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Hudlin's Huddle => Hudlin's Huddle => Topic started by: Reginald Hudlin on May 05, 2011, 06:02:04 am

Title: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 05, 2011, 06:02:04 am
NEW YORK TIMES:

May 3, 2011
Cool Hand Barack
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON

No wonder the president’s top generals call him “a Cool Hand Luke.”

After giving the order for members of a Navy Seals team to execute a fantastically daring plan to, let’s be honest, execute Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama put on a tuxedo and gave a comedy speech Saturday night in a Washington ballroom of tippling journalists and Hollywood stars.

If we could have seen everything unfolding in real time, it would have had the same dramatic effect as the intercutting in the president’s favorite movie, “The Godfather,” when Michael Corleone calmly acts as godfather at his nephew’s baptism at church, even as his lieutenants carry out the gory hits he has ordered on rival mobsters.

Just substitute “Leave the copter, take the corpse” for “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

The president’s studied cool and unreadable mien have sometimes distanced him from the public at moments of boiling crisis. But in the long-delayed showdown with Public Enemy No. 1, these qualities served him perfectly.

The timing was good, blunting the infelicitous  remarks made recently to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza by an Obama adviser, who described the president as the un-John Wayne ushering a reviled and chastened America away from the head of the global table. The unnamed adviser described the Obama doctrine on display in Libya as “leading from behind,” which sounds rather pathetic.

But now the president has shown he can lead straight-on and that, unlike Jimmy Carter, he knows how to order up that all-important backup helicopter. He has said that those who call him a wimp are mistaken, that there is often muscular purpose beneath his diffident surface.

Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, who was so tacky that she didn’t mention Obama’s name in her congratulations, tried to draw credit to the Bush administration.

But there can be no doubt that justice for the families of the 9/11 victims was agonizingly delayed because the Bush team took a megalomaniacal detour to Baghdad.

A pigheaded Donald Rumsfeld, overly obsessed with a light footprint, didn’t have the forces needed at Tora Bora to capture Osama after the invasion of Afghanistan. To justify the switch to Saddam and the redeployment of troops to Iraq, W. and his circle stopped mentioning Osama’s name and downplayed his importance. When the White House ceases to concentrate on something, so does the C.I.A. 

The hunt got so cold by 2005 that the Bin Laden unit at the C.I.A. was disbanded and overhauled. Four years after the monster felled the twin towers, the Bush team finally put more officers on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In his East Room address Sunday night, President Obama made it clear that he had shooed away the distracting Oedipal ghosts.

“Shortly after taking office,” he said, “I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the C.I.A., to make the killing or capture of  Bin Laden the top priority of our war against Al Qaeda.”

Many famous invaders throughout history, from Genghis Khan to Tamerlane to Babur, have marched along the same route the Navy Seals took on their moonless flight, going from Kabul to Jalalabad to Peshawar.

The mesmerizing narrative stitched together by The Times’s Mark Mazzetti, Helene Cooper and Peter Baker begins with C.I.A. agents getting the license plate of Bin Laden’s most trusted courier in Peshawar. Peshawar is the ultimate mystery town, famous for secrets and falsehoods. It’s known for its bazaars, especially the Story Tellers Bazaar.

And that is exactly where President Obama now finds himself. He will now have to sort through the bazaar of Pakistan’s deceptive stories and deal with lawmakers angry about giving $20 billion since 9/11 to a country where Osama was comfortably ensconced. For years, top Pakistanis have said that Osama was dead or in Afghanistan.

Even Condi Rice proclaimed she was shocked to find “Geronimo” settled in Abbottabad for six years, living in plain sight in a million-dollar house in an affluent suburb near a military base and the Pakistani version of West Point. As one of Osama’s neighbors put it: “It’s the closest you can be to Britain.”

 At a House homeland security subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Patrick Meehan asked the question about Pakistan that is ricocheting through Washington: “Does it reflect to some extent some kind of divided loyalty or complicity in some part, or incompetence or both?”

Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation, who used to advise the U.S. military in Afghanistan on Al Qaeda, replied with equal bluntness: “Whether there was complicity, or incompetence, at the very least there has not been a high priority in targeting the senior Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. Based on the threat streams coming from this area, those interests have to change.”



Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 05, 2011, 06:26:33 am
DAVID EVANS:

Reggie,
 
Taking out Osama bin Laden wasn't the first time President Obama exerted his power as Commander in Chief and ordered U. S. Navy SEAL Team Six to protect American citizens from terrorists.  If you recall, on April 8, 2009 Somali pirates boarded U. S. cargo ship, Maersk Alabama, seized Captain Richard Phillips, and on April 12, 2009 were about to flee to the terra incognita of interior Somalia with him as a hostage.

Fearing for Captain Phillips' life at the hands of three nervous and heavily armed pirates in a lifeboat they had commandeered from the Maersk Alabama, President Obama issued a standing order to SEAL Team Six to take the appropriate action necessary to save the captain's life.   With precision similar to that displayed in taking out Osama bin Laden, SEAL Team Six took out the three pirates and rescued Captain Phillips.

Sounds like a Commander in Chief who can, not only receive a national security call at 3:00am, but can make one at anytime, to the appropriate agencies and staff members--and get outstanding results.

 
Best regards,



Dave
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: supreme illuminati on May 05, 2011, 08:24:50 am
I recalled immediately President Obama's Somalian orders (although I didn't know it was to Seal Team Six; I knew he ordered a SEAL unit to get the bad guys though) and pointed this out to some of our more hysterical,more irrational Republican Conservative dweebs who of course have been busting arteries trying to find ways to deflect the honor and respect President Obama deserves for taking out Osama and funnel it to Bush or ANYONE that's not President Obama AND who's a Republican.The tackyness,the ridiculousness,the stupidity of some of these people are...preposterous.Why can't we have more Conservatives who are capable of civil discourse,rigorous debate, rational responsible intelligent conversational capable of seeing the validity in an opinion that doesn't precisely reflect their own like our very own michaelintp?

Cool Hand Barack.All day AAANNND day.Lol.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 05, 2011, 11:47:34 am
So bin Laden has been in Pakistan for 6 years. And President Obama has been in office for 2 years and 4 months. Hmm...
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 09, 2011, 06:55:06 am
From Cool Hand Luke: "What we got here is... a failure to communicate." ...  

Nah ... just a different emphasis:  

Obama on Osama, Bush on Saddam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynVHH2VIoe0&feature=player_embedded

Hmm ...

Isn't it true that the identification of the location of Osama Bin Ladin was the result of American intelligence efforts that spanned both Administrations? Why can't this be viewed as an American success? With congratulations being openly and graciously shared all around to participants past and present?

Instead, what we see is just the opposite. The persecution of members of the past Administration who played a key role in the effort to gather that intelligence. That is shameful.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/05/05/burlingame_after_meeting_with_obama_he_turned_his_back_on_me.html
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 09, 2011, 08:00:03 am
Isn't it true that the identification of the location of Osama Bin Ladin was the result of American intelligence efforts that spanned both Administrations? Why can't this be viewed as an American success? With congratulations being openly and graciously shared all around to participants past and present?


Fairly or unfairly, you get credit (and blame) for what happens on your watch.

Instead, what we see is just the opposite. The persecution of members of the past Administration who played a key role in the effort to gather that intelligence. That is shameful.

[url]http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/05/05/burlingame_after_meeting_with_obama_he_turned_his_back_on_me.html[/url]


First of all, this video clip is from Fox News. Consider the source.
Secondly, I don't understand your accusation. What exactly is shameful?
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 10, 2011, 11:11:24 pm
Curtis, I am just advocating fundamental fairness, as opposed to partisan small-mindedness. To view this as an American success that transcends party lines. If a President is supposed to get credit, then credit should be given to the Bush Administration for the intelligence gathering that took place during "his watch." Just as credit should be given to the Obama Administration for the development of the leads and the courageous decision to mount the raid during "his watch."

