Patterico's Pontifications

1/21/2009

Obama Redefines National Security as Expedience

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 8:52 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Washington Times reports more on Obama’s expected executive orders closing GTMO in 12 months and closing all “so-called [CIA] black sites” where terrorist subjects have been interrogated, as well as requiring all interrogations be conducted according to US Army Field Manual.

The report suggests these orders are consistent with Obama’s Inaugural Address:

“In his Inaugural address Tuesday, he said, “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals … Those ideals still light the world and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

I know these decisions will make his supporters happy but Obama should frame the issue honestly. This isn’t about ideals vs expediency. The issue is ideals vs national security.

In most cases, expedience should bow to ideals but it’s not so easy to say national security should take a back seat. That’s probably why Obama refused to say it that way.

– DRJ

103 Responses to “Obama Redefines National Security as Expedience”

  1. I have to disagree with you here DRJ, sacrificing ideals for security leaves us with something not worth having.

    Soronel Haetir (cabedb)

  2. Rush constantly describes liberalism as a “mental disorder.” This action by BHO is a classic response by one who does not see the world as it is. The first of many such responses.

    It is all fine, well, and good, to see things as they could be. It is better to aspire to such a thing. But, when it comes to the security of this country, and of innocents throughout the world? It is a perverse attitude that leads to avoidable murder. Ask the Cole and WTC survivors.

    Ed (39e6e8)

  3. I don’t think he’s saying that. I think he’s saying that national security can be preserved without giving up our ideals; that the use of harsh interrogation techniques, and holding people without trial, is expedient but not necessary to the preservation of the national security.

    That is to say, the debate is about what is, and what is not, necessary for national security. His claim is that these policies aren’t necessary, and so national security will not be sacrificed if we stick to our ideals; only the expedience gained by following these policies will be sacrificed.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  4. Soronel Haetir,

    Sacrificing ideals for national security may not be worth it sometimes, but other times it might. The problem is Obama has created a strawman by redefining national security as expedience, one that makes it easy to decide the question. Who wouldn’t pick ideals over expedience?

    aphrael,

    This is the essence of Obama-speak. He uses words like safety so his supporters can argue HE REALLY IS talking about national security. But then he frames the ultimate issues as ideals vs expediency, making it easy to lead people to the conclusion he wants them to reach. If Obama really was talking about national security, why doesn’t he say so straight out? Why use the word “expedience” at all?

    DRJ (345e40)

  5. DRJ: his point is, I think, that the Bush administration adopted policies which were unnecessary for national security but which were easier and cheaper than alternative policies which would have been just as effective.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  6. ‘Expedience’ made no sense at first read, but it sure fits his speaking style. Very very deceptive. Really disturbing to see this guy making decisions which go against the belief of military experts.

    I see what you mean about the mental disorder. (Ed @ 9:18 pm)

    Vermont Neighbor (ab0837)

  7. “which were unnecessary for national security”

    Read KSM’s testimony. He’s one of the recipients of the enhanced interrogation/torture. Beyond all the confessing he lays out, there’s quite a bit about things that had not happened when he was captured. And still haven’t happened, because they were mysteriously stopped. Many of the links of the early AQ network went through this man, and the endpoints of many of those links were tracked down somehow.

    Al (93703e)

  8. aphrael,

    That may be the liberal point of view when it comes to these issues but it isn’t a neutral way to frame them.

    This is an example of what’s so frustrating about Obama. He portrays himself as a wise and neutral arbiter of issues, but then he frames the issues like a zealous advocate. You can’t be both judge and advocate.

    DRJ (345e40)

  9. If Obama really was talking about national security, why doesn’t he say so straight out? Why use the word “expedience” at all?

    Why all the Kremlinology? Take him at his word: that he does not see a zero-sum game between “expedience” and “national security”, and prefers to emphasize the rule of law. One may reasonably disagree with the tradeoffs he is choosing, but faulting him for intending our nation to be one of laws seems odd.

    fishbane (bf1a44)

  10. Another illustration that the Left refuses to acknowledge that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
    If I put aside my ideals for the sake of survival, once the threat has passed, I can always reclaim my ideals.
    If I do not survive, all of the ideals in the world are useless to me.

