Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

03/15/2010 (9:32 am)

The Gitmo Bar: How Deeply Compromised is the Holder DOJ?

Allow me to draw your attention to a fascinating and vital debate being waged among blog heavyweights on the right over what was originally called The Al Qaeda Seven, but has come to be more appropriately labeled The Gitmo Bar. The topic: does the fact that several attorneys in the Department of Justice defended Guantanamo detainees render them incompetent to prosecute the war against al Qaeda? Primary participants include former US Attorney Andy McCarthy pitted against PowerLine’s Paul Mirengoff, with side comments from Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthamer, Mark Steyn, Ann Coulter, all against a backdrop of the usual poo-flinging from the left.

At this point, everybody in the debate agrees that the answer to that specific question is “No.” However, a number of players, championed by Andy McCarthy, are arguing that the core beliefs of some attorneys, beliefs that led them gladly to volunteer for the specific pro bono work of defending al Qaeda’s worst, so hamstrings them in the prosecution of the war against Islamic violence that their very presence in the Department of Justice endangers Americans — indeed, that President Obama’s ideological agreement with these attorneys renders his entire foreign policy impotent against Islam-inspired terrorism.

The debate was kicked off about two weeks ago in response to an advertisement produced by a public advocacy group called Keep America Safe, over the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder had appointed what he represented as seven attorneys to his staff who had performed “pro bono” legal work in defense of detainees at the prison at Guantanamo Bay. KAS was demanding that Holder release the names, claiming a public right to know. Here’s the ad to refresh your memories:

Paul Mirengoff, over at PowerLine, reacted to this badly, taking “al Qaeda seven” as a slur against a venerable legal tradition of defending unpopular clients. McCarthy responded by producing what I regard as the definitive statement about the issue in an editorial at the National Review:

Jihadists believe it is proper to massacre innocent people in order to compel the installation of sharia as a pathway to Islamicizing society. No one for a moment believes, or has suggested, that al-Qaeda’s American lawyers share that view. But jihadist terrorists, and Islamist ideology in general, also hold that the United States is the root of all evil in the world, that it is the beating heart of capitalist exploitation of society’s have-nots, and that it needs fundamental, transformative change.

This, as I argue in a book to be published this spring, is why Islam and the Left collaborate so seamlessly. They don’t agree on all the ends and means. In fact, Islamists don’t agree among themselves about means. But before they can impose their utopias, Islamists and the Left have a common enemy they need to take down: the American constitutional tradition of a society based on individual liberty, in which government is our servant, not our master. It is perfectly obvious that many progressive lawyers are drawn to the jihadist cause because of common views about the need to condemn American policies and radically alter the United States.

That doesn’t make any lawyer unfit to serve. It does, however, show us the fault line in the defining debate of our lifetime, the debate about what type of society we shall have. And that political context makes everyone’s record fair game. If lawyers choose to volunteer their services to the enemy in wartime, they are on the wrong side of that fault line, and no one should feel reluctant to say so.

The political context — what sort of government we choose to vote for in coming elections — is the first and largest concern, but not the only one. McCarthy in a later point in the discussion recalls American attorney Lynn Stewart, whose defense of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman included acts that a jury decided amounted to material aid of an enemy, resulting in her being disbarred and sent to prison. A review of that case reveals deep sympathies between the American hard left and Islamic radicalism that can apparently spill over into overt acts against the United States in wartime. If there exist attorneys with similar sympathies in the Justice Department, we need to know, and they need to go.

Ann Coulter, in her characteristically snippy dismissal of Mirengoff’s concern, highlights the apparent sympathy between al Qaeda and the American left by noting that these particular detainees were anything but unpopular, but in fact carried a sort of radical chic among top law firms that attracted 34 of the 50 largest firms in the nation to defend them, and gave progressive attorneys opportunities to congratulate each other over “speaking truth to power.” This odd-seeming affinity between progressives and radical Islam has been explored before: it was the subject of David Horowitz’s somewhat arcane book, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, and also the subject of one of my earliest essays, back when this blog was just a personal Yahoo page.

The common link appears to be hatred for the Christian West. Progressivism and Islam each apparently believe that in order for its goals to be achieved, the Christian basis for Western civilization must be neutralized by undermining its devotion to individual liberty and conscience, and the economic vitality that these create. The irony lies in the clear divergence between the goals of progressivism and those of Islam, which are, in fact, competing religions. Each apparently believes that once the Christianity of the West has been dismissed, that they will easily defeat the other. So, for the time being, progressives, who believe in a collective consciousness under a secular, progressive state, are cooperating with violent Islamic fundamentalists, who believe in a collective consciousness under sharia law, enforced by a religious, Islamic state. (For the link between American fundamental liberty and Christianity, see here, here, and here.)

wryBobThis explains to some degree why it is that Western progressives choose to side with Islamic radicals against their fellow Westerners. There’s no immediately apparent reason why they ought to; they could just as easily have chosen to defend their Western, Christian neighbors against the common threat posed by Islam, which is both migrating and, in some forms, invading, and then later, once the Islamic threat had been vanquished, return to squabbling with the right over power in America. Instead, they chose their affinity to statism over their affinity to Westernness, and proceeded to cooperate with Islam in taking down Christianness in the West. This buttresses (but does not actually prove) my own thesis that these movements have a common source in Hell, and that ultimately, what they hate is the name of Christ and the liberty and prosperity that arise from welcoming His rule.

