Markos “Screw’em” Zunigas finds no difference between Saddam’s reign and Gitmo:
The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command.
The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command.
Rusty Shackleford reminds us there is a huge difference, but I warm you – the pictures are graphic.
I only got through the first few of them. I think each and every one of those poor human beings would have much rather been on the dog end of a leash. I was about to write that they would have given their arm for that treatment, but some of them (lucky ones?) had already lost the arm. These pictures need to be shown whenever any (&^*&^%@! idiot, Kos or Dick Durbin starts spewing nonsense. I dare you, MSM, show them. (Package them up and send ‘em to Sully.) If the Left/Dems would have reality based arguments against what we’re doing, then I’d listen. But such hyperbole just undercuts their arguments and I find myself tuning out whatever they have to say.
The fatuous rhetoric by Durbin, Kos, and the like, is yet more proof that the Democratic party simply cannot be taken serioulsy on matters relating to national security. The nitwittery required to say that the American treatment of captured enemy in this war is on par with Baathist or Nazi standards is stunning. Who votes with these nincompoops?
1. I’m no fan of Kos, but you do him a disservice here. If you follow the link, you see that Kos’s comments are based upon an FBI agent’s report. The report describes the agent’s first-hand inspection of interrogation techniques employed by U.S. forces, and includes the following description:
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more.
It may be possible to justify chaining a person hand and foot, depriving them of water, and allowing them to shit or piss themselves for 18-24 hours straight (or more). I won’t do it, but perhaps someone might. But it’s not at all a stretch to call such an act “torture” — assuming, of course, that we’re employing the ordinary dictionary definition of the word.*
*Indeed, the same dictionary that reveals the partisan self-deception of those who (wrongly) call Gitmo a “gulag”, also reveals the equal (if opposite) partisan self-deception of those who would say that the foregoing is not “torture”.
I don’t think Stephen is defending the behavior described by the FBI agent. I would, but I’ll leave that to him.
He’s decrying the comparison. Look at the pictures. The comparison and Kos are despicable.
A Reminder and a Warning
Via Steve Green, we get a grim (and extremely disturbing) reminder of what real, honest-to-God, no bullshit torture looks like. For everyone who makes the comparison between Saddam's depridations and what has since gone on in Guantanamo…
I should add that the fact that Saddam routinely employed torture far worse than anything even alleged against the U.S. is nonresponsive to what I take to be Kos’s point. If one believes that torture is wrong [or, alternatively, unjustified in circumstance X], your belief should not change based on the identity of the torturer.
(Again, I’m not a fan of Kos; indeed, as you undoubtably know, opposition to torture obeys no party line.)
I agree that such a comparison is despicable; it’s one of the reasons why I joined those criticizing Amnesty International for its use of the term “gulag” (and took an immense amount of flack for it; just read the comments, if your curious: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/06/the_things_we_t.html) It’s one of the reasons why I’m happy to denounce folks who think that we’re somehow equivalent to the Saddam’s (or anyone else’s) totalitarian regime.
But there’s a qualitative difference between saying the U.S. is like Saddam’s Iraq, and stating that torture is wrong whether it’s practiced by the U.S. or Saddam’s Iraq. The first is an indefensible claim by a immoral idiot; the second is a quite defensible, which I had naively hoped would be fairly noncontroversial.
‘Tis true that Kos has frequently said the former; in this case, however, I understand him to say the latter.
I see your point. Let’s blame it on Kos’ crappy writing. Torture might be bad, but very bad torture is far worse.
Regardless, he invites a moral equivalence so absurd that, to my mind, destroys any credibility that he might have on torture, per se, and for what? To shill for another moron.
I agree with your main point–if torture is wrong, then it’s wrong no matter who is practicing it, but Stephen’s Kos quote goes further.
“The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command.”
How is that not drawing an equivalence between US and Saddamite actions? He’s clearly saying that torture in the US is as bad as torture under Saddam. And that’s dispicable. As is Kos.
Von, if one wishes to denounce the chaining to the floor of a captured prisoner for 24 hours or more in a very hot or very cold room, one should simply do so. However, when one introduces comparisons to Nazism, gulags, or Pol Pot, or one supports such comparisons, one is abusing the very history of what Nazism, gulags, or Pol Pot’s reign were. Here’s a clue; in those historical episodes, things decidedly went just a wee bit further than chaining people to floors in cold or hot rooms for 24 hours or more.
Durbin and Kos are complete, utter, and total historical and moral dunces, and they do a disservice to all the victims of Nazism, the gulags, and Pol Pot’s reign.
