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May 14, 2008

This Deeply Unpopular War

It's dawn again outside my little home in the woods somewhere in western Maryland. How many posts, over the years, have begun with those lines?

Hard to say. Time was when those words signaled an impending storm. They were an almost infallible sign that some tinder had ignited the passion that drove me to bouts of 4 a.m. keyboard bashing in furious denunciation of something-or-other: defeatism, dishonesty, the venom of those who champion reason and tolerance by practicing their opposites.

As I sip my coffee and stare into space sunlight steals silently through gaps in the trees, turning the Japanese maple outside my office window into a flaming torch. Oblivious to the pyrotechnics inches above his twitching tail, a squirrel industriously dives in and out of my painted ferns. No doubt he hopes to retrieve one of the thousands of acorns embedded in what is left of last year's mulch. Evidence of his previous diving expeditions lies scattered along the top of the stone wall.

I have so little passion left. I'm running on fumes now; five years of war have left me feeling strangely drained. Now all that's left, it seems, is determination. That, and anger over the unrelenting drumbeat of negativity surrounding what the media love to call "this deeply unpopular war":

Amid talk among the mainstream media of a sinking economy in which the elderly must live in vans and others cannot afford to drive 35 miles to church on Sundays, the Associated Press did note a drop in unemployment from 2006 to 2007. But even that news was buried in a story about the military and was used to explain trouble had in meeting recruiting goals.

On May 13, an AP story by writer Anne Flaherty used this drop in unemployment to explain that the military is having difficulty recruiting young people. But just a day before, the Associated Press reported that every branch of the military met its recruiting goals for the month of April, some branches even surpassed them. As Warner Todd Huston noted, AP’s Pauline Jelinek reasoned that the military was successful in its recruitment efforts because “other job possibilities” are limited.

Shoring up flagging opposition for "this deeply unpopular war" becomes problematic when the media can't even get their own narrative straight Are we having trouble meeting our recruiting goals because jobs are currently more plentiful? Or have we met our recruiting goals only because jobs are now harder to find in the civilian sector? The truth is out there. Unfortunately the Associated Press couldn't find it if it were hidden in a bushel basket full of strictly impartial anti-war rhetoric.

legblog5_3.jpgBut then context is so important, don't you think? For instance, without the vital news analysis provided by neutral journalists, who among us would know that though they may pretend otherwise, our brave troops are tortured by doubt?

In a war that Falcon no longer really understood, Shahad became his mission. So when she asked for legs, that became his mission, too.

..So Falcon, who admits he wasn't sure about the Iraq war, wasn't sure he was making a difference, decided he'd get Shahad her legs.

Did we mention that a man who has seen sights which would haunt most human beings sometimes has doubts about whether the horrors of war can ever result in anything good? Because we sure would hate for you to be distracted from the most important point of this story, which is that war is a soul-searing and ultimately pointless exercise:

“This was what I needed,” Falcon said of his encounter with Shahad. Until then, he had wondered about his mission in Iraq. “Doing this right now, I’ll do as many tours as I need,” he said.

At any rate, let's try to stay on message here. The worst thing about war is the irreparable mental anguish it causes:

Several years into a pair of wars, the Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to cope with a task for which it was tragically unready: the care of soldiers who left Afghanistan and Iraq with an extra burden of brain injury and psychic anguish. The last thing they need is the toxic blend of secrecy, arrogance and heedlessness that helped to send many of them into harm’s way.

...A study by the Rand Corporation last month found that nearly one in five service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, or about 300,000, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. About 19 percent reported having a possible traumatic brain injury from these bomb-afflicted wars.

And that doesn't even begin to address the horror of all those innocent detainees driven hopelessly insane by the cruel and inhumane conditions at Guantanamo Bay.

As we all know, solitary confinement is a well-known form of torture sufficient to drive most human beings completely out of their minds:

Occasionally John would get called up to the "Big House." That's what the prisoners named the building where I was taken the night I arrived in the camp. Sometimes he had news that was not on the speakers in the camp. In September 1968 John had gone through a particularly bad session at the Big House where they had broken his left arm again by bending it beyond its limited mobility. After almost four days of beatings and torture John had signed a "crime confession." In the years to follow in Hanoi I found that most prisoners had been tortured to the extent that many had signed "crime confessions, letters requesting amnesty, or early release, and letters to their buddies not to fly in this cruel and senseless war."

Completely...

During one of these shakedowns they found Mike's flag. We all knew what would happen. That night they came for Mike. Night interrogations were always the worst. they opened the cell door, and pulled him out. We could hear the beginning of the torture before they even had him into the torture cell. They "bent" him most of the night. About daylight they pushed what was left of him back through the cell door. He was badly broken, even his voice was gone.

Within two weeks, Mike had scrounged another piece of cloth and began making another flag --- you see, Mike was that kind of American. I related this story on the floor of the Senate to illustrate the power of a symbol, the power of the U.S. Flag.

...and utterly insane:

When Denton recalls his trials in Vietnam, his eyes are often closed. For two and a half years, he spent 17 to 18 hours a day in irons. Alone, in a coffin-sized cell, he had to remain on a 47-inch-by-47-inch square during the day. It was just long enough to walk two paces. At night, he slept on a stone slab. "It wasn't the Hilton," Denton said. There were no windows. Just a 10-watt bulb, roaches and spiders the size of tarantulas. "Jesus was with me all the time," said Denton, who is a devout Catholic. His proudest moment was conquering his claustrophobia. Denton said during that time, he was in an "extremely intellectual and spiritual state." He said it is amazing what the mind can accomplish, if given the opportunity.

He once derived the formula for centrifugal force in his head, something he couldn’t do with pencil and paper at the U.S. Naval Academy. Although the other captives had designated Denton "president of the optimist club," there were times he prayed to die. He didn't want to -- couldn't -- endure another minute of despair. Once, when Denton refused to tell guards how the Americans communicated with each other, he was tortured for 10 days and nights. By the 10th night, he couldn't think anymore. He couldn’t pray anymore.

Denton surrendered. Not to the guards, but to God. "It was a total surrender," he said. "If there was anymore to do, you will do it," he told God. "That instant, I felt zero pain," he said. "I felt the greatest comfort and reassurance in life that I haven’t felt since."

When Denton talks to groups around the country, he tells them that patriotism can motivate men to perform for their country, but only prayer can provide the strength for the kind of performance required in prison camps. Denton also found strength in his fellow captives. The Americans were forbidden to communicate with each other. But that didn’t stop them. They communicated in Morse code and other number-based codes they devised and transmitted through blinks, coughs, sneezes, taps on the wall and even sweeps of a broom.

