Condoning War Crimes

The chief restraint upon those who command the physical forces of the country, in the future as in the past, must be their responsibility to the political judgments of their contemporaries and to the moral judgments of history. - Justice Robert Jackson, dissenting in Korematsu v. US.

Thomas Friedman condones torture today:

President Obama got it about as right as one could when he decided to ban the use of torture, to release the Bush torture memos for public scrutiny and to not prosecute the lawyers and interrogators who implemented the policy. But there is nothing for us to be happy about in any of this. . . . [Y]es, people among us who went over the line may go unpunished, because we still have enemies who respect no lines at all. In such an ugly war, you do your best. Thatís what President Obama did.

Justice Brandeis' response:

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that, in the administration of the criminal law, the end justifies the means -- to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face.

Tom Friedman says "suck on this." Justice Brandeis says "we are a Nation of laws." Unfortunately, Tom Friedman is closer to the zeitgeist of the Village than Justice Brandeis.

Speaking for me only

UPDATE: I wanted to add what Justice Robert Jackson, who was the Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials, wrote in dissent in Korematsu:

[I]f we cannot confine military expedients by the Constitution, neither would I distort the Constitution to approve all that the military may deem expedient. That is what the Court appears to be doing, whether consciously or not. I cannot say, from any evidence before me, that the orders of General DeWitt were not reasonably expedient military precautions, nor could I say that they were. But even if they were permissible military procedures, I deny that it follows that they are constitutional. If, as the Court holds, it does follow, then we may as well say that any military order will be constitutional and have done with it.

The limitation under which courts always will labor in examining the necessity for a military order are illustrated by this case. How does the Court know that these orders have a reasonable basis in necessity? No evidence whatever on that subject has been taken by this or any other court. There is sharp controversy as to the credibility of the DeWitt report. So the Court, having no real evidence before it, has no choice but to accept General DeWitt's own unsworn, self-serving statement, untested by any cross-examination, that what he did was reasonable. And thus it will always be when courts try to look into the reasonableness of a military order.

In the very nature of things, military decisions are not susceptible of intelligent judicial appraisal. They do not pretend to rest on evidence, but are made on information that often would not be admissible and on assumptions that could not be proved. Information in support of an order could not be disclosed to courts without danger that it would reach the enemy. Neither can courts act on communications made in confidence. Hence courts can never have any real alternative to accepting the mere declaration of the authority that issued the order that it was reasonably necessary from a military viewpoint.

Much is said of the danger to liberty from the Army program for deporting and detaining these citizens of Japanese extraction. But a judicial construction of the due process clause that will sustain this order is a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself. A military order, however unconstitutional, is not apt to last longer than the military emergency. Even during that period a succeeding commander may revoke it all. But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need. Every repetition imbeds that principle more deeply in our law and thinking and expands it to new purposes. All who observe the work of courts are familiar with what Judge Cardozo described as "the tendency of a principle to expand itself to the limit of its logic." 1 A military commander may overstep the bounds of constitutionality, and it is an incident. But if we review and approve, that passing incident becomes the doctrine of the Constitution. There it has a generative power of its own, and all that it creates will be in its own image. Nothing better illustrates this danger than does the Court's opinion in this case.

It argues that we are bound to uphold the conviction of Korematsu because we upheld one in Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81, when we sustained these orders in so far as they applied a curfew requirement to a citizen of Japanese ancestry. I think we should learn something from that experience.

