US-Israeli conspiracy aimed at creating conflict between religions.

    Jordan praised the 79-year-old leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics for "quickly" expressing his personal regrets over his remarks but said more steps were needed to contain Muslim anger.

  14. Lawyers, Red Cross for Terrorists - What for Captive Israelis?
    Attorneys for three Hizbullah terrorists caught during the recent war in southern Lebanon argued in Nazareth District Court Monday that their clients should receive prisoner of war (POW) status. more

  15. Jerusalem Municipality Agrees to Permit Gay Parade in November

    The Jerusalem municipality agreed to have the World Pride gay parade in the capital on Nov. 10 in order to avoid a threatened Supreme Court action by the parade's sponsors.

  16. Courtesy Mika, elsewhere, also happening in Jerusalem area, cranking out them patents!

  17. water use is a little closer to my grasp than is a thousand-fold increase in chip speed.

  18. While those Yeshiva boys and girls are inventing the wireless wire, and old farmers and their techno sons are revolutionizing irrigation, not far away the Hez are trying to get them all in their russian-made sights.

    Right and wrong, face-to-face.

  19. Them Data Pipes Gotta have the right fall to em, else the light won't flow right.
    Hire Union Plumbers.

  20. damn, doug--had no idear you wuz so techno.

  21. CA3 garbage -

    Why is Bush bringing all this up, anyways? I mean, if the interrogators are that worried about lawsuits why doesn't Bush just say, 'Don't worry about the lawsuits, boys. If it ever gets that far you'll be sure to get a pardon from me. Go for it!'

    That's all he has to do.

  22. Follow up on that that Eli Yablonovitch fellah..

    Don't Blink!

    "One 'Unintended Consequence' Of Nanotechnology -- Incandescent light bulbs are the world's most common method of generating light. Although compact fluorescents are increasingly showing up in commercial and office settings, most homeowners still prefer the "warm" spectrum of the familiar light bulb. The problem is that the light bulb, which works by heating a tungsten filament to incandescence, is very inefficient; something you know all too well if you try to unscrew a bulb while it's running -- you'll burn your fingers. Incandescent light bulbs are only about 5% efficient in generating the light we want -- the other 95% of the energy that the bulb consumes goes out as infrared light, or waste heat.

    Now though, it turns out that a series of experiments begun by Eli Yablonovitch at UCLA and continued at Sandia National Labs, have yielded a surprising and un-predicted consequence of building a tungsten "filament" as a three-dimensional array of nano-sized tungsten bars (a "tungsten photonic crystal"), using the same techniques that are used to build integrated circuits. These tiny "Lincoln Log" structures keep the non-visible light from getting out, and then convert much of this trapped "waste" energy into the visible spectrum! This new type of emitter raises the efficiency of an incandescent bulb from today's 5%, to 60% or greater! Which would mean a dramatic reduction in energy needs around the globe.

    There's no indication of when light bulbs using this new technique will reach the Home Depot near you, but this is an excellent example of how, fundamentally, we're going to be able to change the world around us as we increasingly work with building blocks of atoms, molecules, and purpose-designed crystal structures, in the same way that nature works with them."

  23. "Its worth pointing out that it is also an area of the brain thats been thought of as the seat of dissonance itself, wherein a contesting viewpoint or contentious externality comes to rest in queue while being deconstructed."
    Come now, Sausage! (Not literally, you jerk-off!)
    Surely you've heard the liberal lament that us Conservative Trogs are always conflating and confusing sex with violence?
    On the other hand, think how bland passion might be with a Core Duo INAH-3 Cerebral Setup.
    All those fantasies of World Conquest would be executing in a separate pipeline as the act itself is carried out as if in a laboratory:
    Like having an Anti-Climax at an Anti-War demonstration.

  24. Are we using lasers or wires in that cerebral setup?

  25. Lasers in the head,
    Wires around the head.

  26. Mətušélaḥ,
    Like Dieter, I like the stark bright glare of an arc-lamp to bring out the highlights of my leather-wear.
    You may as well inform this monster that I am taking him to the World Court regarding his cruel and inhumane confinement of them Infra Rays in that Lincoln-Log Torture Chamber.
    We'll just see how he likes unscrewing burning 200 watt bulbs for a few weeks with his bare pinkies.

  27. I'm fluorescent with embarassment.
    Do you think I got a yeast infection, Doc?

  28. Sorry Doug. Tiz 5:40 AM here. My brain is fried now. So was that post.

  29. Hey, you've still got your magic deleter, Dieter!
    What are you doing up at this hour?

  30. The fortunes of sherry have waxed and waned over the centuries. Today most people think of sherry as either a bone dry fino like Tio Pepe or a sweet nut brown drink like Bristol Cream, yet best-selling as these two drinks are, there is a wealth of fine wines to be explored from Jerez that represent the best of what sherry can offer.

    Sherry is made primarily from the Palomino grape. When the wine has finished fermenting it's graded depending on the 'flor', the white yeast florescence that grows on the surface of the wine. Wines with a lot of flor become a fino or one of its derivatives, wines with less flor become either an oloroso. This difference in flor dictates the character of the wine - the wine with an abundance of flor will have a light, dry character of much finesse, the wine with less flor will become a darker, fuller oloroso.

    A fino can turn slowly into an amontillado, named after the town of Montilla whose wines show a similar style. The flor becomes darker and so does the wine, until it reaches the stage that it becomes an amontillado.


    Rick Moran is in for some seriously hysterical battering. Facts are troublesome things.

    What has this to do with the Pope: incoherent intolerance.

  32. Long ago, back when quantity was more important than such hoity-toity characteristics as "what it tastes like", there was a brief halcyon period known as the Sanford Era.

  33. One thing the 70s DID do right was comedy.

  34. 'course, what *ain't* funny when you're 20 something--?

  35. Still was better than today's garbage at least to these "wise" old eyes.

  36. WoT you say? I was skyping me Jooish accountants about a possible 12 fold reduction in my electricity bills. Them goobers nearly had me put to permanent sleep!