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Old 12-05-2008, 07:24 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by BonoVoxSupastar View Post
Sting, do you feel the slight bit lonely now that even the administration isn't defending this rhetoric?
I think your mistaken about what the administration has said on the issue:

Here is what Bush has said definitively over the past few years:


Quote:
"knowing what I know today, I would have still made that decision."

"So, if you had had this -- if the weapons had been out of the equation because the intelligence did not conclude that he had them, it was still the right call?" Fox News' Brit Hume asked.

"Absolutely," replied Bush.
note this was said AFTER the 2004 elections!


Here is what Bush said today:

Quote:
"In a world where terrorists armed with box cutters had just killed nearly 3,000 people, America had to decide whether we could tolerate a sworn enemy that acted belligerently, that supported terror and that intelligence agencies around the world believed had weapons of mass destruction,"

"It was clear to me, it was clear to members of both political parties, and to many leaders around the world that after Sept. 11, that was a risk we could not afford to take,"
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:27 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by U2DMfan View Post
One is an opinion given with elections and political ramifications still at stake.

The other is an opinion with absolutely nothing attached to it but the opinion itself.

Which do you think is the more honest answer?
Sorry but what I qouted above is from 2005, AFTER the 2004 elections.

What you qouted above is not at all a definitive answer on anything.

What Bush said TODAY is indeed a definitive answer:

Quote:
"In a world where terrorists armed with box cutters had just killed nearly 3,000 people, America had to decide whether we could tolerate a sworn enemy that acted belligerently, that supported terror and that intelligence agencies around the world believed had weapons of mass destruction,"

"It was clear to me, it was clear to members of both political parties, and to many leaders around the world that after Sept. 11, that was a risk we could not afford to take,"
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:30 PM   #153
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it seems that some people think that the indefinite "conditions based" occupation -- as defined by the generals, of course, not the president who has abdicated any responsibility for Iraq -- in a fast-devolving, ethnically toxic, religiously crazy region is somehow in American interests. given the enormous challenges of, say, Pakistan, the huge debt we are piling up, the exhaustion of the military, i do not believe that an endless "conditions based" military, economic and political commitment to Iraq makes sense. it only makes sense if we are determined to occupy the Middle East indefinitely to secure oil supplies. which is why this war was always about in the first place.
The global economy cannot currently survive without the energy supply that comes from the persian gulf. US security strategy for decades through both Democratic and Republican administrations has made defending the planets access to the energy supplies of the Persian Gulf a vital priority. The planets dependence and need for this energy has only grown over the years and has never been higher than it is now. It will take years or decades for alternative energy to reduce the planets dependence on Persian Gulf energy supply. Even if the planets dependence on the Persian Gulf were reduced to where it was in the 1970s, the need to intervene to protect the energy supply there in the event of a crises or threatening situations would still be necessary.

It is a gross exageration to say that the United States currently is occupying the Middle East. There have been substantial US troops on the ground in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan since 2001, but provided that there is continued progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States will be able to safely reduce the number of troops it has in all three countries. The United States has only deployed this number of troops do to security needs which are improving over time and will allow for the withdrawal of more troops.

There have certainly been large cost to US occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but both missions clearly make sense when you look at the consequences of not invading and successfully rebuilding both countries.

US military expenses in both operations combined along with all defense spending continue to be lower as a percentage of GDP than US defense spending during the peacetime of the 1980s or during virtually any time since the start of World War II, except the defense spending holidays of the 1990s.



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where do we stand at present? we still have 150,000 troops occupying Iraq nearly 6 years later. yes, because we've bought off the Sunni tribes, divided and walled Baghdad, and changed some techniques, we've managed to bring Iraq back from the brink so instead of a civil war, we merely have a society that's become normalized to a scattering of car bombs across the country on any given Tuesday. but we're still there. there is no stable state that will grow to fill the void that will be left when we do leave unless Maliki somehow becomes Saddam part 2.

nothing has really been "won" here by the Surge, and the Surge has worked insofar as it has been a band aid that has helped stanch a bleeding head wound. but to think that the Surge has somehow healed Iraq, that the society has somehow been mended, that we actually will be better off in the long run because of The Surge, is foolish. yes, The Surge was a success in that it succeeded in what it set out to do -- cut down on the apocalyptic violence of 2006/7.
Is this the lesson we learned in that other country called Bosnia that actually had a real CIVIL WAR? Does Bosnia need a TITO 2?

