Category Archives: War on Terror

Fisking WND

God, I hate to defend Rosie O’Donnell. An easy way to find my stance on an issue is the opposite of whatever she’s saying. But the Right’s best source of yellow journalism has this article..

O’Donnell echoed the sentiments of Palestinian terrorist Abu Jihad, who told WND today, “I am sure the Americans tortured Mohammad and forced him to say these untrue things. Isn’t it strange it took three years since his arrest for the supposed confession?”

I like the comparison. Now O’Donnell is a terrorist. But let me ask you something. Would what O’Donnell and Jihad are saying have any credibility, any at all, if we had not water-boarded KSM?

Those are the real fruits of torture. The loss of credibility.

I want you to imagine the following scenario. KSM is captured and taken to Gitmo. The facility has been regularly inspected by the Red Cross. Gitmo detainees are presented with charges within six months of their arrival and allowed access to lawyers. They are brought to trial within a year. At KSM’s trial, he confesses to 9/11 and other acts of terror. Would anyone doubt this? Would there be any question? Would Abu Jihad or Rosie or anyone have anything credible to say against it? No. No. And nothing credible, at least. It would be seen as a triumph of American justice.

That’s what we’ve lost by water-boarding.


Well the Right is overjoyed. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is confessing to everything under the sun after his water-boarding. See, torture works!


  • To me, this shows not the usefulness but the uselessness of torture. KSM seems to have confessed to anything and everything, even wild fantasies about killing popes and blowing up buildings. I’m sure if he’d been tortured longer, he would have confessed to the Simpson murders, the Kennedy Assassination and the cancellation of Star Trek. That he screamed out a confession while being water-boarded does not help us. In fact, it may hurt. By seeing every terror act from Bali to Richard Reid as part of a vast conspiracy, we become blind to small groups and crazed individuals.
  • Will anyone believe his confession? KSM’s waterboarding casts into doubt anything and everything he has said, particularly in the view of the Rest of the World. Yeah, I know. Who cares what those foreigners think? All that matters is America. Well, you try invading Iraq without the support of the Saudis; or responding to Russian aggression without Europe; or China without Japan. Or stabilizing Iraq without anyone.

    When we tried and excuted the Nazis at Nurenberg, no one questioned our justice. Rent Judgement at Nuremberg sometime and see the great pains we took to be fair and just to the people who created the Holocaust. When the Israelis tried Eichmann, they gave him a fair trial. They didn’t torture him. And thus his conviction and execution had a legitimacy.

    But if we now convict and execute KSM, no one in the world will believe our moral authority. This will look like a frame-up job no matter how guilty he is. And we will be seen as monsters, not arbiters of jsutice.

    Had we just gone with case we had, we would have been bringing justice. Now we’re a lynch mob. Thanks, Attorney General.

  • So we sacrificed justice, honor and morality. What did we gain by it? We already knew that KSM plotted 9/11, so that wasn’t intelligence we gained. He had these “plots” to kill presidents, popes and buidlings. But were these plots in the same way the Sears Tower plot was a plot? Was he just sitting around saying, “yeah, I’d like to get that pope”. Has he given us anything useful like the identies of other terrorist or details of future plots or the location of Osama bin Laden?
  • One of things to watch is how this illuminates the pro-torture Right. A lot of them are now crowing about the torture and saying, “Gee, I don’t feel sorry for torturing him”. It reinforces Orwell’s point that the point of torture is torture. Listen to what these people are saying. Whatever intelligence may or may not have been gained, what this about is KSM shrieking in pain and suffering. Just remember that when they babble about the “Culture of Life” and the “Party of Death”. They are drawing satisfaction from the needless and pointless suffering of another human being. Yeah, KSM’s scum. He’s still got 46 chromosomes. What do you want out of the War on Terror? Victory? Or revenge?
  • And to respond to Rush in particular — no one is doubting the guilt of KSM. You know better than to impute that. What we are doubting is the moral quagmire we have sunk into in obtaining this useless information. We already knew and could prove he did 9/11. We already knew he was involved in the first WTC plot. But by waterboarding, sleep-depriving and stress-positioning him, we have destroyed what would have been an airtight case. We turned what could have been a Nurenberg triumph of justice into a travesty that will weaken our moral power in the world.

