Category Archives: War on Terror

Meyer Takes Out Thiessen

More on Marc Thiessen’s attempts to rewrite history, this time from Jane Meyer, author of the oustanding The Dark Side. Money quote:

Thiessen presents the C.I.A. interrogation program as an unqualified success. “In the decade before the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda launched repeated attacks against America,” he writes. “In the eight years since the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad.” This is not exactly a textbook demonstration of causality. Moreover, the claim that American interests have been invulnerable since the C.I.A. began waterboarding is manifestly untrue. Al Qaeda has launched numerous attacks against U.S. targets abroad since 9/11, including the 2004 attack on the Hilton Hotel in Taba, Egypt; the 2003 and 2009 attacks on hotels in Indonesia; four attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi; and the assassination of Lawrence Foley, a U.S. diplomat, in Jordan. In 2007, Al Qaeda attacked Bagram Air Base, in Afghanistan, killing two Americans and twenty-one others, in a failed attempt to assassinate Cheney, who was visiting. Indeed, Al Qaeda’s relentless campaign in Afghanistan has helped bring about the near-collapse of U.S. policy there. In Iraq, the Al Qaeda faction led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers.

Read the whole thing.

Thiessen is a perfect representative of the Republican party. He is not an expert in intelligence or terrorism, he’s a speech-writer. His research consists of interviewing people who support his side and never taking counter-arguments seriously. The GOP seems to prefer to live in such alternate realities. They’re welcome to them.

The Gitmo Nine

I posted this at the other site, but thought I’d mirror it here.

Liz Cheney’s group has come out with an ad I find highly disturbing:

It’s one thing to worry about a conflict of interest in the Justice Department. But this goes a step beyond, tarring any lawyer who works on behalf of terror suspects as essentially a member of Al-Quaeda. As such, it’s pure McCarthysim.

The attorneys who challenged the Bush administration’s national-security policies saw themselves as fulfilling their legal obligations by fighting an unconstitutional power grab. At heart, this was a disagreement over process: Should people accused of terrorism be afforded the same human rights and due process protections as anyone else in American custody? But rather than portray the dispute as a conflict over what is and isn’t within constitutional bounds, conservatives argue that anyone who opposed the Bush administration’s policies is a traitor set to undermine America’s safety from within the Justice Department.

“Terrorist sympathizers,” wrote National Review’s Andrew McCarthy in September, “have assumed positions throughout the Obama administration.”

We can disagree about military commissions, civil trials and the extent of terror suspects’ rights. But when you accuse those with whom you disagree of treason, you’ve crossed a line.

Even former military prosecutors have expressed views similar to those of the “Gitmo Nine.” Col. Morris Davis (retired) served as the former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions and has since argued that they should be abandoned. But initially, when the commissions were formed, he volunteered to be chief defense counsel. “I thought for the good of our system, they needed zealous representation,” says Davis. He dismissed the charge that having represented a detainee indicated “sympathy” for terrorist goals. “I don’t think that anyone, because they signed up to represent a detainee means they’ve signed up with al-Qaeda.”

Davis later points out that John Adams regarded his zealous defense of the British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre as one of the noblest acts of his life (it’s a highlight of both the book and the mini-series). We’ve had no problems with lawyers who defended Nazi war criminals or commie traitors. But let someone advocate for a terror suspect and the world is ending.

And I want to repeat that: terror suspects. Thanks in part to the efforts of these traitorous lawyers, we’ve found out that many of the “worst of the worst” were, in fact, completely innocent of terrorism. But to the Liz Cheneys of the world, we should lock up and torture anyone who might be a terrorist. We should never even bother to find out if they’re actually, you know, terrorists.

(And please don’t come back with the bogus stats of those released who have “returned to fight” until you’ve read this and this.)

If lawyers defended accused child molesters, would Cheney brand them the “Neverland Nine”? Or would she go after Manson’s defense lawyers and claim they want to murder people? Actually, I don’t really want to know the answer to that.

This is not a trivial thing. When you attack lawyers for arguing a case with which you disagree, you are attacking the rule of law itself.

Post Scriptum — In other Right Wing Terrorism Dementia news, you should read Matthew Alexander’s dissection of Marc Thiessen’s pro-torture book. Alexander if a former military interrogator who helped get Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. Thiessen is … a form speech writer for Dick Cheney. Read the whole thing. And yes, as long as Liz Cheney and her ilk are wielding influence with the GOP, this issue remains highly relevant).