    AD (517490)

  11. Obama can do what he wants because the press will always give him a pass. He knows this and will do whatever seems necessary. He does not have a group of copperheads trying to obstruct his attempts to protect the country because he is copperhead-in-chief. Of course, we have an expert named aphrael who knows that Bush’s policies were unnecessary. It must be comforting to live in such a world of adolescent confidence. You know, deep down, that if you are wrong, there are adults who will save you.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  12. DRJ, that’s a fair point, but the way you are framing it here is also not a neutral framing.

    This may be an issue on which neutral framing is, if not impossible, very difficult.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  13. I don’t have to be neutral and if people here don’t already know I’m a conservative, I’ll say it now: I’m a conservative Republican.

    Obama doesn’t have to be neutral either but he acts like he is and, more important, the media enables it.

    DRJ (345e40)

  14. That’s a fair point. :) You are a fair-minded conservative Republican, from what I have seen, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a conservative Republican.

    My original point was that I think you are mischaracterizing President Obama’s argument, and so (to some degree) eliding the debate between liberals and conservatives by assuming that the conservative viewpoint is the correct one.

    On many issues, President Obama straddles the middle, is significantly more conservative than liberals would like, and appears to go out of his way to draw both sides into the discussion. On this particular issue he is an unabashed liberal, and that fact is one of the reasons liberals like him so much. :)

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  15. fishbane,

    A nation that only has laws would never need a military. It’s not enough to litigate our principles. Sometimes we have to fight for them.

    DRJ (345e40)

  16. Soronel Haetir, your living in the world of make believe.

    Jose Chung (b2117b)

  17. aphrael,

    That’s high praise and I feel the same way about you and your principles.

    We’ll see how committed Obama is to carrying through on these executive orders. My guess is he will end the black sites, close GTMO, and release many detainees. But I think he will also continue to hold some detainees at other military locations. I also think he will keep open the possibility of Clinton-type renditions. If so, those policies won’t sit well with civil rights advocates. In other words, Obama may be talking the talk but time will tell if he walks the walk. Remember FISA?

    DRJ (345e40)

  18. When thousands of Americans die due to this stupidity he can always hide out with his Islamic family in Kenya.

    Scrapiron (dda662)

  19. I don’t see dishonesty in Obama’s framing of the issue. He explicitly points to our “safety” as the end in question. Should this end be pursued “expediently” (i.e., by disregarding our ideals) or not? He believes not.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  20. DRJ: I agree that only time will tell if he walks the walk. As I said somewhere else, I’m cautiously optimistic; I like what I’ve heard so far, but it’s been thirty seven hours and it’s too early to form any sort of honest assessment.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  21. Tim,

    First, I apologize because I never did get back to our economic discussion. My son’s surgeries and related issues intervened.

    Second, let’s turn it around and pretend a conservative President said this in his/her Inaugural Address:

    “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals … We will not jeopardize American lives or the security of our nation because we’re worried about legal niceties.”

    Do you see what I did? By describing ideals as “legal niceties” I’ve denigrated the importance of those ideals. Similarly, by substituting “expediency” for “national security,” Obama denigrated its importance. On the surface, the presentation seems so fair but no one would pick expediency over ideals, any more than they would pick legal niceties over national security. It’s an advocate masquerading as a neutral arbiter.

    DRJ (345e40)

  22. only a utterly unprepared, willfully ignorant and completely unqualified fool like Juggy could say such a thing with a straight face, let alone be dumb enough to believe it.

    the problem is, he does believes such inanities, and has surrounded himself with people that are either as unfit for the positions they hold as his is for his, or retreads that have previously had events prove that their methods/ways of thinking demonstrably *don’t* w*rk to protect the US & it’s citizens. couple all this with an upbringing shaped and formed by people who active hate the USA, and we have a recipe for disaster.

    AD is right: the Constitution is NOT a suicide pact, and there is no reason it should apply to our enemies anyway. i say capture who you can, interrogate them as necessary, then shoot them in accordance with the laws of land warfare as unlawful combatants.

    redc1c4 (9c4f4a)

  23. Thanks, DRJ. Re the economic discussion, I understand. I hope your son is doing well.

    I don’t believe Obama is substituting “expediency” for “national security.” “Expediency” refers not to an end like “our safety” or “national security,” but to a manner of reaching that end.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  24. A nation that only has laws would never need a military. It’s not enough to litigate our principles. Sometimes we have to fight for them.

