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Aiding and Abetting

Carol Platt Liebau has an excellent column at Townhall today about the recent actions of John McCain, John Warner and Lindsay Graham.

By helping to defeat President Bush's proposed legislation establishing procedures to interrogate and try terrorist detainees, dissident Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and John Warner have bestowed a great gift on both the President's political adversaries and, much worse, on America's terrorist enemies.

Certainly, despite their misguided judgments on the legislation at hand, all three Republicans do understand that America is, in fact, fighting a war, and that defeating the terrorists must be our top priority. That distinguishes them from most Democrats, who simply don't understand the stakes...

Even so, by helping to defeat the President's legislation in the Armed Services Committee, Senators McCain, Graham and Warner have facilitated Democrats' efforts to portray President Bush's approach to interrogating and trying terrorists as somehow out of the mainstream. They've likewise allowed the Democrats to blur the very real distinctions between the parties when it comes to fighting the war on terror - giving them a valuable opportunity to pretend that their unwillingness to confront Islamofascist terrorism is nothing more than a reflection of the same scruples voiced by McCain, Graham and Warner.

But the political benefit to the Democrats is dwarfed by the boon the McCain/Graham/Warner approach bestows on America's enemies. By offering terrorists the same status as that accorded uniformed military warriors, the legislation favored by the trio only rewards warfare that glorifies the deliberate killing of innocents and undermines a distinction between terrorist and soldier that should be cherished by all civilized people.

Read it all.

Update: Pat Hynes links to John McCain's op/ed on the subject, and Pat's fellow ABP blogger, Bulldog Pundit, weighs in, too.

Update II: Confederate Yankee has shocking pictures of some types of torture that Senators McCain, Warner and Graham oppose.


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Comments (36)

The real "procedure" in que... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:

The real "procedure" in question is sleep deprivation. All the rest are just ways to stop someone from sleeping. Is it torture? Imagine yourself in a comparable situation. You are put in a room that is so cold you can't sleep, with loud music and bright lights. Should you become so exhausted that even those tactics aren't enough, you are repeatedly slapped hard across the face, head or belly, or grabbed and roughly shakened. And it doesn't stop. Your tormentors work in shifts, always someone freshly rested to take over the job of not permitting you to sleep. It continues for days, weeks, months ... If it was happening to you, would you still mock it as not much of anything? How long can you retain your sanity if you are not permitted to sleep?

The best word to describe this treatment is torture.

Incredible. You disregard ... (Below threshold)

Incredible. You disregard former military men and their opinions in favor of one chickenhawk after another......and I thought you guys supported the troops....I wouldn't say you do.

Instead of McCain, Powell, Graham, Kerry, Murtha ect you take these warped sicko pathetic group chickenhawks as your heros?

Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Ashcroft, Dennis Hastert, Bill Bennett, Condoleeza Rice, Katherine Harris, Lynn Cheney, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarborough, Sean Hannity, John Bolton, Ken Adelman, Jeb Bush, Tom DeLay, Roger Ailes, Brit Hume, Tony Snow, Alan Keyes, Kenn Starr, Antonin Scalia, Ted Olson, Clarence Thomas, Andrew Card, Don Evans, Michael Ledeen, Marc Racicot, Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dornan, Trent Lott, Phil Graham, Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle, Tim Hutchinson, Mitch McConnell, Don Nickles, Saxby Chambliss, Mark Souder, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, George Will, Dennis Miller, Ted Nugent, Michael Weiner and Matt Drudge

These are your heros???Pathetic angry chickenhawk loonies....man it sucks to be you.

of all the methods listed, ... (Below threshold)

of all the methods listed, i would say that sleep deprivation, because it can go on close to indefinitely, is perhaps the hardest to endure and the most... painful, for lack of a better unit of measurement.