Even more so, credit should certainly be given to those who gathered that intelligence. As well as, of course, the soldiers who carried out the raid.

Rather than credit, harassment has been bestowed upon those who dedicated their efforts to obtain the intelligence information that ultimately led to the termination of Bin Laden. The actions of our Attorney General will make public servants think more about what is the safest course of conduct for themselves personally, rather than doing what they sincerely believe is in the best interest of the country.

Eric Holder's bin Laden Moment
The moment has come for Mr. Holder to end his investigation of the CIA's interrogators of terrorist detainees.
by Daniel Henninger

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703937104576302890747157756.html

As the whole of America takes a bin Laden victory lap, let us pause to remember some of this celebrated event's most forgotten men: the Central Intelligence Agency officers who sit under the cloud of a criminal investigation begun in 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder into their interrogations of captured terrorists.

That's right, the Americans whose interrogation of al Qaeda operatives may have put in motion the death of this mass murderer may themselves face prosecution by the country they were trying to protect.

It is time for the Holder CIA investigation to end. The death of bin Laden 10 years after 9/11 makes the Holder investigation of the CIA interrogators politically, emotionally and morally moot.

But it lives.

In August 2009, Attorney General Holder announced that he was extending the mandate of Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham into the CIA's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" of terrorist detainees. Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey had appointed Mr. Durham in 2008 as a special prosecutor to look into the CIA's destruction of videotapes made during interrogations of two al Qaeda operatives. That investigation ended without charges last November.

Mr. Holder decided to push the Durham investigation into a second phase. "I have concluded," he said "that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations." Mr. Holder wasn't free-lancing; both he and Barack Obama had called waterboarding "torture."

This week the Associated Press reported that the name of bin Laden's courier may have come from CIA interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi, who received "harsh" interrogation at CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. On Tuesday, Mr. Holder said the information came from a "mosaic of sources."

Incidentally, there will be no attempt here to establish whether CIA interrogations did or did not lead to the bin Laden courier, who led our commandos to a bedroom in Abbottabad. Just as there will be no attempt here to resolve the fastidious debate unfolding over whether the Navy Seals' shooting of an unarmed Osama bin Laden was "legal." We'll leave that to the endless grinding wheels of the law journals.

If Mr. Holder has evidence of an egregious crime, he should step forward and announce it. If not, he should use this moment to put an end to the Durham investigation. Mr. Durham is not an independent counsel, whose hallowed status makes attorneys general loath to interfere. He is a special prosecutor, appointed by the attorney general and under his authority.

On June 18 last year, Mr. Holder said in a Washington speech that Mr. Durham was "close to the end of the time that he needs and will be making recommendations to me." But nothing has happened. Asked this week about the status of this investigation, a Justice Department spokesman for Mr. Durham, whose office is in Connecticut, said the project is "still ongoing."

Ironically, the CIA's contribution to bin Laden's end may ensure that its people will remain under this cloud. With President Obama elated over the success of his call to take down bin Laden, his poll numbers rising and his re-election campaign insulated from charges of Democratic softness on national security, what are the chances that his attorney general would wash away all that by announcing his intention to indict the men whose work may have sent his boss into Abbottabad, guns blazing? It is zero.

Eric Holder has taken a lot of flak over his handling of various terror issues. The point here is not to put him in the dock over another but to hope he'll make a good call. Times change. In his statement Sunday, Mr. Obama described 10 years of "heroic" work by "our counterterrorism professionals." But he also noted that the remarkable sense of national unity after 9/11 "has at times frayed." It might be truer to say it was our ever-ragged politics that frayed, not our people.

President Obama will be at Ground Zero in Manhattan today to lay a wreath. This is the same Ground Zero that on Monday morning was surrounded by young people chanting "USA" and singing "God Bless America (land that I love)." Some have asked whether Monday's chanters, barely teenagers on 9/11, were too celebratory or were in bad taste.

Was it too celebratory Monday when 35-year-old David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and the Dominican Republic stopped after hitting a home run to hug Army Ranger Sgt. Lucas Carr, who'd been leading the Boston crowd in "USA" chants? Mr. Ortiz said it was just about "love." That's right. Those outpourings were about love of something bigger in America than our frayed politics or even making "our values" a function of our legal procedures.

After 9/11, when the fraying started, George W. Bush passed through a seven-year political minefield of media leaks and lawsuits over the Patriot Act, surveillance, renditions, Guantanamo and CIA interrogations. Now bin Laden is dead, and Barack Obama's got the credit. We're all fine with that, just as we're fine with people chanting "USA" over the dead terrorist who tried to kill us. Now how about letting those CIA interrogators come in from the cold and join the celebration?

Obama owes thanks, and an apology, to CIA interrogators
Marc A. Thiessen
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama-owes-thanks-and-an-apology-to-cia-interrogators/2011/05/03/AFka7tlF_story.html

In normal times, the officials who uncovered the intelligence that led us to Osama bin Laden would get a medal. In the Obama administration, they have been given subpoenas.

On his second day in office, Obama shut down the CIA’s high-value interrogation program. His Justice Department then reopened criminal investigations into the conduct of CIA interrogators — inquiries that had been closed years before by career prosecutors who concluded that there were no crimes to prosecute. In a speech at the National Archives, Obama eviscerated the men and women of the CIA, accusing them of “torture” and declaring that their work “did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts — they undermined them.”

Now, it turns out that the very CIA interrogators whose lives Obama turned upside down played a critical role in what the president rightly calls “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”

It is time for a public apology.

U.S officials have acknowledged that the key piece of intelligence that led the CIA to bin Laden — information on the al-Qaeda leader’s principal courier — came from detainees in CIA custody. According to a senior administration official, “detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to bin Laden and his deputy, [Ayman al-] Zawahiri, after their escape from Afghanistan. One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us . . . his nickname and identified him as . . . a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.” The nickname was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. KSM was taken into CIA custody in 2003 and refused to talk. Only after undergoing enhanced interrogation techniques did he confirm knowing al-Kuwaiti.

The following year, another senior al-Qaeda operative named Hassan Ghul was captured. U.S. officials say he told the CIA that al-Kuwaiti was close to KSM’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi — a revelation officials described as the “linchpin.” In May 2005, al-Libi was finally taken into CIA custody. After being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, he provided credible information on al-Qaeda’s courier networks, how they chose and employed couriers, and specific individuals. But he became evasive when asked about al-Kuwaiti. Some have suggested this shows his interrogation did not work. Quite the opposite, this was a red flag that led the agency to recognize al-Kuwaiti’s importance and focus its attention on identifying and hunting him down. It took years to actually find al-Kuwaiti and follow him to bin Laden’s compound. But without the information the CIA elicited from these high-value terrorists, the agency would not have known to look for him in the first place.

Already, critics are desperately trying to play down the CIA interrogation program’s role in the bin Laden operation. Many are pointing to an Associated Press report that KSM “did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.”

This statement demonstrates ignorance of how CIA interrogations worked. Interrogators would never have asked about the names of couriers during waterboarding. As I explain in my book, “Courting Disaster,” enhanced techniques were not used to gain intelligence; they were used to elicit cooperation. According to former CIA director Mike Hayden, as enhanced techniques were applied, CIA interrogators would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees had reached a level of compliance. “They are designed to create a state of cooperation, not to get specific truthful answers to a specific question,” Hayden said.

Once interrogators determined a terrorist had become cooperative, the techniques stopped and traditional, non-coercive methods of questioning were used. Moreover, the use of enhanced techniques wasn’t needed for two-thirds of the detainees in CIA custody . Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were and that no one else knew they were there — as enough to persuade most of them to cooperate.

Thanks to President Obama, this program, which helped lead us to bin Laden, is no longer part of America’s counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, outside of the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been no reported U.S. detentions of high-value terrorists since Obama took office.