    So I take it that you do, in fact, see a zero sum game between “expediency” and “national security” that has little room for respect for law?

    fishbane (bf1a44)

  25. fishbane,

    I’m not really sure what you mean by that, but I think there are times when the ideal of civil liberties trump national security concerns, and there are other times when national security trumps ideals. We’d like to have 100% of both but sometimes they are a continuum and the best we can do is find a balance. Thus, my point is: If you’re going to fairly decide where the dividing line is, you have to fairly state the competing concerns.

    DRJ (345e40)

  26. When has giving succor to pirates ever been an American Ideal?

    Adriane (6cae82)

  27. It’s not even ideals v. national security. It’s ideals, including national security v. the preening idiocy of the Left. Only in a idiot’s world would moral values, i.e., “ideals,” be something set apart from and in opposition to national security.

    Isn’t it good, morally good, to protect people’s lives?

    Brian (387241)

  28. My ideal is that we have real national security.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  29. I interpret his statement as meaning; if we were more like Europe, then defense would be necessary.

    krusher (8684f0)

  30. It’s Sept 10 2001 again because Obama says so.

    Neo (cba5df)

  31. “This isn’t about ideals vs expediency. The issue is ideals vs national security. ”

    If you say so, then it means this is the only ‘honest’ way to frame the issue.

    imdw (e36369)

  32. DRJ – Thanks for pointing out this part of Obama’s speech. Juan Williams had a piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that essentially suggested that people stop grading Obama on a curve, that his speeches were rather ordinary. I found reading over the text of his Inauguration speech that many sections were offensive, at least to a conservative audience. Suggestions that we return to this or that, well many people never felt like we abandoned the principles or values he was discussing and his oratory was a slap in the face.

    Unity!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  33. So much for foreign policy pragmatism…

    Read it and weep: Obama to close terrorist ‘black sites’ … in addition to Gitmo, of course.
    It’s nice to know that our new CIC is sending a clear signal to terrorists about how the United States is going to deal with them. I……

    Sister Toldjah (52e518)

  34. I have to disagree with you here DRJ, sacrificing ideals for security leaves us with something not worth having.

    Let’s review the ideals.
    1. It’s a terrible, awful, horrible crime to waterboard KSM and BinAlshibh for the purpose of gathering information vital to national security.
    2. It’s lawful and proper to try them and put them to death, assuming it’s found that they did what they proudly proclaim they have done.

    Where do we stand on killing children? I’m going to need some help calibrating my moral outrage meter.

    Pablo (99243e)

  35. I don’t have to be neutral and if people here don’t already know I’m a conservative, I’ll say it now: I’m a conservative Republican.

    I’m stunned, really DRJ totally gobsmacked

    EricPWJohnson (b4458f)

  36. The perfect is always the enemy of the good.

    htom (412a17)

  37. Lets look at the score card so far

    Ended offshore drilling
    Ended the BAN on Taxpayer funding of Abortion on Demand
    Ended the CIA war on Terror
    Ended the trial of the most henious Al Qaeda operative to date we have captured
    Appointed a real estate attorney to Secretary of State
    Appointed the walking idiot of the Senate to Vice President
    Appointed a Tax Cheat to be the Head of the Treasury
    Appointed a guy who engineers the most comtroverisal Pardons in US History up to and including murderous terrorists to Attorney General

    Yeah… let wait another 36 hrs geee he could reverse directions….

    EricPWJohnson (b4458f)

  38. Ideals and security are both worthy considerations. One sign of the differences in definition are the statements about “torture.” One side says waterboarding is torture. The other says it is not and some people, including Chistopher HItchens, have undergone the process to demonstrate that, while extremely unpleasant, it is not torture. One definition of true torture is that it involves permanent consequences to the subject tortured. Here we have a dispute in which waterboarding is to be banned in the interest of ideals. Security is definitely a lesser consideration.

    Another example is the detention facility in Guantanamo. The Clinton Administration used rendition; sending doubtful prisoners to be detained in other countries. That has the benefit of avoiding openness. I expect that, if Obama closes Gitmo and I’m not sure he will, that subterfuges like rendition will return. I don’t see transparency in Obama. I see manipulation of the media, a technique that I wish Bush had been better at.

    Obama and his followers are all about appearances, not substance. Maybe he is serious enough to start acting on substance. I haven’t seen it yet. Pelosi will never be about substance unless you define substance as the political realities that dominate her life. Rewarding friends and punishing enemies, no matter the cost to the country.

    Barney Frank’s bank is only a small sign.

    Troubled OneUnited Bank in Boston didn’t look much like a candidate for aid from the Treasury Department’s bank bailout fund last fall.

