Patterico's Pontifications

9/13/2006

The Path to . . .

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 5:07 pm



Read this one all the way to the end.

All you people who claimed that Clinton didn’t blow it on fighting terror need to read this: a story about U.S. forces being prevented from taking out top Taliban terror leaders because the rules of engagement prevented strikes at cemetaries. (Via Michelle Malkin.) From a New York Post article dated September 13, 1996:

Taliban terror leaders who had gathered for a funeral – and were secretly being watched by an eye-in-the-sky American drone – dodged assassination because U.S. rules of engagement bar attacks in cemeteries, according to a shocking report.

Sounds like it’s straight of out “The Path to 9/11,” huh? Take that, Clinton defenders!

Wait, this just in — that wasn’t Clinton. It’s G.W. Bush. And the article is dated today, not ten years ago.

Thank God we’ve learned our lesson!

P.S. Well, at least we’re working on passing legislation that will allow us to monitor terror groups before they commit a major act of terrorism.

Wait, this just in — make that after they commit a major act of terrorism.

31 Responses to “The Path to . . .”

  1. But if you blow them up in a cemetery, you don’t have to transport the little bits.

    Dan Collins (c568a0)

  2. Fourth Circuit:

    “Unfortunately, we do not find that this act of terrorism qualifies as major.”

    Dan Collins (c568a0)

  3. But…but we’re CIVILIZED. We can’t attack a funeral procession. That would be MEAN.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  4. It all comes down to how much we want to kill terrorists… and, no surprise, this Admin, just like Clinton’s, doesn’t want to badly enough. If they did, it wouldn’t matter where the terrorists were gathering: cemeteries, mosques, inside Pakistan… they would simply give the order to shoot. I’m so glad our leaders are more concerned with avoiding hurt feelings of the locals than they are with killing the terrorists who are trying to kill our soldiers. How many US and NATO soldiers have and will be killed by the terrorists who were allowed, yes allowed, to walk away unharmed? So just how credible is Bush when he tries to convince us that he is doing all he can to defeat terrorism? Not very.

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  5. There may be more info coming, but I heard that the decision was made in part due to input by Karzai (?, or some one else high among our friends).
    The war is not just one of bullets, but of perceptions/propaganda as well. My own thinking if it was a gathering of men, women, and children with Taliban sympathies, but no Osama or other big time enemies, maybe it was wise to defer the attack.
    I don’t know, just trying to get the various facts and concerns on the table.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  6. Simply a PC decision by some JAG lawyers who spends more time protecting the terrorists than they do protecting the American GI’s. There is several hundred member of JAG that should be tried and sent to prison for dereliction of duty. 99% of the solders now in jail should be pardoned, given all rank and back pay and their records cleared as they never existed. Dumb ass JAG lawyers.

    Scrapiron (71415b)

  7. So does this mean , like, they were more concerned with protecting terrorists at a funeral than protecting Americans?

    Ken (047392)

  8. The question I am asking is, “Who leaked and why?”

    tyree (d8b975)

  9. Pat–
    I’d be interested in knowing what you think of this article by Dahlia Lithwick about torture on Slate–Stream of Conscience: Why it matters what definition of torture we use.

    Here are the final two paragraphs:

