November 30, 2003

Ashamed of the Bush Administration

If this story is even half-true, it provides yet another reason that every American should be deeply, bitterly, profoundly ashamed of the Bush administration. Via TalkLeft: Detainees: Kidnapped for Reward Money:

TIME.com: TIME Magazine -- Inside "The Wire": ....A U.S. military official tells Time that at least 140 detainees--"the easiest 20%"--are scheduled for release. The processing of these men has sped up since the Supreme Court announced it would take the case, said the source, who believes the military is "waiting for a politically propitious time to release them." U.S. officials concluded that some detainees were there because they had been kidnapped by Afghan warlords and sold for the bounty the U.S. was offering for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. "Many would not have been detained under the normal rules of engagement," the source concedes. "We're dealing with some very, very dangerous people, but the pendulum is swinging too far in the wrong direction."...

And it takes two years for the Bush administration to figure this out? And once it has figured it out, it still holds on to these people--waiting for a "politically propitious time" before releasing them?

We are supposed to be the good guys. We should be better than this. Indeed, we were better than this.

UPDATE: Jim Henley weighs in:

Unqualified Offerings: Cue Lee Greenwood - TalkLeft picks up an ABC News report that, well, this:

According to Time, activities leading toward release of the 140 prisoners have accelerated since the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. It said U.S. officials had concluded some detainees were kidnapped for reward money offered for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Whoops! So now what, huh?

Slated for release were "the easiest 20 percent" of detainees, a military official told the magazine. It did not identify its source, who said the military was waiting for "a politically propitious time to release them."

As Talkleft itself notes "It took the U.S. over two years to figure out that up to 20% of these detainees were total innocents? During which time they were kept in cages without access to families or lawyers?"

A strong implication here is that only the Supreme Court's interest has prompted any real movement - the sort of judicial oversight that the Administration has fought and continues to fight.

The pattern is clear: everything dubious turns out to be much worse than initially reported. Oh, and there's always someone telling you it's actually much better. By the time the truth comes out they're busy defending something else. Even Viet Dinh, culpable in drafting much of the PATRIOT Act, has developed qualms. We're told today that some colonel fired a gun in the air near a prisoner to scare him and next month that he had the prisoner beaten and put a bullet into the ground by his head. We learn that arresting relatives of suspects "to pressure them to surrender" is a routine policy in Iraq. We're told one month that most of Iraq is not just quiet but friendly and the next month, in one of those quiet friendly parts, crowds drag American bodies through the street. We're told that there's no guerrilla war, then that there is a guerrilla war but we've turned the corner, then we notice that fatal casualties among our soldiers have grown exponentially for seven months and more (but we're turning the corner again). That power will soon be back to normal in Baghdad, then that power will soon be back to normal in Baghdad and then, that power will soon be back to normal in Baghdad. We're told that Iraq's oil will pay for the reconstruction, then that we must spend billions on Iraq's oil industry itself. We preen about our national virtue, then pause to contemplate "politically propitious times" to release the innocent. We excuse sins in ourselves we punish in others.

Go read the real crackpots. They've been more right than I was.

Impeach. Impeach Bush and Cheney. Impeach them now.

Posted by DeLong at November 30, 2003 05:24 PM | TrackBack

Comments

"We are supposed to be the good guys. We should be better than this. Indeed, we were better than this." Er... where did you get the idea that you were ever better than that? You have always had the same feet of clay as everybody else, right back to abuses during the American War of Independence (which happened on both sides, but with larger scale examples from the winners, naturally).

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on November 30, 2003 05:53 PM

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I weep for the lost honor of my country.

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs on November 30, 2003 07:00 PM

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Nonsense!

"We must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely... in this work we have undertaken and so cause [God] to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for God's sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of [this] good land..."

Posted by: Brad DeLong on November 30, 2003 07:04 PM

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Can you imagine what it must be like to be a serving miltiary or diplomatic officer working for the Bush Administration? What a nightmare.

Posted by: Alan on November 30, 2003 07:26 PM

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America has often failed to live up to her ideals, but the ideals were there. This administration not only destroys our liberties and degrades our moral standing in the world community, it refuses to admit that America ever stood for any principle except greedy self-interest.

It is one thing to destroy and degrade yourself as Mr. Bush and cronies are doing. To destroy and degrade the very idea of America is a crime incapable of redemption.

Posted by: clio on November 30, 2003 08:07 PM

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Of course the counter argument is "better safe than sorry." Many people in the US are still terrified of the "next attack" and are more than willing to sacrifice the abuse of foreigners. They might even complain that Democrats would be too soft and rather let dangerous terrorists go free than keep a few innocents in jail. This administration repsonded to 9/11 in a way that exacerbated the fears of Americans instead of calming the populace and taking a measured response.

