James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rape is Next

Vox Day quotes Winston Churchill, who said of World War I, "When it was all over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and they were of doubtful utility."

Day responds,
It is those last words that most completely damn the Bush administration as barbarians unfit for leadership of the free world. Few would find appeals to national security very compelling if the president insisted that victory in the War That Dare Not Speak Its Name required feeding the armed forces on the flesh of fallen Iraqis, and yet there is very little evidence, historic or current, that indicates torture will be of any use in turning back the forces of expansionist Islam.


"Cannibalism is necessary to win the War on Terror." Sounds ridiculous, and will likely never be argued. But if one excuses torture, one will excuse other atrocities.

One who says "Torture is necessary to win the War on Terror" is not above saying "Raping Iraqi women and girls is necessary to win the War on Terror." After all, it's another way to tell the Iraqis "we mean business." Don't aid and abet the insurgents, then you don't get raped.

Who knows, maybe it is already policy. Right now, such incidents are reported as "isolated" and "unfortunate," and those who get "caught" by the media are punished. Such was the Abu Ghraib spin of two years ago, when we all knew (or should have known) that even worse things were going on as a matter of policy.

But if barbaric methods are used as standard practice in order to "defend" and "save" a civilization, then that civilization is not worth defending.

13 comments:

  1. One who says "Torture is necessary to win the War on Terror" is not above saying "Raping Iraqi women and girls is necessary to win the War on Terror."

    Absolutely, 100% correct!

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  2. 100% correct!! However anyone who equates the juvenile college-fraternity-hazing-like assininities at Abu Graib with torture has no concept of either what actualy occurred at Abu Graib, or what torture actually is. I know of nobody in government who advocates torture, which I would characterize as involving either severe pain, or permanent damage. Coercion or psychological manipulation (including fear), and /or discomfort is NOT the same as torture, and if you tell me I cannot induce fear or discomfort in a murderer to save my wife or child's life (in the interest of preserving your version of some kind of fictitious moral high ground), I will tell you that you would have to use deadly force to stop me from doing it.

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  3. The photos (that we know about) at Abu Ghraib may not amount to torture. But
    if photos and videos came out showing American POWs treated the same way as were the victims of Abu Ghraib, our nation would be outraged, and legitimately so - except for the apologists of Abu Ghraib. For if they utter a peep, they would show themselves to be hysterical, hypocritical idiots.

    The problem is the Bush Administration appears to be defining "torture" out of existencce. "That may look like torture to you, but we don't think so..."

    And in any case, forcing a person to say what you want them to hear doesn't protect anybody. It just leads to even greater brutality and injustice.

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  4. The issue isn't whether or not Abu Graib was an affront. It was. No argument there. The issue is the extent of coercion that should be legitimately available under specific circumstances in time of war. There seems to be a position put forth by many on the far left that the Bush administration just can't wait to hurt people no matter what the outcome of that outrage. That is patently absurd. Interrogations are carried out by people with a vested interest in acquiring reliable intelligence (not "saying what you want them to".... we're not trying to get them to sign public confessions for propoganda purposes, we're trying to find out where the next murder of innocents is planned) and they are pretty good at it. Good interrogators all agree that information gleaned through torture is supect, and must be corroborated at best and may be complete disinformation at worst. Coerced interrogation by someone who knows what they are doing, on the other hand, may still need corroboration (which is obtained whenever possible as a matter of standard practice anyway), but tends in MOST cases to be HIGHLY reliable to begin-with. And the good interrogators know or figure out in short order the best approach for their particular subject. Coercion is not always used. What's deemed likely to be most effective in the situation is what's used. We're not talking about Bill of Rights issues here with regard to privacy invasions, or protections of search and seizure civil liberties regarding the personal freedom of US citizens who MAY be in violation of the law. We're talking about insidious foreign combatants who will willingly murder innocents by ambush.

    Few would argue the rightiousness of a cop, for example, putting a bullet into a terrorist who was in the process of firing a bazooka into a MacDonalds, but some of the same people who would support that action would scream bloody murder about putting the same terrorist in a cold room and denying him sleep for two days to prevent someone else from picking up the bazooka (probably without the benefit of the cop being there to stop him) to begin with. It's beyond absurd..... it is absolutely moronic. And anyone who thinks that the fact that we have not been attacked in a major fashion since 9-11 is just a matter of dumb luck... well they ought to just go smoke some more of that stuff.

