Via Donklephant, this gem–
BAGHDAD — An unnamed woman, her face shielded behind a curtain and her voice masked, gave a harrowing account today of torture and sexual abuse at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s security forces during the trial of the former Iraqi leader.
“They forced me to take off my clothes,” said the woman, referred to only as Witness A by the court. “They kept my legs up. They handcuffed me and started beating me with cables. It wasn’t just one guard, it was many guards.”
And here’s what Saddam’s attorneys said to respond to the victim’s story:
Defense attorneys also attempted to score political points against the U.S., the trial’s principle international backer.
“I agree that things in Abu Ghraib were, until recently, bad, but did they use dogs on you? Did they take photographs?” asked one defense attorney, attempting to raise the issue of U.S. prisoner abuse at the prison.
“No,” she replied.
First, it should be noted that this defense will be rejected, as the misdeeds of Americans are hardly relevant when discussing the past atrocities of Saddam Hussein. In a murder trial, it makes little difference if the defense brings up the fact that OTHER people murder.
Second, it should be pointed out that like Saddam, the soldiers who did this did face their day in court. I still think that this administration managed to blame all of this on a few low-level soldiers, rather than taking responsibility for why this really happened, but Lyddie England is in jail- as Saddam should be (if he is not executed).
However, this stings. Notwithstanding the firm belief by some that John McCain is a charlatan and a fool, this is precisely why his torture amendment (and it looks increasingly like McCain will win) should be passed and implemented.
Read Donklephant’s entire take, which would seem to suggest that according to WH standards, this woman who testified against Saddam wasn’t really tortured. She just experienced some ‘harsh’ interrogation techniques.
*** Update ***
So we might as well admit that by foreswearing the use of torture, we will probably be at a disadvantage in obtaining key information and perhaps endanger American lives here at home. (And, ironically, those who now allege that we are too rough will no doubt decry “faulty intelligence” and “incompetence” should there be another terrorist attack on an American city.) Our restraint will not ensure any better treatment for our own captured soldiers. Nor will our allies or the United Nations appreciate American forbearance. The terrorists themselves will probably treat our magnanimity with disdain, as if we were weak rather than good.
But all that is precisely the risk we must take in supporting the McCain amendment — because it is a public reaffirmation of our country’s ideals. The United States can win this global war without employing torture. That we will not resort to what comes so naturally to Islamic terrorists also defines the nobility of our cause, reminding us that we need not and will not become anything like our enemies.
The reason ‘they’ torture- they are evil and do not care about human life or humanity in general. The same reason we are fighting them, in other words.
John, it’s “harmless fraternity pranks.”
Please keep up on the nomenclature.
Let me ask this: does James West’s pedofilia and non-trial count as Moral Authority for America? Why is James West even walking the streets?
Here’s the difference:
On trial in Iraq, we aren’t trying the men who beat this woman, because they’re low level thugs in the republican guard. Instead, we’re trying the man responsible for that policy, at the top of the chain of command
Whereas, for the US soldier, the low level thugs are going to be blamed and held responsible, while those at the top, resonsible for the torture (read: Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al) get away
Honestly John, I agree with you on the torture thing; it’s morally wrong, it accomplishes nothing productive, it tends to lead to retalliation, and it hurts US interests internationally.
Do I think you, and others who feel like you, have a chance in hell of persuading the pro-torture segment of society to feel otherwise? Hell, no. Am I damned glad that McCain and most of the American people seem to feel the same way as you do? Oh yeah.
As though torture wouldn’t produce faulty intelligence.
Why would there be another attack? They did that to get a response, they got it. We’re in the middle east now, tearing shit up, crusading, leading a war against islam. Osama used to have to make shit up about us to scare insecure twentysomethings into blowing themselves up, now he just shows them newspaper headlines.
Heard Bill O’Reilly spewing the “imminent threat” scenario last night to justify torture. I had to turn it off before I laughed myself off the road.
