Thursday, June 23, 2005

For Those Who Buy Into the Guantanamo BS

Our pal, Warren at long range, has a terrific post. Read what Lt. Peter Hegseth, a Minnesota native who has just returned after a year at Guantanamo Bay, had to say to his local newspaper about Dick Durbin's (and others') charges.

20 Comments:

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Daniel Nexon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Daniel Nexon said...

The letter is encouraging, but we need to be careful here. If the FBI report Durbin cited is right, then he's right. If is wrong, then he's wrong. But he based his comments on quite reputable, US government, documents so the conclusion that he's "despicable" is really neither fair nor accurate. Moreover, the worst reported abuses are not at "Gitmo," but in Afghanistan (where there remain credible reports of subjects beaten to death, for example).

Another reason to be careful is cognitive bias. Those of us who are inclined to distrust this administration on the torture issue - because of its own policy memos - are predisposed to believe negative reports. Those of us who already support the administration and trust their decisions are going to, conversely, harp on exculpatory evidence. This is why having a centralized, bipartisan investigation (which the administration seems to have blocked) is so essential.

To repeat: Durbin had good reason to make the comments he made. If the report he cited is true, the interrogation techniques at least some of our forces are using are worthy of tyrannical regimes

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

"But he based his comments on quite reputable, US government, "

Did the government reputable documents compared Gitmo to the German concentration camps?

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger Daniel Nexon said...

They described conditions equivalent to some of the worst German interrogation techniques, which was the analogy Durbin drew. He did not compare American treatment of detainees to the holocaust.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

 
At 6:19 PM, Blogger Tran Sient said...

'They described conditions equivalent to some of the worst German interrogation techniques, which was the analogy Durbin drew.'

The main problem with that argument is that our 'techniques' are not equivalent to Nazis, Stalin or the Khmer Rouge. What history do you read?

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

"They described conditions equivalent to some of the worst German interrogation techniques, which was the analogy Durbin drew"

Like pulling out finger nails,
slow castration, beating for hours, burning with iron rods inside rectums?
What the hell are you talking about?
"What history do you read?"
He doesn't.
This type is called moonbatus ignoramus.

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger patrickafir said...

Excellent find, Esther. It's very encouraging to see more people waking up to the enormous chasm between MSM, academia, and the loons out of the asylum on one side and the average American on the other. We have our own small part to play in confronting the unhinged raving, shameless pandering, and vapid intellectualizing.

And it is because of pedantic, relativistic buffoons (and others) pontificating from cheaply made faux ivory towers that we shall continue to have our work cut out for us.

Ahem. Ain't nothin' but a thang for freedom and justice, suckah.

 
At 4:22 AM, Blogger Mark said...

"To repeat: Durbin had good reason to make the comments he made. If the report he cited is true, the interrogation techniques at least some of our forces are using are worthy of tyrannical regimes"

What many seem to forget about the "abuses" is that we are dealing with detainees who are unwilling to divulge information vital to the security of the men and women of our armed forces who are in a pitched battle against an enemy who brought the fight to our shores on 9/11. I'm not really sure I care if Durbin's allegations are true.

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Sergeant America said...

The astute Mr. Nexon mentions: FBI report Durbin cited ...

It was an EMAIL, bub!

In a speech on the Senate floor late Tuesday, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, castigated the American military's actions by reading an >>> e-mail <<< from an FBI agent.

Sound bite

Nice try .... NOT! ... and your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid is?

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

Here is the thing. I don't believe that Durbin believed his own words about Gitmo vs. the Nazis. He was trying to score poltical points with his own base. But, he was doing that at America's expense.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger Daniel Nexon said...

Sgt: if it is an email, then it isn't a US government document. Does that make it not credible? Do we have any reason to believe the FBI agent was lying?

felis: "Did the government reputable documents compared Gitmo to the German concentration camps?" If it described conditions equivalent to those we would expect from tyrannical regimes, who cares whether *it* drew the analogy?

