Saturday, April 25, 2009

Today's Reading Assignment

National Review's Steve Schippert, on the Obama's Administration's assault on the American warrior class. As he reminds us, the White House decision to release terrorist interrogation photos is merely the latest outrage aimed that those who wear the uniform:

The assault is relentless. It is enraging. And today, the Obama administration's assault on those who dare to defend America from terrorist thugs who rejoice in publicizing beheadings, mass murder, and pure evil are on notice: "You will be punished. We're coming after you."

The target audience now includes the American Warrior. The Obama administration has abdicated the Warrior's defense, refusing to appeal the 2nd Circuit's decision that more photos should be released from investigations of the detention of enemy fighters from the battlefield. The Obama administration has sided with the ACLU and abandoned our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. This cannot stand.

[snip]

Today, the very legacy of the American Warrior is directly under assault as part of that same process.

The Obama administration agreed late Thursday to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuse by U.S. personnel during the Bush administration of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least 44 pictures will be released by May 28, making public for the first time images of what the military investigated at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Defense Department officials would not say exactly what is contained in the photos but said they are concerned the release could incite a Mideast backlash.

Mr. Schippert observes--correctly--that Mr. Obama and his national security team ought to be worried about a backlash within the ranks. By slashing the budget for new hardware, refusing to send the requested number of troops to Afghanistan and apologizing for U.S. actions around the globe, President Obama is providing powerful disincentives for remaining in the military.

Maybe the commander-in-chief (and his secretary of defense) figure that a bad economy will keep troops in uniform. But lest we forget, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines voted with their feet during the Carter years, despite high unemployment and double-digit inflation. If Mr. Obama continues on his present course, the services will--once again--face plummeting re-enlistment rates.

Here's a statistic worth remembering. Almost 20% of military personnel recently surveyed by the Military Times papers said they would consider getting out if President Obama overturns the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military.

While that change has not been announced (yet), it could be the proverbial straw that breaks the back of re-enlistment totals. Even in a recession, highly-trained service members are not without options, and more may return to civilian life, declining to serve under a commander-in-chief who won't stand up for them.

19 comments:

J.R. said...

If they're bigots, good riddance.

Bill Befort said...

You think the "post-American" crowd would be averse to a collapse of military morale and loss of our best servicemen?

Ken Prescott said...

"If they're bigots, good riddance."

Define "bigot."

Ken Prescott said...

"You think the "post-American" crowd would be averse to a collapse of military morale and loss of our best servicemen?"

No, they wouldn't. But they haven't reckoned with the wild card they might be dealing themselves: an American Pinochet.

Ed Rasimus said...

Not Pinochet. I'm thinking more General Buck Turgidson. Or maybe someone in the mold of Curt LeMay or George Patton. Possibly George Washington would be another model...Grant, Jackson, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower...It might not be bad.

PCSSEPA said...

I'm with Ed.
Repectfully,
Jack

"I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the International Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

mariner said...

For Obama, this is a feature, not a bug.

He and the Democrats are systematically destroying the economy and the national defense.

Teddy said...

Used to be, being a warrior was an honourable job. You want to be associated with the idea of torture? Then fine, you all get labeled with being uncivilized.

No really, fuck you to hell. Torture is inhuman.

Ken Prescott said...

"Used to be, being a warrior was an honourable job. You want to be associated with the idea of torture? Then fine, you all get labeled with being uncivilized."

Fine. You want the country defended, you'd better grab a rifle and stand to post. And you'd better (a) not do anything you've self-righteously defined as "torture" and (b) not let a single bad guy get through--because that is the performance standard you've declared yourself capable of meeting.

Now drop and give me 100 push-ups.

J.R. said...

In this case, I'm defining "bigot" as someone who refuses to serve with an otherwise honorable and excellent soldier who happens to be gay, on the grounds that being gay makes a soldier unqualified to serve.

As for torture and warriors, American soldiers are committed to following lawful orders; torture is illegal and so any order to torture is an unlawful one. Therefore, American soldiers who torture are war criminals - not warriors.

Torture is also utterly ineffective. There is no evidence that American torture yielded any information that prevented an attack. There is scant evidence that American torture produced any valid information at all.

Ken Prescott said...

Torture is also utterly ineffective. There is no evidence that American torture yielded any information that prevented an attack.Somebody tell MoveOn to update their ELIZA scripts, damnit.

J.R. said...

