Saturday, November 14, 2009

News Flash: At least Hasan wasn't engaged in sexual harassment

This just in: The Fort Hood massacre could have been worse: Hasan could have gotten drunk with his buddies and groped a females soldier or two. We have to put these things in perspective. In fact, why hasn't General Casey thought of this?

Now we go to Ann Coulter, on location:
Far less offensive speech has been grounds for discipline or even removal from duties in the military. In the aftermath of the Tailhook scandal, for example, two Navy officers were reprimanded and reassigned after putting up a sign with the words of a nursery rhyme altered to include a vulgar sexual reference to liberal congresswoman Patricia Schroeder.

But a Muslim Army doctor can go around a military installation somberly advocating the beheading of infidels, and the girls running the military treat him like he's Nicole Kidman and they're press junket reporters.
Read more here.

The Tailhook scandal, which involved the sexual harassment of several female soldiers who were allegedly groped by some drunken Navy aviators, destroyed or damaged the careers of fourteen admirals and about 300 aviators.

Now let me grab my calculator here, hang on ... Okay, so you add fourteen to three hundred and you get ... you get 314. Now then, let's subtract zero from 314, and that's ... 314. That's 314 more careers damaged or destroyed as a result of sexual harassment of several females soldiers than careers damaged or destroyed as a result of the idiotic worship of Diversity by Gen. Casey and his Diversity warriors that resulted in the deaths of 13 people at a military base.

Will any heads roll? We're not holding our breath.

30 comments:

Thomas said...

Remember that this was mostly going on during the Bush administration. If they're not going to hold anyone responsible for not doing anything about the warnings that terrorists were going to fly planes into buildings, why would we think they'd put much pressure on the military to investigate one guy? There's a culture of illegality in our government that was intensified during the Bush years: wiretapping, torture, obstruction of justice, and so on.

There's a legal difference here: sexual harassment is illegal, expressing political opinions, even inflammatory ones, is not.

If we can't expect people in the government to be held responsible for things like war crimes and human rights violations (!), of course people aren't going to be held responsible for discretionary decisions regarding public safety.

Lee said...

> expressing political opinions, even inflammatory ones, is not.

Military members are not free to express just any political opinion, nor are those who do express certain political opinions eligible to become military members. You didn't know that?

I agree that p.c. started under Bush. "Religion of peace", my butt.

Thomas said...

Lee,

The distinction is whether or not his expressing his views constitutes a crime. Sexual harassment is definitely a crime. Whether Hasan's statements amounted to a crime is much more ambiguous. Disavowing one's allegiance to the United States counts, but it's not clear that his statements amounted to that. In any case, that will be determined in the legal proceeding.

The wider point, though, is that the Bush administration generated a culture of illegality within the government. Whether or not Hasan could have been prosecuted or dismissed is a discretionary act; but the Bush administration was not only not fulfilling ministerial requirements, they were actively violated national and international laws. The Obama administration refused to hold them legally responsible. If government officials are free to break the law with impunity, why would they think they are expected to exercise good judgment in the absence of a statutory duty?

Lee said...

> There's a culture of illegality in our government that was intensified during the Bush years: wiretapping, torture, obstruction of justice, and so on.

I think however high lawlessness may have been under Bush, it is increasing and intensifying today.

> There's a legal difference here: sexual harassment is illegal, expressing political opinions, even inflammatory ones, is not.

Nobody died in Tailhook.

> If we can't expect people in the government to be held responsible for things like war crimes and human rights violations (!),

War crimes, my butt. Foreign terrorists have no rights under the U.S. Constitution.

> Whether Hasan's statements amounted to a crime is much more ambiguous.

You may not be familiar with the concepts of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I assure you, it is more stringent than the U.S. Constitution with regard to permissible speech and conduct. In particular:

> 933. ART. 133. CONDUCT UNBECOMING AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN

Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

934. ART. 134. GENERAL ARTICLE
Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

I think telling a group of soldiers that cutting someone's head off and pouring boiling oil down someone's throat is acceptable punishment, and walking around with "Soldier of Allah" on his business card, probably qualifies reasonably.

But regardless of whether or not it was punishable, you can do a lot of things that aren't exactly illegal and still raise the ire of the military against you. to the point of at least separation.

For example, the fellow who wrote this editorial:

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2009/Q4/mail596.html#Friday

...is apparently a military member. If that's true, trust me, his career is toast.

Lee said...
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Lee said...
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Lee said...