    The new legal standard is indeterminate for both the prospective torturers and their victims. And that’s precisely how the president wants it.
    In a superb article last fall in the Columbia Law Review, professor Jeremy Waldron argued that there is “something wrong with trying to pin down the prohibition on torture with a precise legal definition.” That it seems to “work in the service of a mentality that says, ‘Give us a definition so we have something to work around, something to game, a determinate envelope to push.’ ” And indeed it would be worrisome if the president were trying to create a sharp, bright line-rule for when interrogation crosses into torture, so that his agents could dance right up to it and stop, or find tricky ways to tunnel under it. But I suspect that the Bush administration doesn’t seek to clarify the definition of torture so much as to confound it. The whole objective of defining, refining, and then redefining the rules has become an end in itself. It keeps our attention trained where the president wants it: on the assertion that old bans on torture don’t work and that this conflict is unlike any conflict contemplated under existing international law. All this murk and confusion has begun to be the object of the game and not a casualty of it.
    I once suggested in the context of presidential signing statements that legal obfuscation is enormously attractive to President Bush. It means all but the most highly credentialed law professors and government lawyers are constantly confused; it means subsequent legal claims that interrogators “did not know that the practices were unlawful” have real credibility. And perhaps, most importantly to this White House, it obscures where things have gone awry up and down the chain of command. One possibility, then, is that all these eleventh-hour redefinitions of torture are presidential attempts to “afford brutality the cloak of law,” in the words of Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. But increasingly, it seems clear that its real purpose is simply to brutalize the law.

    So, I’m wondering what exactly it is that Lithwick seems to regard as an acceptable definition. It seems to me that her idea is that this ought not be defined except ex post facto in the courts, so that if decisions go against the administration it can be claimed that the behavior was uncontrovertedly illegal from the get-go, as they like to claim was the case in Padilla (though I believe it was a dumb case for the White House to make such a row over).

    Your thoughts?

    Dan Collins (c568a0)

  10. This is really a noni-story. We don’t shoot at people in cemetaries (or other places of religious gathering) unless we are being fired upon by those people. Not a seabag lawyer, so I can’t quote chapter and verse from the Geneva Accords, but this is one of those things gentlemen — even Marines — don’t do. Until.

    What we should have done (and hopefully did do) was to follow them with the camera until they left, and then proceed to business. The leaking of the photo probably means that there will never again be such a gathering.

    From the size of the crowd, we may have a lead to the resting place of OBL.

    htom (412a17)

  11. Dan,

    Lithwick is about as honest as Thomas Ellers. Thanks to you, I now feel compelled to do a post on her piece that shows some of its rank distortions.

    Which seems like a waste of time, because does anyone really find her credible anyway?

    Patterico (de0616)

  12. Dan

    Excuse me if I snort a little over Dahlia’s straining over What.It.All.Means that “torture” is not defined down to the last smear of fake menstrual blood in order to allow nasty interrogators to “torture” and say “hey, it doesn’t say I can’t.”

    The simplist explanation is that giving out a full and exhausting laundry list is to tell the enemy exactly what we will/will not do in interrogations AND give them an edge in knowing what to expect and how to thwart it.

    Many criminals have adjusted their m.o.’s in response to what they learn about surveillance, forensic and investigative techniques from “real crime” shows…why would anyone think Islamist terrorists wouldn’t do the same thing?

    Darleen (03346c)

  13. There is several hundred member of JAG that should be tried and sent to prison for dereliction of duty.

    It was mccarthy’s undoing to attack the army. But I think we’ve grown past that unenlightened sort of thinking.

    actus (10527e)

  14. I think a workable definition of torture is having to endure Dahlia Lithwick’s blatherings in Slate. My eyes glazed over at about the point I encountered the phrase “determinate envelope.” What monkey pus.

    JVW (d667c9)

  15. Dan,

    I have the Lithwick debunking in an hour or so.

    JVW’s comment makes an appearance.

    Patterico (de0616)

  16. Excellent post. As I’ve said all along, there is continued blame to go around. The Bush Administration certainly deserves their fair share too.

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  17. So we have a law and Bush followed it. Shame on him. “What is popular isn’t always right, and what is right isn’t always popular”.

    If we don’t follow our own laws how do we expect the rest of the world to follow our example? This post is absurd, especially from the LAWYER who hosts the site.

    r2.5 rider (15472d)

  18. Patterico – I suspect the Clintonistas wont catch your drift.

    For them protecting the icon is much more important that defending the building that houses that icon.

    bains (473fa5)

  19. This just in….Breaking news for Patterico, we already have legislation allowing us to monitor terrorist groups. They are called FISA and the Patriot Act and one of them has been around since the seventies.