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  5. Our government is informed by the concept of providing its citizens with the means to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are there to secure the "liberty" and "right to pursuit of happiness" parts. The responsibility for protection, however (the "life" part) is not abrogated in securing the other two. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. It exists to protect us from government, not to stop government from protecting us from adventure by foreign interest. The Constitution contains NO requirement that we eschew common sense, yet reminds us that we need be mindful of what liberties are being threatened (and we should also be mindful of WHO is providing the threat while we are at it). The Constitution protects us against threat by our government, and provides remedy in the event that starts to occur. For example, product of coerced interrogation cannot be used by the government to PROSECUTE, which is the process leading to punishment by the government. The penalty if government engages in coercion is loss of prosecutorial ability based on the information gleaned in the interrogation, and in certain cases civil suit can be filed or criminal charges brought against the the perpetrators of the coercion if malicious intent can be shown.

    There is no Constitutional prohibition against coercion to obtain intelligence where the purpose of the obtaining is, in fact, preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for those whom the government has an obligation to protect, rather than prosecution by the government for the coerced information. There is only the question of the morality involved in the situation at hand..... In other words, are we going to lower ourselves to "their" level. I submit we do not. We don't behead people for political gain, nor gouge their eyes out, nor skin them nor burn them alive for sport. We don't line prisoners up and shoot them without due process (in fact the average time it takes for the state to put someone to death in this country is just over fourteen years). In a perfect world coercing anyone to do anything would be an atrocity, but in a world where we charge our government with protecting both us and our freedoms, we force the government to choose the lesser of two evils when dealing with a force that would deny us both our lives AND our freedoms. If you are the cop, handed the gun and charged with protecting the public, you may well have to make a decision to take a life (and in the process suffer great and permanent personal tragedy), not something you would choose, but in the circumstance the lesser of two evils. You can't dodge the issue, or discuss theory. You have to make a decision and take action where you believe it to be appropriate. The cop will be Monday-morning-quarterbacked to death for his/ her mandatorily instantaneous decision, and new policies and procedures will invariably evolve as more knowledge is gained and more is learned from the experience. So will the government be Monday-morning-quarterbacked and new policies evolve once the threat is past. Those who say that once a liberty is taken we never get it back are not very familiar with US history. We have lost liberties to exigent circumstances on numerous occasions in the past, only to have them returned once the exigency subsided, because in the long run, WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT. At this juncture, I see a pretty apt balancing between the needs to protect us and the needs to preserve our personal liberties taking place.

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  6. "We have lost liberties to exigent circumstances on numerous occasions in the past, only to have them returned once the exigency subsided, because in the long run, WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT."

    Except:

    1. We have also lost liberties in the past that were NEVER returned.
    2. The chances that liberty lost in the current "crisis" will be regained are next to none. The Administration has talked of this thing going on for decades. It is obvious that they want the War on Terror to work like the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. They will create excuses to keep it alive. I believe the real purpose is to change fundamentally the indiviudal's relationship to the government, with fear as the excuse.
    3. If one vote is just one of hundreds of thousands, just for one seat in a 435-member House of Representatives, one of (often) millions for a seat in the Senate, and one of tens of millions for the President, I don't think we can accurately say that "we are the government." The very structure tends to favor a privileged few with the resources to influence politics and policy.

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  7. "1. We have also lost liberties in the past that were NEVER returned."

    Cite examples please. Rhetoric isn't fact. I'll happily conceed legitimate points.

    "2. The chances that liberty lost in the current "crisis" will be regained are next to none. The Administration has talked of this thing going on for decades. It is obvious that they want the War on Terror to work like the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. They will create excuses to keep it alive."

    We are two years away from a term-limits mandated complete replacement of this administration. When Bush goes... everyone with him goes. Even if another Republican is elected, the guys pulling the strings now will be gone and a new bunch will be in. The Bush administration could not, therefore control us for 'decades' even if that were its primary concern. Seems a pretty short-sighted objective for a group of people deemed to be so maleficent. Hitler's Reich (one of pretty verifiable evil I would assess) was planned to last a thousand years.

