War Crimes and the Bush administration

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Dec 13, 2008.

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  1. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Something that has been troubling me about this whole thing is how it was claimed that 'enhanced interrogation techniques' yielded valuable information about future terrorist attacks on the US. What info exactly was that and was it obtained before the torture was used? I got the impression that many such 'plots' were never really regarded seriously.

    That's sort of troubling for me, logically, as well. I mean, JS himself wouldn't profess to represent all people that are essentially right-wing on this issue, but beforehand the argument had largely been that torture did not take place. There had been little to no debate on if torture in fact worked. I remember posing the question on these forums becuase it seemed murky at the time but I don't recall getting much feedback on it.

    It's been generally the consensus of the modern military and CIA that torture does not work. Period.

    Now JS's argument -- again, at the moment one person but possibly others may adhere to it -- is that torture DOES work, and what happened at least could be thought of as torture.

    But what's very frusterating about this is that it doesn't seem to have come from any source other than the Vice President (Cheney). And he did so just on the preumption that it would work. It's very frusterating to go to people mostly acknowledged to know the issue and they say it doesn't work... and that's been the policy for years... and then one man comes along and just 'knows better' and he just happens to be right? And everyone else is wrong? And always WAS wrong?

    That's a bit... I mean, c'mon.
  2. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    This is not to say that Bush?s policies aren?t worthy of discussion. Which worked, which have not, etcetera. The point being rather that the author?s non sequiter regarding the ?homeland security? and Bush?s anti-terrorist policies is wrong. Or to put it in layman?s terms, he?s completely FOS

    But you can't dismiss all the points he makes just because one point was a non sequiter.

    And no JS I was being sarcastic.

    article here


    I think it totally unfair to go after low level CIA officers who were just trying to do their job. You are fine with dropping bombs on whole villages but you want to throw in jail the CIA officer who didn't kill anyone, didn't put electrodes on anybody, but threated one of the leaders of Al-Qaida's kids? The only people you should be going after are those at the top, but punishing attorneys for what you think are wrong legal opinions on such political charged issues will only serve to create a very powerful incentive to never let go of power for whoever has it and uses it to make decisions.
  3. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Right. No one would admit that they might have made a mistake if it could be used against him/her. It would be logical to assume the V/president would profess his innocence, but given as that couldn't be covered up... say it was for a greater good. What is that greater good? They revealed information... important information. If it's a bit sketchy, that's because the rest is classified. That's why no one else can testify to the contrary; because only we know.

    Is that like Bush saying 'support the troops' and 'support the war' in the same sentence?
  4. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Once again, the Person in charge of the investigation into the Torture allegations was Paul McNulty who went on to become Deputy Attorney general until he resigned after being caught lying to Congress.

    The determination with which they fail to use his name exposes how they know their argument relies on ignorance of the facts.
  5. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    Just because the boss was a dirtbag doesn't necessarily mean that the people who worked for him were.

    But even if he did put political pressure not to act, and we didn't hear about it from his underlings, these people were already put through administrative action. It is crazy to think these CIA officers would have been successfully convicted then, and that they are more deserving of criminal prosecution than all the people Holder signed off to be pardoned.
  6. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Who signed off on the investigations? In point of fact, why were they assigned to him in the first place? Lets not forget that the Eastern District of Virginia is also where we were trying several accused terrorists including Moussaoui, Lyndh, Faris, and Alamoudi. You don't see an inherent conflict of interests in charging the office in charge of getting convictions to check to investigate the torture that would inherently invalidate those convictions?

    And that's simply beyond recognizing that McNulty was absolutely a political lawyer, not a trial lawyer. Why exactly are you counting his investigation worthwhile? That's really simply blind credulousness.

    Alright then, lets have a tie breaker. If the DOJ's office of Professional Responsibility believes there must be an investigation, we go forward.

    Oh wait, they already did.
  7. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    But who on either side is devoid of political caculations? The desire to convict is just as political as the desire to not investigate.
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So what if, in 2012, after Palin is elected as President, she and the new GOP controlled Congress initiates a criminal probe into what is called Obama's criminal financial maleficence relating to health-care reform?

    Hey, it doesn't matter if any behavior was precisely illegal while he carried it out. That's the joy of a politically-based investigation- it can be set to examine any behavior that those organizing it don't agree with. Hey, Nancy-Ann DeParle, one of Obama's health czars, once worked for the Clinton administration, and issued biased legal briefs relating to the cost of reform because she used inflated figures. That's criminal isn't it....?