Compare the Bush response to 9/11 to the Clinton repsonse to OK City. Clinton did not round up all the militia and throw them into internment camps. Instead, the culprits were apprehended, tried and convicted. Since 9/11, we have bombed and taken Iraq and Afghanistan and still the perps go free. As long as Americans can be distracted from the real problem we will be stuck with non-solutions like Gitmo.

Posted by: bakho on November 30, 2003 08:51 PM

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bakho -- Clinton's measured response was more protective of the civil liberties of those who attacked us. But, it didn't deter the 9/11 attack. Since Bush's warlike response, there hasn't been a successful terrorist attack on the US.

Posted by: David on December 1, 2003 01:54 AM

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David,

You can believe that if you want.

Me, I believe that the War on Terror is a war best conducted by secret police, and the European rolling up of the Al Quaeda cells (ie Frankfurt, bagman nabbed in Spain etc) was far more important than the military phase.

Providing support for the Northern Alliance to take Afghanistan back (with all that that implies) was a good move in the WoT.

Getting distracted by Iraq was not.

Ian Whitchurch

Posted by: Ian Whitchurch on December 1, 2003 02:17 AM

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If only Clinton had reacted like Bush to the bombing of OK, he would have rounded up all the right-wing perps who were calling for what McViegh actually did. Then Ashcroft and the rest of the criminal cronys would be in cages in Gitmo instead of in Washington destroying the country.

Posted by: Dragon on December 1, 2003 02:34 AM

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If only Clinton had reacted like Bush to the bombing of OK, he would have rounded up all the right-wing perps who were calling for what McViegh actually did. Then Ashcroft and the rest of the criminal cronys would be in cages in Gitmo instead of in Washington destroying the country.

Posted by: Dragon on December 1, 2003 02:36 AM

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If only Clinton had reacted like Bush to the bombing of OK, he would have rounded up all the right-wing perps who were calling for what McViegh actually did. Then Ashcroft and the rest of the criminal cronys would be in cages in Gitmo instead of in Washington destroying the country.

Posted by: Dragon on December 1, 2003 02:41 AM

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"America has often failed to live up to her ideals, but the ideals were there ... it refuses to admit that America ever stood for any principle except greedy self-interest." clio

That's coherent, so subtly nuanced as well, i.e., the U.S. is in fact the Great Satan, Leftist jihadists and Islamic jihadists unite!

P.M. Lawrence, historical point:

The British had people like Bam Tarleton (who largely had Cornwallis' support) during the War of Independence. No doubt both sides committed excesses during the war, but do you have any ref. to point to the idea that the winner ("naturally") in that war committed the worst or the most excesses? Was this "naturally" obvious outcome also true of WWII, or the American Civil War?

Brad, puhleeze with the umbrage and self-righteous pose masking yet more of your arrogating solipsisms:

You served an administration that positively and knowingly wagged the dog with for example the missile strike on the Sudan pharmaceutical factory. A strike that Clinton initiated unilaterally, despite advice from his own military advisors to refrain from doing so, and despite the lack of any U.N. mandate or sanction (and do recall how important the latter is to the Bush-haters whenever there's even a slight possibility of raising this issue).

This present episode may well be regrettable, but to this point we don't know how long they've known that specific individuals were merely captured and handed over by Afghan warlords for the bounty. Your assumption that's it's been two yrs. and that it's all cut-and-dried is nothing more than rediculous and silly.

But if this does (once the facts become known) constitute an "over reaction" then the admin. should be criticized. On the other hand what is an "over reaction" vs. a "strikingly insufficient reaction"? In the wake of WTC '93 Clinton told us not to overreact, he failed to so much as visit the site in the aftermath and he treated it as little or nothing more than a domestic criminal offense, even after he understood it was a terrorist act committed by militant Islamic jihadists. If we would have taken a more aggressive and forward posture in the wake of WTC '93, perhaps 9/11 would never have occurred, perhaps even likely so.

(And if it would have been one of the earlier Republican presidents that had treated WTC '93 as little more than a domestic crime, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?)

Posted by: Michael B on December 1, 2003 03:04 AM

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David,

The attackers in Oklahoma City were not the same as the ones on 9/11.

The first attack from Al Queada on American soil came when Clinton had only been in office for a matter of weeks. He blamed no one else, no prior administration, his administration apprehended those involved in that first attempt to blow up the Trade Center, and began to find out who was behind them.

Please note that for the next eight years, there were no further attacks on American soil.

If you compare the number attacks around the world after the Bush administration's response to the challenge of 9/11, the four which took place on Clinton's watch compare rather favorably with what has transpired post 9/11 internationally. And 9/11 came during the 9th month of Bush's presidency, when, at the point he'd taken office, Osama Bin Ladin was a known quantity, when scads of intelligence had been gathered world wide, when a commission to study the problem of terrorism had already been appointed and returned their findings during the first months of the new administration, which promptly shelved the report in favor of starting over and doing their own. And Bush & co have proceeded to act as if 9/11 took place on Clinton's watch.