mind you, however, if it is torture, it is by far the least of it. from what i understand (and i'm not a neurologist, but i do know a little about the subject from school,) "loss of sanity" is simply not a result until the point where other bodily systems have broken down to the point that there are frank physiological symptoms (having, if i recall correctly, mainly to do with blood chemistry.) The point being that under the current guidelines (if we assume they are being followed, which can be argued,) the person would most certainly lose their lucidity, but to paint sleep deprivation as sanity-smashing is a bit hysterical, and reeks a bit of john le carre, to me.

that being the case, I will not quibble that extended periods of (more or less) extreme discomfort and loss of lucidity is, under a certain definition, torture.

the question i have, though, is this:
if we may not make the enemy horribly uncomfortable for long periods of time, and we are not allowed to disorient him, how should we interrogate him?

that's a serious question, and i've tried to keep the snark at a minimum, because i'd like a serious answer.

well done, muir. i, too, ca... (Below threshold)

well done, muir. i, too, can paste names into a blogpost.

and i certainly don't recall citing rove as a hero, but that was a good job of putting words in the mouths of the opposition, or trying to, at least.

and you probably could have picked better, saner figures that John McCain, the Keating Fascist, Jack "OLkinawa" murtha, and John "Magic Hat" Kerry. (who, you'll recall, didn't exactly "support the troops" when he was tossing other peoples' medals around.

so, well done. that's a cut-and-paste, a pair of dubious assertions, a non sequitur, AND a straw man in short order.

now go somewhere else. the grownups here are trying to talk.

i apologize to anon for losing my temper, but even you have to admit these snarky drive-by sprayjobs ad neither light, nor heat, but mostly shit to hat otherwise might be a nfrank and itnersting conversation

Anon's description sounds s... (Below threshold)

Anon's description sounds similar to my 5 years in college. Of course it's not "torture." Spineless cowards like Anon and muirgeo remind me of why I bought a t-shirt that says. "I just neutered the cat, now he's a liberal."

An interesting Freudian sli... (Below threshold)

An interesting Freudian slip in the story. The writer refers to McCain et al as “dissident(s)”. A dissident is one who opposes the policies of an authoritarian government. The Boy Emperor and his followers forget that the legislative branch is co-equal to the executive. They actually make the laws, not The Boy Emperor.

It is kind of fun watching the right crack up and start to cannibalize its own. One can easily infer that the writer is accusing McCain, Warner and Graham of being traitors. A label some of you folks – The Boy Emperor’s Court - like to toss around freely and which demonstrates just how morally repugnant folks who do it are.

It’s pretty sickening to see people willing to sacrifice much of what this country stands for in the name of jingoistic xenophobia.

The war on terrorism is real. We are threatened from without and from the extreme right wing.

So everybody in the room kn... (Below threshold)

So everybody in the room knows a terrorist is a terrorist, and New York is about to be attacked. And all you have to work with is offer High Tea, soft music and pleasant conversation?

When will it become a war crime to hold a detainee longer than 24 hours without fresh underwear and guaranteed legal representation from Ramsey Clark?

Bullsh*t. What the hell are we thinking? That those nice folks in Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Quaeda might possibly think poorly of us? That the UN might might not support us? That we might somehow be excluded from the next global Coca-Cola commercial? That France might disapprove? That Jimmy Carter might threaten to lock himself in the bathroom? That it might harm our most favored nation diplomatic relations with North Korea?

Unlawful combatants are clearly excluded by the Geneva Conventions. The EU does not decide the rules of our legal system, nor does the New York Times, and neither does Amnesty International, CodePink, PETA or Michael Moore.

It's time our politicians and media stopped treating this as a polite Victorian sporting event and stopped playing for the cameras. We're at war. You, your family and your entire Buddy List are targets. It's time we lowered the estrogen level a bit and started dealing with it before we commit national suicide. This is completely nuts.

jdubious, no apologies to anon are necessary. Call 'em like you see 'em.

Is beheading torture? How a... (Below threshold)

Is beheading torture? How about gutting someone? Cutting off genitals?

I think I would prefer sleep deprivation to beheading.