    But before any of this gets carried away, doesn't all of the above represent really absurd examples, that aren't grounded in any kind of reality? I mean, nothing so politically minded could ever happen, right?

    To answer that, I'll just quote someone else around here: "Oh wait, they already did."
  9. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    You're pretty funny. But my response is if President Palin wants to, go ahead. Good luck. In the meantime however we're going to have an investigation into if the legal advice was actually grounded in the law, if the guidelines violated the existing law, and if the CIA exceeded those guidelines anyways.

    Your entire claim is that this is based on a change in what counts as torture between administrations, when the law in question hasn't changed. The Bush administrations "interpretation" is not legally binding. It does not change the underlying law and it does not excuse violations of that law anymore than you can't be charged with tax fraud for taking the advice of your own lawyer.

    Your argument is entirely based around the idea it wasn't illegal when it was carried out, which is based around memos written to excuse the fact they were doing it by claiming it wasn't precisely illegal. Why even have a judicial branch at all when you grant the Executive sole authority to interpret the law.

    The entire argument is like hearing a 15 year old trying to tell their parents they never said not to have a party and thinking this counts as a defense.

    One of these things is not like the other. A desire for conviction without evidence is one thing, however arguing the gathering of evidence is inherently political suggests that our Justice system is so inherently corrupt we might as well pack it all in. Is that your argument?
  10. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    luck. In the meantime however we're going to have an investigation into if the legal advice was actually grounded in the law, if the guidelines violated the existing law, and if the CIA exceeded those guidelines anyways.

    You need an investigation to tell whether the CIA exceeded guidelines that never made any sense in the first place, but were still expected to do a job?

    Go ahead. This thing is going to bite you in the rear so hard, I want to hear none of it when the GOP comes back to power because you brought this on yourself. I say the same to Holder, go ahead and good luck. This is political gold once the inevitable happens, and it's going to be his head on the platter.
  11. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Yes, how ludicrous to pretend those who defend us should be expected to obey the law.

    You hold your rights and morals so loosely that at the first noise you cast them aside to beg protection from whatever source and count yourself lucky that what you lost was so light.

    It's amazing to me that you would count yourself lucky to be defended by someone willing to torture in the name of country and not by someone risking political repercussions by investigating wrongdoing. To put country before self? Admirable. To place country before party? Abominable.

    The dichotomy astounds.
  12. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    Yes, how ludicrous to pretend those who defend us should be expected to obey the law.

    Was it not ludicrous to pretend that the sitting Vice-President hadn't actually broken the law?

    Was it not ludicrous to not investigate and prosecute a recently deceased Senator for manslaughter or vehicular homicide?

    Was it not ludicrous to recommend that a billionare tax cheat be pardoned?

    Is it not ludicrous to throw in jail those who roughed up those who were believed to have material information regarding future terrorist attacks, and laud as heroes those that direct missiles that kill innocent women and children?

    From the evidence I see, I see no reason for the CIA officers to do what they did for political gain. You say that unless we throw them in jail this will happen again. Seeing as how this happened over 5 years ago and hasn't happened since, and we now have much more clear rules and laws in place than we did then, I don't see that as the primary justification. As you said, your main motive is to have an investigation into if the legal advice was actually grounded in the law, if the guidelines violated the existing law. The primary reason for this is to vindicate your political position that what they did was wrong. It wasn't enough that people voted for you, you need to show them how wrong they were by throwing them in jail. And because you can't actually get to the primary political targets you seek, you are going after the front line soldiers who did what they were told as best they were able.

    I am more than happy to see laws and policies put into place to make sure the same mistakes don't happen again. But this investigation comes across as nothing but a vindictive political attack by the far left who don't care about the ballot box. You are accepting blame for the next terrorist attack, and that just seems stupid of you.
  13. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Yes 5 years have passed, almost an entire senate term. Surely that's too long a period to delve into. I mean it's exhausting just thinking about. 5 years? Why think of the number of times a Hollywood starlet could get married in such a lengthy period.

    Also, if you want to blame me for the next attack, go ahead if it'll make you feel better. It won't be true and it won't be just but it's clear neither of those are particularly important. Beyond that your entire argument is even sillier. Let me quote

    " As you said, your main motive is to have an investigation into if the legal advice was actually grounded in the law, if the guidelines violated the existing law. The primary reason for this is to vindicate your political position that what they did was wrong."