Earlier this year, Umar Patek, the highest-ranking terrorist captured alive at this point in the Obama administration, was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities. Patek had traveled from Southeast Asia to Abbottabad — the same place where bin Laden was hiding. Coincidence? What was Patek doing in Abbottabad? With whom did he meet and what did they discuss? He should be in CIA custody answering such questions.

The time has come for Obama to restore the CIA interrogation program that made bin Laden’s demise possible — and to instruct Eric Holder to end his witch hunt against the heroes who helped lead us to bin Laden’s lair. That is the least Obama can do for the men and women responsible for the crowning achievement of his presidency. They don’t deserve a special prosecutor, Mr. President. They deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Obama is rude and unresponsive to sister of 9/11 victim
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/obama-rude-and-unresponsive-to-sister-of-911-victim/2011/03/29/AFbOQB8F_blog.html

Cheney: Justice Probe of CIA Interrogators an 'Outrage'
http://nation.foxnews.com/dick-cheney/2011/05/09/cheney-justice-probe-cia-interrogators-outrage
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 11, 2011, 06:34:43 am
Curtis, I am just advocating fundamental fairness, as opposed to partisan small-mindedness.

So this president should rise above partisan politics while everyone else continues. I kind of wish we lived in that world too.
All I can say is don't hate the player, hate the game.

As for the rest, investigation does not equal prosecution much less persecution. How about we let this run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. The fact is neither we nor the columnists you quoted know what went on.

The larger moral question is: Do the ends justify the means?

Hypothetically, imagine that the interrogators used illegal means (torture) to acquire actionable intelligence. Does getting results make it OK? Where and how do we draw the lines? Or does anything go as long as it works? These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become?

Also, one has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. I understand that these are difficult judgments to make and I am inclined to allow folks on the front line considerable leeway. But within some boundaries that we must reach agreement on. Otherwise, what makes us better?
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 11, 2011, 07:18:41 am
Curtis, I am just advocating fundamental fairness, as opposed to partisan small-mindedness.

So this president should rise above partisan politics while everyone else continues. I kind of wish we lived in that world too.
All I can say is don't hate the player, hate the game.

Well, I would have preferred to hear less "me me me I I I" in President Obama's speech, with more focus on the praiseworthy work of the investigators, interrogators, and soldiers who, over the years, pulled all this together. Because this did not all fall out of the sky last August. Again, contrast the tone of the Obama speech vs. the Bush speech (contrasted in the clip above). The President could have taken the high road in his speech.

As for the rest, investigation does not equal prosecution much less persecution. How about we let this run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. The fact is neither we nor the columnists you quoted know what went on.

The larger moral question is: Do the ends justify the means?

Hypothetically, imagine that the interrogators used illegal means (torture) to acquire actionable intelligence. Does getting results make it OK? Where and how do we draw the lines? Or does anything go as long as it works? These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become?

Also, one has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. I understand that these are difficult judgments to make and I am inclined to allow folks on the front line considerable leeway. But within some boundaries that we must reach agreement on. Otherwise, what makes us better?

By your standard, President Obama and all the decision makers who ordered and implemented the targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden, as well as the soldiers who implemented it, should be investigated. Is it torture to dip an unarmed man's head underwater, but not torture (or worse) to place a bullet in an unarmed man's head? One has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. How about we let such an investigation of the assassination run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become? 

Again, this is not my position. I am not advocating such an investigation. I laud the killing of Bin Laden. Though I do believe it would have been preferable to take him alive while misleading the world to believing he was dead. That would by far enhance our ability to obtain every bit of intelligence information from him, maximizing his feelings of helplessness while minimizing the media circus.   

Without the efforts of the investigators and interrogators, none of this would have come to light, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden would remain unknown to this day, and we would not even be having this conversation. 
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 11, 2011, 07:52:50 am
By your standard, President Obama and all the decision makers who ordered and implemented the targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden, as well as the soldiers who implemented it, should be investigated. Is it torture to dip an unarmed man's head underwater, but not torture (or worse) to place a bullet in an unarmed man's head? One has to consider whether other means were available that could have also been effective. How about we let such an investigation of the assassination run its course before passing judgment? Due process and all. These are serious and difficult questions. The answers go a long way towards defining our national character. What are we willing to do, to become? 
Sure, if you equate a captured prisoner with a combatant in the field. Of course that's bullsh*t. 
And, frankly, I don't understand why you seem so dismissive towards the underlying moral questions. That's usually your cup of tea.

Again, this is not my position. I am not advocating such an investigation. I laud the killing of Bin Laden. Though I do believe it would have been preferable to take him alive while misleading the world to believing he was dead. That would by far enhance our ability to obtain every bit of intelligence information from him, maximizing his feelings of helplessness while minimizing the media circus. 
Well, I guess we don't know that your scenario isn't what happened... Just sayin'.  ;) 

Without the efforts of the investigators and interrogators, none of this would have come to light, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden would remain unknown to this day, and we would not even be having this conversation. 
That's probably true. And beside the point. The investigation precedes the raid, I believe.

Anyway, I wasn't arguing the facts of the interrogation investigation since none of us know them. The moral question is what are we willing to do and where do we draw the line?
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 11, 2011, 07:59:05 pm
Curtis, I was addressing the "moral" questions ... using your own phrases (because they fit so well).

You appear to draw the line that killing or torture is OK so long as the "victim" or "target" is an enemy not then held in custody. There are others who are in fact calling for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the killing of Bin Laden. For example, is it true that he was in fact unarmed, and in no position to meaningfully resist? Was he still not "in custody" because he did not waive a white flag or proclaim "I surrender"...? What if he was physically struggling but had no weapon? What if he was cowering in the corner of the room? Is there a moral issue surrounding a "kill" order (targeted assassination)? Would it have been more moral for the order to be for his detention if possible, and to kill only if necessary to prevent his escape?  Was it moral to kill him because it would be difficult to deal with the geopolitical fallout from his being in custody, or the media circus, or his treatment as a hero, or the efforts made to force his release?

Some folk, some on the Left, some Human Rights Activists and some Muslims, are asking questions and/or condemning President Obama for doing what he did. Yet you are not only drawing a line, but proclaiming that those who are asking the questions are spouting nothing but bullsh*t.  I could not agree with you more.

However, I draw another line. That interrogators who engaged in "intense" interrogation techniques, authorized by the United States Government at the time, should be left alone, or preferably granted commendations, for obtaining the information that they obtained that led to the killing of Bin Laden.

That our Attorney General feels the need to continue the investigation of the highly successful interrogators is suspect. I believe they stem from Holder's disfavor of harsh interrogation techniques that he views as "torture," a foolish self-righteousness, and also stem from a certain partisan motivation to condemn what was implemented by the Bush Administration. Continuing the investigations is highly destructive to the morale of our dedicated public servants and soldiers, who in fear of later being second-guessed by new partisans may just take the easy road when hard decisions need to be made. With lives saved by those hard decisions apparently not fitting into the equation anymore.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 11, 2011, 08:32:47 pm
So Michael, are you saying there is no such thing as torture?  Or is torture justified under certain circumstances?

And what if torture generates unreliable data?  Is it worth the moral erosion?
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 11, 2011, 10:53:32 pm
So Michael, are you saying there is no such thing as torture?  Or is torture justified under certain circumstances?
And what if torture generates unreliable data?  Is it worth the moral erosion?

First, the assertion that "torture" generates unreliable data is a dogma expounded by those who seek to avoid the hard moral question. It is the rhetorical cop-out. Obviously, if "torture" does not work, there is no reason to use it. But it does work. As do intense techniques that do not rise to the level of "torture." See references in the article above, regarding breaking the will of the captive and eliciting true cooperation and the revelation of useful information.