In that case we were urged to consider only the curfew feature, that being all that technically was involved, because it was the only count necessary to sustain Hirabayashi's conviction and sentence. We yielded, and the Chief Justice guarded the opinion as carefully as language will do. He said: "Our investigation here does not go beyond the inquiry whether, in the light of all the relevant circumstances preceding and attending their promulgation, the challenged orders and statute afforded a reasonable basis for the action taken in imposing the curfew." 320 U.S. at 101. "We decide only the issue as we have defined it -- we decide only that the curfew order as applied, and at the time it was applied, was within the boundaries of the war power." 320 U.S. at 102. And again: "It is unnecessary to consider whether or to what extent such findings would support orders differing from the curfew order." 320 U.S. at 105. (Italics supplied.) However, in spite of our limiting words we did validate a discrimination on the basis of ancestry for mild and temporary deprivation of liberty. Now the principle of racial discrimination is pushed from support of mild measures to very harsh ones, and from temporary deprivations to indeterminate ones. And the precedent which it is said requires us to do so is Hirabayashi. The Court is now saying that in Hirabayashi we did decide the very things we there said we were not deciding. Because we said that these citizens could be made to stay in their homes during the hours of dark, it is said we must require them to leave home entirely; and if that, we are told they may also be taken into custody for deportation; and if that, it is argued they may also be held for some undetermined time in detention camps. How far the principle of this case would be extended before plausible reasons would play out, I do not know.

I should hold that a civil court cannot be made to enforce an order which violates constitutional limitations even if it is a reasonable exercise of military authority. The courts can exercise only the judicial power, can apply only law, and must abide by the Constitution, or they cease to be civil courts and become instruments of military policy.

Of course the existence of a military power resting on force, so vagrant, so centralized, so necessarily heedless of the individual, is an inherent threat to liberty. But I would not lead people to rely on this Court for a review that seems to me wholly delusive. The military reasonableness of these orders can only be determined by military superiors. If the people ever let command of the war power fall into irresponsible and unscrupulous hands, the courts wield no power equal to its restraint. The chief restraint upon those who command the physical forces of the country, in the future as in the past, must be their responsibility to the political judgments of their contemporaries and to the moral judgments of history.

My duties as a justice as I see them do not require me to make a military judgment as to whether General DeWitt's evacuation and detention program was a reasonable military necessity. I do not suggest that the courts should have attempted to interfere with the Army in carrying out its task. But I do not think they may be asked to execute a military expedient that has no place in law under the Constitution. I would reverse the judgment and discharge the prisoner.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Tom Friedman (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by KeysDan on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:38:13 AM EST
    came across as an apologist for delusion.  But then, if he does not play this role, he runs the risk of being barred from Village cocktail parties and losing his sources--making it almost impossible for him to come up with anything to write and, thereby, tell us what to think.

    He still can take cab rides (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:41:26 AM EST
    hah! (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:42:37 AM EST
    Made me google. (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:19:34 AM EST
    Wha? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:42:07 AM EST
    Friedman sez, "people among us who went over the line may go unpunished, because we still have enemies who respect no lines at all."

    Is there any discernible logic in this sentence?  I can't find it.  It looks more like a pretty exact inversion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to me.

    Well, basically Friedman is for (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:55:55 AM EST
    anarchy.  Basically he's saying that all laws are suspended because we have enemies who don't recognize our laws.  So we're freed from the constraints of our system of laws.  So those crazy people responding to the calls of the wild wingnutia for rebellion who keep killing cops - they've found a friend in people like Tom Friedman.  They believe they have "enemies who don't recognize our laws" and they've gone after them.

    But that's not really what Friedman meant.  What he really meant was that his well-manicured friends formerly in the White House who have enrolled their kids in Chinese classes at his recommendation should not suffer for their criminal activities like normal people do.  They are to Friedman a protected class that should be allowed to operate outside the bounds of the laws because they are "special" and "important".


    God you just lit a fire in me (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:26:13 AM EST
    I remember how violated he seemed to be when a pie was thrown at him.  He acted as if he had been defiled and it was a flat out horror, but he was all for throwing things at completely innocent people living in the Middle East; things that killed them, maimed them, destroyed everything they owned.  I thought he was such a pathetic hypocrite on Thomas Friedman pouting pie day.

    People like Friedman always (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:44:32 AM EST
    make me think of the skinny, weak, drug addled "anarchists" who used to hang around the East Village in New York.

    I always thought, "Were you people to really get your wish, you'd be the first to get it."


    He reminds me of... (none / 0) (#55)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:35:06 PM EST
    ...oily GOP tics who make money hand over fist from other people's suffering and pain.  