    Finding out if they violated the law is a political position. I think they did, the Ethics office thinks it needs to be investigated, but the mere act of looking is a political position because the violaters were political.

    You think government is inherently corrupt, so you need no investigation to prove it and seek no remedy against an all encompassing affliction.

    Sorry Espy, it is a boil that must be lanced, not ignored while it festers. Soldiers who did what they were told should no more exempt from prosecution than anyone else, for all that you would have it believed so. Of course we haven't given much excuse for you to see otherwise. While we're oh so quick to condemn others our own murderers are pardoned and feted.

    What laws have changed Espy that make you so certain this can't happen again?
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But Farraday, you're completely misrepresenting the situation, or at least you're not taking into account that there were no set standards that existed in this area prior to the Justice Department outlines. Did you read the actual memos when they were provided? All of the lawyers, officials, and politicians, (on both sides) were collectively trying to create policy that didn't violate the law because no procedure existed at the time. The initial 2002 authorizations applied to the CIA and to civilian intelligence services. The following 2003 authorizations applied to Defense Department personnel. Both factored in the legal environment that both operated under.

    This wasn't a "Nixon-Frost" situation where it was specifically spelled out that threatening a detainee's family was illegal, and the administration didn't care and went ahead anyway. The action wasn't addressed either way and only existed in policy that was being created.

    To use another example from the past, is it any less hostile to label the forced interception of belligerent ships a "quarantine" instead of a "blockade?" No, of course not. But a blockade is a defined act of war, while a quarantine gives both sides some room to negotiate. But none of that is even the point. Would it have made sense to prosecute Kennedy under the law for his violation, 5, 6, 7 years after the fact?

    Because you answered your own question. The very mechanism of government should take care of the concerns you're trying to illustrate. There's nothing wrong the public, or politicians, through the public will, saying, "hey, we think a practice like waterboarding crosses the line, and we don't want the government to do it..." It's how government is set up. In fact, I'd suggest that if Pelosi (and I'm just using her name, there were sitting legislators from both parties) had actually done her job 7 years ago, this wouldn't be an issue now, because she had the authority to recommend input at the time and choose not to.

    Because that's the other important factor. This was all carried out 6-7 years ago. But yeah, let's call back some CIA officer out of retirement, so we can hold him accountable for something that took place almost 10 years ago now because the opposition party is finally in power and now doesn't agree with what was done, even though they were a part of it.

    I just don't agree with your idea that everyone who did something you don't agree with should then be set out to fry because someone has to be held accountable for something, even if the something isn't known right away.
  15. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Look! The Sanhedrin speaks again.

    Surely it is to their credit that they needed guidance on how many times they must beat a man before it becomes torture. Tell me Mr 44, will your 39 lashes kill a man? How many of the enhanced interrogation techniques may the police use? You see, when the Congress approved the UN anti torture treaty they said only as it follows the 5th, 8th and 14th amendments.* By saying you haven't violated it then you're saying you have not violated those amendments, in which case it's surely open season here.

    What they were doing was morally and legally wrong, and all your petty attempts at legalism will not avail you otherwise. 39 lashes Mr 44, you can tell yourself as long as it's not 40 it doesn't count, but the only ones you're fooling are those who want to be fooled.

    *"That the United States considers itself bound by the obligation under article 16 to prevent `cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?, only insofar as the term `cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment? means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States."

    If they didn't know, as you wail so unconvincingly, then they closed their eyes and walked backwards into the trap so they could act surprised later.

  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I'm not sure what any of that means though..

    Do you really need to be told why the police are different than the military are different than the CIA? Or does none of that even matter?

    Farraday, honestly, why does every post of yours come off like you just whacked your thumb with a hammer, and you're trying to rush in post while muttering profanities under your breath in order to distract yourself from the pain? You know, there are those people in the world who can disagree with each other without acting like their dog just got kicked.
  17. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    A recent study has proven that muttering profanities does indeed relieve the pain a bit.
  18. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Yes I do need to be told why the police are different, and I especially need to be told why in your military service you feel you should have the ability to torture pople during custodial interrogations. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and pretend you aren't going to go off on some tangent.

    Also, the 39 lashes is because of the tradition that an executioner should be able to kill someone in 40 lashes, which turns into a decree of 39 lashes being non fatal. this is obviously stupid, however it's exactly the same sort of "we don't know where the line is so we'll make something up legalism that you think defends your case. Lets take, for example, a provision on sustained beating. Now why is it sustained? Because the statue recognizes that any example of police brutality is not ipso facto torture. for those of us using parts of our brain beyond the Medula Oblongata, the implication is clear. While such actions are and should b be illegal, they do not rise tot he definition of torture. For those int he Bush administration however, this turns into "anything less than a 'prolonged beating'" is okay, so they go on to define how much beating you could do before it's prolonged.

