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Some Free Advice For Congress

With Congressional approval at incredibly dismal levels (I believe polls place them around the level of used-car salesmen, serial killers, and lawyers, and they're heading towards pedophiles and telemarketers), I find myself wanting to offer them some advice.

The advice I have to offer is simple:

DO SOMETHING.

This is awkward, as my libertarian streak strongly believes that "that government is best which governs least," as Thomas Paine put it, but "least" means that they have some things they need to do, and they're failing miserably at that.

Let's start off with the budget. That's the main duty of Congress -- indeed, it's the very first duty assigned to Congress by the Constitution. (Article I, Section 7 -- "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.")

The last federal budget expired on October 1. Congress has not, to the best of my knowledge, passed a single budget bill since then. And the few times they've even come close, they've tried to play politics and/or stuff them with enough pork to guarantee every single Muslim in the world a one-way trip to Hell -- if it were, indeed, actual pig meat and distributed evenly.

Instead, they've played their little games with investigating the Bush administration (I believe the total is over 600 at this point), grandstanding, pointing fingers, and howling like a bunch of... well howler monkeys over everything and anything BUT their actual jobs.

Next up, once they've actually passed a budget, they can stop their howling and whining and shrieking and actually try putting some meat to their complaints.

For example, let's start up with a fun topic -- waterboarding.

During Attorney General Mukasey's recent confirmation hearings, he was pressed repeatedly by Democratic senators to define waterboarding as torture, and to repudiate the practice. Mr. Mukasey refused, and rightfully so -- the Attorney General is part of the Executive branch, and their Constitutional duty is to enforce the laws.

Not make the laws. That's the responsibility of another branch. I think it's called "Congress."

If Congress wants waterboarding to be considered torture, then all they have to do is pass a law defining it as such. Then -- ka-pow! -- case closed. Argument over.

But it's easier and more fun to point and waggle fingers at the Executive branch for not following non-existent laws, to slough off their Constitutional duties and insist that the president do their job for them. Especially if that means they can later howl about the president overreaching his authority.

Finally, there's been a bit of talk about the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions. Some gibbering dolts (I'm trying not to point fingers here) have brought them up in light of the defeat of John Howard in Australia, saying that his successor, Kevin Rudd, has said he will get the Aussies to comply. This ties in -- somehow -- to President Bush's refusal to submit the Kyoto Protocol to Congress for approval.

A little history lesson for those who let their rabid partisanship overwhelm the facts:

The Kyoto Protocol was established in December of 1997, and then submitted to the various nations of the world to accept or reject. Vice President Al Gore signed it on behalf of the United States, but this was purely a symbolic act -- treaties need the approval of the Senate to become binding on the United States.

But in an extraordinary step, five months before the treaty was finalized, the Senate passed a resolution rejecting it unless it put limits on all nations, not just the "developed" ones. Their reasoning -- and I concur -- was that to place limits on the carbon emissions of only some nations and exempting others was not only fundamentally unfair, but foolish. For example, China is exempt from any sort of limitations on its carbon emissions -- and, according to one study, has already surpassed the United States for the title of "most carbon-emitting nation."

And the vote was a squeaker, too. Five Senators didn't vote at all (Democrats Richard Bryan of Nevada, Dianne Feinstein of California, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Harry Reid of Nevada, along with Republican Rod Grams of Minnesota), and 95 voted against Kyoto -- including such notable names as Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Christopher Dodd, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Paul Wellstone.

Naturally, President Clinton took this warning seriously, and never bothered to submit Kyoto to the Senate for approval. Anything that the Senate felt so strongly about that they'd reject it five months before it's even finalized would be beyond DOA.

So, if the Democrats who are running Congress (into the ground) are serious about Kyoto, let them start by passing a new Senate resolution repudiating the 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution and calling on President Bush to submit the Protocol for ratification.

I happen to think that the Kyoto Protocol is a disastrous plan -- by focusing on only certain nations' carbon emissions, and not overall carbon emissions, it reveals itself not so much concerned with global warming as trying to strike some sort of economic "balance" or "justice" by punishing the more successful nations and giving a pass to those working their way up.And that's not even going into the nuts and bolts about carbon's role in global warming -- if it has any, and if the condition even exists.