At any rate, the debate proceeded through another few rounds, with this thoughtful response from Mirengoff, this interjection from Jonah Goldberg, Saturday’s comment from McCarthy, Goldberg’s reply on Sunday, and McCarthy’s final comment on Sunday. Attorney Stephen Jones’ contribution (Jones defended Timothy McVeigh) in the Wall Street Journal is correctly dismissed as a red herring, since nobody disagrees that unpopular clients need representation, nor is anybody, least of all Keep America Safe, claiming that any lawyer who defends Guantanamo detainees is necessarily a member of al Qaeda.

McCarthy intimates that further revelations indicating potentially shocking sympathies between DOJ attorneys and their pro bono clients at Guantanamo are forthcoming. We should pay close attention.

The reaction of the Left to this serious and relevant intellectual discussion was singularly anti-intellectual, but sadly predictable. They picked up on Mirengoff’s disagreement, and used a disingenuously-manufactured sound bite to slander Liz Cheney, one of the founders of Keep America Safe. Sam Stein at Huffington Post called Mirengoff and asked him a leading question comparing Cheney to former US Senator Joseph McCarthy, recalling the (leftist-historian-enhanced) fright over Communism in the 1950. HuffPo’s editors then mischaracterized Mirengoff’s answer in the headline, “Conservatives Turn Against Liz Cheney — As Bad As McCarthy.” Mirengoff explained mildly that Stein had misused his words, but the left quickly flung their new talking point far and wide: using Google to query “Liz Cheney worse than McCarthy” results in 4.7 million hits on that combination of words:

cheney-mccarthy

Andy McCarthy (no relation to Joe) points out a crucial difference between right and left in this debate, one that highlights the reason that I am calling for national partition to separate ourselves from the progressives. Even the most extreme responses from the right — I classify my own call for partition as one of those — are political, and well within the ethical and legal mechanisms available to citizens of good character: we want to know who to vote for, we want to know how to petition the government, we ultimately want sound national defense policy. In stark contrast to this, the political left in America has engaged in an 8-year-long witch hunt against attorneys for the Bush administration that is far outside the bounds of civil society. The goal of this ongoing vendetta is to destroy the attorneys who counseled the President to construct the enhanced interrogation regime. They don’t care which mechanism they finally use to destroy them; they have attempted to ruin their reputations in their neighborhoods, take their jobs, end their careers, prosecute them in American courts, prosecute them in international courts. It was only by the intervention of a single, Democratic attorney with a sound professional ethic and the right position in the DOJ that attorneys John Yoo and John Bybee escaped prosecution by the Holder “Justice” Department. This entire, decade-long campaign aims to enforce a simple declaration: counsel your clients differently than progressive dogma dictates, and they will destroy your life. This is not the rule of law, it’s scorched earth. It’s mob justice, by thugs.

For what it’s worth, I agree that the phrase “al Qaeda Seven” is unfair. I also agree that Keep America Safe was correct in calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to release the names of attorneys who represented Gitmo detainees, which he did through a back door a few days later (the number is now 10, and counting.) And I agree that it is perfectly appropriate to examine precisely what the sympathies are of these attorneys whose prestigious firms took such delight in defending America’s enemies.

The debate over the Gitmo Bar included some interesting discussion regarding the distinction between Islam and Islamism (peaceful vs. violent jihad) that deserves some comment. I’ll leave that ’till tomorrow.

02/27/2010 (11:22 am)

Patriot Act Renewal Highlights Dem Duplicity

Both the Senate and the House covertly passed legislation this week extending the Patriot Act for a full year, Politico reported Thursday. Already withering before the wrath of an endangered public over the Ft. Hood massacre, the KnickerBomber, and the attempt to try Khalid Sheik Mohammad in New York City, Congressional Democrats lacked the cojones to publicly dismantle yet another mechanism that protects the American public from violence. The quiet capitulation signals a disconnect between Congressional Democrats and their base, which consistently regards the Patriot act as an assault on their liberty.

The Senate passed the extension bill in a late-night session by unanimous voice vote, which allows Senators to obscure from their constituents the fact that they voted for the bill. The House passed their version as part of a bundle of extensions grouped under a Medicare reform act. The press release by Congressional Democrats mentioned only the failure of the Congress to adopt some additional privacy protections proposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, comments around the Internet from Democrats continue to demonstrate how well the DNC sold its opposition to the Patriot Act — after voting for it almost unanimously in the wake of the 9/11 attack. The base hates the Patriot Act, mostly for invalid reasons. Here are a few comments from yesterday’s discussions at CNN and Democratic Underground (R-rated for language and for incomprehensibly odd thinking):

Pedro: Funny that so many GOP respondents think the government is a threat given that it was the Bush administration that tried to do away with Habeas Corpus and had the military and NSA listening in on the phone conversations of American citizens without having to secure a warrant.

Yeah, I for one feel much safer with the government now.

Why now? Why didn’t all these whiners take to the streets when George WWWWW Bush was in the process of eroding our civil rights, having telecom companies spying on us, capturing our data, and tightening our ability to move freely in the country and to Canada?

Why now? WHAT? What are these people talking about? Whine to the Republicans who TOOK YOUR FREEDOMS AWAY!

You’re all a bunch of looney-tune wackos!

I swear, they have mountains of evidence that it really isn’t effective and that in actuality, it’s illegal .. you have to wonder, who makes the big bucks by continuing this? Greed again rears its ugly head.