Post Post Scriptum — And while we’re on the subject: our weak, spineless President just sent another high-ranking AQ member to spend eternity with 72 people debating whether Captain Picard or Captain Kirk was better.

Marc Thiessen

Somehow, a former Cheney speechwriter has become a respected expert on terrorism, mainly because he is a zealous advocate of torture. Read a beautiful demolition of his bullshit here. Again, you are seeing why I have abandoned the Right. He’s not just mistaken; he’s deliberately lying.

(On another note, we’re learning more about the repulsive legal theories of John Yoo. People keep asking me if I’m happy that Obama is President since I was so critical of Bush — even though I voted libertarian last time out. Short answer? Yes. Even their massive expansion of government and the crushing debt we are facing is worth it if it ends the neo-tyranny that the Bushies embraced.

And, frankly, I’m not convinced that the GOP wouldn’t be expanding government and running up debts any less than Obama. That is, after all, what they did for eight fucking years.)

A Question

Is the pro-torture, kill-em-all! Right ever right? The subway bomber has now confessed, is cooperating with authorities, providing intelligence and will probably soon be rotting in jail for the rest of his life. All this was accomplished without torture and with respecting his human rights. And in a tiny fraction of the time we’ve been holding KSM at Gitmo.

Damn it feels good when I’m right. Damn, it feels good when America does what it should have been doing all along. America, fuck yeah!

Monday Linkorama

  • Here’s a good reason for me to not regret moving from Texas.
  • A scary story about the US government poisoning the alcohol supply during prohibition. Ironically, however, this makes me more skeptical of conspiracy theories. If they can’t keep killing 10,000 citizens quiet, how are they supposed to keep aliens quiet?
  • The best journalism of 2009. The first story, about parents leaving their kids in cars, is one of the most wrenching stories I’ve ever read.
  • Nice. Congress is using the Toyota acceleration problems to bypass confidentiality for their buddy lawyers who are suing Toyota on other issues.
  • Liz Cheney. pwned.
  • Also, there’s been another big Taliban capture for our weak President who is losing the War on Terror. I mean, just in case your opinion of the WOT was influenced by reality.
  • I’m all in favor of laws that prevent airlines from keeping passengers trapped on runways for hours on end. But the current rules have encourages airlines to simply cancel delayed flights. What Law of Unintended Consequences?
  • It’s possible that Texas will soon execute another innocent man. Or not. Without testing, there’s no way to tell. At some point, does Governor Perry have any shame?
  • Thursday Linkorama

  • This is cool. Using Facebook for research. I knew could justify my membership somehow…
  • I have to hand it to Dick Cheney. At least he is honest about his support for illegal torture. And he’s critical of Bush for not going far enough.
  • A must-read about how irrational some of Israel’s supporters have gotten. I’m a big pro-Israel guy, obviously. But what has gotten into people that they can not tolerate any criticism of their issues?
  • Radley Balko on flash bang grenades. Those things scare me.
  • A brief history of techno-panic.
  • I know it seems like I’m posting about global warming every linkorama, but that’s because the last few weeks have seen a nonstop assault of Bad Skepticism. Not a day goes by when I don’t read some smug blogger adding to the pile. They are really like conspiracy theorists. The target keeps moving. And no matter how much each bullshit meme is disproven, it never goes away. Instead, we get long long lists of every disproven anti-AGW claim as a “tidal wave” of disproof. It’s depressing.
  • A great article on not knowing what you don’t know. Thanks to Amanda.
  • You know, I can’t really disagree with the Godwinizing of Limbaugh.
  • Weekend Linkorama

  • No, Sarah Palin isn’t like Ronald Reagan.
  • What’s this? A terrorist tried and convicted in civilian court? And the world didn’t end?
  • Glenn Greenwald calls out the Right Wing Echosphere on their utter hypocrisy. In the end, it boils down to declaring terrorism suspects to be unpersons.
  • It’s hilarious that Climate Bad Skeptics are harping on the IPCC for having some unsourced or poorly sourced claims when their own claims would not withstand scrutiny.
  • Speaking of which, the Daily Mail misquotes Phil Jones claiming global warming is bunk. He clearly didn’t. That doesn’t stop the Echosphere from quote-mining and trumpeting that global warming is now disproved.
  • I don’t think you’ll find a more perfect series of links to show why I left the “Right”, even though my political philosophy was and remains staunchly conservative/libertarian. All five deal with false memes — lies — that the Right is using to promote an agenda of anti-intellectualism, torture and bad climate skepticism that is anathema to everything I believe in.

