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January 06, 2005

Modal illogic

Sean Carroll is doing play-by-play on the Gonzalez hearings with a little help from Pandagon.

Behold the moral clarity and legal acumen of our AG nominee:

LEAHY: "Does U.S. law allow for torture, in your opinion?"

GONZALES: "Bush has already said there won't be any torture."

LEAHY: "That's not what I asked. In your opinion, does U.S. law allow for torture?"

GONZALES: "That's a hypothetical question that I won't answer."

LEAHY: "U.S. law. Torture."

GONZALES: "That involves a lot of complex law that I don't know."

Joe Biden also said something sensible (you're nominated for Attorney General, not the Supreme Court, so you can't actually weasel out of giving us your opinions), but is such a pompous jerk that he does more harm than good to his own case.

Update: This guy claims not to have a view about whether Senate filibusters are constitutional. And he wants to be Attorney General?

It's funny to hear the Republicans throw softballs. "Judge, do you think terrorism is bad?" Or course, for most nominees, "Do you think torture is bad?" would qualify as a softball.

People often apologize for torture by congratulating themselves on their moral toughness. They argue that it's right to torture people for the greater good and that grasping this unpalatable fact is evidence of moral, intellectual, and strategic superiority.

If so, Gonzalez ought to say his piece like a man: "Yes, Senator, torture is legal. It is also morally acceptable. We must have the power to torture captives in order to win the war on terror."

If we really need a tough guy to fight the war on terror, this man is obviously unqualified.

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Comments

It sounds to me like Gonzalez is just sidestepping a lot of dumb, loaded questions. Did you really expect him to just walk into an ambush?
If Leahy wants to come to the defense of terrorists, he can be my guest.
It sounds like political hari kari to me, but what do I know?

Steve,

You reinforce Lindsay's point by noting that Gonzales is indeed "sidestepping." If he is going to be our next Attorney General he ought to at least possess the moral fiber and intellectual integrity to answer a simple question directly.

I'd like to see one of the Senators ask Gonzales what he would have to say to the captured American sercicemen and women (and their families) who may be brutally tortured by another nation someday. If the United States is not going to honor the Geneva Convention, we sure as hell cannot expect others to return the favor.

Here is the question that is bouncing around in my head: What authority does the AG have over POW's?
My uneducated guess is that the answer is "none". If that is the case, then all of this questioning about torture of POW's is nothing but political theater on the part of the democrats.
In addition, I don't know what Gonzalez thinks about torture and neither do any of you. However, some of you seem to be dying to hear him say what you think he believes so you can have the satisfaction of your little gotcha moment.
The democrats are simply trying to lay a trap with their "Do you still beat your wife?" line of questioning.
A man with moral fiber and intellectual integrity wouldn't persue that dishonest line of questioning to begin with. Then again, the questioner is Patrick Leahy. Nuff said.
By they way, the prisoners in question are illegal combatants and are entitled to no geneva convention protections. It would be perfectly legal to execute them all under the geneva convention.
Besides, the enemy already doesn't honor the geneva convention and won't in the future no matter what we do.

I think I understand Steve's line of thought on the "Patrick Leahy wants to come to the defense of terrorists" line:

1. Terrorists are attacking us because they hate our freedom.
2. Should we abolish our freedom, we will no longer be targetted by terrorist attacks.
3. Alberto Gonzales is trying to aboliish our freedom.
4. Patrick Leahy is questioning him.
5. Patrick Leahy's actions are putting impediments in the way of our abolition of freedom.
6. Patrick Leahy's actions are putting the U.S. in danger by keeping us the target of freedom-hating terrorists.
7. Patrick Leahy is helping terrorists out by endangering the U.S., effectively coming to the defense of terrorits.

Alberto Gonzalez is trying to abolish our freedom. Isn't that special.

Can I get a response from a non buffoon please?