Oh, and the United States paid several thousand volunteers in Sunni tribes 300 dollars a month to work as security guards and informents. That whole effort over the course of a year cost the equilevent of having US forces in Iraq for 1 DAY! Unemployment was huge in many of the Sunni area's, and many Sunni's were aiding the insurgency for money from insurgents and Al Quada before this, NOT because they really believed in what they were doing. They simply needed money to keep themselves and their family fed. Helping them in that respect while the Iraqi government was still forming was important and did help to save lives and bring stability to some area's.

But the main reason for the decline in Iraqi deaths and violence throughout the country was the US decision to deploy 33% more ground combat power and spread out US deployments all across the country. While individually each outpost was more vulnerable than the larger but fewer well protected bases, they were able to cover a much larger area of the country and better protect the population. While this was happening, the additional surge brigades were actively rooting out insurgent cells in Baghdad and then in Baghdad suburbs and finally into the more rural Sunni provinces. Better intelligence helped out enormously as the stationing of US troops in a wider number of villiages and towns brought confidence and a sense of security to locals. They were more willing to risk helping the coalition in rooting out insurgence in their area's.

Looking at the actual statistics, Iraqi deaths and violence did not start to decline with the Anbar awakening in the summer of 2006. It started to significantly decline after the arrival of all 5 Surge Brigades and the launch of all surge operations in the late summer of 2007!

As of November 2008, the murder rate in Iraq is less than that of most major US cities including Washington DC!


An Iraqi government, military, and economy is currently developing that will sustain and improve on the stability that has been achieved by the surge. It is already helping in many ways, and political issues that seemed impossible to resolve have been steadily overcome over the past several years. The government is improving even though progress is slower than people would like. The Iraqi military and police force have made dramatic strides in raising their capababilities. Iraq is in charge of all security in 10 of its 18 provinces. By the end of 2009 all Iraqi provinces security will be under the control of Iraqi military and police forces. The US military at that time will be mainly in a support role and will have withdrawn from all Iraqi cities and villiages.

There is no society in the world that is immune to the effects of successful and proper counter-insurgency and nation building efforts. Multi-ethnic and religious societies can develop into stable democracies provided they are given the time and the aid needed to do so.


Quote:
but for how much longer? have we not just delayed the coming inevitability of more mass death in Iraq? for what? at what cost? and does the delaying of this inevitable mass death mean more occupation? for how long? to what end? do we have to wait for an entire generation to die out? what happened in Vietnam after 1975? are we to endlessly prop up Baghdad? to contain ... not the Soviet Union, but what?
Iraq is sitting on the worlds largest oil reserves, with the exception of Saudi Arabia. Even though its oil infrustucture has yet to be fully repaired and improved, it has already accumulated a surplus of over $100 Billion dollars. Over the next 10 years, there are plans to TRIPLE Iraqi oil production. Bosnia and Kosovo do not have any source of wealth comparable to that and have much less of a history of being and independent state, yet both continue to successfully develop into stronger more stable countries.

By rebuilding Iraq, the United States is helping to stabilize the worlds most vital energy resource region. Iraq does not have to go through some mass blood letting process to achieve stability if the country continues to stay on the right path of development and the international community does not withdraw its aid prematurely.

In 1975, the independent nation of South Vietnam was overrun by North Vietnamese forces in a large scale armored military assault similar to Hitlers invasion of Poland. This occured two years after the United States had withdrawn ALL of its troops and a year and a half after it had cut off most supplies for the South Vietnamese military. There is NOTHING in Iraq today that even vaguely resembles the situation between North Vietnam and South Vietnam in the spring of 1975!


In Iraq, just as in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, it will continue to require aid and support for many years. But over time, the level of support will be able to be reduced as development increases. In Iraq's case, they already have a 100 Billion dollar surplus and the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world to help out.

