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I learned a new phrase this morning on CNN

By Andrew Pollack on 12/07/2005 at 07:48 AM EST

The term "Extraordinary Rendition" -- a phrase created to describe the sort of amoral arrogant abuse of power that our government is involved in. I am sickened and disgusted (though sadly not really surprised any more) that we as a nation are doing things like this. The practice is exactly the sort of thing our spy novel authors and movies depicted being done by the Soviets when they controlled Russia and the National Socialists when they controlled Germany.

It was repugnant then, and it is repugnant now.


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My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/07/2005 at 03:33 PM EST
Oh, come on...... the things that the Nazi's and the Russians did? We've
deported millions, gassed them, shot them? Join the hyperbole game as you
compare what the ACLU considers "inhuman conditions" versus two of the most
despotic regimes in history.

Can you point out specifically where we've tortured people and what was
involved, other than heresay, or Abu Ghraib (where it was acknowledged as wrong
and people were prosecuted)?

Because how I see it is this:

The government isn't going to come right out and tell us what they're doing in
covert ops or otherwise. This leaves those like the ACLU
(politically-motivated, if I thought the ACLU stood for civil liberties, the
case would have more merit, perhaps) free reign to accuse the government of
whatever they want, knowing that it won't be proven in either case.

The media plays up the hype for whatever stories it can sell, the more
titillating the better. Again, they have free reign because it's not like the
government can do much more than deny the stories, and since we're all so
damned cynical about the government who are we supposed to believe? The media
or the government? If you want me to believe that the media is more credible,
I'm going to have difficulty with that (and vice versa).

But to start whining about it? Boo hooo... my government is evil AND it's as
evil as the Nazis (you apparently couldn't write "Nazis" but instead write
"National Socialists"). Let's cloud history and compare ourselves to them,
insult the six million Jews that were slaughtered, the millions that died of
starvation in the Ukraine, and the millions more during Stalin's purges because
we want to express how bloody sorry we're feeling. (Okay, maybe a bit much
here, but you get the drift.)

Here's what I believe:
I don't believe that our government is involved in torture (in legal terms, and
I think they'd toed that line to a microsopic level) because it might liable
them to war crimes.
Now, do I think they're torturing people from the ACLU's perspective? yes. From
Amnesty International's perspective? Yes.







My own thoughts on this are...By Ben Langhinrichs on 12/07/2005 at 04:03 PM EST
Oh, goody, let's measure the nuance of our evil. I hope it makes you feel
better, because it certainly doesn't make me feel better.
My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/07/2005 at 08:47 PM EST
Better yet, let's act is as the next 9/11 is going to be prevented by us being
nice to everyone, that only the guilty will be injured by what we're doing and
that our hands will never be dirtied. And when we find out that it may involve
stuff we'd never condone, never want to hear about, and never have our
government involved in, we can all feign outrage.
Does the outrage (or maybe not that strong an emotion) make you feel better?

Probably nothing does. Doesn't me either, but I'm a long way from comparing us
to historically despotic regimes.
My own thoughts on this are...By Ben Langhinrichs on 12/08/2005 at 09:37 AM EST
I fail to see how terrorism, even the 9/11 kind, is so much more a danger than
the threat posed by the Germans in World War II. Yet somehow, back then, we
thought torture was unacceptable. Later, the Soviets had nuclear weapons,
which could destroy the entire Earth, but, somehow, back then, we thought
torture was unacceptable.

Let's compare that to the current time. We have had some very bad cases of
terrorism, which all taken together including 9/11 and Madrid and every attack
in Israel in the past ten years have not equalled the casualties in one major
battle of WWI or WWII. We have danced our way around torture statutes in so
many ways that even when Condi Rice states that the US does not support torture
here or abroad, few in Europe believe her. And what do we have to show for
that? Well, we haven't had another 9/11, but the people evaluating our
readiness say we aren't the least bit better prepared. The vast majority of
prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been released, after years of detention,
without a single conviction on terror charges. For this we have endangered our
troops, lost our credibilty, lost a fair amount of moral standing in the world
community, provided propaganda for years with the prisoner abuse photos.

I'm not naive. I don't think the US is always going to be nice, or should, or
that you win a war by being nice. On the other hand, I think you do win a lot
more wars of ideas and the hearts and minds of the rest of the world by being
decent, by standing for something moral. I'm guessing that that will protect
us from future 9/11s far more effectively than forcing false confessions from
people we pick up because they look like somebody scary or were in the vicinity
of something bad.
My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/08/2005 at 11:14 AM EST
I agree with you regarding torture and it's accepteance. However, my original
question still stands:
Other than hearsay, media articles, or Agu Ghraib, what real evidence of
torture is there?

We cannot control what Europe thinks of us (and, bluntly, I don't believe we
should care that much about what they think of us. Time may be turning them
away from us as Allies.)- and we certainly can't do a very good job of it when
about half the country wants our current administration to fail because they'd
rather we lose a war and takeover than continue to be out of power (reference:
Howard Dean's recent comment that we cannot win the war.)

Detainees have been kept without charges. Is that torture? It's certainly not
due process, but since when at times of war has anyone been worried about that?
(Japanese detainees during WWII).

If Condi Rice comes out and says there's no torture, and no one believes her,
don't you think that a lot of it is because they're pre-disposed to not believe
her? How's she supposed to prove it, give everyone a tour?

Time isn't turning us (Europe) away from you...By Colman on 12/08/2005 at 12:51 PM EST
...a growing arrogance in your right to do things as you like without
considering the rest of the world is. Aside from this torture issue, think
about the Kyoto treaty, or the barely legal (and that's something I'd argue
against) war in Iraq.