Its a good thing there are Bill O’Reilly’s in the world, otherwise I might be tempted to vote Republican.
So basically Condi Rice is a lying sack of shit, the Europeans know it and our standing in the world continues to erode.
If the McCain bill passes, will Bush attempt to use his dust covered Veto?
John is dead right.
Yet today an old friend, who has been called up for the third time, called me a “peacenik” for opposing torture. We are at a pretty pass when red peril era terms are employed against people who think torturing prisoners is not in the best interests on the United States.
I take comfort in knowing that these clowns won’t be in power forever. That people like John will at some point have to say enough to the disgrace that is the modern Republican party.
There once was a country where the public claimed not to know what was being done in their name. It did not end well for them.
You’ve lost me.
Why does the United States torture again? Just to get information? But doesn’t that show a similar lack of caring about human life and humanity.
I’ve lost the Washington quote. But the founding fathers believed in human rights for logic’s sake. Their belief was that we would have no moral authority to complain about the British if we did the same things as the British did.
Washington argued for fair treatment of British captives, so as to not give them reason to complain about us. Or in more simple rhetoric, to not give aid and comfort to the enemy.
The main fallout from 9/11 has been the complete destruction of US moral authority.
Only weaklings resort to torture.
Before you worry too much about the possibility that you might actually be *agreeing* with VD Hanson (and that’s a possibility that *should* worry you), it’s worth keeping in mind that he probably doesn’t mean it.
Many neo-cons now realize that the publicity over torture has hurt their cause, and realize that they have to publicly repudiate it–Elliot Abrams, for instance, now VDH. They have got to take a stand against it, so they can keep doing it.
They learned from their guru Strauss that you should mouth pious platitudes in public, the better to do your dirty-work unobserved.
These guys aren’t against torture. They are against getting caught torturing. Now that they have gotten caught, they’re going to pretend to be against it, so as to push the whole thing back underground.
Still, even though they are lying–you know, like their noble lies about religion–I hope their public statements will help the rest of America rediscover its moral compass.
Just don’t expect me to applaud them.
The Hanson quote is disgusting. He takes it as a given that prohibiting torture will make us less safe, and goes on to suggest that if there is another 9/11 style attack, it will be more attributable to our decision not to torture than to incompetence or faulty intelligence. I don’t care if he ultimately comes out on the same side as me on the issue, that kind of reasoning is absurd.
Sure, you can invent a scenario where a detainee has information about a pending attack, and he would have given it up under torture, but since Congress made a law we didn’t torture him and the attack happened. In turn, I could invent a scenario where the brother of someone we tortured plans an attack against the US out of revenge. We could go on like this all day without establishing that torture makes us “safer at home.”
Hey cd6 –
I thought the same exact thing when I read John’s quote. Saddam is not on trial for any crimes he physically committed. He is on trial committed by the people in his command under his regime.
I’m not sure if John sees his blind spots about Bush. Sure, he can be down on current Republicans. But if he used the same standard on Bush that he uses for Democrats or anyone else he would absolutely loathe and hate Bush.
Glad you liked the Hanson piece, John. I wasn’t sure about the McCain amendment before I read it, but as usual Victor is very persuasive.
Like the Civil War, Iraq was mostly about other things to start with, but has evolved into a war about moral issues. Even if harsher techniques might yield better results, they diminish the morality of a war to liberate Iraqis and help them achieve some level of freedom and democracy.
Good comments, Dave. Iraq is so, so very much like the Civil War in so many ways. Let’s hope we don’t suffer quite as many casualties.
You know at some point, a goverment that does enough evil things makes that country evil.
Stop now, please.
Saddams defenders are defending a dictator; an administration and in that sense it is totally legitimate to use american torture to define the use of torture as something acceptable.
I am pretty sure that Saddams defence will use examples of US usage of chemical wepons in viet nam and more recently in the battle of Fallujah, or even the Israeli nerve gas attacks on Gaza in recent years to justify the gas attacks on Kurds.