What really amazed me was the sheer number of questions Gonzales answered by, effectively, BLAMING BUSH. His answers, such as about torture and Presidential authorization, seem to have done irreperable harm to the case that Bush didn't order torture.

I guess this guy really IS as dumb as he looks!

Well gee whiz, I think "do you still beat your wife" is a perfectly valid line of question if you write memos calling laws against beating your wife quaint, say beating your wife may be justified, and claiming that international treaties againt wife beating may be unconstitutional.

Bush won. Get over it already.

Who the heck sits around all day watching an AG confirmation hearing?
Don't you guys have jobs? Hobbies? Anything?

Steve...
hopefully you'll be ignored after this:

you are a troll and a simple minded cretin who doesn't have a comprehension of logic.

Try 2+2=4

I know, I'm wasting my time.

Bye Steve ... run off to your Evangelical (Kill a Queer for Christ) Convention.

xo

Name calling and bigotry.........
It doesn't take much to get you folks to show your true colors, does it?

PS I asked for a response from a non buffoon. That rules you out Bob

Steve,

You're a troll, but I'll respond anyway.

Why is the line of questioning related to torture relevant? Because Alberto "Abu Ghraib" Gonzales (hey, if the Bush administration can give cute little nicknames to terrorists...) authored, co-authored, or approved (*) a memo that said that one of the President's "inherent" powers was the ability to authorize the torture of anyone, at any time, for any reason, as long as it did not occur on American soil. This memo apparently also stated that the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and did not apply to anyone even suspected of being a terrorist.

* - We aren't sure which, as the Bush administration refuses to release any documentation relating to said memo. There's also documentation, in the form of FBI communications that refer to it repeatedly, of an executive order not just authorizing but requiring that torture be used in Guantanimo Bay and Abu Ghraib, among other locations, as part of the "war on terror".

Despite your claims, the Geneva Convention DOES apply to "the enemy". Many of the people that have been kidnapped (yes, kidnapped - no charges have ever been filed, so it wasn't an arrest) and tortured in Abu Ghraib and Guantanimo Bay were civilians with no ties to Al Quida or any other terrorist organization. In fact, I believe that 3/4s of the people we've kidnapped or arrested in Iraq and humiliated or tortured were later shown to be completely innocent. Whoops!

Even if the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to these people, that STILL does not make using torture on them moral or legal. Leaving aside the legalities, the morals are clear, even from a purely utilitarian perspective - the information gathered from torture is always totally and completely useless. ALWAYS.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

"Here is the question that is bouncing around in my head: What authority does the AG have over POW's?
My uneducated guess is that the answer is "none". If that is the case, then all of this questioning about torture of POW's is nothing but political theater on the part of the democrats."

The AG is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. The AG is responsible for prosecuting those who break American law, which includes the Convention Against Torture.

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_cat39.htm

If the prospective AG is confused, not knowledgeable, or actively opposed to certain aspects of American law with regards to torture, that is certainly the business of the Senate Judicial Committee and the American people.

"In addition, I don't know what Gonzalez thinks about torture and neither do any of you. However, some of you seem to be dying to hear him say what you think he believes so you can have the satisfaction of your little gotcha moment."

Well, I'm sure some of "us" feel this way. Some of us would like an AG who believes in enforcing U.S. law.

"By they way, the prisoners in question are illegal combatants and are entitled to no geneva convention protections. It would be perfectly legal to execute them all under the geneva convention."

It would also be against U.S. law to do so without due process. At any rate, we aren't talking about executions, we're talking about torture.

"Besides, the enemy already doesn't honor the geneva convention and won't in the future no matter what we do."

Please explain why the enemy's actions should have any impact on how the U.S. treats its prisoners.

If I were in the "Steve" camp, I'd conclude that Gonzales is a spineless little putz. Given the ideological disposition of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his confirmation is a foregone conclusion; he has the votes already. However, Gonzales doesn't even have the courage to state his views about torture in a forthright fashion in a supportive environment. He is sidestepping, waffling, and dodging.

