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Monday, August 31, 2009
Doug Wilson has an excellent post on Obama's power grabs (of which the "torture" prosecution is only the latest).
[Obama] is going to do a lot of damage to the nation, and so I would like to lay the full responsibility for this current mess at the feet of Bush/Cheney. In the aftermath of Holder's decision to investigate some of the CIA interrogators, Dick Cheney said that their administration had kept us safe for eight years, etc. But here is the problem with that argument. They didn't keep us safe.

They kept us safe from another attack from Osama, sure, but they did not protect us from Obama. They helped to sustain, create, or grow monstrous government mechanisms that are being used to destroy the nation, and all that was necessary for the destruction to begin in earnest was one election. The mechanisms of big government, which were not rejected or dismantled during the Bush years, were just sitting there, waiting (Ecc. 10:14). They were sitting there invitingly.

Obama has already done more damage to the economy than Osama did. Maybe not on purpose like Osama, but trillions down the drain are still trillions down the drain. And Obama was able to do this damage by doing the same sort of things that Bush/Cheney did, only on a grand scale. And he was able to do these things because Bush and Cheney helped establish in our minds that this kind of governmental swollenness is "just the way it has to be."

But here is a governmental rule of thumb. If you have to create mechanisms of coercion, which is a good, working definition of what civil government is, then you ought to do it not knowing beforehand whether the winners of the next three elections will be honorable or dishonorable men. This is what our founding fathers did. They assumed that American rulers were every bit as capable of being skunks and graspers as rulers throughout the rest of history had been, and they shaped the form of government accordingly. There is a proportional relationship (and a necessary one) between what a government can do for you, and what a government can do to you. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. Our modern big government "conservatives" are as muddled on this point as anyone, and it is long past time for us to stop listening to them.


Chris A said...

Don't be fooled into thinking that there is any real substantive meaning to these so-called investigations. This is just Obama trying to revitalize the anti-war leftists that he has betrayed with promises of immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, etc. This is meant to remind people who the "real enemy" is, and hopefully salvage the president's faltering approval rating.

And of course Cheney is defiant and dismissive. He knows its all for show. He's saying it is a "political act", and obviously it is. It means nothing. If anything they'll burn some low level people, just like what happened with Abu Graib. I mean, somebody's got to take the fall. It may as well be the people taking orders.

But you can't do CIA people like you can do regular military folks. No one with any sense actually believes the administration is going to prosecute the shadow government. If they got away with smuggling cocaine in the 80's, you can be sure they will get away with this too. People may find out that CIA did unspeakable acts with battery acid, but it will be viewed as CIA under Bush's leadership, not the president "born in a manger". Because they have changed "interrogation technique" guidelines, they have actually diverted attention away from CIA and back to Bush and the Neocons. Just more divide and conquer ideology. And everyone wins. The democrats get to re-focus on the evil Bush regime, and the neocon-sympathizers can keep defending Bush and tout his genius in keeping us safe from the evil brown people devising nefarious plots in far away caves.

Steve said...

I don't care if they did throw battery acid on those mass murdering monsters.

How many INNOCENT lives were ripped apart forever by those evil killers?

And they weren't finished.

Thanks be to God for those people that kept us safe.

That we would even think about prosecuting them is the most foolish thing we could do.

Next time, they (the interrogators) will sing lullabys to them instead and more innocent people will die.

Chris A said...

"Next time, they (the interrogators) will sing lullabys to them instead and more innocent people will die."

Personally, I disagree with torturing people. Its wrong and inconsistent with the principles upon which our republic was founded. But if you actually think that the CIA will treat suspects (because that's what they are in most cases, rather than "mass murdering monsters") any more gently because Obama is changing the official guidelines, you are mistaken. This is all for show. Don't be fooled. And despite the fact that Obama is singing the tune of the people he betrayed in doing this, his hands are pretty much tied anyway because the UN is getting involved. Of course they won't do anything to the U.S., just like they never punish Israel, but they have to give the appearance of fairness to the rest of the world, and they are doing it by saying that there should be an investigation into CIA torture. See the article below.

