June 11, 2004

Yes, It Was U.S. Policy to Torture Detainees

George Bush acknowledges that it was U.S. policy to torture detainees--and that such torture is legal inasmuch as he as president has the power to suspend whatever laws he chooses.

That, at least, is the only way I can read Bush's remarks yesterday. Dan Froomkin has the goods:

washingtonpost.com – White House Briefing: Given several opportunities at yesterday's press conference to express his opposition to torture, President Bush responded repeatedly with a legalistic answer that leaves him vulnerable to continued speculation about the role he and his top advisers played in setting interrogation rules in the war on terror.

Dana Milbank and Dana Priest write in The Washington Post: "President Bush said Thursday that he expects U.S. authorities to follow the law when interrogating prisoners abroad, but he declined to say whether he believes torture is permitted under the law. "Pressed repeatedly during a news conference here about a Justice Department memo saying torture could be justified in the war on terrorism, Bush said only that U.S. interrogators had to follow the law. Asked whether he agrees with the Justice Department view, Bush said he could not remember whether he had seen the memorandum."

James Harding writes in the Financial Times: "[W]hen asked whether he had authorised the use of aggressive interrogation techniques to fight the war on terrorism, Mr Bush resorted repeatedly to a legalistic formulation: 'The authorisation I issued was that anything we did would conform to US laws and would be consistent with international treaty obligations.' " Shannon McCaffrey and Sumana Chatterjee write for Knight Ridder Newspapers that Bush "sidestepped a question about whether torture was ever justified."

Impeach George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. Impeach them now.

Posted by DeLong at June 11, 2004 09:09 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

AMEN

Posted by: spencer on June 11, 2004 09:18 AM

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Hey, undermining the rule of law and our sense of morality is a small price to pay for defeating those terrorists who wish to undermine the cherished principles that make our nation great: the rule of law and our sense of morality.

Posted by: Cheney's Third Nipple on June 11, 2004 09:24 AM

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Maybe impeachment is not enough. it is certainly a needed step now. However, to lose your job for what these people have done seems little punishment. Their list of crimes against humanity must put them up alongside Milosevic already. Funnily enough I think they would be using the same defence if ever dragged off to an International court. Sadly that will never happen. Maybe there will be impeachment followed by a soft pardon. Maybe there will just be an election defeat, followed by a gradual revison of history. I really cannotsee these scum ever really being punished, and I cannot see the USA remembering what should never ever be forgotten.

Posted by: Hammer on June 11, 2004 09:34 AM

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Let's see:

The Bush administration waged unilateral war on a country that wanted peace with us;

They told us the fiction that the country had monstrous weapons that could threaten our cities;

They exposed the identity of one of our top spies in order to punish her husband for speaking the truth;

They tortured defenseless prisoners.

And let us not even talk about the tremendous debt that they have imposed on our kids.

Can anyone explain to me why the Republican base is so solidly pro-Bush?

Posted by: joe on June 11, 2004 09:35 AM

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Because he's a Christian and he cuts taxes. What else matters?

Posted by: section321 on June 11, 2004 09:39 AM

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"The authorisation I issued..."

HE issued? It sounds to me like he has admitted issuing an authorization himself, rather than it just being pushed off as someone down in the chain of command, or some misinterpretation of guidelines....

If nothing had changed vis a vis US and international law, then what was the purpose of "the authorization I issued.."?

Could we see a copy of the authorization he issued? And any supporting documents (e.g. legal memos) accompanying it? Seems to me that that would resolve the issue of what exactly he authorized.

Posted by: Ducktape on June 11, 2004 09:41 AM

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section 321 - good answer. I'd add another reason: we've got to support our troops!

Posted by: joe on June 11, 2004 09:43 AM

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No, wait: because he's a Christian, and he cuts taxes, AND he hasn't been caught cheating on his wife. Indeed, he appears to have no interest in sex whatsoever. (Or is that subsumed under, he's a Christian?) Impeach the guy? We'll be lucky if the Republican Party doesn't move to canonize him.

Posted by: EmperorPenguin on June 11, 2004 09:46 AM

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Bush "supports our troops" ?

LOL !!! Talking the talk but not walking the walk, that's for sure. Cutting the benefits for active duty soldiers and veterans, sending soldiers to Iraq with insufficient protective equipment, failing to plan for the reconstruction phase, overcommiting our military...

I'd love to see a poll of soldiers asked if they feel the "love" and "support" from Bush.

Posted by: ch2 on June 11, 2004 09:51 AM

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joe - you left out this one:

Gave away top-secret info to an obviously untrustworthy agent that we'd cracked an adversary's code.

Brad - works for me. I've long thought that the Dems should introduce articles of impeachment, even if they don't have a prayer of getting anywhere.

After this crew is booted from office, we're going to need a series of investigations on the level of one of those Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that third-world countries have after the junta is deposed.

Posted by: RT on June 11, 2004 10:01 AM

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In the words of a bumper sticker I saw about ten years ago: "Impeach, hell! Lynch 'em both!"

Unfortunately, this doctrine didn't appear out of nowhere. It has existed, in potentia, in the executive's claimed war powers ever since Lincoln, and has become actual under "great war presidents" (Wilson, FDR--pretty much the whole neocon pantheon) ever since. And under the perpetual warfare state we've had ever since December 1941, the legal claims of "executive privilege "and administrative apparatus for enforcing them have been steadily ratcheting upward. The original understanding of Article II is buried as deep as the ruins of Nineveh.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on June 11, 2004 10:05 AM

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The "objective indicators" that the business press reports on, and that presidents of both parties take credit for, are buncombe. The only indicators they care about at the WSJ, Business Week, and MSNBC are those indicating how much the assets of billionaire coupon clippers are likely to appreciate in the near future.

Unemployment statistics ignore the extent to which the work force has been shifted into unskilled jobs with no security, and the economy has been progressively third-worldized for the last thirty years.

The one indicator with real meaning for the average worker, real wages, is largely ignored. And it has declined since the mid-70s, when political and business elites agreed on a neoliberal agenda of capping real wages, busting unions, and shifting assets from consumption to investment. For the century before the 1970s, the percentage of wealth owned by the top one percent oscillated fairly closely around the 25% mark. The last I heard, it was in the upper '30s now. On the CBS news website the other day, I saw that the income gap was the largest it had been in 75 years.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on June 11, 2004 10:12 AM

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George Bush is not a christian, and I should know.

Posted by: Jesus H. Christ on June 11, 2004 10:34 AM

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Why are Democrats not hammering on the point that to support Bush is to support torture? Why is Kerry silent?

Posted by: bubba on June 11, 2004 10:39 AM

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"Why is Kerry silent?"

Bush is doing such a spectacular job of it, what more could Kerry add? What challenger wouldn't wish for an opponent who does all his campaigning for him and drives home all his points effortlessly?

Posted by: jim in austin on June 11, 2004 11:23 AM

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FDR and Wilson in a neocon pantheon?! On what planet? The reason that many former liberals became conservative was because they disliked the legacies of these two presidents along with LBJ and Nixon. Otherwise, neocons are hard to distinguish from lifelong conservatives these days now that Pat Buchanan and his ilk have been thoroughly marginalized.

Anyhow, to reply to Kevin--regarding employee welfare, don't forget to include benefits when counting employee compensation. In this respect, wage-earners have been doing quite a bit better than their paychecks would suggest since employers have been offering tax-deductible insurance, 401(k)s, and entertainment more than in the past (think of ERISA and the like). It's a big tax dodge. The most striking thing in the past three decades, though, is still the increase in inequality like you mention.

Well, that and the total factor productivity slowdown of the 1970s through 90s which did slow the growth rate of both wages and capital income.

It seems that in the US the labor market has been rewarding human capital much more than in the past, and this accounts for most of the increase in inequality. If you have a college degree like about a quarter of the population, things are pretty darned nice. If you don't have much of an education, opportunities are more limited.

Why this has happened is a bit of a mystery. It hasn't happened to the same extent in many other countries, and I simply don't buy the screening explanation. There just isn't enough international trade to drive down unskilled workers' wages all that much.

Even if you think that the levels of inequality in the 1960s were abnormally low and the levels today as more indicative of a steady state, this even becomes more puzzling. Returns to education in 1920 were not that high so yet something else was driving inequality then. This sort of thing is why labor economics is so hard. The obvious explanations are wrong.

