Do as they say, not as they do, or else they will get you

I can't wait to see how right-wing talk radio hosts dismiss our criticisms of this:

While fiercely loyal establishment spokespeople such as The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus continue to insist that prosecutions are only appropriate for common criminals ("someone breaking into your house") but not our glorious political leaders when they break the law (by, say, systematically torturing people), the Bush administration has righteously decided that torture is such a grotesque and intolerable crime that political leaders who order it simply must be punished in American courts to the fullest extent of the law . . . . if they're from Liberia:

MIAMI (AP) -- U.S. prosecutors want a Miami judge to sentence the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 147 years in prison for torturing people when he was chief of a brutal paramilitary unit during his father's reign.

Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9 by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. His conviction was the first use of a 1994 law allowing prosecution in the U.S. for acts of torture committed overseas.

Glenn Greenwald gets in almost all the good points, like "Acts which, when ordered by Liberians, are 'criminal torture' meriting life imprisonment magically become, when ordered by Americans, mere 'aggressive interrogation techniques.'"

Only a few more days until (some of) the faces telling bold-faced lies change.

Via Radley Balko

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Greenwald is pro torture, pro dictator

Greenwald's argument can be taken in either of two ways, or both. It can be taken as an argument that Taylor should be prosecuted and also Bush should be prosecuted. Or it can be taken as an argument that Taylor should not be prosecuted because that would be hypocrisy.

Reading through the piece, the strong gist of it is that Taylor should not be prosecuted (and also that Bush should). One can easily imagine Greenwald using this same tu quoque defense of any and all filthy dictator opposed by the US. He will reliably bring up the tu quoque in an apparent attempt to undermine the prosecution.

Here is Greenwald saying straight out that Taylor should be prosecuted:

Charles Taylor belongs at the Hague, being prosecuted as a war criminal. His son belongs in an American criminal court being prosecuted by the Bush DOJ for torture.

It could hardly be more unambiguous than that. But wait. He immediately writes:

And George Bush and Dick Cheney belong on their "ranches," enjoying full-scale immunity for the crimes they committed and a rich and comfortable retirement, treated as the esteemed and well-intentioned (even if sometimes misguided) dignitaries that they are.

Greenwald doesn't mean that seriously. So by implication, he does not mean any of it seriously. One seeks in vain for any truly straightforward attack on Taylor. What we find, instead, is an excuse made for Taylor:

In Liberia, the Taylor regime, for many years, was genuinely threatened by numerous rebels and revolutionary factions -- ones supported by other countries -- seeking to overthrow the Liberian government. The torture which Taylor, Jr. was accused of ordering occurred during a brutal civil war.

This is Greenwald writing in his own voice, not ironically writing from the point of view of the people he is attacking as hypocrites. In his own voice, he points out that the government was genuinely threatened, and he is careful to say that Taylor is accused of ordering torture. He does not say that he did order torture.

In contrast, when he talks about Bush, he writes:

And George Bush and Dick Cheney belong on their "ranches," enjoying full-scale immunity for the crimes they committed and a rich and comfortable retirement

Note he writes, "the crimes they committed", not "the crimes they are accused of committing."

Greenwald is the sort of intellectual that has been familiar throughout the twentieth century, defending the world's worst monsters - the Stalin, Mao, Castro apologists.

Greenwald is using America's misdeeds in order to undermine efforts to bring the likes of Taylor to justice. This is a familiar tactic, used to defend the world's worst monsters. America is not innocent and has never been innocent. Bush in no way originated American sin. The United States has been sinning since the day it was established. And if you've been around long enough, you know that American guilt has been used by intellectuals all along to lend a helping hand to scum, as Greenwald is doing now.

If you don't already, I suggest that you wonder why it is that Greenwald doesn't straightforwardly support the prosecution of Taylor. Instead, he writes in a way that Taylor himself would find comforting to read.

Greenwald writes:

There's something beautifully illustrative about this torture prosecution. Apparently, it's not just appropriate, but necessary and urgent, for American courts to be used to prosecute the leaders of small African nations who order torture exclusively in their own land. Doing that is necessary to uphold what the Bush DOJ calls "respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law."

