Patterico's Pontifications


Why the KSM Hypo Was Stupid, According to Liberals

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:24 pm

My KSM hypo was really stupid, according to some, because it was so obviously designed to elicit a “yes” answer that anyone would answer yes. So what was the point of asking a question that anyone would answer yes?

Also, the answer is “no” because torture is always wrong.

More Hypotheticals

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:41 pm

Here are a couple more hypotheticals for you. At least one of them is all too real.

Hypothetical #1:

It’s July 2001. You learn that Osama bin Laden has planned a massive attack on America in which 19 hijackers will take over planes and fly them into buildings, including the World Trade Center. You have no idea who the hijackers are. You have Osama in custody. He laughs at you and says that he knows who the hijackers are, but you will never figure it out. They will bring down the World Trade Center and there’s nothing you can do about it. The planes aren’t in the air — indeed, the flight may not happen for weeks — but for all you know, it could happen tomorrow.

Also in custody is his 11-year-old granddaughter. She is very cute and speaks English. She likes dolls.

Osama seems to be very fond of her.

An agent suggests threatening her in front of Osama. If necessary, he says, waterboard her. She will cry out in fear, he says, and Osama will tell us what we need to know. We will save thousands, and we won’t waterboard her for more than 2 1/2 minutes.

I’m not asking you to make any assumptions here. It’s real life. Torturing her would be clearly illegal. It might not work.

But it might prevent 9/11. You never know.

Do you waterboard her?

Please say why you would or would not waterboard her before you move on to:

Hypothetical #2

Same facts, except that, instead of his granddaughter, we have Osama’s nephew Ahmed. He is decidedly not cute and has a hairy back. An intelligence asset in Afghanistan says Ahmed is a terrorist, but three CIA analysts say the intelligence asset is unreliable.

Otherwise, the facts are the same. Osama seems very fond of Ahmed, and your agent says he thinks waterboarding Ahmed will get Osama to crack.

Do you waterboard Ahmed?

Please say why or why not, before you move on to

Hypothetical #3

This one is all too real — but with a twist.

It’s 9/11. You are Dick Cheney. Planes have crashed into the World Trade Center (both towers) and the Pentagon. You learn that one flight is still in the air: United Flight 93. Reports come in that passengers are calling loved ones to say the plane has been hijacked. The plane has gone off course and appears to be headed towards Washington D.C. You are certain that if it arrives, it will crash into a building like the Capitol or the White House, killing hundreds of people. Some of the phone calls report that passengers are making plans to fight the terrorists, take over the plane, and attempt to make a safe landing.

Military jets have scrambled and are prepared to shoot down the plane.

Your aides tell you there are only 44 passengers and crew members on the plane, and their chances of successfully fighting off the terrorists are very low.

You have five minutes to decide whether to order military jets to shoot down the plane.

Do you give the order?

Please say why or why not.

The GTMO Detention Manual

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 8:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

While Patterico hosts a lively debate on interrogation and the morality of waterboarding, it may be a good time to take a peak inside the GTMO detention manual:

“A detailed insight into the inner workings of the Guantánamo detention camp, ranging from items allowed in cells to how many witnesses should be present for cavity searches, is provided in a leaked Pentagon manual.

More than 350 prisoners are still held in Guantánamo. The manual covers almost every possible aspect of life at the base, from arrival to burial. A page carries a graphic showing how Muslims should be buried.

Although the manual dates back to 2003, the year after the camp at the US navy base in Cuba opened, it offers a rare glimpse of life in the high security camp. The 238 pages list the rules governing the daily life of the prisoners but also provides insights into how the US guards and interrogators view the inmates.

It details an elaborate reward system in which prisoners who show signs of cooperating or at least responding positively are rewarded with “comfort items” such as a regular bar of soap rather than a small one.

It covers how to identify potential leaders, orders latex gloves to be used when handling mail in case of hazardous chemicals, and the number of MPs to be present when prisoners take showers.”

According to the Guardian article, the leaked manual first appeared on the website Wikileaks that encourages people to send in sensitive documents. Lt. Col. Ed Bush, a Guantanamo spokesman, said the manual should not have been made public and noted that parts of the manual are outdated and have been changed.

A PDF version of the unclassified version of the manual is here. The Guardian article lists the following key points:

“· On arrival, the Behaviour Management Plan kicks into action: the aim is to “enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganisation felt by a newly arrived detainee”.

· An elaborate reward system to try to encourage cooperation. Rewards include bigger pieces of soap, and more time in the recreation yard.

· In spite of repeated assertions by the International Red Cross of full access, the manual makes it clear that such access would be denied to some prisoners.