One must consider the value of the information sought: the harm that may occur if the information is not obtained, the harm that can be prevented if it is obtained. In a world in which weaponry can kill hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands, the moral calculus favors erring on the side of "caution" ... and obtaining the information.

As to the intensity of the interrogation ... there are degrees, I suppose. Harsh speech, production of discomfort, sleep deprivation, bright lights, forced prolonged discomfort, to more intense experiences such as simulated drowning, or other experiences that do not produce lasting physical harm but are extremely uncomfortable, then physical harm, then to classic torture, such as severe beating, burning, mutilation and other forms of what everyone used to think of as "real" torture. On top of all this, there are the psychological games played, such as making the target think more is going on than actually is going on, on so forth.  

It is a facts and circumstances question. The further down the spectrum you go, the more reluctant one should be to employ the technique (in order not to produce what you refer to as a moral erosion ... the severe torture of anyone at the drop of a hat). But it is a facts and circumstances question, and selectively applied to senior terrorist leaders with significant information, or in a true emergency situation (such as the ticking time bomb), intense measures are warranted, in my opinion. I would think use of "real" torture would almost never be warranted, because of the moral erosion risk that you raise, which I do not discount. (The only reason I'm not being absolute here is that one can imagine some extreme hypotheticals).

Though that is not the real issue here. That's not what we are really talking about. We are talking about one Administration, reaping the benefits of the efforts of its predecessor (in part, I'm not discounting its own contributions), while threatening and harassing those very persons who, in compliance with the prior Administration's mandate, obtained the critical information.

There is good reason to believe that Osama Bin Laden would not have been located had intensive interrogations not taken place. See the articles, above and below.

All those who are celebrating Osama's "elimination" need to think about their own standards and what they are, in reality, willing to live with.


Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 11, 2011, 11:49:22 pm
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ikAZCh0ww4Y1tnn_VhV3j8H5GTEg?docId=64273c49498c4331bd1c50206122d760

A declassified May 30, 2005, Justice Department memo states: “Before the CIA used enhanced [interrogation] techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/20/AR2009042002818.html?sub=AR

Actual plots were revealed as a result, including the (close to home for you Reginald) L.A. Library Towers plot. http://www.cnsnews.com/node/46949

The following is a very informative article that I urge you to read:

The Waterboarding Trail to bin Laden
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that as late as 2006 fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from harsh interrogations.


By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY

Osama bin Laden was killed by Americans, based on intelligence developed by Americans. That should bring great satisfaction to our citizens and elicit praise for our intelligence community. Seized along with bin Laden's corpse was a trove of documents and electronic devices that should yield intelligence that could help us capture or kill other terrorists and further degrade the capabilities of those who remain at large.

But policies put in place by the very administration that presided over this splendid success promise fewer such successes in the future. Those policies make it unlikely that we'll be able to get information from those whose identities are disclosed by the material seized from bin Laden. The administration also hounds our intelligence gatherers in ways that can only demoralize them.

Consider how the intelligence that led to bin Laden came to hand. It began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.

That regimen of harsh interrogation was used on KSM after another detainee, Abu Zubaydeh, was subjected to the same techniques. When he broke, he said that he and other members of al Qaeda were obligated to resist only until they could no longer do so, at which point it became permissible for them to yield. "Do this for all the brothers," he advised his interrogators.

Abu Zubaydeh was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of 9/11. Bin al Shibh disclosed information that, when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydeh, helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the United States.

Another of those gathered up later in this harvest, Abu Faraj al-Libi, also was subjected to certain of these harsh techniques and disclosed further details about bin Laden's couriers that helped in last weekend's achievement.

The harsh techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of these techniques.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has said that, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations. The Bush administration put these techniques in place only after rigorous analysis by the Justice Department, which concluded that they were lawful. Regrettably, that same administration gave them a name—"enhanced interrogation techniques"—so absurdly antiseptic as to imply that it must conceal something unlawful.

The current president ran for election on the promise to do away with them even before he became aware, if he ever did, of what they were. Days after taking office he directed that the CIA interrogation program be done away with entirely, and that interrogation be limited to the techniques set forth in the Army Field Manual, a document designed for use by even the least experienced troops. It's available on the Internet and used by terrorists as a training manual for resisting interrogation.

In April 2009, the administration made public the previously classified Justice Department memoranda analyzing the harsh techniques, thereby disclosing them to our enemies and assuring that they could never be used effectively again. Meanwhile, the administration announced its intentions to replace the CIA interrogation program with one administered by the FBI. In December 2009, Omar Faruq Abdulmutallab was caught in an airplane over Detroit trying to detonate a bomb concealed in his underwear. He was warned after apprehension of his Miranda rights, and it was later disclosed that no one had yet gotten around to implementing the new program.

Yet the Justice Department, revealing its priorities, had gotten around to reopening investigations into the conduct of a half-dozen CIA employees alleged to have used undue force against suspected terrorists. I say "reopening" advisedly because those investigations had all been formally closed by the end of 2007, with detailed memoranda prepared by career Justice Department prosecutors explaining why no charges were warranted. Attorney General Eric Holder conceded that he had ordered the investigations reopened in September 2009 without reading those memoranda. The investigations have now dragged on for years with prosecutors chasing allegations down rabbit holes, with the CIA along with the rest of the intelligence community left demoralized.

Immediately following the killing of bin Laden, the issue of interrogation techniques became in some quarters the "dirty little secret" of the event. But as disclosed in the declassified memos in 2009, the techniques are neither dirty nor, as noted by Director Hayden and others, were their results little. As the memoranda concluded—and as I concluded reading them at the beginning of my tenure as attorney general in 2007—the techniques were entirely lawful as the law stood at the time the memos were written, and the disclosures they elicited were enormously important. That they are no longer secret is deeply regrettable.

It is debatable whether the same techniques would be lawful under statutes passed in 2005 and 2006—phrased in highly abstract terms such as "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment—that some claimed were intended to ban waterboarding even though the Senate twice voted down proposals to ban the technique specifically. It is, however, certain that intelligence-gathering rather than prosecution must be the first priority, and that we need a classified interrogation program administered by the agency best equipped to administer it: the CIA.

We also need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.

Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Mukasey was attorney general of the United States from 2007 to 2009.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 12, 2011, 11:19:30 pm
So, bottom line, you're okay with torture.  The ends justify the means to you.  The phrase "intense interrogations" is bullsh*t to me.  Look, I like watching 24 as much as the next man. But it's not a joke.  Anyone who has been waterboarded says it's torture.  Don't play word games.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 13, 2011, 07:09:58 am
So, bottom line, you're okay with torture.  The ends justify the means to you.  The phrase "intense interrogations" is bullsh*t to me.  Look, I like watching 24 as much as the next man. But it's not a joke.  Anyone who has been waterboarded says it's torture.  Don't play word games.

No, it is not a joke. Thousands of innocent lives were saved.  Lives which, apparently, count for nothing in your mind. I wonder whether you even care about all those innocent Americans who are living today who would otherwise be dead. They could have been members of your own family.

Though I suspect you will, from an ideological perspective, deny that lives were saved, notwithstanding the facts set forth in the articles I cited above. Notwithstanding that terrorist attacks were prevented. Notwithstanding that Bin Laden was eventually located and killed. When it comes to issues like this, for the Left, ideology must trump reality.

I gave you an honest, nuanced, response, addressing a moral question that is complex. I did not give you some simplistic black and white answer. Because I believe the morally correct answer is not simplistic, nor black and white.

I am not playing "word games" ... you are the one obsessed with a word. I described a spectrum, not a simplistic absolutist concept. As I understand it, with waterboarding, the target of the interrogation was subjected to simulated drowning, and led to believe through various psychological techniques that other things were going on. As a result of the application of this technique, which produces extreme discomfort but no harm, cooperation was induced and extraordinarily valuable information was obtained ... that did save lives. Nor was the practice of waterboarding widespread, nor was it done without monitoring and pre-approval in special circumstances, as described in the article, above.