Yes, yes, but its DEMOCRATS taking away your rights. They only uphold the Republican status quo.

They don’t invent devious new shit. If you don’t vote for Democrats then Republicans will come in and invent more devious shit that Democrats will have to uphold. Of course, sometimes Democrats also have to invent devious new shit–like destroying public education and forcing Americans to buy shitty, overpriced insurance policies. But those are devious shits that Republicans could never get away with, so the Democrats must take on those issues.

Bipartisanship: Now Everyone’s Fucking You Over.

I discussed at length the legality of the wiretapping authorized under the Patriot Act back when it was a relevant topic. You can review that discussion here, if you like. However, it may not be necessary to do that, as it appears that leaders of the Democratic party agree that the Patriot Act is essential. In discussing this week’s action with Politico, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I, CT), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate, very quietly observed that the Patriot Act does not deserve its bad reputation:

“In the end, it became non-controversial,” Senate Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told POLITICO. “[There was] the growing concern about increase on the pace of attacks on the homeland… and frankly, I think the Patriot [Act] got a bad name under the Bush Administration.”

Lieberman said FBI Director Robert Mueller and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano emphasized to his committee the importance of extending the three renewed provisions: authorizing court-approved roving wiretaps that cover multiple phones or computers a suspect may use, court-approved search and seizures, and allowing surveillance of “lone wolf” non-U.S. citizens not affiliated with organized terrorist groups.

What comes through loud and clear is that many, responsible Democrats consider the Patriot Act both necessary and legal. They obviously do not want to try to make that case to their base, however. That makes their continued support of the Patriot Act worse than merely cowardly; it makes it duplicitous. They love the agitation of the base, but they also need the utility of the bill if they’re going to prevent an attack on their watch.

Of course, part of the reason they prefer to keep the Patriot Act in place could be because they intend to use it on American citizens. The Obama administration has not said as much, but some of the comments from the base suggest that the thought may have occurred to them:

Absolutely necessary to keep an eye on the Teabaggers

Now Obama, not Bush, can get you! Be very afraid racists!

They’re against (imagined) violations of liberty, except when it’s the liberty of their opponents. How noble.

If you’re curious, here’s a reasonably thorough (if somewhat negatively biased) discussion of which provisions of the Patriot Act need periodic renewal. In general, the portions of the Act that require periodic renewal extend the ability of the FBI to surveil agents of foreign governments without probable cause of a crime, allow the FBI to obtain and view the sort of information contained in email headers and caller ID, grant the FBI leave to obtain warrants in cases possibly involving chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and in cases involving computer fraud, allow the FBI to share grand jury and surveillance information with national security operatives when necessary (breaching the famous “wall” between foreign and domestic surveillance,) allow for surveillance of all communications of a suspect without requiring a warrant for each specific phone number (called “roving wiretaps”,) give the FBI power to obtain a warrant to examine business and library records, allow the FBI to track the communications of “computer trespassers” without alerting the trespasser, and a few other details.

This is not the first time the Democrats have signaled the inconsistency between their vocal, public advocacy and their actual recognition of the need for sound protective measures. I wrote about the same disconnect when the Democrats renewed the FISA law two years ago. This sort of duplicity is not an occasional thing for Democrats, it’s the normal pattern.

11/19/2009 (5:14 pm)

On Trying KSM in Court

Lindsey Graham is not my favorite Senator by any means, but he demolished Erich Holder in this 4-minute exchange in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Listen:

The lawyers over at Power Line Blog have a pretty good analysis of this that, not coincidentally, concurs with my layman’s opinion. Holder’s attempt to defend the absence of Miranda rights for Osama bin Laden on the basis that his guilt “is so overwhelming” would not survive 5 seconds of scrutiny in any court in America, nor should it; he offered it because he was on the spot and had nowhere to hide. He was on the spot because Graham was clearly correct: if US courtroom standards apply to the 9/11 plotters, then they apply to all such detainees. Holder can’t have it both ways.

The Obama administration’s argument that they’re genuinely offering Kalid Sheik Mohamed a fair trial and full rights according to the rule of law is contradicted by their claim that the outcome is certain. If the outcome is certain, the trial is a show trial like the show trials of the Stalinistas in the 1940s’ Soviet Union. If KSM has full rights, the outcome cannot be certain. The juxtaposition of those two claims — rule of law, outcome certain — is the consequence of the Holder Justice Department having decided beforehand on other grounds that they were going to try KSM in federal court, and then justify the decision by whatever means they needed to manufacture.

So, on what other grounds did they decide that they were going to try KSM in federal court? I believe John Yoo, former Bush administration counsel and favorite whipping-boy of the insane left, gives us a clue when he describes what happened when we tried Zacarias Moussaoui in an American court:

For a preview of the KSM trial, look at what happened in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker who was arrested in the U.S. just before 9/11. His trial never made it to a jury. Moussaoui’s lawyers tied the court up in knots.

All they had to do was demand that the government hand over all its intelligence on him. The case became a four-year circus, giving Moussaoui a platform to air his anti-American tirades. The only reason the trial ended was because, at the last minute, Moussaoui decided to plead guilty. That plea relieved the government of the choice between allowing a fishing expedition into its intelligence files or dismissing the charges…

Prosecutors will be forced to reveal U.S. intelligence on KSM, the methods and sources for acquiring its information, and his relationships to fellow al Qaeda operatives. The information will enable al Qaeda to drop plans and personnel whose cover is blown. It will enable it to detect our means of intelligence-gathering, and to push forward into areas we know nothing about.