Since Sgt. America accuses me of drinking the kool-aid, I feel justified in responding a bit pedantically.

One dimension of the outrage over Durbin's comments is based on poor logical reasoning.

1) Durbin said that US interrogation techniques were reminiscent of those used by the Nazis.
2) The Nazis committed genocide.
3) Therefore Durbin said that the US commits genocide.

This is a false syllogism. Durbin said no such thing; he did not equate the entirety of US behavior to that of the Nazis, or Pol Pot, or whomever. He compared a specific instance of US behavior to the kind of behavior associated with similar regimes under similar circumstances.

We can argue, I think correctly, that the language is so loaded that it is inappropriate and tactically stupid, but that's a different kind of objection than the specific one I'm addressing.

If the various reports and accusations are true, I am certainly glad that the US isn't engaging in "slow castration" and that the objects being shoved up prisoners rectums are merely room temperature, but if this is the best we can do to excuse the analogy, I'm not particularly pleased. It is true, again, that the US does not engage in the entirety of practices associated with these regimes, but if the reports are true, it is not engaging in practices usually associated with liberal democracies staying true to their own values.

Patrickafirs argument is different: that consequentialist ethics justify US interrogation techniques. That's a legitimate debate. I disagree, for the standard reasons associated with rejecting that argument. You can find such debate all over the web and the blogsphere, but I prefer Fafblog's take. Read here and here

So I repeat my bottom line: we have a lot of contradictory evidence. Both sides are likely to believe the evidence that minimizes cognitive dissonance. Thus, we should not rush to believe individual pieces of evidence that support or refute the accusations. A bipartisan investigation is in order, along with some suspension of judgment from both sides of this debate.

If that's "drinking the kool-aid," then perhaps the term has, indeed, "jumped the shark" :-).

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger La Bona said...

Nice blog. Keep it up ...

Hi there

Apologies for posting an off topic question here.

I am invitation your views on ABORTION in order to present a case to help those in the developing world.

I personally see abortion as a NECESSARY EVIL and that unwanted pregnancy is not only a personal problem and it is also a very real problem for the society at large.

Do you think it is right to burden say a 15 years old school-going girl with a new life when she is yet to have any economic mean to sustain herself and obviously, most girls of her age are not mentally ready for a family life. Furthermore, is it fair to rob her of her career, aspiration, dream etc., in the name of preserving a life that is yet to be fully developed?

If you have an opinion, please email it to me at divinetalk@gmail.com or if you wish, you may post your comment here: Your Onion Counts!

Also, what do you think of the recent “Pharmacists Refused Contraceptive Prescriptions”.

Do you think Pharmacists have the rights to Play God?

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Esther said...

Wow, things have been getting kind of hot in this one. :)

DN, while I see what you're trying to say, there is one point I do want to quibble with...

A bipartisan investigation is in order, along with some suspension of judgment from both sides of this debate.

I feel this would be a horrific thing to do during war time, and I really wish everyone in DC would lay off it. Maybe it's my lack of confidence that anyone could do anything right, but more I think it will be giving comfort (and perhaps a few jollys) to our enemy and not change a thing that wouldn't already be changed by the way our armed forces police themselves already.

la bona, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, hijacking this thread with another hot-button topic... well... oy. Next time, you might want to simply say 'I'd love your opinion on this post (with a link).' Not to be the netiquette police or anything, but still... ;)

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Daniel Nexon said...

Esther - the problem is that these accusations are out there and widely believed - not only among our enemies, but many of our allies. Here I agree with the stated position of the Bush administration: if we want to show what sets us apart from the petty tyrannies of the Middle East, and what gives meaning to all our talk of liberty and democracy, then our best move is forthright investigation of abuses.

These things happen in war. They always happen, even among the noble and righteous. The difference is what happens next....

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Esther said...