Bottom line is, for you, it appears that ideology trumps the saving of innocent American lives. Somehow, I don't see your position as being morally superior.

Finally, let us apply your lofty principles to another situation. Osama bin Laden was, apparently, unarmed at the time he was killed. Or, at least, that is what some reports indicate. Reginald, as a man who does see things in such "clear" terms, how do you justify American soldiers popping a cap into the head of an unarmed man who was, for all intents and purposes, already captured? If you dispute these facts, are you advocating an investigation? If not, why not? Do you have a moral issue with President Obama's "kill order" as opposed to a "capture, but kill to prevent escape" order. Or do you just have moral qualms about waterboarding, which causes no real harm, but no qualms about blowing the brains out of an old sick unarmed man surrounded by weapons-wielding U.S. soldiers? Because, applying your standard, all of the men who were waterboarded should have just been shot in the head at the moment of their apprehension. While we would have lost the opportunity to obtain lots of intelligence information, at least we would not be committing the sin of "torture." Because a bullet in the brain is clearly not "torture" ... right?  Doesn't hurt a bit.  ::)

C'mon Reginald. Your facade of moral superiority is wearing a bit thin.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 14, 2011, 10:22:24 pm
Sorry for the delay.  I've been travelling.

I know you feel you are being "nuanced" on torture, which seems to come down to if it doesn't end up as permanent physical disfigurement, it's not torture.

I feel about torture like I feel about the death penalty.  I have no problem killing bad people.  I'll pull the switch myself.  But I do worry about it being official state policy, because I have problems with government process.  I can't accept the number of innocent men put to death because the police have a long history of arresting black men for crimes they didn't commit.  I also have a problem with a likely much larger percentage of people rounded up as suspects being tortured and imprisoned with zero due process. 

I also don't get how we can condemn dictators for torturing people then we do the same thing.  Are we better than that or not? 
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 15, 2011, 08:25:21 am
I understand your concern, but I believe it to be unwarranted by the facts, under the circumstances involving enemy combatants. The government was interrogating enemy combatants. Do you fear that while the government is only interrogating limited numbers of enemy combatants today (under limited circumstances of case-by-case approval and strict supervision), the floodgates will be opened for the roundups of Americans for torture tomorrow? If so, by the same token, I don't understand why you don't generalize the fear that the targeted assassination of enemy combatants will lead to the targeted assassination of Americans by the U.S. Government.

Honestly, your position is still unclear to me. Is this a fair summary?:

1. Targeted assassination of an enemy combatant is fine.
2. Targeted apprehension and killing of an enemy combatant by U.S. troops pursuant to a "kill order" is fine (for example, where the enemy combatant is unarmed and surrounded by those troops, essentially in U.S. custody, as was apparently the case with Bin Laden).
3. Waterboarding of an enemy combatant to gather intelligence information is not fine (for example, as was the case with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who only disclosed intelligence information after intense interrogation, whereas before his response was essentially "kiss my ass").

If this is accurate, how do you reconcile 2 and 3?

Also, as a side point, from what I understand, waterboarding caused no harm, period. Just extreme discomfort during the process itself. We not talking about some period of time for wounds to heal, or anything of that sort. It was combined with other psychological techniques to elicit cooperation.

Do you believe that with the now more gentlemanly questioning techniques, as much useful intelligence information will be obtained as was obtained in, say, the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Or do you acknowledge that because of the now more restrained practices, together with the detailed disclosure of past techniques to our enemies, more innocent Americans now bear the risk of being mutilated or killed by undetected terrorists on U.S. soil? If so, I gather you feel that this is a price worth paying in order to remain "better than they."  

But putting a bullet in the brain of a person who is apprehended does not make us no better than they? Your position confuses me.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 15, 2011, 08:36:28 am
I worry about innocent people whether they are American citizens or not.

Some suspects actually have involvement in terrorist activities.  Some are just in the wrong place, wrong time.  For example, the guy who happens to be crossing the Pakistan border wearing a Casio watch.  Hey, they use Casio watches in bombs...he gets arrested.  Since these bounty hunters are paid per arrest, the focus is on quantity, not quality of suspect.  This is a real case I am citing. 

As for waterboarding, every person I've ever seen who doubted it was torture who actually had the nerve to try it themselves quickly changed their tune...in about 5 seconds after it was applied.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 15, 2011, 11:43:33 am
I too share the concern regarding innocent people. Which is why I would not support waterboarding of everyone and anyone captured, willy nilly (... and certainly not to silence political opposition, etc, as is done by dictators who inflict torture). See the article I posted above, by Michael B. Mukasey, regarding the limitations that existed on that now-abandoned interrogation program. I do hope you read that article, which was quite informative.

My feelings on the death penalty in criminal cases are not all that different from yours. Once the death penalty is imposed, it is irrevocable. 

Which brings me to an important question: Rather than our just replaying the old waterboarding debate that we had some years ago, are you willing to take a shot at answering my other questions? (From my immediately prior post). I believe I've explained my position fairly clearly, even if you disagree. It would be interesting to understand where you draw your lines, and why you draw your lines where you do.

(errr ... "take a shot" ... really, no pun intended).  ::)

Because ... you do seem to be carefully avoiding the whole issue of the morality of putting a bullet in the brain of an unarmed man who was for all intents and purposes already captured, in an area already secured, and the morality of a President's "kill order" that authorized such conduct (as opposed to a "capture, kill only to prevent escape" order). And how you reconcile your stance on these issues with your stance on the harsh interrogation of known terrorists that was similarly authorized by a President.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 15, 2011, 11:48:25 am
How do I accept having Rules in wartime?  Like the Geneva Convention?  Because they help protect Americans from barbaric behavior.  And they help us not conduct ourselves in a barbaric fashion. 

Whether bin Laden should have been put on trial or killed is a subject worthy of debate.  Was he eventually going to be put to death?  Unquestionably.  Would the equivalent of the Nuremburg Trials for terrorists been healthier for society?  I think so.  But I don't know if there were other factors that affected that decision.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 15, 2011, 06:46:16 pm
Thank you for the response. I gather from it that you would have preferred to see Bin Laden captured and tried, and do have some ethical reservations regarding the "kill" order (absent some knowledge that we are unaware of). You are, then, being consistent.

As to protecting Americans from harm ... that was exactly what the intense interrogations of known terrorists such as KSM were all about. I believe those American lives were worth protecting.

Your reference to the Rules of War [a bit of an oxymoron in my view, and in any event inapplicable to terrorist organizations], as protecting American prisoners in the hands of the enemy, would only have that protective effect where the enemy too is willing to comply with the same rules, which is clearly not the case here.

Even if one disagrees with the legal judgment call of the prior Administration, a call made under extremely challenging circumstances after the September 11th attacks, I see no justification for the present Administration to harass our intelligence officers who were carrying out American policy as it existed at the time. Such second-guessing seems, to me, to be petty and vindictive. Particularly on the part of an Administration that has reaped such benefits from those efforts.

Finally, Reginald, while we disagree on much of this, I appreciate your fully sharing your perspective, to understand where you are coming from.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 16, 2011, 09:00:32 pm
One final thought ... as to why this isn't a simple moral issue, in my mind. Torture (like war) is terrible. Terrible people do it for terrible reasons. I understand your strong feelings. Even as to the most transitory sort.

But what do you do when you are confronted by terrible people who want to do horrible things to your people, things that you feel you must prevent?

I sincerely believe that under the present circumstances, your path will lead to far more innocent deaths than mine.

We may disagree, but I hope you understand my pure motivations.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 16, 2011, 09:29:44 pm
You are right, these are complicated moral questions.  I think when it comes to Middle Eastern terrorists, you find it easier to take an extreme response to them, as compared to a middle American terrorist who bombs buildings, for example. 