This is not hypothetical, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has explained. During the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (aka the “blind Sheikh”), standard criminal trial rules required the government to turn over to the defendants a list of 200 possible co-conspirators.

In essence, this list was a sketch of American intelligence on al Qaeda. According to Mr. McCarthy, who tried the case, it was delivered to bin Laden in Sudan on a silver platter within days of its production as a court exhibit.

Bin Laden, who was on the list, could immediately see who was compromised. He also could start figuring out how American intelligence had learned its information and anticipate what our future moves were likely to be.

Leftists historically love to use courtroom rules as a vehicle to produce documentary evidence regarding government “misbehavior” as they perceive it. This was the motivation behind the dozens of lawsuits filed against phone companies for cooperating with the Bush administration in eavesdropping on possible terrorists, as I discussed here more than a year ago.

Is there documentary evidence that leftists desire to be made public related to Kalid Sheik Mohamed? Oh, you betcha. They’re already investigating the CIA, but you can be sure that KSM’s attorneys are going to bring up the manner of his interrogation in order to invalidate his confession. What will follow will be a public trial of the Bush administration’s interrogation policy, carried out in the pages of the New York Times by reporters already known to be hostile to the Bush administration. Also, I’m willing to bet that the choice of venue was influenced by the Justice Department’s knowledge of the judicial habits of the panel of judges in that district; they’re expecting liberal interpretations of evidence rules requiring government disclosure. Count on it.

Is that the goal? To be sure, trying KSM and the other 9/11 plotters as criminals has been the misguided aim of the ACLU and other hard leftists for years. They claim to be defending the rule of law. The ideologically-driven selectivity of their idea of the rule of law notwithstanding, I accept this as at least a plausible goal of some of the less-well-informed dupes of the neo-Marxist left.

However, the better-educated of these folks harbor ulterior motives. If they attempted publicly to try Bush administration officials, they would surely trigger violent reactions, fueled by accusations of attempting to criminalize policy differences. They do want to criminalize those policy differences, as I discussed here and here, but I think they also fear the repercussions. So, they’ve chosen a less direct route; they’ll try the 9/11 plotters, but in a forum that allows those plotters to turn the trial into a trial of the Bush administration. That way, they can pretend they’re defending the rule of law while continuing to vilify the good men who protected us from terrorist attack from 2001 through 2008.

Never believe what leftists say about their intentions, especially when their defense is so utterly lame in the face of easily predictable questions.

11/05/2009 (8:03 pm)

War Zone at Ft. Hood

A major shooting spree occurred at Ft. Hood in Killeen, Tx today that may have stunning repercussions throughout the nation. Twelve people were killed, including the main shooter, and another 31 were injured.

Notice the word “main” in that last sentence. There were at least two shooters, according to the report from KXAN in Austin, Tx.

The main shooter was Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before his transfer to Ft. Hood in July. Major Hasan was apparently about to be deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. In addition to Major Hasan, who was killed, two men are in custody. Fort Hood remains locked down at this time; it looks like the police are trying to verify that all shooters have been cleared from the base.

In the video below, Fox News reports that Hasan was a convert to Islam. If true, and if the two other men in custody were connected with him, then this could be an embedded terror cell attacking a military base on US soil. The main shooter had two weapons, there may have been additional shooters, and the police are keeping the base locked down even though the main shooter is dead; it looks like the police suspect a coordinated, planned event.

Wait for the facts to roll in.

09/28/2009 (6:12 pm)

Priorities

Since I posted this morning on the President’s focus on obtaining the Olympics for his political mentors in Chicago, I’ll ask the question everybody else is asking today:

Why is it that the President has time to focus on Olympics for Chicago, but no time to discuss Afghanistan with his field commander?

CNN.com, July 20, 2008:

“… we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism,” Obama said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I think one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq,” he said.

Obama said troop levels must increase in Afghanistan.

“For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three,” he told CBS. “I think it’s very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough.”

Obama traveled to eastern Afghanistan on Saturday to visit American forces under NATO’s Regional Command East, the coalition’s Combined Joint Task Force said. Obama is joined by Sen. Charles Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, and Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island…

“We need a sense of urgency and determination. We need urgency because the threat from the Taliban and al Qaeda is growing and we must act; we need determination because it will take time to prevail. But with the right strategy and the resources to back it up, we will get the job done,” they said in the statement.

And yesterday, we heard that the President has spoken to his theater commander in Afghanistan only once since he took office, and that the theater commander perceives a critical need for more troops.

“I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC ,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CBS reporter David Martin in a television interview that aired Sunday.

“You’ve talked to him once in 70 days?” Mr. Martin followed up.

“That is correct,” the general replied.

This revelation comes amid the explosive publication of an classified report written by the general that said the war in Afghanistan “will likely result in failure” if more troops are not added next year.

Progressive blogs have raised the point that Obama is simply refusing to micro-manage the situation. However, the question being raised at this moment is a question of raising troop levels — and Obama declared his support for increasing troop levels in Afghanistan ‘way back in July of 2008. Surely there is some happy medium between micro-managing and ignoring a crying need that he’s already committed to meeting. Surely that medium is not being achieved.

If Afghanistan is the central front in the war against terrorism, then I believe the President has just declared the war against terrorism a very, very low priority.