But they are being investigated -- by people who know what they're doing. Call me crazy, but I don't think that can be said of the House and Senate.

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Sergeant America said...

Sgt: if it is an email, then it isn't a US government document. Does that make it not credible? Do we have any reason to believe the FBI agent was lying?

SA: Is that a declarative statement or did you forget a punctuation mark? As for email being credible, you can decide that for yourself. Who is this "we" to which you allude? Not knowing the specifics of who, what, where and when in regard to the "FBI agent," I, personally, won't make a judgment on some third hand bloviation by a Senator with an agenda.

Since Sgt. America accuses me of drinking the kool-aid, I feel justified in responding a bit pedantically.

SA: Pedantically ... if you must! ; )

One dimension of the outrage over Durbin's comments is based on poor logical reasoning.

1) Durbin said that US interrogation techniques were reminiscent of those used by the Nazis.

2) The Nazis committed genocide.

3) Therefore Durbin said that the US commits genocide.

This is the portion of GITMO Dick Durbin's™ rhetoric that has floated to the surface of his "cessfool:"

GITMO Dick Durbin™ said: ( as per his own government provided website)

Numerous FBI agents who observed interrogations at Guantanamo Bay complained to their supervisors. In one e-mail that has been made public, an FBI agent complained that interrogators were using "torture techniques."

That phrase did not come from a reporter or politician. It came from an FBI agent describing what Americans were doing to these prisoners

<...>

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.


http://durbin.senate.gov/gitmo.cfm

This is a false syllogism. Durbin said no such thing; he did not equate the entirety of US behavior to that of the Nazis, or Pol Pot, or whomever. He compared a specific instance of US behavior to the kind of behavior associated with similar regimes under similar circumstances.

SA: Before I make a statement, thank you for your syllogism and refresher on deductive reasoning. Rarely do I come across one in my daily reads.

Now, if you read what "Dick" said (quoted above from his government provided website, did I repeat myself?); you may notice that he stated "... you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

Was his use of the modal verb predicting what the members of his audience might believe had he not prefaced his comment with the "FBI" source statement? To further this thought, is the verb "done" reflecting to action committed by those in uniform, at Guantanamo in the service of their Nation?

Did "Dick" actually mean to paint with a broad brush the present Administration and Military Services instead of allowing some of his "paint" to fall on those who are "where the rubber meets the road?"

Since the "doers" are the Marines, Sailors, etc. who draw duty within the prison facilities, if "Dick" wasn't referring to them in his diatribe ... then why did he make his "statement" in the manner he did? Semantics aside, poor choice of words will not satiate my umbrage for his remarks.

I also find his use of the word "Numerous" in regard to the supposed number of "FBI agents" complaining to their superiors in the same vein as those who use the phrase "unnamed sources."


We can argue, I think correctly, that the language is so loaded that it is inappropriate and tactically stupid, but that's a different kind of objection than the specific one I'm addressing.

SA: I'll agree to the first part of your statement, but; "Dick" said it and he said it in public and for the record.

If the various reports and accusations are true, I am certainly glad that the US isn't engaging in "slow castration" and that the objects being shoved up prisoners rectums are merely room temperature, but if this is the best we can do to excuse the analogy, I'm not particularly pleased. It is true, again, that the US does not engage in the entirety of practices associated with these regimes, but if the reports are true, it is not engaging in practices usually associated with liberal democracies staying true to their own values.

SA: The would "If" just allows you to make your statement and allows you to float your opinion without be held accountable for a declarative statement.

I also believe your using "various reports and accusations" in you protestation is going from our conversation on an "email" into areas of which I will not metaphysically discuss.

Define "liberal democracies" for me and any others wondering about its intended meaning(s), Professor.


So I repeat my bottom line: we have a lot of contradictory evidence. Both sides are likely to believe the evidence that minimizes cognitive dissonance. Thus, we should not rush to believe individual pieces of evidence that support or refute the accusations. A bipartisan investigation is in order, along with some suspension of judgment from both sides of this debate.