The fact that you feel the need to put "the enemy" in scare quotes tells me all I need to know about you buddy.

Again with the name calling. Intelligent people can make their case without resorting to name calling. Again, very telling.


What you have described as torture is actually pretty mild stuff. The interrogation techniques referred to do not even deserve to be defined as torture. You're just trying to define torture down for political purposes.
So your entire post is moot and not even worth responding to.
The protections of the Geneva Convention do not apply to illegal combatants which these terrorists clearly are. Go and read it for yourself.
You seem to have your panties in a bunch over the fact that someone has pointed out that the Geneva Convention never contemplated the sort of war we are now fighting and that its provisions may not be applicable to the current conflict. Big deal.
Whether or not it is legal to use certain interrogation techniques is a question for experts such as Mr. Gonzalez. I'm not such an expert. I doubt you are either.
You state categorically that torture never, ever reveals useful information. I doubt very much that you can prove that assertion but as I mentioned earlier, we are not discussing torture.
Nice try. Maybe you should try smoking your pipe a little less. You might be able to put together a better argument.
You are not worthy.

It was fun chatting with you folks while I was at work but now I'm on my own time. Goodnight.
Bush won. It's time to MOVE ON folks.
You're going to give yourselves ulcers at this rate.
cheers!

I've seen little evidence that Gonzalez is an expert in any matter of law, let alone which interrogation techniques are legal and which are not.

But, back to what I think is the point of the post --> If all y'all think some kinds of torture are permissible in certain circumstances, stand up and defend it. This is the opportunity for Gonzalez to do so. It looks like he's not taking it and we all know why. His position is untenable.

I know I said I was done but the lovely Roxanne seems to be pointing to the reason why you folks are really upset with Mr. Gonzalez.
He didn't give you a sound bite that you could use against him! Well, of course he didn't!
That was his mission today and it sounds like he succeeded.
Enough of the sour grapes already. I'd think you'd be used to losing to GWB by now.
Jeez, I wasn't this bad during the Clinton years, was I?


Steve

First of all, I hope very much that you were this bad during the Clinton years. I hope you picked
apart everything he did and everyone he appointed. I hope you did that because it was your job as an
American to do that. I would also hope that you would give this, your current ruling administration
the same level of scrutiny.
Here in Canada, we have what’s called "the official opposition", the official title given to
whatever party has the second highest number of seats. It is the job of the opposition to oppose the
policies of the ruling party.

In our country the conservatives lost the election, and the liberal won. And thank god the
conservatives are on the liberal asses all the time. It's their duty, both in the house of commons and
as citizens.

In our country we don't criticize the government on account of sour grapes, or because we're stupid,
or partisan or Buffoons, or smoke a pike to often, we do it because we should. It keeps people
accountable. If democrats are more motivated to attack Gonzales or the current administrations
policy on torture because Gonzales is a republican appointee, so be it. That makes their criticisms no
less legitimate. So stop with the sour grapes talk.

Otherwise Stevo, your contributions have been invaluable. You encouraged us to delve deeper into our values and question the legitamacy of our arguments. Well done.

Canada Rob


Ah, Majikthise now has enough visibility as a liberal blog that it has picked up it's own winger talking-point trolls. Since today is Alberto "Water-Board" Gonzalez's hearing, the trolls have been filled with their troll talking points: (a) that's not torture, now THIS is torture, and (b) even if you say it's torture, you're just showing how much you hate America, and (c) if you tell their obnoxious talking-point trolly selves to get stuffed, you're a censoring hateful librul. Steve even goes one further by injecting into the argument "Bush won, now you must submit to his every whim" which is a recap of the winger troll talking points from just after the election.