Fine. Sleep deprivation is ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Fine. Sleep deprivation is now torture.

So now it is up to our Brave Congresspersons to come out and call sleep deprivation torture and ban it.

Now is the time for our Congress to make a list of things we do for interrogations that aren't allowed anymore. They should also make a list of techniques that Congress does approve of.

This never should have went to the Supreme Court and the court should have never ruled on it, but they did. So be it. Now we have to live with the consequences of those decisions.

So come on, Congress. Tell us what we 'tortures' we cannot do.

Put up or shut up.

muirgeo: THINK - The vast m... (Below threshold)

muirgeo: THINK - The vast majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution never wore a uniform. Wearing a uniform does not make a Patriot...in this society we all have equal say and the weight of our arguements is in logic not the cloth on our backs. When one serves this Nation it is to protect the principles it represents (and it's citizens) and not to give credence to, or further a political agenda.

Anon's description sound... (Below threshold)

Anon's description sounds similar to my 5 years in college

Exact same thing I was thinking... except they're probably eating better than I did (Ramen noodles - they're not just for breakfast, lunch, and dinner anymore!)

It's time our politicians a... (Below threshold)

It's time our politicians and media stopped treating this as a polite Victorian sporting event and stopped playing for the cameras. We're at war. You, your family and your entire Buddy List are targets. It's time we lowered the estrogen level a bit and started dealing with it before we commit national suicide. This is completely nuts.

Posted by: bobdog


You and some of your buddies here would have made excellent caveman.....but here in America we're trying to stay above that fray. What with 7,000 years of being civilized I think most want not to return to those days. I'm with Powell, Warner, Graham, McCain and the rest of the civilized world.

Unfortunately Muirego We ar... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately Muirego We are in the fray not above it. And the barbarians were dealing with have never been civilized for even one day let alone 7,000 years.

Your with Powell, McCain,Warner, Graham and the rest of the uncivilized world.

If you want to get some sle... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

If you want to get some sleep, tell the nice man what he wants to know. I have not yet found anything in the "Constitution" that sayes you have the right to keep secrete plans to blow up an airplane, or bomb a subway.

For all of you who keep saying that we are above behaving like savages, I wonder just how long you would stick to that belief, if torture of a terrorist would save the life of one of your love ones. It is easy to be very moralistic in theory, but we are not talking theory, we are talking about the very real danger to American lives, both civilian and military.

Anyone who sayes that torture doesn't work is an idiot!

Something that the "anti-to... (Below threshold)

Something that the "anti-torture" crowd never mentions is who these people are. They are completely indoctrinated, hardened, unsympathetic and blood thirsty people who, if they're not being sleep deprived or getting a red belly, would be happily slitting throats of innocent people or gleefully blowing themselves to smithereens in a crowd of children. And they have friends who have not been caught yet that are busily plotting away in the shadows to do more of the same.

It's easy to say one abhors such techniques as are mentioned, another to consider who they're being administered to and what they'd do if the shoe was on the other foot.

If those techniques qualify... (Below threshold)
Florence Schmieg:

If those techniques qualify as torture than what word do we use for chopping off limbs, pulling out fingernails, gouging out eyes, burning the skin, etc.?

To fix this probl... (Below threshold)
Tincan Sailor:

To fix this problem is very simple you
Take No prisoners,no fuss no muss!!!

Maybe I'm confused...we're ... (Below threshold)

Maybe I'm confused...we're allowed to kill the enemy but not make him uncomfortable?

If sleep depravation is torture, I'm suing my college.

We do worse to our own ACAD... (Below threshold)

We do worse to our own ACADEMY GRADS during SERE.

SERE-Acronym meaning Survival, Evation, Resistance,Escape

When was the last time our guys were given the RESPECTS of the Geneva Convention?

Gulf War I?

Women pilots RAPED-Hahn and others beaten to the limit.



Japan? Anyone remember the Bataan death march?