I'm not saying I know all the answers.  These are big boy questions.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 16, 2011, 10:40:00 pm
Reginald, it does become more complex when dealing with American citizens on U.S. soil, because of the Constitutional issues. But were we dealing with, say, some European (or you name it) highly-funded global terrorist movement, I can assure you my analysis would be the same, in favor of extracting the information needed to save (probably many) innocent lives.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 16, 2011, 11:41:13 pm
Reginald, it does become more complex when dealing with American citizens on U.S. soil, because of the Constitutional issues. But were we dealing with, say, some European (or you name it) highly-funded global terrorist movement, I can assure you my analysis would be the same, in favor of extracting the information needed to save (probably many) innocent lives.

The core problem with your position, looking at your posts throughout this conversation, is that you keep wanting to give credit to the Bush administration for their efforts. We will never know the complete chain of events that led to the killing on bin Laden, but all in all the Bush record is abysmal. 

First of all, the 9/11 attacks happened on his watch, even with a memo warning that they were coming.  Then we invaded the wrong country on trumped up evidence, causing deaths on all sides and wasting 3 trillion dollars.  Then they blow bin Laden's possible capture at Tora Bora.  Then we find out he's been chillin' in Pakistan all this time?  The Bush administration bungled the job and Obama nailed it.  Plain and simple.  And after he did it, he didn't put on a flight suit and put up a banner saying "mission accomplished".
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 17, 2011, 01:30:53 am
Regarding trials of war criminals:

May 16, 2011
Demjanjuk in Munich
By DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT
Atlanta

LAST week a German court in Munich found John Demjanjuk guilty of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder, one for each of the Jews exterminated during the six months that he worked as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Poland. The Demjanjuk trial will probably be the last Holocaust war crimes trial to grab the world’s attention.

For many, especially those in younger generations, the trial against Mr. Demjanjuk, a 91-year-old former Ohio autoworker now confined to a wheelchair, may seem the awkward fulfillment of the notion that history plays itself out first as tragedy, then as farce. Coincidentally, this year is the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a case that, in its significance, appears to dwarf the Demjanjuk proceedings.

But while Eichmann did play a larger role in the Holocaust than Mr. Demjanjuk, we must resist the conclusion that one is more significant than the other. Indeed, the Demjanjuk trial, as much as the Eichmann case, has volumes to teach us about the complex relationship between genocide and justice.

The Demjanjuk case matters, above all, because there was never much doubt that he had been a vicious prison guard under the Nazis. After living for more than 30 years in the United States, he was deported to Israel in 1986, where he was tried and sentenced to death. Unfortunately, prosecutors had misidentified him as a guard at the Treblinka camp known as Ivan the Terrible, and Mr. Demjanjuk was released in 1993.

What followed was 16 years of legal wrangling as Mr. Demjanjuk, now back in the United States, fought efforts to retry or deport him. Finally, Germany succeeded in extraditing him in 2009. Last week’s decision, then, was proof that the rule of law works, however slowly.

Of course, it’s that slow pace that had many asking why Germany was bothering to try Mr. Demjanjuk in the first place. Wasn’t there something comic, even shameful, about dragging a dying man across the Atlantic to stand trial for a crime he committed over a half century ago? Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on even the most heinous crimes?

No, and the trial reaffirms that society rejects that idea. Those who participate in genocide, in whatever capacity, should never rest easy. Nor should they assume that if they delay justice enough, their case will be abandoned. This lesson may matter more today than ever: after all, the hunt for Holocaust killers may be over, but the hunt for those who practiced genocide in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and far too many other places must continue.

The Demjanjuk trial also underlines the lessons learned from Eichmann. Like Mr. Demjanjuk, Eichmann claimed he was only a small cog in the wheel. Both men argued that they did not have the choice to say no; it was kill or be killed.

However, as Hannah Arendt argued in “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” every machine part is of crucial importance. Removing a small cog has the same impact as removing a large one: the machine stops working. Both men could have said no with few consequences; no defense lawyer or historian has found evidence of someone being killed for refusing to participate in the Holocaust. But these men chose not to refuse.

True, the outcomes for the two men will be different: Eichmann was the only person in Israel’s history to be executed; Mr. Demjanjuk will probably die in his bed as his lawyers appeal his sentence.

But what happened at both of these trials is more important than the ultimate fates of the guilty. Now as then, the victims were given a chance to tell their story, not in a book, interview or speech, but in a court of law. At the Eichmann trial close to 100 witnesses testified about their suffering. At the Demjanjuk trial we heard from the victims’ children. They joined the prosecutor in pointing their fingers at the man who facilitated their parents’ murders. In other words, the Demjanjuk trial proves that while Eichmann himself may be history, the robust process that made Holocaust trials into something more than mere court proceedings is still effective.

And finally, the Demjanjuk case, by its very complexity, is a fitting coda to the Eichmann trial because it reminds us that adjudicating genocide is, like the act itself, rarely straightforward. These cases raise difficult questions about how to punish different types of participation in a genocide; does a guard who carried it out deserve more or less punishment than a bureaucrat who planned it?

These trials do not ever truly offer closure, even decades after the crime. Indeed, cases like Mr. Demjanjuk’s are in some sense only the beginning of a process of reckoning and understanding, a process whose burden now falls not on the courts, but on the rest of us.

Deborah E. Lipstadt is a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University and the author of “The Eichmann Trial.”



Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 17, 2011, 06:41:56 am
Your reference to the Rules of War [a bit of an oxymoron in my view, and in any event inapplicable to terrorist organizations], as protecting American prisoners in the hands of the enemy, would only have that protective effect where the enemy too is willing to comply with the same rules, which is clearly not the case here.
That may be true but the Rules of War go beyond simple pragmatism in my view. It is a question of honor which is one way that we sustain ourselves in morally difficult terrain. Also, asymmetric warfare is as much a PR battle as it is an actual battle. Stooping to the means of our most barbaric enemies plays into their hands by validating their propaganda in the eyes of the audience they are addressing and so continuing the cycle.

I do agree that these are complicated issues.

Even if one disagrees with the legal judgment call of the prior Administration, a call made under extremely challenging circumstances after the September 11th attacks, I see no justification for the present Administration to harass our intelligence officers who were carrying out American policy as it existed at the time. Such second-guessing seems, to me, to be petty and vindictive. Particularly on the part of an Administration that has reaped such benefits from those efforts.
I agree with your assertion that intelligence officers should be held accountable to the rules that were in effect at the time.
But how do we know that the targets of investigation did not violate that standard? If they did but got results, then what? Complicated.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 17, 2011, 07:18:08 am
Reginald, it does become more complex when dealing with American citizens on U.S. soil, because of the Constitutional issues. But were we dealing with, say, some European (or you name it) highly-funded global terrorist movement, I can assure you my analysis would be the same, in favor of extracting the information needed to save (probably many) innocent lives.
The core problem with your position, looking at your posts throughout this conversation, is that you keep wanting to give credit to the Bush administration for their efforts. We will never know the complete chain of events that led to the killing on bin Laden, but all in all the Bush record is abysmal. 
First of all, the 9/11 attacks happened on his watch, even with a memo warning that they were coming.  Then we invaded the wrong country on trumped up evidence, causing deaths on all sides and wasting 3 trillion dollars.  Then they blow bin Laden's possible capture at Tora Bora.  Then we find out he's been chillin' in Pakistan all this time?  The Bush administration bungled the job and Obama nailed it.  Plain and simple.  And after he did it, he didn't put on a flight suit and put up a banner saying "mission accomplished".