    What is being proposed now is to allow the president to monitor without warrants and bring us back to the glory days of Hoover and Nixon. Oh but for a little more govt. corruption. You guys just can’t get enough.

    Paul (99e27b)

  20. Bill Cowan was just on Fox & Friends, and said the ROE had nothing to do with our failure to attack the funeral procession. According to his “unimpeachable source” (where have we heard that phrase before?), an attack on the procession was swiftly approved at all levels of command, but the drone that produced the photo was unarmed, and by the time we had anyone in position to shoot, the crowd had dissipated.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  21. I don’t think it’s to our advantage for our enimies to know rules of engagement such as this.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  22. Paul,
    I thought we talked about the utility of FISA and the non-hypothetical computer in Minneapolis. Are you really suggesting that military action on the battle field needs to be approved by a judge in the US? Might as well surrender or emigrate.

    Xrlq,
    Thanks for the info.
    Who knows what leaks are leaked and if they are true and why they were leaked anymore. Why did Armitage give Novack the information about Plame, why did Armitage stay quiet and Fitzpatrick spend years chasing others while the press accused Rove.
    We’ll have to see who leaked what and why, what was correct, what isn’t…maybe we will be able to eventually “see”.

    BTW-
    Patterico, are we going to have a post about Armitgae, Fitzpatrick, special prosecutors and the like? Thanks.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  23. I have to admit, I think not firing on a cemetary is the right thing to do. We only attack religious places when they are using them to fire from. That’s a good rule. It’s part of what makes us better than them.

    I do hope we tailed them afterward.

    Veeshir (dfa2bf)

  24. This is one of those stories that confuses the heck out of me – how can the information presented be at the opposite extremes? Nuances I can understand, but this much difference?

    How about this: the picture drone picks up the gathering but instead of sending the ammo needed to do the job and then getting permission to use it and then using it , they get the permission first – at which time sending the ammo is too late to accomplish the mission.

    I’m still left with the uncomfortable feeling that those in D.C. are as serious about the War on Terror as they were with the War on Drugs. As PJ Orourke wrote oh so many years ago regarding the War on Drugs , if they are going to persist in not being serious then it is just spinning wheels.

    seePea (61f3f8)

  25. So we have a law and Bush followed it. Shame on him. “What is popular isn’t always right, and what is right isn’t always popular”.

    If we don’t follow our own laws how do we expect the rest of the world to follow our example? This post is absurd, especially from the LAWYER who hosts the site.

    Our rules of engagement have the force of law? That’s news to me.

    Because it’s not true. They are simply directives issued by a competent military authority.

    How is the post now? A little less absurd?

    Patterico (de0616)

  26. […] It would shock my conscience to write a piece as dishonest as Lithwick’s — and perhaps my commenter JVW had something like that in mind when he opined: “I think a workable definition of torture is having to endure Dahlia Lithwick’s blatherings in Slate.” I think that the targets of her dishonest attacks would agree, as they have certainly suffered outrages on their personal dignity due to her torturing of the definition of “torture.” […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Lithwick Tortures the Definition of Torture (421107)

  27. Amphipolos, it might be to our advantage to have our enemies believe that they are safe while attending a funeral. Let’s see how many times the “oops, I forgot” or the “Funeral? THAT was a funeral?” excuses work to maintain that perception.

    If it is part of the RoE, then it probably doesn’t matter whether they know — it might even be better that they do, because even if we won’t kill them at funerals (if so, it’s a pity — it would save us the trouble of hunting them down separately, and for what it’s worth, it would allow them to apply economies of scale to save money on funeral expenses) we can still spot them and use the information to track them and find out who they associate with. And we don’t have to tell them in advance of any change we make in the RoE.