I have another question: if the Olympics were not being considered by Obama’s own city, or by individuals to whom Obama was politically beholden, would he be so interested? Might the reason he has little time for Afghanistan be that Afghans do not vote Democratic in American elections? I’m just asking.

09/11/2009 (10:31 am)

Remember

twintowers

Hat tip to Shawn White, from whom I lifted the photo. He found it on MyrnasList.com.

05/21/2009 (9:59 am)

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Victor Davis Hanson yesterday drew attention to the “tales told by idiots” department, declaring the era of “Bush Shredded the Constitution” over in the wake of the Senate Democrats’ defeat of funding for Obama’s plan to close down Guantanamo.

With the Democratic no-go on Guantánamo (I’ll leave it to the better informed to ascertain the degree that the Democratic Congress came to the rescue of an embarrassed Obama administration and cut off funding for the shutdown to allow him an out with the now familiar excuse of “they did it — not me, who keeps promises”), I think we now have come to the end to the five-year left-wing attack theme of Bush “shredding the Constitution.”

Except for the introduction of euphemisms and a few new ballyhooed but largely meaningless protocols, there is no longer a Bush-did-it argument. The Patriot Act, wiretaps, e-mail intercepts, military tribunals, Predator drone attacks, Iraq, Afghanistan — and now Guantánamo — are officially no longer part of the demonic Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld nexus, but apparently collective legitimate anti-terrorism measures designed to thwart killers, and by agreement, after years of observance, of great utility in keeping us safe the last eight years…

And I guess as well that the good old days of supposedly flushed Korans in Guantánamo and Omar the poor liberationist renditioned to Cairo are over. We are now in the age of a sober and judicious President Obama who circumspectly, if reluctantly and in anguish at the high cost, does what is necessary to keep us safe.

And we won’t see a brave young liberal senator, Obama-like, barnstorming the Iowa precincts blasting a presidency for trampling our values with the shame of Guantánamo, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, military tribunals, Predators, Iraq, etc. That motif just dissolved — or rather, it never really existed.

It short, all the fury, the vicious slander, the self-righteous outbursts, the impassioned speeches from the floor, the “I accuse” op-eds by the usual moralistic pundits — all that turned out to be solely about politics, nothing more.

Hanson characteristically states the case plainly, but he’s far too polite. False accusation is evil. False accusation from those tasked with running the country, aimed at good and competent men, for the purpose of gaining political power for themselves, with complete disregard for the welfare of the nation — they’re fortunate they’re not being tarred, feathered, and ridden out of Washington on a rail, but that’s no less than what they deserve. And in the wake of their rank dishonesty, millions of unthinking drones within the Democratic party will go the rest of their lives thinking of the Bush years as battles furiously fought to protect their rights from ravagement by the dastardly Bush Crime Family, and the Obama years as years of restored sanity and safety, without once recognizing that both metaphors refer to the same set of policies.

Obama’s real agenda is economic and social. He cares about turning the United States into a Worker’s Paradise and a bastion of True Justice, as defined by world Marxism. He wants to redistribute income, capital, and opportunity to make America fair; he wants to force us all to drive smaller cars, use alternative energy sources, and produce less in order to save the planet; he wants to liberate all Americans from the iron-fisted tyranny of old-world morals; he wants all industry under the thumb of government so they cannot steal from the people; all as defined by world Marxism. (Translation: He wants to tax the productive and give their money to the unproductive, he wants to adopt the full socialism that the rest of the world rejected as a failure twenty years ago, he wants to institute unnecessary and scientifically irrelevant controls on harmless gases, he wants to legalize every possible social distortion, and he wants to prevent any businessman from actually making money.)

But he doesn’t care all that much about foreign policy, except that he wants to apologize for how arrogant we’ve all been and stop our interfering with the advance of World Socialism. The reality of the fact that America has been attacked, and will be attacked again if we’re not vigilant, is an incidental reality that cannot be obscured by his preconceived notions of A Just America. Consequently, his foreign policy so far has been a quick and red-faced reversal of every article of faith in the left’s War on Terror dogma. We now know that the Bush administration was thoughtful, foresightful, and legally correct on virtually everything they did to protect America, and that the Obama administration has quietly admitted that everything they said about his policy was either politically-motivated lie, or vicious ignorance of the facts.

The good news is that the safeguards developed by the Bush administration will not vanish overnight; we’ll remain somewhat safe for a while. The bad news is that they’re doing it grudgingly, hoping they can gradually convert us back to our 9/10 strategy of prosecuting terrorists as though they were simple criminals, and not an attacking army.

They will never admit what they did, but it behooves us to remind our adversaries every time it comes up that their entire campaign of slander against the Bush administration was an evil game, and that when offered the chance to repudiate his decisions, they meekly adopted every one.

A tip of the blogger hat to Michelle Malkin, who declares “For now, the adults have prevailed.”

05/04/2009 (3:12 pm)

This Week's Friday Night Burial

Friday night stories are becoming standard fare for the Obama administration, which predictably is finding that governing is more difficult than criticizing. Last Friday, it was the announcement that military tribunals would be reinstated at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, in the wake of the rude discovery that no other nation on the planet wants to touch these miscreants. The tribunals may begin as soon as May 20.