    The Treasury had said it would give money only to healthy banks, to jump-start lending. But OneUnited had seen most of its capital evaporate. Moreover, it was under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives’ use.

    Nonetheless, in December OneUnited got a $12 million injection from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. One apparent factor: the intercession of Rep. Barney Frank, the powerful head of the House Financial Services Committee.

    Mr. Frank, by his own account, wrote into the TARP bill a provision specifically aimed at helping this particular home-state bank. And later, he acknowledges, he spoke to regulators urging that OneUnited be considered for a cash injection.

    And so it begins again.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  39. Pablo,

    It is what happens when Lawyers get involved in common sense matters.

    All process and no sense. Procedures, processes, precedent, policies, pooh pooh.

    “Kill the lawyers first” I say. Sorry lawyers.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  40. Rendition: definition. letting other people do your dirty work so you can pretend to be über alles.

    Another example of degeneracy in our Political Class.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  41. I’m surprised at the MSM’s surprise about Frank’s immediate intervention and manipulation regarding the TARP funds. They’ve learned nothing about his role in the crisis in the first place (or chose to ignore it willfully), so why the shock at this point?

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  42. Why all the Kremlinology?

    When in Moscow…

    Jim Treacher (796deb)

  43. I choose expediency. DRJ, great catch in pointing out how Obama crafts an essentially false choice.

    JD (397a27)

  44. I have to disagree with you here DRJ, sacrificing ideals for security leaves us with something not worth having.

    So then you disagree with Obama – or at least the first half of what he said: ““we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals”.

    The second half of his statement contradicts the first half. He’s saying we do have to sacrifice some security.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  45. OK, if that is indeed your interpretation, then why not say it in plain language? This is too cute by half, and the reason why he’s not being explicit is that the vast majority of the country would reject his premise in the first place. For example, ask anyone if they would rather give up some security in exchange for closing GITMO, and the answer would be thunderingly loud and clear.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  46. DMac: ah, but the premise is that GITMO can be closed without sacrificing security; that doing so may be harder than keeping GITMO open, but that security itself will be maintained.

    How do you phrase that in ‘plain language’?

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  47. Gerald A: no, he isn’t saying that we have to sacrifice security. He’s saying that given the choice between an easier way to protect security and a harder way to protect security, the Bush administration chose an easier way, and sacrificed our ideals not to protect security, but to enable themselves to take an easier path.

    I understand that you disagree with his analysis. :)

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  48. DRJ, I’m curious about how you think President Obama could have phrased it fairly. What he said presupposes the liberal analysis. What you said presupposes the conservative analysis. So what’s the simple way to phrase it without presupposing one side or the other?

    I tried last night while unable to fall asleep and couldn’t come up with a way to do it which wasn’t so convoluted it would put the million people on the mall to sleep.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  49. aphrael – He could simply state his position, rather than conflating expedience with national security. Or, he could point out what he would do that was not expedient, but believes to be right. He chose expediency over honesty in this argument.

    Levi, on the other hand, chose idiocy.

    JD (397a27)

  50. no, he isn’t saying that we have to sacrifice security. He’s saying that given the choice between an easier way to protect security and a harder way to protect security, the Bush administration chose an easier way, and sacrificed our ideals not to protect security, but to enable themselves to take an easier path.

    If you rely on the dictionary definition of expedient, it has nothing to do with easy vs hard. You infer that, but it’s nowhere to be found in the literal statement.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  51. GeraldA: I tend to prefer to rely on the meaning of words as colloquially understood, rather than as described in dictionaries. Linguistic drift is a real thing; it’s very common for words to not mean today what they meant fifty years ago.

    That said, the OED provides the following definitions for ‘expedient’:
    (1) hasty, expeditious, speedy.
    (2) conducive to advantage in general, or to a definite purpose; fit, proper, or suitable to the circumstances of the case.
    (3) in depreciative sense, useful or politic as opposed to just or right.
    (4) studious of expediency
    (5) something that helps forward, or that conduces to an object; a means to an end
    (6) a contrivance or device adopted for attaining an end; a resource.

