Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.
--Insight On The News
(To the tune of the "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag" by Country Joe & The Fish.)
Hey, war bloggers, it's time to squawk
And make our leaders walk the walk.
The peaceniks are tryin' to kill the beast
Of our war in the Middle East.
So log on your site and hit your keyboard,
We've gotta keep on pluggin' for war.

And it's A, B, C,
Why did he send Condi?
He damn well should know the plan:
Next target is Tehran.
And it's E, F, G,
Pick up the MPH.
This is not the day to call cease fire --
Let's throw Iran on the pyre.

So, junior birdmen, now's the time;
Fly before they draw the line.
Let's send those ragheads up in flame --
If their mosques all melt, well, that's such a shame.
When our civilizations go to war
There ain't no kind of hold that we'll bar.

And it's I, J, K,
See how burnt Persians smell.
Desert sand will all turn red
When we drop bombs on their head.
And it's M, N, O,
We're gonna shout yippee
When we turn their mullahs into spooks
And hit all of their cities with nukes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Happily we welcome another refugee from reality-based rationality into our domain of empire, where we mold the minds of the masses at will. Kevin Hayden of The American Street, long considered all but hopeless for the forces of far-righteousness, because of his previous indoctrination in bleeding-heart "social work", is ever-so-carefully backing into The Darth Side. The evidence for his ascension into the higher realms of realpolitik is in his post, appropriately dated the day following the independence celebration for an obsolete anarcho-America, entitled "Three waves to an ugly future":
Alan Dershowitz tackles the concept that the war on terrorists requires a rethinking of conventional definitions of human rights, detainees and the way they are treated ... I’m inclined to agree with him.
This inclination, delightful to starboard steerers, follows his quoting these glittering generalities and glib genuflections from The Dersh (an invaluable, albeit unwitting, asset of our Coalition of the Enabling):
Laws must change with the times. They must adapt to new challenges. ... Today it is many on the left who resist any changes in the law of war or human rights. They deny the reality that the war against terrorism is any way different from conventional wars of the past, or that the old laws must be adapted to the new threats.
The potent potion implicit in these pretty pictures is to be found in the Harvard Professor's call for "torture warrants", to authorize what he says the government is going to do anyway. As the saying goes, "It's beautiful the way it is; why spoil it by making it legal?" So that, as an appellate flack for felons, he won't have to defend soldiers or politicians accused of abuses against those awful Arabs. It will be okay, because they got a legal order first, perhaps from that same secret intelligence court with such a strong record of carefully challenging every request for wiretaps. He fears they may need this judicial bypass, because the consciences of juries may be conflicted faced with the techniques he recommends:
"When you torture somebody to death -- that is, when you kill somebody and use grave pain to aggravate the killing of that person -- everybody would acknowledge that’s torture. But placing a sterilized needle under somebody’s fingernails for fifteen minutes, causing excruciating pain but no permanent physical damage -- is that torture?"
As a legal expert, he actually assures us that even that easily acquired permission isn't really needed:
On November 8 2001, in Los Angeles Times editorial ("Is There a Torturous Road to Justice?") the Dersh said, "Any interrogation technique, including the use of truth serum or even torture, is not prohibited. All that is prohibited is the introduction into evidence of the fruits of such techniques in a criminal trial against the person on whom the techniques were used."

In other words, it's okay to shove needles under the fingernails of a terror suspect if the confession extracted is not used against him.

So much for Dersh's badge as a civil libertarian.

So much for the Fourth Geneva Convention. So much for the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, treaties the US signed.
Well, you'd expect that kind of ranting appeal to wimpy "world standards" by such leftist loonies. They think they have a more serious objection about the "effectiveness" of what we may relabel as Insistent Interrogations:
In the same 60 Minutes segment in which Alan Dershowitz so eloquently endorsed torture, Mike Wallace and an attorney talked about a terrorist who had been tortured by police in the Philippines. The Philippine police gave the information he provided to the FBI, who then used it in a trial that ended with the man being given a life sentence in a US penitentiary. Kenneth Roth pointed out that the same man confessed in the same torture session to the Oklahoma City bombing. And that, he said, is a key problem with torture: in addition to being immoral and illegal, it's not very reliable.
Kevin, in the midst of typical reformist calling for only "carefully defined" torture, and with wimpy liberal prescriptions like "extended sleeplessness, facing ridicule and verbal trickery, even loud music - if not damaging to hearing", seems to be aware of that alleged epistemological difficulty, admitting that "most torture techniques are spectacularly ineffective at extracting useful info."

Oh, Kevin, we forgive you as a newbie, but here you make the same mistake as all the other amateurs. We don't do it to extract useful info. As an Englishman wrote long ago:
"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. ... How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?"

Winston thought. "By making him suffer," he said.

"Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy...."
Don't misunderstand us now: the purpose of Abu Ghraibs and Guantanamos is not to deter terrorists by scaring them with horror stories. Their most important function is to mold more Steven Greens and Lynndie Englands. You can't just take anyone off the street, even those with ASPD, and count on them for a Fallujah, a My Lai, or a Lidice. They've "got to be carefully taught". The best way to do that is by getting them to torture others -- especially if they are not yet convicted of any crime (a condition the laws Alan wants to amend would refer to as "presumed innocent"). This has all been demonstrated before:
Hannah Arendt was the first to identify the camps' need of innocent inmates. She explains the policy in sociopolitical terms, as part of a deliberate Nazi (and Soviet) attempt "to kill the juridical person in man," i.e., to destroy the concept of man's rights. Criminals, Miss Arendt observes, are not proper subjects for a concentration camp. However brutally he is treated by the camp guards, the criminal knows why he is there....

If, however, one deliberately arrests men who have done nothing and tortures them methodically for no reason at all, then the normal framework is thrown out, and even the pretense at justice (in any definition) disappears. ...

The young SS men on duty in the camps also received a certain kind of "reinforcement" or processing. They, too, though in somewhat different form, had to be trained to give up their independence and automomy. They had to be turned into creatures who would question nothing and carry out anything, i.e., into the unflinchingly obedient elite corps on which the whole Hitlerite system relied. The camp personnel learned obedience by doing -- by doing the kinds of things normal men did not do and could not have conceived.
The Nabob of Needling looks like a ripe prospect for full conversion. He's so full of hatred that he's already emotionally ready:
Aren't there other forms of torture that would be less painful than that, that you might have considered?

But I want more painful. I want maximal pain, minimum lethality. You don't want it to be permanent, you don't want someone to be walking with a limp, but you want to cause the most excruciating, intense, immediate pain. Now, I didn't want to write about testicles, but that's what a lot of people use. I also wanted to be explicit because I didn't want to be squeamish about it.
Kevin? Oh, he'll take a lot more work, and a lot more reminders about how persons who want to be considered reasonable and credible "must examine the capacities and threats of terror organizations and develop new strategies to counter them", as he puts it. But in principle, he's already crossed the line it took the new young physician an entire play to get past in Ira Levin's Dr. Cook's Garden, and we can already gleefully ask him the benevolent serial murderer's final question: "Do you see how it begins?" Welcome aboard, Kev!

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