Jules Crittenden claims to have spewed Cherios at his monitor upon reading the story. Ed Morrissey, ever the optimist, is waiting for the apology from the Left that will surely never come. He draws attention to this gem:

When President Obama suspended Guantánamo cases after his inauguration on Jan. 20, many participants said the military commission system appeared dead. But in recent days a variety of officials involved in the deliberations say that after administration lawyers examined many of the cases, the mood shifted toward using military commissions to prosecute some detainees, perhaps including those charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The more they look at it,” said one official, “the more commissions don’t look as bad as they did on Jan. 20.”

Particularly on the subject of international terrorism, President Obama looks less and less like a serious policy analyst and more and more like a Monday-morning quarterback. The Oval Office is a helluva place to grow up, though.

04/20/2009 (9:18 am)

War Crimes Trial for King Mohammed VI!!!

memeotorture

King Who?

King Mohammed VI, of Morocco. Let me explain.

The blog chatter late last week came mostly from the Left, and mostly concerned the release by the Obama administration of four, previously-classified memos from Bush administration officials regarding the use of harsh interrogation techniques to question highly-placed al Qaeda detainees who might have knowledge of imminent attacks. The memos documented in some detail the specifics of the techniques that were used, most likely rendering them useless for future interrogations since America’s enemies will now be prepared for them.

It’s possible that the dollar may collapse in the wake of the current administration’s grotesque overspending; it’s also possible that the US economy could collapse. Either would probably cause the world’s economy to collapse, resulting in the loss of millions of lives worldwide due to poverty and disease. Islam as a religion perpetrates the killing of hundreds of people worldwide regularly (318 killed in Islamic terrorist attacks worldwide so far this April), and Wahabist terrorists routinely threaten mass killings around the world; they continue to hunt for weapons of mass destruction with which to perpetrate larger murders. Irrational tyrants are testing intercontinental ballistic missiles possibly carrying nuclear weapons, which they might just fire at a major city someday. If global warming alarmists are correct, the world faces ecological calamity, and if they are not correct (as current research suggests,) the world faces deliberate crippling of its economic power, which will result in vast and permanent global poverty. And if none of that is bad enough, there’s a growing disaffection among American citizens regarding whether their government is behaving according to its Constitution, and a wave of immigrants threatens to undermine the ability of border states to maintain civil services. There are real, serious threats facing the world, and the nation.

And so, surrounded by very real, very frightening threats, the hard Left in America is screaming like agitated, feces-flinging gorillas about some two dozen individuals, who helped plot major terror attacks, being deliberately slammed against a soft, flexible wall designed to make a loud noise that would startle them — after having that specific technique approved for that particular detainee by some highly-placed official, with monitoring of the detainee’s vital signs to make sure there would be no permanent damage. Or having them squat in an uncomfortable position for no more than four hours. Or making them stand undressed in a room with temperature certified to be no less than 64 degrees Fahrenheit, making them feel embarrassed. This is the defining issue of the Bush administration, to these moral and intellectual giants — whether 28 individuals were treated in this manner.

Have they gone insane?

I’m pretty sure they have, and I’m not using hyperbole. The agitation with which the hard Left regards the possible mistreatment of some two dozen anti-American terrorists in our custody over the past 8 years constitutes a moral inversion of truly astonishing proportions. I’ve read portions of the memos, including the descriptions of the techniques. Americans are pussycats. The first, general definition of “torture” mentioned in the memos rests on the phrase, “acts that shock the conscience.” The only thing about the techniques in these memos that shocks my conscience is how much effort the Bush administration spent evaluating whether it was proper to do these things, and when, and under what circumstances. It’s shockingly decent. It’s virtue in unheard-of proportions. Can you imagine any other government of any nation anywhere in the world, at any time in human history, writing hundreds of thousands of words, spending hundreds of hours evaluating laws, investing thousands of hours of psychologists’, doctors’, and engineers’ time designing techniques that would not hurt anybody, but would achieve the desired result of making them tell us what they knew of plans to harm us? What sort of people fret over when and whether it’s permissible for a questioner to slam one of their sworn enemies against a wall — a fake wall, carefully engineered to prevent him from bumping his head — to thwart a deadly calamity like the WTC attack? The Bush administration was careful in a manner practically unheard of in human history.

After reading these memos, I am deeply, deeply proud of my country, and of my government. These are good men who did the right thing with a very difficult problem. There is still much good in America.

There is simply no rational explanation for the level of anger on the political Left regarding this topic. The only plausible explanation is irrational hatred gone out of control; they wanted so badly for so long to find something, anything, with which to justify their inner, uncontrollable hatred for this one man, President George W. Bush, that they are now pretending that something unusually decent is something unusually indecent — in a world filled with real indecency. The people who engaged in this charade, and who continue to engage in it, need help. They’re simply and completely insane; and because their insanity is pushing them, by the thousands, toward insisting on world-approved war crimes prosecution for some of the most morally sound leaders in human history, they’re extremely dangerous.

So, what’s all this got to do with King Mohammed VI of Morocco?

Well, one of the more alarming incidents that people point to who want to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes is the case of one Binyam Mohamed, whose case is currently being heard in British courts. When people I know were challenged to produce evidence of torture, it was Binyam Mohamed’s case to which they pointed. Mr. Mohamed was detained in Pakistan while boarding a flight to the UK bearing a legal passport belonging to somebody else, but with his own picture inserted over the photo. He’d been weapons-trained by al Qaeda operatives at a camp in Afghanistan, and is alleged to have been involved in a “dirty bomb” plot. Mr. Mohamed testifies that he was questioned improperly in Pakistan by MI5 operatives, then rendered by the CIA to Morocco, then to Afghanistan, and finally to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, courtesy of the US government. And while imprisoned in Morocco, testifies Binyam Mohamed, he had his penis sliced with a scalpel 30 times.