    The Inner Partei (none / 0) (#14)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:15:15 AM EST
    How did Thomas Friedman (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:46:52 AM EST
    miss the fact that we've always had enemies who respect no lines at all?  Having such enemies is nothing new for the United States and it isn't a new phenomenon within our own society.  It is those who resist devolving to the lowest common denominator that preserve the possibilities for all of us to experience a life with some beauty along with its many trials.  Thomas Friedman has now become an enemy of our decent society who respects no lines.  I hope he soon comes to comprehend his blunder and I pray he never suspects me of anything that would cause him to desire to torture me.

    You pray? (none / 0) (#12)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:02:58 AM EST
    I think he should be the one who'd be praying on that front.  lol  Somehow, I'm guessing he would be up to taking you on.

    I wonder how in the world Mr. Globalization thinks his philosophy would work out for his grand international business aspirations if we approached everything assuming that we should break all the rules because someone else out there knows no bounds?  


    Okay I'm caught , I meditate that my aura never (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:17:24 AM EST
    exudes a terrorist hue :)

    He would NOT be up to taking you (none / 0) (#25)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:38:35 AM EST
    on - sorry for the typo.

    Contracts would go first. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:20:14 AM EST
    It's amazing that these influential columnists get away with their complicity in the crimes.

    We'd be back to the gold standard (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:40:08 AM EST
    in seconds and we'd all be armed to the hilt doing even the most pedestrian business exchange.  Forget about that much beloved thing called "credit".

    Well (none / 0) (#21)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:24:15 AM EST
    didnt they do the same thing in Germany during WWII?

    He should be on trial... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:17:28 AM EST
    ...as a propagandist for war crimes.  He's not much better than the DJ's on Radio Rwanda or ww2's Lord Haw Haw. He's also much more dangerous than Limbaugh, in part because midwestern liberals think Tom is one of them.

    Salo, we can't punish people for their (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:20:07 AM EST
    beliefs or stating their beliefs..........only deeds.  This is ancient wisdom.

    Yeah (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:18:02 PM EST
    It's a little thing called the "First Amendment"

    I actually forgot about that (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:23:59 PM EST
    Isn't that sad?  After the last eight years and having to fight the parsing and fight the parsing it is hard for me to focus with confidence on what my friggin rights are.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:47:39 PM EST
    I get a little nervous when people start talking about shutting down journalists.  I may not agree with what they say, but I also don't want them shut down for supposedly "promoting war crimes".  That smacks a little too much like censorship, and is a dangerous precedent.

    The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs.

    -George Orwell, 1984

    Not really the same. (none / 0) (#53)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:33:21 PM EST
    I do think Friedman crossed the line into being an activist for war.  There's more serious dirt on him beneath the surface of his words.  He's part of the system and the war party and  I suspect he personally profitted from the war in some way.  Which in my opinion makes him the Orwellian nightmare.

    How are they not the same? (none / 0) (#57)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:44:03 PM EST
    By that logic, any member of Congress who voted to continue funding and made floor speeches or who didn't hold or attend committee meetings on subjects that dealt with the situation in Iraq is an "Activist for War".

    Tom Friedman writes a column on the opinion pages.  He is entitled to his opinion, and as long as the paper sells, his employer will continue to pay him to do so. Are you saying the New York Times is also an activist for war because they employ him?


    He's a functional mouth piece (none / 0) (#26)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:38:52 AM EST
    for war crimes.  

    I think it's okay to talk about, (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:44:23 AM EST
    write about, and openly express that his reasoning supports war crimes. I remember when some people considered protesting the Iraq War treason though or a lesser crime.  After that experience I don't think I can ever be for prosecuting people for their beliefs.

    It would have been interesting to have... (none / 0) (#31)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:50:38 AM EST
    ...treason trials.  Massively interesting.  Might have stopped the war or mobilized people more quickly to stand up for themselves.

    It may have been interesting for spectators (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:20:17 PM EST
    but perhaps not so much fun for participants, while highly likely that guilt could be placed upon them for a lesser crime and when found guilty have discouraged future protest.