Oh gawwwd, Reginald, I thought we ended on a reasonable note, and now this? Try, for a moment, not to twist every fact to support your partisan bias. I am not giving all credit to Bush, and that is not the core problem of my position. Curtis asked for an elaboration of my concerns regarding Eric Holder's investigations of our intelligence officers, the ones who played a role in getting the information that ultimately led to the death of Bin Laden. I am being wholly nonpartisan here, giving credit to the intelligence officers and soldiers, and to both Presidents to the extent they authorized the interrogations, investigations, following of leads, and ultimately the raid that led to the killing of Bin Laden. Unlike you (I think ... you've never been wholly clear on this for some reason), I don't have a moral problem with President Obama's a "kill order" given in the context of war against the enemy leader (even assuming he could have been readily taken alive, which seems likely based on what has been disclosed), other than the concern that we may have lost a wonderful opportunity to extract every single bit of intelligence data out of Bin Laden's ugly twisted brain. But then, I am consistent, in that I also support vigorous interrogation where necessary, in order to save innocent lives.

... and no, President Obama didn't say, "Mission accomplished." He just said, "Me me me, I I I" continuously in his speech, as if nothing was done prior to his taking the oath of office. See the speech comparisons that I posted above. If for partisan reasons you wish to train with the same vocal coach, fine. ::)

Finally, I really am puzzled. You stated a tactical reason why it might have been better to capture Bin Laden alive (to have a war crimes trial, a P.R. event), but you never really did, yourself, address the issue of whether it is morally proper to put a bullet in the brain of an unarmed man who is, for all intents and purposes, already captured in a building secured by U.S. soldiers. DO YOU HAVE A MORAL PROBLEM WITH THE "KILL ORDER" OR NOT? (As opposed to a "capture, but kill if necessary to prevent escape" order). Because I think this does have some bearing on our other discussions, above.

If your rationale is that it is OK to put a bullet in the brain of the unarmed man because were a war crimes trial to take place he would be executed anyway, then you are supporting the existence of capital punishment. Before trial.  ;)  If we lived in a nation in which capital punishment were banned (for the reasons you stated, above, fear of error or prejudice), then what? Then the bullet in the brain is wrong? But not so long as we have capital punishment in the U.S.? Your moral position seems very unclear to me. (Of course if Bin Laden had been in the process of trying to escape, that would be another matter, a simple question, not worth asking; but assume he was just standing in the room, with no escape possible, when our soldiers blew his brains out. That scenario, and the order that gave rise to his killing in those circumstances, presents the interesting question).

Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 17, 2011, 07:31:09 am
Your reference to the Rules of War [a bit of an oxymoron in my view, and in any event inapplicable to terrorist organizations], as protecting American prisoners in the hands of the enemy, would only have that protective effect where the enemy too is willing to comply with the same rules, which is clearly not the case here.
That may be true but the Rules of War go beyond simple pragmatism in my view. It is a question of honor which is one way that we sustain ourselves in morally difficult terrain. Also, asymmetric warfare is as much a PR battle as it is an actual battle. Stooping to the means of our most barbaric enemies plays into their hands by validating their propaganda in the eyes of the audience they are addressing and so continuing the cycle.

I do agree that these are complicated issues.


I agree with your observations, which demonstrate that all of this is complex. I believe it is clear that the extraction of concrete terrorist plans and other terrorist operatives and cells and couriers did as a factual matter save innocent lives. Your point may be true, or may not be true, as the effect you describe is more attenuated. The counter argument is that "strength" is what is most respected, particularly in the Middle East (worked for decades, though we do see recent revolts, so it is complex). I don't know. What I do know is that if we can get information to foil terrorist attacks before they happen, we should do so. In my opinion.

Even if one disagrees with the legal judgment call of the prior Administration, a call made under extremely challenging circumstances after the September 11th attacks, I see no justification for the present Administration to harass our intelligence officers who were carrying out American policy as it existed at the time. Such second-guessing seems, to me, to be petty and vindictive. Particularly on the part of an Administration that has reaped such benefits from those efforts.
I agree with your assertion that intelligence officers should be held accountable to the rules that were in effect at the time.
But how do we know that the targets of investigation did not violate that standard? If they did but got results, then what? Complicated.

Given the circumstances that existed after 9/11, however, I would most certainly err on the side of giving a great deal of slack to the intelligence officers who shouldered the burden of extracting information from the terrorists. And once investigated and cleared, I would not (as a new Administration) re-open the investigations. Very bad for morale.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 17, 2011, 11:47:49 am
The counter argument is that "strength" is what is most respected, particularly in the Middle East (worked for decades, though we do see recent revolts, so it is complex). I don't know.
I guess that depends on what you mean by "worked" and for whom.
If by "strength" you mean invading countries that didn't attack us resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of people, I respectfully disagree.

What I do know is that if we can get information to foil terrorist attacks before they happen, we should do so. In my opinion.
Sure, but the hard question is by what means? Are you advocating anything goes?
Although I readily admit that drawing the lines is difficult and complex, I believe it has to be done. Even if the details are classified to maximize effectiveness.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 17, 2011, 03:03:57 pm
From this account, sounds like killing him was the only play.  He probably wasn't going to talk, and we got his computers...better he die than one of our servicemen.

Osama Bin Laden Dead: Raiders Knew Mission A One-Shot Deal
 
KIMBERLY DOZIER   05/17/11 07:06 AM ET   

WASHINGTON — Those who planned the secret mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

The U.S. deliberately hid the operation from Pakistan, and predicted that national outrage over the breach of Pakistani sovereignty would make it impossible to try again if the raid on bin Laden's suspected redoubt came up dry.

Once the raiders reached their target, things started to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the operation said.

Adding exclusive new details to the account of the assault on bin Laden's hideout, officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden's door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze play on bin Laden – simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor.

Instead, they busted into the ground floor and began a floor-by-floor storming of the house, working up to the top level where they had assumed bin Laden – if he was in the house – would be.

They were right.

The raiders came face-to-face with bin Laden in a hallway outside his bedroom, and three of the Americans stormed in after him, U.S. officials briefed on the operation told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a classified operation.

U.S. officials believe Pakistani intelligence continues to support militants who attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and actively undermine U.S. intelligence operations to go after al-Qaida inside Pakistan. The level of distrust is such that keeping Pakistan in the dark was a major factor in planning the raid, and led to using the high-tech but sometimes unpredictable helicopter technology that nearly unhinged the mission.

Pakistan's government has since condemned the action, and threatened to open fire if U.S. forces enter again.

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AdvertisementOn Monday, the two partners attempted to patch up relations, agreeing to pursue high-value targets jointly.

The decision to launch on that particular moonless night in May came largely because too many American officials had been briefed on the plan. U.S. officials feared if it leaked to the press, bin Laden would disappear for another decade.

U.S. special operations forces have made approximately four forays into Pakistani territory since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, though this one, some 90 miles inside Pakistan, was unlike any other, the officials say.

The job was given to a SEAL Team 6 unit, just back from Afghanistan, one official said. This elite branch of SEALs had been hunting bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan since 2001.

Five aircraft flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with three school-bus-size Chinook helicopters landing in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way to bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, two of the officials explained.

Aboard two Black Hawk helicopters were 23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo. Nineteen SEALs would enter the compound, and three of them would find bin Laden, one official said, providing the exact numbers for the first time.

Aboard the Chinooks were two dozen more SEALs, as backup.

The Black Hawks were specially engineered to muffle the tail rotor and engine sound, two officials said. The added weight of the stealth technology meant cargo was calculated to the ounce, with weather factored in. The night of the mission, it was hotter than expected.

The Black Hawks were to drop the SEALs and depart in less than two minutes, in hopes locals would assume they were Pakistani aircraft visiting the nearby military academy.

One Black Hawk was to hover above the compound, with SEALs sliding down ropes into the open courtyard.

The second was to hover above the roof to drop SEALs there, then land more SEALs outside – plus an interpreter and the dog, who would track anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces.

If troops appeared, the plan was to hunker down in the compound, avoiding armed confrontation with the Pakistanis while officials in Washington negotiated their passage out.