    It’s pretty clear that Presient Obama doesn’t mean (2). I suspect that he means a combination of (1) and (3) … which can be simplified to ‘easy’. It’s useful, it can be done quickly, but it’s not the right way to do it, and it isn’t the necessary way to do it.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  52. I think an easy and expedient way can be found without sacrificing our ideals. Send the prisoners from Gitmo to Alcatraz. It would provide hundreds of jobs and would place those prisoners close to a population center that is basically sympathetic to their cause. Except, of course, for stoning all gays to death, but, as you say, we can’t have everything.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  53. Ya know, it could just be that the line was written by a man-child speech writer and read off the teleprompter with no more concern for its content than any other text-to-speech conversion algorithm has.

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  54. Did someone just post an individual’s home address in a link?

    Not cool.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  55. How do you phrase that in ‘plain language’?

    I think JD’s answer pretty much sums up what I would have posted:

    He could simply state his position,

    Simplicity and conclusively – what a concept.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  56. #34 Comment by Pablo — 1/22/2009 @ 5:57 am
    Where do we stand on killing children? I’m going to need some help calibrating my moral outrage meter.

    Real simple Pablo, the thought of one of my children coming to harm by a terrorist so that I could have the selfish luxury of self-righteousness is repugnant to me.

    To answer your question, when they start killing mine, then I would not hesitate to break my ideals, sacrifice them in an instant, do what I have to do to protect my children, and then sleep like a rock afterwards (in prison, in my grave, or preferably in my bed).

    Right now, we have people doing that for us (they are called soldiers). We send them into horrible situations (but don’t worry your pretty little head about it, you don’t have to go), tell them to make zero mistakes (which in itself is impossible), watch them bleed and die on the sand.

    The cool thing is people like you get to blame them when mistakes (borne of split-second combat decisions) are made and feel all self-righteousness about yourself. All the while, you don’t even have to lift a finger, just move your mouth and spit all over those who serve.

    And, at no extra cost, you and your family get the benefit of their protection, and by means of intellectual dishonesty, you get to condemn those that serve (while you do nothing) and keep your “morals” intact (as long as you do not scrutinize them in a logical, honest, and objective way– you are home free).

    ————————————————-

    Having ideals at any cost works well for extremists, but falls apart when faced with the surrounding of our world. Our Rule-of-Law society is an eggshell-thin layer of civilization that exists upon the Rules-of-the-Jungle natural world.

    We should strive for perfection in the moral-codes of our civilization (if such a goal is even possible), but recognize that such a journey requires survival, which sometimes requires an application of the Rules-of-the-Jungle.

    Having the wisdom to tell the difference is the real test of judgment, having the courage to implement a suspension of high ideals is the real test of leadership, and of course, giving up that power when the storm has passed and reinstating those high ideals is the real test of honor.

    If the President Obama needs an example, Abraham Lincoln did it once…

    Pons Asinorum (500dfa)

  57. DMac, JD, didn’t he do that? He said we don’t have to make a choice between our safety and our ideals, and that we shouldn’t give up our ideals for expediency.

    That’s his position. It’s a fairly clear position, and it’s pretty widely held on the left. I don’t understand the statement that he didn’t clearly state his position; I think it’s clear as day.

    I understand DRJ’s point about how this isn’t a neutral phrasing; that’s a fair point, because it presumes the truth of his position. My question is, then, how does he say it neutrally? Phrasing it in terms of a trade off between civil liberties and national security presumes the truth of the opposing position; what’s the simple phrasing that does neither? I couldn’t come up with any that wasn’t convoluted.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  58. Comment by Pons Asinorum — 1/22/2009 @ 2:36 pm

    Well said, Sir!

    AD (9c1476)

  59. He’s becoming more Clintonian with each passing day – wonder what he thinks the real meaning of “is” is. Or what “controlling legal authority” actually entails.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  60. The bottom line is the Obama’s “executive order” is vacuous horse manure. It really does nothing but kick the can down the road while pretending to be substantive. It is hilarious to read a transcript of Obama’s press secretary trying to pretend that the EO has any substance in his press conf.

    Probably the quintessential Obama act.

    SPQR (72771e)

  61. I hope we are not going to look back and remember this as the “Seinfeld” presidency?

    AD (9c1476)

  62. Thanks AD.

    Pons Asinorum (500dfa)

  63. Remember, Bush is a war criminal but these people in Gitmo are merely alleged criminals, nothing else. Let them have their day in court where we reveal all our intelligence resources to convict them of crimes and stuff. We’ll all be safer and happier then.