And when it comes to the killing of political opponents (what the trial is really about) Saddams defence lawyers will probably point to how the US orchestrated mass murderers of political opponents in Chile, Grenada, Panama, or more recently in various central american countries through John Negroponte’s reign of terror in Honduras.
You see, in a fair trial, Saddam’s lawyers would have a very good case as the US of today has no better record than Saddam when it comes to kidnapping, torturing and killing innocent people and attacking other countries.
No country in the world does conduct itself in this way, except PERHAPS the old UUSR and China. Oh.. yea and Saddam while he was still in power.
And then people actually wonder WHY ordinary Europeans in general dont like their old friends in the west anymore.
Sure, Hanson’s quote is dumb in a couple of ways, but damn! I would’ve expected him to oppose the McCain bill.
If neanderthals like Hanson are opposing torture, that’s gotta say something.
The Civil War was about Slavery. Plain simple, and to the point. Anybody claiming otherwise is a Rebel Apologist, and I’ll be god damned if I’m going to sit here and have the sacrifice of my Great-Great-Grandfather, who fought with the Iowa Volunteers tarnished with this bullshit.
Just look back at the history of what was going on in this country at the time. Look at the topic of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Missouri Compromise. Look at the Dred Scott decision. Look at the actions of John Brown and the guerilla abolitionists, read up on Bleeding Kansas, and finally the raid on Harpers Ferry.
Frederick Douglass wrote, “Did John Brown fail? John Brown began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. His zeal in the cause of my race was far greater than mine. I could live for the slave, but he could die for him.”
Yup. The big lie about “states rights” lives on.
But people in 1861 were more forthright. Here is the Commissioner of Louisiana, encouraging Texas to secede:
“Louisiana looks to the formation of a Southern confederacy to preserve the blessings of African slavery, and of the free institutions of the founders of the Federal Union, bequeathed to their posterity….The people of Louisiana would consider it a most fatal blow to African slavery, if Texas either did not secede or having seceded should not join her destinies to theirs in a Southern Confederacy. ”
read the whole thing.
From what Hanson wrote,
I agree with his basic conclusion, “torture = bad and McCain’s amendment = good for ethical reasons”, but I think he’s wrong to say it’s only true for ethical reasons. The above bit seems to be the most important part. If that’s the best example Hanson has of torture being used effectively and of necessity, it looks damning with faint praise.
In WWII, according to Hanson, torture was used, but it was “occasionally” effective. And in that case it was presumably used on people who were actually our enemies instead of car thieves and our enemy’s families, and even then it wasn’t openly tolerated or defended. And this is the best example of torture being used? Thankfully, the pro-torture and pro-abuse camp seems to be diminishing.
All snark aside, good for VDD. I think he’s a delusional lunatic for the most part — all the more reason to take notice of the fact that he is on the money here.
That is yet another big joke in all this. The trials here are merely a farce, a gesture towards a fair and responsible legal system. It’s all rapping paper. Saddam will be convicted regardless of the ‘legality’ of his deeds and the sad thing is that he’ll be convicted unjustly.
As horrible as this dictator is, he’s really no worse than any other government to date. Check the track record of every secret service on the planet – US, Chinese, Russian, English, or otherwise – and show me an agency with clean hands. Show me a world power that hasn’t committed an attrocity of some sort in the past ten years.
Saddam did some bad things, but by world standards he hasn’t really done anything “wrong”. Unless you consider incurring the wrath of a Superpower a morally or legally “wrong” move.
Well, I don’t get it. Defending Saddam with that argument is like saying we shouldn’t prosecute anyone for perjury because gosh, didn’t we all lie to our mothers at some point.
I agree that Saddam was hardly the worst dictator in the world – and if conservatives really believe the new line that the whole thing is about human rights, then great, we have a lot of other bad countries outside the Middle East that it’s high time we fixed – but the idea that his government was no worse than the US leaves this liberal ice-cold. Just because our government has done some bad things does not mean there has to be an equivalence.