SA: Excuse me, did you just "jump the shark" in your last paragraph? What evidence? I believe that "Dick" said what he said.

Metaphysical debate is not going to prove differently.

OBTW, I believe that there is a classified investigation ongoing as I type and I view no need to waste funds duplicating effort.

If that's "drinking the Kool-aid," then perhaps the term has, indeed, "jumped the shark" :-).

SA: Perhaps you don't drink "Kool-Aid&tread;" ... but I'll like a little of what you're tokin'! : )

Sidebar: I also find GITMO Dick's™ verbiage from Pearl Harbor to Abraham Lincoln an interesting ploy to "wrap the Flag" around his targeted agenda ... The Bush Administration and perceived flaws in the handling of un-uniformed terrorists.

I yield the floor, having typed my final thoughts.

I now must ruminate upon whether one of my homes will become a "development project designed to revitalise a depressed local economy" and be demolished to allow for the site of a new mosque ... :( (jk)

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger TRES CEE said...

My problem is that In All I have seen, I have seen a tendency of anyone who is on a Congressional Delegation from the North East U.S. use the technique of undermining the activity of our Troops in Afganistan and Iraq, by questioning, not by presenting evidence but only by questioning the integrity of our Troops, our Commanders our Commander in Chief, and I know the Reasoning is not genuine because it is only done by a few Stalwart Delegates for the Purpose of Opposing Legislation or bringing down the effectiveness of our soldiers and Decision makers and only for the Purpose of getting our tax dollars or a larger share of dollars for their region, when a Clinton or a Gore would be in Charge Thank God they are not in now, the Same thing is going on on any initiative with the same tone of Voice and Incredible lack of clear Diagogue, only Political Speak is spoken using Strawmen Issues which really mask the true intent of their agenda, more tax dollars to their side, the Whole COuntry was up in arms when the initial 911 attack, they in New York got many Billions of Dollars to Rebuild and Give to VIctims after that was over, it was all out attack on Bush and Funding for Military they are Liars and Greedey who opp0se the Military funding and Bush's Initiative any Man in His Right Mind would want to Win, and any man who casts doubt in the Minds of public without Evidence and simply fishes for a Malcontent's Complaints or Insinuations or casts doubts on an onorable Man without just cause and real hard evidence, is a potential Traitor by agenda in my opinion.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger Daniel Nexon said...

Sgt: if it is an email, then it isn't a US government document. Does that make it not credible? Do we have any reason to believe the FBI agent was lying?

SA: Is that a declarative statement or did you forget a punctuation mark? As for email being credible, you can decide that for yourself. Who is this "we" to which you allude? Not knowing the specifics of who, what, where and when in regard to the "FBI agent," I, personally, won't make a judgment on some third hand bloviation by a Senator with an agenda.

No, I'm asking a question. As far as I can tell, your answer is that you don't have enough evidence to judge one way or another. What makes you think, though, that anyone in this debate lacks an agenda? I hardly find the claim that a particular Senator has "an agenda" discrediting. It is, of course, possible that Durbin is outraged by reports of what his country is doing, and exercising his responsibilities as a Senator from the great state of Illinois to seek adequate investigation into such allegations and accountability for those responsible.

We're quoting the same passage.

SA: "To further this thought, is the verb "done" reflecting to action committed by those in uniform, at Guantanamo in the service of their Nation?"

This strikes me as a no brainer. The answer is yes. But I hardly see what bearing this has on the appropriateness of the statement. After all, presumably all sorts of atrocities and human rights violations - including, yes, those done by the Nazis and Stalin's thugs - were committed in the "service of their Nation." I can't possibly imagine you're resorting to the Eichmann defense: that, to quote Steve Smith, "ethical behavior consists solely in a willingness to act out of principle" and not in the morality of the action itself?