Now, let’s ignore for the sake of argument the fact that we have in writing instructions given to al Qaeda members training them to make horrific claims of torture if they’re captured and held, for the sake of propaganda. And let’s ignore for the sake of argument that the British court has not even evaluated the evidence supporting this man’s claim yet, they’ve simply ruled on whether certain evidence is going to be allowed. And let’s ignore for the sake of argument the fact that there’s no public evidence supporting the claim that this man’s manly bits have been damaged, or that if they were, they were damaged where and by whom he’s accusing. And let’s ignore for the sake of argument the fact that the man has no legally supportable reason to infer that any of this has the slightest to do with the US. Let’s ignore all that, and assume he’s telling the truth (and let me be plain, I don’t think any rational person should believe that for a millisecond.)

It was in the Moroccan prison that the penis slicing allegedly occurred. If the most outlandish claims of the Leftist Torture Poo Flingers are correct, the CIA deliberately transferred this poor, innocent British subject to Morocco specifically for the purpose of letting the Moroccans do what Moroccan torturers do. This means that it’s known that in Morocco, you get tortured in prison. This would also be true of other, barbaric places to which the CIA deliberately transferred prisoners.

So, there are prisons all over the world where the keepers engage in acts like slicing prisoners’ penises with scalpels, and everybody seems to know it.

exaspbobAnd for this reason, the Poo Flinging Geniuses want to prosecute… drum roll, please… George W. Bush.

Will somebody please explain to me why these Protectors of the World’s Conscience are not calling for the war crimes prosecution of the King of Morocco, under whose inspiring leadership prisons have been constructed in which Bad Cops around the world can count on prisoners having their favored bits sliced thin? Or for the prosecution of Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, under whose leadership Binyam Mohamed was mistreated? Or for the prosecution of Pervez Musharraf, the Prime Minister in Pakistan under whose leadership Mohamed had interrogators play Russian roulette with him, claiming out loud “the Americans told us to treat you this way,” and then had them turn him over to the CIA? (The assertion about the Americans is particularly hilarious. Seriously — can you imagine an interrogator informing his subject who told him what to do? or a subject believing it even they did? or one remembering that specific detail? Binyam’s claim about this was alleged by the raving communist loons at theworldcantwait.net, who you can read about at discoverthenetworks.)

My conscience is shocked by penis-slicing prison keepers. That’s repulsive. And yes, there are plenty of places in the world where humans do such shocking things to other humans. I have no argument whatsoever with people who genuinely, in good conscience, want to go to places where people are treated in this manner and convince them not to do it. If I believed that the American left genuinely had the eradication of world mistreatment of prisoners in mind with their activism, I would at least applaud that concern; and if I thought they had a legitimate means of making it happen, I’d probably support them, both financially and verbally. Furthermore, if it were the case that the US had willfully sent prisoners to Morocco for the express purpose of being tortured, I’d favor the prosecution of those who sent them — as accessories to the actual crimes committed by the Moroccans, and after the Moroccans had been duly prosecuted and convicted. And if it were the case that the US had sent prisoners to Morocco for sound reasons but discovered after the fact that they’d been tortured, I’d argue against sending any more prisoners to Morocco — and call for the prosecution of the Moroccan jailers.

The fact that they’re going absolutely berserk over this topic here in America, and using it to insist on the prosecution of George W. Bush, proves beyond even unreasonable doubt, let alone reasonable doubt, that their goal in all this has Abso.Bloody.Lutely nothing to do with concern over torture, and everything to do with irrational hatred of George W. Bush. Real torture regimes have existed all along, and not anywhere controlled by the US. These activists should be calling for King Mohammed’s head, not George Bush’s. They’re not, ergo torture is not their concern. QED.

It’s really fairly simple, and it’s been clear for at least 40 years. The one government that stands in the path of World Socialism is the United States government, and really, it only does so when it’s in the hands of Republicans. For this reason, socialists worldwide have been systematically, consistently attempting to demonize American government, and especially Republican American government, in any way possible for most of our lifetimes. The agitation over “torture” (which is, truly, anything but torture) is part and parcel of that effort, and to the extent that any citizen in the United States has participated in the agitation, they are either dupes of World Socialists, or partners with them. The Democratic party of the United States as a whole has absorbed more of the assumptions of World Socialism than most Democrats realize, and for that reason most American Democrats cooperate unconsciously with World Socialism, but that’s what this is about. Otherwise, we’d be banging the drum for sanctioning of Morocco, Pakistan, and Afghanistan at the UN, not banging the drum for lynching George W. Bush and John Yoo. Who the hell is John Yoo, anyhow?

We cannot allow the legacy of Bush Derangement to simply slide unremarked into the past. This is the era during which political partisanship took on horrific and dangerous proportions in America. Seemingly ordinary folks became obsessed and enraged with irrational hatred, and used that hatred to tear the nation to pieces. This is beyond ordinary, allowable disagreement. They’re calling for war crimes trials, not just for the Innocent, but for the Good. To continue to pretend that what separates us in the American body politic is simply disagreement between ordinary citizens of equivalent good will is delusional. We need to recognize the level of insanity, and we need to protect ourselves, and it cannot be done within the existing American republic. They’ve gone nuts over there on the left, and they’re going to harm us with it.