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there is no way out of Iraq, and nothing was improved by the removal of Hussein that has not been negated by something just as dangerous. you've replaced one set of problems with another, and managed to kill tens of thousands along the way.
How is Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian oil supply more in danger of being siezed or sabotaged with Saddam out of power? Removing Saddam has reduced and eliminated many of the fundamental regional problems that have existed for many years if not decades. Nation building and counter insurgency are not problems, but are beneficial to Iraq and the region and will create opportunities that previously did not exist for the majority of people.

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is it reasonable to ask the American people to spend their treasure and spill their blood on something that amounts to very little in the end?
Protecting the worlds vital energy resources has always been in the interest of the United States for decades. You cannot minimize the importance of protecting these vital global energy resources. Without Persian Gulf Energy supply, the global economy currently would not be able to survive. Were talking about the survival of global society as we have known it for decades.

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do we really think we can forcibly integrate the Arab/Muslim world to be like a secular European democracy?
Thats not the US goal in Iraq.

Quote:
has Iraq ever been truly pacified?
Its been pacified multiple times through out history although with different methods.

Quote:
simply because the Americans seem to have done it better than anyone doesn't mean at all that it's being done well
Well, thats certainly not an indication that its being done poorly.

Quote:
if you want to "succeed" in Iraq, and to follow The Surge through to it's logical end, which is not just the stanching of violence for a few months, then it will require a significant military presence in Baghdad for the rest of our lives.
Is that the lesson that we learned in Bosnia? Kosovo? Is that the lesson that were learning in Afghanistan?

Nation Building and sustainable development are about creating the ability for a country to be able to handle all of its own internal affairs without the need for foreign help. There are numourous examples around the world where this has worked or is currently working.
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Old 12-06-2008, 01:42 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by Strongbow View Post
Sorry but what I qouted above is from 2005, AFTER the 2004 elections.

What you qouted above is not at all a definitive answer on anything.

What Bush said TODAY is indeed a definitive answer:
YES, exactly. Are you daft?

Should we let this sink in a few more minutes before proceeeding?

I didn't quote anything but your words, brainchild.

If you mean, what I quoted of your stunted words is "not at all a definitive answer on anything" then, I have to ask a simple question.

Is that lost on anyone?

Let me type slowly, if that's even possible....

Bush had one opinion when he wanted to be re-elected. IN 2004

And a different opinion when elections didn't matter.

Caught up yet?
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Old 12-06-2008, 01:00 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by U2DMfan View Post
YES, exactly. Are you daft?

Should we let this sink in a few more minutes before proceeeding?

I didn't quote anything but your words, brainchild.

If you mean, what I quoted of your stunted words is "not at all a definitive answer on anything" then, I have to ask a simple question.

Is that lost on anyone?

Let me type slowly, if that's even possible....

Bush had one opinion when he wanted to be re-elected. IN 2004

And a different opinion when elections didn't matter.

Caught up yet?
Bush's opinion on the war has been consistently the same from 2002 to today. Before elections and after elections. Caught up yet?
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:42 PM   #156
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YouTube - Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoes At Bush - Bush Gets The Boot


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A man identified as an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at -- but missed -- President Bush during a news conference Sunday evening in Baghdad, where Bush was making a farewell visit.

Bush ducked, and the shoes, flung one at a time, sailed past his head during the news conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in his palace in the heavily fortified Green Zone.

The shoe-thrower -- identified as Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network -- could be heard yelling in Arabic: "This is a farewell ... you dog!"

While pinned on the ground by security personnel, he screamed: "You killed the Iraqis!"

Al-Zaidi was dragged away. While al-Zaidi was still screaming in another room,Bush said: "That was a size 10 shoe he threw at me, you may want to know."

Hurling shoes at someone, or sitting so that the bottom of a shoe faces another person, is considered an insult among Muslims.

Al-Baghdadia issued a statement Sunday demanding al-Zaidi's release.

Al-Zaidi remained in custody Monday while the Iraqi judiciary decides whether he will face charges of assaulting al-Maliki, a government official said.

The official said al-Zaidi is being tested for alcohol and drugs to determine if he was fully conscious during the incident.

Al-Zaidi drew international attention in November 2007 when he was kidnapped while on his way to work in central Baghdad. He was released three days later.

Bush had been lauding the conclusion of a security pact with Iraq as journalists looked on.

"So what if the guy threw his shoe at me?" Bush told a reporter in response to a question about the incident.