· Guards and other security staff told lines to take with media, particularly on GWOT (Global War on Terror). “We are making progress in the GWOT through a concerted effort with our coalition partners.”

In summary, the GTMO manual uses a reward system and “divide and conquer” to deal with detainees. I’m sure GTMO is no fun but some of these techniques sound more like ones used by an American family than a military detention camp.


Priorities Carefully Arranged

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:44 pm

Democrat blogger John Cole is appalled that I have opened a debate on the morality of waterboarding admitted mass murderers for less than three minutes if it were 100% certain to save thousands of lives. To express his disgust, he solicits his readers’ opinions as to whether he should physically assault me. Most agree that he should.

UPDATE: John says this post of mine “may be one of the dumbest posts ever” because, after all, it was just a hypothetical and it didn’t name me. (Ha, ha! Get it?) Apparently it never occurred to him that his post would send his commenters into a frenzy of discussion about how much fun it would be to commit violence to me.

By the way, at least one of his commenters has since admitted that he thinks I am a greater enemy to this country than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11.

Yes, he’s serious. As is his commenter who says I am unfit to be labeled a human. (As was the commenter at Obsidian Wings who said that I am a monster, and wished that I die a painful death in a fire.)

But there’s nothing irresponsible about talking to that crowd about committing violent acts on conservatives. I’m sure if Michelle Malkin ever did the reverse — “mocking” a liberal by talking about kicking him, while addressing an audience predisposed to think liberals are less than human — John Cole would take it in stride as just joshin’.

Of course, that would never happen. Because Michelle Malkin has far more class than John Cole ever will.

And this, by the way, is one of the main reasons I posed my hypo to begin with. To identify the self-righteous crowd who recoil at the thought of waterboarding mass murderers for 2 1/2 minutes to save thousands of lives — but who think nothing of talking about violence on conservatives.

Because, after all, we are the real enemy.

UPDATE x2: I see some morons in the comments saying that I am “scared” by Cole’s “threat.” Jesus Christ, his commenters are stupid.

I didn’t take it as a real threat, morons. I saw it as whipping up some commenters into a frenzy with a crass and stupid joke that could easily cause one of his unbalanced commenters to start issuing serious threats. Sure enough, one of them was soon talking about punching Ann Coulter in the Adam’s apple — and this is the kind of thing Cole knew he was starting when he made his stupid joke about kicking me in the privates.

This issue has commenters on other sites talking about how they’d like to see me dead. You know, because I’m talking about things, and that makes me evil. In this environment Cole is throwing chum into the middle of a pack of hungry sharks, and disclaiming any responsibility for their getting whipped into a frenzy.

The point is to note how ironic it is that these people so quickly turn to thoughts of violence against people who are just blogging — because they are outraged at us talking about waterboarding people who are mass murderers. The way you know this is the point is by reading the title of my post. That’s a hint for you idiots from Cole’s site.

Why Am I Having This Debate?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:43 pm

I am reading across the Internet that I am a torture apologist. That is inaccurate. Reading comprehension is not a prerequisite for the Internet. I doubt that anyone making that assertion can point to a statement of mine that supports the use of torture in real life. I am open to debating the issue, but I haven’t decided in my own mind that torture is appropriate in the real world, and so I don’t think I have said that anywhere. Feel free to correct me if you think you can find a statement of mine to the contrary.

I have said that I would support limited waterboarding of a known mass-murdering terrorist if it were 100% certain that it would prevent a terror attack. But, as many have noted (and as I knew when I posed the hypo), any such hypothetical is necessarily hypothetical, because it assumes the benefit of hindsight in advance.

Many will no doubt point to my hypotheticals as evidence that I support torture. I see myself as conducting a philosophical exercise that isolates certain variables to explore the basis for commenters’ objections to torture. I intend to continue my series of posts, but that doesn’t mean I support torture. Didn’t you folks take philosophy classes in college? Did you think that the philosophy professor advocated cannibalism or infanticide or the other topics he made you debate?

This is better than philosophy class because I get to learn from you. Many commenters have made excellent points, which I am going to consider as I think about this issue.

I have an interesting set of hypotheticals to pose to you later tonight or tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Aldrete-Davila arrested in El Paso for 2005 Drug Offenses

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 6:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, the drug smuggler shot by Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos in February 2005, was arrested this morning at an El Paso border checkpoint on September and October 2005 drug charges. From Johnny Sutton’s press release:

“United States Attorney Johnny Sutton announced today that twenty-seven-year-old Osvaldo Aldrete Davila was arrested today at the Ysleta Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas. Aldrete was indicted on October 17, 2007, by an El Paso federal grand jury on two counts of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to import a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute. His initial appearance is set for tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. (MST) before United States Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa.