The two SEAL teams inside would work toward each other, in a simultaneous attack from above and below, their weapons silenced, guaranteeing surprise, one of the officials said. They would have stormed the building in a matter of minutes, as they'd done time and again in two training models of the compound.

The plan unraveled as the first helicopter tried to hover over the compound. The Black Hawk skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air, forcing the pilot to land. As he did, the tail and rotor got caught on one of the compound's 12-foot walls. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose in the dirt to keep it from tipping over, and the SEALs clambered out into an outer courtyard.

The other aircraft did not even attempt hovering, landing its SEALs outside the compound.

Now, the raiders were outside, and they'd lost the element of surprise.

They had trained for this, and started blowing their way in with explosives, through walls and doors, working their way up the three-level house from the bottom.

They had to blow their way through barriers at each stair landing, firing back, as one of the men in the house fired at them.

They shot three men as well as one woman, whom U.S. officials have said lunged at the SEALs.

Small knots of children were on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden's room.

As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds.

Back at the White House Situation Room, word was relayed that bin Laden had been found, signaled by the code word "Geronimo." That was not bin Laden's code name, but rather a representation of the letter "G." Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically, and "Geronimo" meant that the raiders had reached step "G," the killing or capture of bin Laden, two officials said.

As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they'd just run through. Bin Laden hadn't touched them.

They were among a handful of weapons that were removed to be inventoried.

It took approximately 15 minutes to reach bin Laden, one official said. The next 23 or so were spent blowing up the broken chopper, after rounding up nine women and 18 children to get them out of range of the blast.

One of the waiting Chinooks flew in to pick up bin Laden's body, the raiders from the broken aircraft and the weapons, documents and other materials seized at the site.

The helicopters flew back to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and the body was flown to a waiting U.S. Navy ship for bin Laden's burial at sea, ensuring no shrine would spring up around his grave.

When the SEAL team met President Barack Obama, he did not ask who shot bin Laden. He simply thanked each member of the team, two officials said.

In a few weeks, the team that killed bin Laden will go back to training, and in a couple months, back to work overseas.

Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 18, 2011, 06:31:08 am
We've heard several versions of the facts, and now we have yet another version.

I am, of course, interested in what happened, but I doubt we will ever get a clear picture, through the fog of different perceptions filtered through different agendas. 

In the context of this discussion, though, what I am really interested in is the moral question of targeted assassination through a Presidential kill order. While I have no problem with this, what interested me in the discussion above is that nobody expressed any strong moral/ethical objection to this, even under the scenario of Bin Laden standing in a room unarmed surrounded by weapons-wielding U.S. soldiers. I found this reaction to be interesting. At most, Reginald suggested that it is a topic worthy of debate, and suggested it might be healthier to have captured him alive to hold a war crimes trial, but that was as far as Reginald would go. I don't recall anyone expressing the view that it would be morally wrong to outright kill an unarmed target (known to be unarmed).

I have to wonder if all this had transpired under the Bush Administration, if reactions of moral outrage would have been so muted. I have to wonder, if 9/11 had happened under the Obama Administration and waterboarding had been initiated under Presidential authorization, whether the reactions would be similarly muted.

Just as the story of the assault may be filtered through agendas, might moral reactions be filtered through partisan bias? Maybe.  ???
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 18, 2011, 06:34:22 am
What happened to Magic Wand's detailed critique of the story of the assault set forth in the article, above?  I thought it was interesting. Magic Wand, why did you remove it?
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Vic Vega on May 18, 2011, 07:07:31 am
It show up in "most recent posts". But not on the thread itself.

I think the board is acting up.

As far as the reason why there seem t be no outcry re: Bin Laden being just shot in the head.

Does anybody remember the hysterical national freakout when it was suggested we try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in NYC?

I don't remember witnessing greater display of nation punkdom recently.

Frigging INDIA managed to get up the sack to civilly try the one guy it caught regarding the Mumbai attacks but that was utterly out of the question here.

AND KSM is a small fry as these things go.

Had they taken Bin Laden alive all anybody'd be doing now would be arguing if he should be shot outright, or beaten up and THEN shot.

Had they actually tried to try him, the national loudmouths would have thrown a fit.There's a coversation about rule of law to be had here, but nobody in this country is trying to hear it. And it doesn't matter who the President is.


But I DO recollect Obama using the words "FIND AND KILL" during the campaign.

Why should it be a shock when it turned out he meant what he said?   
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Magic Wand on May 18, 2011, 09:01:51 am
What happened to Magic Wand's detailed critique of the story of the assault set forth in the article, above?  I thought it was interesting. Magic Wand, why did you remove it?

I relocated the post to the Osama bin Laden dead thread.
Seems more appropriate there.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 18, 2011, 09:19:08 am

I have to wonder if all this had transpired under the Bush Administration, if reactions of moral outrage would have been so muted. I have to wonder, if 9/11 had happened under the Obama Administration and waterboarding had been initiated under Presidential authorization, whether the reactions would be similarly muted.

Just as the story of the assault may be filtered through agendas, might moral reactions be filtered through partisan bias? Maybe.  ???

No. 

No one cares if bin Laden was armed or not.  If Bush had done this instead of wasting time, money and lives in Iraq, he would have been applauded by the world.  It's hard to remember back that far, but everyone was on our side when America was attacked.  We just squandered all that goodwill.
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Curtis Metcalf on May 18, 2011, 09:35:10 am
Just as the story of the assault may be filtered through agendas, might moral reactions be filtered through partisan bias? Maybe.  ???

Just because you see the world through a partisan filter...  8)   ;)
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 18, 2011, 06:54:52 pm
Just as the story of the assault may be filtered through agendas, might moral reactions be filtered through partisan bias? Maybe.  ???

Just because you see the world through a partisan filter...  8)   ;)

Actually, I believe I'm being pretty consistent. Don't oppose what Obama authorized, don't oppose what Bush authorized. Spread credit all around. Non-partisan.

What got me thinking about this was that I remember the outrage and strong views expressed some years ago on the HEF by many on the Left regarding "targeted assassinations" (conducted by another nation), compared to the fairly muted response now. I also was thinking of Reginald's fairly noncommittal attitude now, though he is often not shy in expressing strong opinions. I also thought of your argument that waterboarding might alienate the Islamic world (and thus in the long run not save lives despite preventing some terrorist attacks) ... but, yet, you didn't extend the argument to suggest that America's sending military troops into a sovereign Muslim nation with whom we are not at war, Pakistan, without the consent of its government, to kill a number of persons on Pakistani soil including Bin Laden, might just alienate many in the Islamic world. The only significant difference I see between the two very similar concerns is that one thing was authorized by Bush, and the other thing was authorized by Obama.  
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 18, 2011, 07:20:18 pm
There are a lot of progressives who have a hard time with Obama's hawkish policies - Cornel West and Jon Stewart, to name two high profile critics.

In my opinion, Pakistan is clearly a crappy ally.  They are unstable, disloyal and keep cranking out nuclear bombs.  With friends like that....
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: michaelintp on May 18, 2011, 07:44:41 pm
There are a lot of progressives who have a hard time with Obama's hawkish policies - Cornel West and Jon Stewart, to name two high profile critics.

Haha, I know some others have raised objections ... but I was talking about the folks here, in our little family of the Hudlin Entertainment Forum.

Jon Stewart? Does anyone have a link to a clip (since I don't have cable ...). I can imagine ...  ;D
Title: Re: Cool Hand Barack
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 18, 2011, 11:03:21 pm
I don't remember the complaints you're referencing, so I can't response the the comparison between the two circumstances. Since Iraq was was pointless, pretty much anything associated with it was a bad idea.

As for the hit on bid Laden, I have no problem with it.  The "kill/capture" program overall....well, I like the surgical nature of it, but there's a whole lot of killings with no due process.  I think of the great film SYRIANA and their depiction of the circumstance of a remote killing.  That felt like a very sad but true depiction of how our foriegn policies are enacted.