The ones that do make some sense:
1. Something as yet unknown regarding technological progress.
2. Some kind of increasing returns to scale in human capital that has been driving people into skilled occupations. This is exactly the opposite of what you have been saying.
3. High school graduates not receiving a very good education compared with 1960, forcing students to go to college to make up for it. Do the data actually support this?
4. Education correlating with an unobserved factor more than before.
5. Education decisions made with an eye toward future tax rates.

Ones that I don't buy:
1. Increased screening. There are cheaper ways to do this, like having applicants take the SAT or just to look at high school grades.
2. International trade. Could happen in theory but it doesn't fit the data very well.
3. Mean, evil (fill in political party here). This has happened regardless of who was president and seems to be determined by the market.

Wealth inequality is more complicated still because you have to deal with life-cycle effects, inheritance, demographics, and heterogeneous preferences. Also because wealth is so hard to measure--human capital is certainly wealth but it can be a little bit fuzzy. Either way, consumption is a much better measure of welfare than wealth but good micro consumption data is hard to come by.

My short point being, there's no glib explanation for what has been happening in labor markets over the past generation. Wages aren't determined by politicians; they're determined in markets, so there you'll have to look. Let's face it, economics is really hard even for a genius like Keynes.

Posted by: Chris on June 11, 2004 11:30 AM

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joe: "Can anyone explain to me why the Republican base is so solidly pro-Bush?"

I think it is less that they are pro-Bush than that they are solidly anti-Democrat. The base is not a unified whole, it is a collection of groups that oppose the Democratic Party on the basis of single issues. There is a group that believes that abortion is a sin, and THEY WILL NOT VOTE for a candidate from a party that supports choice on that matter. There is a group who sees the government(s) taking 50% of their income (combine FICA, Medicare, federal income tax, state income tax, local property taxes, sales taxes) and THEY WILL NOT VOTE for a candidate from a party that suggests maybe the government should take more. You can spend as much time as you want trying to show them the disaster that is the Bush administration, but until/unless the Democratic Party is on the proper side of their single issue, those people will choose Bush in any Bush-vs-some-Democratic contest.

Democrats should be patient -- in many of the "red" portions of the red/blue voting maps that the media has fallen in love with, the population is actually declining. After another 20 years of increasing urbanization, these groups will be too small to have the effect they do now.

Posted by: Michael Cain on June 11, 2004 11:53 AM

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It was torture
It was condoned by the president
After the president tortured the law,
it was legal torture.

"The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you," Bush replied. "We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books."

The law that Bush rewrote to allow torture- not so comforting.

Posted by: bakho on June 11, 2004 12:11 PM

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Jesus H. Christ's e-mail address, given above, suffers from a misprint.

It's given as jesus@heaven.com. Surely heaven is a .org.

Posted by: Moses on June 11, 2004 12:11 PM

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I loved the comment about supplying our troops with proper protection.

Congratulations: I just heard on news that we finally have enough Kevlar body ceramic armour for all troops in the field.

Congratulations: to the army/marine procurement department. It took almost 1.6 years to award bids and find companies willing to make the ceramic body armour plates and vests.

It shows where the budget and minds of pentagon are in how we prioritize things...Sirt of like sending over horses but forgetting the saddles, whoops, another rider just fell off dead, better get some leather saddles made up, quick?

There are many more important things to buy (like work-out gyms; and who knows what else) before actually taking in account the welfare of US troops in the field. I bet the national guard reservists were the last on totem pol to receive the vests.

Man, what a lousy war; and what a lousy way to prosecute a war. I know that in Battle of Bulge our troops did not have proper winter clothing; it was tough time with Nazi u-boats sinking supply ships by the hundreds, made it tough to get jackets and warm socks to Normandy soil...

what is our excuse now, who is sinking our supply boats (cargo planes) considering we are printing money out of thin air...where is all the money going...ohhh, I forgot...Halliburton.

Posted by: Dave S on June 11, 2004 12:21 PM

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I think in this case you really have to hear it straight from the horse's mouth to understand just how brazen it was:

Q: Mr. President, I wanted to return to the question of torture. What we've learned from these memos this week is that the Department of Justice lawyers and the Pentagon lawyers have essentially worked out a way that U.S. officials can torture detainees without running afoul of the law. So when you say that you want the U.S. to adhere to international and U.S. laws, that's not very comforting. This is a moral question: Is torture ever justified?

BUSH: Look, I'm going to say it one more time. Maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at these laws. And that might provide comfort for you. And those were the instructions from me to the government.

Posted by: Nicolas Bray on June 11, 2004 12:26 PM

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Kerry's wise not to attack Bush at this point.

If he starts attacking on this, it turns into a partisan charge and Bush supporters and leaners will just dismiss it as those crazy Deomcrats doing what they always do.

Better to have Bush fighting against the press.

Posted by: Kevin Brennan on June 11, 2004 01:34 PM

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"Can anyone explain to me why the Republican base is so solidly pro-Bush?"

I'm pro-Bush, even though I'm pro-choice. What I like about Bush is that
-- he's realistic about foreign threats, and
-- he's on my side.

Many people don't take seriously the threat that al Qaeda might attack the US with WMDs and kill tens of thousands. Yet, nobody can say why this cannot happen. Bush puts a higher priority on protecting America and all western nations than on conforming to an expanded interpretation of the Geneva Accords.

Bush appears to have approved using torture against senior al Qaeda prisoners. That approval is of questionable legality and questionable morality. Maybe he made the wrong decision. Still, his choice helps protect US. I'm more concerned about the well-being of my friends and relatives here and abroad than about whether some senior al Qaeda members get tortured. I bet a majority of American voters feel the same way.

In other words, Bush has committed more sins of commission than his father or Clinton, but those two Presidents committed more sins of omission. It's grisly to quantify torture and murder, but please bear with me.

By his actions, Bush permitted the torture of some number of al Qaeda prisoners -- perhaps dozens or even hundreds. By their inaction, Bush Sr. and Clinton permitted al Qaeda and Saddam to torture and murder millions. Because we are currently facing and enormous threat, action beats inaction, in my opinion.

Posted by: David on June 11, 2004 01:41 PM

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David,

Certainly most people don't take seriously the threat that the Vatican might attack the U.S. with WMD and kill tens of thousands, but on the other hand nobody can say that this won't happen. Should we invade, capture the Pope, and torture him until he confesses? After all, action surely beats inaction when we're talking about our nation's security.

Posted by: joe on June 11, 2004 02:08 PM

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To David: While it is true that no one can say that al Qaeda won't use WMD against American citizens, the surest way to assure it happening is to continue the wanton use of force and torture. Remember the story of the hydra: you cut off one head and another two spring back. And in the case of the recent revelations, a hundred heads would be more accurate. And I certainly don't see western nations lining up to thank Bush for making the world safer - he has merely given the largely unemployed and disenfranchised Islamic fundamentalists in the western nations increased impetus to kill and throw political and economic systems into a tailspin. Re: your comment on well-being - I spoke with a friend today in NYC - her coworkers were being quietly encouraged to leave the office early since there were concerns that since it is 6/11, al Qaeda might use the opportunity to strike (as they did on 9/11 and 3/11). It appears that Bush has failed to make citizens feel safer, after all.

Posted by: Mick on June 11, 2004 02:38 PM

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You can hear some of the comments from an NPR story here: http://www.npr.org/dmg/audioplayer.php?prgCode=ME&showDate=11-Jun-2004&segNum=6.

Posted by: Lance McCord on June 11, 2004 02:57 PM

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David -- problem is, he's not realistic about foreign threats. After a bunch of Saudis and other non-Iraqis committed the atrocities of 9/11, Bush went after the Taliban in Afghanistan (not a bad move) but then failed to keep the country out of the hands of the warlords, which is why things are so bad there now.

Meanwhile, he lied to convince the American people that we had to invade Iraq (which was pretty much no threat at all to anyone) while ignoring and even bad-mouthing Iran and North Korea (which both had active muclear programs of the type Saddam Hussein supposedly had). He angered the rest of the world, and now is trying to get them to clean up his/our mess while still insulting them. We flattened the country to no avail, tortured its citizens, and become indignant because they don't love us. al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq before the war, but they are there now, and the oppressed, occupied Iraqi people are listening to their messages, because the evidence of the truth in them is all around.