"Let me talk about the guy throwing his shoe. It's one way to gain attention. It's like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It's like driving down the street and having people not gesturing with all five fingers. ...

"These journalists here were very apologetic. They ... said this doesn't represent the Iraqi people, but that's what happens in free societies where people try to draw attention to themselves."

Bush then directed his comments to the security pact, which he and al-Maliki were preparing to sign, hailing it as "a major achievement" but cautioning that "there is more work to be done."

"All this basically says is we made good progress, and we will continue to work together to achieve peace," Bush said.

Bush's trip was to celebrate the conclusion of the security pact, called the Strategic Framework Agreement and the Status of Forces Agreement, the White House said.

The pact will replace a U.N. mandate for the U.S. presence in Iraq that expires at the end of this year. The agreement, reached after months of negotiations, sets June 30, 2009, as the deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns. The date for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq is December 31, 2011.

Bush called the passage of the pact "a way forward to help the Iraqi people realize the blessings of a free society."

Bush said the work "hasn't been easy, but it has been necessary for American security, Iraqi hope and world peace."

Bush landed at Baghdad International Airport on Sunday and traveled by helicopter to meet with President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents at Talabani's palace outside the Green Zone.

It marked the first time he has been outside the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad without being on a military base.

The visit was Bush's fourth since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Afterward, Talabani praised his U.S. counterpart as a "great friend for the Iraqi people" and the man "who helped us to liberate our country and to reach this day, which we have democracy, human rights, and prosperity gradually in our country."

Talabani said he and Bush, who is slated to leave office next month, had spoken "very frankly and friendly" and expressed the hope that the two would remain friends even "back in Texas."


For his part, Bush said he had come to admire Talabani and his vice presidents "for their courage and for their determination to succeed."

As the U.S. and Iraqi national anthems played and Iraqi troops looked on, he and the Iraqi president walked along a red carpet. VideoWatch President Bush and Iraq's president walk the red carpet »

Bush left Iraq on Sunday night and arrived Monday morning in Afghanistan, where he will met with President Hamid Karzai and speak with U.S. troops.

In remarks to reporters, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who traveled with Bush, described the situation in Iraq as "in a transition."

"For the first time in Iraq's history and really the first time in the region, you have Sunni, Shia and Kurds working together in a democratic framework to chart a way forward for their country," he said.

On Monday, new violence in Iraq showed that work remains to be done.

A suicide car bomb attack killed at least three people and wounded 31 others west of Baghdad on Monday, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. The noontime bombing targeted civilians on a road between Khan Dhari and Abu Ghraib, according to the official.

Also, the U.S. military said three militants were killed and 13 others were detained in operations targeting al Qaeda in Iraq on Sunday and Monday. The incidents took place in Baiji, Tall Sumayyir, Tikrit, near the towns of Abu Ghraib, Mahmoudiya and Kirkuk.
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Old 12-15-2008, 02:46 PM   #157
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For years South Park has been incorporating current events.



So why not have a little South Park in our current events.
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Old 12-15-2008, 03:12 PM   #158
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among other disasters, we now know that GWB himself was responsible for torture:


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Levin, McCain Release Executive Summary and Conclusions of Report on Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody

WASHINGTON – Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) today released the executive summary and conclusions of the Committee’s report of its inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.

A major focus of the Committee’s investigation was the influence of Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training techniques on the interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody. SERE training is designed to teach our soldiers how to resist interrogation by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions and international law. During SERE training, U.S. troops --- in a controlled environment with great protections and caution --- are exposed to harsh techniques such as stress positions, forced nudity, use of fear, sleep deprivation, and until recently, the waterboard. The SERE techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody. The Committee’s investigation found, however, that senior officials in the U.S. government decided to use some of these harsh techniques against detainees based on deeply flawed interpretations of U.S. and international law.

The Committee concluded that the authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques by senior officials was both a direct cause of detainee abuse and conveyed the message that it was okay to mistreat and degrade detainees in U.S. custody.

Chairman Levin said, “SERE training techniques were designed to give our troops a taste of what they might be subjected to if captured by a ruthless, lawless enemy so that they would be better prepared to resist. The techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody.”

