Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Leftist Faith, Censorship, Cheney opinion

I sporadically visit left blogs - out of curiosity.  I'm kind of ready to stop.  I'm nearly fully educated about left side opinion.  I do like Darren Hutchinson's blog:  Dissenting Justice.

I decide, sometimes, to not allow misguided assertions to go unchallenged.  I always hope some lone reader will see the logic of my comment, and the logic will be a small factor in a decision to reconsider their faith in leftist cant.  

Some things I've learned (edited to add in three "most"s):

Most committed left persons believe their political opinions confer virtue upon them.  Their political opinions must be correct, as holding an incorrect opinion amounts to being unvirtuous (according to their thinking), and they cannot possibly be unvirtuous.  Besides, everyone they respect holds the same political opinion, ergo the opinion must be correct.  Echo chamber.

Most committed left persons cannot logically defend their opinions.  They sometimes try to defend based upon clueless belief in fantasy.  They sometimes try to defend with deception (which they rationalize as virtuously serving a greater good - plus, at any rate,  "Tu quoque, you hypocrite righties!").  They sometimes try to obscure via throwing out huge clouds of flak, for instance: false-info flak, ad hominem flak, straw-man flak - all of which take forever to completely round up and refute, most of which serve to obscure and wrest attention from the original opinion which the left person was unable to logically defend. 

In absence of understanding the logic of leftist cant, most committed lefties have faith that some smart lefty - at Daily Kos, or somewhere - can defend what they consider obviously correct leftist cant.  That faith is enough.  FAITH.  Their opinion is based upon their faith.  Everyone whom they trust holds the same opinion - which reinforces their faith the opinion must be correct.  They don't understand the logic of why their opinion is correct, yet it simply MUST BE.  

So, I visit lefty blogs; and sometimes I comment; and sometimes, if a lefty blogger feels  embarrassed or exposed, my comments are deleted.  The left is very much about censorship of those who disagree with them.  I've taken to sometimes copying my comments (in case they are deleted - in the instance below, I wanted to make sure I had the links).  

I offer such a deleted  comment below.  I left an original comment, blogger Jack Jodell responded, and this is a copy of my (now deleted) response to his response.  In my response, I reproduced his entire comment (pink) in sections which could be responded to.

(Jack:)  Thank you for visiting. 

(Me:) Thanks for responding.  Appreciate it.

I categorically reject your assertion and agreement with Cheney that waterboarding was necessary and beneficial.

I got it.  I'm giving greatest weight to GWB, Cheney, DCI Tenet, DCI Gen. Hayden, AG Mukasey.  I respect your decision to give greater weight to other voices.

CIA interrogators have confirmed that vital information had been obtained as a result of the FBI's traditional interrogation methods, and that torture techniques yielded garbage or nothing at all.

Dick Cheney, Dec 2008:  
"There was a time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from one source[KSM]".
Tenet, on "60 Minutes" in April 2007:  
"I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."
Hayden and Mukasey in WSJ:  
"[A]s late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those [enhanced] interrogations."
Did waterboarding one prisoner 183 times in one month, 6 times a DAY, lead to the capture of Bin Laden, or the capture of 182 other Al Qaeda members? Absolutely not.

Actually, waterboarding led to the capture of many Al Qaeda operatives - including many at the top.  The absence of further large scale attacks on the U.S. is an indicator that Al Qaeda was hurt by something.  Intelligence info is a good bet to be part of that hurt.

Also, sur, unlike you modern "conservatives", my stance on an issue is not colored by only how it may or may not affect me or members of my immediate family (extensions of myself). Unlike you, apparently, I am not that self-centered.

I got it.  You would not waterboard in order to save your wife and young daughters, in order to save your sister and your young niece and nephew, in order to save an American city from terrorist attack.  You take a principled stand.  

IMO, you misunderstand the ethics of the situation, you misunderstand the carefully considered limits and techniques which our interrogators employed, you misunderstand the distinction between torture and a harrowing experience.  However, you stand firmly for your principles - even when your principles result in  agonizing cost of life.   I respect that. 

I don't, however, actually believe you. I believe you believe you.  It's just that I don't believe you.  In a ticking clock scenario, many techniques might be morally  justified.  

"But there was another oath everyone in the underground tacitly made...: 'I promise never to reveal the whereabouts of my companions to the secret police however brutally they torture me.' We all accepted this charge as a moral statement of intention, without deceit or mental reservation, yet without having the slightest certainty that we could carry it out. And the reason for the uncertainty was simple. Nobody actually knows how long he can last until he’s actually in the situation.
It is not often realized that the oath not to break under torture is very similar to [a] promise never to use coercion even as 'a last and desperate option' against a brutal enemy. Fighting terrorism, like the promise never to break under duress, is a test of how much one can endure without crossing a line. And when fear and survival are stake, I am not sure at all what lines people won’t cross.
It is one thing to swear that you will not divulge secrets to the Marcos police under any circumstances, while sitting safe in a bolthole, with a .38 in your lap. It’s quite another to say nothing when your interrogator is prying your eyeball out with a penknife. It is one thing to say I won’t use coercive methods even as 'a last and desperate option' in the War on Terror, but entirely another matter to maintain that stance when your child is gasping for breath through his anthrax ridden lungs. Anybody who tells you different is probably a liar or fooling himself."
Greg's note (this note was not in my comment):  

I am, always, in favor or morality and opposed to immorality.  However, every ticking clock scenario exists on it's own merits.  