    Again, for those of us doing more than turning oxygen to carbon dioxide, the standardization of abuse is torture since it creates an systematic acceptability of state abuse of prisoners.

    To summarize, the torture convention in part define when abuse turns into torture. The Bush administration used this is standardize and approve abuse, which automatically turns it into torture anyways.

    Unfortunately Regent University law grads can't seem to understand that.
  19. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    Quoted for Truth.

    Why do you keep going on about how the torture memos were good because they fixed the lack of standards, Mr44? The lack of standards for "enhanced interrogation" were lacking because "enhanced interrogation" was considered prisoner abuse and against the law.

    *Edit*

    The Bush Administration then attempted to create new legal categories for terrorists (enemy combatants), tried to void their Common Article 3 protections (despite article 3 applying to everybody regardless of combatant status), and tried to keep them out of any kind of court system.
  20. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Why do you keep going on about how the torture memos were good because they fixed the lack of standards, Mr44?

    Except I've never said they were good. That's your own binary view of the issue coming into play. All along I've said that they were flawed but required at the time for precisely the same reasons you just posted. What I've said is that they're no different than any other of a number of decisions that will have to be made, and have been made in the past. I think that it's largely your own perception that the administration stood in the background doing their best impression of Simon bar Sinister while this was occurring, but that's not accurate.

    The lack of standards for "enhanced interrogation" were lacking because "enhanced interrogation" was considered prisoner abuse and against the law.

    Except, no they weren't. It's just like the assassination policy that developed in the US. Quite a few well respected, positively viewed Presidents used assassination as a political tool. You might say that "everyone must have known that assassination was wrong," but this isn't accurate. It's wasn't a right or wrong issue as it related to overall policy. Regardless, it didn't become illegal under US law until the 1980's, when it was specifically prohibited.

    You guys are making this a legal/illegal issue, which is why the law then becomes important. Otherwise, just adopt policy and move on.

    I've definitively posted a couple of points:

    1)That there never should have been "carry over" to the military. The US military has to remain the professional face of foreign policy. I've said this from the beginning and continue to say it now. But this is also why Farraday's non sequiturs of how I want the military to torture, or how this applies to US police officers make it so difficult to discuss the issue, because no one has ever presented these ideas.

    2)I think that an investigation is all but pointless, poltically based, and at this stage, harmful. People may try and paint a picture that officials like Pelosi were too stupid to figure out what the administration was presenting to them in an attempt to localize the blame, but these are just lame justifications. 7 years ago, the Justice Department was involved, the various Congressional intelligence committees were involved, and the Defense Department was involved- all including figures from different agencies and political parties, it's time to just move on. But no... someone, somewhere has to "pay," as long as that someone represents a team member from the other side.

    3)The CIA (and the intelligence services) have completely different missions. Honestly, I think the US would be better served to a degree if we had our version of the Commonwealth nation's "official secrets act." Generally, the US is obsessed with transparency to a fault. I don't particularly care what CIA case officers do in Pakistan, or Yemen, or Bulgaria, if it is required for their duty. If it means that they have to shoot an enemy agent in the face, or break their knees, have at it- just don't videotape it, record it, or use an official CIA issued camera to document the entire thing. Just do it.

    The Bush Administration then attempted to create new legal categories for terrorists (enemy combatants), tried to void their Common Article 3 protections (despite article 3 applying to everybody regardless of combatant status), and tried to keep them out of any kind of court system.

    But this is inaccurate. See, again, you start off by supplying a legal concept, but then question why I focus on the law. You guys can't have it both ways.

  21. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    It's just like the assassination policy that developed in the US. Quite a few well respected, positively viewed Presidents used assassination as a political tool. You might say that "everyone must have known that assassination was wrong," but this isn't accurate. It's wasn't a right or wrong issue as it related to overall policy. Regardless, it didn't become illegal under US law until the 1980's, when it was specifically prohibited.

    The procedures approved for use as "enhanced interrogation" were illegal under U.S. law when they were signed off on.


    You guys are making this a legal/illegal issue, which is why the law then becomes important. Otherwise, just adopt policy and move on.


    You are making it a policy issue without changing the law. The policy broke the law. If you don't like that, you should have changed the law first.