And look, people can play semantics all they want. They can call it "interrogation techniques" or whatever, but seriously. When you have John Yoo, one of Bush's Justice Department lawyers, literally debating that the president can legally order people to crush the testicles of little boys, not only does that alone betray a culture of torture, but it shows how satanic some of Bush's people were.

Darius said...

I agree, Steve. But Chris is probably right too... while Obama is publicly prosecuting the CIA, he's privately using rendition techniques. He knows that the CIA has to be able to do its job, but he also wants to score political points when he has few things going for him. The CIA is the loser here, because their boss is both telling them to do something and then threatening to punish them when they obey him. They're even going to go after lawyers who offered legal opinions!! How idiotic is that?

When you have John Yoo, one of Bush's Justice Department lawyers, literally debating that the president can legally order people to crush the testicles of little boys, not only does that alone betray a culture of torture, but it shows how satanic some of Bush's people were."

I don't see why people can't recognize legal theory for what it is. Everyone got up in arms when Gonzo (or whoever it was) wrote that memo saying that he didn't think that, legally speaking, the Geneva convention applied to terrorists. He was absolutely right. He also said that he wasn't sure about how to go forward with that mindset, since it could lead to abuses. There is such a thing as a strictly legal opinion, and that's what Yoo was giving. Lawyers and judges debate law, while politicians make law. It wasn't for Yoo to make a law against crushing boys' testicles, it was merely for him to interpret current law. Now, if he then moved on to actually supporting such behavior, that's a different thing.

As it stands now, the "torture" that's been used so far is pretty mild and very rare. I don't mind making such techniques illegal but with some latitude for use in extreme situations. As Dennis Prager said the other day, in some ticking-bomb situations, it's not a question of to torture or not to torture, but who gets tortured. Will you "torture" one or two "suspects" or will you allow thousands of innocent people to be tortured by the effects of a terror attack? That's truly the decision one has to make.

Darius said...

Wilson's greater point here is not that torture is wrong or certain things that the Bush admin did were necessarily wrong, but that they were dangerously short-sighted. Sure, Bush used the wiretapping and rendition to protect the American people more times than not, but he didn't consider that there would be a time in the (near) future when a presidential administration would have less admirable goals in mind and actually use Bush's programs to control rather than protect Americans. See the president's focus on "right-wing militias" and his complete disregard for Islamic terror. For him, those surveillaince programs are to be used for political purposes, rather than security ones. Bush's biggest failing (outside of his schizophrenic economic policies) was setting up systems and programs which could easily be abused by less noble-minded administrations.

Steve said...

People's definition of torture is radically different.

Pouring water down someone's throat to scare them into believeing that they will die, so that they might reveal future plans or info that will prevent innocents from my mind, is not torture.

Our own servicemen undergo it in training.

By the way, it was revealed that this technique did garner info. that stopped L.A. buildings from being attacked. Saving thousands of lives.

Our desire to bend over backwards to be nice to murderers (the people who were waterboarded - 3 of them) were just that, murderers involved in 911 and other plots that killed thousands of INNOCENT people.

Chris A said...

So because Yoo has a "legal opinion" that the president has dictatorial authority and can torture people its okay because it is just a "legal opinion"? Okay, sure. Obviously they were not debating for the sake of debate. As a Justice Department attorney, his legal opinions were to the end that he might provide legal justification for illegal acts. Just look at the Bybee memo. CIA was looking to the DOJ to "interpret" 18 U.S.C. § 2340. In other words, they were looking for a loophole so they could torture people, because it is so clear that no idiot would need an interpretation.

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality...

Does this law apply to terrorists? It says specifically who it applies to: "another person within his custody or physical control". Question: where "terrorists" in the custody of the US government?

If you think it is okay for the government to torture on the basis of this as its own definition of torture, fine. But you must admit that they broke the law to do it. And once you justify the government to break the law, where does it end?

And yes, they've done the same things to military personnel, including giving them LSD and other drugs while they were unawares. They also shoot them up with experimental vaccines that cause long term illness, and expose them to dangerous chemicals. Or maybe Gulf War Syndrome is just a conspiracy theory, Saddam was responsible. Yeah, that's the ticket.

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The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
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