    Saying they create excuses to keep it alive is essentially saying the attacks by militant Muslims all around the world over the last 20 years or so were manufactured by the Bush administration. Hello!!! Those people were killing people by the truck load when George Bush was still snapping up lines of coke on Saturday nights while hoping the Texas Rangers would sell enough hot dogs to pay Nolan Ryan's salary. I could, of course, be wrong... but I suspect that even after Bush is out of office, some Jihadist, somewhere, is STILL going to insist on coming face to face with Allah at the expense of a bunch of innocent and likely unsuspecting people who are just trying to get through the business of their daily lives. The more of them he/she kills and maims, the better. That's how they like it. The attacks are NOT fiction, nor are they staged, nor is it some kind of grand US conspiracy theory.

    3. "The very structure tends to favor a privileged few with the resources to influence politics and policy."

    If that were true it is highly unlikely we would have ever produced a Lincoln or a Reagan (neither spent a lot of time doing what the cigar-smoke-filled back room boys wanted them to do), and George Soros would not have wasted the tens of millions he spent on the last two campaigns. Charlie Rangel and Zell Miller are at opposite ends of the political spectrum WITHIN THEIR OWN PARTY, yet each was solidly (not just as a result of gerrymandering) elected by their constituency. A pretty fair percentage of our citizenry chooses not to exercise what control they DO have, but we are indeed the government.

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  8. Well, Selective Service and economic freedom. World War I, Prohibition, the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the War on Terror - far from temporary "exigencies," we've seen a never-ending build-up of the State. Robert Higgs has a good article on this.

    Consider a major change like the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. In what way has government gotten smaller? Do we have more freedom of speech, or less? More asset forfeiture, or less? The trend goes in one direction, toward the Total State.

    You are right, of course, we are the government. The people can force change. But not through the electoral process. That's a sham, and McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act and prohibitive ballot access laws just make it a bigger sham.

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  9. We can't overlook the causes of terror - our own 60-year meddling in the politics of the Middle East. We can guard against terror by beefing up border and coastal control, and getting the hell out of other countries.

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  10. The challenge was to back up your statement, "1. We have also lost liberties in the past that were NEVER returned."
    The examples you cite were times when the size of government expanded (Duh), but NOT ONE demonstrates a liberty lost to an exigency that was never returned. Quite the opposite. After WWI, The Sedition Act was found to be unconstitutional. Prohibition was repealed. Because of the House on Unamerican activities Committee actions during the Cold War, individual rights against illegal search and seizure have strengthened, not lessened, and the Freedom of Information Act now makes it possible to get evidence of government malfeasance that NEVER would have been available before.

    We have considerably MORE freedom of speech, not less. The only people prohibited from speaking their minds are folks on the right who happen to say something politically incorrect in the wrong venue and as a result get shouted down, removed, or prohibited by the left. And even that doesn't happen very often. Now we have venues such as this BLOG in addition to the popular press, cable, and the assorted communications possible through wireless services. In fact, we have never had so much freedom of speech.

    As to asset forfeiture... you are clearly right, and in fact don't state the case strongly enough. The Supreme Court decision allowing interpretation of Eminent Domain to include seizures for private investment for the purposes of increasing tax base are clearly not what the founders intended (a VERY left-leaning decision indeed). However, because of our expanded freedom of speech, many of those cases are now being won by the former victims as a result of exposure in the courts of public opinion. And the more conservative the court becomes, the sooner those interpretations of Eminent Domain will be reversed.

    As to meddling in the Middle East.... That's a whole 'nuther subject, though I'll say simply that commerce with one faction in an area is viewed by other factions as 'meddling', and a whole systems of opposition come into existence that need to be countered. We buy oil. We don't steal it. And we have the right to expect delivery of what we have paid-for. E.g., when Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, it cannot be allowed to stand. Had the Allies stopped Hitler about the time he invaded the Sudetenland, it may have cost us 30 or 40 thousand lives. Because we didn't it cost us (the Allies) somewhere between 23 and 28 million lives total (nobody knows for sure).