I honestly have to say, I don’t understand the Saddam trial.
Saddam’s defense is something like… “I am ruler of this country, and I declared the law to be… any town which tries to assassinate me, I will go through and kill ever 5th person”. Is that wrong? Wrong in what sense? A crime against humanity, sure. A crime against Iraqi law? How so, since he was the law?
Frankly, this trial is a farce. They’re going to find the guy guilty and hang him. We know that. All they’re doing in the meantime is similar to a Stalin show trial, so that they can say “we had a trial”.
It would have been better, all along, if Saddam got killed in a big firefight while trying to capture him. Saddam realized this, obviously, which is why he surrendered immediately. He’s still playing us as fools, and that fucking pisses me off.
Crimes against humanity, unlike perjury, are slightly more undefined. We prosecute common joes and sitting presidents alike on the grounds of perjury, but only a handful of world leaders have ever been truly confronted with warcrimes. What’s more, there’s a question of national soveriegnty. One man’s crime against humanity – the death penalty for instance – is another man’s central tenant of the legal system. Saddam launched his little purge because of an attempted assassination. He’s effectively being tried for violating world law during a police action.
But laws much treat all individuals equally. If it can be shown that such a police action was legal by world standards, than it can be shown that Saddam committed no crime. If it can be shown that the US regularly practices the same forms of torture and brutality that Saddam does, than Saddam is no more guilty of crimes than the United States. And since the United States in NOT on trial for Abu Garab because it is conducting a legal and justifiable war, then logically the actions Saddam took against insurgents and rebels within his own country are merely police and military actions legally enacted by a soveriegn state.
Doesn’t make him a nice guy or the actions morally correct, but it leaves him free from any criminal guilt.
Yeah, it sucks. But don’t come blaming the liberals over a fair and responsible legal system failing to lynch a guy for what is not actually considered a crime.
That makes me absolutely sick. In what fucked-up universe is wanting peace a BAD thing?
Guys, you’re making a moral equivalence between letting dogs bark at someone and scare them, or taking embarrassing pictures of them on the one hand, and this poor woman who was repeatedly beaten, shocked, raped or threatened with rape, saw her four brothers murdered and was held in one of Saddam’s prison camps (which I assure you didn’t have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and lemon chicken) on the other hand.
What’s more, you’re making a further equivalence between a few people letting dogs bark and naughty pictures be taken, followed by their being caught, tried, convicted, and imprisoned on the one hand, and the people working for Saddam who beat, raped, tortured and murdered as a part of a policy of authoritarian repression, terror, murder and genocide that only ended when the fascist regime that promulgated that policy was forcibly overthrown.
If you don’t have a sense of proportion, could you at least develop a little bit of a sense of shame?
Sorry. Your argument doesn’t fly. People were tortured to death while in American custody. Women and children were raped while in American custody. Whether these things are as bad as what Saddham did is not the question. The question is whether this type of behavior is what the US does. My country does not tolerate these things. Apparently yours does.
I just thought I’d share some of what passes for a discussion of morality on a well-respected conservative blog that shall remain nameles
Some wingnut wrote:
“1. The holocaust makes Abu Ghraib look benign.
2.And for that very reason I consider the *Nazis just as bad as the islamo fascists*”
No one even blinked at my reply
“I’m not sure I’d go that far, though obviously the Nazis were despicable.”
>Guys, you’re making a moral equivalence
No I am saying Saddams crimes are irrelevant to the shame our torture policy is bringing to us as a country.
It is possible both for Saddam to be a henious dictator who should be hanged, and for our country to be wrong about it’s torture policy.
Actually. No. I think it was Saddam’s lawyers who did that. You’re doing a severe disservice to your argument in claiming we all made those claims.
And they weren’t making a moral equivalence between rape and dogs barking. Their statement was “Sure, yeah, so you got raped and beaten, and your brothers were killed. But did anybody unleash dogs on you or take pictures?”