Note that he does not write this in his own voice. He begins it with "Apparently," making it clear that this is not his own opinion that he is reporting - that is, it is not his own opinion htat it is appropriate and necessary and urgent for American courts to prosecute the leaders of small African nations. In fact Greenwald implies the opposite: he implies that he is personally opposed to this idea, from the way he writes about it. And he attacks prosecution of torture. He writes, "there's something beautifully illustrative about this torture prosecution" - illustrative, that is, of something bad. So the torture prosecution illustrates something bad - that is, it is bad (since a thing is an illustration of X when it is an instance of X).

And he writes, "what the Bush DOJ calls ... 'respect for ... rule of law'". Greenwald carefully avoids putting himself behind the idea that the prosecution of Taylor would be a good thing. He carefully puts that idea into the mouths of people whom he evidently hates. The implication is hard to ignore.

Greenwald - Sockpuppet

I despise Greenwald for his quite often hypocrisy but he is also well know as the exemplar of sock puppetry.

Constant, It is posts like


It is posts like this that make me feel intimidated to ever disagree with you. Your analysis is frightfully sharp. Are you, by any chance, a lawyer?

Define Torture

Keep in mind that the fact that the same word is being applied to two different things doesn't mean that they're equivalent. They may be; I'm not familiar with the details of either case. But as I understand it, a big part of the recent debate over torture was whether the techniques being considered could legitimately be considered torture.

Defining Torture

Here's a definition of torture for you: US CODE: Title 18,2340A Definitions

Here is the law that makes it illegal for any US citizen to do commit this crime anywhere in the world, and illegal for any non-citizen to do so within our borders: US CODE: Title 18,2340A Tourture

Here's a guy who's experienced it and is pro-Iraq war that thinks that it is torture: "Believe Me, It’s Torture" - Christopher Hitchens

The Attorney General seems to think it's torture even while advocating that it's not. Just depends on who you are doing it to.

“Jan 30 2008: In today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey whether waterboarding is torture. “Would waterboarding be torture if it were done to you?” “I would feel that it was,” said Mukasey.”

I also suggest you read this article titled “Waterboarding is torture … period.” by expert Malcolm Nance.

Now I'll share a personal story.

I have a relative who was with a friend who seemlying swiped some jewlery in Mexico. The “friend” fingered my relative in order to reduce his own charges. The Mexican police interrogated my relative, a young kid, by placing a plastic bag over his head repeatedly until he confessed. Now he’s facing serious time in jail due to that “confession”. Essentially the technique is the same as waterboarding except without the water.

I am completely puzzled as to how anyone who understands what waterboarding is would not think it is torture. What definition of torture do you hold in your mind that would NOT include Spanish Water Torture (a.k.a. waterboarding) as a form of torture.

"But as I understand it, a big part of the recent debate over torture was whether the techniques being considered could legitimately be considered torture."

I think the main motivation here is that many politicians want to be able to torture people without calling it torture. Just like when they wanted to violate due process in the drug war by the useful fiction of charging property with the commission of a crime.

Another motivation is in preventing the neccessity of bringing someone in the Bush administration up on felony torture charges. After all the debate is being done post facto. The Bush administration has already committed the crime and now some people are trying to rationalize that crime away by reinterpreting the law.

The danger in doing that is that it opens up the possibility of using waterboarding as an interrogation method in our police stations. Soon your relative will be facing charges he confessed to after having had this done to him at your local precinct:

Torture as Non-torture

Well the claim is that waterboarding is not torture or is legal, or some such.

I just can wait till one of the kids of these torture advocates does some shoplifting and daddy has to show up at the jail to post bail for a child who has confessed to the crime after some serious interrogation techniques are applied. After all, it's legal and not torture according to them.

Sanctioning Torture

"Only a few more days until (some of) the faces telling bold-faced lies change."

I for one am going to be charging Obama with "sanctioning torture" if I don't see Bush administration officals getting brought up on charges.

... and now to get a real discussion going: "Is it bold-faced or bald-faced lie?"