    Sarah Palin isn’t just ignorant; she’s proud of being ignorant. Her cluelessness is seen as proof of how much of an “outsider” she is and how good she would be as the conservative leader or, God forbid, President.

    But that’s just nonsense. Guys like Reagan and Goldwater were outsiders, they were not ignorant. Reagan was intensely intellectually curious. Goldwater was so forthright about issues, he got massacred in the election. Even Gingrich, when he first came about, was all about ideas. Palin is none of that. She is pure resentment against a perceived “other”.

    Then you have the pants-shitting terror — or pretense thereof for political purposes — that leads people to declare terror suspects to be unpersons. No conservative should believe any human being to be an unperson, to have no rights. Rights may be restricted or conditional, but they always exist. Abducting people, imprisoning them without trial and torturing them is against everything conservatives supposedly believe in — specifically the universality of our divinely given rights and the need to restrain government. How can you possibly say you triumph the individual over the state when you embrace the greatest subjugation to which a state can subject the individual — imprisonment and torture with trial?

    And finally, I can understand — I support — skepticism about hysterical environmental claims. I especially support opposition to collectivist solutions to them. But that has now morphed from Good Climate Skepticism to Bad Climate Skepticism — a mix of conspiracy mongering, anti-science, witch-hunting and quote-mining. A conservative approach would say, “Maybe AGW isn’t real. But if it is … we need to do something about it.” A conservative would do what I do every time a Right Wing blog links up to some article that “disproves” global warming — look into it and see what it actually says.

    Until these things are purged from the Right Wing, I will remain outside. This is simply not what I signed on for.

    Weekend Linkorama

  • It is odd how often the military-supporting GOP finds themselves holding the opposite view of the actual military — views the military has held, on torture for example, no matter who was in office.
  • Reason looks at the people’s historian.
  • Why, no, this cheesy ad did not get to me. I just have something in my eye.
  • When even Hot Air says you’re scum for holding up 70 Obama nominees to get pork, you’re scum.
  • Midweek Linkorama

  • Andrew Sullivan dismantles Bill Kristol. How this charlatan (Kristol, not Sully) came to be a leader in the conservative movement baffles me. Oh, wait. His dad was a big conservative voice. Never mind.
  • And then Megan McArdle dismantles Sullivan on the impending doom of the United States.
  • Meanwhile, Obama continues to attack the Taliban more aggressively and more successfully than Bush did. The GOP just can’t seem to squeeze the idea into their heads that you can use both military force and political skill at the same time.
  • Also, more on the reign of terror in Arizona. This is, quite literally, a police state.
  • And no, Virginia, Gmail is not safe.
  • Greenwald Again

    Destroys the idea that foreigners do not have legal rights in this country. Read the whole thing. Indeed, this is why Gitmo is just a huge political deal. If you move those guys to the US, they are, under our Constitution, guaranteed more legal protection than they are outside of our nation’s borders.

    What amazes me is how much the party of “law and order” and “rigorous adherence to the Constitution” has shredded these ideas because of the abject terror with which they respond to Islamic extremism. From ignoring Common Article 3, to hiding their eyes from the Convention Against torture, to asserting unlimited Presidential power in direct contradiction to the express written language of our Constitution, they are willing to put the entire structure of law to the sword if it might protect us from a bombing.


    Radicalism on Terror

    Glenn Greenwald shows, once again, how unworthy the current GOP are of the mantle of Reagan. The problem is that the Democrats are completely spineless on War on Terror issues.

    I do disagree with Greenwald in one respect: there are aspects of the conflict that do require the war model. Afghanistan, for example, was a nation state that basically existed to foment radicalism and terrorism. It needed a war to deal with it (although, as always, the duration was longer than the war). But with the Taliban broken and few states willing to be official terrorist harbors, we need to shift back to a legal framework.

    This is not an either-or question. Sometimes we use the tools of war; sometimes those of the law. Yes, that false dichotomy rears its ugly head again.