May 18, 2004



I look at things from a utilitarian perspective. I say do what needs to be done short of acts that only result in misinformation.

Now where that line is, I'm not sure. There's gotta be intel psychologists for that. And I'm sure the line is different for every person.

But I'm damn sure you don't cross the line by ensuring they get a good nights rest.


Another thing the so-called mainstream press does not report - and I have not seen on this site - is that we could have killed al-Zarqawi back before we invaded Iraq, but the Bush Administration decided against it. He was based in an Ansar al-Islam camp in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq. Bush and Co. decided against torching the camp because they thought it would interfere with the upcoming invasion.

In other words, we would not need to resort to torture now if Bush and Co. had done their job way back when.

But what the heck: let's start by ripping their fingernails out.


Perhaps we need to renegotiate the Geneva convention. Generally you want to do things like this BEFORE you break the law.

Here's the real question. Assume the US is trying to infiltrate Iraq with a special chemical agent that only kills members of Saddam's family. The Iraqi Republican Guard captures a US agent who they suspect knows how to generate an antidote.

What restrictions do you demand that the Iraqis follow in their treatment of the captured American prisoner? Whatever standards you want our enemies to respect in the treatment of our troops, we should respect in theirs.

These rules are doubly important when the enemy is a conscripted army, and even more so when we're imprisoning civilians.

Media Hound

Bryguy writes: "Perhaps we need to renegotiate
the Geneva convention."

Hmm, do you think Bin Laden will do the negotiating,
or will he send Zarkawi in his stead?

How about al-Sadr the "cleric," perhaps he can
bring Zarkawi on the way to the meeting.


Medash, "In other words, we would not need to resort to torture now if Bush and Co. had done their job way back when."

"If/then" statements of the past don't resonate well with me.

If I attended class, then I would've gotten a better grade and not have to resort to cramming. If Disney world had not been built, then I would've gone to Universal studios as a kid and resort to being entertained by Jaws rather than Dumbo. If Carter hadn't been one of the worst Presidents ever(think he's a fine man though) then terrorism might not be as bad. If Reagan had not helped lead the way for inflammatory textbooks to be published in Afghanistan and had responded to the Beirut bombings, then terrorism might not be as widespread. If Clinton had killed Osama when he had the chance, then September 11 might not have happened.

The fact is that we face a threat now and we have to tackle it head on. We can live in the past, but it doesn't ensure a more secure future.

But, what your if/then statement does provide is a lesson on terrorism.

You quote looks like a good argument for pre-emptive strategy to me.


1. How sure is anyone that these four guys actually were involved in the decapitation? Seems like 70-90% of the people arrested have been quickly determined to be the 'wrong' ones, and released.

2. Who actually arrested them, and who holds them? US or IP? Some Ministries have already been given 'sovereignty' - are these guys in the custody of one of them? Can they be made to be? If so, then precedent demonstrates no international objection to Iraqis lowering the suspects feet first into industrial shredders to get them to talk, and if they are innocent and have nothing to say, precedent shows that's ok too.


Just a note, here, I don't expect everyone to read every post of mine, but it would be nice if folks at least read what I wrote when they responded to it. I have never advocated the use of torture. It doesn't even work, for God's sake. Now, neither in this post, nor in Jason's post which I link to, do either of us advocate anything worse than the list of aggressive interrogation techniques Sanchez was just pressured to take off the table. Hooding. Isolation. Sleep disruption. I can live with that -- AND unlike several hundred thousand of those in Saddam's jails, so can they.

It is true that Geneva never predicted anything like this, cannot fully accomodate it. So, at some level, and this is something I haven't seen fully addressed in the press -- but I'm far, far behind on the prison scandal, so take that line with a huge grain of salt -- saying we're shading Geneva may be saying we're dealing with reality. The mistake may not be looking to deal with Geneva's utter inability to account for the situation, but not having done that up front and out in public, but that's a very, very provisional thought since I'm so out of date at this pt on the specifics of Geneva and haven't gotten to the claims yet on what it was the admin. wanted to do with it.

As to the claims that the admin. didn't take him out when they had the chance, once again, Medash, you've got me: I havent gotten around to every single article, argument, position, claim, and issue. I vaguely remember this coming up at the time, and my sense of it is that it was somewhat of a trumped up charge. The admin could not have gone after that camp without creating an enormous international incident (and I thought we were supposed to care what other countries cared about us?) certainly one that would have destroyed any chance of getting an international consensus (before we realized that the French were sabotaoging us anyway.) So either you defend the proposition that we should have just blown off what the rest of the world thought and did, and defend that we should have launched a relatively major operation on what was, after all, sovereign Iraqi soil before launching a war, or you argue we had to care and try and get international support.

In truth people who say they should have gone are really saying he should have done something that without a doubt would have made the larger war impossible. Zarqawi has killed hundreds. Saddam killed hundreds of thousands -- of Iraqis. Far more if you total in the wars that he started. It's awful to say, but this is the way these decisions must be made: you do the math.

This way we still have a shot at Zarqawi.

Do we know it's the right four guys? Reasonable question. All I know is what's in the article. But, like I say, I'm not suggesting we dip them in a vat of acid. Which is no doubt the way Saddam's cops would have handled the situation. And remember, we don't START with the more aggressive forms of interrogation. My argument is that we need to have them available.

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