Senator McCain said, “The Committee’s report details the inexcusable link between abusive interrogation techniques used by our enemies who ignored the Geneva Conventions and interrogation policy for detainees in U.S. custody. These policies are wrong and must never be repeated.”

Chairman Levin also said: “The abuses at Abu Ghraib, GTMO and elsewhere cannot be chalked up to the actions of a few bad apples. Attempts by senior officials to pass the buck to low ranking soldiers while avoiding any responsibility for abuses are unconscionable. The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees. Our investigation is an effort to set the record straight on this chapter in our history that has so damaged both America’s standing and our security. America needs to own up to its mistakes so that we can rebuild some of the good will that we have lost.” (Sorry Strongbow! your sputtering "bad apples" argument is crap! Even McCain knows it!)

In the course of its more than 18-month long investigation, the Committee reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents and conducted extensive interviews with more than 70 individuals.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:49 PM   #159
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Dang...that George W. has some quick reflexes!
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:57 PM   #160
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
among other disasters, we now know that GWB himself was responsible for torture:
Well, thats the bad kind of torture, the type run by Rethuglicans, Obama will be more enlightened
Quote:
FEW post-9/11 issues have produced more anxiety and revulsion than the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of “aggressive interrogation” and the extrajudicial rendition of terrorist suspects to countries that practice torture. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to ban waterboarding and other pain-inflicting soliciting techniques, as well as rendition. He has also promised to close the Guantánamo Bay prison.

More broadly, liberal Democrats in Congress intend to deploy a more moral counterterrorism, where the ends — stopping the slaughter of civilians by Islamic holy warriors — no longer justifies reprehensible means. Winning the hearts and minds of foreigners by remaining true to our nobler virtues is now seen as the way to defeat our enemies while preserving our essential goodness.

Sounds uplifting. Don’t bet on it happening.

Mr. Obama will soon face the same awful choices that confronted George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and he could well be forced to accept a central feature of their anti-terrorist methods: extraordinary rendition. If the choice is between non-deniable aggressive questioning conducted by Americans and deniable torturous interrogations by foreigners acting on behalf of the United States, it is almost certain that as president Mr. Obama will choose the latter.

Of course, he and his senior officials seem to believe now that they don’t have to make this choice. For them there is a better way to combat terrorism, by using physically non-coercive questioning of suspects and civilian courts or military courts-martial to try and punish jihadists.

But this third way, which is essentially where America was before the Clinton administration embraced rendition, is plausible only if Mr. Obama is lucky. He might be. If there is no “ticking time bomb” situation — say, where waterboarding a future Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the 9/11 mastermind) could save thousands of civilians — then there is neither need for the C.I.A.’s exceptional methods, nor the harsh services of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department.

And there are signs that Mr. Obama won’t have to confront such a situation. Through American and allied efforts, Al Qaeda has sustained enormous damage since 9/11. Osama bin Laden’s decisive battle in Iraq, where Al Qaeda intended to re-energize its holy war against the Americans among the Arabs, has turned into a military and moral disaster. Arab Muslim fundamentalists have finally started the great debate as to whether it is, in fact, unacceptable to kill believers and nonbelievers in jihad.

And the internal-security services of our allies in Europe are, on the whole, vastly better today than they were in 2001. Thanks to intrusive surveillance methods (many of which are outlawed in the United States), they are much more efficient in pre-empting the plots of holy warriors traversing their borders.

However, troubles in Pakistan may well reverse Mr. Obama’s luck. He has said he intends to be hawkish about fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Central Asia. So, let us suppose that he increases the number of Special Forces raids into Pakistan, and those soldiers capture members of Al Qaeda and their computers, and learn that the group has advanced plans for striking American and European targets, but we don’t know specifically where or when.

What would Mr. Obama do? After all, if we’d gotten our hands on a senior member of Al Qaeda before 9/11, and knew that an attack likely to kill thousands of Americans was imminent, wouldn’t waterboarding, or taking advantage of the skills of our Jordanian friends, have been the sensible, moral thing to do with a holy warrior who didn’t fear death but might have feared pain?