Here's the link again:

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2009/Q4/mail596#

... and type Friday after the link. For some reason, Blogger doesn't let me put the entire link on.

Lee said...

> The wider point, though, is that the Bush administration generated a culture of illegality within the government.

Specify, please.

> Whether or not Hasan could have been prosecuted or dismissed is a discretionary act; but the Bush administration was not only not fulfilling ministerial requirements, they were actively violated national and international laws.

Specify, please.

> The Obama administration refused to hold them legally responsible.

Not only that, but if holding the prisoners at Guantanamo is somehow illegal, Obama is guilty too for not releasing them. One co-worker explained to me sheepishly that he was "trying to" do something about that. My response is that he doesn't have to "try" -- he signs an order, and poof! It's done. So why is it not yet done?

There's also that bit about detaining people suspected of being terrorists and whisking them off the street. Bush did it. But Obama did not rescind that order, either.

The more you look at Obama's policies in this area, the more they look like Bush's. Maybe there's a reason for them.

> If government officials are free to break the law with impunity, why would they think they are expected to exercise good judgment in the absence of a statutory duty?

In other words: Before the government can be stirred to protect its own people, everyone must wait for the government to do everything else perfectly.

Thomas said...

Torture violates both federal law and international treaties that we have signed (Ronald Reagan having signed one of the most significant treaties). The wiretapping clearly violated the Constitution, as well as federal wiretapping laws. The events in Fallujah violated international law prohibiting declaring a free fire zone.

Much of the responsibility lies with the Obama administration for the inane idea that we should just look forward--one that conservatives welcomed. I wonder if they will welcome it here.

Let's remember also that the Bush administration was getting memos which had titles like "Terrorists to attack inside the United States Using Airliners", as well as numerous warnings from foreign government. They didn't think it was worth any special consideration. No-one was held responsible for that screwup (despite the fact they were literally getting warnings delivered to their desks), and that was an even greater tragedy.

If government employees know that they can get away with crimes as serious as war crimes and discretionary failures as big as not doing anything about the warnings about 9/11 or the intelligence errors that led to a war, what's to make them believe that they'd be held responsible for a shooting spree that results in a fraction of the casualties?

Lee said...

> Torture violates both federal law and international treaties that we have signed (Ronald Reagan having signed one of the most significant treaties).

Depends on what you call torture, I think. What do you call torture?

> The wiretapping clearly violated the Constitution, as well as federal wiretapping laws.

I don't see the Constitutional violation, sorry. Wiretapping phone calls initiated outside the country to suspects inside the country is not violating anything in the Constitution. If you think otherwise, please specify. Again, you have to be a U.S. citizen to have rights under the U.S. Constitution.

> The events in Fallujah violated international law prohibiting declaring a free fire zone.

I don't know the particulars. How did we violate international law?

> Much of the responsibility lies with the Obama administration for the inane idea that we should just look forward--one that conservatives welcomed. I wonder if they will welcome it here.

So do you want every election in the US to be accompanied by recriminations and criminal indictments? Do you think that might have adverse effects on the body politic? What other policy differences and disagreements do you think we should criminalize?

And if Obama disagrees with Bush's policies, why has he not instructed the government not to do those things anymore?

> Let's remember also that the Bush administration was getting memos which had titles like "Terrorists to attack inside the United States Using Airliners", as well as numerous warnings from foreign government. They didn't think it was worth any special consideration.

Clinton was getting those memos too. What did he do about it?

> No-one was held responsible for that screwup (despite the fact they were literally getting warnings delivered to their desks), and that was an even greater tragedy.

There's two ways to lose information. One way is not to receive it at all. Another way is to receive too much of it. Before you are willing to put someone in jail over it, try dealing with 2,000 memos coming across your desk each week, each one worded more direly than the last, all warning of impending doom from some venue or another.

> If government employees know that they can get away with crimes as serious as war crimes and discretionary failures as big as not doing anything about the warnings about 9/11 or the intelligence errors that led to a war, what's to make them believe that they'd be held responsible for a shooting spree that results in a fraction of the casualties?

Wow. Where is the touchy-feely liberal I thought I was talking with? On the one hand, Hasan did nothing wrong under the law. On the other hand, people who make mistakes go to jail.

How much would we have to pay someone in those positions, knowing that making a mistake could mean years in prison?

But in any event, this stuff is all worth considering. But as I asked earlier, do we have to wait until all that is straightened up before we can expect the government to try to protect its own military personnel from crazies like Hasan?

Lee said...