"I experienced what I couldn't imagine human nature was capable of," Denton said. "I witnessed what my comrades could rise to. Self-discipline, compassion, a realization there is a God."

The evidence that torture drives prisoners of war incurably mad is incontrovertible. Hell: sometimes the mental damage runs so deep they stoop to Swift-boating highly-decorated combat veterans! Fortunately, the mainstream media aren't about to let a bunch of poseurs smear a genuine war hero.

The thing is, the media would be happy to report good news in Iraq and Afghanistan if they could find some. The trouble is, they can't hear it above the sound of exploding Iraqi journalists. The American ones these days are safely ensconced, for the most part, behind their desks:

coverage.gif

This is not their fault, one suspects. As Jules Crittenden, a former embed, has often remarked, many reporters would be over there in a heartbeat if their bureaus would send them and professionals like Tony Perry of the LA Times continue to provide great coverage (even from within Iraq) when they are allowed to.

But none of this changes the fact that as the violence in Iraq has abated, so - largely - has the media's interest in covering the war:

Through the first half of 2007, about half the stories from Iraq examined in a PEJ study were about the continuing drumbeat of daily violence. From July through October, that number fell to a little more than one-third. In November, stories filed from Iraq began to take greater notice of the surge's success in reducing violence, even as the volume of coverage tapered off, evidence perhaps of the old adage that no news is good news. (So far in 2008, events on the ground in Iraq are accounting for only 2% of the newshole, although any sustained uptick in violence there could once again lead to an increase in coverage.)

With the violence down, some have criticized journalists for not producing other stories that would paint a richer portrait of life, and perhaps progress, in Iraq. The results of a PEJ survey last year of 111 journalists who have worked in Iraq reveal the extent to which basic security concerns limited the scope of their reporting. A full 57% of those journalists reported having local staff in Iraq murdered or kidnapped in the past year. And 87% said that at least half of Baghdad itself was too dangerous for a Western journalist to move around in. Unable to venture far, journalists identified the lives of Iraqi civilians and that country's economic and political situation as among the most under covered stories of the war.

But in a reporting situation where the vast majority of news stories are collected second-hand, the media persistently refuse to report good news provided by military news sources or, when they do pass along such news, surround it with quotes intended to show that such unreliable reports (unlike the myriad anonymous news reports provided secondhand - and consequently never independently verified - by their Iraqi stringers) must be taken with a very large grain of salt:

'Guantanamo man' in Iraq attack
Baghdad clashes 'kill 17 gunmen'

After all, there are journalistic standard to be upheld.

1_21_042608_WoundedWarrior01.jpgIs it any wonder that, as the chart above suggests, as media coverage of the war declines, so does public pessimism about our progress in Iraq? Without that relentless drumbeat of negativity beating constantly in the background, without the thousand subtle digs intended to feed public doubt about whether this war can ever succeed, to make us wonder whether human beings are strong enough to overcome adversity, whether the horrors of war permanently warp the human spirit, whether healing is possible in an unforgiving world, is there hope that the right side will emerge victorious in this battle for hearts and minds?

How can our side ever win the information war when a corrupt administration seems determined to force disinterested public servants like Bill Keller to share the megaphone?

Somehow the NYT contends that Major General (Ret) Robert Scales is an administration cheerleader incapable of independent thought?! In what alternate reality is that true? Generals Montgomery Meigs and Barry McCaffrey? For Christ’s sake, those are three of the most vocal and respected critics of the military conduct of operations that America has seen these past five years (though it should be noted that at least McCaffrey was initially in favor of the invasion). And yet the NYT wants to paint them as tools of the administration? Seriously? Folks, at least two of those generals have been invited panelists to speak before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees about the problems with the war. Invited by the Democrats mind you, not the Republicans. Seriously, somebody at the NYT headquarters needs to consider instituting a random drug testing program over there because the intellectual loops one has to tie oneself into to come to their thesis are worthy of Jayson Blair’s style of “reporting.”

Any hope that there might critical thinking vanishes in a cotton-candy poof of intellectual smoke when one realizes that the Times is seriously contending that we readers should believe that these retired generals and other officers were swayed by, well, see it yourself: "In interviews, participants described a powerfully seductive environment — the uniformed escorts to Mr. Rumsfeld's private conference room, the best government china laid out, the embossed name cards, the blizzard of PowerPoints, the solicitations of advice and counsel..."

Wait a second…you mean that the “participants” called it “powerfully seductive”? No, look closer, that word “described” means something. It means that they said no such thing and that the reporter is interpreting the scene for us plebians because, you know, we’re not qualified on that count.

Ignorant folk might be tempted to see this sort of thing as intellectually dishonest. But as Keith Olbermann so trenchantly reminded us, when the stakes become high enough, abstract principles like journalistic ethics are the first thing to go out the window.

After all, winning "this deeply unpopular war" is of the utmost importance. In the end, it's really just a question of whose set of emergency rules will carry the day. Of course, it always helps when you own the microphone.

Posted by Cassandra at May 14, 2008 06:16 AM

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Comments

...Are we having trouble meeting our recruiting goals because jobs are currently more plentiful? Or have we met our recruiting goals only because jobs are now harder to find in the civilian sector? The truth is out there. Unfortunately the Associated Press couldn't find it...

Boy, the economic reporting has been just as bad as the war reporting, lately. It seemed like every article I read there for a while talked about a "looming recession," when in fact the economy continued to grow (albeit slowly). I've seen people lamenting the weak dollar and jobs going overseas in the same breath, apparently unaware that a weak dollar is what is making the outflow of jobs slow because it makes American-made goods more profitable.

Just what do they teach at journalist school, if it isn't military science and it isn't economics?

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 10:52 AM

I saw this all the time with journalism students. They assumed that being a 'Journalist' (said in a haughty tone) made them automatic experts in everything. Sure, they might not know the "details" of an issue, but they could ask someone else and "frame it for the readers". In other words, they dumbed down their own poor understanding of the topic.

And as we all know, opinions are like bungholes (everyone has one and they all stink). It's just that journalists get to share theirs. Opinions I mean. Get your mind out of the gutter people!

Posted by: MikeD at May 14, 2008 11:03 AM

Cass, beautiful piece (as always). I really wish more folks knew the story of the Hanoi Hilton POWs. There is no more moving story of heroism and patriotism in the face of determined opposition that I can think of. Thank you for reminding us of it again.

Posted by: MikeD at May 14, 2008 11:05 AM

Well, since Obama was talking about the need to show respect to Vietnam Veterans yesterday, maybe we have a window to tell the story.