In a lot of places, an ad hominem like that is tantamount to throwing the debate. If you're not going to refute the assertion, maybe you should just avoid replying altogether.

Ken Prescott said...

"In a lot of places, an ad hominem like that is tantamount to throwing the debate. If you're not going to refute the assertion, maybe you should just avoid replying altogether."

Refutation: HKhalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Refutation: Abu Zubaydah.

You're welcome.

(Then again, why in Ghu's name am I arguing with an ELIZA program, anyway?)

J.R. said...

What did KSM or Abu Zubaidah spill that we didn't already know before we started torturing them? I haven't seen any evidence of useful information generated by torture.

KSM wasn't captured until a year after the Liberty Tower / Library Tower "second wave" plot was already broken up. As for Zubaidah, the Washington Post reported that "not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida -- chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates -- was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said."

Am I overlooking something? Torture was and remains illegal, it generated no useful leads, it boosts adversary recruiting, it hurts our moral standing abroad, it further endangers captured U.S. troops, and it makes effective interrogation of captured terrorists more difficult.

Storms24 said...

If "bigot" can be defined as "a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own," then J.R. and Perez Hilton have at least one thing in common!

As for the value of torture as an interrogation technique, I would proffer that some of the best interrogators in the world (not just those in the US military) have been employed in this war on terrorists - especially those personnel assigned to detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Obviously then, at least some interrogation experts believe these methods are useful and do indeed (as former VP Cheney has suggested) yield helpful information. To believe otherwise would be to accept that either the Gitmo interrogators are either ignorant or masochists. Having served with such individuals, I have found them to be as intelligent and morally consciencious as any other professional - in and out of goverment service. If they believe that such methods were necessary and useful, then so be it.

Many of the arguments against "enhanced interrogation methods" often suggest that "softer, Reid-like" strategies are more effective. That is a false comparison - the purpose of an interrogation under a law enforcement setting is to gain a confession in solving a crime. It should not be suprising that FBI interrogators sitting in Gitmo sessions were "shocked" by the methodologies - their training and perspective in such matters are geared towards admissability of evidence and convictions in a criminal court. That is not the same goal when gathering intelligence information during a wartime detention. Even leading questions or false replies can offer unique insights and useful intelligence information.

Richard said...

"As for Zubaidah, the Washington Post reported that "not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations."

Well, if the Washington Post and “former senior government officials” said that, it must be true, right?

“Am I overlooking something? Torture was and remains illegal, it generated no useful leads, it boosts adversary recruiting, it hurts our moral standing abroad, it further endangers captured U.S. troops, and it makes effective interrogation of captured terrorists more difficult.”

Do you have any evidence for any of the above?

First of all, torture is effective. The Nazis broke every cell of the French Resistance they were informed of, with torture.[1] The French paras broke the Algerian revolt with torture.[2] Kings and potentates have been using torture for thousands of years. Are we reall supposed to believe torture would have been used since prehistoric times if it didn’t work?[3]

Was there any shortage of terrorist recruits before Abu Ghraib? Before KSM and Zubadiah were waterboarded (assuming for the moment that is torture)? The Marine Barracks in Lebanon? The first World Trade Center Bombing? Khobar Towers? The USS Cole? Am I overlooking something?

Our moral standing? Among whom? The French? The Germans? The Russians? The Saudis? Chavez? Mugabe? Who, exactly, among those who have any moral standing worth a spit?

It further endangers captured US troops? Boy, LTC William F. Buckley, SW2 Robert Dean Stethem, the four Blackwater troops massacred in Fallujah (oops, sorry, they don’t count, they’re “civilians”) will be really glad to know that they’re not in danger!

“It makes effective interrogation of captured terrorists more difficult?” Come on, you can’t be serious about that one. Oh, no, I misunderstood you. You mean, now that terrorists know we can’t say “boo” to them, effective interrogation will be more difficult.” You did mean that, right?

It’s really unfathomable to me how someone can think that terrorists who violate all the rules of warfare should have the protection of those rules. That people who deliberately attack civilians, who use civilians as human shields, who recruit mentally retarded children as suicide bombers, who burn down girls' schools, who take hostages, who do not carry arms openly, who do not answer to anyone, should be given the honorable status of POWs. It’s unthinkable to me that one American should be killed – no, that one American should get a scratch on her nose – because we won’t threaten, scare, trick, humiliate, terrify, or stress out, these lawless monsters.