Case in point:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/us/politics/25rendition.html?_r=3&hp

Rendition was evil when Bush did it, but unremarkable when Clinton did it. Obama is doing it too, but I'm sure he's doing it much more nicely.

You could get the impression, if you were careful, that it is not what is done that matters, but rather who does it.

Thomas said...

I'd say torture is when a government official inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody; including procedures that alter or disrupt one's senses or personality. As it happens, U.S. case law defines waterboarding as torture, since otherwise, you'd have to say that the sensation of drowning is not severe suffering.

The Supreme Court ruled in Katz that wiretapping a phone conversation is a search or seizure, meaning a warrant is required. Additionally, FISA made it a federal crime to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant.

Lee said...

Well, depending on the individual's perception -- the one who is being "tortured" -- simple incarceration is torture. Taking away someone's cigarettes is torture.

I have no problem with waterboarding terrorists. We got a lot of valuable information using that technique on one or two of them, and it probably saved a lot of lives. They were never in any danger, and no permanent damage was done. I can live with that.

Liberals remind me of the referees in the old All-Star Wrestling shows. They would always upbraid the good-guy wrestlers, while the bad guys were busy slamming the other good guy into the turnbuckle.

You'd have a case if we treated prisoners half as badly as they treat hostages. It will be a darn shame if we lose this war because we couldn't acquire enough information, and when the folks who win don't cringe at waterboarding -- or slow decapitation, or bombing, or any other more horrible torture.

> The Supreme Court ruled in Katz that wiretapping a phone conversation is a search or seizure...

Too bad. It isn't in the Constitution, but I do hope they feel good about themselves. That was the point, after all. They think we must be safe enough, and they're willing to bet, well, your life on it.

>... meaning a warrant is required. Additionally, FISA made it a federal crime to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant.

I have no problem with getting a warrant for an American citizen under ordinary circumstances, but not when receiving a call from overseas, nor when receiving a call from someone who is a potential terrorist. There's no time to run for your warrant under these cases. Perhaps you think it's a game with no consequences attached to being wrong.

Thomas said...

You don't really get the law, or how it works, do you?

And if you think there's not any danger in waterboarding, you have no credibility. People have drowned, tracheas have collapsed, and people have died from heart attacks. This wasn't just some technique thought up recently. It's a torture technique that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, and was used by the Khmer Rouge (though in some of their prisons they stopped using it because it resulted in death too frequently) and the Soviet Union. The US has put others to death before for using it.

And the definition of torture I gave you was straight out of the federal statute.

Lee said...

> You don't really get the law, or how it works, do you?

You really don't get that we're at war, do you?

> And if you think there's not any danger in waterboarding, you have no credibility. People have drowned, tracheas have collapsed, and people have died from heart attacks.

Did any of this happen under Bush?

> This wasn't just some technique thought up recently. It's a torture technique that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, and was used by the Khmer Rouge (though in some of their prisons they stopped using it because it resulted in death too frequently) and the Soviet Union.

If it's a technique, I would not assume that we're no better at it than the Spanish.

And you're telling me the Khmer Rouge were worried about killing people?

> The US has put others to death before for using it.

When?

> And the definition of torture I gave you was straight out of the federal statute.

Well, you prefaced it with, "I'd say..."

And it seems open to interpretation, as I pointed out earlier, i.e.,

> inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody

Who gets to define 'severe'?

What you are doing is holding the U.S. up to a standard that no one, in the history of warfare, has ever met, or could possibly have met.

The next time you tear up over some poor innocent terrorist getting water-boarded, spare, please, just a tear or two for the dead GIs who are dead because of information we could not acquire from the evil bastard because, well, we wouldn't want to feel bad about how we acquired it.

Thomas said...

We're actually not at war. The US hasn't declared war since Korea, I believe. Even if we were, the law is not suspended during wartime. I'm not sure where you got that from.

You have the familiar habit of presuming that since one doesn't want one's country to do immoral things to people alleged to be terrorists, that one doesn't care about the value of human life. Ultimately, though, for Christians, the value of human life is not granted by personal merit, but by the gift of the image of God. The question for the Christian is not whether people deserve or do not deserve torture (many Calvinists hold that everyone deserves eternal torture), because the value of human life is not something human beings could deserve; the question, rather, is how are we conforming to the demands of the gospel in treating other persons.

Lee said...

> We're actually not at war.

How strict-constructionist of you. I bet you don't say that to all the lovely, loosely-specified government actions.