Is it moral to allow a child to die while the person who buried the child in a hole is spared pain and suffering?  Such a scenario actually and recently happened in Germany.  The police chief made it known that he was about to inflict severe pain and suffering upon the kidnapper; the kidnapper immediately gave up the location of the child.  Police rushed to the location, found the child, and tragically were too late:  the child had suffocated.  

Is it moral to allow 10,000 to die while a terrorist - who could have morally been shot on sight instead of being taken captive - is spared the choice of either 
1) giving up the murderous plot, or 
2) undergoing pain and suffering and then potentially giving up the plot?  

Are we so willing to legitimize a terrorist bombing plot that we afford the terrorist the same protections as a uniformed soldier of a nation state?  I am no expert on the ethics of these matters, but I suspect true morality in such situations involves more than bumper sticker slogans; I suspect understanding true morality involves more than a blithe belief that morality is easy and obvious in every situation.   

Rather, my opposition to the use of torture is based far more broadly and accurately, on the FACT that our use of torture gives the green light to Al Qaeda and all future enemies to use torture on OUR soldiers and OUR citizens.

I reject your premise that we torture.
(this note was not in my comment)  Medal of Honor winner, and Vietnam POW: Col Leo Thorsness, commenting at Powerlineblog:

"When I wrote Surviving Hell in 2008, initially I did not include discussions of torture, knowing that others had earlier described it. My editors encouraged me to add it; if our younger population reads only current books, they may perceive that the treatment at Abu Grab and Gitmo was real torture. I added my experience being tortured so that readers will know that there is abuse and humiliation, and there is torture.

If someone surveyed the surviving Vietnam POWs, we would likely not agree on one definition of torture. In fact, we wouldn't agree if waterboarding is torture. For example, John McCain, Bud Day and I were recently together. Bud is one of the toughest and most tortured Vietnam POWs. John thinks waterboarding is torture; Bud and I believe it is harsh treatment, but not torture. Other POWs would have varying opinions. I don't claim to be right; we just disagree. But as someone who has been severely tortured over an extended time, my first hand view on torture is this:

Torture, when used by an expert, can produce useful, truthful information. I base that on my experience."
If captured U.S. military are treated exactly as we treat Al Qaeda captives, then our fight with Al Qaeda will be over, and truce will be at hand, as Al Qaeda will have become civilized. 

I also reject your premise that Al Qaeda needed permission or excuse for barbarity.  Have you seen Danny Pearl's video beheading?  The beheading of the student from Univ. of Oklahoma?  Have you read of the brutal torture and murder of captured Soviets during the USSR invasion of Afghanistan?

We can only pray that future captured U.S. personnel - captured by any nation or group - will be treated as humanely as we treat those whom we capture.  Such would be a blessing.  A civilized blessing.

Not only that, but it vindicates Nazi torture and imperial Japanese torture.

"To claim that the Japanese -- architects of the Bataan Death March -- were prosecuted for 'waterboarding' would be like saying Ted Bundy was executed for engaging in sexual harassment. 
The Japanese 'water cure' was to 'waterboarding' as practiced at Guantanamo what rape at knifepoint is to calling your secretary "honey." 

The Japanese version of 'waterboarding' was to fill the prisoner's stomach with water until his stomach was distended -- and then pound on his stomach, causing the prisoner to vomit. 

Or they would jam a stick into the prisoner's nose so he could breathe only through his mouth and then pour water in his mouth so he would choke to death. 

Or they would "waterboard" the prisoner with saltwater, which would kill him."
We have always set high moral standards for military and legal conduct for the world to see and follow until Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush destroyed those standards altogether.

Disagree that our standards were/are destroyed.  I believe the Bush Admin's efforts to stay within morality and the law, and this nation's subsequent discussion about morality, is one of our nation's shining moments.  

That is another reason the preceding administration has made us less, rather than more, safe.


[long comparison of Bush to Himmler, Mengele, WWII Japanese, et al]

I reject your premise that we tortured KSM, Abu Zubaida, and the other guy.

Dick Cheney is a liar and a war criminal, and he must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I would LOVE to see that prosecution!  That's entertainment!  Bring it on!  

End note:  Regarding VP Cheney's truthfulness: Webutante has personal experience of VP Cheney's shining honesty during a fishing tournament. What more could anyone ask? Fishing + Honesty = Powerful Evidence! 


Webutante said...

Greg, this was an excellent and compelling post which I am just now getting to today. Last week, I mention on my site that I had had lunch in DC recently with a former Marine who reiterated that he and his fellow trainees had received every form of enhanced interrogation techniques during basic training and he was very much in favor of using them. He also stressed that none of these were or are considered torture.

Last week I had lunch with a man here in Nashville whose father was the head of admissions at West Point for decades (now retired). He said again that all the techniques used to extract information from our enemies are indeed used on all our soldiers during training.

These things need to be said and promulgated wherever they can so that some few people will see and have their eyes opened.

Thanks for doing that here.

gcotharn said...

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