Poor Richard


[1] Of course, we’re talking real torture here, nails ripped off, thumbscrews, broken bones, cut- off fingers, cigarette burns, testicles crushed, and so forth. Not playing Brittany Spears music, or making someone wear women’s underwear on his head. Although, maybe, Brittany Spears music does qualify as torture.

[2] One of the favorite French tortures was hitting a prisoner on the same spot of the head for hours with a sock filled with wet sand. Tell me, RJ, how does that compare with making someone stand naked on a wooden block and telling him that he’ll be electrocuted if he steps off?

[3] Please don’t bother to answer “People will confess anything under torture.” D-uh! You check out what they say!

J.R. said...

I agree that "some of the best interrogators in the world (not just those in the US military) have been employed in this war on terrorists", but I am not sure that it follows that those same interrogation experts "believe these methods are useful and do indeed (as former VP Cheney has suggested) yield helpful information."

(1) Some interrogators at Gitmo are among the best in the world
(2) Some interrogators at Gitmo strongly support torture
... does not necessarily imply that
(3) Some of the best interrogators in the world strongly support torture.

I would edit your last statement to read, "if they believe that such methods were necessary and useful, then let Congress explicitly make such methods legal or let them risk conviction for war crimes, knowing that a Presidential pardon will be forthcoming." Letting lawyers for the executive branch decide which laws do and don't apply based on convenience and the desires of the President creates a whole set of Americans who serve the President and work above and outside the rule of law.

As for bigotry, it takes a convoluted chain of logic to call the intolerance of intolerance "prejudice", but yes: I believe gay Americans should have every right to serve openly with straight patriots. If a straight service member doesn't want to serve with a gay service member, he's welcome to leave the service. Gays and lesbians are already serving honorably in mission-critical roles (and you have probably served with several, whether or not you knew it). I just feel they should be allowed to serve openly; I'm not sure how that makes me a "bigot".

J.R. said...

It’s really unfathomable to me how someone can think that terrorists who violate all the rules of warfare should have the protection of those rules.We're the ones who base our society on values like rule of law and due process. If we're willing to do anything simply because they're willing to do anything, what are we fighting for besides the right to torture anyone in the world whom we can successfully extradite by force? I say treat them like the criminals they are; give them due process, habeas corpus, humane captivity, full and transparent trials in a duly convened court (even a UCMJ court would be better than indefinite detention) and then hang/shoot/electrocute their asses if they're guilty.

There are pretty clear laws and rules about how much we may "threaten, scare, trick, humiliate, terrify, or stress out" our captives. If we stick to those rules, we remain a civil society (the popularity of Britney Spears notwithstanding).

Richard said...

"If we stick to those rules, we remain a civil society. . ."

I thought we were a civil society when those tactics were used in the back room of every police station in the country. I thought we were a civil society when the German saboteurs who landed here during WWII were tried and convicted by military commission and executed within two months of their landing.[1] I even thought we were a civil society when Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the Civil War.

Obviously, you and I have a different definition of a civil society. I will leave you with this thought from the Talmud: "Those who are kind to the cruel, in the end will be cruel to the kind."

Poor Richard

[1] "The decision in In re Quirin was delivered for a unanimous court by Chief Justice Stone. The question presented to the Court was whether President Roosevelt's July 2 order violated the Constitution. The order was made pursuant to the then Articles of War, which had been voted by Congress and formed part of the United States Code. The Articles codified a long-standing principle of the international law of war, which held that enemy spies in civilian clothes, passing behind their adversary's lines with an intent to wreak destruction or gather intelligence, were subject to the death penalty and thus not entitled to any of the protections due uniformed prisoners of war. As the court noted (see Quirin, footnote 14) General Washington had appointed, or confirmed the death sentences voted by, a number of military tribunals during the Revolution (including the one which condemned Major John Andre, the British agent who entered American lines to meet Benedict Arnold). President Lincoln also made substantial use of military tribunals to try Confederate agents and saboteurs during the Civil War. Among these were men accused of plans to hijack Northern ships, derail trains and set fire to New York City." . . .

"The Court stressed that the procedure being followed was a well-accepted implementation of the universally accepted laws of war:

By universal agreement and practice the law of war draws a distinction between..... those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful.

According to the court, unlawful acts of war include "an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property". It noted that the Hague Convention, adopted by the United States in 1909, adopted the pre-existing distinction between lawful and unlawful belligerents, protecting only the former." -- http://www.spectacle.org/yearzero/tribunal.html