It’s clear no one has actually read the what kos said, only picking and choosing what they can be so morally outraged OUTRAGED! about.
I mean, I can post picture of children blown to shit I mean liberated oops I mean collateral damage perpetrated by US bombs, but I won’t. I could also post stories of torture by your good friends the Saudi’s but hey they are good good people. Their king holds hands with Bush! He can’t be that bad!
As far as the screw’em comment goes, I doubt anyone read the entire article of his, how mercenaries actually work. Like this little story, no doubt written by a liberal:
Contractors detained, released after firing upon Marine positions, Iraqi civilians
By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer
Marines with Regimental Combat Team 8 detained 19 civilian contract workers in Fallujah, Iraq, in late May after the contractors were seen firing from their vehicles on Marine positions and Iraqi vehicles, according to a Corps press release.
The contractors, 16 Americans and three Iraqis, were taken to a detention facility at Camp Fallujah where they were questioned for three days and released May 31, according to a June 8 written statement from II Marine Expeditionary Force spokesman Lt. Col. David Lapan.
The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the statement said.
At 2 p.m. May 28, a Marine unit in Fallujah from RCT 8 reported it had been fired upon by gunmen from a convoy of
Goldberg On Gitmo
Jonah Golberg wonders why during the current hysteria over Guantanamo Bay, no one has brought up the names of Louis Pepe or Mamdouh Mahmud Salim:Salim, a reputed top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was being held at the Metropolitan…
Hey, Vince, go back to “Daily Kos” and play with your own kind. You see moral equivalence everywhere, not the least in equating decades of murder and oppression with the unfortunate “collateral damage” that has come from a war to remove the perpetrators of that murder and oppression. Also, we’re “torturing” the perpetrators; Saddam tortured political opponents or, worse, innocents who, among other things, played soccer poorly. Your comments reveal you and your buddies for what you truly are…moral idiots.
Von, I appreciate your perspective. You have a problem with torture of any description; THAT is intellectually honest, which is more than I can say for knee-jerk, Bush-hating Leftists who only see “torture” when it goes to hurting an administration they hate.
Old Dad and Byrd:
I’ll grant that Kos has been (characteristically) sloppy here; he could have made his point much more cleanly.
Will Allen, I agree with the thrust of your point. But I don’t think it applies to Senator Durbin in this instance. Durbin’s full quote, put in context [follow the Kos link], was essentially that “if you had heard about act X but didn’t know who did it, you might very well assume that it was done by totalitarian regime Y.” Putting aside whether act X ever occurred, this seems to be a legitimate argument. One should be able to argue that chaining someone in an uncomfortable position for 24+ hours without food/water/a toilet/etc. is behavior that has more in common with the behavior of a tyranical regime than the behavior of a regime that respects human rights.
Indeed, one isn’t engaged in moral equivalency when one says “don’t do that; that’s what Saddam might have done” — particulaly if Saddam very well might have done “that” (and worse).* Compare this with the indefensible argument that “because you did that, you’re the same as Saddam.” (Or, equally bad, “there’s no difference between Saddam and the U.S. in Iraq.”)
We always need to keep in mind that we are the good guys, and that we do not become “Saddam” because we make mistakes or have occasionally engage in questionable acts. We have immensely improved the possibilities open to the Iraq people. But that doesn’t mean we ignore the mistakes or questionable acts; to the contrary, we should attack them with the moral clarity that allowed us to see the evil in Saddam.
*Incidentally, this objection is not at all logical as a general principle (e.g., extended to its natural conclusion, we should oppose having trains run on time — because that’s what Mussolini did, and we don’t want to be like Mussolini). We’re talkin’ pure matters of rhetoric and oratory, here.
No, von, to say “if you had heard about act X but didn’t know who did it, you might very well assume that it was done by totalitarian regime Y.”, when “Y” is Nazism, the gulags, or Pol Pot’s reign, and “x” is chaining someone to a floor for a long time in a hot or cold room, is to engage in sheer historical numbskullery.
I suppose if someone was a complete moron, and he heard of someone being chained to a floor for a long time in a hot or cold room, he might think that such practices were the sole province of Pol Pot, the gulag, or Nazism. Durbin is a complete moron, so you might have a point.
Those of us with above-room temperature I.Q.’s, however, and thus possessing some grasp of the history of warfare, even restricted to the history of warfare by the United Sates or other representative democracies which have, in general respected human rights far more extensively, understand something. We realize that in every single war ever waged in the history of humankind, no matter how generally respectful of human rights the entity waging the war, far worse trangressions have taken place against the captured enemy than the chaining of a prisoner to a floor for a long period of time, even if the chaining is done in a hot or cold room. Thus, while fully recognizing the legitimacy in denouncing such actions, we refrain from making historically idiotic, moronic, or otherwise imbecilic statements that draw fatuous or cretinous historical analogies, because, we, in fact, have something within shouting range of a clue, which cannot be said of the reasoning-challenged Senator Durbin or Kos. To call them idiots is an insult to idiocy.