But if Congress were to actually DO something, or at least try, I'd have a bit more respect for them. And, I suspect, would a lot of other Americans. Instead, we're subjected to endless meaningless hearings and grandstanding and showboating.

Shakespeare wrote the perfect description of this year's Congressional Record: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Speaking as one of those footing the bill, I'd like a refund.


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Comments (52)

Instead, they've p... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:
Instead, they've played their little games with investigating the Bush administration (I believe the total is over 600 at this point), grandstanding, pointing fingers, and howling like a bunch of... well howler monkeys over everything and anything BUT their actual jobs

Let's face some facts; Republicans screwed the pooch while in power. Many of us felt the principles of the Party were never followed from spending, illegal immigration, and a President that hasn't used the bully pulpit that was given to him.

However Democrats put all their efforts primarily into ending the Iraq War while their constituency claimed the executive branch has somehow circumvented the constitution in getting us where we are today and by doing so created a dictatorship. Fact of the matter is the Democrat constituency has been willing to believe anything if it reinforces the idea that they truly hold the moral high ground.

Therefore the constituency believes it is their mandate to punish the administration for all these evil deeds. All one has to do is read the comment sections on a lefty blog to feel the pulse of the left.

They are pissed that impeachment has not begun and that we are still in Iraq. Democrats in Congress are painted into a corner. Since they placated to these lefties to get elected they must maintain that support with at least some sort of activity that says that they are trying. But for many true lefties it's too little and not fast enough.

But then the biggest problem for Democrats is the "left" is a very vocal minority, yet they can't win without them but must also appeal to those more moderate in their thinking.

So in my humble opinion I say let them stay on the course they are. Keep it up. Show the American people that you "put party before country and the U.S. military". Make allegations with no evidence that President lied to get us into war. But the witness list for the defense includes too any of their own party that agreed that circumstance on the ground were what they were because they themselves said so, including their leading candidate for President.

Go ahead and calculate Americans will cheer you for cutting off military spending.

Go ahead and calculate Americans will cheer you for proposing socialized remedies for everything.

Go ahead and calculate Americans will cheer you for proposing raising taxes.

Go ahead and calculate Americans will cheer you for allowing illegal's to have driver licenses and tax payer services.

Go ahead and calculate Americans will cheer you misinterpreting the 2nd Admendment.

In fact this entire scenario of punishing wayward Republicans until they govern by the principles of the party and allowing the country to see what you get with Democrats in power and controlled by the far left of their party seems to be working.

It won't be long until people really start paying attention as we go into 2008. Early polling means nothing right now.

So go ahead Democrats, keep on keep'in on, and make my day.

Unless the U.S. wants to be... (Below threshold)

Unless the U.S. wants to become a one-party system like China or a parliamentary system like the U.K., the current electoral system assures gridlock until one party has firm control of the presidency and both houses of congress.

Despite improving news from Iraq, the public opposition to the war continues to grow, and now tops 67%, and much of the voter anger is that their votes in November 2006 for the Democrats did not end the war because of obstruction from the White House or the Republican minority.

In the past, when the country seemed less polarized politically, there was more cooperation on much legislation. Even Vietnam had widespread Republican opposition, however Iraq has become a largely partisan issue by comparison, making policy on this issue difficult whether to continue this war on the present path, or to cut our losses and leave the security situation largely up to the government in Iraq.

Voters are probably angry that their votes didn't do much to end the war, but that's hardly good news for the party responsible for creating that war either.

And the White House continues to veto legislation that has widespread bipartisan support such as taxing the tobacco companies which are largely convicted racketeers to help pay for their damage to the health of children. When you cannot even get a consensus from the White House to further hold convicted racketeers responsible for their crimes such as manipulating addictive drug levels or destroying evidence demanded by the courts, by forcing these racketeers to pay more for the health of children, then you can see the extreme political problems in Washington to get anything done until you either reform the political system or hold an election in which one party has widespread control of government.