Try behaving the way you'd *like* others to behave towards you. Being a bully
isn't endearing.
My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/11/2005 at 05:30 PM EST
Kyoto.... we're supposed to sign a treaty that doesn't apply to countries like
China or India even though they're taking massive amounts of our jobs, and even
though China is quickly eating natural resources like candy. Yet the only
reason to sign this treaty is because everyone else has.

I don't disagree with you about being a bully being endearing. Unfortunately,
it's hard to see when and if you're being a bully, isn't it? If you're the
country whose freedom needs returned and whose genocide needs ended, you're
certainly not going to look to Europe for any assistance because all of those
countries stopped giving a damn about anyone else when they ended colonization.
This is why they're struggling mightily with the integration of anyone
"foreign" into their cultures.

Europe will move away from us because Europe holds little for the future of the
US. Growth is in the Pacific, where the world's next superpower lies waiting.
My own thoughts on this are...By Ben Langhinrichs on 12/09/2005 at 04:10 PM EST
Other than hearsay and media reports, what evidence do you have of Soviet
gulags or Nazi atrocities? Possibly you have seen a concentration camp or some
evidence of the latter, but I doubt you have seen any of the former. Yet you
have seen photos of atrocities at Abu Ghraib that are acknowledged to be
authentic and dismiss it a bit too easily.

Proof is a difficult thing, but after a while, reports from a number of sources
in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere must gain a certain credence. There are
plenty of people in Europe and elsewhere who do not believe the Holocaust
happened (a tiny minority, but still plenty of people) because there isn't
enough evidence. Are we to hide our heads in the sand that way?
My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/11/2005 at 05:23 PM EST
I don't dismiss Abu Ghraib at all. It was wrong, acknowledged as wrong and the
people who were held responsible were tried and some convicted.

We have survivors of all those camps (Soviet, German) who can testify to what
happened to them, as well as tons of other evidence. Proof isn't that
difficult.

Put it this way:

All of this reports are relying on informants for this information. We relied
on an informant for the information about "yellow cake" from Nigeria. Turns out
that informant wasn't reliable. Why is it you are quick to believe reports of
torture when they're coming from the same evidence we had about WMD?

We know now that the WMD information was BS. However, we don't know whether or
not the torture information is true. What bothers me most is the rush to
believe it's true because that's the way public opinion is going.
My own thoughts on this are...By Ben Langhinrichs on 12/11/2005 at 09:06 PM EST
I don't rush to believe it because I want it to be true. I resist believing it
as long as I can, but have trouble when the Bush adminstration continually
tries to water down the definition of torture, and continually tries to
separate out groups of people as somehow being less deserving of protection
than others. Trust me, I wouldn't believe the other evidence anywhere near as
readily if the current administration didn't try over and over again to argue
that this or that or the other didn't consist of torture, or that torture might
be necessary in these "new circumstances", as if terrorism were that much more
dangerous than the situation we faced in WWII. People acting guilty does tend
to lead one to consider that they might be guilty.
Is this visible?By Jon Johnston on 12/19/2005 at 12:41 PM EST
Not really replying to this thread. Just want to see if Andrew's blog will show
up a thread this long..... if the borders/frame/whatever are too narrow and if
this post will go off the right side.

Merry Christmas, guys.....

Jon
I agree we don't do ALL the things, they did. The things we ARE doing, however, are in that realm.By Andrew Pollack on 12/07/2005 at 05:36 PM EST
I made reference to spy novel authors as that was what it hit me like when I saw the story.

OUR agencies are capturing prisoners in other countries -- not just those we are formally at war with -- and are holding them in secret for extended periods of time without the rights that any detainee would have inside our country.

Worse, we are purposely holding these people outside our country for the stated purpose of denying them those rights.

Further, we are purposely handing them over to other groups or countries not answerable to our U.S. chain of command and its checks and balances so that they can be questioned using techniques the American public finds unconscionable.

Yes, this reads like a bad spy novel -- only in those books its Soviets or Germans who are depicted doing those things. No the US Agencies.

Here's a general rule to go by. If something needs a euphemism in order to talk about it, its probably not a good thing. "Extreme Rendition"? Come on, we're talking about kidnap (we have no legal grounds to detain people in other countries) and torture. Yes, torture. Read the description from the German man who the U.S. has itself admitted was totally innocent of the things they were holding him for.

Is this acceptable to you?

It is not acceptable to me.

To quote Yoda -- "Break me a fucking give!"
My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/07/2005 at 08:31 PM EST
I read the descriptions of what happened to the guy. However, given that the
ACLU is the one filing the suit, it loses a LOT of credibility with me.

I don't disagree that some of these things aren't things that I like. However,
I get really tired of the hyperbole. I keep seeing article about torture, but
never hearing any specifics. See the response to Ben for more.
I agree AndrewBy Amy B on 12/07/2005 at 08:46 PM EST
and among other things, it makes it easier for people to rationalize abusing
American soldiers or civilians. Many of them would do it anyway, but it
absolutely can't hurt their recruiting efforts.

It's certainly not going to make us more popular with folks in other
countries. Just when you think it can't get any worse...
My own thoughts on this are...By mom on 12/07/2005 at 11:31 PM EST
I agree, but the situation is worse. Imagine the U.S. having secret jail
"camps" in foreign nations. Dick Chaney is quoted as saying "it is easy to
take liberty for granted when you never had it taken from you". Ironic, don't
you think? This administration is rapidly eroding our personal freedom and we
as citizens are sitting back fat and ignorant.
My own thoughts on this are...By Jon Johnston on 12/11/2005 at 05:33 PM EST
The situation is worse because you have one political party who would take over
the world if it'd let them, and another political party who only stands up when
the wind is blowing in their direction.
Which is worse? Depends on which side you're on, doesn't it?


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