    Bin Laden went ballistic about the US when Saudi Arabia allowed US troops on their soil to stage for the liberation of Kuwait. You can call that 'meddling', but then you can call any commerce or protection of our interests 'meddling'. Failure by Carter to 'meddle' in Iran directly led to the overthrow of the Shaw by the Imams, and much of the current world terror crisis. Am i saying the Shaw was a good thing? Absolutely not! But he was decidedly the lesser of two evils, and he was deposed not because we meddled but because we didn't. The 'nut' of our meddling in the Middle East is our support for Israel.

    The causes of terror go back about 7 hundred years, with the Papal resistance to Islamic invasion of Eastern Europe which resulted in the Crusades. Jihadists have not been peaceful during that intervening period. They have expanded (often by the sword) throughout Asia. Only now the world is small enough that Europe is back in their crosshairs and the oceans don't offer us quite the protections they one did. That particular faction of Islam has been constant and had the same agenda since its inception.

    As to isolationism.... I would LOVE to see a legitimate isolationist candidate in the '08 election, if for no other reason than it would serve as a wakeup call to the rest of the world. I think it would be surprisingly popular. Americans are a little sick of spending our lives and our treasure for people that kick us in the teeth whenever they get the chance.

    Kick the UN out, pull in our horns, and tell the rest of the world, "If you want our help with something, now you have to ask. We don't offer any more. And there are no guarantees. We will only help if it is CLEARLY in our immediate interests. If you are having trouble because your petty dictator keeps killing and oppressing you, I guess you'd better overthrow him yourselves.... then come talk to us."

    "What's that you say? Millions being killed by a genocidal idiot next door with big guns that you don't have a means of resisting? Gee what a shame! I guess voting in the UN against our plan to limit his growth so that you could sell him weapons wasn't a great idea, huh? Aids, malaria, yellow fever, cosmic crotch rot kicking your butt? Gosh that's too bad. We'd like to help, but we wouldn't want to 'meddle' in your affairs. Go to France, Russia, China, and Germnany for the aid. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to help!. No, we really didn't cause the sunami, and we really can't send in a 'war ship' to provide fresh water. That could be interpreted as 'meddling'. I know we've actually been feeding about 20% of the world's population for the past 50 years, and we've NEVED held a nation hostage to food for political reasons before... but now things have changed and we're stricly lookingh out for ourselves. I suggest you learn to eat your oil. We're not selling you any more corn."

    Of course, the downside is that if we aren't engaged overseas, the likelihood is that eventually one of the petty dictators will amass enough military wherewithall and gets big enough britches that he feels he can come over here and take over, and then we have to nuke 'em, cause that's really the only way left for us to survive.

    Pretty simplistic scenario to be sure, but there is enough of a grain of truth in it to cause a major shakeup around the world if it even looked like the possibility of it occurring was on the horizon :)

    But as to the original point.... I would still like you to point out a liberty permanently lost to an exigency. And be specific. Generalities like, "Every time government gets larger we have less freedom" don't get it. The population is larger and the world is far more complex, so government is bound to be larger. I admit it is far larger than I would like it to be, and damn the Republicans currently in Congress who abandoned the principles of reducing government that Reagan espoused (he grew the economy, the military, and the national debt - chiefly as a result of growing the military - but government actually significantly reduced under Reagan), but anyone who thinks a Pelosi led House would lead to more personal freedoms and reduced government REALLY needs to stop smoking that stuff.

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  11. Again, Selective Serice. It's not that kids are getting drafted, it is that the government claims that right - 13th Amendment prohibition on "involuntary servitude" be damned.

    And asset forfeiture in the War on Drugs. Oh, that money looks "suspicious." We'll just take it!

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  12. I'm not sure you get credit for Selective Service, as the question was deliberately framed to ask for rights lost to exigencies that were not returned after the exigency ended. When you say the government isn't drafting kids, but claims the right to do so when needed, you're saying the government claims the right to usurp your right against involuntary servitude in an exigency. I conceeded at the start of my argument that such things occur in exigencies. You claimed there were rights we never got back once lost. In fact, the government cannot draft any time it wants to do so just for grins. It requires deliberate action by Congress to authorize the use of the draft. Your point would be valid if they continued drafting after the war in question was over, or if they drafted without the authorization of Congress.