First, you betray the weakness of your position by recharacterizing (and mischaracterizing) this report as merely dealing with “chaining someone to the floor” — which sounds rather mild. But that’s not, in fact, what the report describes.
The report actually describes detainees having been chained hand and foot to the floor in a fetal position for (in some cases) more than 24 hours without food or water. The detainees shat and pissed themselves for want of a toilet, and then remained in their own shit and piss as they were restrained for hour after hour.
One can argue that this treatment didn’t happen, or one can argue that this treatment was legitimate; what one can’t do, however, is say that this treatment is not torture.
Second, references to “nazism,” the Soviet gulag system, Pol Pot, etc. are not by definition objectionable. It’s perfectly legitimate to state that tyrannical regimes (of which the Nazis, the USSR, and Pol Pot are examples) engage in torture torturing, and that we should not engage in torture because we are not a tyrannical regime.
Third, you state the obvious — while completely missing the point — with the following:
We realize that in every single war ever waged in the history of humankind, no matter how generally respectful of human rights the entity waging the war, far worse trangressions have taken place against the captured enemy than the chaining of a prisoner to a floor for a long period of time, even if the chaining is done in a hot or cold room.
Why do you think that this particular “insight” has anything to do with my argument? Obviously, even just wars include bad things; this is why “[t]hose of us with above-room temperature I.Q.” engage in war relunctantly, with full appreciation of the costs (human and otherwise). That’s also why it’s idiotic to say things like “Abu Ghraib discredits the War in Iraq” or “Gitmo is the gulag of our times” — the latter being a point that, had you been paying attention, I myself made. At issue is what we do once the predictable happens, as well as whether “being at war” is a defense for any policy or procedure. (That latter being a position that, I gather, you accept.)
Fourth, though this is a wonderful collection of adjectives –
Thus, while fully recognizing the legitimacy in denouncing such actions, we refrain from making historically idiotic, moronic, or otherwise imbecilic statements that draw fatuous or cretinous historical analogies, because, we, in fact, have something within shouting range of a clue
– it doesn’t really address points one, two, and three, does it?
Gosh, von, I guess I neglected to point out that being chained to a floor for 24 hour or more logically entails, in all likelihood, being forced to urinate or defecate on oneself. That you believe this logically obvious outcome was inadequately detailed by me, and thus you imply
that I have avoided it, is odd. Say, if I describe prisoners being tossed from helicopters at 5000 feet, but fail to describe in detail what happens when the prisoner hits the ground, have I mischaracterized the mistreatment? Just wonderin’.
Next, to invoke the imagery of Nazism, the Gulag, and the reign of Pol Pot, is to invoke the images of something far more horrendous than the chaining of a prisoner to a floor, yes, even if they are made to lay in the their urine or feces. As much as you may wish to mischaracterize it, the terms “Nazism”, “gulag”, or “Pol Pot” are representative of something far, far, more horrific than someone being made to sit their urine and feces, and to employ those terms as means of understanding what it is to make a prisoner lay in his own urine or feces does a morally inexcusable service to those who actually were made to suffer under Nazism, the Gulag, or Pol Pot.
Now, to address your execrably dishonest statement…
..as well as whether “being at war” is a defense for any policy or procedure. (That latter being a position that, I gather, you accept).”
…which flies in the face of the plain meaning of words, namely when I write…
“Thus, while fully recognizing the legitimacy in denouncing such actions,….”
Why do think dishonestly stating my position serves your argument well? Furthermore, the point that worse mistreatment of the captured has occurred in every conflict ever waged is that it is intellectually dishonest to claim that the mistreatment which has occurred in this war is reminiscent of the WORST regimes in history, when, in fact the mistreatment which has occurred in this war is MILDER than that of ANY regime in history.
Before you engage in yet more dishonesty, let it be noted that nothing I have written above excuses any mistreatment that has occurred in this war. Of course, if Durbin were to stand up and denounce what has occurred in this war, without making his morally obtuse historical analogies, he wouldn’t get as much attention. Thus, he engages in dishonest idiocy, counting on his base to be as ignorant as he.
When The Press cried Wolf!