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 11:13 AM

I know I'm a bit tiresome on the subject Mike, but I find the media's silence on that issue in particular inexplicable. How can you report on detainees at Gitmo and the effects of so-called torture without once mentioning what our guys went through in Vietnam?

That requires a degree of mental and ethical flexibility that puts the Kama Sutra to shame.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 11:15 AM

You know the answer as well as I, Cassandra (yes, I'm being stern with you :P). It does not fit their narrative, nor their intent. It's AWFULLY hard to portray Gitmo as a torture camp if you actually, I dunno, show what one looks like. The media is no longer interested in presenting the facts, nor are they interested in dispassionately moderating debate. They have taken an active role in policy formation, and it disgusts me to no end.

And for ethics to even be discussed, you'd have to assume they have any. Here's their ethics for you:
1) Protect the source (unless you dislike their political views)
2) Verify the source (unless the story fits your narrative, in which case, it's probably ok)
3) Get the scoop
4) The end justifies the means

Posted by: MikeD at May 14, 2008 11:21 AM

But thank GOD for the internet. Now we all have an opportunity to hear from good people on the front line (re: Michael Yon) and other blogs telling the truth. Cass, everytime you get tired, please pull out your flag and type away....

Posted by: Kevin R at May 14, 2008 11:54 AM

Clever piece. I thought, however, since you mentioned the “the horror of all those innocent detainees driven hopelessly insane by the cruel and inhumane conditions at Guantanamo Bay” you perhaps missed the story yesterday about the government dropping the charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, whom “U.S. authorities have long considered one of the most dangerous alleged terrorists in U.S. custody”, “because prosecutors had little evidence against him outside of his own coerced confessions, a point that most certainly would have become a central issue at trial. […] ‘Their case was only based on evidence derived from torture,’ said Army Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles, who represents Qahtani. ‘In six-plus years, the evidence comes down to what they beat out of him. The prosecution evidence was entirely unreliable and inadmissible.’ ”

Although “[p]rosecutors reserve the right to charge Qahtani again, and the military says it can hold him without trial for the duration of the counterterrorism wars”, … “officials familiar with the case say it is unlikely that Qahtani will face new charges “because he was subjected to aggressive Defense Department interrogation techniques -- such as intimidation by dogs, hooding, nudity, long-term isolation and stress positions.”

Is this any way to run an airline, or a war on terriers? You bet it isn’t.

At least they can hold him indefinitely without charge – a tactic which will certainly endear our enemies to the US.

Go to original: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/13/AR2008051302785.html?hpid=sec-nation

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:06 PM

...a tactic which will certainly endear our enemies to the US.

Because, absent that, they (being "enemies") already love us? :p

Lack of evidence is not the same thing as proof of innocence. I have posted before, and substantively, on precisely why these cases are extremely difficult to prosecute under civil or military rules of evidence.

But then you know that, don't you Mark? Being a lawyer and all that. You understand, for instance, that it's virtually impossible to show a clean chain of custody of evidence from a battlefield.

Of course you do.

And of course you understand that why can't exactly scoop up and depose witnesses for the prosecution.

Of course you do.

However, Mark, I don't intend to get derailed onto another of your fishing expeditions today. As one of my links today clearly shows, we are not holding all detainees "indefinitely without evidence". Indeed, we have released many.

And some of them even show up in the news!

****************

A former Kuwaiti detainee at the US camp at Guantanamo Bay carried out a recent suicide bombing in northern Iraq, the US military has said.

A spokesman for US Central Command told the Associated Press that Abdullah al-Ajmi took part in an attack in Mosul on 29 April that killed several people.

Ajmi and two other Kuwaitis blew up two explosive-packed vehicles next to Iraqi security forces, media reports say.

The US transferred Ajmi to Kuwaiti custody from Guantanamo Bay in 2005.

He was later acquitted by a Kuwaiti court of terrorism charges.

**********************

I'd bring up Willie Horton, but you know I'd hate to be accused of throwing the race card :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 12:20 PM

Even on fumes Milady, your insight and analysis runs circles around most who are paid for the same in the major media.

Pieces like this one leave me speechless beyond the usual trash talk I would offer on the major media (they're going bust... woooo hooo!) and gratitude I could express toward all the folks supporting and sacrificing for our security and freedom.

So I'll just say what I've not said lately, thank you for all the time and effort you expend in giving your voice to these ideas. The progressive propagandists can not win as long as the Army of Davids persists.

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 12:21 PM

Ahh geez... I go for a coffee before I punch the Post button and look what light up the pixels,

"“because he was subjected to aggressive Defense Department interrogation techniques -- such as intimidation by dogs, hooding, nudity, long-term isolation and stress positions.”
I didn't think we were talking about frat initiations... sheesh. Give it a rest.

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 12:27 PM

so why don't we just kill 'em and forget the trial? isn't this war?

in the good (bad?) old days, "accidents" sometimes happened to people who were themselves bad. surely our leaders aren't such wussies that they can't "take care of business", are they?

but seriously, if you can't "prove" a charge, how real is it? i'm sure (without having read up on the MCJ or whatever it is or is called) that HEARSAY evidence can be used in these trials.

if the gov't can't prove its case without beating a confession out of a guy, then what kind of case is it anyway?

fortunately, when i tire of the credulous jingoistic apologetics one sometimes gets at VC, i just click somewhere else for a more serious read.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:28 PM

and please don't start whining about the "mainstream media" not letting the government get away with "taking someone out" - what happened to "shoot first and ask questions later" and "... let God sort it out". the US takes on all sorts of covert operations - if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:30 PM

I didn't think we were talking about frat initiations... sheesh. Give it a rest.

If the military thought that what the guy was subjected to made it impossible to convict him, I would suggest that it was more than mere "frat initiations". Of course, let's not forget the "frat initiations" we read about every year, in which someone is killed by the frat boys.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:35 PM

BAD NEWS: Charges dropped for detainee....

GOOD NEWS: Doesn't sell anything.....

Posted by: Kevin R at May 14, 2008 12:42 PM

fortunately, when i tire of the credulous jingoistic apologetics one sometimes gets at VC, i just click somewhere else for a more serious read.

[looking at watch and tapping foot]

What was that, 3 comments ago? As I said before, this post is not a referendum on Gitmo, Mark.

I am tolerant, normally, of your attempts to hijack every thread onto whatever your agenda-du-jour is: the Jooooos, or whatever. Not today.