Paying warlords a head fee to turn over their idea of "bad guys" has not made us safer. Indeed, the more we learn about Bush's "victory" in Afghanistan, I suspect that we'll rue the use of those northern tribal chiefs, who are making it impossible for real progress to be made through-out Afghanistan toward a society that can withstand Islamic fundamentalism - which can be found aplenty just over the border in Pakistan.

Posted by: Leah A on December 1, 2003 03:05 AM

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Terrorists would have to explode in American cities three suitcase nukes a year, every year, year in and year out, to equal the number of premature deaths due to obesity in the United States.

Personally, I think that's obscene.

Beyond obscene are the perversions of American principles welcomed by the overfed population to ward off their irrational fears.

Posted by: Michael Robinson on December 1, 2003 03:09 AM

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David,

The attackers in Oklahoma City were not the same as the ones on 9/11.

The first attack from Al Queada on American soil came when Clinton had only been in office for a matter of weeks. He blamed no one else, no prior administration, his administration apprehended those involved in that first attempt to blow up the Trade Center, and began to find out who was behind them.

Please note that for the next eight years, there were no further attacks on American soil.

If you compare the number attacks around the world after the Bush administration's response to the challenge of 9/11, the four which took place on Clinton's watch compare rather favorably with what has transpired post 9/11 internationally. And 9/11 came during the 9th month of Bush's presidency, when, at the point he'd taken office, Osama Bin Ladin was a known quantity, when scads of intelligence had been gathered world wide, when a commission to study the problem of terrorism had already been appointed and returned their findings during the first months of the new administration, which promptly shelved the report in favor of starting over and doing their own. And Bush & co have proceeded to act as if 9/11 took place on Clinton's watch.

Paying warlords a head fee to turn over their idea of "bad guys" has not made us safer. Indeed, the more we learn about Bush's "victory" in Afghanistan, I suspect that we'll rue the use of those northern tribal chiefs, who are making it impossible for real progress to be made through-out Afghanistan toward a society that can withstand Islamic fundamentalism - which can be found aplenty just over the border in Pakistan.

Posted by: Leah A on December 1, 2003 03:11 AM

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David,

The attackers in Oklahoma City were not the same as the ones on 9/11.

The first attack from Al Queada on American soil came when Clinton had only been in office for a matter of weeks. He blamed no one else, no prior administration, his administration apprehended those involved in that first attempt to blow up the Trade Center, and began to find out who was behind them.

Please note that for the next eight years, there were no further attacks on American soil.

If you compare the number attacks around the world after the Bush administration's response to the challenge of 9/11, the four which took place on Clinton's watch compare rather favorably with what has transpired post 9/11 internationally. And 9/11 came during the 9th month of Bush's presidency, when, at the point he'd taken office, Osama Bin Ladin was a known quantity, when scads of intelligence had been gathered world wide, when a commission to study the problem of terrorism had already been appointed and returned their findings during the first months of the new administration, which promptly shelved the report in favor of starting over and doing their own. And Bush & co have proceeded to act as if 9/11 took place on Clinton's watch.

Paying warlords a head fee to turn over their idea of "bad guys" has not made us safer. Indeed, the more we learn about Bush's "victory" in Afghanistan, I suspect that we'll rue the use of those northern tribal chiefs, who are making it impossible for real progress to be made through-out Afghanistan toward a society that can withstand Islamic fundamentalism - which can be found aplenty just over the border in Pakistan.

Posted by: Leah A on December 1, 2003 03:16 AM

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"Since Bush's warlike response, there hasn't been a successful terrorist attack on the US."

Hello, anthrax mailings, October 2001, newspapers and Democratic federal politicians threatened? Down the memory hole?

Considering how often successful spectacular terror attacks take place in North America, crediting Bush's warlike response is akin to crediting a magic rock with preventing elephants from rampaging through your neighbourhood.

Then there's this quote from the Time article...

"It did not identify its source, who said the military was waiting for "a politically propitious time to release them." "

I did a double-take upon reading that in the local subway daily. If it's accurate, then rarely is a military official, even an anonymous one, so forthcoming with what would probably be the most powerful reasons behind an otherwise correct action. Read that quote a few times--it sounds like Bush, or his puppet masters, will hold off on Gitmo releases until it will make his chances for re-election, or poll numbers, increase.

Nice regime there. I hear China releases dissidents on politically advantageous occasions as well, like last Friday, when that regime released three "cyber-dissidents" just before Wei Jiabao swings through the US. I hope some folks are there to get in his face about that whole human rights thing.

Posted by: Mark Bialkowski on December 1, 2003 06:20 AM

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Brad, you do well as long as you stick to pontification and wholly ignore sound counter-arguments, something the Left and Left/Dems do well, and rather frequently. But instead of countering with my own pontifications, let's start with a set of quotes from the referenced Time article.