Maybe the U.S. needs constitutional reform to have a parliamentary type system like the U.K. if we want to see anything done and less gridlock. Or maybe the system of checks and balances in which government does little has it's blessings? What do think?

If Congress wants waterb... (Below threshold)
mantis:

If Congress wants waterboarding to be considered torture, then all they have to do is pass a law defining it as such. Then -- ka-pow! -- case closed. Argument over.

But it's easier and more fun to point and waggle fingers at the Executive branch for not following non-existent laws, to slough off their Constitutional duties and insist that the president do their job for them. Especially if that means they can later howl about the president overreaching his authority.

Guess what, Jay, using the rack and pulling out fingernails are not specifically named as illegal methods of torture either. Everyone just understands that they are because they fit the definition of torture, just like everyone understood that waterboarding was torture (hey, if the Spanish Inquisition did it...), at least until the legal geniuses who currently occupy the executive showed up.

Does the legislature need to pass laws defining the rack, the iron maiden, and the thumbscrew as torture in order to keep this administration from using them. As far as I know those are currently "non-existent laws."

I'm still on vacation. And... (Below threshold)
epador:

I'm still on vacation. And I'm staying in a house permeated by BDS. So I was happy to see Joe chimed in early. I suspect its still too early on Monday AM for those with real jobs who aren't on vacation to comment yet.

The thing speaks for itself, as far as # 2 and 3 goes.

Joe and Jay, what I hear from my hosts is that they were so starved to feel as if the US was "going in the right direction" that they are willing to turn a blind eye to reality just to hear the liberal sophistry mantra repeated over and over from Bubba and spouse. When I couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer hearing the long BDS chants here, and pointed out the real problems that happened under the Clinton reign that plague us even now, I would first get a blank stare, then something to the effect of "well, there's no way to prevent that" whether referring to terrorism, greed in government, immigration, unrealistic economic bubbles waiting to burst. I'm no defender of what W and the Republican Party IS responsible for (as outlined by Joe above), and I let them know that as well.

Conversation here is now apolitical. Seems that, just like on Blue, if you can't be part of the echo chamber, there's no point in including you in the mantra.

Despite improving ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:
Despite improving news from Iraq, the public opposition to the war continues to grow, and now tops 67%, and much of the voter anger is that their votes in November 2006 for the Democrats did not end the war because of obstruction from the White House or the Republican minority.
The breakdown in dissatification isn't that simple.

Everyone wants the war to end today. Most are dissatisfied with it taking this long (67%). But that doesn't mean all those 67% want to pack up and go home right now regardless of the circumstances. A healthy portion of the 67% want us to go home victorious right now.

Enough of the 67% don't want it to end with the US running away with our tail between our legs that the Democrats are terrified to end it that way.

Despite improving ... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:
Despite improving news from Iraq, the public opposition to the war continues to grow, and now tops 67%, and much of the voter anger is that their votes in November 2006 for the Democrats did not end the war because of obstruction from the White House or the Republican minor

I'm curious as to why Democrats just don't come out and say "this is over" and veto all you want, you are not getting another penny. We are sticking to our guns on this.

My guess is they are trying not to appear to be cutting off at the knees those actually serving in a combat zone. The left wing doesn't seem to have a problem with this. What I gather from their blog comment sections they believe they are doing the U.S. military a favor.

If the poll question was posed "Do you favor a defeat and an immediate withdrawal now", I believe that number would shift and Democrats probably know that. In the mean time if you want to hang out with the cool crowd majority, then keep on agreeing that you hate the war, as if Republicans love the war.

Democrats do have to make the decision, "defeat NOW" or continue to see if our progress continues enough to secure a clear victory.

The "defeat now" option guarantees Democrats can claim they fixed Bush's problem, but allowing things to move forward in our progress with the chance of success makes them out to be on the wrong side of history.

Personally I want to win. It's in our country's best interest to have our boot on Islamo-fascism's neck. Public opinion in the Islamic world has completely shifted from support of jihad to opposing it primarily because we made them fight it out over there.

