Thursday, November 08, 2007

Love for the Sun

I love the Sun. The Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, the original in London. I love the scratchy feeling when you wipe.
Otherwise I have no use for something that when spread around the kitchen the dog would rather keep busting for a whiz than piss on.
So when the paper-training reject of the print world publishes this I just have to say something. - Rachel Marsden - Torture? Sounds like a swimmingly good idea

President George Bush's nominee for attorney general, Judge Michael Mukasey, may end up getting dunked at his Senate confirmation hearing because he refuses to call waterboarding torture. According to the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are afforded certain protections. But contrary to what some folks might believe, we're not talking about prisoners of war here. In the war on terror, we're dealing largely with "unlawful enemy combatants" -- unaccountable freelancers who dress like they're coming out of philosophy class at UC Berkeley.

Hey, I remember you. You were on the news the other day saying something about 'CIA-sponsored swim lesson' that made me think you were dumber than a pithed frog in grade 9 biology. (Shout out to Mrs Boicey). BTW, UC Berkely? Seriously. That's the CanCon we can expect from you? At least pick on Carleton U or something. Mount Alison has it coming too. You sound like some kind of wanna-be Coulter-Limbaugh stem-cell experiment for Republican Jesus. (I think I hit everything there. Still something's missing. What could it be? Oh, right.) Fuck.
If you want full legal protections that come with engaging in legitimate warfare, then go join an army and put on a uniform so that Western forces can spot you before you head into a civilian centre with a bomb strapped to yourself and blow up innocent people.
So fuck you, Blackwater, you and your fucking immunity from...sorry. Oh, right, not them. The other not-in-a-regular-army types. The brown ones.
Think they play by Geneva Convention rules when they get a hold of someone from our side? Not a chance.
There's a motto for recruitment: Join the army! Be all Al-Qaeda can be! Way to stake out the moral high ground.

Ever since the 17th century Military Revolution aligned armies with nation states rather than rich guys, it has always been completely legal to just kill unlawful enemy combatants on the battlefield. But since there's a possibility they might know something, sometimes it's worth keeping them around.
Intelligence saves lives. Two years ago, the White House detailed several terror attacks that had been foiled through intel gathering. It's worth its weight in gold during wartime -- which is why, for example, during the Cold War, the Russians paid traitors like the FBI's Robert Hanssen and the CIA's Aldrich Ames millions of dollars for it.

Intel has the potential to save lives. It rarely does. This is not
24. It doesn't work like that. Intel has not been the decisive factor, or even high on the list, in any major confrontation. It has a contribution, but let's not forget that little fact.
Notice also the major cases she cites there didn't actually turn the tide in the favour of the Soviets. Was it then worth the millions? Or its weight in gold?

Now consider the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind who ultimately claimed to have been involved in dozens of terrorist plots. He was found dressed like a slob, naturally, and also apparently in possession of a letter from Osama bin Laden. Think he might have known a thing or two?
I'm not sure how folks who are critical of the CIA's interrogation techniques would suggest eliciting intelligence from guys like this. Perhaps by offering him some tasty snacks and the love and understanding that he lacked as a child?
So there you have it. There are only two choices: torture or animal crackers with a hug. Here's an idea: try listening to these guys.
And don't give me that ticking bomb scenario bullshit. It doesn't work like that. Thought experiment: you hold the knowledge of the next big strike. It's happening in 3 hours. You'll be water-tortured/boarded/sported. Do you give the accurate information to stop the plot or do you take a beating, then cough up some disinformation that send people on a four-hour wild goose chase? Ask yourself this. Then ask yourself, what would the US gubmint expect a Navy Seal to do? How's that ticking bomb now?

The CIA doesn't do what they do for kicks. As CIA Director Michael Hayden explained the other day, interrogation techniques serve a purpose.
Torture works this way: you start off thinking you're doing good, making the hard choices. Then you're looking for revenge for something. Then you're preventing the enemies of the state from plotting something. Then you're sending a message. Then you're doing it just cause you can. What stage are you at now?

So now that we've established that the detainees in question aren't even protected by the Geneva convention, and that they often have crucial information that can save lives, what about the idea of waterboarding as "torture"?
Umm. How about this link, this link, or this link?

When asked about it during a recent CNN appearance, I suggested that "one man's torture is another's CIA-sponsored swim lesson." In case anyone thought I was being facetious -- I wasn't.
We know. That's the fucking problem.

I suppose that those who object to terror suspects getting water up the nose would say that, as a young competitive swimmer, I was also tortured. It was called "hypoxic training" -- swimming underwater and holding our breath until we passed out. Our coaches didn't call it torture, just an exercise in "mental toughness." So think of it this way -- terror suspects are getting some free mental toughness training courtesy of the U.S. government.
Flag on the play. I call false analogy! If your swim lesson included being tied to a board and held underwater until your lungs filled, and needed a doctor there to ensure you didn't die, and you couldn't quit the team, and you didn't ask to join, and you couldn't go home, and when you done they poured cold water on you and cranked the aircon in the locker room...then we're just starting to get an analogy.

Here's another idea to make the concept more palatable to objectors: Call the place where waterboarding is performed "The CIA Centre For Aquatic Excellence," give all participants an "I survived training camp" T-shirt with the centre's logo on it, and treat them to a couple of carbo-loading pancake breakfasts. It worked for us.
I Got Tortured by the CIA 'Cause It Turned Out That I Had the Same Name As Somebody...And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.
STFU while the big kids are talking.

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