Do not push me past the point of politeness.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 12:43 PM

the Jooooos, or whatever.

the point of THAT was that we ALL associate or have relationships with someone who has done something that we're not proud of, yet we're not all tarred with the same brush that tars the offender:

BHO - Wright
USMC - the bad apples who commit crimes
Christianity - the branches who foment anti-semitism

maybe the point was too subtle ...

but does anyone have a "serious" response to the query: "if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?"

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:48 PM

How can you report on detainees at Gitmo and the effects of so-called torture without once mentioning what our guys went through in Vietnam?

aren't these 2 options mutually exclusive?

(1) if they did it to us and it was bad, it remains bad even if we do it to them;

(2) if they did it to us (whether or not it was bad) we can do it to them and it's OK.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:51 PM

That is not an honest question, Mark. Nor a serious one.

And you know it. Let's ask Bill Keller.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 12:51 PM

No.

Because we are not treating the detainees at Gitmo the same way our POWs were treated in Vietnam, and only incomplete and dishonest reporting by American media and the politically motivated pro bono representation of American attorneys like yourself (who seem strangely uninterested in defending American servicemen who stand accused of crimes in Iraq - gosh - don't THEY deserve the best defense money can buy too? Apparently not.) perpetuates the factually inaccurate moral equivalence you seem determined to foist upon us.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 12:55 PM

MOSTTP: but does anyone have a "serious" response to the query: "if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?"

VC: That is not an honest question, Mark. Nor a serious one. And you know it. Let's ask Bill Keller.

Don't be naive.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 12:59 PM

"but does anyone have a "serious" response to the query: "if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?""
I'm not a scholar on this or many other subjects related to war and/or warcraft. But I think that I have made an argument in the past, when I cared to spend the time to compose my thought and words carefully, that the drive to apply GC protections to those for which the GC was not written, and I might go as far as to say, purposely excluded if I understand it correctly, might well result in that unintended consequence.

But I'll not waste the time or air in deference to Milady... or what Cass just said in Posted by Cassandra at May 14, 2008 12:55 PM

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 01:00 PM

How can you report on detainees at Gitmo and the effects of so-called torture without once mentioning what our guys went through in Vietnam?i>

Wasn't "what our guys went through in Vietnam?" several decades ago?

What? You equate what our guys went through in Vietnam with what goes on at Gitmo as if the latter is some sort of pay-back for what happened in Vietnam?

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:02 PM

MOSTTP: but does anyone have a "serious" response to the query: "if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?"

VC: That is not an honest question, Mark. Nor a serious one. And you know it. Let's ask Bill Keller.

Don't be naive.

Either this is serious discussion, or it's mental masturbation.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:03 PM

He knows the answer to that question full well, just as he knows the answer to the evidence question presented earlier. He's an attorney.

Don't waste your time on disingenuous questions whose only purpose is to waste time and rape your attention.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 01:05 PM

...might well result in that unintended consequence.

I take this to mean that you agree with me that ""if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, [we should just] just take them the f*** out?"

Your emphasis on unintended consequence suggests sarcasm, but I'm serious.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:07 PM

"fortunately, when i tire of the credulous jingoistic apologetics one sometimes gets at VC, i just click somewhere else for a more serious read."

Please do.

Posted by: MikeD at May 14, 2008 01:07 PM

but does anyone have a "serious" response to the query: "if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?"

I have one.

The Geneva Conventions explicitly permit the execution of unlawful combatants of this sort. In WWII, we regularly executed fighters out of uniform -- and not through "accidents," but openly. The 1947 protocols were written by the very people who had done those things.

However, in recent years, there has developed a faction of lawyers and jurists who believes that the Conventions were meant to condemn the behavior of the people who wrote them. These include, at this time, a majority of the Supreme Court, and a substantial part of the US military's JAG corps.

Insofar as these officers feel that their duty restrains them, of course they must do what they feel their duty requires -- which has been to resist Bush administration pushes for harsher treatment all along. There has been no more effective resistance to the Bush administration than from within the military. Meanwhile the SCOTUS has decided that at least some protections apply to these unlawful combatants.

So, in answer to your question: the reason we don't just shoot them is that our lawyers say we shouldn't. Right or wrong, we are a nation of laws, and this is what they feel the laws require.

I happen to disagree, both that the law was intended to require that, and that it's a wise law anyway; but until the law is changed, the government ought to abide by it. I don't trust the government to keep its laws -- my normal assumption is that the government will enforce laws on everyone but itself -- but the military is normally an exception because of its internal code of honor.

The JAG thinks this is the right way, and their honor is concerned with upholding what they feel the law requires. So, we don't just shoot them, though really it would be a better solution in many respects -- not least in reinforcing the Geneva Conventions' actual standards. Because there are no consequences for unlawful fighters who defy the conventions -- you still get the array of protections that lawful combatants would have gotten -- there is no cost to abandoning the concept of a uniform, and hiding among civilians. That increases the severity of war substantially, on the noncombatants we should all want to protect.

But at least we can feel good about ourselves.

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 01:09 PM

I am serious in my usage of sarcasm.

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 01:09 PM

Oh dear God Grim.

He knew every bit of that, but now he is going to bring up the Jews again.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 01:12 PM

Please do.

:p [sticking tongue out, right?]

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:14 PM

I am serious in my usage of sarcasm.

Right on.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:14 PM

Sorry, Cass. I was writing while you were asking me not to write. No offense was intended. :)

Before he brings up the Jews again, let me bring up the Catholics again. Mark may remember from the other day that I have some facility with Medieval Latin. He may wish to take under consideration that warfare has typically been far worse than the way it is practiced by modern Western armies -- that civilian populations were intentionally targeted (as for example in the chevauchee raids of the Hundred Years war, where the intention was to wreak such devastation on a civilian population that the enemy would have to abandon his fortifications to come out and fight you. Being not strong enough to take the castle, you destroyed the village).

The standards that culminated with the 1947 protocols arose slowly through the Middle Ages, starting with the Peace of God and the Truce of God movements. The Church led the way, pushing the standards and defining the concepts with care and precision. Just War Theory lays on that foundation.

If I view this abandonment of the 'lawful combatant' as a useful standard in determining who is, and is not due protections under the Conventions, it is because it is a betrayal of that whole system. However kindly intentioned, the extension of protections to unlawful combatants begins the unmaking of the system that has limited the horrors of war. I have just explained how.

Opposition to the liberal position here is not mere jingoism; it is rooted in the wisdom of two thousand years' experience. You might treat it with the respect due such a position, if you intend to argue with it: I may be wrong, but I am not unserious. And I'm yet to be convinced that I'm at all wrong. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 01:23 PM

What? You equate what our guys went through in Vietnam with what goes on at Gitmo as if the latter is some sort of pay-back for what happened in Vietnam?