Guess what, Ja... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:
Guess what, Jay, using the rack and pulling out fingernails are not specifically named as illegal methods of torture either. Everyone just understands that they are because they fit the definition of torture, just like everyone understood that waterboarding was torture (hey, if the Spanish Inquisition did it...), at least until the legal geniuses who currently occupy the executive showed up

I'm sure many (on the left) would agree that sleep deprivation, standing in your underwear in a cold room while listening to "Iron Maiden" the heavy metal band at a high volume was torture too. (Maybe not so much the loud music part)

Deciding what is legal or illegal after the fact is like getting tazed for refusing to sign a speeding ticket and the speeder saying "who said you could do that "and the cop saying "no one said I couldn't".

Define the parameters Congress.

But I think Democrats are back in the catch-22 on this topic of seeming to agree with their left wing base while doing nothing as to not seem soft on psycho killer Islamics.

On one side you have BDS, t... (Below threshold)
Allen:

On one side you have BDS, the other side has CDS. If people would forget all the BS and tell the bottom feeders in Congress to start working for America, and the American people, maybe something would get accomplished.

Until a large group of people, doesn't matter which party, starts demanding Congress has the cranium/rectal surgery and get their asses to work.

And part of the House and Senate is to PROVIDE oversight. And we all know that was lacking for several years. So in that part, Congress is doing something.

But America has more problems that just the Iraq/Afgan war. The majority of people want, and should be screaming for our elected bottom feeders to be working on those problems.

Only Paul Hooson would comm... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Only Paul Hooson would comment so lamely. 98% of Americans that PAY taxes think they pay too much. So, by Paul's thinking, we should eliminate the tax system. 100% of Americans want the war to end, putz. As they did in all wars. Please, keep your thoughts to yourself buddy. I also like the line "even some republicans were against the Vietnam war". Considering that war was mostly created by and for democrats, I find your snarky comment dishonest. ww

The Thunder Run has linked ... (Below threshold)

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/26/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...

"and much of the voter a... (Below threshold)

"and much of the voter anger is that their votes in November 2006 for the Democrats did not end the war because of obstruction from the White House or the Republican minority."

How much is "much"? How many? And you're not the first one to offer this "opinion" here. Voter dissatisfaction with Congress is not primarily over the war. And it's not all the Republicans' fault. There are Democrats who are voting with the Republicans on a number of issues.

Back in June it seems that "many" who disapproved due to the war constituted about 20% of 75%:

Among the nearly three-quarters of Americans expressing a pessimistic viewpoint, about one in five blamed the war for their negative outlook, and about the same ratio mentioned the economy, gas prices, jobs or debt as the main reason for their dissatisfaction with the country's direction. Eleven percent cited "problems with Bush," and another 11 percent said "everything" led them to their negative opinion.

People are just as concerned with immigration, spending, education, healthcare, etc.

I screwed up my link - <a h... (Below threshold)

I screwed up my link - 20% of 75%

mantis - "...just like ... (Below threshold)
marc:

mantis - "...just like everyone understood that waterboarding was torture (hey, if the Spanish Inquisition did it...), at least until the legal geniuses who currently occupy the executive showed up."

Everyone understood it?

Just who is everyone? Define it, can you list them? The term majority may be more accurate, but hey... it's your hyperbole, not mine.

And BTW, if you attempt to list them don't bother listing outside sources, i.e. like the U.N., Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross. Internal U.S. policy shouldn't be based on what others outside the U.S. system think.

Sorry, Kerry's "global test" tripe did just as much to hurt his campaign as anything else.

How about this, marc: In 19... (Below threshold)
mantis:

How about this, marc: In 1947 the United States government defined waterboarding as a war crime and sentenced Japanese officer Yukio Asano to 15 years of hard labor for performing it on a U.S. civilian.

You'll probably have stop your hand waving to read about it.

Now that's funny mantis, we... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Now that's funny mantis, we already had a thread with that article and, as it notes, there are a number of different procedures called "waterboarding". The one the Japanese guy did involved water going into the subject. AFAIK, the one the CIA uses doesn't. And notice the picture, there is something covering the Vietnamese guy's face, so wather isn't going in there eaither.
Perhaps you should read your links?