Bush is exhausting and stretching thin our defensive capabilities, and he's still hellbent on "activating" the mad money pit that is SDI, a shield against a threat which no longer exists, using a technology which cannot and does not work, even when the tests are rigged.

He has done diddly-squat to secure borders, infrastructure (power lines, water supplies, nuclear plants, highways, rail lines, etc.), or industry. Peiodically one member or another of his team, usually without consulting anyone else, announces that the Terror Level is a new color... but don't do anything differently, just be vaguely afraid.

And, he's not on your side. He has cut vital services, pollution controls, economic safeguards, and civil liberties, while throwing money to his rich friends, money which you and I and our kids and grandkids will have to make up at some point. He has destroyed the surplus and dug us into a hole we may never get out of. He has, time and again, put his agenda ahead of facts, and our discourse may be forever corrupted because of that. He is an arrogant, dangerous, and stupid man who has, in less than four years, done more to bring the world to the brink of destruction than I think any of us could have imagined.

Posted by: filkertom on June 11, 2004 03:09 PM

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filkertom,

Amen.

Posted by: ch2 on June 11, 2004 04:44 PM

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Re: "Why doesn't Kerry speak?"

When your opponent is self-destructing, the best thing to do is stay out of the way, and let it be all about him. If Kerry gets involved, it gives Bush someone to attack, and he gets to turn it into a 'Bush said this, Kerry said that' business in the papers, where both sides get equated. As long as Kerry stays out of it, it's just Bush versus the growing pile of evidence against him.

And, by God, that's the way it should be. Thirty years ago, a growing pile of evidence landed on Nixon and crushed his presidency. Even if we don't have Sam Ervin's committee, or the Special Prosecutor's office ("Impeach the Cox sacker!" - popular bumper sticker in 1973-4), or the House Judiciary Committee on our side this time, the same thing's happening today. In the end, Kerry will win simply by not being the guy being crushed under a mountain of evidence against him.


David - I realize you're getting kinda gang-tackled here, but I too fail to see how Bush is 'on my side' against al-Qaeda. filkertom has said many of the things I was going to say, but let me add a major point:

Even if one buys into the logic of torture, torturing al-Qaeda operatives doesn't do much good once their knowledge of al-Qaeda operations gets stale. They know who's gone, and what operations might be compromised; the torture continued long after any urgent need for its use on a bunch of captives from late 2001 and early 2002 was likely to exist.

Not to mention, it's obvious we were not restricting our torture in Gitmo and other places to a handful of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Even torture has to be done in a manner to serve an overall strategy, or it will fail as a tool. In the long run, we have to dry up the pool of angry young Islamic men who want to join al-Qaeda; only then can we successfully isolate and target a relative handful of terrorists within the Islamic world. Otherwise, the war goes on indefinitely with no hope of winning.

Until Iraq, it looked as if this was indeed the Bush administration's strategy. It was certainly the strategy implied by Bush's speeches back in September 2001; read them yourself at whitehouse.gov. But what we've learned from Iraq and Gitmo and Afghanistan is that Bushco is not torturing a few highly-placed al-Qaeda operatives with crucial information; they're torturing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who may or may not have information of very limited usefulness.

The result is that - whatever the normative use of torture by Middle Eastern nations today - we have become the Bad Guys, and it's going to take us many years to get past this. (Ask a historian how many major grudges in this part of the world go back many centuries. We Americans are all about forgetting about all but the most recent past offenses; they're not.)

This is the problem with not adhering to an underlying strategy: the tactics of the moment, however sensible they may seem in their immediate context, may undermine your progress towards your overall goals.

So when we torture many hundreds of Iraqis, when we imprison thousands of Iraqis for months without cause or notification of kin, when we launch military operations, supposedly targeting insurgents, that kill insurgents and bystanders alike, there is no realism there. There is simply the undermining of any progress towards our goal of isolating Islamic terrorists from the larger Islamic population. And we lose.

That is what Bush is doing for us.

Posted by: RT on June 11, 2004 04:54 PM

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[[[[[The Bush administration waged unilateral war on a country that wanted peace with us;]]]]]

surely you don't mean afghanistan


[[[[[They told us the fiction that the country had monstrous weapons that could threaten our cities;]]]]]

please read Woodward's new book "Plan of Attack", the portions on intelligence analysis are perhaps the best course of instruction that a civilian can get. if you do have a chance to pick it up you'd realize that the best intel at the time (colloborated with several foreign intelligence agencies), concluded that iraq had a high probability of possessing WMD's.


[[[[[They exposed the identity of one of our top spies in order to punish her husband for speaking the truth;]]]]

i have yet to fully look at this issue, but from what i have picked up it wasn't exactly a secret in DC that she was a paid employee of the CIA. if the georgetown cocktail party crowd basically knows your identity, it's pretty likely that a foreign intelligence agency will know as well

[[[[They tortured defenseless prisoners.]]]]

culpability has still yet to be determined. the taguba report, undertaken before the whole public bruhaha, basically concluded that it was a breakdown in unit discipline and the chain of command, not a hard stretch if you've read reports on the command environment at the prison at the time. obviously the WSJ memo can change some of this, however it is still quite early in the game to know for sure if this was an executive decision made at the highest levels of gov't. blindly believing that it must obviously have been before the facts are all in and only a few days after the initial report is just plain ignorant


[[[[[Can anyone explain to me why the Republican base is so solidly pro-Bush? ]]]]]

it really isn't, but that's a different story.


[[[[LOL !!! Talking the talk but not walking the walk, that's for sure. Cutting the benefits for active duty soldiers and veterans, sending soldiers to Iraq with insufficient protective equipment, failing to plan for the reconstruction phase, overcommiting our military...

I'd love to see a poll of soldiers asked if they feel the "love" and "support" from Bush.
]]]]

bush is in fact enormously popular with the military, to try to deny that is really pretty silly. as for the equipment issue, come on, have you even looked into the subject? the new body armor is a relatively new product and the issue was primarily one of production shortcomings, not a lack of funds. same with the uparmored humvees, which cost almost 10x as much as normal ones. given that cost we didn't have a whole lot of them just sitting around for shits and giggles.


[[[[[Congratulations: I just heard on news that we finally have enough Kevlar body ceramic armour for all troops in the field.

Congratulations: to the army/marine procurement department. It took almost 1.6 years to award bids and find companies willing to make the ceramic body armour plates and vests.]]]]]

you obviously have no idea how the pentagon procurement process even works. taking 5-10 years to field a new piece of equipment is surprisingly common. it is not an issue of "where the budget and minds of the pentagon are", rather it's the result of what happens in any large bureaucracy.

the war in afghanistan did however cause the DoD to start a rapid fielding initiative well before the media started jumping all over the subject, and this initiative had great success with many weapons system that were desperately needed, most notably a shotgun attachment to the m16/m4. however, as i said earlier, the issue with the interceptor body armor was one of production shortcomings, not funding.

[[[[[There are many more important things to buy (like work-out gyms; and who knows what else) before actually taking in account the welfare of US troops in the field. I bet the national guard reservists were the last on totem pol to receive the vests.
]]]]]


this really shows that you are just a polemicist, pure and simple. you are so prone to bash bush in any way shape or form that you begin ascribing such negative characteristics to any organization even remotely related to him, in this case the defense leadership. let me ask you, do you honestly believe that workout gyms were given budget priority over body armor for soldiers?

you'd be interested in knowing that army gymansiums are notoriously bad because the commanding generals of army bases decide to prioritize family welfare (re. childcare for example) over new, high tech fancy gymnasiums. of interest is the fact that these decisions were made at the local level, not at the pentagon. but, given your rather total ignorance of how the department of defense operates, i'm not surprised that you didn't know this.

[[[[Certainly most people don't take seriously the threat that the Vatican might attack the U.S. with WMD and kill tens of thousands, but on the other hand nobody can say that this won't happen. Should we invade, capture the Pope, and torture him until he confesses? After all, action surely beats inaction when we're talking about our nation's security]]]]]

there is obviously a world of difference b/w a friendly power vs. a hostile one with a history of attacks. come on, deep down you know that it was silly to even make such an argument, yet you still made it.