First quote, directly from the Time article:

"Though U.S. officials have released some inmates deemed harmless, new ones are still arriving, with about 20 coming and going last week."

In other words they've been releasing prisoners all along (bringing in new ones as well) when they find them to be "total" innocents and harmless.

Another quote, directly from the referenced article:

"In letters to their families, which are censored coming in and going out, some detainees have given the conditions at Gitmo decent reviews. Airat Vakhitov, one of eight alleged Talibs from Russia, wrote to his mother in Tatarstan that his conditions in Gitmo were much better than in the best Russian sanatorium. In fact, his mother Amina is concerned lest the Americans extradite her son to face a worse fate back home; she and another Russian mother have petitioned the U.S. government not to deport their sons."

Another:

"But the grandmother of a Canadian detainee has a different experience. One of Fatmah Elsamnah's two grandsons at Gitmo was released. She says the other, Omar Khadr, 17, is still recovering from wounds suffered during a fire fight with U.S. troops in Afghanistan in July 2002. The U.S. military has accused Omar of tossing a grenade that killed a 28-year-old Army medic during that battle. Omar is the son of Ahmed Said Khadr, described by counterterrorism experts in Canada and Egypt as al-Qaeda's financier and ace bombmaker."

So Omar is shot up in a battle, during which he is accused of killing (a U.S. medic) and his dad is an al-Qaeda bombmaker and financier. No doubt, one of your and talk-left's "total innocent," eh?

Posted by: Michael B on December 1, 2003 06:21 AM

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--(And if it would have been one of the earlier Republican presidents that had treated WTC '93 as little more than a domestic crime, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?)-- Michael B.

And if it would have been Al Gore as president during 9/11 and he had underfunded and stonewalled the investigation to the extend and degree that Bush has, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?

To believe that you really have to be living in an alternate reality.

Posted by: Thumb on December 1, 2003 06:33 AM

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--(And if it would have been one of the earlier Republican presidents that had treated WTC '93 as little more than a domestic crime, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?)-- Michael B.

And if it would have been Al Gore as president during 9/11 and he had underfunded and stonewalled the investigation to the extend and degree that Bush has, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?

To believe that you really have to be living in an alternate reality.

Posted by: Thumb on December 1, 2003 06:34 AM

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--(And if it would have been one of the earlier Republican presidents that had treated WTC '93 as little more than a domestic crime, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?)-- Michael B.

And if it would have been Al Gore as president during 9/11 and he had underfunded and stonewalled the investigation to the extend and degree that Bush has, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?

To believe that you really have to be living in an alternate reality.

Posted by: Thumb on December 1, 2003 06:34 AM

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--(And if it would have been one of the earlier Republican presidents that had treated WTC '93 as little more than a domestic crime, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?)-- Michael B.

And if it would have been Al Gore as president during 9/11 and he had underfunded and stonewalled the investigation to the extend and degree that Bush has, does anyone really believe the press would be so cautious and solicitous in refraining from investigating and repeatedly reporting on all that in our contemporary post-9/11 situation?

To believe that you really have to be living in an alternate reality.

Posted by: Thumb on December 1, 2003 06:39 AM

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"Since Bush's warlike response, there hasn't been a successful terrorist attack on the US."

Hello, anthrax mailings, October 2001, newspapers and Democratic federal politicians threatened? Down the memory hole?

Considering how often successful spectacular terror attacks take place in North America, crediting Bush's warlike response is akin to crediting a magic rock with preventing elephants from rampaging through your neighbourhood.

Then there's this quote from the Time article...

"It did not identify its source, who said the military was waiting for "a politically propitious time to release them." "

I did a double-take upon reading that in the local subway daily. If it's accurate, then rarely is a military official, even an anonymous one, so forthcoming with what would probably be the most powerful reasons behind an otherwise correct action. Read that quote a few times--it sounds like Bush, or his puppet masters, will hold off on Gitmo releases until it will make his chances for re-election, or poll numbers, increase.

Nice regime there. I hear China releases dissidents on politically advantageous occasions as well, like last Friday, when that regime released three "cyber-dissidents" just before Wei Jiabao swings through the US. I hope some folks are there to get in his face about that whole human rights thing.

Posted by: Mark Bialkowski on December 1, 2003 06:40 AM

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The incompetence of the Bush Administration's evil is equal to the evil of its incompetence.

The scary thing about Bin Laden and Saddam is that their greater evil seems to be so much more competent. Even if they're dead. Which, if they are, will be announced shortly before election day at a propitious time.

Posted by: John Thullen on December 1, 2003 08:09 AM

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bakho -- Clinton's measured response was more protective of the civil liberties of those who attacked us. But, it didn't deter the 9/11 attack. Since Bush's warlike response, there hasn't been a successful terrorist attack on the US.

