Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Truth Justice and The American Way

I was rewatching an episode of Smallville the other nite, and in light of the Gonzales confirmation hearings today, I got to thinking about the issue of Abu G, and the recent Navy SEALS investigation.

.When democracies fight terrorism, they are defending the proposition that their political life should be free of violence. But defeating terror requires violence. It may also require coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights. So how can democracies resort to these means without destroying the values for which they stand? How can they resort to the lesser evil without succumbing to the greater?

Isn't that in effect what Clark Kent(aka Superman) does everytime he uses his superabilities such as Superhearing and Xray Vision(wiretapping, invasion of privacy, spying, secrecy, deception) in order to prevent Krypto Villians from completing their dirty deeds? Doesnt Clark resort to the use of lessor evils in order to prevent the greater evil?

He avoids succumbing to the greater evil by using his abilities to help humanity instead of using them for his own personal gain. And don't we seem to support, justify, applaud, commend, approve, and encourage him to do so?

So when our country's President, our law enforcement agencies and the Military do the same in the name of protecting citizens - in the name of preventing anymore 9/11's or train bombings or further terrorist activity - for the greater good - then why are people suddenly condemning and not applauding, approving, encouraging or supporting these measures?

It seems that as a whole we can embrace certain actions from our imaginary superheroes - but thats where it ends. Once it moves into the realm of "reality" - we as a country, become torn, conflicted, confused, righteous, angry, disapproving, unsupportive, and divided.

When Clark steals Lex's car, uses it in a criminal act, and it results in the death of someone, and he lies to Lex about his actions- hasnt he succumbed to the greater evil?

Maybe thats what annoyed me about an episode of Smallville entitled: Velocity. That it was written off as an act of moral compromise seemed abit disingenuous and the easy way out. That wasnt a moral compromise - because it didnt serve the good of the whole. That was an example of succumbing to the greater evil - if only for a moment.

At Abu Ghraib, we witnessed the appalling inexcusable sick behavior of a few people towards other human beings.We have a military filled with heroes, but the atrocities of a few have eclipsed the nobility of the many. And we should remember that.

There is no other country in the world that would have openly admited this behavior and began immediately to uncover the truth of why it happened in order to prevent it from ever happening again.

I find it interesting and hypocritcal that when Arabs mutilated the bodies of four private contracters in Iraq - when the firebombed their vehicle, dragged their bodies around, shot at them, impaled them, and ran those images on tv and in papers throughout the world- Arabs applauded in the streets, yet now the feign indignation! When 9.11 occured we witnessed arabs dancing and applauding in the streets. When the pictures of American soldiers treating Iraqi prisoners surfaced - no americans were seen dancing or applauding in the streets - no celebrations took place - but rather Americans remained mortified, horrified, and sickened at what had occured.

For Arabs to suddenly feign their indignation at the behavior of a few sick americans is laughable, hypocritical and disingenuous. Suddenly there is outrage in the arab world - but their governments behave in the same manner to all prisoners and yet arabs remain strangely silent. And even know when their fellow arabs behaved similarly and continue to indulge in that same behavior towards American military personnel and civilian contractors - they also remain strangely silent except to dance and celebrate in the streets and vent their anger only at Americans but not their fellow arabs!

Its sad that some Americans chose to succumb to the greater evil for their personal satisfication ....but what remains clear and what separates us from the collective "them" ...is that we did not celebrate their descent into darkness but rather collectively agreed, insisted, and demanded that we examine how and why this happened so as to prevent it from occuring again. We did not dance in the streets, we threw up in our bathrooms and then demanded that these people be dealt with according to the letter of the law.

Our Constitution was designed to regulate evil and control evil people. We may need to resort to the lessor evils of the Patriot Act in order to prevent greater evil - but we should be careful that we do not blindly support those that succumb to a greater evil in violation of their duties to us.

However, when the enemy is hellbent on killing us by any means necessary, when he is determined to bring the war to our country, and when he will seek to destroy democracy and freedom by any means necessary, then we must be willing to understand that in order to protect ourselves, our children, and our freedoms, it may also require violation of rights, because there are times when the end justifies the means.

To quote Michael Ignatif " Even terrorists,unfortunately, have human rights. We have to respect these because we are fighting a war whose essential prize is preserving the identity of democratic society and preventing it from becoming what terrorists believe it to be. Terrorists seek to provoke us into stripping off the mask of law in order to reveal the black heart of coercionthat they believe lurks behind our promises of freedom. We have to show ourselves and the populations whose loyalties we seek that the rule of law is not a mask or an illusion. It is our true nature. "

I m not so sure I agree that terrorists have human rights. But, even Saddam is to have his day in court. But I do know that sometimes, those who face the greater evil of the insurgents have to resort to acts of lessor evil in order to protect and preserve Truth, Justice and The American Way.


  • At 11:27 PM, January 06, 2005, Blogger Bill said…

    Ok ... so the ends justify the means ...
    and anyone can determine they can torture anyone else becaus eof beliefs -- we believe they MIGHT have information ... or maybe don't believe what they said was all they knew ... or that we didn't like what they said regardless of whether or not it was the truth ...

    Hey ... take your place on the rack ... or the water board ... or that chair they used during witch trials which was basically the same idea.

    if you believe in the rule of law -- law rules. end of story.

    If you believe in torture ... then anyone at any time can engage in torture -- invoking your excuses -- and it's OK

    This administration is dishonest and morally void ... the outcome will be one its supporters want.

  • At 3:00 PM, January 07, 2005, Blogger Huntress said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 3:08 PM, January 07, 2005, Blogger Huntress said…

    And your measure of morality would that be Bill?
    Are the terrorists acting within your boundary of acceptable morality? Are they behaving with moral decency when they behead women, kill children, and haul iraqi's out of their homes and kill them to serve as a fear tactic to prevent other iraqi's from exercise their right to determine their own future?