As Kaus says its way past time for some fight-back Bush & Co. toward the overly pessimistic view of the…
Gosh, von, I guess I neglected to point out that being chained to a floor for 24 hour or more logically entails, in all likelihood, being forced to urinate or defecate on oneself.
Your original post (and what it omits) speaks for itself.
As for whether the Nazis or the gulag involved behavior “far far” worse than what is alleged to have occurred here, of course it did. [I suggest that you review my argument if you fail to see why this argument is irrelevant.]
Unlike the prior issues, this one is my fault. When I wrote: “At issue is what we do once the predictable happens, as well as whether ‘being at war’ is a defense for any policy or procedure. (That latter being a position that, I gather, you accept.),” I meant that I presumed that you “accepted” that “being at war” was not a defense for “any policy or procedure.” In other words, I did not intend to accuse you of suggesting that “war” excused all misdeeds, and regret my lack of clarity.
Here’s what you wrote:
Although things are starting to get a bit heated and hopefully will cool down a bit, I must say that I believe Will Allen has a point, von. If the only bad things the Nazis, the Gulag, or Pol Pot were known for is the occasional chaining of people in a fetal position for 18-24 hours, they would not have the horrific reputations they have today. These people and systems have horrific reputations because they did things that are much, much worse. When people talk of the monstrous evil of the Nazis, the Gulag, and Pol Pot, they don’t do so because the Nazis made prisoners shit themselves. So likening the US to the Nazis or the Gulag is completely out of line — making prisoners shit themselves is not why we hate the Gulag.
Eugene Volokh has a post on a similar theme at the Volokh Conspiracy. In Volokh’s post he talks about the unfairness of comparing creationists to Holocaust deniers. As he rightly points out, we denounce Holocaust deniers not because they question the reality of the Holocaust (there’s nothing wrong with wondering if the historical record is incorrect), but because we suspect they do so because they’re anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi. So there is an evil connotation around Holocaust denial that can not reasonably be applied to creationists, even though creationists also question something that most knowledgeable people generally accept as true. Similarly, the Nazis, the Gulag, and Pol Pot carry with them an evil connotation that cannot reasonably be applied to the US.
So I wandered over to Kos-land and here’s the quote with some context:
“And let’s not forget, ‘torture’ was used as a rationale for this war — as in, we’ll invade and end the torture.
“Of course, none of that has happened. The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command. And Dick Durbin had the balls to say it so on the Senate floor.”
So “the torture” doesn’t refer to torture as an abstract concept, but to “the torture” committed by Saddam under his regime. In these two paragraphs, Kos is clearly stating that the US is just as bad as Saddam’s regime when it comes to the treatment of its prisoners, a claim that is ridiculous on its face.
Next, one has to remember that Dick Durbin’s comments were not made in a vaccuum. If Dick Durbin had been the first person to invoke a comparison to the Nazi’s, the Soviet Union or other brutal dictatorships, his comments would be forgivable. However, for at least two years, the current administration, the U.S. military and Republicans in general have endured baseless comparisons to the same fascist dictatorships. Durbin cannot invoke the Nazis to make his point without aligning himself with those who see little or no difference between the current administration and the worst regimes in history, not just on some narrow point about the occasional mistreatment of prisoners, but in the whole. Being politically astute, Durbin should have chosen different words to make his point rather than going for a cheap shot at the military.
Fair enough, von. That was a real source of anger for me, and I appreciate the clarification. As to other matters, your are still in error, for reasons that DRB outlined.
Thanks, Will. I can see how it would be (a source of anger for you), and am very happy to have an opportunity to make the record clear.
DRB, I’ll grant your general point. (As for your point on Kos, I generally don’t defend him — for good reason — and won’t do it again in this thread.) My point with Durbin, however, is a little more nuanced.
1. If one says “we’ve tortured, the Nazis tortured, therefore we’re Nazis” (as Amnesty essentially did, albeit swapping Nazis for the USSR), I hope we’ll all agree that one’s an idiot.
2. If one says “we’ve tortured, the Nazis tortured, therefore we have that thing in common with Nazis” one has said a logically true, albeit inflammatory and misleading, thing. And, here, I’ll grant you (and Professor Volokh) that it’s inappropriate to say technically true but misleading things, particularly if they imply a (nonexistent) moral equivalence of some sort between us and the Nazis (or the USSR or Pol Pot).
3. That’s not, however, what Durbin said. Durbin said: If I describe X, Y, and Z to you, you might think that I was describing some Nazi to “gulagian”. But, in fact, I’m not talking about the Nazis; I’m talking about things that either we’ve done or things that have been done on our behalf. That’s how bad these things are.