I always hear this rationale, and it never makes any sense. There were 8 years between the two WTC bombings. Would it have been okay to say in 1995 that Clinton's anti-terror plan had "solved the problem" since we hadn't had an al-Qaeda attack on American soil in two years? (Which isn't even recognizing that the dozens of terrorist attacks in the past two years committed by al-Qaeda against other nations, as well as, potentially, American troops during this guerilla war in Iraq.)

This is why I don't trust Republicans with national security. They'd rather bend reality to make sure everything's successful, because their America has the emotional fragility of a china doll, rather than actually face up to the problems we need to confront.

Posted by: jesse on December 1, 2003 08:09 AM

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The incompetence of the Bush Administration's evil is equal to the evil of its incompetence.

The scary thing about Bin Laden and Saddam is that their greater evil seems to be so much more competent. Even if they're dead. Which, if they are, will be announced shortly before election day at a propitious time.

Posted by: John Thullen on December 1, 2003 08:10 AM

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Clio used the phrase, "a crime incapable of redemption." For me, this perfectly describes the entire record, thrust, and legacy of the Bush administration. And now I read in my morning paper that the wretched spawn of Satan intends to make the "saving" of Social Security the signature achievement of his second term.

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm starting mine at 62 if there's anything there to draw on.

Posted by: John H. Farr on December 1, 2003 10:25 AM

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Clio used the phrase, "a crime incapable of redemption." For me, this perfectly describes the entire record, thrust, and legacy of the Bush administration. And now I read in my morning paper that the wretched spawn of Satan intends to make the "saving" of Social Security the signature achievement of his second term.

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm starting mine at 62 if there's anything there to draw on.

Posted by: John H. Farr on December 1, 2003 10:30 AM

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Michael B.

You aren't paying attention. The Times article specifically states that it is 100 or so of the total number of prisoners held--the "easiest" number who are being relased. Not all of them. And presumably not the ones that they believed or could prove had actually done something wrong. In fact, it is specifically those who they now believe they "bought" under false pretenses.

Or are you accusing the Bush administration of being "soft on terror" by releasing actual "terrorists?" If so, blame your government and not those of us who didn't vote for it.

PS: to those who criticize Brad for having the temerity to remember that as Americans we once had higher ideals for our country--its nice to see the republicans coming out of the woodwork with their actual beliefs and aims for this country. Maybe we can have a new slogan for Bush/Cheney

Bush/Cheney: just as vile as everyone else in the world! or

America: land of the fearful, home of slaves because, hey, what country has ever been any different?

Posted by: Kate Gilbert on December 1, 2003 10:45 AM

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Kate Gilbert wrote: "remember that as Americans we once had higher ideals for our country." This follows several others who are shocked...shocked to learn that the Bush Administration isn't as perfect as they imagine Heaven to be. Let's put Gitmo into real world context.

Maybe Bush's handling of the prisoners at Gitmo has been less than perfect from a civil liberties POV. (Although I do not remember detainees from past wars ever being given anything more than humane detention.) However, Bush and Ashcroft have done far better than most war Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt.

Lincoln -- imprisoned Northerners who criticized the Civil War too vocally

FDR -- locked up thousands of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps

Woodrow Wilson -- the Palmer Raids. Striking without warning and without warrants, Palmer's men smashed union offices and the headquarters' of Communist and Socialist organizations. In December of 1919, in their most famous act, Palmer's agents seized and deported 249 resident aliens.

Posted by: David on December 1, 2003 12:09 PM

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Kate, I am paying attention, try doing the same. But in order to avoid a merely smarmy reply, I'll more simply note just two things:

1) you even get the name of the magazine wrong, it's "Time," not "The Times" (normally wouldn't mention this, but you're the one making the point about "paying attention"),

2) the phrase "not all cut-and-dried," was in no way implying or referring to anything about "all" the detainees at Gitmo. Why or how you would construe it otherwise is not at all apparent.

Posted by: Michael B on December 1, 2003 12:54 PM

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"We must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us;..."
Question: Why?

Posted by: Maria on December 1, 2003 12:57 PM

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Michael B., I see, is claiming with a straight face that the U.S. military's behavior in this affair has perhaps been entirely innocent. Really. Let's take a look at the key passage that DeLong quotes:

"A U.S. military official tells Time that at least 140 detainees--'the easiest 20%'--are scheduled for release. The processing of these men has sped up since the Supreme Court announced it would take the case, said the source, who believes the military is 'waiting for a politically propitious time to release them.' U.S. officials concluded that some detainees were there because they had been kidnapped by Afghan warlords and sold for the bounty the U.S. was offering for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters."

Inn other words, the military has known for quite some time that these guys were probably innocent, but(A) was refusing to do anything about it until the Supreme Court (much to Bush's displeasure) dared to look into the matter, and (B) now that it knows beyond doubt they were innocent, is still waiting until a "politically propitious" time to release them. Charming.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 1, 2003 01:37 PM

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What "nonsense", Brad? To state ideals (out of context, by the way) is not to refute the fact that the ideals were not, after all, being lived up to very much. I merely pointed out the feet of clay, and to point to the idol is no refutation.