02/02/2009 (1:30 pm)

Obama Embraces Extraordinary Rendition

It was during the Clinton years that America began the practice of sending international prisoners — prisoners detained because of their connection to international terrorists — to foreign nations so they could be interrogated regarding what they knew about their own network of co-terrorists. This practice, called extraordinary rendition, has always been troubling because the nations to which we send these prisoners are far more likely than we are to torture or simply murder their prisoners. The Bush administration asserted rules regarding rendition, and constructed interrogation facilities of its own to handle prisoners captured during the worldwide war against Wahabist radicals.

Now the Obama administration has announced its plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and all the secret CIA detention facilities around the world. Over the weekend, however, reporters noticed that Obama’s Executive Orders regarding the handling of prisoners left open the possibility of extraordinary rendition.

From the LA Times:

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street…

“Obviously you need to preserve some tools — you still have to go after the bad guys,” said an Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing the legal reasoning. “The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice…”

Despite concern about rendition, Obama’s prohibition of many other counter-terrorism tools could prompt intelligence officers to resort more frequently to the “transitory” technique.

Rightward blogs that picked up on it are commenting wryly about the inconsistency, or in Moe Lane’s case at Red State, practically screaming in rage. I understand the irony here, but my concern touches problems beyond the mere inconsistency of leftists.

Simply put, we’re stuck with using the worst of our interrogation tools, and we’re increasing rather than decreasing the likelihood that our detainees will be mistreated.

From the LA Times again:

CIA veterans involved in renditions characterized the program as important but of limited intelligence-gathering use. It is used mainly for terrorism suspects not considered valuable enough for the CIA to keep, they said.

“The reason we did interrogations [ourselves] is because renditions for the most part weren’t very productive,” said a former senior CIA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

The most valuable intelligence on Al Qaeda came from prisoners who were in CIA custody and questioned by agency experts, the official said. Once prisoners were turned over to Egypt, Jordan or elsewhere, the agency had limited influence over how much intelligence was shared, how prisoners were treated and whether they were later released.

“In some ways, [rendition] is the worst option,” the former official said. “If they are in U.S. hands, you have a lot of checks and balances, medics and lawyers. Once you turn them over to another service, you lose control.”

CIA seems to know pretty well how to interrogate prisoners. It’s not clear that our foreign neighbors are as good at this as we are. If they are, though, they don’t always tell us what they’ve discovered. Either way, it’s hit or miss regarding whether we get intelligence back.

More troubling is the torture aspect. The notion that the Bush administration chose to engage in full-scale torture is laughable; as far as we know, the total amount of time prisoners have spent on the waterboard while in US custody is around 5 minutes. That’s not five minutes per prisoner; it’s five minutes total for the entire program. On the contrary, most of our interrogation tactics are completely benign. One of the more common tactics involves sitting the prisoner in a La-Z-Boy recliner, giving him cold drinks, and having a grandmotherly woman ask him questions. I know this sounds like “the Comfy Chair” from Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition skit, but I’m not joking; the La-Z-Boy is offered as a reward for cooperation, and apparently works pretty well on some detainees.

I’m sure President Obama is sincere regarding his concern that prisoners not be tortured, or at least, as sincere as he knows how to be; it seems likely to me, though, that he’s naive about foreign nations’ willingness to keep their word regarding treatment of prisoners we turn over. When we’re interrogating prisoners ourselves, we have control of the process, and can limit the cruelty. We lose that control when we send prisoners elsewhere. This is why the humane policy of a humane nation required that we build the detention facilities; the Bush administration was protecting civility.

I know there are those among us who don’t care about prisoners being tortured by American personnel, who point to the suffering of the victims of the terrorists’ plans and say the prisoners should suffer as much as the victims. I’m not among them. My own position is that we’re justified in doing what we need to do in order to keep ourselves safe, but wise and moral to put in place the checks and balances that prevent excesses. The danger that we could someday become as cruel as our adversaries is real, and the restraint built into the system is the proof that we’ve not fallen so far.

It’s ironic that the liberal policy that claims to be restoring civility is actually likely to result in greater brutality to the detainees, while providing less information with which to secure our safety. This is hardly an unusual irony from liberal policies, though; it’s unfortunately the rule rather than the exception that liberal policies produce the opposite of that at which they aim, but make liberals feel morally superior in the process. With the left, it’s all about appearances, whereas with the right it’s more often about results.

More to the point, the building of our own interrogation mechanism was a hard decision that needed to be made, and President Bush had the courage to make it; first President Clinton, and now President Obama, display cowardice by avoiding the hard decision and simply pawning the responsibility for harsh interrogation onto foreigners.

All that said, I am curious to see whether the leftists who shrieked for Cheney’s head on a platter will raise a finger of objection to Obama’s hedging on rolling back the “regime of torture.” I’m not holding my breath, though. In the discussion I had with a progressive blogger on the subject, he acknowledged that Democratic Congressmen were hypocrites to have privately approved the interrogation regimen and then publicly to have denounced them, but he failed to notice that this made those Congressmen liable for prosecution along with the Vice President. If Cheney actually committed war crimes or violated American law by endorsing “torture,” then the Congressmen providing oversight surely made themselves accessories to those crimes by approving the procedures, and should likewise be prosecuted. I’ve heard no calls for prosecuting Democrats, though, and I don’t expect to.

Older Posts »