    And what would you think if this were done to an American citizen? Conservatives used to scorn the show trials and “confessions” that defined the Soviet legal system. Conservatives opposed the ICC because of valid concerns over civil liberties. Yet they now think it’s just fine to turn the wheel on someone else, just because he happens to be the scum of the Earth. Our justice system takes pride in how it treats the worst criminals; our nation takes pride in how it treats our enemies.

    Or at least it used to. It used to have George Washington demanding humane treatment of savage Hessians. Or Lincoln treating Confederate soldiers humanely in the wake of Andersonville. Or MacArthur insisting on humane treatment while the Japanese butchered our men. Or fair justice for the Nazis who murdered tens of millions.

    You have sold us out, George Bush, Rush Limbaugh and all you so-called conservatives. For the satisfaction of hearing KSM scream, you’ve sold out our honor, our sense of justice and our moral soul.


  • KSM Confesses

    A great post over at Right-Thinking on KSM confessing to trying to kill everyone on Earth:

    Everyone knows how I feel about torture. Inevitably there will be people on this blog who say, “See? This proves that torture works!” Allow me to head that argument off at the pass. It seems to me that what KSM is doing is talking himself up. He knows he’s caught, he knows he’s never going to see the light of day again. Why not show off to the Arab world his hot martyr status? Serial killers do this all the time, confess to crimes they didn’t commit just so their body count (and thus their notoriety) will go up. Henry Lee Lucas and Ted Bundy are just two examples off the top of my head.

    Of course, Lee is invoking facts here and torturing people is about emotional satisfaction.

    Don’t Panic

    One thing I can’t stand is panic-mongering. I used to buy it, now I’m deeply skeptical of anyone who claims the world is ending.

    Here are two BS artists called on their crap. First up, Sullivan debunking the “Eurabia” myth being pushed by the Right.

    So did Steyn confuse “million” for “percent”? D’oh! Or is Steyn referring to another source? It is the premise of the entire book, after all

    And here, in the same journal, is Easterbrook taking on the Global Warming hysterics. I agree with every word he says:

    And to the extent that the media has been pushing doomsday on this, one of my worries is that the press corps has totally shot its credibility in a classic crying wolf exercise all through the ‘80s and ‘90s. The big deal press corps—The New York Times, everybody—has repeatedly demonstrated total incomprehension of the relative risks of environmental issues. We’ve heard an awful lot about arsenic in drinking water and electromagnetic emissions from power lines and things that even in the worst case analysis are really marginal threats and affect only very small numbers of people and only very slightly raise risks. Since the press corps—and the worst is The New York Times—constantly demonstrates that they have no sense of relative proportion in what are serious risks and what are minor risks, well, now they’re saying, “OK, now there’s proof of global warming.” They’re right, but Americans aren’t paying attention. They’ve cried wolf so many times when there was no wolf that now, when there is a wolf, no one believes them.

    Read the whole thing. It’s brilliant.

    Fascists, Slavers and Knaves, Oh My!

    Nice to know that the French never learn anything. Of course, our cops are, informally, trying to get the same thing here.

    Walter Williams takes the starch out of VA’s apology for slavery. I always love it when people apologize for things that happened 150 years ago.

    I’m sort of in the middle on the whole climate of fear thing. Yes, I agree that the threat of terrorism is overstated and the War on Terror is quickly becoming nothing but a pork barrell. But there is a very real threat. I think we could make ourselves much safer with a fraction of the money we’re spending now.

    War of Words on War Waste

    James Taranto tries to split hairs on the McCain-Obama wasted remarks.

