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« Panetta Confirms: Information Came From Enhanced Interrogation Techniques | Main | Washington's Energy Policy »

May 09, 2011

Comments

John Quiggin

Decidedly libertarian leanings! I think you mean shmibertarian. Feel free to credit Crooked Timber for this useful descriptor.

John Quiggin

As usual, Belle Waring is responsible

http://crookedtimber.org/2004/09/22/grilled-lobster-on-sugarcane/

Tom Bowler

Per Belle: [C]an we think of a new name for libertarians who think it’s a good idea to invade other countries and overthrow their governments, like maybe “shmibertarians”?

Libertarians come in all sorts of flavors, John. Noam Chomsky called himself a "socialist libertarian" at one time. Now there's a oxymoron if ever there was one. Others, like myself, don't see a problem with a more "aggressive" defense of liberty.

So I didn't have a problem with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, any more than I do with the overthrow of Gaddafi. Although I must admit, even at its bleakest, I was more confident in the ability of Bush to bring a functioning democracy to Iraq than I am of Obama's to do the same in Libya. The world is a better place when more people enjoy liberty.

I appreciate the comments, John.

NewYork1

I think the hypocrisy of the anti-war left, in addition to their emotive rather than reasoned "debate" leaves them without credibility on this matter.

But I cannot agree that there is unanimous agreement on the right about this.

There is a pretty big difference in stating that "information came from individuals who had been subjected to waterboarding" and claiming that waterboarding is what got the information.

Then, even if waterboarding is what did it, you have to take a leap of faith in stating that we would not have figured things out but for waterboarding. There is, after all, more than one way to skin a cat if you have to.

Then you've got the added problem of deciding if this is something we really want to use even if it has utility.

I have also noticed a theme among some in the Republican Party that is simply incompatible with Conservative or libertarian thought -- the notion that Democracy spreads liberty.

This is utterly false. The Founding Fathers, most notably in the Federalist Papers, made it quite clear that nothing good comes from Democracy, which is why they set up a Republic.

The notion that we have helped create Republics in the Middle East is highly dubious. Rather, we have pushed for Democracies in the Middle East. One such democracy brought us Hamas -- who mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden.

You will note that this analysis is quite different from that of the emotive anti-war left which champions the idea that the United States is a plunderer and George W. Bush is a war criminal.

Tom Bowler

[E]ven if waterboarding is what did it, you have to take a leap of faith in stating that we would not have figured things out but for waterboarding.

I think you have that one backwards, NY1. Whether or not we would not have gotten the same information from other sources remains open to question. Maybe we would, maybe we wouldn't. It's doesn't take faith to doubt that we would. The real leap of faith comes when you say that we would have gotten the information by other methods.

And another thing: I just don't get why people assume we didn't try the other methods.

None of which touches on the question of whether waterboarding is or is not torture. For reasons mentioned above, I say it's not, fully aware that I would undoubtedly fold like a cheap suitcase if I were ever to be subjected to it.

And I'll have to give some of them credit on the left. A few of them seem to recognize a moral inconsistency in those who would approve of a bullet through bin Laden's head, but who would condemn the act of pouring water on his face.

NewYork1

"Whether or not we would not have gotten the same information from other sources remains open to question."

As far as I can tell that is exactly what happened -- we got him by tried and true methods. There seems to be a desperate attempt to parse the language used by Panetta into an unfounded conclusion that waterboarding contributed to getting Bin Laden. I don't see it.

What I have seen for too long now is the ability of Bush cheerleaders to make things up.

As for the threshold issue "Is it Torture?", the SERE that you cite was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture.

Malcolm Nance, former head of the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape course (where sailors are trained in resisting interrogation techniques, including waterboarding), seems to know a thing or two about the topic. “I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people.” He roundly denounces the use of waterboarding as wrong, ineffective, and counterproductive.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/10/waterboarding-is-torture-perio/

Tom Bowler

It's a persuasive article you point to at Small Wars Journal, but I'm not persuaded. Consider this statement:

What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.

When the author says, "If this is the case..." I don't get the sense that he is saying that he was guilty of torture as a S.E.R.E instructor, but that waterboarding used on totalitarian whim is. We did not waterboard on a whim. I think that over the period of those eight years there were only three people subjected to it, and it was for an expressed purpose of getting information. Not for the pleasure of watching somebody's pain.

As far as I can tell that is exactly what happened -- we got him by tried and true methods. There seems to be a desperate attempt to parse the language used by Panetta into an unfounded conclusion that waterboarding contributed to getting Bin Laden. I don't see it.

It doesn't take any parsing to understand that Panetta could not truthfully say that waterboarding was not the source of some of the information on the courier. Washington Post reporters are hardly what you would call Bush cheerleaders or torture apologists, but they reported the evidence.

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