    I hope we’re not refraining from blowing them up at funerals because we think we’re not allowed to. The scumbags didn’t sign the Geneva Conventions and they sure don’t follow them, so let’s not give them the benefit of rules they won’t follow themselves, mkay? If it’s being done to preserve cooperation provided by an ally whose precarious domestic political situation would be harmed if we blow up terrorists at funerals inside that ally’s territory, then that’s a different matter entirely, although we should make it clear that at some point, protecting terrorists at funerals isn’t much different than just protecting terrorists and then let the ally draw its own conclusions.

    TNugent (58efde)

  28. MD, the more you comment the more I’m convinced you have no comprehension of what you read or of what FISA says.

    FISA had nothing to do the FBI not searching Moussaouis computer. “the Massaoui case never reached the FISA court: The FBI determined at the time that there was insufficient evidence to petition FISA for a warrant. A bi-partisan Senate Judiciary Commitee later concluded the FBI did have sufficient evidence, but had set too high a standard for establishing probable cause.”

    Your ignorance is not a badge of honor to be waved about as if it were a positive thing. You are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts.

    Am I suggesting that military action on the battle field needs to be approved by a judge in the U.S.? No. Either you have major reading comprehension problems or you are just to lazy to care.

    What Patterico said was “Well at least were working on passing legislation that will allow us to monitor terror groups before they commit a major act of terrorism.” and my response was “we already have legislation allowing us to monitor terrorist groups. They are called FISA and the Patriot Act….” See MD, nothing there about military action on the battle field.

    Stop listening to Rush. It’s bad for you.

    Paul (aeea58)

  29. Paul,

    MD, the more you comment the more I’m convinced you have no comprehension of what you read or of what FISA says.

    “No comprehension…” I’m sorry my arguments at times take jumps, but please accept my apologies for anything rude I have said previously.

    FISA had nothing to do the FBI not searching Moussaouis computer. “the Massaoui case never reached the FISA court: The FBI determined at the time that there was insufficient evidence to petition FISA for a warrant.

    I submit that FISA did “have something to do with it”. Whether or not the FISA court ruled on the computer, the FBI made their decisions based on their experience of what FISA would allow. If the FBI made a mistake in judgement in setting “too high a standard for establishing probable cause” it was in the context of anticipating the standards FISA set. Was FISA directly responsible? No. Was the precedent that FISA set interpreted by the FBI as being too riguorous to bother trying for approval? Yes. Does Patterico as a prosecuting attorney know a heck of a lot more about this than me? Of course. If you have the reference handy I would like to review it.

    Your ignorance is not a badge of honor to be waved about as if it were a positive thing. You are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts.

    Last phrase I agree with, I wish there were more Pat Moynihan types of Democrats around. As you are the first on this or any site to describe me as ‘waving about my ignorance as a badge of honor’ I will await confirmation of your opinion.

    Am I suggesting that military action on the battle field needs to be approved by a judge in the U.S.? No. Either you have major reading comprehension problems or you are just to lazy to care.
    What Patterico said was “Well at least were working on passing legislation that will allow us to monitor terror groups before they commit a major act of terrorism.” and my response was “we already have legislation allowing us to monitor terrorist groups. They are called FISA and the Patriot Act….” See MD, nothing there about military action on the battle field.

    Well, you are correct in regard to your response to a specific comment of Patterico in his post. I was making reference to the central topic behind the post, which was a military decision somewhere in Afghanistan. Misunderstanding and miscommunication? Yes, please pardon my hastiness.
    Reading comprehension problems or too lazy to care? I plead not guilty.

    Stop listening to Rush. It’s bad for you.

    I rarely listen to Rush. But the first time I did he played an extended clip of the interchange between David Kay of the Iraqi Surveillance team jousting with Senator Kennedy. That experience, comparing what was said in the Senate hearing to the sound bites in the main stream press, reinforced what I had learned to be true but too often forget, you can’t trust the media. (What Rush said could have added or taken away little).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  30. Well we can agree there MD, you can’t trust the media.

    Paul (b2190a)


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