In other words, Durbin is using the comparison to highlight the injustice of an act, not to make the (inappropriate) arguments that some of our actions are indistinguishable from some acts of Nazis (point 2) or that we are Nazis (point 1).
Now, that’s a satisfying distinction to me. Indeed, arguments like Durbin’s get used all the time in rhetoric (“if I were to tell you that human embryos would be spliced apart, reordered, scrambled, and that we’d be monkeying with the very fabric of what it means to be human and human life — well, you’d think I was discussing Orwell’s 1984, or some Keanu Reeves’ flick”; “If I were to tell you that a young woman in a PVS were going to be starved to death, and the Courts were just going to stand by and let her die when her parents were ready and able to care for her, well, you’d probably think I was discussing some place where the rule of law did not exist — like the USSR or Nazi Germany …”). I don’t see how Durbin’s statement is at all different in kind or character from the foregoing two statements, and yet I didn’t see the same hue and cry from the usual suspects when statements like the foregoing (and worse) were made at other points. IOW, I see the attack on Durbin as political, not principled — an attempt to distract from the truly outrageous conduct that has occurred in certain circumstances, sometimes at Gitmo, but more frequently elsewhere.*
One last thing: let me make clear that I don’t think Durbin’s remarks are useful or particularly bright — and, politically, they’re definitely counterproductive. They’re certainly not something I’d say, nor are they something I particularly like to defend (though I do defend them here, because I think PowerLine/Malkin/Hannity/etc. are misstating Durbin’s argument).
*Note that I did blast Amnesty for its remarks.
The problem with your point 3 is that there is nothing distinctively Nazi or Gulagian about what Durbin described, so reaching for the Nazi or Gulagian likeness is clearly done for the same rhetorical reasons as points 1 or 2. Which makes it no different from points 1 or 2. You’re making a distinction without a difference.
What you seem to miss is that most people wouldn’t think of a Soviet gulag when told of some guy who pulled out his own hair. Now if the described person was forced to work in freezing conditions without gloves one might think of a Soviet gulag.
The same is glaringly true w/rt the Nazi concentration camps. One would not immediately think of Auschwitz if told of a man who laid in his own piss or crap. Usually I need to read about ovens in which humans were cooked to dust before I think of Nazi concentration camps. (Oh, and I might need something about removing gold fillings and gypsys before I think of the Nazi concentration camps. Not to mention something about freezing winter conditions.)
And if you want to make me think of Pol Pot you’re going to have to describe people dying from dysentery, hunger, malaria, etc. I’m afraid a broken heater/AC unit ain’t gonna make me think of Pol Pot. (Now, a couple bullets to the back of a couple of political dissidents’ heads… that could make me think of Pol Pot. But then again I might think of Idi Amin or Papa Doc. I’ll need a bit more to form the appropriate mental image.)
Another thing: If you want to make me think of the great mass murderers of the last century you’ll have to describe political murders. I’ll need something about executions and mass graves.
So, to all those who are offended by Sen. Durbin’s comments I have some advice. Don’t cede any portion of what he has suggested. Argue first principles. Argue that he is wrong that anybody but the most worthless, pantywaist LLL’s would agree that such as what was related in that leaked FBI memo would have people think of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Saddam.
Don’t give Sen. Durbin any concessions whatsoever.
Kos is despicable plain and simple. He condemns contractors who have been murdered on the basis of his fantasy speculations about them, but is outraged that terrorist detainees might have been treated roughly.
That is the real comparison, who Kos defends, and it tells us a lot about Kos.
The metaphor Durbin used failed the logic test. To believe he is a “poor innocent targeted by EEVIL Rove and company, you have to accept that he was comparing our worst(allegedly) to mild treatment by the other three. It fails the logic test.
If any moonbat wants to understand the differences between the three I will happily show them, provided they sign a medical release. After the Gulag methodology they will be singing a lovesong to “too much and too little Air Conditioning”.
Durbin should read more and speak less.
If some hardcore terrorist is chained to the floor for a day and takes a shit on himself and that helps us find his murderous brethren who are planning to behead people or blow something up, then big f’ing deal! Crapping one’s self–boo hoo!
If this terrorist were in Nazi Germany, a Soviet gulag, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia, he’d be doing hard labor after being chained, rarely fed, used up until he had little or no energy, then he’d be lucky to be shot or gassed than die a slow starving death.
Jeez, people–these are hardcore terrorists whose sole mission in life is to kill us. So what if one’s chained up for a day.
Given the detainies non-cooperation the shitting on himself was probably done by the detainie on purpose as an act of defiance. (dosen’t make much sense to me, but niether does pulling your own hair out or refusing to drink any water like that other guy)
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