[[[[He has done diddly-squat to secure borders, infrastructure (power lines, water supplies, nuclear plants, highways, rail lines, etc.), or industry. ]]]]

are you basing this on any facts whatsoever, or are you merely so interested in bush bashing that the phrase just happened to sound nice


[[[Even if one buys into the logic of torture, torturing al-Qaeda operatives doesn't do much good once their knowledge of al-Qaeda operations gets stale. They know who's gone, and what operations might be compromised; the torture continued long after any urgent need for its use on a bunch of captives from late 2001 and early 2002 was likely to exist.]]]]

al-qaeda doesn't work this way. most of their leadership, unbeknownest to the public, is either dead or in jail. consequently the organization is in functional disarray right now and has broken down into a more cellular structure. if you capture one then you've already done much to disrupt his cell, but it is not merely a matter of stopping operations it is also one of finding out who else is involved. in that matter, interrogating prisoners is quite useful as you can find out who is accomplices are.


[[[Even torture has to be done in a manner to serve an overall strategy, or it will fail as a tool. In the long run, we have to dry up the pool of angry young Islamic men who want to join al-Qaeda; only then can we successfully isolate and target a relative handful of terrorists within the Islamic world. Otherwise, the war goes on indefinitely with no hope of winning.]]]]

you missed an important part of the strategy. we understand that terrorism itself can never be stopped, as at the extreme there will always be onseies and twosies who will band together to attack you. the purpose of the national security strategy was to undermine the support structure of these organizations to make their organizing, fund-raising, and command and control operations so difficult as to make any large scale international operations near impossible to conduct. consequently the need to go after state sponsors, both explicit and implicit. i understand that it is quite trendy among leftist circles nowadays to claim that iraq had no connection to al-qaeda, but it is no state secret that al-zarqawi was given sanctuary in iraq and held ties to the al-qaeda organization.


[[[The result is that - whatever the normative use of torture by Middle Eastern nations today - we have become the Bad Guys]]]

we were always the bad guys in the middle east, bush didn't start this.

Posted by: Jon on June 11, 2004 06:17 PM

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>Brad - works for me. I've long thought that the Dems should introduce articles of >impeachment, even if they don't have a prayer of getting anywhere.

I think this might happen later, if the Repugs don't do it. But doing it now would definitely be seen as partisan (it will later, by many) and would probably die out too soon. Later, when that mountain is at its biggest, people will be more likely to believe it is from disgust and moral outrage.

Posted by: GOPerpWalk on June 11, 2004 06:22 PM

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One other thing to consider, David. There is a price to pay domestically for this type of behavior. With the use of torture by US troops and civilian contractors looking increasingly widespread, it behooves us to think about the implications of the multiplyer effect when these troops return home. One guilt-ridden former soldier who divorces his/her spouse, neglects the 2 kids, unable to help with alimony due to under-employment stemming from alcohol/drug abuse....It's not like we don't have clear evidence of this from the Vietnam era vets. You think that because they get a parade this time that the guilt and remorse won't occur?? Or how about this scenario. How would you like to have a non-remorseful pyramid builder living next door to you? There is a huge price that we all will be paying for allowing this type of behavior.

Posted by: Abigail on June 11, 2004 06:33 PM

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One other thing to consider, David. There is a price to pay domestically for this type of behavior. With the use of torture by US troops and civilian contractors looking increasingly widespread, it behooves us to think about the implications of the multiplyer effect when these troops return home. One guilt-ridden former soldier who divorces his/her spouse, neglects the 2 kids, unable to help with alimony due to under-employment stemming from alcohol/drug abuse....It's not like we don't have clear evidence of this from the Vietnam era vets. You think that because they get a parade this time that the guilt and remorse won't occur?? Or how about this scenario. How would you like to have a non-remorseful pyramid builder living next door to you? There is a huge price that we all will be paying for allowing this type of behavior.

Posted by: Abigail on June 11, 2004 06:35 PM

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[[[[[One guilt-ridden former soldier who divorces his/her spouse, neglects the 2 kids, unable to help with alimony due to under-employment stemming from alcohol/drug abuse....It's not like we don't have clear evidence of this from the Vietnam era vets. You think that because they get a parade this time that the guilt and remorse won't occur??]]]]]

umm, actually, studies conducted by the army in the aftermath of the vietnam war concluded that these post-service problems were largely the result of an unappreciative and hostile public and a lack of a so called "decompression" time conducted after the battle. the public is by and large quite supportive of the troops right now, and the army has a mandatory 7 day cooling off / training period for troops redeploying back to their stateside bases in order to better cope with the traumas of war. not to say that there won't be people who still have trouble adjusting, but it won't be anywhere near the scale as it was in the aftermath of vietnam

Posted by: Jon on June 11, 2004 06:39 PM

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Sorry for the multi-posts. Thought if I got a busy signal, I had to repost.

Posted by: Abigail on June 11, 2004 06:40 PM

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Jon Umm. How would the army be able to arrive at the conclusion you describe without also having a group that did receive a hero's welcome to compare the results with. I suspect that many soldiers interviewed stated ( and probably believed) that a lot of the discomfort they felt was due to public reaction rather than the actions they were directly engaged in or had witnessed. How deep could a anti-war demonstration really penetrate if you can't get the vision of a village you helped destroy out of your mind?

Posted by: Abigail on June 11, 2004 06:53 PM

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Comparisons b/w WWII and Vietnam and the whole slew of psychological studies the Army conducts after every war. Decompression time was incredibly important, as was the validation given by a supportive public.

Reprehensible things happen in every war. If you think that villages weren't burned or civility rampant in WWII you really need to read some serious military history. What's important for the psychological healing of soldiers is being told, both at a group level among those that they've fought with (the decompression) and from society itself, that the horrible things they had to do was worth it and acceptable.

And, burning villages is not what causes post combat stress. Most of the trauma comes from killing other human beings, something that believe it or not is common across the entire spectrum of warfare.

Posted by: Jon on June 11, 2004 07:18 PM

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Jon, you raise far too many points to bother with, but can we try, just for the record, not to perpetuate the ridiculous notion that everyone believed the nature of the iraqi threat?

The consensus of intel opinion was that Saddam probably had stocks of chemical and biological materials, perhaps in a weaponized form and perhaps not. The consensus of the Office of Special Planning was that Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program.

It was the latter that Bush et al rode hard, and the former that they exaggerated tremendously.

PS. It's a well-reported matter that the Army was underequipped in Iraq and has remained so for a goodly long time. We can only assume that the fantasists and ideologically blinkered hubristic souls who invented this little adventure didn't worry about it because of how easy they thought this all would be.

Posted by: howard on June 11, 2004 07:46 PM

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Jon - This page is a decent starting point.

Posted by: filkertom on June 11, 2004 07:55 PM

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Sorry -- the link didn't come through for some reason.

http://www.crisispapers.org/topics/homeland-security.htm

Posted by: filkertom on June 11, 2004 07:57 PM

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I asked "Why is Kerry silent?"

jim in austin: Bush is doing such a spectacular job of it, what more could Kerry add?

RT: When your opponent is self-destructing, the best thing to do is stay out of the way,

I do not buy that.

First, it is in fact easy for Bush to contain the damage. It is all other people's fault, you see. The President was unaware of any torture and absolutely does not condone it. The guilty will be chosen and punished according to their powerlessness. Lets talk about new tax cuts and morning in America instead.

Second, the goal is not just to remove Bush. The opportunity is there to remove at least some of his cronies from the Congress. For that the public needs to know: these are the people that support torture, imprisonment without judicial review by mere suspicion of the goverment agent and wholesale invasion of privacy.

But you need to work for that, not just sit and hope that your opponent self-destructs.

Posted by: bubba on June 11, 2004 08:17 PM

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Bubba, remember Sen. Imhofe saying he was outraged at the outrage about torture? I wonder how widespread that feeling is.
There are also people that believe that personal freedoms (except for the 2nd Amendment!) are just icing on the cake post 9/11, and we should be grateful for a strong leader.

Posted by: Margot on June 11, 2004 09:44 PM

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I liked Jim's post and think he's a productive arguer. Good job Jim.