    I think not (none / 0) (#52)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:30:14 PM EST
    It would have triggered intensive resistance.

    I don't (none / 0) (#54)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:34:29 PM EST
    there was no draft to fuel real outrage.  Those being most affected either volunteered, had family members who volunteered, or were on the other side of the globe in the crossfire.  There were very few of us who showed up when Sheehan was supposed to be arrested.........something like 50 of us actually made the trip to make the Thursday morning point.  Not much of a "response" to the threat.

    It would have been an outrageous... (none / 0) (#58)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:59:36 PM EST
    ...set of trials.  Sheehan was abandoned by the left in part because Dems have become progressively more complicit in the crimes.  Suppose she'd been tried for sedition or something like that though?  Would she have been abandoned?  Probably not.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:30:56 AM EST
    BTD it seems the torture apologia is seeping into all the press at this point. Is there one person who has stood up and said it was wrong?

    Shepard Smith on Fox News (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:48:08 PM EST
    Google it.  Twice, once on air and once in a Webcast, he ended up slamming the desk and shouting obscenities in the middle of a "discussion" with two panelists.

    There are others here and there, but most of them are more interested in the political ins and outs of the issue, whatever their beliefs about torture per se.


    "horse race" pundits (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Fabian on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:36:37 PM EST
    For them it is all about who is winning or losing, not what we've gained or lost.  It's a useful frame because you never are at a loss for something to comment on unless Congress is in summer recess and the President isn't doing anything interesting.

    You're (none / 0) (#61)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 02:34:28 PM EST
    right. I forgot about him. And on Fox News of all places. What is the world coming to when a reporter on Fox News can stand up and say it's wrong and people like CNN make apologies for it?

    Shep Smith (none / 0) (#65)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:52:06 AM EST
    is kind of sui generis.  Nobody owns him, certainly not Fox.  He also went seriously ballistic about Katrina before Anderson Cooper got soulful and teary about it.  I do like Shep's rage at this kind of stuff.

    So, according to Friedman, (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:31:15 AM EST
    there are two reasons Obama was right to take a no-prosecutions stand:

    The president's decision to expose but not prosecute those responsible for this policy is surely unsatisfying; some of this abuse involved sheer brutality that had nothing to do with clear and present dangers. Then why justify the Obama compromise? Two reasons: the first is that because justice taken to its logical end here would likely require bringing George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and other senior officials to trial, which would rip our country apart; and the other is that Al Qaeda truly was a unique enemy, and the post-9/11 era a deeply confounding war in a variety of ways.

    There seems to be a hand-wringing concern over tearing up the country by bringing former administration officials to trial - not sitting elected/appointed officials - former ones.  Would the rending of the country on account of former officials' going on trial be worse than it was when a sitting US president was subjected to impeachment proceedings?  Do people like Friedman, and all the others who just want to move forward, really think we have forgotten the total lack of concern for the fabric of the country when Bill Clinton was president?

    The rest of Friedman's column is a gobbledygook of contorted logic and sheer idiocy, that unfortunately seems to be the message being delivered from across the media and pundit spectrum - I find it more offensive with each passing day.  Perhaps with their brains fixated on contortionist logic it has escaped them that the more they attempt to explain and justify and excuse, the less credible they are and the easier it is to conclude that the truth really is very simple: torture is wrong, it is illegal and if we are to have any credibility as a democracy and a nation, it behooves us to follow the law to wherever it leads.  If our strength is measured, in part, by our willingness to put our laws and our principles to the test, columns like Friedman's and Taylor's and Meacham's show that we are growing weaker, not stronger, and we are failing that test.

    Can't someone just do the right thing, for once?

    I believe that seeing a (none / 0) (#34)
    by coast on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:04:10 PM EST
    President brought before Congress to face impeachment on charges that half the country thought of as laughable is a far cry from seeing a former President and other American citizens brought to trial before the International Criminal Court for war crimes with possibility of facing a penalty of death.  I don't think the two are comparable IMO.

    It is my understanding the U.S. (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:08:04 PM EST
    isn't a signatory to the ICC.  