    I don't particularly care what CIA case officers do in Pakistan, or Yemen, or Bulgaria, if it is required for their duty. If it means that they have to shoot an enemy agent in the face, or break their knees, have at it- just don't videotape it, record it, or use an official CIA issued camera to document the entire thing. Just do it.

    Again, no respect for the law. Just as long as there is no evidence, torture is A-ok with Mr44.


    But this is inaccurate. See, again, you start off by supplying a legal concept, but then question why I focus on the law. You guys can't have it both ways.


    You don't focus on the law. You have completely ignored the law against torture. Instead, you focus on politics and complain about partisan witch hunts.

  22. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    First, my point about the military was because you said the military was different form the police. So my question is exactly how in regards to custodial interrogations. If you refuse to clarify you're just making statements out of context to the question to distract from the issue. Feel free to respond to the actual 'how' and not just get huffy about me calling you on it.

    Now that in point 3 you've absolutely approved of torture (the torture convention covers actions by people working for the US no matter where they are in the world) I'm not sure why you're even bothering to pretend legal defense. You want people to break the law, at least have the moral clarity to say that instead of pretending they're got legal cover in an attempt to confuse the issue.

    Here's a more accurate description of the situation. The CIA once operated without any real oversight. Mr 44 prefers that. The Bush administration would have preferred that too, but knowing there was oversight they tried to create a legalistic fig leaf for their law breaking. In doing so what they've done is created a paper trail for that rule breaking that can be easily investigated. Since Mr 44 doesn't think they did anything wrong(illegal perhaps, but not wrong) he doesn't want an investigation regardless of what the law is.
  23. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    What was the law at the time? Can someone provide a link or a summary of the relevant sources of law which applied to torture at the relevant time?
  24. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    The procedures approved for use as "enhanced interrogation" were illegal under U.S. law when they were signed off on.

    Except they weren't. This is the reason policy had to be created in the first place. We can debate between us what should be legal and what shouldn't be legal, but this blanket statement isn't accurate.

    Here's a more accurate description of the situation. The CIA once operated without any real oversight. Mr 44 prefers that. The Bush administration would have preferred that too, but knowing there was oversight they tried to create a legalistic fig leaf for their law breaking. In doing so what they've done is created a paper trail for that rule breaking that can be easily investigated. Since Mr 44 doesn't think they did anything wrong(illegal perhaps, but not wrong) he doesn't want an investigation regardless of what the law is.

    Except I think we've all moved on from attributing summaries to each other. You summarize your own position and I'll summarize mine. No need to intentionally mischaractarize anyone's else's views.

    Let me ask you a question. Where was the oversight then? You two keep trying to paint this as a situation where the law was clear and the administration run roughshod over it anyway. But it wasn't.

    Why didn't the dozen or so members of both Congressional committees put a stop to it 7 years ago? Why did the Justice Department have to be brought in to create the policy if it was already codified? Why did the Department of Defense specifically ask for a second round of memos because their own role was unclear? You'd think that the dozens and dozens of officials involved would at one point simply say "Hey guys, the law is right here, we don't need to create it." But that's not what the reality was at all. The actual situation as it existed was about as opposite as you are now attempting to describe. "Oversight" doesn't mean allowing something to continue when it politically advantageous to do so, but then turning around and condemning it when it no longer is.

    I don't have a problem with oversight. Throughout this entire discussion I've said it's the job of elected officials to create policy oversight by acting on the behalf of the public. If the public doesn't agree with a practice, then that practice will be changed within government. This even happened before the latest election.

    But something can't be declared to be illegal after the fact simply because you don't agree with its focus. That's a dangerous precedent to establish, and it always ends up turning around and biting the hand that created it.

  25. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    I think they wanted to do it regardless of legality and the memos are endless rounds of government cyoa. You see it wasn't us who did it, DOJ said we could, how were we to know? Well the DOJ was just discussing what might be legally permissible, they had no idea what CIA was doing. Well Congress was only informed of what might possibly be done, they had no idea what was happening.

    I've lived in DC too long not to recognize ass covering when it smacks me in the face.

    Your contention that the fact the beurocracy was willign to debate it means it wasn't illegal is just silly. The legality of what they were doing should, and hopefully will be decided in a court of law base don the existing laws at the time. Any attempt to thwart that is an ex post facto cover up.

    Show me the law making this legal. I believe that's the way the system works correct? The government is granted the ability to do things through laws, it isn't automatically given power which is only restricted by law.
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