Posted by: Noumenon on June 11, 2004 10:15 PM

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"While it is true that no one can say that al Qaeda won't use WMD against American citizens, the surest way to assure it happening is to continue the wanton use of force and torture. Remember the story of the hydra: you cut off one head and another two spring back. And in the case of the recent revelations, a hundred heads would be more accurate."

I want to address this point, because it's widely believed. I think torture would discourage the growth of al Qaeda, not encourage it. I don't advocate the use of torture as routine punishment for al Qaeda, but I think punishment would more likely deter them:

1. Al Qaeda has been attacking us for over a decade for their own internal reasons, not because we did anything bad to them. On the contrary, we had done a great deal for the people of Afghanistan, including the al Qaeda there.

2. Both psychology and economics teach us that when a certain behavior is rewarded, we get more of it. When that behavior is punished, we get less of it.

When we're dealing with domestic terrorists, we all assume that punishment deters terrorism. E.g., consider the murderers of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, TX or the Oklahoma City bombers. Nobody would recommend that we not punish Byrd's killers and the Oklahoma City bombers.

Posted by: David on June 12, 2004 05:08 AM

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Dose this remined you of Hitler & S.S. troups?

Posted by: Jack on June 12, 2004 05:13 AM

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Dose this remined you of Hitler & S.S. troups?

Posted by: Jack on June 12, 2004 05:14 AM

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Lets say the next election had not been until 2006. I doubt that the torture in Iraq would have been authorized, because the threat the insurgency posed to re-election would have been much less immediate. The imperative behind the torture, aside from Rumsfeld's racist contempt for Arabs, was surely the sense that it threatened Bush-Cheney 2004.

Posted by: Bob H on June 12, 2004 08:59 AM

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Jon,

[[[bush is in fact enormously popular with the military, to try to deny that is really pretty silly. as for the equipment issue, come on, have you even looked into the subject? the new body armor is a relatively new product and the issue was primarily one of production shortcomings, not a lack of funds. same with the uparmored humvees, which cost almost 10x as much as normal ones. given that cost we didn't have a whole lot of them just sitting around for shits and giggles.]]]

LOL ! Have I looked in the subject ? You clearly haven't: Bush is NOT enormously popular with the military. Calling me silly, won't change that. So why don't you take a little tour of the following non-partisan (editorials both critical and uncritical of Bush can be found) web page to see what I mean: Soldiers for the Truth. They address many of the procurement issues you are BSing about.

http://www.sftt.org/


And I'll also mention the many Bush-unfriendly commentaries and editorial in the Army Times. Friendly advice: It's better to get informed first, and then comment. Bullshitters get eventually called on. Oh, I hear your name.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 10:56 AM

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Given that I am in the miliary I would contend that I am in a far better position to judge the relative popularity of Bush then you are. As for the Army Times editorials, it is a far stretch to say that there have been a host of anti-bush editorials in The Army Times. I believe that there was one made recently, and the publication took pains to note that it was written by an outsider, as in someone not on the editorial board. Either way, the Army Times has a long history of taking a critical look at what goes on in the service, so to imply that the Army is somehow anti-bush as a result is indeed ridiculous.

As for the procurement issues, again, I already explained how the process works, yet rather then address it directly you merely make the statement that I'm wrong and direct me to some website.

Posted by: Jon on June 12, 2004 11:24 AM

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Jon (fake@email.com): Given that I am in the miliary I would contend that I am in a far better position to judge the relative popularity of Bush then you are.

Blowhard

Posted by: a on June 12, 2004 12:01 PM

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Well, Jon.

You can be in employed by one of the military branches and get an impression that is different from what a poll would find. "Anti-Bush" is not a word I used, but aside from your saying so, there is plenty of evidence that Bush is NOT ENORMOUSLY POPULAR in the military. It's unclear from what you wrote whether you actually even went to the website I gave you, much less took a serious glance.

So you are replying to me without examining my arguments, claiming authority... Unimpressive.

Your procurement argument itself is disingeneous at best ! You can claim the process is slow (no doubt). But the complaints of NCO, junior officers and soldiers is also equally clear. They were deployed too hastily and with little preparation and without their equipment even (cavalry units shippped having to wait months for their vehicle).

Why ? Because all of sudden there was an urgent need for more troops. This Administration has consistently underestimated the number of troops needed, again and again and again. This pattern of poor planning was noted by General Zinni, who must be of higher rank than you: the planning was so dismal that it needlessly endangered the mission and the troops safety. So our guys over there may have a lot less of that blind love for Bush.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 12:10 PM

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"You can be in employed by one of the military branches and get an impression that is different from what a poll would find."

You mean like the Army Times poll that reported: "Two-thirds of respondents said they approved of the president?s job performance"? Don't know if that's "enormously popular," but certainly a solid majority support him.
http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2513919.php

The "poor planning" mantra is getting tired. It was wrong when applied to the three-week invasion, and it's wrong now. (BTW, that SFTT site would be more impressive if they got "courts-martial" and some other basic military terms correct.)

Posted by: Cecil Turner on June 12, 2004 12:38 PM

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Cecil Turner, way to skim a November-December 2003 survey for the tiny bits you like.

Can I do my own picking from that article (how about just paragraphs 2 and 3 in their entirety):

"But the poll indicates support for administration policy in Iraq is not much higher in the military than among U.S. civilians.Both military members and civilians, poll results show, are more likely to voice approval for the president’s overall performance than for his Iraq policies.

The poll also found overwhelming sentiment that more than two years of combat have stretched the military so thin that its effectiveness has eroded."

We have officially achieved absurdity, when the only arguments in your favor are in articles that actually prove my point.

As for the "tired" label. Whatever. I am tired of yokels claiming that because they heard it often it isn't true anymore. The poor post-war planning was a correct assessment then as now. Unless your credentials exceed Gen Zinni, I won't take your "word" for it. So pony up, or drop it.

Tell me you didn't just question the credentials of SFTT.
Oh my, that clearly shows me you are clueless: "Oh someone in the military doesn't have perfect spelling. Stop the presses. Oh wait, even the press makes typos. Even academics !"

This would be funny, if not for our soldiers dying.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 01:03 PM

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We have reached absurdity if you quote the commentary on the poll rather than the results themselves. Most polls show Bush is more popular than his policies, and 2/3 of the military support the policies. Your dancing around the claim that he's popular among the military is nonsense.

And as you're the one claiming poor planning, it's your responsibility to "pony up." I won't accept arguments from authority, including those from Gen Zinni. Most military professionals can spell "courts-martial" (and "Sergeants Major," "ordnance,") and other military terms. Many poseurs can't. I don't know "Hack" from Adam, but based on a quick skim of his site, won't accept him as expert.

Meanwhile, back on the topic, President Bush did not acknowledge "it was U.S. policy to torture detainees," nor did the approved interrogation policies amount to "torture."

The torture treaty specifies "severe pain or suffering." The interrogation guidelines appear to be designed to fall well short of that threshold, and IMO, do.

The Geneva Conventions not only forbid torture, but any disadvantageous treatment (Geneva III: "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.") That clause does not apply to unlawful combatants, who are only protected by the torture treaty. It's arguable whether Iraqi insurgents meet the requirements for combatant status, but Al Qaeda operatives clearly do not. The Yoo memo, quoted by many as proof of the Administration's attempt to avoid torture restrictions, argues the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those captives. Correctly, IMO.

Posted by: Cecil Turner on June 12, 2004 01:36 PM

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Cecil,

You are clearly wasting my time. I know better than to argue with a wooden post. But just so that some of your crap is not allowed to stand unchallenged for other readers:

1) You dismiss SFTT based on misspellings on a website. Sure beats actually having to admit that you are wrong. Hack and most of the contributors are all current or retired military personel. Unfortunately they live in the real world, not your "W-ra-ra-ra" imaginary world.

2) It's an old poll. So the numbers mean little now. But it is telling that even then: a) Bush WAS NO MORE POPULAR in the military than he is among civilians; b) support for the war was ALREADY LOWER then than for overall policies and c) the military personnel AGREE that they are overstretched.

Those were some of my arguments in my prior posts.

3) Your personal opinion on a military matter, without facts, is superior to that of General Zinni, who has access to the facts ? That's just precious.