Mr. Obama will probably not have the option of ordering the C.I.A. to aggressively interrogate another member of Al Qaeda — not after running a campaign that highlighted the moral failings of President Bush. To get the C.I.A. back in the interrogation business would probably require a liberal Democratic Congress to pass laws guaranteeing case officers’ immunity from criminal and civil prosecution. This seems unlikely — unless, of course, the United States is again devastated by a terrorist strike.

And because of Mr. Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo, the Justice Department is already going to have to figure out how to move, try, punish and release its detainees. Thus the last thing in the world the Obama administration will want is to bring in more “enemy combatants” from the Central Asian battlefield.

Which brings us back to rendition, which, properly understood, is what Americans do when they realize that active counterterrorism against jihadists prepared to use mass-casualty weapons is an ethical, juridical and operational tar pit. It isn’t an ideal solution — American intelligence officers have no control of the questioning, and Washington can become beholden to foreign security services — but it’s a satisfactory compromise. Just ask Samuel R. Berger, the national-security adviser for President Bill Clinton, who no doubt worked through all the pitfalls when he first approved extrajudicial rendition.

In addition, the C.I.A. is able to guard the secrecy of foreign-liaison operations more effectively, especially from Congressional prying, than it can its own activities. It has also certainly paid close attention to how the press tracked some of its clandestine international flights carrying terrorism suspects after 9/11, and will in the future undoubtedly make it much harder to sleuth out who is going where.

A dense bipartisan moral fog surrounds rendition. Former senior Clinton officials can still deny that they sent anyone away in order that he be tortured. Few are as honest and frank as Walt Slocombe, a Clinton undersecretary of defense who once remarked that the difference between Democratic and Republican rendition was that Democrats “drilled air holes in the boxes.”

If Mr. Obama’s Democrats get blown back into the ugly world that we live in, and resume rendition (and, of course, fib about it), then President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who have been vilified for besmirching America’s honor, may at least take some consolation in knowing that hypocrisy is always the homage vice pays to virtue.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/op...pNdqrsgBXhxgOg
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Old 12-15-2008, 07:42 PM   #161
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
(Sorry Strongbow! your sputtering "bad apples" argument is crap! Even McCain knows it!)
The main point I was making on that issue was that the overwhelming majority of US military personal were never involved or engaged in such actions. I'm not surprised though that some still don't understand that.
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:07 PM   #162
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Well, thats the bad kind of torture, the type run by Rethuglicans, Obama will be more enlightened


Obama will be held to the same standard.

but that article doesn't seem to have much to stand on. it's obsessed with the "ticking time bomb" scenario, which totally misunderstands the situation.
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:46 AM   #163
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here's a direct riposte to the torture-apologia op-ed posted earlier:


Quote:
Ungerecht

By Scott Horton

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed by Reuel Marc Gerecht (“Out of Sight”) in which the author sings the virtues of torture and extraordinary rendition:

Quote:
…if we’d gotten our hands on a senior member of Al Qaeda before 9/11, and knew that an attack likely to kill thousands of Americans was imminent, wouldn’t waterboarding, or taking advantage of the skills of our Jordanian friends, have been the sensible, moral thing to do with a holy warrior who didn’t fear death but might have feared pain?
The piece lives in the world and morality of Fox’s Twenty-Four, and it falsely confuses the rendition programs that existed pre-Bush with the extraordinary rendition program put in place after 9/11. Gerecht knows better. The devices he advances are crimes. People who use and authorize them have in the past been sent to jail for long periods—some have even been executed. There is no legitimate difference of opinion on this, only a willingness on the part of some to commit serious crimes in the expectation that they won’t be held to account.

We should be asking the editors of the New York Times why they feel comfortable commissioning individuals to advocate a high-powered crime spree at taxpayer expense. In so doing they create the false impression that torture is just another option on the policy palette, embraced by some and rejected by others. Is this fair debate? No. This is enabling torture.