But you know what made me laugh the most?
Quoth mantis above
just like everyone understood that waterboarding was torture (hey, if the Spanish Inquisition did it...), at least until the legal geniuses who currently occupy the executive showed up.

From your linked article

The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."

Huh, so maybe not everybody before the current machiavellian idiot in office thought it was torture. Or is something "unpleasant while not causing permanent injury" torture in "everybody's" dictionary?

mantis - "the United St... (Below threshold)
marc:

mantis - "the United States government defined waterboarding as a war crime and sentenced Japanese officer Yukio Asano to 15 years of hard labor for performing it on a U.S. civilian."

And so?

The man charged was not only a Japanese citizen but a member of the Japanese Imperial Army. The U.S. Gov can call it anything they want to with regards to what is done to other citizens.

They may have "defined it" 50 years ago but to this day there is no law that specifically outlaws it.

BTW - you left out this section of your link and refs events after 9/11 and the desire by CIA interrogators to use more coercive methods.:

These were cleared not only at the White House but also by the Justice Department and briefed to senior congressional officials, according to a statement released last month by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Waterboarding was one of the approved techniques.
When questions began to be raised last year about the handling of high-level detainees and Congress passed legislation barring torture, the handful of CIA interrogators and senior officials who authorized their actions became concerned that they might lose government support.

The man charged was not ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The man charged was not only a Japanese citizen but a member of the Japanese Imperial Army. The U.S. Gov can call it anything they want to with regards to what is done to other citizens.

I see, so you insist I provide examples from groups other than those like "the U.N., Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross," and when I provide you with an example of the U.S. government calling waterboarding torture, you're response is basically, "Yeah well, so what?"

What a tool.

The man charged was not ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The man charged was not only a Japanese citizen but a member of the Japanese Imperial Army. The U.S. Gov can call it anything they want to with regards to what is done to other citizens.

I see, so you insist I provide examples from groups other than those like "the U.N., Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross," and when I provide you with an example of the U.S. government calling waterboarding torture, you're response is "Yeah well, so what?" You are a moron, marc.

Mantis, you are in fact the... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Mantis, you are in fact the "tool" because waterboarding today does not match what that japanese officer was accused and convicted of doing to prisoners.

Like your misrepresentation of the practices of the Spanish inquisition, the practices of the japanese officer consisted of actually putting water into the body of the victim. The japanese officer was actually accused of abuse and torture of prisoners which included many practices, not exclusively but among which was the water torture.

Not that such misrepresentation is anything new for you.

mantis - "I see, so you... (Below threshold)
marc:

mantis - "I see, so you insist I provide examples from groups other than those like "the U.N., Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross," and when I provide you with an example of the U.S. government calling waterboarding torture, you're response is basically, "Yeah well, so what?"

NO, my response was to a single isolated incident from 60 years ago that was in the context of a trial of a foreign national and member of a foreign gov that had been at war with the U.S.

Nice try, but you failed to show me a LAW that bans the use of water boarding.

'Til then my response to you on this subject is, indeed, "so what!"

Oh... and BTW, I failed to ... (Below threshold)
marc:

Oh... and BTW, I failed to note your use of the "moron" invective.

Nice, real nice.

If you were on a 5th grade playground.

Nice try, but you failed... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Nice try, but you failed to show me a LAW that bans the use of water boarding.

War Crimes Act of 1996, but that was before this administration decided that the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and they didn't have to follow them anymore.

See also the U.S. Army's Field Manual on interrogation, at least until the Pentagon decided to classify the methods section in response to the proposed McCain torture amendment in 2005.

mantis, waterboarding is no... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

mantis, waterboarding is now a game played by thousands of children, thanks to the idiot democrats. Since it is not 'torture' (proven by the children) then a law passed by the current congress would be required to eleminate it in the military. No one else pays attention to any laws passed by congress, and it will only cause more children to play the game. Haven't you looked at the prison population lately, idiotic (democrat passed)laws don't prevent crime, they only put more people in prison.

mantis - "War Crimes Ac... (Below threshold)
marc:

mantis - "War Crimes Act of 1996, but that was before this administration decided that the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and they didn't have to follow them anymore."