They claimed that what happened to her was better treatment than what the Americans did. That’s not moral equivalence… it’s a lame defense.
Although I heard testimony yesterday from some guy who spoke of a giant meat grinder. Gotta admit, we haven’t tried that one. But I’ll bet if you talk to DougJ we’ll hear all the good news about the meat grinder.
DougJ – Your posts, while they are wonderful satire, do not go nearly as far as what the mainstream wingnuts posts over on LGF or Redstate.
To those who think that there is some sort of legitimate moral equivalency between US actions and Saddam’s regime, could you please point out where official rapists fit on the GS scale? Are they a GS-5,6, or 7? The Baathist thugs had, as an official job description “violator of women’s honor”, ie rapist. Where, exactly, have we beaten children in front of their parents in order to induce confessions?
At best, the moral equivalence crowd is not thinking straight. At worst, they’re apologists for a monster. The middle road is more likely, in my opinion. I think at least a plurality of those who ignore the reality of Saddam’s torture machine and draw such false equivalences just can’t get out of “hate Bush” mode and they’re not too careful about collateral damage in their targetting.
>To those who think that there is some sort of legitimate >moral equivalency between US actions and Saddam’s regime,
Or it could be we think torture is wrong and it defiles our flag to do it.
That would be in the director’s cut version of the Abu Ghirab tapes. The screaming Liberals want to those tapes released to damage our troops and make the US look bad. I say we should hide them in perpetuity so every time the screaming Liberals point at Abu Ghirab, we can wag our fingers and make fraternity prank jokes.
TM Lutas, it is useless to try the indignation theme here, if people have the slightest will to open their eyes, the comparison between the Saddam and Bush regimes is obvious. Try to google “Batallion 316” and you will have corpses screaming at you from all across central america.
Through his support of Battalion 316, Negroponte is directly complicit in the murder of at least 184 Honduran civilians officially found to have been killed by the death squad by a 1994 Honduran truth commission.
The unit used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations, kept prisoners naked and, when no longer useful, killed them brutally, and buried them in unmarked clandestine graves. Women were raped, often in front of their families.
Now.. by this I am NOT saying Saddam does not deserve to be glazed in honey and served to maggots. What I AM saying is that he has a valid defence when he says that the official Fairness & Freedom club (Bush & friends) deserve the same fate as he.
Nobody here is making a moral equivalence, other than perhaps Saddam’s defense attornies. What we are saying is that when you muddy the water by introducing shit like what happened at Abu Ghraib, it just gives fodder to our enemies.
Your post was assinine. It’s not middle of the road… it’s blind apologist. This “It’s ok, because we aren’t as bad as Hitler” defense is just such a crock of shit.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
You know it is sad but true: the right-wing nuts are much, much crazier than the left-wing ones. I snooped around the DU and Kos comments sections for a while and, yes, there’s definitely some fanaticism there. More than a little, in fact.
But the sheer idiocy and depravity of Free Republic and Little Green Footballs simply blew my mind. Even on Tom Maguire, there are people far, far crazier than those on DU or Kos.
The right wing in this country has gone completely off the deep end. That doesn’t mean that people like John are wrong to remain Republicans. Politics makes strange bedfellows of course, but it’s just bullshit when moderate Republicans say, essentially “yes, our president is a delusional Jesus freak with a Messiah complex, who is supported primarily by people who believe the sun rotates around the earth, but Cindy Sheehan is a little kooky and John Kerry drinks green tea, so I’m sticking with the party.” It’s time to wake up and smell the incense.
Ah, yes John.
Not supporting “torture” is preserving our humanity, but accepting “collateral damage” in the form of dead civillians is what again?
Again your lack of moral logic shines.
But at least you FEEL good, right.
That is what protecting this nation is all about, right?
Protecting you delicate sensibilities?
Well, no, actually, it was John Cole who wrote:
Those of you who don’t mean to make such an equivalence have my full apology — but if you’re defending John’s argument, you’re not among them.