    But never forget these were not enemy combatants in an on-going war, nor were they violating any “rules of war” in their actions. They just helped blow people up, is all.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  64. “Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

    L. J. Grimes (3628e6)

  65. To follow up my #63, I offer this from PowerLine:

    “Today’s executive order can charitably be described as meaningless,
    but it illuminates the least attractive side of Barack Obama:
    his tendency to combine self-righteousness with lack of seriousness.”

    AD (9c1476)

  66. John Hitchcock: I object to the notion that any President should have the authority to declare that someone is an enemy combatant, and therefore can be held indefinitely without trial, unless someone who is not responsible to the President for his job reviews it.

    Otherwise there’s absolutely no way any of us are safe from being picked up and held at the whim of the executive.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  67. Guess we need a “duck” test?

    AD (9c1476)

  68. Yup, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a horse.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  69. I guess this means that now soldiers in the field of battle will be required to read potential prisoners their Miranda rights – while at the same time trying not to be killed by them.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  70. What prisoners?

    AD (9c1476)

  71. Good point – from now on, if there’s any chance of life remaining, shoot again and finish the job.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  72. “Well, Sir, we had a brief chance to interrogate the prisoner, but he was in pretty bad shape,
    and died from his wounds.
    But, he did tell us….”

    AD (9c1476)

  73. There’s nothing wrong with a little torture. I rather like it.

    Rielle (04db65)

  74. Rielle – What are you doing later?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  75. One of the legends of World War II was that we were nice to prisoners. The Japanese quickly cured the Marines of any tendencies that way and very, very few POWs were taken. Some were; my father-in-law was commandant of a POW camp in the Philippines in 1945-46. Most of them came as the war was obviously lost.

    In Europe, many Germans surrendering (especially SS) were shot, just as many of our own were shot by Germans. If you want to learn more about it, read Max Hastings’ book about Overlord.

    Most lefties get their idea of war from movies. I predict that far fewer prisoners will be taken and those that are will never see US facilities.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  76. Those prisoners that are taken will be left in the hands of our allies – and as such, more prisoners will be mistreated in the future.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  77. There’s nothing wrong with a little torture. I rather like it.

    Comment by Rielle — 1/22/2009 @ 6:21 pm

    Rielle – What are you doing later?

    Comment by daleyrocks

    He has a date with Jacques Chirac. They are still not disclosing the site of the injury but he will be hospitalized for weeks. The date may have to be postponed.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  78. What happens on the battlefield is one thing.

    But how do we know, through anything other than belief that the administration is telling the truth, that the people in Guantanamo were captured on the battlefield?

    As far as I can tell, we don’t.

    This isn’t to imply that either the Bush administration or the Obama administration have been dishonest; but if we have nothing but their word to go on, then there is nothing to stop them from rounding up people not on the battlefield, claiming that they were captured on the battlefield, and holding them.

    If there is actually no constraint that would keep the executive from doing this, there should be.

    aphrael (5985db)

  79. [...] prison, and Patterico notes that the issue really isn’t ideals versus expediency, it’s ideals versus national security. The other fact to note, as Michelle Malkin has, is that the Pentagon announced 61 terrorists [...]

    Worrisome executive moves in first days of the Obama presidency « Wellsy’s World (2b7e85)

  80. How do we know those Germans we held in prison camps in the US in the early 1940s came from the battlefield? How do we know those Southerners (or Northerners) we captured during the Civil War came from the battlefield? It is an argument for argument sake.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  81. His spokesman said that the decisions on GITMO and terrorist interrogation would enhance national security. Ri-i-ight.

    amr (dda662)

  82. aphrael, yours is not an irrational question but how did the United States survive more than 200 years where the President had this power during wartime?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  83. amr, that was among the more ludicrous of Obama’s press secretary’s claims since the “decision” was not a decision at all.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  84. Pons Ansorium,

    The cool thing is people like you get to blame them when mistakes (borne of split-second combat decisions) are made and feel all self-righteousness about yourself.

    I believe my point escaped you. I have no beef whatsoever with the troops in the story I linked. If anything, I’d have kept them at a safe distance, and nuked the site from orbit, just to be sure.

    What I meant to illustrate is that there are a number of things that stand as ideals but don’t hold up so well when the rubber hits the road. Surely, our ideals preclude us killing children! Except for when they don’t.

    Perfect only works in a perfect world, and we don’t live in a perfect world. In which case, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Pablo (99243e)

  85. aphrael,

    But how do we know, through anything other than belief that the administration is telling the truth, that the people in Guantanamo were captured on the battlefield?