Seriously I'm willing to listen to their arguments but the argument that it would protect OUR soldiers in future conflicts is -insulting.

Knock that off.

OUR own guys are TRAINED to take more than this list of "abuses" or otherwise we aren't training them poperly.

Now there could be an argument made that it would possibly keep our enemies from surrendering sooner-but not with SUICIDAL death combatants looking for that reward .

Are we talking about tortur... (Below threshold)

Are we talking about torturing ACTUAL terrorists, or just those WE THINK are terrorists?

Torture is great if we want people to tell us what we want to hear (whether it is true or not).

Do the Bush supporters want to hear that the enemy is going to blow-up the Mall of America?
Using something I call "the rovian technique", I should be able to shout from the rooftops that Bush supporters want terrorists to blow-up the Mall of America.
Why else would they coerce terrorists into saying it?

And the barbarians were de... (Below threshold)

And the barbarians were dealing with have never been civilized for even one day let alone 7,000 years.

Posted by: 914

Actually they are people just like me and you and they are upset over years of Imperialism, occupation, coups, meddling in their governments, and people trying to take their oil.

I'm not justifying terrorist attacks on civilians but if you want to simplify this as them being BAD and US being good you really are no more advanced then the typical troglodyte and you really have no solution to offer that hasn't been tried and failed over and over for thousands and thousands of years.

Anyone who sayes that tortu... (Below threshold)

Anyone who sayes that torture doesn't work is an idiot!

Posted by: USMC Pilot

Actually that's not true. Many experts would argue that it doesn't work. What's you evidence that it does?

Oh CRIPES-I meant ... (Below threshold)


I meant to type


SERE-Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.

and this aren't training them poperly.


Ya muirgoPoor litt... (Below threshold)

Ya muirgo

Poor little Saddam was sooooooo upset and misunderstood that he gassed the Kurds, killed 300,000 CHILDREN and invaded Kuwait.

Don't you worry about Sadda... (Below threshold)

Don't you worry about Saddam, Rory.

Reagan and Rummy got his back.

The question still remains ... (Below threshold)

The question still remains why. Why is McCain taking this tack? Given his "character", it's obvious that he believes it will somehow aid his 2008 presidential aspirations. McCain does nothing without this uppermost in his mind. The well-being of the nation comes in a distant second. But how does betraying the US help him in 2008? Is it just a matter of the good press he knows he'll get from our one party, anti-US media? I don't get it.

Robert:... WE THIN... (Below threshold)
Charles Bannerman:



If he is wearing a towel around his face, a dynamite vest, hiding behind a child in a school or Mosque, it is a pretty sure bet he is a terrorist.

The Geneva Accords have been a joke since the day they were signed. The only people the US has been at war with who even tried to comply with the accords are the Germans and they resorted to murder and torture of combatants in the final phases of the war.

Rules of war are an oxymoron and anyone who thinks war can be civilized is nuts.

To all you balless cowards-... (Below threshold)

To all you balless cowards-AKA-liberals (like mun-go, hughie, etc.) asnswer this with just a yes or no.
1--your "buddies" (the enemy whoever that may be) has taken one of your kids (whoops-forgot you are balless but anyway) and are holding them .
2--in the meantime you have taken one of thier kind.
3--your "buddies are going to kill your "kids" if you don't do X or Y.
4. Are you telling me that you would treat this piece of pig shit like a human even if it means that your "kids" are going to be killed.
5-- Now answer question # 4 with a YES or NO-no bullshit whiney words just a simple yes or no.

Muirgo - "You and some of y... (Below threshold)

Muirgo - "You and some of your buddies here would have made excellent caveman.....but here in America we're trying to stay above that fray. What with 7,000 years of being civilized I think most want not to return to those days. I'm with Powell, Warner, Graham, McCain and the rest of the civilized world."

"Above the fray" is wishful thinking, although it does apparently describe your thought process. Sorry, but we're in it, like it or not, and all your nice civilized thoughts don't mean squat.