I think this comes down to a very blunt question: if the reports of human-rights abuses are true, particularly of the type described by the FBI agent Durbin quotes, do you believe the proper course of action is to do nothing? Is this the kind of behavior you expect from agents of the United States, or from agents of a tyrannical regime?

SA: "The would "If" just allows you to make your statement and allows you to float your opinion without be held accountable for a declarative statement. "

I prefer to think of my use of the word "if" as a conditional statement. Since I do not know, in fact, what is occurring in "Gitmo" or Afghanistan, I refuse to make a categorical statement about whether the actual actions of US servicemen and servicewomen betray the ideals of our Republic.

SA: "Define "liberal democracies" for me and any others wondering about its intended meaning(s), Professor."

Liberal democracy is a common shorthand among political scientists for countries such as the US, i.e., those that combine principles of democratic decision-making with liberal constraints on the will of the majority (and, by extension, the government), such as those embodied in the Bill of Rights. "Liberal Republic" would do just as well, I suppose. I should be more careful about my use of the word liberal, since the word is used in the US as shorthand for "leftist" rather than a broad body of political-theoretic thought including John Locke, James Tyrrell, John Stuart Mill, and others.

With respect to the investigation, I thought that you had endorsed Charles Bird's belief in the importance of not allowing only an internal, let alone a series of uncoordinated, investigations. I think his reasoning here is sound, so I'll defer to him.

SA: "I now must ruminate upon whether one of my homes will become a "development project designed to revitalise a depressed local economy" and be demolished to allow for the site of a new mosque ... :( (jk)"

For the record, I'm pretty upset about the "takings" ruling. I understand that it was probably consistent with all of the relevant precedent, but still... enh.

Tres cee: "because it is only done by a few Stalwart Delegates for the Purpose of Opposing Legislation or bringing down the effectiveness of our soldiers and Decision makers and only for the Purpose of getting our tax dollars or a larger share of dollars for their region, when a Clinton or a Gore would be in Charge Thank God they are not in now,"

Wow.

Should we execute the fifth-columnist, terrorist-loving, enemies of freedom now, or simply wait until we can pass a Constitutional Amendment disenfranchising anyone who opposed the war or opposes the way that the administration has prosecuted the war? I suppose the latter would be easier....

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I just stopped by this blog and see all this debate going on.

Durbin was reading from an email??? Somehow I had missed that detail.

Is an email more credible or less credible than a government document? Good question.

Two more questions:
1. How did Durbin obtain the email?
2. Is it a certainty that the email came from an FBI agent?

Guess I'd better do some research, huh?

But I submit that, no matter what the truth about abuses at Gitmo, what's been done or is being done there in no way compares to Pol Pot or the Holocaust. Durbin was over the line. Somehow I expect a U.S. Senator to measure his words more carefully, especially in a world where fast-traveling-on-the-web words can inflame people to violence.

 
At 11:46 PM, Blogger Warren said...

In the first place, an accusation is just that, an accusation!

Durbin has been in congress since 1983 as a Representative and Senator since 1997 and in Illinois politics since 1976. He presently holds the second highest leadership position among the Democrats in the Senate.

Are we to believe that Senator Durbin just made a poor analogy? A man that makes a living of public speech and who probably never makes a sound in front of a open microphone that isn't scripted and focus group tested.

He had to be fully aware of the ramifications of the analogy when he used it. It would be simple minded to assume otherwise.

That is why "I" called him despicable.
He used the very lowest form of demagoguery in an attempt to garner political advantage.

In regards to a previous posters use of "if"; "if" frogs had wings they wouldn't bump their little green butts when they jump. "If" John Kerry, had won, GW wouldn't be president and Durbin would have said nothing and "if" my computer had blown up you wouldn't be reading this post.

Once another Senator used these words, "I have in my hand a list of 205 cases of individuals who appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party." That statement was also demagoguery and later used as evidence at his perjury trial.

 

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