No, she doesn't and you know it very well.

Wasn't "what our guys went through in Vietnam?" several decades ago?

Yup. But what we went through *after* didn't end several decades ago. Hasn't stopped yet, in fact -- it's just being continued by the philosophical progeny of those who decided to blame *us* for the war merely because we didn't mutiny or desert en masse as they urged us to do...

Posted by: BillT at May 14, 2008 01:24 PM

Actually Mark, no. I certainly intended no sarcasm. I find you both rude and obnoxious, and honestly, if you consider the other posters here nothing more than "credulous jingoistic apologetics" then I see no reason you'd want to be here other than to troll. This is NOT my blog, so it is certainly NOT my place to encourage you not to be here. But suffice to say, I see no reason to continue discussion with you if all you are going to do is irritate folks with dishonest questions and statements without admitting the slightest possibility you might actually be in error or conceeding that JUST maybe, we're not slack-jawed, goose-stepping, rethuglican morons.

Posted by: MikeD at May 14, 2008 01:24 PM

S'all right, Grim. I was just cracking wise :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 01:25 PM

I'm thinking of the soldiers who got a little "frisky" "in country" on the occupants of the taxi, and the people in the house near by (that was in Haditha, right?)

As I recall, THEY were brought up on charges and were ultimately acquitted, so ... maybe if it's just an accident ...

wink wink nudge nudge

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:26 PM

... warfare has typically been far worse than the way it is practiced by modern Western armies -- that civilian populations were intentionally targeted (as for example in the chevauchee raids of the Hundred Years war, where the intention was to wreak such devastation on a civilian population that the enemy would have to abandon his fortifications to come out and fight you. Being not strong enough to take the castle, you destroyed the village).

well, war is an atavistic thing ... so maybe a primitive response is what works ...

on another of your points, Grim: Hiroshima was a modern event and was very much like "destroying the village" to get the enemy to abandon its post, no?

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:31 PM

you misunderstand me - i'll admit to being a conservative on some issues, and not on others - i call hypocrisy (and smugness, sanctimony, self-righteousness) when i (think) i see it -

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:34 PM

Grim: What does "Just War Theory" say about the Iraq War of 2003 et seq?

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:35 PM

I'm thinking of the soldiers who got a little "frisky" "in country" on the occupants of the taxi, and the people in the house near by (that was in Haditha, right?)

1. Rules of Engagement: Taxi speeding through barriers to a checkpoint refuses continued commands to halt. BTW, that was Baghdad.

2. Haditha resulted in charges that were dropped because exonerating evidence (a real-time video from a UAV) was originally classified and *not* allowed to be entered in evidence in open court.

Posted by: BillT at May 14, 2008 01:38 PM

i call hypocrisy (and smugness, sanctimony, self-righteousness) when i (think) i see it -

And I wave the bullsh*t flag when I see it.

Like *now*...

Posted by: BillT at May 14, 2008 01:40 PM

Actually Mark, though I suspect it will make me deeply unpopular here to say this, the Haditha Marines were *not* acquitted. They were not tried as the results of their Article 32 hearings (the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing) yielded insufficient evidence to go forward with a court martial. This is, in layman's terms, not the same as a "Not Guilty" verdict after a trial and is not a determination of innocence but an admission that the prosecution doesn't have a strong enough case to proceed to trial.

Again, as I suspect you know, being a lawyer and all.

For Pete's sake, I don't even have a JD. Don't ask questions you already know the answer to. It is annoying.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 01:41 PM

my point is that if there was a decision to "just take them the f*** out" "if the suspicions about some of these people [were] so great" then "really it would be a better solution in many respects "

Opposition to the liberal position here is not mere jingoism; it is rooted in the wisdom of two thousand years' experience. You might treat it with the respect due such a position, if you intend to argue with it: I may be wrong, but I am not unserious. And I'm yet to be convinced that I'm at all wrong. :)

but if it can't stand up to scrutiny, then maybe it's not so deserving of the respect you suggest may be due ...

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:44 PM

"And I wave the bullsh*t flag when I see it.",/blockquote> No wonder I was holding my watch aloft... reflexive no doubt. =;^}

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 01:44 PM

they were not tried as the results of their Article 32 hearings (the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing) yielded insufficient evidence to go forward with a court martial.

this sounds like the comment I made about Mohammed al-Qahtani when I first joined this "discussion"

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:45 PM

Don't ask questions you already know the answer to. It is annoying.

rhetorical questions are often annoying - therein lies their worth

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:47 PM

this sounds like the comment I made about Mohammed al-Qahtani when I first joined this "discussion"

Which only proves you're incapable of taking a point on board unless it conforms to your ideological world view. Think again.

Lack of evidence is not proof of innocence, though it is grounds for acquittal (or non-prosecution) in a court of law. Also absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Thinking: it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 01:54 PM

I may be wrong, but I am not unserious. And I'm yet to be convinced that I'm at all wrong.

same here

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 01:56 PM

Which only proves you're incapable of taking a point on board unless it conforms to your ideological world view. Think again.

Lack of evidence is not proof of innocence, though it is grounds for acquittal (or non-prosecution) in a court of law. Also absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Thinking: it's not just for breakfast anymore.

I presume that you agree with the decision not to try the "the Haditha Marines ... as the results of their Article 32 hearings (the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing) yielded insufficient evidence to go forward with a court martial".

I also presume that you have no problem with the Gitmo treatment of "all those innocent detainees" to whom you so blithely refer above.

Therein lies what appears to me to be the hypocrisy.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:01 PM

Court martialing uniformed U.S. service members who unarguably fall under the UCMJ and trying non-U.S. citizens who are also non-uniformed combatants detained during wartime is apples and oranges , Mark.

Again, as I suspect you know. Being a lawyer and all.

Once and for all would you quit wasting my time asking questions, to which you already know the answers? I have been patient with you, but these are obvious questions any fool could look up the answers to and you are neither uneducated nor a fool. So knock it off before I end up utilizing that subset of my vocabulary which causes me to be termed, 'unladylike'.

And never presume you know what I think. I haven't read the Art.32 transcripts in detail and therefore have no basis for expressing an informed opinion on the decisions, nor have I weighed the allegations of every detainee against the entire body of evidence presented by Gitmo staff to the contrary. And neither have you. You just swallow the accusations of their defense attorneys whole.