    Sadly most left wing liberals have no real idea of what measures are necessary against an enemy that doesn't fear dying, that doesn't respect personal freedoms, that views, YOU BILL, as a threat to them, and to their existance, and perceives you to be morally bereft because you are not a Islamic fundamentalist, that knows the game we play and suspects we won't bend from our moral high ground, to gain information to prevent another 9/11 from ever happening on US soil.

    You think our gov't is evil??? Has a member of your family been dragged out of bed at nite, and beheaded in front of you, so as to prevent you from voting? From deciding your future? or because your religious beliefs were not endorsed by the state?

    Man what freaking bizarro world to you live in Bill?
    A world where terrorists when captured will have a moral epiphany and volunteer information as to when the next 9/11 will happen??

    Cuz that's not the world the rest of us live in!

    We live in a world where we KNOW that those we "fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, don’t follow the Miranda rules or the Convention Against Torture but instead gas children, bury people alive, set wild animals on soccer players who lose, and hang adulterous women by truckloads before stadiums full of spectators; the world in which barbarous death cults behead female aid workers, bomb crowded railway stations, and fly planes filled with hundreds of innocent passengers into buildings filled with thousands of innocent and unsuspecting civilians."

    Quoting further from Heather MacDonald's article: How To Interrogate Terrorists"

    "Joe Martin—a crack interrogator who discovered that a top al-Qaida leader, whom Pakistan claimed to have in custody, was still at large and directing the Afghani resistance—explains the psychological effect of stress: “Let’s say a detainee comes into the interrogation booth and he’s had resistance training. He knows that I’m completely handcuffed and that I can’t do anything to him. If I throw a temper tantrum, lift him onto his knees, and walk out, you can feel his uncertainty level rise dramatically. He’s been told: ‘They won’t physically touch you,’ and now you have. The point is not to beat him up but to introduce the reality into his mind that he doesn’t know where your limit is.” Grabbing someone by the top of the collar has had a more profound effect on the outcome of questioning than any actual torture could have, Martin maintains. “The guy knows: You just broke your own rules, and that’s scary. He might demand to talk to my supervisor. I’ll respond: ‘There are no supervisors here,’ and give him a maniacal smile.”

    "President Bush had declared in February 2002 that al-Qaida members fell wholly outside the conventions and that Taliban prisoners would not receive prisoner-of-war status—without which they, too, would not be covered by the Geneva rules. Bush ordered, however, that detainees be treated humanely and in accordance with Geneva principles, to the extent consistent with military necessity."

    "The Geneva conventions embody the idea that even in as brutal an activity as war, civilized nations could obey humanitarian rules: no attacking civilians and no retaliation against enemy soldiers once they fall into your hands. Destruction would be limited as much as possible to professional soldiers on the battlefield. That rule required, unconditionally, that soldiers distinguish themselves from civilians by wearing uniforms and carrying arms openly."

    "Obedience to Geneva rules rests on another bedrock moral principle: reciprocity. Nations will treat an enemy’s soldiers humanely because they want and expect their adversaries to do the same" (note of late Bill that every civilian captured is beheaded...so how exactly is that behaving as we would??)

    "Terrorists flout every civilized norm animating the conventions. Their whole purpose is to kill noncombatants, to blend into civilian populations, and to conceal their weapons. They pay no heed whatever to the golden rule; anyone who falls into their hands will most certainly not enjoy commissary privileges and wages, per the Geneva mandates. He—or she—may even lose his head"

    "Even so, terror interrogators tried to follow the spirit of the Geneva code for conventional, uniformed prisoners of war. That meant, as the code puts it, that the detainees could not be tortured or subjected to “any form of coercion” in order to secure information. They were to be “humanely” treated, protected against “unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind,” and were entitled to “respect for their persons and their honour.”

    "Did the stress techniques work? Yes. “The harsher methods we used . . . the better information we got and the sooner we got it,” writes Mackey, who emphasizes that the methods never contravened the conventions or crossed over into torture"

    "In the summer of 2002, the CIA sought legal advice about permissible interrogation techniques for the recently apprehended Abu Zubaydah, Usama bin Ladin’s chief recruiter in the 1990s. The CIA wanted to use techniques on Zubaydah that the military uses on marines and other elite fighters in Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape (SERE) school, which teaches how to withstand torture and other pressures to collaborate. The techniques are classified, but none allegedly involves physical contact. (Later, the CIA is said to have used “water-boarding”—temporarily submerging a detainee in water to induce the sensation of drowning—on Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Water-boarding is the most extreme method the CIA has applied, according to a former Justice Department attorney, and arguably it crosses the line into torture.)"

    She goes on to say that massive investigations have uncovered that Abu G was done by a few rogue MP's. And since then, far more constraits have been added. "Those constraints make perfectly clear that the interrogator is not in control. “In reassuring the world about our limits, we have destroyed our biggest asset: detainee doubt,” a senior Pentagon intelligence official laments."

    "Soldiers on the ground are noticing the consequences. “The Iraqis already know the game. They know how to play us,” a marine chief warrant officer told the Wall Street Journal in August. “Unless you catch the Iraqis in the act, it is very hard to pin anything on anyone . . . . We can’t even use basic police interrogation tactics.”

    You know, Bill,The Geneva Convention was never written to include terrorists.The rule of law is only applicable to those that abide by the rule of law or in this case the laws of war. These terrorists have long decided to declare themselves enemies of the rule of law, of civilized order and decency, and by fiat the humanitarian laws of rule that apply.

    "The Washington Post and the New York Times understood that truth in 1987, when they supported President Ronald Reagan’s rejection of an amendment to the Geneva conventions that would have granted lawful-combatant status to terrorists"


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