Um... no they didn't.

The admin decided, and rightly so, the Geneva Conventions with regards to torture were so inexact and open to differing interpretations it wasn't worth a hill of beans.

more mantis... this time WAY behind the news cycle, by OVER A YEAR:

It also explicitly bans beating prisoners, sexually humiliating them, threatening them with dogs, depriving them of food or water, performing mock executions, shocking them with electricity, burning them, causing other pain and a technique called "water boarding" that simulates drowning, said Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.
And BTW mantis... before you continue to make a fool of yourself the Army Field Manual is NOT a law passed by Congress.

I'm still waiting for you to provide that.

And BTW mantis... before... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And BTW mantis... before you continue to make a fool of yourself the Army Field Manual is NOT a law passed by Congress.

I didn't say it was.

I'm still waiting for you to provide that.

I already did.

And mantis... my original s... (Below threshold)
marc:

And mantis... my original statement as quoted by you was, "Nice try, but you failed to show me a LAW that bans the use of water boarding."

In response you noted the War Crimes Act of 1996.

Where in that section of the U.S. Code does it specifically state water boarding is banned?

Can you quote the passage?

Where in that section of... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Where in that section of the U.S. Code does it specifically state water boarding is banned?

And we come full circle. Refer to my first comment.

Well maybe you're right man... (Below threshold)
marc:

Well maybe you're right mantis. About the "full circle" thing that is, because that comment contained the following: "just like everyone understood that waterboarding was torture" and your "circle" contains no law and no definition by the U.N. or U.S. Code just what water boarding is or makes the slightest attempt to ban it.

So again just who is "everyone?" And considering you started down this road with zero reason to do so.... Moron.

Of course you keep ignoring... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Of course you keep ignoring my central point, which is that there are a number of methods of interrogation that, while not specifically outlawed by name, are still illegal. But let's recap:

mantis: Waterboarding doesn't need to be specifically named to be illegal. There was never any question about its legality before.

marc: Who knew it was illegal? You can't use international examples.

mantis: How about a US court in 1947?

marc: Doesn't count, because he was Japanese or something. Now I've decided you must refer to a specific statute.

mantis: How about the War Crimes Act?

marc: I'll ignore that and claim you didn't cite any law.

mantis: Well, I did.

marc: That doesn't count because it doesn't specifically name waterboarding.

mantis: You miss my original point.

marc: I'm going to continue to ignore it.

But you're right, I shouldn't have called you a moron. You are clearly intelligent enough to know what my point was, but you choose to wave your hands instead. So, sorry for calling you a moron, I was mistaken. You're clearly an asshole.

Actually mantis you're wron... (Below threshold)
marc:

Actually mantis you're wrong again.

I'm not just an "asshole," but the Grand Master of All Assholes whose best comes out with the likes you who start from your first comment with overblown hyperbole to prove "everyone" knows, they JUST KNOW water boarding is illegal.

You started with a false premise then use "The Moron Card" when called on it. Then you "claim" I missed the point. You had no point, no proof it was illegal, and no intellectual honesty to either admit that or quietly slink away from the thread.

Your "proof" is in YOUR DEFINITION, not everyones.

Of course by YOUR DEFINITION anything short of three five course meals per day and daily conjugal visits for jihadist-cut-throats would be "torture."

Not to mention "don't tase me Bro," at least according to the U.N.

You can pretend it's not th... (Below threshold)
mantis:

You can pretend it's not there, but it is.

War Crimes Act of 1996:

(a) Offense.-- Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death. (b) Circumstances.-- The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act). (c) Definition.-- As used in this section the term "war crime" means any conduct--...

(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or...

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Not my definition. You were saying something about intellectual honesty, asshole?

Hmmmmm.... showing your red... (Below threshold)
marc:

Hmmmmm.... showing your redundancy (quoting what I already linked to) isn't proof of anything.

I repeat, where's the ref to water boarding?