    You're correct...US signed but has (none / 0) (#38)
    by coast on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:19:07 PM EST
    indicated that it will not ratify the Rome Statute, which would nullify their signing.

    Are you certain of that? (none / 0) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:31:41 PM EST
    Never certain about anything, but (none / 0) (#48)
    by coast on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:55:37 PM EST
    I think oculus has this one right based on some quick reading.  Clinton signed but instructed Bush not to put before Congress and Bush informed them that the US would not ratify.  I thought it had gone through but it does not look like it ever did.

    I'm not certain the lack of ratification (none / 0) (#49)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:02:25 PM EST
    nullifies our signing.

    According to the ICC website: (none / 0) (#50)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:12:29 PM EST
    On 17 July 1998, the international community reached an historic milestone when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court.

    The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.

    The States Parties to the Rome Statute are listed here; the US does not appear to be among them.

    The Rome Statute (pdf) is here.

    We signed the Rome Statute, but never ratified it, and because we have indicated that we will not ratify it, it is as if we have "unsigned" it.


    ICC website: (none / 0) (#51)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 01:14:14 PM EST
    Of course you don't, (none / 0) (#41)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:25:21 PM EST
    Because if you compared what was done in the case of Bill Clinton to the idea of a former president and vice president and former Cabinet and other officials being prosecuted under US law in US courts, you might be pretty hard-pressed to come up with a reason to object, wouldn't you?

    I have no objection to bringing those who (none / 0) (#44)
    by coast on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:47:13 PM EST
    have broken the law to trial.  I just believe that this is a much more divisive issue and cuts deeper into the "fabric of the country" than the impeachment of President Clinton.

    Excellent, thought-provoking post. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:32:00 PM EST

    Irrefutable logic by a legal (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by oldpro on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:48:06 PM EST
    giant and incomparable citizen.

    And what a writer...deconstructing the argument to the simplest of ideas, readily understandable by anyone of good will without an axe to grind.

    Is it condoning the war crimes (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:17:59 AM EST
    or condoning the lack of response? Does the distinction matter?

    Thank you for posting J. Roberts' dissent (none / 0) (#6)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:43:37 AM EST
    I haven't read it in many years.

    Justice Jackson (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:44:25 AM EST
    OUCH! (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:49:07 AM EST
    My apologies to the ghost of Justice Jackson!

    Indeed (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:51:34 AM EST
    A merited apology. heh.

    Let's follow an historical example. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:14:21 AM EST
    Friedman is no better than Goebbels or for that matter Lord Haw Haw in egging on war crimes.  Haw Haw was hanged when the British captured him.  He's a mouth piece for condoning war crimes so he's complicit in the crime as a propagandist. Friedman also understands this so he digging in his heels.  I'd love to submit him to a tribunal for egging on a destructive aggressive war.

    Who knew that if U.S. military (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:22:06 AM EST
    withdrew from Iraq, terrorist attacks on the U.S. will occur.  Keep 'em busy in Iraq!

    I love this (none / 0) (#28)
    by maddog on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:40:34 AM EST
    Comparing Friedman to a fascist from Germany in WWII.  Comparing what happened to American POW's in Japan to the treatment that the Terrorists have been given in comments to another torture topic.  You guys are funny.  Maybe instead of reading so many legal opinions you should read some history books.  Being against what happened is one thing, but comparing these instances to that from WWII Germany and Japan is ridiculous.

    What precisely is the legal difference? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Andreas on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:51:34 AM EST
    I do not see one.

    Not so. (none / 0) (#33)
    by Salo on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:54:17 AM EST
    Cohen himself (another one of Tom's friend's) brough it up first.  And if it is a war crime we have about 70 years of statutes to look at most of which involve teh Germans and Japanese from that era.  We could look at Rwanda or Serbia though if that would make you feel better.  I really do thin k Friedman has a war crimes charge  to answer. They can't keep diverting  these issues off onto the back of  Lyndie England.