You might want to read the whole of that sermon to see just what those ideals translated into in practice. I don't have a copy to hand, but it is my recollection that much of what the Puritans wanted to do in practice was a repugnant theocracy - and that that sermon spelled quite a bit of that out in its other sections.

The original assertion was that Americans used to live up to ideals. Some may have, but in general it is not true. You don't test the practice by simply looking at the theory.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on December 1, 2003 04:16 PM

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Detention without trial doesn't work. This was demonstrated in South Africa during the apartheid years. It works quite well for a number of years, but eventually the shame and horror of it permeates the society it purportedly serves. It is the action of a fearful administration that feels its control slipping away. Its motivations are despair and arrogance: its fruit is terror. I was deeply saddened to hear that the Bush administration had no better response than this.

Posted by: Douglas on December 1, 2003 04:34 PM

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Detention without trial doesn't work. This was demonstrated in South Africa during the apartheid years. It works quite well for a number of years, but eventually the shame and horror of it permeates the society it purportedly serves. It is the action of a fearful administration that feels its control slipping away. Its motivations are despair and arrogance: its fruit is terror. I was deeply saddened to hear that the Bush administration had no better response than this.

Posted by: Douglas on December 1, 2003 04:39 PM

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Anybody notice that this completely refutes Heinlein's statement that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch?

Let's say you're J Random Terrorist, and the US government wants you dead. On the upside, you're an Afghanistani national and they don't know what you look like. Anything that could identify you is probably buried under several tons of rubble after the continuous warfare. Get some buddies who aren't wanted to go tie up some random schmuck, and turn them over to the US. Since they think you're in detention, they're less likely to search for you, and if you split the proceeds with the kidnappers, you end out splitting several thousand dollars, and nobody'll figure out until you're long gone. Even if you aren't a terrorist, the money is always worth having, and everyone hates someone.

Combining criminology and economics, I think that it's fairly certain that there's at least a few unethical bastards who would sell their mothers into slavery, as well as their terrorist friends to the highest bidder. I'd also think that there are many more unethical bastards who would sell someone that they hate for several thousand dollars. It's up to the US to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

Posted by: psetzer on December 1, 2003 04:41 PM

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Detention without trial doesn't work. This was demonstrated in South Africa during the apartheid years. It works quite well for a number of years, but eventually the shame and horror of it permeates the society it purportedly serves. It is the action of a fearful administration that feels its control slipping away. Its motivations are despair and arrogance: its fruit is terror. I was deeply saddened to hear that the Bush administration had no better response than this.

Posted by: Douglas Kaye on December 1, 2003 05:01 PM

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This:
"Terrorists would have to explode in American cities three suitcase nukes a year, every year, year in and year out, to equal the number of premature deaths due to obesity in the United States. Personally, I think that's obscene.
Beyond obscene are the perversions of American principles welcomed by the overfed population to ward off their irrational fears."

And this:
"The incompetence of the Bush Administration's evil is equal to the evil of its incompetence.
The scary thing about Bin Laden and Saddam is that their greater evil seems to be so much more competent."

And this:
"And now I read in my morning paper that the wretched spawn of Satan intends to make the "saving" of Social Security the signature achievement of his second term."

make me ashamed to be a human being, an American and a Democrat.

Posted by: Anna on December 1, 2003 05:02 PM

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Detention without trial doesn't work. This was demonstrated in South Africa during the apartheid years. It works quite well for a number of years, but eventually the shame and horror of it permeates the society it purportedly serves. It is the action of a fearful administration that feels its control slipping away. Its motivations are despair and arrogance: its fruit is terror. I was deeply saddened to hear that the Bush administration had no better response than this.

Posted by: Douglas Kaye on December 1, 2003 05:06 PM

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Please donīt use the expression "good guys" again, not even in criticism. Itīs what differentiates adults from people like Aaron Brown.

Posted by: Eduardo on December 1, 2003 05:47 PM

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Please donīt use the expression "good guys" again, not even in criticism. Itīs what differentiates adults from people like Aaron Brown.

Posted by: Eduardo on December 1, 2003 05:52 PM

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If terrorism could be deterred, it wouldn't be terrorism.

If Mr. Bush didn't have a large constituency specifically demanding that he do all the wasteful and harmful things he does, he wouldn't do them.

There are only two possible responses to an event like 11 September: nothing, or panic. We panicked.