You've have placed your definition on the tactic and feel it fits the criteria outlined. Fine for you, in fact I'm happy for you, but "everyone," (the term used in your original comment) doesn't agree with your definition including the U.S. Congress who haven't outlawed the practice.

dickhead.

And I repeat, it doesn't ne... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And I repeat, it doesn't need to be specifically named (the rack isn't referenced in any US law, can we use that?), and even if it were, this administration would just name it something else and call it legal. It fits under general laws about treatment of prisoners, unless you don't consider waterboarding to be inhumane. Which is, of course, what I meant by everyone. No one in the US considered waterboarding to be humane treatment of prisoners, and most were familiar with the history of water torture, even if only vaguely so. Even this administration didn't try to make the argument that waterboarding was humane, they instead claimed that our laws don't apply when dealing with certain people of their choosing.

Once again, it is not my definition. The US Congress has outlawed the practice, in 1996. They also outlawed it again with the Detainee Treatment Act. That was subsequently made unenforceable in the case of all terror detainees, however, by the Graham-Levin Amendment.

No one in the US consid... (Below threshold)
marc:

No one in the US considered waterboarding to be humane treatment of prisoners, and most were familiar with the history of water torture, even if only vaguely so.

No one but the CIA and the U.S. military. Oh, and there's that little thing called Navy Seal training.

You're so full of shit your eyes are brown.

You really think the CIA an... (Below threshold)
mantis:

You really think the CIA and the military considered it humane? Based on what? And the use of waterboarding in SERE training was to prepare them for the reality of being tortured should they be captured by the enemy.

Do you really think I belie... (Below threshold)
marc:

Do you really think I believe your BS and spin?

You're funny. Are your arm... (Below threshold)
mantis:

You're funny. Are your arms tired yet?

I notice mantis didn't resp... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

I notice mantis didn't respond to my comment.

Good work there mantis. I look forward to your comment about how I'm irrelevant or something.

But you know what made me laugh the most?
Quoth mantis above

just like everyone understood that waterboarding was torture (hey, if the Spanish Inquisition did it...), at least until the legal geniuses who currently occupy the executive showed up.

From your linked article

The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."

Huh, so maybe not everybody before the current machiavellian idiot in office thought it was torture. Or is something "unpleasant while not causing permanent injury" torture in "everybody's" dictionary?


Good work there mantis. ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Good work there mantis. I look forward to your comment about how I'm irrelevant or something.

Like the buzzing of flies.

From your linked article...

Did you notice the next line?

The picture reportedly led to an Army investigation.

Gee, I wonder why.

<a href="http://abcnews.go.... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Here are the details about waterboarding in Vietnam and that photo:

Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in Vietnam 40 years ago. A photograph that appeared in The Washington Post of a U.S. soldier involved in water boarding a North Vietnamese prisoner in 1968 led to that soldier's severe punishment.

"The soldier who participated in water torture in January 1968 was court-martialed within one month after the photos appeared in The Washington Post, and he was drummed out of the Army," recounted Darius Rejali, a political science professor at Reed College.

You were saying?

Water boarding was desig... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals

UCMJ is not the law of the land, it's the law of the military. As was noted above.

You were saying?

And that makes a difference... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And that makes a difference how, exactly?

None whatsoever. You are ab... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

None whatsoever. You are absolutely correct. Since our military's UCMJ makes it illegal, everybody knew it was illegal.
Well, except for in that article you linked that said
The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."

The article said the pra... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."

Shall we discuss some other activities engaged in by our forces in Vietnam which were "fairly common" and illegal?

And if you have any evidence that this method was accepted, policy-wise, by the Pentagon during the war I'd be interested in seeing that as well.

From your story (last parag... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

From your story (last paragraph):
Passage last month of military commissions legislation provided retroactive legal protection to those who carried out waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques

So maybe it's not even illegal now. Or maybe doing it wasn't considered to be illegal at the time.
You keep trying to conflate different types of waterboarding as well.

You can try to redefine torture to mean what you want it to mean, but words have meanings. And being made uncomfortable isn't "Torture".
Nor will someone who waterboarded a terrorist be charged, as per your link.

Shall we discuss some ot... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Shall we discuss some other activities engaged in by our forces in Vietnam which were "fairly common" and illegal?

