Trump, waterboarding and illegal orders

It’s interesting that Bill Maher found nothing wrong when General Michael Hayden said that, should Trump become President, the U.S. military would refuse to follow any orders to waterboard detainees.

As I pointed out last week, waterboarding is now illegal, having been made so in last November’s defense bill. It restricts any arm or agent of the U.S. government from using any techniques not in the U.S. Army interrogation manual.

This isn’t about whether or not the CIA’s method of waterboarding is torture. It’s not in the manual, and that alone now makes it illegal. Everyone in the military knows that you cannot follow illegal orders. There’s nothing new here.

But it doesn’t matter all that much. The next Congress can pass another law to make it possible. They won’t do that easily. It will require the right circumstances, but, sadly, such things are inevitable when the world is as it is.

ISIS is already using chemical weapons. They’ll have biological weapons sooner than we wish, and that’s just the start.

Democrats were driven by politics to oppose waterboarding, and to make it sound a lot worse than it is. They will flip the other way the moment it makes sense to them, but continue to insist that the new techniques aren’t as bad as the old ones. Whatever sells.

Once the law changes, someone in (or working for) the government will do it knowing that it is legal. It just takes a President who has their back.

Does that mean I think it’ll happen that quickly? Not really. The enhanced interrogation techniques came about because we knew relatively little about Al-Qaeda. They weren’t needed as much toward the end of the Bush administration, and even less after we let other countries keep and interrogate more of the prisoners. I can imagine Trump letting that continue.

On the other hand…

Trump also said he’d “take out the family members.” It’s doubtful he meant it, and impossible to believe the threat could be bad enough that intentionally killing civilians becomes legal. But could they be detained temporarily? Sure. We’ve already detained family members during both the Bush and Obama administrations.


It is interesting that this story also popped up that one of the “alleged” terrorists is claiming mistreatment at the hands of the Guantanamo guard force. Noise and vibrations are supposedly keeping him from sleeping and praying.

There’s a part of me that would like to think such things happen, but who seriously believes President Obama could allow such a thing that’s almost certainly against the law? It’s clearly absurd.

And yet the same people who applaud General Hayden’s statement that the military would (quite naturally) refuse an illegal order, will then take this “alleged” terrorist’s claims seriously.


Later [03/05/16]: As I thought, Trump needed to backtrack:

Trump told The Wall Street Journal he would “use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters.”

I’ve got other problems with Trump, but I never saw this as a big deal. He made his fortune through his willingness to navigate New York City’s convoluted property laws and union regulations. I never thought he’d be a Mussolini.

Bluster has its place. Enhanced interrogation was mostly bluster (just as the criticism it received was mostly a sham). Even our current interrogation methods will work better if the terrorists know that a man like Trump is running things.

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Guantanamo orange is the new black

One of the reasons we’re supposed to move Guantanamo is because they say it’s a “recruitment tool” for terrorists.

No less an icon of truth than Politifact says that it’s not true. Yes, they do use it a bit, but it’s not a big sell. The jihadis’ victories are their real recruiting tool.

But you already knew that.

I’d really like to point to a festering boil of a wrong view, and now Eli Lake is repeating it. When brushing off the notion of Gitmo being a recruiting tool, he throws a small bone in that direction with this:

When James Foley was beheaded in 2014, he was wearing an orange jumpsuit, the same color as the jumpsuits worn by early Guantanamo detainees.

But I don’t see it that way at all. ISIS is not poking fun at how we supposedly treat prisoners.

When ISIS puts those jumpsuits on their prisoners, it’s more than a mockery of Guantanamo. They’re claiming to be a state. They want to appear equal to the United States. Those jumpsuits are a cheap and easy way to do that.

Had there had been no Guantanamo agit-prop, but simple news stories and pictures without the stories of scandal, ISIS would still be dressing up their prisoners the same way. It wouldn’t matter how many prisoners we took, and what conditions they were put in. What mattered is what it looked like.

Why Obama wants to ‘close’ Guantanamo

President Obama has a new plan to close Guantanamo, and it’s pretty much like the old one: 1) Send the older, and/or less dangerous ones to a place where they’ll only bother somebody else; and 2) lock the others up in the United States. Why not just keep those in Guantanamo? Because Obama needs this politically.

As a political issue, Guantanamo has been a bridge between the moderate Democrats and the extreme left. It was a tricky balancing act for politicians because there were still some Democrats who remembered 9/11, but they could be brought on board by saying this was about “values” while also promising they would otherwise be tough on terror.

(These are the same values we’ve always had, but memories are short.)