Neither Clinton's "measured" (== bad?) response nor Bush's met the first and only test, viz. identifying and punishing the actual culprit(s). What has happened since is typical of American small-town "justice": when a random, shocking crime occurs, someone is picked off a list prepared long in advance and evidence is fabricated against them. I have news for my friends on the Right: this is utterly immoral, and it is why I will never trust or respect you.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on December 1, 2003 06:49 PM

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Bruce,

You seem to be claiming (with a straight face no less) that Brad is innocent of a highly presumptuous, arrogating, and in point of fact a fetidly hypocritical disdain and self-righteousness. Color me skeptical, very much so, and I'll back all that up with a well reasoned argument, not empty, muddled rhetoric.

First, I did not claim, either implicitly or otherwise, "total innocence." In fact I clearly stated: "...if this does (once the facts become known) constitute an 'over reaction' then the admin. should be criticized." (On the other hand, any criticism should be commensurate with each specific situation and balanced within the overall situation, not with whatever pleases the Left/Dem sneering disdain and rhetoric du jour.)

Also, in the next post I largely, with only modest supporting comments, provided direct quotes from the Time article in question, mostly letting them speak for themselves.

And finally, the absolute accuracy of describing Brad's hypocrisy, etc. as reaching essentially fetid levels. I don't blink at all in describing it as that excessive, the following:

First, the author indicates the source "believes the military is 'waiting for a politically propitious time to release them.'" Fine, that is what the source believes, yet in another article today I noticed the group is set to be released in two separate sub-groups, one in December and the other in January. If that is true, what exactly is so "politically propitious" about December and January release dates? Still further, no where in the article does it indicate these were simple open-and-shut cases, that was one reason why I supplied extensive quotes directly from the article. It also gives no clue as to how long (in each individual case) we've known of any relative or more complete innocence.

Secondly, and more obviously still, I specifically noted that Brad served an administration that wagged the dog in the case of the Sudan pharmaceutical factory. Too, Waco occurred during the Clinton watch as well. Dozens of kids and others quite literally fried to death at Waco simply because there were some firearm concerns. Still additionally, the Sudanese Mukhabarat, in '96, could have turned over Osama bin Laden to the U.S. (And there was precedent, this is the same Sudanese govt., essentially, that had turned over The Jackal to the French govt. just two years previously.)

So we have Mr. DeLong, grandiloquent with moral umbrage about some Gitmo cases who himself served an administration that fried kids at Waco, wagged the dog vis-a-vis the Sudan aspirin factory, and even further, showed more concern for Osama bin Laden's rights instead of permitting (and this was in fact a slam dunk) Sudan's Mukhabarat to secure bin Laden and bring him into U.S. custody.

Oh, I dunno Bruce: fried American children receive blithe or negligible concern, Gitmo detainees receive grandiloquent moral umbrage that (just coincidentally of course) allows DeLong to go off on yet another hate-the-President, arrogating rant.

Fetid levels of hypocrisy? Yea, that's accurate.

Posted by: Michael B on December 1, 2003 07:36 PM

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(1) What "fried the children" at Waco was the Branch Davidians themselves, who decided to do so (by setting fire to their building themselves)rather than peacefully settling that "minor firearms dispute" with the Feds. Are we really supposed to be believe that this bunch of murderous religious psychos should have been allowed to engage in continuing to collect firearms (for God knows what ultimate purpose) indefinitely, because they threatened to murder their own children if we tried to stop them from doing so? That sets an interesting legal precedent.

(2) No amount of baroque word-spinning on your part can change that original quote from the "Time" article: "the military is waiting for a politically propitious time" to release those prisoners which it has already concluded are innocent. Not strategically propitious; politically propitious (that is, at such a time and in such a way as to minimize the embarrassment to the Bush Administration). Until then, it intends to keep them immorally locked up.

(3) There have been some recent charges that the story that Clinton allowed Bin Laden to slip through its fingers in Sudan is completely false -- unfortunately, I haven't seen the details yet. Ditto for the story that Clinton bombed that Sudan drug factory just to distract public attention from his dalliances with Monica. (And, lest we forget, until 9/11 the Bush Administration showed not one whit more concern over the threat of al-Qaida -- or, for that matter, the threat of North Korea's Bomb factory -- than Clinton did.)

In short, Michael, your argument ranges in quality from questionable to psychotic.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2003 12:38 AM

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Additional point: what I accused you of was saying that the US military was "PERHAPS" entirely innocent in this affair. if that quote from that "US military official" is correct about the Pentagon delaying their release until a "political propitious moment", there is no dobut whatsoever that they are not innocent at all in this matter.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2003 12:43 AM

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Second additional point: accusing Clinton of reacting inadequately against terrorists hardly gets Bush off the hook for doing the same thing until 9-11 -- which both administrations did in other cases than al-Qaeda.

Clinton's decision to look the other way in the matter of North Korea for 6 years, after they rejected his request for nuclear inspections, was the most appalling thing he did as president. However, Bush promptly proceeded to do the same thing -- and, even after our intelligence had concluded from outside evidence that NK had resumed its Bomb manufacture, he concealed the news from Congress for three weeks until they had voted to give him his Iraq war resolution -- after which he revealed the news to them within hours.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2003 01:03 AM

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Third (and last) footnote: There's a nice summary of the case for and against bombing the Sudanese drug factory by Chris Suellentrop in "Slate" ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2057219/ ). The Administration's evidence looks sounder than the Bush Administration's evidence for saying that Iraq had a very active nuclear weapons program, but it was still shaky. it was not, however, nonexistent.