I don't like it, but we're going to get bloody before this is over. Neutering our military, our commander in chief, and our intelligence community in time of war is patently and dangereously stupid.

You're worried that the French won't like us? Ask the Algerians. The Germans? Ask anybody who was there. Pol Pot? Only 6 prisoners survived. The UN? Take your next vacation in Rwanda. Go give yourself a bitch-slap, if your gentle sensibilities permit it.

You're arguing that we alone should wear white gloves and party dresses when people in the dirt are getting killed. Not to put too fine a point on it, I'm repelled by your prissiness and your nauseating weakness.

If that's Neanderthal to you, that's your problem. I'm comfortable with where I am.

Excuse me while I go spear a wooly mammoth. We're having the neighboring clan over tonight, so I can't stay and chat.

jhow:I only have o... (Below threshold)


I only have one question for you. A simple test for a simple person.

Are you still taking your medications?

The problem with all of thi... (Below threshold)

The problem with all of this is the harm that it does to the Geneva Conventions. Basically the conventions are an incentive to countries to conduct their war in such a manner that it tries to limit civilian casualties. The deal is, if you follow the conventions, then we'll follow the conventions. We'll treat our prisoners well if you treat yours well. etc.

We've now broken the conventions to read "we'll stand by our obligations to the conventions no matter what you do."

Where is the incentive for the other party to follow the conventions? We're going to uphold them no matter what they do. If they firebomb our civilians, we'll ignore that and continue trying to limit their civilian casualties. If they decapitate their prisoners, we'll continue to treat ours humanely.

It's simple fact that not being bound by the conventions makes warring easier. Being able to "hide" behind civilians for their attacks, preventing us from effectively striking back, is much much safer than attacking out in the open. Being able to use any techniques they want to gleam information from prisoners is better than having no information at all.

While I'm not advocating that we should immediately get "down and dirty" and slaughter civilians, we should not be shouting from the mountaintops that we will grant you the same protections as if you followed the rules. Unlawful combatants should not be covered by the geneva conventions (indeed the conventions themselves say they aren't) and terrorists are unlawful combatants. Sure, we'll conduct the war in whatever "high morals" manner of our choosing, but if you push us, there's nothing holding us back from unleashing hell.

I don't understand what the... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I don't understand what the big problem is here.

The Lefties/Dems wanted this to go to the Supreme Court. They wanted to treat the terrorists like criminals, not combatants. Fine, they got their wish.

So now it's up to Congress to tell our interrogators what they can and can't do.

It's not very complicated.

Congress (especially McCain, Graham, etc.) now has to put up or shut up.

Congress (especially McC... (Below threshold)

Congress (especially McCain, Graham, etc.) now has to put up or shut up.

They're trying. Frist wants to filibuster it.

Hmmm. Now the Republicans like the filibuster. Interesting.

Oh, by the way, for all you... (Below threshold)

Oh, by the way, for all you "torture works!" barbarians, how well did it work for Maher Arar?

Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found.

With no due process, no charges filed, no right to defend himself, this man was tortured until he confessed to whatever they wanted. He's not a terrorist, he's a software engineer. But you guys think this kind of thing is right. You think our country should ship people off to other nations (Syria no less!) to be tortured with absolutely no evidence, no cause. Just because our government calls someone a terrorist doesn't mean it's true. I am ashamed of my country today. You should be too, but sadly, you won't be.

Torture works indeed. I'd be interested to see what you would confess to under torture, USMC Pilot. Idiot.

You bet "hughie". See I tol... (Below threshold)

You bet "hughie". See I told you so. You would let them kill your own kids (if you could have any) All you "lefties" are afraid to answer a simple question because it will show what a bunch of hypocrites you are. Now take that and stick it up your pro-toot-t (careful to not hit your nose when you do)

"They're trying."R... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"They're trying."


What specific techniques does McCain want to outlaw? Which ones does he approve of? Let's see the list.

Put up or shut up.






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