I'll let other posters waste their time arguing with you about your "tortured" logic on the legality of torture.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 02:05 PM

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[[["But the poll indicates support for administration policy in Iraq is not much higher in the military than among U.S. civilians.Both military members and civilians, poll results show, are more likely to voice approval for the president’s overall performance than for his Iraq policies.]]]]]

so? how does this relate to Bush's popularity among uniformed members of the military? As the previous Army Times poll reported, a rather large majority still supported the president. The fact that soldiers aren't thrilled with what's going on in Iraq does not necessarily mean that they automatically hate Bush, a line of reasoning that you are trying to draw out


[[[[The poll also found overwhelming sentiment that more than two years of combat have stretched the military so thin that its effectiveness has eroded."
]]]]]]

and again, how is this necessarily a negative reflection on Bush? the Army realizes that there is a serious war on and that resources will be stretched thin. from personal experience based upon my membership in the officer corps I can tell you that there is significantly more frustaration aimed at the Democratic Party for so severely drawing down the military then there is at President Bush. After all, the military long argued throughout Clinton's Presidency that a 12 division Army was what we needed for the future, but they were overruled and a 10 division Army is what we had. As a side note, it is exactly these 2 divisions that the Army is currently hurting for.

[[[[You can claim the process is slow (no doubt). But the complaints of NCO, junior officers and soldiers is also equally clear. They were deployed too hastily and with little preparation and without their equipment even (cavalry units shippped having to wait months for their vehicle). ]]]]

as i stated earlier, the normal time for fielding equipment can be anywhere from 5-10 years, sometimes even longer. it is no surprise that the new interceptor body armor took so long to field, not to mention, as i stated a quite a few times already, the fact that the slowdown in fielding came from a lack of productive capabilities, NOT money.


[[[[This Administration has consistently underestimated the number of troops needed, again and again and again. This pattern of poor planning was noted by General Zinni, who must be of higher rank than you: the planning was so dismal that it needlessly endangered the mission and the troops safety.]]]]

the administration did not consistently underestimate the number of troops, that statement is what is disingenious. for the actual invasion and conquering of iraq itself, the administration actually budgeted one division too many (4th ID and it's aborted Turkish front). the shortcomings came in during the post-invasion clean-up and the militaries inability to freeze the security climate immediately after the fall of baghdad. regrettable, no doubt, but the military itself (not just the administration) was surprised at the level of rioting and looting that took place in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the ba'athist party.

and i am not going to read all of SFTT. posting the website and then criticizing me for not reading all of it is plain ridiculous. if there is something to note in it, then just give me a link and i'll read it. this is akin to me linking all of national review and expecting you to finish absorbing all of its content in order to prove how i am right. it's unreasonable, and for the purposes of debate, downright ridiculous.

as for Col. Hackworth, he is widely considered as one of the most decorated living soldiers alive today, having distinguished himself during the Vietnam War. he is also, unfortunately, considered somewhat of a crank, having fallen off the deep-end some years ago. if you spend some time reading forums frequented by military personnel you'll find a lot of resentment towards Hack for essentially doing a shitload of criticizing while offering little to no real, concrete solutions. I personally don't read his articles so I can't comment from personal experience.

Posted by: Jon on June 12, 2004 02:51 PM

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Jon,
[[[so? how does this relate to Bush's popularity among uniformed members of the military? As the previous Army Times poll reported, a rather large majority still supported the president. The fact that soldiers aren't thrilled with what's going on in Iraq does not necessarily mean that they automatically hate Bush, a line of reasoning that you are trying to draw out.]]]

First, please stop using the term "hating Bush". I did not use it, nor am I implying it. One can be unhappy or not support someone without "hating" them.

As for my argument:
Military opinions were not much different from civilian sector in this OLD poll. IF THAT IS STILL THE CASE TODAY, then military opinion should mirror what is found in current polls as well. The current polls show more people unfavorable to Bush. So, Bush would be a far cry from "enormously popular".

[[[And again, how is this necessarily a negative reflection on Bush?]]]
Here again, it doesn't have to be all Bush. I'm not saying that there is much love in the military for Clinton, but it was Bush who decided how to use the 10 divisions we have, and those decisions (again back to the war in Iraq, you see) led to the overextension. Somehow, I doubt our citizen-soldiers are not aware of that.

[[[as i stated earlier, the normal time for fielding equipment can be anywhere from 5-10 years, sometimes even longer. it is no surprise that the new interceptor body armor took so long to field, not to mention, as i stated a quite a few times already, the fact that the slowdown in fielding came from a lack of productive capabilities, NOT money.]]]

I never argued it was a lack of money. But it's not all production bottleneck either. There are too many instances of poor planning for the post-war occupation: For example, Hummer armor retrofits that weren't thought of until the troops were deployed and bombed with IEDs. Again, this wasn't done because of the "rosy scenario" prerogative.

[[[...for the actual invasion and conquering of iraq itself, the administration actually budgeted one division too many...]]]

My bad writing, I mean poor post-occupation planning.

[[[...the military itself (not just the administration) was surprised at the level of rioting and looting that took place in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the ba'athist party.]]]

Surprised, yes. But the military also plans for bad scenarios. If not for the sacking of the military officials who advocated more troops, we would be in a better position.

[[[and i am not going to read all of SFTT.]]]

You could have skimmed some articles to see that there are Bush defenders and critics. And I expected you to have done a QUICK search for titles that talk about equipment deployment or problems.

[[[posting the website and then criticizing me for not reading all of it is plain ridiculous.]]]

I did nothing of the sort ! I ridiculed you for giving zero feedback on the site (which you referred to as "some website"). You gave no hint you even went there.

[[[...unfortunately, considered somewhat of a crank, having fallen off the deep-end some years ago...]]]

What does that really mean ? After seeing how Clarke was smeared, I tend to be skeptical of these kinds of "He's a loon" statements. Got a link ?

[[[...lot of resentment towards Hack for essentially doing a shitload of criticizing while offering little to no real, concrete solutions...]]]

Well, he's retired and he probably give less of a sh_t about military politics than when he was in it. But there are a number of contributors who are still active. Also, he tends to air the grievances of soldiers and airs dirt the military would rather brush aside, hardly something to endear him to the brass.

He actually was involved in helping break the Abu Ghraib story, which might also have pissed people off.

We can argue until we are blue, but November will prove one of us right.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 04:19 PM

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CH2
"But just so that some of your crap is not allowed to stand unchallenged for other readers:

"1) You dismiss SFTT based on misspellings"

Okay, let's get a little more in-depth. Hack says:

"Since the beginning of court-martials in this case, over 75 more personnel have been implicated, including senior MI commanders who had operational control of the prison while this abuse was occurring. YET, we are still being told the systematic and methodical abuse of Iraqi prisoners was only the independent actions of 7 lower enlisted personnel."

Other than the rookie spelling error, he incorrectly claims the MI had "operational control" (OPCON) of Abu Ghraib and the MP personnel are accused of acting independently.

A quick look at the Taguba Report (linked on his own web page) shows the MPs were "TACON TO 205 MI BRIGADE" for security. I won't bother explaining the differences between TACON and OPCON, but the pertinent one is that the MPs didn't take orders from the MI Brigade.
http://www.sftt.org/article05052004a.html

It also points out that the MI personnel "Allowed and/or instructed MPs [. . .] to facilitate interrogations by "setting conditions" . . ." Unfortunately, the MPs weren't under MI orders, and their officers at least should have known better. The orders would have been illegal in any event. The MPs can't use the "following orders" defense, and some have plead out already.

"2) It's an old poll. [. . .] a) Bush WAS NO MORE POPULAR in the military than he is among civilians;"

It's about 6 months old. If you have a better, please provide. And again, the poll said 2/3 of the military supported Bush, as opposed to ~1/2 of the general population. How you extrapolated "no more popular" is a bit of a question.

"3) Your personal opinion on a military matter" . . .

Sounds like an argument from authority to me. And since General Zinni retired about the same time I did, I fail to see how his opinion has "access to the facts." If you have actual evidence that the planning was poor, trot it out. (But if I were you, I'd avoid simultaneously arguing we should send more troops to Iraq, and that our military is "overstretched.")