Personally, I've never had much tolerance for the "yeah, well he did it too" kind of argument. I don't share Delong's faith in the honesty of the Clinton Administration, and you'll notice that I said not a word defending it in my first message. My argument -- which remains correct -- was that Michael B.'s defense of the Pentagon's behavior in the Guantamanamo case was batty. To this we can now add his proven considerably greater battiness in his description of the Branch Davidian affair.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2003 01:22 AM

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I'll avoid the name calling. You're seemingly determined to misunderstand regarding what I'm saying vis-a-vis Gitmo and perhaps we're even talking past one another on that issue, and regarding #3 (Sudan) you're seemingly unable to more simply concede the more likely probabilities by far. But the following:

1) Waco. The govt. has been accused of an excessive show of force, and an excessive display or use of force as well. Additionally there still remains fundamental questions of some cover-up charges as well. For now will simply supply this: http://www.cato.org/dailys/09-08-99.html (I pretend no certain knowledge here, but there remains significant doubt about the official findings.)

2) Gitmo detainees. My specific reference was to the point that the source "believes" such to be the case. Also in questioning that belief. Also in questioning what we know vs. what we don't know. If its true there are two release dates scheduled for Dec. and Jan., what exactly is politically propitious about those dates? Why is it difficult (we are talking this month and next month) to believe some final processing may well need to occur?

Too, you're arguing essentially that these were not only totally innocent persons but also that there was no significant information to glean from these detainees - and that we've known this, positively and unambiguously, for some time now. And still again, that's why I provided extensive direct quotes from the article concerning some of those specific detainees. That's also known as citing empirical evidence from your own sourced author.

(For #2, you're essentially arguing you have sum certain knowledge, I'm indicating, more modestly, that there are many areas where we don't have your or Brad's sum certain knowledge, or assurances.)

3) Osama bin Laden, etc. The reference material was both Christopher Hitchens and Richard Miniter's book "Losing bin Laden," I only mentioned one of the episodes (all of which occurred post-WTC '93 of course), the one involving the Sudanese Mukhabarat. This (Miniter's) is a very detailed account, interviews with people like Richard Clark of Clinton's own administration who partook in meetings with Albright, Cohen, Reno, Tenet, others. Hitchens and other journalists have supported the Sudan pharmaceutical factory incident, also with quite extensive interviewing, research, etc.

Brad's hypocrisy remains fetid.

Btw, your 1st additional point is not well grounded and that causes some of our miscommunications. Do you mean "totally innocent" in purely legal terms? Extra-legal? Ideal/rights oriented? My concern here is three-fold: legal, the practical setting of the war on terror including information gathering, and the detainee's rights. I see those as three competing claims that need to be balanced, not always or necessarily equally balanced in this situation.

2nd point. Yes there was some evidence pro/contra, but one of the points (I already made in an earlier post) was that Clinton made the decision to strike against advice of his military and despite the fact there was no U.N. sanction to strike - i.e., he made the decision unilaterally, and it ended up being the wrong decision on all levels.

You essentially indicate you're not subject to the Clinton cult of personality, yet you go to extreme lengths to disbelieve the most likely and probable of scenarios by far in the case of both the Sudan situations. (Then comparing Clinton's Sudan missile decision with the more recent Iraq invasion situation only further detracts from the point of Brad's rank hypocrisy. But this helps to inform that particular issue, from one of my more recent visits here: http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/002584.html)

Posted by: Michael B on December 2, 2003 06:02 AM

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Final attempt on the last link provided, if it does not work it's the "experiments in information retrieval" blog title available from Brad's archive page.

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/002584.html

That's it for me. Your argument, especially discernable concerning both the Sudan situations, comes down to "Clinton's right because Clinton's right" and little more than that.

Posted by: Michael B on December 2, 2003 06:18 AM

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As an afterthought, will provide this as well, a report by Miniter, author of the "Losing bin Laden" book:

http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20030922-090028-4916r.htm

It further reflects, documents and substantiates to what degree Clinton defenders on this particular issue resort to that well worn, signature, sweeping dismissiveness in lieu of a seriously engaged counter-argument. Just look at the comment M. Albright makes, quoted at the end of the piece, it's literally nothing but a sweepingly dismissive statement.

The Clinton cult of personality runs extraordinarily deep in the American psyche, somewhat understandably and both for good and bad, but it also has the effect of dismissively shredding even very sound and thoughtful critiques with a mere wave of the hand, literally nothing more.

Posted by: Michael B on December 2, 2003 10:05 AM

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