    What’s odd about this is that waste and sacrifice are opposites. To sacrifice is to give up something of value to oneself for the sake of something more valuable that transcends the self. To waste is to give up something of value for the sake of something of lesser or no value. A sacrifice is an unselfish act; a waste is an act of misdirected selfishness.

    If a young man goes out, gets drunk, gets behind the wheel of his car, crashes and dies, it is fair to say he has wasted his life. That’s quite different from a young man who loses his life in the course of doing dangerous work in the service of his country.

    I think he’s missing the point. It is possible for a life to be both sacrificed and wasted. The Aztecs used to sacrifice men to their gods. In many cases, these men went willingly to their deaths, bravely sacrificing their lives so that the Aztec nation would get rain or abundant crops or victory against the Spaniards. But we know these lives were wasted because statues don’t win wars or bring rain.

    The men who died in Pickett’s Charge, the men who died at Galipoli, the men who died in the Marianas Turkey Shoot – they made brave sacrifices. But their lives were wasted by their leaders. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to suggest that George Bush’s incompetence has wasted 3,000+ lives.

    Perusing CNN

    The Inuits say they deserve money for global warming. Of course, there hasn’t been that much warming yet. Less than a degree. This is what drives me nuts in the global warming debate. Someone taking advantage of it to advance an irrelevant issue.

    Now McCain has to apologize for using “wasted” in reference to our troops. The blog was down when this happened with Obama so I couldn’t defend him. But I don’t see what the issue is here. Saying that our soldiers lives are being “wasted” does not insult the soldiers . . . it insults the people doing the wasting! (Of course, that’s why the Right immediately responds by cowering behind the troops). If you think a military action was stupid, shouldn’t you say that it wastes lives? Many historians think Robert E. Lee wasted lives in Pickett’s Charge, so I guess they hate the Confederate troops. Most people would tell you the Gallipoli Campaign was a waste of life; I guess they hate Australians. And since the Commies eventually conquered South Vietnam, one could argue that 60,000 American lives were wasted there. But then that would mean they hate American troops.

    Update: Having slept on this issue, I should back off slightly. There is a difference between soldiers dying in a losing effort and soldiers lives being wasted in a pointless effort. It’s a subtle distinction but a critical one. I still don’t think that saying our soldiers lives are being wasted in Iraq impugns their sacrifice. It’s impossible to impugn that, no matter what anyone says.

    Honestly, can we reserve the “hating the troops” meme for people who actually, you know, hate the troops?

    Finally, the head of Walter Reed has had his ass fired. If only we’d have this kind of accountability, um, before November 2006.

    What I Learned

    During my 12-day absence, I missed the hell out of blogging. I was relentlessly pressuring my brother to “Get the blog back up!”, which is fairly presumptuous since I don’t pay him nuthin’. Anyway, there may only be three people that read this blog if you include my cat. But there’s something therapeutic about putting my thoughts out there. At the very least, it puts off my rendezvous with a rooftop and an AK-47 off for a few more days each time I post.

    There’s been a lot to talk about. We’ve had:

  • Republicans insisting that the Brit pullout means things are going well. The GOP loves the “everything is going fine in 80% of the country” meme. I’m really glad we’ve secured such huge areas of uninhabited desert. When it’s possible to drive from Baghdad to the airport without being shot, let us know.
  • Walter Williams brilliantly guest-hosted for Limbaugh and wrote a column on one my favorite subjects — the danger of Opportunity Cost.
  • John Stossell had a nice special on the disproportionate fear we have of things. We fear terrorism and child abduction more than we fear lightning strikes, which kill more people. Of course, it’s not that simple. We feel like we can prevent terrorism and child abduction. Most people don’t feel that way about lightning.
  • Cato reported that kids are, for the first time, trailing their parents in education. The NYT chimed in that grades are rising even as reading ability falters. This is the system we have to forgo vouchers to protect? Every day makes it clearer to me that our education system is fundamentally broken.
  • And there was a nice diatribe from Radley Balko in response to Michael Medved’s nonsense about how only men of God can be President.