    Ok, I'll bite (none / 0) (#59)
    by bocajeff on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 02:07:46 PM EST
    Was it better to sit on the sidelines and not help 800,000 Rwandans from being killed or waterboarding three individuals who were involved in killing 3,000 people?

    Now, one was clearly legal and one was clearly illegal. I'm still more upset at the Rwandan fiasco. And I consider a moral failing by the U.S. President for not intervening and assisting in stopping the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of thousands of black people. Yet I'm supposed to get worked up over 3 people being waterboarded?


    I'm not sure (none / 0) (#60)
    by CST on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 02:13:01 PM EST
    why you think it has to be an either/or

    How much of a leap is it from (none / 0) (#62)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 02:35:07 PM EST
    standing by while almost a million people are killed to training our own people in the fine art of harsh interrogation techniques?  Is that where indifference leads?

    Certainly the numbers in Rwanda were staggering, but do we really want to use those numbers as some kind of baseline - because that's what some people are doing - and argue that anything less than that is tolerable?

    I still don't know how people can make that argument.

    The other one I'm starting to hear is, "well, we didn't do anything about ___, so why are we doing anything now?"

    If we don't do anything about this, you can be sure that there will be a next time, and it will be much, much uglier than it is now.


    Really (none / 0) (#63)
    by maddog on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:35:56 PM EST
    I am using nothing as a baseline.  But how can you compare how three terrorists were treated as compared to American POW's.  Not even in the same universe.  So a guy has water poured on his face for what has been reported no more than 20 minutes at specific increments with doctors of all types around making sure there was no damage done only scared the crap out of him.  And you compare that to what the Japanese did at Batan and then reference their trials in saying what should happen or the legal analysis of the water boarding.  Really, that is absolutely ridiculous.

    Your argument, any argument against torture or prosecution for torture fails as soon as you make that comparison.  It is about degrees.  That is why a person who commits one robbery gets a lighter sentence than someone who has committed 20.  That is why there are 3 strikes laws (no matter if you agree with them or not) it is a matter of degree.

    You can no more compare what happened to the terrorists and American POWs than you can compare a first time offender and a repeat offender.


    I did not make any comments or (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 07:39:43 PM EST
    comparisons to American POW's, nor did I say anything about the Japanese at Bataan, or their trials, so I don't know who you are meaning to respond to.

    Your trivialization of waterboarding makes me ill - regardless of what did or did not happen in the past, or how it was dealt with.

    Our government did this in our names; maybe that works for you, but it makes me feel ashamed for my country, and it makes me angry that my government has so little respect for us - the people - that it now expects us to accept what was done.

    It's not acceptable.  Period.


    Lets get the torture definition out there (none / 0) (#66)
    by maddog on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:58:52 AM EST
    because in most American's minds they think of torture as what happened to John McCain.  What happened to these dirt balls wasn't even close.  I would be embarassed if we did something to that affect.  But really now.  If what we did to the terrorists is torture then my brother and parents should be prosecuted as well.

    John McCain (none / 0) (#69)
    by CST on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:09:40 AM EST
    disagrees with you

    The reality (none / 0) (#67)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:56:50 AM EST
    Is that war criminals are uniformly in favor of torture.

    This post seems to be arguing in favor of torture of repeat offenders.

    Perhaps, since the techniques used in "enhanced interrogation" are so legal (despite precedent, 18 USC 2340a, the Convention Against Torture, and the Geneva Conventions - the law of the US through the Constitutions Article VI Supremacy clause since 1882), we can start using them on perps, suspected felons, and those damn recidivists. To hell with what the law says, lets torture some of these bastards!


    The idea that what was done was different (none / 0) (#68)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:01:25 AM EST
    is repugnant.

    Jonathan Turley had it right. Viewing torture techniques as enhanced interrogation is nothing more than saying armed robbery is just a different bank withdrawal technique. One is a crime, no matter how much you like it.


    Is Spain going to do our job for us? (none / 0) (#36)
    by Saul on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 12:13:37 PM EST
    Looks like Spain is the only country that wants to criminally investigate the Bush administration.  In particular the Bush 6