Posted by: Cecil Turner on June 12, 2004 05:34 PM

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RT: [[Even if one buys into the logic of torture, torturing al-Qaeda operatives doesn't do much good once their knowledge of al-Qaeda operations gets stale. They know who's gone, and what operations might be compromised; the torture continued long after any urgent need for its use on a bunch of captives from late 2001 and early 2002 was likely to exist.]]

Jon: [al-qaeda doesn't work this way. most of their leadership, unbeknownest to the public, is either dead or in jail. consequently the organization is in functional disarray right now and has broken down into a more cellular structure. if you capture one then you've already done much to disrupt his cell, but it is not merely a matter of stopping operations it is also one of finding out who else is involved. in that matter, interrogating prisoners is quite useful as you can find out who is accomplices are. ]

"unbeknownst to the public", huh? But YOU know. Sorry, not buying.

But let's suppose you're right. Al-Qaeda, in "functional disarray", as you call it, was able to pull off an impressively precise bombing in Madrid this year. And Istanbul late last year. And so forth. They should start giving management seminars on "How to be effective while in functional disarray." But I digress.

So, what happens when you capture one member of a small cellular structure? The cell quickly figures out that one of their members has gone missing. Do they just keep on doing what they're doing? Only if they're dumb - and at least so far, this has *not* been a stupid adversary. If they've got the brains they've demonstrated to date, the cell disperses, and its members stay out of sight for some months before individually reassuming active roles in al-Qaeda cells elsewhere.

Even tactically, torture only helps in a very short timespan after capture. Like I said, once the captive's knowledge gets stale, torture is a waste of time by any measure. And balanced out against word getting out that the U.S.A. is a bunch of torturers, it's a losing proposition even in those first few days, unless we have reason to believe that a captive was part of something quite major.

RT: [[Even torture has to be done in a manner to serve an overall strategy, or it will fail as a tool. In the long run, we have to dry up the pool of angry young Islamic men who want to join al-Qaeda; only then can we successfully isolate and target a relative handful of terrorists within the Islamic world. Otherwise, the war goes on indefinitely with no hope of winning.]]

Jon: [you missed an important part of the strategy. we understand that terrorism itself can never be stopped, as at the extreme there will always be onseies and twosies who will band together to attack you. the purpose of the national security strategy was to undermine the support structure of these organizations to make their organizing, fund-raising, and command and control operations so difficult as to make any large scale international operations near impossible to conduct. consequently the need to go after state sponsors, both explicit and implicit. i understand that it is quite trendy among leftist circles nowadays to claim that iraq had no connection to al-qaeda, but it is no state secret that al-zarqawi was given sanctuary in iraq and held ties to the al-qaeda organization.]

OK, we've gotten to the Point of Diminishing Returns in this discussion. I'm talking to a guy who isn't aware that al-Zarqawi had sanctuary **in the Kurd-controlled northern Iraq**. Not only that, but the US military, three times in 2002, proposed plans to take him out - which were all vetoed by the Bush White House.

Seems that WE were the sanctuary-providers. Guess that makes the Bush Administration an "implicit" state sponsor of terrorism. What's our strategy to "go after" ourselves?

At any rate, al-Qaeda's money has generally been conceded to come from Saudi Arabia, and Bush has made sure in multiple ways that the House of Saud faces no investigations, from flying them out of the US right after 9/11 when all other air traffic was grounded, to failing to give the IRS the legal permission to follow the money trail internationally.

RT: [[The result is that - whatever the normative use of torture by Middle Eastern nations today - we have become the Bad Guys]]

Jon: [we were always the bad guys in the middle east, bush didn't start this.]

You must've missed 9/11, and the reaction to it outside a couple Palestinian villages that Rush Limbaugh made such a big deal of. It's been a busy three years, and a lot's happened. I'm sure some of your buddies can fill you in.

But not me. Anyone who repeats stale, disproven BS about al-Zarqawi at this late date, shouldn't be part of the talk at the grownups' table. Sayonara, pal.

Posted by: RT on June 12, 2004 06:32 PM

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Cecil Turner,

What you cited was not one of Hack's columns at all. That's one of the many requests for info, this one has the e-mail adress of someone named George. If you scroll down further to the magazine portion (white background) you'll see the many columns from different authors. And, by the way, there are continuing investigations, with new witnesses coming out, so the Taguba report is by no means the final word on facts.

[[[It's about 6 months old. If you have a better, please provide. And again, the poll said 2/3 of the military supported Bush, as opposed to ~1/2 of the general population. How you extrapolated "no more popular" is a bit of a question.]]]

Better military personel poll, no. But we have plenty of current nationwide polls, and Bush is doing worse and support for the administration policy is dropping. You are trying to say that sentiments among the members of the military are way DIFFERENT from the national average. But the 6 month old Army Times article you linked writes that in the critical area of Iraq policy, "the poll indicates support for administration policy in Iraq is not much higher in the military than among U.S. civilians."

You truly think that as support for Iraq policy dwindles among civilians and the military, Bush's approval will remain high ?
The "Do you support Bush ?" is a sucker question, since as a soldier, it is hard to say you "don't support" your commander-in-chief. It does NOT mean they will vote for him...
Check out this quote from your article:
"About one in five Military Times Poll respondents either declined to answer questions about Bush and Iraq or said they had no opinion.
"You just don’t do it,” Peters said. “One of the reasons I retired when I did was I wanted to write about political issues. Expressing political opinions was just unacceptable — and also against regulations.”
“I do what I’m told,” said Marine Sgt. Edward J. Leslie, a squad leader in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “I don’t really second-guess the president.”"

Like I told Jon, after November when they do the stats, one of us can do the "I Told U So" dance. But this poll, combined with the continued drop in support for Bush, is not the pudding containing your proof.

[[[Sounds like an argument from authority to me. And since General Zinni retired about the same time I did, I fail to see how his opinion has "access to the facts." If you have actual evidence that the planning was poor, trot it out. (But if I were you, I'd avoid simultaneously arguing we should send more troops to Iraq, and that our military is "overstretched.")]]]

There is arguing from authority, and then there is credentials. This is NOT a case of: YOUR FACTS versus HIS OPINION. It's YOUR OPINION versus HIS OPINION. Well guess what...

Army contingency plans are continously renewed. Were you involved in planning for Iraq ? Well Zinni surely was over the years, and he testified in front of Congress on what was needed for Iraq. Are you such an expert ? As for the FACTS, are you cut off from all news ? If this is not a screwed-up post-war occupation, what would it take ? Do you think, we actually planned to be where we are now ? Well if we didn't, then we planned ... poorly.

Finally your last line indicates that you STILL don't get it.

[[[But if I were you, I'd avoid simultaneously arguing we should send more troops to Iraq, and that our military is "overstretched."]]]

You see, they BOTH are true. This is why we needed a multilateral approach, where OTHER nations provide the necessary troops for reconstruction security. This is why we should NOT have pissed off our allies.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 07:59 PM

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CH2
"What you cited was not one of Hack's columns at all."

It's on his site (which is what you recommended we read), that's the first thing on it that has anything to do with the topic, and it misses on a couple of basic points. But the rest of it's trustworthy? Okay, whatever.

"It's YOUR OPINION versus HIS OPINION."

Yes, exactly. And his opinion runs counter to the guys' who actually ran/run the thing (Franks and Abizaid), who actually do have access to all the facts. How about their credentials?

"You see, they BOTH are true. This is why we needed a multilateral approach, where OTHER nations provide the necessary troops for reconstruction security. This is why we should NOT have pissed off our allies."

Yeah, right. Wave your magic wand and make France and Germany pony up some troops. We "pissed off our allies" by going to war. You don't think we should have--fine, say so. Pretending there was a smarter way of fighting the war that would have had French and German troops in the action is disingenuous nonsense, and you undoubtedly know it.

Posted by: Cecil Turner on June 12, 2004 08:47 PM

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[[[But it's not all production bottleneck either. There are too many instances of poor planning for the post-war occupation: For example, Hummer armor retrofits that weren't thought of until the troops were deployed and bombed with IEDs. Again, this wasn't done because of the "rosy scenario" prerogative. ]]]

we didn't have sufficient amounts of uparmored humvees because those things literally cost around 1/2 a million dollars apiece. for what is essentially a SUV, that is a HUGE amount of money. Standard humvee's cost around $50,000 IIRC. That's why we didn't have enough uparmored humvees when the war started.