According to the indictment, beginning on or about June 1, 2005, through November 30, 2005, Aldrete and his co-defendant Cipriano Ortiz Hernandez conspired to import and to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Additionally, on September 24, 2005, and then again on October 22 and 23, 2005, Aldrete-Davila did possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.”

Aldrete-Davila’s first court appearance will be tomorrow at 2:30 P.M. MST in El Paso.

H/T: Jay Curtis.


It’s Not a Legal Question

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:40 pm

In my hypotheticals about waterboarding, I have repeatedly said that my questions are philosophical and moral in nature, and not legal. Despite my repeated statements, many bloggers and commenters think I am opining on a legal question. There is no reading comprehension exam required to blog or comment on the Internet, and I can’t respond to every sub-moron out there. But I thought I’d take a moment to re-emphasize the point.

The debate I am having about waterboarding is not a legal debate. It assumes the legality of waterboarding — which is certainly a counterfactual assumption in the criminal law context, and may well be so in the terror context as well.

Legally, any form of coercive interrogation renders a confession involuntary and unusable in court. So in considering this question, we face not only the reliability issue — which I have repeatedly said is a legitimate issue — but we also face the fact that coercive interrogations pose substantial obstacles to criminal prosecutions.

That is a very, very good reason not to do them in the real world.

I will probably link this post in my future posts on the topic.

Lindsay Lohan serves a Day 84 Minutes in Jail

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 6:07 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

May and July weren’t good months for Lindsay Lohan but November 15 must be her lucky day.

From July 2007:

“Allegedly under the influence and with a small amount of cocaine in her pants pocket, Lindsay Lohan was arrested after chasing the mother of her personal assistant in her car early Tuesday morning, Santa Monica police said. Lindsay Lohan was arrested on charges of drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance. The troubled actress was charged with drunken driving, possession of a controlled substance and other offenses.

It happened just five days after Lohan was booked in connection with a May drunken driving charge.”

Lohan agree to plead guilty to misdemeanor drunken driving and cocaine charges to resolve both arrests:

“In August, she reached a plea deal on misdemeanor drunken driving and cocaine charges stemming from the arrests. The judge sentenced her to four days in jail—the mandatory minimum for a second drunken-driving offense—but gave her credit for 24 hours already served. She elected to complete 10 days of community service instead of 48 hours behind bars.

The total deal called for her to enter treatment, spend a day in jail and perform community service.”

From today, November 15, 2007:

“Lindsay Lohan was a jailbird for just 84 minutes Thursday, becoming the latest celebrity to serve less than a day for a drunken driving offense.

Lohan, 21, turned herself in to the Los Angeles County women’s detention center in Lynwood at 10:30 a.m. She was searched, fingerprinted and placed in a holding cell in the inmate reception area but got to keep her street clothes, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “She was cooperative,” he said.

Lohan was released at 11:54 a.m. Her original daylong sentence was reduced because she met criteria that took into account overcrowding at the lockup and the fact that her crime was nonviolent, Whitmore said.

Did the celebrity receive special treatment? “Absolutely not. This is what we do for most everybody in this position,” Whitmore said. In fact, 30 to 50 women are granted early releases from the facility every day, he added.”

The check-in time at most airports is longer than 84 minutes and at least they make you take off your shoes.


1.8 million pages of federal case law to become freely available.

Filed under: Law — Justin Levine @ 4:09 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

Sweet. This is the way it should be in an open society.

h/t: Boing-boing.

Bush Announces Plan to ease Holiday Air Traffic Delays

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 1:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

With the busiest air travel days of the year just around the corner, President Bush announced a plan to ease holiday delays:

“Ahead of the holiday travel crunch, President Bush ordered steps Thursday to reduce air traffic congestion and long delays that have left passengers stranded.

The most significant change is that the Pentagon will open unused military airspace from Florida to Maine to create “a Thanksgiving express lane” for commercial airliners. It will be open next week for five days — Wednesday through Sunday — for the busiest days of Thanksgiving travel. Officials said the chief benefit would be to speed takeoffs from New York airports, particularly during bad weather.

Bush called holiday travel “a season of dread for too many Americans.” He said the problems with delayed flights are “clear to anybody who’s been traveling. Airports are very crowded. Travelers are being stranded and flights are delayed, sometimes with a full load of passengers sitting on the runway for hours.

“These failures carry some real costs for the country, not just in the inconvenience they cause but in the business they obstruct and the family gatherings they cause people to miss,’ the president said. “We can do better.”

The new plan also will be in effect for the Christmas travel season. “

I suspect this is more Katrina fall-out to the extent the Bush Administration is trying to anticipate and pre-emptively deal with problems. Good. Now we need the grocery and retail stores to open a few more holiday express lanes.


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