I too would have preferred a formal declaration of war -- it clarifies things, and prevents just such misunderstandings as you have demonstrated -- but in fact the Constitution doesn't require formality. It simply says that Congress authorizes war, and in fact, Congress did authorize this one. So what's in a name?

> Even if we were, the law is not suspended during wartime. I'm not sure where you got that from.

Well, with the current administration, we are watching the law being suspended even during peace time, what, e.g., with the way Obama leaned on Chrysler bond holders, and the way SEIU and ACORN have been allowed to intimidate voters as well as beat up Tea Party protesters.

But in war, surely you have to admit things often get out of hand. Is bombing a civilian population illegal? The Germans did it, and so did we. Perhaps specifics matter -- are we after an enemy target, or rather just killing people for sport?

In the matter of water boarding, Holder says it was a crime. According to the CIA, it was therefore a crime when they briefed it to Congress, and at the time they raised nary a peep. But who are you going to believe, them or Nancy Pelosi?

But then, under questioning, Holder made some interesting admissions. Is it also, therefore, torture when we waterboard Navy SEALs for training purposes? Why, uh, no, replied Holder: "No, it’s not torture in the legal sense because you’re not doing it with the intention of harming these people physically or mentally..."

So it's a question, interestingly, of intent. If you intend to do physical or mental damage, according to Holder, it's torture. But what if all you're trying to do is to discomfort someone into coughing up not blood but information?

And here's Holder's own Justice Department on torture:

> "Torture is defined as 'an extreme form of cruel and inhuman treatment and does not include lesser forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'"

I thought your earlier definition of torture might have been a little loosey-goosey.

The DOJ brief continues:

> "An applicant for CAT protection therefore must establish that 'his prospective torturer will have the motive or purpose” to torture him.'"

And...

> “The mere fact that [authorities] have knowledge that severe pain and suffering may result by placing detainees in these conditions does not support a finding that the... authorities intend to inflict severe pain and suffering. The difference goes to the heart of the distinction between general and specific intent.”

So it would appear that your earlier remark about me not understanding the law may apply to you as well, in this case.

You mentioned the Spanish and Japanese earlier. I read up on that, and discovered -- as I had suspected -- that we use a different technique. They splashed water directly on the trachea. We cover their faces with a cloth, making permanent damage much less likely. Sometimes, specifics do matter.

So in all this, I come away with the idea that if the intent to do permanent damage is not there, then it's okay to subject terrorists to some pain and discomfort in order to acquire information. If you disagree, please copy the DOJ on your response.

But KSM will get a better trial than you gave President Bush, and that's true whether it's a civilian court or a court-martial. Bush is guilty, period. You are DA, judge, and jury.

Lee said...

> You have the familiar habit of presuming that since one doesn't want one's country to do immoral things to people alleged to be terrorists, that one doesn't care about the value of human life.

Well, nobody's perfect. Look at the bright side: I could be begging questions, as you do, regarding what happens to be immoral.

Lee said...

And, by the way, I checked: not a single law against torture in the U.S. mentions waterboarding specifically.

Thomas said...

I'm not sure what you're driving at when you say the Obama administration is violating the law. Does that somehow mean the Bush administration is different? Or that it shouldn't be punished?

And you're citing a DOJ brief as though it somehow is more binding (or binding as a matter of law at all) as a federal statute on torture and the associated case law. That in itself shows your capacity for legal reasoning.

Lee said...

Why should I not consider the DOJ's interpretation of the law as more authoritative than your interpretation?

Thomas said...

For one thing because this is a brief. Do you know what a brief is?

More obviously, though, what I said wasn't an interpretation. It came straight out of the 18 USC 2340. There is obviously a difference between the "extreme pain" standard and the "severe pain" standard. You're substituting the definition of a lawyer arguing in a case for the definition of the statute.

And why you would think the fact that a federal law doesn't mention waterboarding by name is somehow relevant is baffling (it is mentioned in case law, as it happens). It doesn't mention curbstomping either, but that doesn't mean it's not assault.

Thomas said...

You may also want to check out the United Nations Convention Against Torture: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

Lee said...

I must have missed your explanation of why I should consider your interpretation to more more authoritative. I looked everywhere for it.

It is sufficient for me simply to point out that you come in with sweeping verdicts and conclusions about the criminal Bush, as if the law itself had no ambiguities that need to be resolved, or different interpretations considered.

And that your word on what constitutes torture is not necessarily authoritative.

Unless you can, that is, explain why.

Lee said...
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Thomas said...