As long as the Republicans pursued dumbass policies at home (opposing birth control) I was fine with sneering at their stupidity, ridiculing their hick mentality and voting against their moronic politicians.
But once they started snatching people off the streets, torturing and imprisoning them in Eastern Europe, much like the KGB, well that’s another story because now history will judge me too if I fail to protest loudly that this just isn’t right.
First of all, John didn’t make that argument, he just linked to Donklephant. In turn, Donklephant was simply repeating an argument of Andrew Sullivan’s, who noted that according to John Yoo, who helped craft the Bush Administration’s policies, “repeated beatings are specifically not torture.” If that’s an offensive equivalence, sorry, but it seems like just the facts to me.
Nice strawman. I see no moral equivalency there, rather an embarassment that we have a Whitehouse doing propaganda for Hussein’s defense lawyers.
If you’re such a fan of torture, maybe you ought to move to a country which is more your style… like perhaps Iran or North Korea.
Regarding the morality of torture:
Does anyone here think that the fact we do torture people, murder people, and rape people (including raping kids to pressure their parents), and hide prisoners in secret detention facilities somehow gives us a higher moral ground than if we had not done those things?
Regarding the efficacy of torture:
There have been 4 terrorist attacks on US soil since 1993: the first WTC bombing, the Oklahoma City bombings, the 9/11 attacks, and the anthrax murders. Would one of the pro-torture advocates please explain or describe how torture would have prevented any of those attacks?
Actually, Cole’s accurate moral logic shines through.
In every war, for instance, we cause collateral damage to the innocent, but attempt to avoid intentional or unnecessary harm to the innocent. There’s nothing immoral about accepting collateral damage, _per se_, as long as all reasonable steps are taken to prevent it. (After all, not fighting the war would inevitably avoid the collateral damage, right? So avoiding collateral damage at all costs means a radical form of pacifism.)
In this case, the point is that torture is believed to not be a reasonable action to prevent collateral damage. That would lead someone to conclude that torure should be avoided even if collateral damage will occur.
I couldn’t agree more. Except for one thing:
Why is wanting to avoid inadvertent casualties and destruction inflicted on civilians in the course of military operations a form or radical pacifism?
Seems to me that plain old vanilla pacifism is opposition to war or violence as a means of resolving disputes, so if you don’t believe in war to begin with, why is not believing in collateral damage an extreme viewpoint?
The operative phrase is “at all costs”. To assert that there is no situation in which you would risk harm to the innocent through your action is a very radical form of pacifism. “Pacifism” merely asserts that you will not risk harm to innocents through war.
I don’t follow your logic here, since as I see it pacifism is defined as:
1. The belief that disputes between nations should and can be settled peacefully.
2. a. Opposition to war or violence as a means of resolving disputes.
b. Such opposition demonstrated by refusal to participate in military action.
Seeing as how collateral damage (the term you used) is a uniquely military phenomenon resulting from war, I don’t see avoidance of that as anything more than the basic definiton of pacifism.
I never asserted that. I was responding to your atatement that avoiding collateral damage at all costs is a radical form of pacifism. Perhaps you meant to phrase your statement another way.
Well, I do think I put it poorly. What can I say — it’s been a long day, and I’m not a pacifist, so I doubt I put it a sensitively as I might.
Let me rephrase the claim: A complete commitment to avoiding collateral damage at all costs would entail an absolute pacifism.
VDH nails it.
Of course, if you really did have to torture a few guys with ticking bomb info, you’d probably want to keep it secret and use the CIA. WHOOOPS! They waterboard 11 serious bad boys…they guys who plan operations and know the most. So, while I agree US forces should not torture at all…I also think the exceptions that people want could have been controlled by using the small CIA team (14 people) on high value detainees.
Also, Abu Ghraib photos of the low level idiots having sex with each other should be released to the public…who then can ask themselves…did Rummy order Graner to do England? Did he order her to get preggo? Come on…it’s obvious those were loose idiots on board who were not monitored by Karpinsky.