    As far as I can tell, we don’t.

    That’s what trials are for, don’t you think?

    Pablo (99243e)

  86. Hello Doofus. :)

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  87. Who are you talking to, lovey?

    Pablo (99243e)

  88. #84 Comment by Pablo — 1/22/2009 @ 7:01 pm

    I believe my point escaped you. I have no beef whatsoever with the troops in the story I linked.

    The story you linked seeks only to blame the US troops. It is a typical propaganda piece that CNN does (I stopped watching that network in 2002). The troops in the story will never be allowed to report what exactly happened, so CNN is free to make up whatever story they want (they did this in 2002 in Afghanistan when Nick Robertson would report civilian casualty figures based solely on Taliban sources). Not much has changed,I see.

    You say you have no beef with the troops; okay I take you at your word. Sorry if I went nuts over this, (I know I am over sensitive on this, but what our guys do there is nothing short of magnificent and to see them maligned but such an obvious hit-job…our troops do not get the credit they deserve).

    If anything, I’d have kept them at a safe distance, and nuked the site from orbit, just to be sure.

    Okay, not big on the nuke thing, but I agree with the sentiment.

    What I meant to illustrate is that there are a number of things that stand as ideals but don’t hold up so well when the rubber hits the road.

    Okay, agreed – sorry I missed this initially (my thick skull).

    Surely, our ideals preclude us killing children!

    Correct.

    Except for when they don’t.

    Correct and I apologize, I take it you have served or understand.

    Perfect only works in a perfect world, and we don’t live in a perfect world.

    Correct.

    In which case, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Not sure what this means exactly, but it appears to be a quite popular saying.

    I believe my point escaped you.

    Yes, it did– my thick skull – sorry about that.

    We are not even in disagreement. I guess it is time for me to call it a night, grab a beer — my compliments to you, Pablo.

    Pons Asinorum (500dfa)

  89. Not you Pablo. He knows himself. You are a great commenter here. But Doofus ain’t. :)

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  90. It means individuals seeking to implement perfection are typically ineffective and end up jeoparding other’s well being in order to feed their OCD.

    BHO has this disease as do most idealists.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  91. Not sure what this means exactly, but it appears to be a quite popular saying.

    What it means is that when only a perfect job will do, a good, or even really, really good job isn’t good enough. And then you can’t do anything, because only perfect is good enough. Therefore, where you might like really good, and you might do really good, it isn’t acceptable because it isn’t perfect. So, perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Or, as long as someone can find a reason to bitch, you lose. Because you weren’t perfect.

    Pablo (99243e)

  92. The story you linked seeks only to blame the US troops.

    I’ll admit that I didn’t take in enough of the piece to really absorb the spin. I just went looking for a case in which our guys killed some people who really needed killing and who happened to have their kids with them, and that was what I came up with. Imperfect, that. :)

    Pablo (99243e)

  93. You know, that saying about ‘perfect is the enemy of the good’ hits home. I’m working with someone with emotional problems, and working with some counselors and shrinks and stuff. According to the counselors, people very often ‘self-sabatoge’ by setting up impossible scenarios whereby they only accept reality on their terms, a la a ‘perfect’ situation. This manifests in many ways:

    “I agree to turn in my homework, but I will do it only after 10:00PM and in my room with TV, radio and movies playing.”

    The person sets up a situation where the ‘perfect’ scenario will never really happen, and it leaves them an out. X Y or Z never happens, and then they can blame fate – “see, I would have done whatever, but fate intervened.”

    It makes for a lifetime of disappointment, and is a hallmark of many emotional / mental challenges.

    carlitos (05e522)

  94. I agree with the decision that the President has made to close Gitmo Bay. I disagree with the way detainees are questioned and treated by Americans upholding law. The military/USA is suppose to show other countries examples not be the bad seed. I love this decision and hope that all innocent detainees are returned safely to their country and families. Detainees that are rightfully being held need to be treated as a regular detainee in an American correctional facility. We never hear of murderers in correctional facilities being waterboarded or forced feed. Why treat the detainees at Gitmo any different? President Obama has made a great decision. Great 2nd day of work!

    Natasha (8b4668)

  95. Dear Natasha: I respect your opinion, though I disagree with it in several areas. But rather than debate about it, I would suggest this: be prepared to defend President Obama’s continued use of harsh interrogation practices. including waterboarding. Don’t be surprised. And when he continues GW Bush’s approaches to this issue, I urge you to be intellectually consistent and criticize him just as vigorously.