    Private property is protected under the fourth and fifth amendments, by requiring that the seizure be reasonable and that due process be observed in the taking and use of the property in question, and that just compensation be accorded when property is righteously seized. The operative word here is 'just'. Assets deemed to have been gotten through illegal means are NOT deemed as justly held, going all the way back to English Common Law and such viewpoint has repeatedly stood up to scrutiny in the courts throughout our history. As there are not (to my knowledge anyway) ANY assets seized for use in the public domain anywhere in this country except pursuant to court order, due process has been followed and the seizure was deemed by the court to be reasonable and consistent with the intent of the framers of the law. As with all court actions, you can legally and publicly contest any such seizure, arguing either the reasonableness of the action OR the legality of the particular process either in your case in particular or as regards the law in general. Under our Constitution the courts, including the appelate courts... all the way up to the Supreme Court.. are the arbitors of such decisions, and the government's decision to pursue a drug asset seizure is not a violation of any right if the court has granted permission, and there never was a protection against such a seizure from day one of the Constitution's ratification. Just like arrest (seizure of your person) pursuant to court issued warrant is not a violation of your rights either. These are powers and authorities we allowed the government to have when we formed it, as we deemed them necessary for the government to be able to govern (make laws and enforce them). So asset seizure fails the test as a rights violation. To pass, it would have to be done without court authorization, but in every case such authorization exists. FYI, a large percentege of requests for asset seizure are turned down.... pretty remarkable when you consider that the D.A. only bothers to apply in cases he feels he's got a lock on it.

    Selective Service comes closer to providing an example, because in it the government says essentially that their right to make the decision as to whether or not sufficient exigency exists to enforce the draft is in standby mode, and they are the sole arbitors as to how much exigency is necessary to make the decision. So the Sword of Damacles does indeed hang over our heads. But there may well be a legitimate argument that it has to be that way, since we cannot predict with certainty when we will be attacked, and we certainly can't count on having the wherewithall of being able to test the waters of public opinion under the circumstances before it needs to be implemented. The question then becomes one of: Is the right lost if, in practice and in practical reality, it can be abrogated, but in fact is not abrogated unless Congress sees the need? You could make theoretical arguments all day to support either side of that issue. I say, if you haven't been drafted, you can't claim your rights have been violated because you thoretically could be drafted some day.... anymore than you can be charged with rape just because you have the equipment and wherewithall to commit it.

    You haven't convinced me with either of those examples, and since you casually and readily threw out there that we have had rights taken away that we have NEVER gotten back, I would have thought you had plenty of really GOOD examples.

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  13. Any time the burden of proof falls to the accused to get his property back, we're dealing with a thuggish, rights-violating government. Any time a citizen has to justify why he's carrying wads of cash to a cop, we have systematic rights violations - an invasion of privacy.

    But these takings by government - outright theft - happens all the time now. It didn't happen before the War on Drugs, at least not nearly on this scale. The freedom to go about your business without being stopped by a stormtrooper is gone.

    If you want a specific example of a right taken away, how about the right to make your own choices about what goes into your body? If we can't be free there, then "freedom" has no meaning. The War on Drugs is a complete repudiation of the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Constitution. At least the Prohibitionists had enough respect for the rule of law to amend the Constitution. The War on Drugs is a different animal. Its propenent are freedom's enemies who have done incalculable damage to our country.

    That said, maybe I wasn't careful with the point I was making. My point is that the very growth of our government is the very evidence of lost rights and freedoms. The very existence of regulatory agencies is a rights violation of our property. The income tax rates have never shrunk to 1916 levels. Where was the BATFE 100 years ago? The very existence of the agency is a rights violation.

    The Department of Health and Human Services - by its very, unconstitutional existence - is a violation of our property rights (our taxes fund the department). You get the idea. Government has always gotten bigger doing things unauthorized by the Constitution and that are unworthy of a free society. It its size, scope, and power, it hasn't come close to going back to 1916 levels. In so doing, it has taken away the rights and freedoms we would have had.

    There is no reason for me to believe that, once the government starts spying on Americans without search warrants, and starts to use torture, that these will only be "temporary." Politicians, once having tasted such power, will always claim there is an "emergency" that will require their continued use.

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