You're either laboring under the strange delusion that I wrote the federal statute on torture and the United Nations treaty on torture, or you don't understand the difference between a verbatim quotation of a statute and an interpretation of that statute. I've given you the text of both the statute and the treaty.

The only interpretation of federal statutes that has any legal authority are court cases. The federal court system is charged with the duty of elucidating statutes through statutory construction. Why you would think that a lawyer arguing in a case has any authority to establish interpretive case law is beyond me.

Lee said...
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Thomas said...

Strange that you're saying that now, when before the term severe was "loosey goosy" (a highly technical legal term, it appears). If you can't see a difference between severe and extreme, I'm not sure that I can help you (hopefully you're aware that the thesaurus often gives terms that are not quite equivalent). Then again, if both terms mean the same thing, why you would use the term from a an actual or potential defendant's brief is quite strange, too. There's plenty of case law out there, and the federal provision is actually just a codification of the UN treaty, which means that it should be interpreted in terms of the treaty. And there's plenty of documentation in the link I posted.

If you want to say that waterboarding is not torture, you have to say that the sensation of drowning, considered one of the most painful ways to die, is not severe, that the Reagan administration was wrong to successfully prosecute a Texas sheriff for torture for using just that procedure in the 80s (there's some direct federal precedent), that the US was wrong to successfully prosecute Japanese war criminal for waterboarding, and so on.

Of course, if you're just going to read the defendant's briefs and memos in such cases, it's probably pretty clear cut.

Lee said...

(I had posted this and then taken it down because I thought I had too many typos, scrambled syntax, and garbled comments, and wanted to fix them. Thomas answered the post, however, before I could post the corrections. I will post it now corrected, or so I hope...)

Not that it isn't fun to watch you wave your hands, but I still need to know why you think DOJ is all wrong in their interpretation, and why you are correct.

When deciding whether someone is guilty, you don't just quote a law and that's that. By the time it hits a jury's ears, the law is interpreted for them by the judge as well as the opposing lawyers.

So far the only argument you've provided is insisting there is a legal difference between "extreme pain" and "severe pain."

I don't have Black's Law Dictionary on hand. But when I look up 'severe' in the Thesaurus, it comes back with 'extreme'. When I look up 'extreme' in the Thesaurus, it comes back with 'severe'.

So now, please, explain why your interpretation of the law is correct, and the incompetents writing briefs for Obama's DOJ is all wrong.

Lee said...

> If you can't see a difference between severe and extreme, I'm not sure that I can help you (hopefully you're aware that the thesaurus often gives terms that are not quite equivalent).

In a court of law, there is a lot of quibbling over just such things as the difference between severe and extreme. That's why we have courts of law, judges, and jurors. My point isn't that you're necessarily wrong and the DOJ is necessarily right. My point is that you have already pronounced Bush guilty, and as far as you're concerned, that's that.

For someone concerned about human rights, that just seems rather strange to me. If all it took was for you to quote the actual words of law, hold them up to someone, and pronounce them guilty or innocent, we could dispense with a lot of expensive procedure, and you'd be a mega-millionaire.

But of course it doesn't work like that. The law is interpreted by judges and by juries, and they decide.

And you still haven't answered why DOJ has it all wrong, and you have it all right.

> If you want to say that waterboarding is not torture, you have to say that the sensation of drowning, considered one of the most painful ways to die, is not severe...

Not according to Holder, who says that intent matters. And not according to the DOJ brief. Why are they wrong? What makes you more qualified to say?

And why is a minute and a half of discomfort worse that the norm in prisoner interrogations -- i.e., weeks of cold, sleep deprivation, and general wearing-down? Considering that particular alternative, waterboarding could be a mercy, both in short-term and long-term effects.

Or perhaps we shouldn't interrogate them at all. Just feed them. Let them watch Lucy reruns.

> ...that the Reagan administration was wrong to successfully prosecute a Texas sheriff for torture for using just that procedure in the 80s (there's some direct federal precedent)...

Depends on the specifics, doesn't it? Did he use the same techniques?

> ...that the US was wrong to successfully prosecute Japanese war criminal for waterboarding, and so on.

They weren't prosecuted for waterboarding. They were prosecuted for many actions, waterboarding being one of them, and not using the same techniques. You make it sound like they were just prosecuted for waterboarding.

> Of course, if you're just going to read the defendant's briefs and memos in such cases, it's probably pretty clear cut.

You didn't even have to do that. DA, judge, jury, poof. Bush is guilty. When do we hang him?