Now there's a neutral party for you - unimpeachable "evidence", really. Except you don't require proof except when it suits you.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 02:26 PM

I see no reason to continue discussion with you if all you are going to do is irritate folks with dishonest questions and statements without admitting the slightest possibility you might actually be in error or conceeding that JUST maybe, we're not slack-jawed, goose-stepping, rethuglican morons.

I've never said anything of the sort about the readers here.

dishonest questions ? what dishonest questions?

only slack jawed, goose-stepping non-republicans have to admit the slightest possibility they might actually be in error ?

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:29 PM

Court martialing uniformed U.S. service members who unarguably fall under the UCMJ and trying non-U.S. citizens who are also non-uniformed combatants detained during wartime is apples and oranges , Mark.

Aren't they all humans? If you can't try them, let them go, or kill them and admit that you did so and defend yourself (not YOU, of course; you know what I mean).

As for the rest, it smacks of circumvention by plausible deniability.

Shooting fish in a barrel:

You just swallow the accusations of their defense attorneys whole.

You just swallow the accusations of their captors whole.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:34 PM

"Therein lies what appears to me to be the hypocrisy."

Hypocrisy. I think here lies your problem, Ministry. What appears to be hypocrisy to you, does not to me. For instance, regardless of innocence or guilt, there is a MAJOR difference between those prisoners in Gitmo and those Marines in Haditha. This fact is that one group are Americans... and the other group is not.

Yes, we should be good to our detainees. Yes, we should be fair in accordance to the law (what law is a matter of argument). But, what you see as dissent, some might see as you championing a stranger over your neighbor. So, how is it that you cannot see how people might have a problem with that?

Posted by: Kevin L at May 14, 2008 02:37 PM

Have you ever actually read anything I've posted? I'm pretty open about the fact that I have been, can, and WILL be wrong. The difference is, you need to use facts and logic to convince me. Throwing poo on the wall and seeing what sticks (and YES, I consider comparing the Haditha Marines to Gitmo detainees throwing shite), is neither.

You are perfectly willing to draw moral equivalence between:

"My first three years and six months of captivity had been spent in total solitary in a small bamboo cage in a valley near Dien Bien Phu in western Vietnam. The last two years and six months I was confined in stocks, irons and ropes because of four attempted escapes, two from the cage. In August 1966 I made my last attempt to escape. Punishment from that attempt crippled me to the point I could not walk. Two years later, when they took me into Hanoi in October 1968, I was in poor health and could walk only by leaning against a wall or some other support."

and

"because he was subjected to aggressive Defense Department interrogation techniques -- such as intimidation by dogs, hooding, nudity, long-term isolation and stress positions."

And frankly, I cannot believe a serious human being can do so with any sense of honesty. You compare the Marine's rights as US Citizens with that of unlawful combatants. Mark, were we to follow the Geneva Convention, they could be summarily shot and we'd be in complete accordance with the Geneva Convention. Grim pointed this out quite eloquently. And you ignored it.

You seem to ignore anything that you cannot directly refute. And really, I think the telling quote from you is here:
"rhetorical questions are often annoying - therein lies their worth"

Annoyance does not move a topic forward. It merely annoys. And frankly, I'm done with you. You have convinced me you are not trying to engage in an honest debate. You're merely trolling. And I'm done feeding you.

Posted by: MikeD at May 14, 2008 02:42 PM

For instance, regardless of innocence or guilt, ...

What? If you don't see a difference between innocence or guilt in the way people should be treated, then you have become the enemy. [not YOU; you know what I mean]

But, what you see as dissent, some might see as you championing a stranger over your neighbor. So, how is it that you cannot see how people might have a problem with that?

Fair enough as to both comments. I thought, however, that "we" were opposed to "dumbing down" of things around here. Maybe I was mistaken, and my error is in not recognizing some tacit agreement that the "conservative line, or talking points or «idées reçues» or whatever" are not to be questioned.

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:47 PM

...(and YES, I consider comparing the Haditha Marines to Gitmo detainees throwing shite), ....

Then you too have become the enemy or you're just a foot soldier who can't or won't or shouldn't be asked to look at the bigger picture. I'm not saying that's YOU; I'm talking about "he who can't see the bigger picture".

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:49 PM

Mark, were we to follow the Geneva Convention, they could be summarily shot and we'd be in complete accordance with the Geneva Convention. Grim pointed this out quite eloquently. And you ignored it.

That is BS (I'll abbreviate out of concern for tender sensibilities here) - you are overlooking what I said. I'm the one who suggested "just shoot them".

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:52 PM

"because he was subjected to aggressive Defense Department interrogation techniques -- such as intimidation by dogs, hooding, nudity, long-term isolation and stress positions."

Let's get out the thesaurus:

"... because he was subjected to aggressive Defense Department interrogation techniques -- such as assault by dogs, ... long-term solitary confinement and stress positions including but not limited to stocks, irons and ropes."

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:54 PM

Annoyance does not move a topic forward. It merely annoys. And frankly, I'm done with you. You have convinced me you are not trying to engage in an honest debate. You're merely trolling. And I'm done feeding you

[DELETED BY SITE OWNER: You have been warned repeatedly that abusive language will not be tolerated here.]

Posted by: Ministry of Speaking Truth to Power at May 14, 2008 02:54 PM

"What? If you don't see a difference between innocence or guilt in the way people should be treated, then you have become the enemy. [not YOU; you know what I mean]"

Um... okay. Whatever, man. Obviously we're talking about two different things here.

"Fair enough as to both comments. I thought, however, that "we" were opposed to "dumbing down" of things around here. Maybe I was mistaken, and my error is in not recognizing some tacit agreement that the "conservative line, or talking points or «idées reçues» or whatever" are not to be questioned."

No, you may question them. And I answered it. So, please excuse me for bothering to.


Posted by: Kevin L at May 14, 2008 03:10 PM

That's it Mark. You're over the line.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 03:11 PM

Grim: What does "Just War Theory" say about the Iraq War of 2003 et seq?

Jeffrey and I debated that at length some time ago. I think it's possible for a good person to reason from the principles of Just War Theory to both conclusions, although I believe it counts as a Just War. See here, and the comments to that.

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 03:29 PM

Aren't they all humans? If you can't try them, let them go, or kill them and admit that you did so and defend yourself (not YOU, of course; you know what I mean).

Sure, we do. We should try them and rewrite the law to justify it, as we did at Nuremburg, or let them trot off to resume their merry jihadi ways -- conveniently ignoring, as you are, that they were captured during combat with US troops.

Posted by: BillT at May 14, 2008 03:40 PM

Thanks Cass. Great post.

Thanks for reminding us about the heroism of our Vietnam POWs. Too bad we need to be reminded.