The trouble for Democrats is, having won in 2008, they have the responsibility to defend the country. Our enemies aren’t stopping. There are some detainees we can never release while the war continues. Of those we do release, few will even say they oppose the jihad (no matter how nice they might otherwise try to sound).

And yet, President Obama and the Democrats still need a way to pretend they have solved the issue that they campaigned on for so long.

The solution is simple: Instead of actually closing Guantanamo, move it to a prison in the United States. Once it’s moved, the Democrats can tell their base that it’s been “closed.” That’s good enough for the partisan Democrat for whom it was never more than another talking point.

The funny part is that the extreme left hates this. Expect more Democrats to start complaining about “Guantanamo North” once a Republican is in charge again.

Addendum: I just watched Juan Williams on The Five fret that he thinks the Guantanamo detainees should have full trials. (Well, they’ve had tribunals over ten years ago, annual reviews, habeas hearings and new PRB parole hearings. While they’re not the same, let’s leave that difference aside for now.)

What he doesn’t seem to understand is that Obama’s plan for moving Guantanamo does not change their legal status. Under the plan, those not getting trials in Guantanamo still won’t be getting them in Guantanamo North.

It is only a change in location. From my perspective, the only nice thing about Obama’s plan is that the prison conditions at the new locations won’t be as pleasant for the detainees as what they have now.

This was never about human rights for any of Guantanamo’s critics.

Twitter will never be the same

Stacy McCain posted the boilerplatish correspondence he received from Twitter, and it doesn’t look good:

@rsmccain
Hello,
Your account was suspended because it was found to be violating the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules), specifically our rules around participating in targeted abuse.
Your account will not be restored.
Thanks,
Twitter

There’s more. It’s worth reading, if you haven’t already.

It should have been expected. SJWs will get angry if Twitter backs down so soon.

There’s a reason corporations can easily hire left-wing extremists to pitch their products while conservative spokesmen would need to guard whatever they say. The SJWs would make Twitter pay a steep price.

Of course, this isn’t a free speech issue. Twitter isn’t the government. They can censor anyone they want for whatever reason. It’s just going to be pretty obvious who it is they’re throwing out, and who they’re not. (Remember: some people are probably dead because of “hands-up-don’t-shoot.”)

The trouble is, not only will we need to watch what we say, but given the possibility of shadowbanning (discussed earlier), we will always have to keep wondering if we’re still saying it.

I haven’t checked Twitter’s stock price, but its value went down for me as an ordinary user.

Iran still after Rushdie

The bounty on author Salman Rushdie just went up.

It was started by Ayatollah Khomeini 25 years ago, then at three million dollars.

The extra cash was raised by the news agencies:

Forty state-run Iranian media outlets have jointly offered a new $600,000 bounty for the death of British Indian author Salman Rushdie, according to the state-run Fars News Agency.

Fars News Agency, which is closely affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was among the largest contributors, donating one billion Rials – nearly $30,000.

And we thought our media was bad.

Twitter off the deep end

As if to prove my Wednesday post, Twitter has suspended Stacy McCain’s account. He wasn’t too clear on the exact cause, and doesn’t really seem to know. But at the moment, it ends with “EXPECT UPDATES…

Datechguy wrote a nice write-up on McCain, the man.

You probably know that much already. After my previous post being about Twitter, I’d like to say I expected stuff like this, but of course I did not think it could be so soon, or so overt. This was pretty quick.

It’s as if the grown-ups left for the weekend, and the SJW interns are in control. It was only supposed to be just in case the circuit breakers popped — it is a weekend, after all — but then those interns saw an injustice that needed to be fixed, and it couldn’t wait ’til Monday.

Twitter may or may not see this as a mistake. I assume they will adapt to the complaints.

I just signed up for Quitter.se. (My own account is here). It’s an alternative that would take time to build. I’ll be updating the major posts on both platforms.

What Twitter has become

Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: That’s not funny.

This isn’t really about feminists, but the joke fits here.

British actor Stephen Fry makes a joke on stage at BAFTA and unhilarity ensues:

“Only one of the great cinematic costume designers would come to the awards dressed like a bag lady.”
— Stephen Fry

Not being up to date on these awards, I’ll cut to the chase: The PC crowd online didn’t think it was funny. They hounded the guy until he cleared his Twitter timeline:

“Let us grieve at what twitter has become. A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.”

But it’s not about what Twitter has become…

It’s about what Twitter is becoming.

It’s hard to have sympathy for Fry here. From what I read, he’d be among the first to huff and puff about what other people say.

What normally happens when the Stephen Frys of the world get upset about what people say? They call for censorship, of course. Twitter won’t call it that. It’s a “Trust and Safety Council” whose job it is to protect us from those who think the wrong things.

As Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopolous explains, it’s “packed with left-wing advocacy groups, as well as Islamic research centre the Wahid Institute.”

They may accomplish that by, among other things, shadowbanning those of their members with the wrong political views. This means that whatever a wrongthinker says can appear on their own computers, but not on those who follow them. It can take some time before you realize you’ve been blocked out.

The council sounds exactly like Fry’s crowd.

Just last year, Fry had joined a group of leftists reading from detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s book about his ‘struggles’ at Guantanamo. I’m sure Fry wanted to believe every word.

(I’ve mentioned Slahi and his book in my Guantanamo Clarity. Needless to say, I think Fry’s made his own bed.)

It’s always weird to see a gay man show sympathy for radical Islamists, but they’re out there.

R.I.P. Justice Scalia, and setting the record straight on his torture statement

Rest in Peace, Antonin Scalia.

There’s not much I can add to what’s being said about Justice Scalia, whose death was announced today. I’m not even going to talk about the work that must be done regarding President Obama’s inevitable appointment of a successor. But I do see some misconceptions being carried regarding his words on torture.

The critics are bringing this piece from the Rachel Maddow show’s blog. It refers to an interview Scalia gave to RTS (Swiss National Radio) in which he pointed out that the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment outlaws torture, but only for purposes of punishment, not interrogation.

While that might seem odd at first, this should be easy to grasp. There’s a difference between punishment and coercion for another purpose, and men of the 18th century were careful to put the word “punishment” in there. Maddow’s blogger seemed to think he could argue with the text, but the word is in there for a good reason.

It wasn’t just the Eighth Amendment either. Critics of the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation (but not necessarily critics of real torture by others) occasionally like to point to the Lieber Code, which Abraham Lincoln had ordered to fight the Civil War. This includes a prohibition against torture. But what those critics tend to leave out is that it prohibits “torture to extort confessions.”

They put those words in for a reason. Hundreds of thousands would die in that war. They couldn’t rule out torture for interrogation. If they could gain an advantage by torturing a few men, they were going to think of the thousands who might be saved.

Later, there were torture statutes and torture treaties, but they allowed lesser forms of harsh interrogation.

This doesn’t mean harsh interrogation is legal today. But it was only made illegal last year in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, which forbids any part or agent of the government from using any method not in the Army interrogation manual.

Yes, I know that Trump and others say they’ll bring back waterboarding if necessary. The next Congress can remove the restrictions, should they need to. It can be made politically possible. Most who claim to oppose it now were fine with it before. They can be fine with it again.

Until then, we’ll have to keep doing what we’re doing now: Letting our Arab allies handle prisoners whenever possible. The critics are strangely fine with that.

For now, once again, Rest in Peace, Justice Antonin Scalia.

The ACLU doing what the ACLU does

The ACLU and its friends are close to admitting that there weren’t enough examples of real “torture” for them to complain about.

Having sued to get images from evidence files of military legal cases, the ACLU finally got 198 images involving soldiers accused of mistreating prisoners. There were about 2,000 photos, but most are withheld because, quite understandably, the military doesn’t want to provoke the the jihadists. The ACLU doesn’t care if it provokes more violence. They want to see all the photos no matter who gets hurt.

But this wasn’t interrogation, either by the military or the CIA. It was soldiers who allegedly committed crimes during the war. The trouble is, if our moral betters don’t have interrogation pictures, they need to dress up whatever they do have, and then act like it was all part of the same plan.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International U.K., had the nerve to chime in here. To be more surreal, her piece is called, “Picture This: The Full Truth and Nothing But the Truth Over Torture During the War on Terror.”

Do any of these people care about the truth? I don’t think so.

No, I’m not kidding about that. I truly don’t believe they care about the truth. I don’t believe they oppose torture. I don’t even believe they oppose slavery. (No, I’m not kidding about that either.)

She is commenting almost six years to the day that, in 2010, the sky fell in for Amnesty as they abandoned their gender-rights chief in favor of Islamic radical (and former Gitmo-detainee) Moazzam Begg.

Whatever we may think about Islamists like Begg, at least he believes in something, even if it’s the wrong thing. Amnesty only dropped their pact with Begg and his organization last year, and it took one hell of a lot of shame to make them finally do it. They have yet to apologize for all the jihad-kissing.

But back to the story…

This should be familiar to those who’ve paid close attention: A few soldiers treat their prisoners badly, and America’s critics (like the jihad-kissers) try to pretend that it must be a deliberate policy of the U.S. government.

Continue reading “The ACLU doing what the ACLU does”