    Unless you are solely acting in a partisan fashion, which I am certain you are not (wink).

    Eric Blair Amidst Several Other Erics (3e2520)

  96. Natasha is either very immature, or an idiot.
    Both are dangerous to the security health of others who might rely on her.

    AD (897341)

  97. To me, it is an odd conceit that some folks want people from outside the US to be tried under US laws. And I hear I thought that our justice system was so awful!

    President Obama knows full well that we know the names and IDs of every inmate at Gitmo. If any one of them is released on his watch, goes back to the caves and goes back to terrorism, then kills an American soldier, his goose is cooked.

    My best guess is that President Obama will not appreciably change the policy (though he will…nuance…his way around it). Heck, I don’t think he will really close Gitmo. He’ll keep saying that he is reviewing the procedure, and putting things off. That seems to work for his supporters.

    For now.

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  98. Eric Blair, you are prudent to refrain from entering the fray with 8:53 pm no matter how much is debatable… With that though the detainee label has been troubling throughout the Gitmo matter (though a much more palatable label than mass murderer, terrorist), so I was happy to run across this by James Robbins,

    In retrospect, the original sin of the detainee policy was the notion of “unlawful combatant” status, an ill-defined concept utilized to skirt various aspects of the Geneva Conventions regarding POWs. This was a fatal contradiction, since the Bush administration was put in the ungainly position of explaining why the prisoners of our war on terrorism were not “Prisoners of War.” They came up with the designation “detainees,” an unsatisfactory label that sounds more like the drunk drivers that police collect at a sobriety checkpoint rather than hard core killers taken on the battlefield. Personally, I think it would have been much more sensible to define the terrorists as mercenaries per Article 47 of Geneva Additional Protocol 1 which states, inter alia, “a mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.” That way the US could have worked within the Geneva framework yet achieved the same ends, making it that much harder for critics to charge they were acting illegally.

    Another problem is that POWs are returned to their home countries when hostilities end, but in the war on terrorism there is no clearly definable endpoint. So what to do with the detained terrorists in the long run? This question underlays the court challenges of the last several years seeking to institute some form of trial system or other due process. It is ironic that Obama’s suspension of military commissions was hailed as a victory for due process, since the advent of the commissions was cheered for exactly the same reason.

    Dana (137151)

  99. True enough, Dana. I don’t think the earlier poster was trying to debate policy, but was simply happy with the new administration in DC.

    We’ll see how the Progressive Left deals with realpolitik.

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  100. # 10. “If I put aside my ideals for the sake of survival, once the threat has passed, I can always reclaim my ideals.”
    The problem with this statement and a “war on…” is that the threat never passes because the “war on… ” never ends so you never get to reclaim your ideals.

    I agree with aphrael. Maybe O is acutally listening to his interrogators about what is working and what is not working so well (instead of watching and getting advice from the last umpteen seasons of “24″ which apparently shows us all what doesn’t work while pretending that it does) and has decided that, although it may be more difficult, we can get the same or better intelligence by staying within the rule of law.

    Maybe. We will see if certain people aren’t still sent offshore. And there is still the problem of what to do with a bunch of guys who now know a lot about American interrogation techniques, harsh or otherwise. Are we really going to let them go home?

    EdWood (55d28f)

  101. FWIW, I think shutting the GTMO may not be such a great idea after all. Listen, some of these laws against torture and the rest were put in place before 9/11. The world has changed since then. So the rules of combat need also to be changed to meet the present day challenges. If Obama wants to shut the place down, he needs to think of another place to transfer those vermins. I have no sympathies for terrorists. The innocent ones should be set free, if they are proven to be innocent. The guilty ones should be tortured until they can give up any information they may have. It’s war folks. War ain’t fair. I support all forms of torture. So long as it helps to stop another terrorist attack here in the US and around the world. I expect Obama to know that protecting American lives is more important than abiding by some international code.

    Emperor7 (0c8c2c)

  102. Aaaaarrgh! They got me! Okay okay. Who said it wasn’t funny? Heh? I nearly broke my ribs laughing. It was fun. While it lasted. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, PATTERICO. THANKS FOR RUINING IT!
    JD, why are you jealous? You know you were laughing your head off. Yes? :)

    Emperor7 (1b037c)

  103. #102
    Oops! Wrong thread. Sorry.

    Emperor7 (1b037c)


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