Why is the war so unpopular? I think very few of us actually like wars, least of all those who have to fight them. If all we hear is negative, that will also have an effect. The template is clearly 'good news is no news' and 'bad news must be trumpeted loudly(even if we have to make it up)'. The administration and some of the generals also made plently of mistakes along the way. I'll admit that I'm conflicted about the wisdom of the Iraq war, but not conflicted about the warriors.

IMHO, the American news media is slowly but surely destroying itself.

Bias + ignorance + incompetence + outright lies = disappearing audience.

Posted by: Schnauzer at May 14, 2008 04:34 PM

If you can't try them, let them go, or kill them and admit that you did so and defend yourself

False Dichotomy. There are many more viable options than just Criminal Trial and Battlefield Execution.

Criminal Trials are impossible for reasons Cass has already noted. Clean chain of custody is impossible under those conditions. OBL, himself, would get off on a technicality even though he's admited his guilt publically. And make no mistake about it, if we were to "just shoot them" as you suggested, we'd be hearing from you about how evil the Bush admin is for turning our soldiers into executioners. We have tried the middle ground and you are obviously not happy with that either.

So it seems we can't win no matter what we do. Given that you can't be satisfied, I see no reason to care about what you think in the first place.

Criminal Trial would have too high a false negative rate, Battlefield Execution too high a false positive rate. Capture and detain until a better informed decision can be made or until the conflict is over and it no longer matters. Seems a reasonable compromise to me.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 14, 2008 04:56 PM

Re: Ministry of Spanking Tiny Dicks.

Nothing says "I love you" like a well-placed foot in the ass, at least to those who crave such attention.

Buh-bye, Pest. Find another lunch table.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 14, 2008 06:42 PM

Not to be disagreeable with you Mr. Rdr, but I don't think that boot in the butt means what you think it means...

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 07:21 PM

*sniff sniff*
Yep, the stench of troll crap is already starting to dissipate, although, you're never going to get the nasty green stain out of that rug. So, I sent you some help for removing it. May I suggest this as a replacement.

0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 14, 2008 07:23 PM

Sly:

Don't you like this one, though?

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 07:36 PM

I never had my very own rug before :)

I was never one of those girlie girls. Cool.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 14, 2008 07:36 PM

Had one of those in NC, Grim. After years of NC humidity, it didn't take too kindly to the 120 degree days of AZ. (Oh, but it was a *dry* heat........yeah)
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 14, 2008 09:33 PM

Az! My oldest bro and his bride retired to Lake Havasu. Heh, just down the road from London Bridge. And strange, but that's what they always said, "oh, it's a dry heat", when asked about the weather.

They moved back to the Northern Ca. woods after a few years on bake.

Posted by: bthun at May 14, 2008 10:27 PM

Baghdad's got a dry heat to it too, Sly. I can sympathize.

New Grim's Hall Movie Club post, for the interested. Cassidy particularly, if she hasn't seen the piece.

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 11:04 PM

I actually cooked eggs on our front sidewalk one day, just to see if I could. Cooked them faster than a pan on the stove. Stuck, though, dagnabbit! Guess I shoulda used butter first, eh?
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 14, 2008 11:16 PM

Grim,
While I could *sympathize* with MH while he was in Iraq, I also realized that I wasn't wearing cammies under an extra 75 lbs of gear and carrying a rifle. Which explains why he lost 45 lbs in 9 months. I felt for you, too, btw, on your recent trip, knowing full well how much more the body armor weighs now as compared to when MH went.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 14, 2008 11:27 PM

I lost quite a bit out there. But no need to be careful with me: I know the ladies at home have the hardest part of it. Goodness knows my wife did, while I was gone, in spite of all I'd have wished for her.

Posted by: Grim at May 14, 2008 11:48 PM

Actually, Grim, I did feel for you. I can only vaguely imagine the intensity of the heat combined with the reality that someone is shooting at you. Because while fighting fire is a hot environment, contrary to Hollywood mythos, fire does not have a mind of it's own. It will only burn where and in the direction that sustainable factors allow. So, yeah, I felt for you and was very glad to see you return home none the less worse for wear -- at least no worse off than any given day under a horse.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2008 02:44 AM

"Buh-bye, Pest. Find another lunch table"

Look, Mommy, there's a rainbow!!!!

Posted by: Carrie at May 15, 2008 08:44 AM

Because while fighting fire is a hot environment, contrary to Hollywood mythos, fire does not have a mind of it's own.

The same advantage motorcycles have with relation to horses, yes.

Posted by: Grim at May 15, 2008 01:01 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 05/15/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at May 15, 2008 01:13 PM

I like rainbows.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at May 15, 2008 01:30 PM

Well - I will put my two cents in. Most of you know me for the kind considerate Doctor who has a habit of canalizing comments who oppose my train of thought. Of course - even though my train derailed years ago I am still capable of discernment . In this case it is with a humble attitude yet a refined astute generalization -There is nothing worse in the world than a student from a Southern California University.[ Any Southern California University for that matter but let's stay on topic]. Trust me when I say - I am closer to that unrealistic hodgepodge of stuttering nincompoops than anyone here. I know these particular universities very well.

Most students at a particular university have no true life experience short of living in 3,600 sq foot house and Parents with an income of means above the norm. Certain parts of Orange county are like living in a third world country to these paragons of virtue . Most of these self driven messiahs drive their daddies "Beamers" to school and fight for the oppressed all from the painful experience of a Macbook Pro. In my medical opinion their politically bent egos run so deep that they constantly are in need for some type of anal fistula surgery. Why? Because their heads are so far up their ass....

I have never done this before but I would like to offer my services. Time permitting and after a brief medical examination I will perform the surgical procedure necessary to broaden your horizons by retrenching your fistulae. In turn widening your political thought process and giving you the opportunity to take a deep breath once in awhile. The procedure will only take a day. I caution you - If you leave it alone for too long it will continue to fester and repetitive drainage will be unavoidable. The side effects are liberalism and a skewed perspective of how the real world works...

PS. You don't know how much a law student running around in "elastic netting pants" while the surgical wound heals makes my day.

Se you around Berk Hall.

Posted by: Dr. Harden Stuhl at May 15, 2008 02:31 PM

This is disturbing on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at May 15, 2008 05:16 PM

You say that like it's a bad thing, Don.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2008 06:12 PM

There were throlls in them hills?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 15, 2008 06:15 PM

Oh, go ahead Don :p

In my experience Doctor, the rectal-cranial inversion is one of the most intractable of medical conditions. Cure rates are abysmally low despite the best advances in modern medicine.