The trolls are such a nasty infestation and they show up so predictably that I wonder if they're on someone's payroll to piss in every liberal fountain they can find. It really says far more about them that they want to do that than it does about everyone whose blog they infest, and who responds to them. I can only imagine what sad frightened little men people like Steve must be, since, after all, if their avatar won, you'd think they wouldn't feel like they had to defend any of Bush's misbegotten "policies".

I have moved on from George W. Bush's defeat! I'm now opposing his judicial nomination. If and when Gonzales is confirmed, I will move on from that to do other things to oppose the Bush administration's harmful actions against the U.S.

I know Bush won. I didn't vote for him, and I still oppose him.

I asked my personal Senator to ask Mr. Gonzales a couple of questions (beyond expanding upon his conjectures about the relevance of the Geneva Conventions in a War against a non-State noun): does he consider our Founding Fathers could have been construed as "terrorists" by the definitions currently in vogue among the Bush People; and whether he advised Don Rumsfeld to dismiss the Iraqi Army so that, no longer being "in uniform", that they would have no recourse to the protections of the Geneva Conventions if/when they chose to "act up" in defense of their country.
Judge Gonzales is relatively young, bright, fairly articulate, and a fine legal weasel, who may grow into a juridical presence of some worth- if he can evade the thrall of unscrupulous Power (&/or evolve beyond it). Like Colin Powell he accepted a script; and so he has a part to play... ^..^

torture? enemies? let's all sing along folks:

The Inquisition (Let's begin)
The Inquisition (Look out sin)
We have a mission to convert the Jews (Jew, Jew, Jew, Jew, Jew, Jew, Jew)
We're gonna teach them wrong from right.
We're gonna help them see the light
and make an offer that they can't refuse. (That those Jews just can't refuse)
Confess, don't be boring.
Say yes, don't be dull.
A fact you're ignoring:
It's better to lose your skull cap than your skull (or your govalt!)
The Inquisition (what a show)
The Inquistion (here we go)
We know you're wishin' that we'd go away.
But the Inquisition's here and it's here to stay!

"I was sitting in a temple. I was minding my own business.
I was listening to a lovely Hebrew mass.
Then these Papus persons plungered and they throw me in a dungeon and they shove a red hot poker up my ass.
Is that considerate? Is that polite?
And not a tube of Preperation H in sight!"

"I'm sittin' flickin' chickens and I'm lookin' throught the pickins' and suddenly thes goyim pull down valls.
I didn't even know them and they grabbed my by the stoghum and started playing ping pong with my balls!
Ooh, the agony! Ooh, the shame!
To make my privates public for a game?"

The Inquisition (what a show)
The Inquisition (here we go)
We know you're wishin' that we'd go away.
But the Inquisition's here and it's here to-
"Hey Toquemada, walk this way."
"I just got back from the Auto-de-fe."
"Auto-de-fe? What's an Auto-de-fe?"
"It's what you oughtn't to do but you do anyway."
Will you convert? "No, no, no, no."
Will you confess? "No, no, no, no."
Will you revert? "No, no, no, no."
Will you say yes? "No, no, no, no!"
Now I asked in a nice way, I said, "Pretty please."
I bent their ears, now I'll work on their knees!
"Hey Toquemada, walk this way. We got a little game that you might wanna play, so pull that handle, try you're luck."
"Who knows, Toq, you might win a buck!"

"How we doin', any converts today?"
"Not a one, nay, nay, nay."
"We flattened their fingers, we branded their buns!
Nothing is working! Send in the nuns!"

The Inquisition, what a show.
The Inquisition, here we go.
We know you're wishin' that we'd go away!
So all you Muslims and you Jews
We got big news for all of yous:
You'd better change your point of views TODAY!
'Cause the Inquisition's here and it's here to stay!

The torture was not torture?

Ignorance is strength?

The problem with Gonzalez is not his low level of competency to hold his post, it's that he's completely free of ethically driven behaviours, and a spineless weakling, as evidenced by his performance on the stand today.

Nobody that floppy and craven should be in his position.

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