Yes, I would like to see you write about that. I could use a good laugh. And provide links (that don't lead to the IMDB page of Apocolypse Now, The Boys in Company C, Platoon or Full Metal Jacket).

Or even Apocalypse Now. </p... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Or even Apocalypse Now.

So maybe it's not even i... (Below threshold)
mantis:

So maybe it's not even illegal now.

Yeah, I know, and it pisses me off.

Or maybe doing it wasn't considered to be illegal at the time.

Why would they need retroactive immunity for something that wasn't illegal?

You keep trying to conflate different types of waterboarding as well.

A yes, the claim that there is some sort of humane form of waterboarding. I don't think so.

You can try to redefine torture to mean what you want it to mean, but words have meanings. And being made uncomfortable isn't "Torture".

And you can call half-drowning someone "being made uncomfortable" (hey, being electrocuted is uncomfortable too!), but that doesn't change what it really is.

Nor will someone who waterboarded a terrorist be charged, as per your link.

I know that, and that is the problem. This administration has done a very good job of creating a situation where they can detain anyone they want (including US citizens), anywhere, for reasons they don't need to explain, without presenting any evidence or allowing and without any legal recourse for the detainee. People like you are willing to believe that everyone they detain is a terrorist just because they say so, and have no problem with them using whatever interrogation methods they want because hey, they're terrorists, right?

I'm not really concerned about the welfare of actual terrorists, but in our courts, with all the rules of due process, habeas corpus, and appeals process, we still convict innocent people. The idea that we have a military system with almost no legal oversight and no rights for the accused is appalling to me and antithetical to the fundamental legal principles of this country. Under those circumstances the idea that we are willing to torture, or, excuse me, use "enhanced interrogation techniques" on people we detain is disgusting to me. It should be to you too.

Yes, I would like to see... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Yes, I would like to see you write about that.

Why don't you just read about it.

Start with the activities of Tiger Force, the Thang Phong raid, the Son Thang massacre, and the atrocities detailed by Lt. Col. Anthony Herbert.

A yes, the claim that th... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

A yes, the claim that there is some sort of humane form of waterboarding.
Now you're just being rude. I never said humane, I said that one type puts water into the subject (the one that I could concede is torture) and the type the doesn't (that's not torture, but show me where I said "Humane")

The idea that we have a military system with almost no legal oversight and no rights for the accused is appalling to me and antithetical to the fundamental legal principles of this country.
That's just silly, lefty talking points. If it were so, I would agree with you, but it isn't so I don't.

This administration has done a very good job of creating a situation where they can detain anyone they want (including US citizens), anywhere, for reasons they don't need to explain, without presenting any evidence or allowing and without any legal recourse for the detainee
Ummmmm, no. Padilla got his trial, so did the terrorist they picked up on the battlefield. That was in all the papers.

And you should also know that any information garnered under these techniques can't be used in court, it's used to stop future terrorist attacks.

Really mantis, get educated.

My failure to respond to an... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

My failure to respond to any future postings on this thread should not be considered an admission of defeat, as usual, I'm sick of going round the mulberry bush with you as you refuse to ever admit you're wrong in any least particular.

I said that one type put... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I said that one type puts water into the subject (the one that I could concede is torture) and the type the doesn't (that's not torture, but show me where I said "Humane")

Splitting hairs. We should be doing neither.

That's just silly, lefty talking points.

No, it's not.

Ummmmm, no. Padilla got his trial, so did the terrorist they picked up on the battlefield. That was in all the papers.

Ok, you're right, Padilla got a trial after being held without charges for over 4 years, despite being a US citizen.

And you should also know that any information garnered under these techniques can't be used in court, it's used to stop future terrorist attacks.

Oh, well that just makes it all ok, then. Just say the word terrorism and you can do whatever you want.

My failure to respond to any future postings on this thread should not be considered an admission of defeat, as usual, I'm sick of going round the mulberry bush with you as you refuse to ever admit you're wrong in any least particular.

I admit when I'm wrong. I'm not in this case, and you haven't shown me to be so.




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