Patients typically present in the classic 'head-up-the-wazoo' posture, though a common variant -- the 'can't tell his/her a$$ from a hole in the ground' has been observed in 10-15% of cases. Emergency surgery is nearly always indicated as if left untreated this syndrome can lead to oxygen thievery, sudden attacks of BDS and strange, "thrill-like" sensations in the lower extremities. The most discouraging aspect of this condition is that despite the initial success of rectal-cranial inversion surgery, patients have a disturbing habit of re-inserting their frontal lobes into the tuckal region, thus necessitating another round of treatment.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2008 06:44 PM

Well said Cassandra. I often have read studies in which comparisons are often brought up where our liberal youth today resemble as a sort of "rectal ampulla" or a conglomeration of the "bullsh**" they collect from their unrealistic peers [a rectal ampulla for the laymen is the dilated section of the large intestine where feces tend to hang out] { No bun intended}. Anyway - I am glad too see that you are all keeping up on your Gray Medical Book readings. I have always said a day with out "Grays" is a day with out sunshine. Hmmm, maybe I said that while I was at the beach. Either way liberal do good college students are full of sh**.

PS. Nurse Please hand me a sponge...

Posted by: Dr. Harden Stuhl at May 15, 2008 07:29 PM

Fistual surgery? Is that procedure covered under California's Universal NoitaGringo health care system? Anyway, as implied, it is a complicated procedure which means that the R-C-deI surgeon --equipped with a surgical-steel comealong is the first doctor/team in the Operating Theater--

Sadly, if left unchecked, the poor RCI sufferer dies from knowing everything about everything, except that one can not go through life, or election years, with their head ensconced in their arse while propounding positions from their perch on the political punditry palisade.

Should they fail to come to this realization in time, they may wind up with tingly leg syndrome and goofy fawning expressions, witnessed by mill... hundreds of thous... dozens of people.

Once the tragedy has run its course, and all the interventions by loved ones on behalf of the afflicted have failed... when the mortal coil has been shed and the body prepared (open casket viewing is out of the question due to long term degeneration along with the resulting deformity of neck, spine and skull) for its final journey beyond the vale, or more accurately to compost while their spirit becomes one with harbor seals just in time for shark migration (oh please, oh please, oh please).

Then all that remains for those left behind, is the washday tragedy known as ring around the collar. Fortunately this condition is not hereditary, so a bucket of Oxyclean and those Che t-shirts are ring free. Then two generations hence none are the wiser... unless of course their ancestors made use of YouTube.

Posted by: bthun at May 15, 2008 07:47 PM

Cassandra: Your writing is first class. You're in a league with Bill Whittle (but he still needs to learn how to edit down).

Now that McCain has taken up the global worming cult, I can only assume he's pandering to the Left.

Te salutant.

Posted by: ZZMike at May 16, 2008 02:20 PM

and please don't start whining about the "mainstream media" not letting the government get away with "taking someone out" - what happened to "shoot first and ask questions later"

The main sewer media has no power over Bush in this respect except for the power the President gives them. The President is given the powers of pardon, unlimited pardon until he gets impeached that is, for a specific reason and that reason is so the President can jack up both the Legislature and the Supreme Court when he feels the need to. The SC and the Legislature can make laws against torture and assassinating enemies of the state all they want, but so long as the President promises full Presidential pardons to the executioners, there's always going to be somebody that is willing and able to carry his orders out.

The US military has internal discipline to the point where they will hang their own, regardless of whether Pendleton 8, Haditha, Abu Ghraib, or Marine Force Recon in Afghanistan. You don't seriously believe that Bush's military orders will become less effective when he is handing out pardons?

What was that, 3 comments ago? As I said before, this post is not a referendum on Gitmo, Mark.

Really, Cassandra, Mark has almost as many characters as you do.

USMC - the bad apples who commit crimes

Don't even go there restard.

yet we're not all tarred with the same brush that tars the offender:

You would justly be tarred with the same brush if you lived in the same trailer of the guy who sexually molested and a buried a girl child in the ground, alive, with her stuffed toy to comfort her as she "suffered a little before she died".

Like I said, you don't want to be going there.

if the suspicions about some of these people are so great, why not just take them the f*** out?"

For the simple reason that we need to hold them hostage in case terrorists capture an American man or woman. We need "these people" for body parts to trade back to the terrorists then. A fully grown adult muj and arhabi can provide for some very useful trading with terrorists. I'm not sure what the going rate was but in Palestine lands, it was 1-2 Jews for 1000 Palestinian prisoners. If that market rate stays true, we're going to need every body part in GitMo people. Executing a thousand guilty terrorists might get one of our own back, in one piece. We can't afford to be cheap here, people.

I find you both rude and obnoxious, and honestly, if you consider the other posters here nothing more than "credulous jingoistic apologetics"

The funny thing is that I'm the most extreme and radical jingoist here, with the exception of perhaps BillT. Mark likes to talk with everybody except me, however, perhaps because he can't handle "jingoistic apologetics", although technically I don't apologize for anything we do to enemies of humanity. We can burn them alive in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Baghdad in order to draw attacks onto the bait, and that'd be a good thing.

my point is that if there was a decision to "just take them the f*** out" "if the suspicions about some of these people [were] so great" then "really it would be a better solution in many respects "

Not only are you jingoistic mark, you're restarded as well. Not only are you a jingoist in the pure definition of the term, you're one of those people who get other people to do your dirty work and complain about them at the same time. Not only are you someone that will keep their hands clean for dinner parties in the face of war and retribution, you will pretend that you have something against the commenters of Villainous Company when the only person you have something against is yourself.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 17, 2008 08:32 PM

"Now all that's left, it seems, is determination. That, and anger..."

I know. In those early morning moments, I turn, as it seems you do, to thinking of our troops, of their determination, of what they are accomplishing, of how they are learning on the ground, and of what they are becoming. We knew that they were skilled destroyers; now we know that they can be artful, humanizing, builders too. It's stunning really. With every passing day, they win another piece of this war. I've begun to believe that by the time a new president takes office, only the irredeemably shameless will be able to deny the extraordinary, world changing, successes they have achieved -- despite mindlessly ambitious politicians, despite obstructive partisans, despite a wavering public and despite a hostile or indifferent press. They are that good. This never was and will not be another Viet Nam.

Posted by: JM Hanes at May 18, 2008 04:26 AM

The funny thing is that I'm the most extreme and radical jingoist here, with the exception of perhaps BillT.

Ymar, you silver-tongued devil...

Posted by: BillT at May 18, 2008 06:27 AM

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