Yes, military planners do take a look at the worst case scenarios. But, they do not always act upon these scenarios if the cost is too high. In the run-up to the war no one really expected the IED threat to come up, consequently it made little sense to begin fielding humvee that cost almost 10x as much as the standard models.

[[[Surprised, yes. But the military also plans for bad scenarios. If not for the sacking of the military officials who advocated more troops, we would be in a better position.]]]]

again, with regards to not having enough troops for the post war situation, the Army cannot always act on the worst-case scenario. Rumsfeld was quite right in his observation that military planners have a tendency of massive overkill when it comes to planning out operations. I recommend that you read "Plan of Attack" by Woodward. Rumsfeld did much to trim down a lot of the excess fat in the Army's existing op-plan's for the invasion of Iraq. In hindsight there was a happier medium that could have been reached between the General Staff's habit of massive (and wasteful) overkill vs. Rumsfeld's drive for a lean military, but to ascribe all of that to simple piss-poor planning is just a tad simplistic.

[[[[[Well, he's retired and he probably give less of a sh_t about military politics than when he was in it. But there are a number of contributors who are still active. Also, he tends to air the grievances of soldiers and airs dirt the military would rather brush aside, hardly something to endear him to the brass.

He actually was involved in helping break the Abu Ghraib story, which might also have pissed people off.
]]]]]

again, I don't really read Hackworth's articles, but the general feelings of unease towards him come, from what i've observed, from the junior officer ranks, since given my own position, that's who i tend to socialize with. no hobnobbing w/ brass for me.


[[[[["unbeknownst to the public", huh? But YOU know. Sorry, not buying.]]]]

i meant that most of the public doesn't know this, generally out of ignorance. trust me, i am not so reckless as to disclose any information out on a public forum that shouldn't be disclosed.

[[[[But let's suppose you're right. Al-Qaeda, in "functional disarray", as you call it, was able to pull off an impressively precise bombing in Madrid this year. And Istanbul late last year. And so forth. They should start giving management seminars on "How to be effective while in functional disarray." But I digress.]]]]

your glibe comments aside, the fact remains that the majority of al-qaeda's top leadership are dead or captured. obviously there are notable exceptions, but by and large the old leadership of al-qaeda are comfortably rotting either six feet under or in a prison cell.


[[[[Even tactically, torture only helps in a very short timespan after capture. Like I said, once the captive's knowledge gets stale, torture is a waste of time by any measure. ]]]]

not at all. again, this should not be construed as an endorsement of torture, but if we're going to discuss it we might as well be clear on its benefits. there is so much more to humans intelligence then just the timetables of a planned terrorist attack, or the specific address of where the cell is hiding out. for one thing, knowing who the accomplices are help you nab not only those individuals, but also allow you to plug those names into a larger matrix to help work out associations b/w the various actors. you can also find out how that organization operates, and from there use that intelligence against other cells. how they train, what sort of support structure they have in place, where the funding comes from, are all not just short-term tactical gains, rather long-term strategic insights that can be used across the entire theater of conflict.


[[[I'm talking to a guy who isn't aware that al-Zarqawi had sanctuary **in the Kurd-controlled northern Iraq**. ]]]

with the full knowledge and consent of the old regime. come on, do you honestly believe that hussein had no knowledge that there was a rather large training camp smack dab in the middle of his territory?


[[[[At any rate, al-Qaeda's money has generally been conceded to come from Saudi Arabia, and Bush has made sure in multiple ways that the House of Saud faces no investigations, from flying them out of the US right after 9/11 when all other air traffic was grounded, to failing to give the IRS the legal permission to follow the money trail internationally.]]]]

in case you missed it, the house of saud and al-qaeda aren't exactly on happy terms with each other. al-qaeda also raises quite a bit of money right here in the US through several supposedly legitimate, mainstream arab groups, but that's another story entirely.

[[[But not me. Anyone who repeats stale, disproven BS about al-Zarqawi at this late date, shouldn't be part of the talk at the grownups' table. Sayonara, pal.]]]

al-zarqawi actually spent quite some time in 2002 in baghdad itself where he met with other extremists and set up a base of operations there. again, to claim that this was done unbeknowest to saddam and his rather elaborate security and intelligence organizations is rather silly.


[[[This is why we needed a multilateral approach, where OTHER nations provide the necessary troops for reconstruction security. This is why we should NOT have pissed off our allies.]]]]

oh come now. regardless of how you feel about the run-up to the gulf war, the current transatlantic shift should smear the reputation of everyone involved. if you honestly think that france and germany were victimized in all of this, and that we are entirely responsible for the current rift, then you are sadly misguided.

Posted by: Jon on June 12, 2004 09:09 PM

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Cecil Turner,
"...And his opinion runs counter to the guys' who actually ran/run the thing (Franks and Abizaid), who actually do have access to all the facts. How about their credentials?"

Right, they're going to criticize their civilian superiors or the Commander-in-Chief in public ? I don't hear them criticizing Zinni too forcefully either.

"...We "pissed off our allies" by going to war."

HOW we went to war was as critical as the fact that we went. If you must know, IMO, we shouldn't have gone in without lining up the support of other nations. Bush's dad was able to do it.

The true disingenous nonsense is this idea that Bush and his gang ever tried to hammer out a compromise, rather than going with "My way or the highway". And you know it too, and I bet you were even proud of it: standing up to stuffy Old Europe and all that.

Posted by: ch2 on June 12, 2004 09:15 PM

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CH2

"HOW we went to war was as critical as the fact that we went."

Not likely. The UNSC signed on to 1441 unanimously, and there was absolutely no doubt Saddam was violating it systematically. It was negotiated in bad faith all right, but the perpetrators were France, et al. There's also little doubt that tens of billions of dollars in oil contracts (and another few billion in outright bribes) had an effect on the Security Council negotiations, and that they were never going to go along.

BTW, by the time I scrolled down to Col Hackworth's article, I'd seen enough "Hack" handles next to no or others' bylines that I didn't connect the two. He obviously does qualify as an expert (though that doesn't mean he isn't wrong on occasion). The guy writing about Abu Ghraib, however, obviously isn't.

Posted by: Cecil Turner on June 12, 2004 10:01 PM

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JON:

You can dilly about how "army or Govt. red tape" slows down the procurement capability of finding "productive capable" factories that can make ceramic body plates for the vests, but it simple.
It was not a priority. Jon, Please, since you are a military man - I wish you could ride around in Iraq with just a shirt on, then you would sing a different tune.
The fact is, there are many optics and quartz, ceramic shops sitting idle and slow since the "Fiber-optic" cable world fell down in late 90's...since then , many of these shops have shifted their attention to military applications

But wait, I forgot or did you know that the procurement set-up for Iraq was limited to only a select "tied-in" ..."who's you daddy" companies, like Bechtal and Halliburton and a few others, while most Goverment procurement projects are listed on an open web site for open competitive bidding...The Iraqi re-building projects procurements have been hog-tied and contraversial from get-go, as are military contracts, why should vests be any different (just go ask Russia how they won ww11, not by red tape, but with hard sweat in factories) and also many military contracts are only offered to select firms, thus keeping outr small, productice material shops that can competitively bid and could have produced all these ceramic plate vests in 6 months, not 1.6 years out of the running!!!; and maybe saved countless lives, so your arguement is mute due to a Pentagon and oval office that wants to keep only a select few companies, proven companies because the administration stated that Iraq is too important to allow foreign companies or smaller, unproven companies from "messing it up" by producing possibly untested or low-quality merchandise, or sewage plants, et cetera. Your comments are bumbling, like a white house press speech.
So you see, Jon, It is a war that is being prosecuted incompetently, and you are its proxy.
These smaller shops have shifted strategy to gain military contracts and are being kept on outside looking in while many soldiers are in boxes looking up, six-feet under...sort of like before generals decided it was unaccpetable to build foxholes and you must charge straight on Napoleon- style...that is what we asked our soldiers to do in this war. We were capable of protecting them, but found it not a priority, enriching our already rich friends with strong ties to DC was a bigger priority. Can you argue that away? Take the horse blinders off!

Posted by: Dave S on June 13, 2004 09:35 AM

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