I am bracing myself for a new series from the Gray Lady. Senator David Vitter will argue the virtues of prostitution; Congressman William J. Jefferson will explain how the public interest is served when members of Congress run a lobbying business on the side; Senator Ted Stevens will make the case for constituent-sponsored home repairs. And if torture by proxy is just fine, why not murder for hire? Why not child pornography? I am sure we can come up with solid national security justifications for all of these approaches–justifications which are every bit as compelling as those advanced by Gerecht.


now that we know that the very "bad apples" that some used to try and excuse and laugh away such serious crimes were positioned at the very top of the barrell -- namely, Mr. Bush himself -- i wonder if we could come up with a number. the exact number of innocent people (or perhaps just petty angry kids) it would be okay to torture based on the slim chance that, just once, someday, we'll get something out of someone who knows something about a terrorist plot scheduled in an hour and we can then send Jack Bauer to dismantle the atomic bomb.

how many?
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:09 PM   #164
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Christmas in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- From a distance, it looks like an apparition: a huge multi-colored hot-air balloon floating in the Baghdad sky, bearing a large poster of Jesus Christ. Below it, an Iraqi flag.

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Santa and his helpers stand under palm trees at Baghdad's first public Christmas festival.

1 of 3 more photos » Welcome to the first-ever public Christmas celebration in Baghdad, held Saturday and sponsored by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Once thought to be infiltrated by death squads, the Ministry now is trying to root out sectarian violence -- as well as improve its P.R. image.

The event takes place in a public park in eastern Baghdad, ringed with security checkpoints. Interior Ministry forces deployed on surrounding rooftops peer down at the scene: a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel; a red-costumed Santa Claus waving to the crowd, an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders; a red-and-black-uniformed military band playing stirring martial music, not Christmas carols.

On a large stage, children dressed in costumes representing Iraq's many ethnic and religious groups -- Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Christians, Arab Muslims not defined as Sunni or Shiite -- hold their hands aloft and sing "We are building Iraq!" Two young boys, a mini-policeman and a mini-soldier sporting painted-on mustaches, march stiffly and salute.

Even before I can ask Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf a question, he greets me with a big smile. "All Iraqis are Christian today!" he says.

"Now that we have crossed that hurdle and destroyed the incubators of terrorism," he says, "and the security situation is good, we have to go back and strengthen community ties."

In spite of his claim, the spokesman is surrounded by heavy security. Yet this celebration shows that the security situation in Baghdad is improving.



Many of the people attending the Christmas celebration appear to be Muslims, with women wearing head scarves. Suad Mahmoud, holding her 16-month-old daughter, Sara, tells me she is indeed Muslim, but she's very happy to be here. "My mother's birthday also is this month, so we celebrate all occasions," she says, "especially in this lovely month of Christmas and New Year."

Father Saad Sirop Hanna, a Chaldean Christian priest, is here too. He was kidnapped by militants in 2006 and held for 28 days. He knows firsthand how difficult the lot of Christians in Iraq is but, he tells me, "We are just attesting that things are changing in Baghdad, slowly, but we hope that this change actually is real. We will wait for the future to tell us the truth about this."

He just returned from Rome. "I came back to Iraq because I believe that we can live here," he says. "I have so many [Muslim] friends and we are so happy they started to think about things from another point of view and we want to help them."

The Christmas celebration has tables loaded with cookies and cakes. Families fill plates and chat in the warm winter sun. Santa balloons hang from trees. An artist uses oil paint to create a portrait of Jesus.

In the middle of the park there's an art exhibit, the creation of 11- and 12-year-olds: six displays, each about three feet wide, constructed of cardboard and Styrofoam, filled with tiny dolls dressed like ordinary people, along with model soldiers and police. They look like model movie sets depicting everyday life in Baghdad.

Afnan, 12 years old, shows me her model called "Arresting the Terrorists."

"These are the terrorists," she tells me. "They were trying to blow up the school." In the middle of the street a dead "terrorist" sprawls on the asphalt, his bloody arm torn from his body by an explosion. Afnan tells me she used red nail polish to paint the blood. A little plastic dog stands nearby. "What is he doing?" I ask. "He looks for terrorists and searches for weapons and explosives," Afnan says.

Her mother, the children's art teacher, Raja, shows me another child's display called "Baghdad Today."

"This is a wedding," Raja explains. "Despite the terrorism, our celebrations still go ahead. This is a park, families enjoying time. And this is a market where people go shopping without fear of bombings. This is a mosque where people can pray with no fear."


In the middle is a black mound that looks like a body bag. Policemen and Interior Ministry forces surround it. "This is terrorism," she tells me. "We killed it and destroyed it, and our lives went back to normal."

A Christmas tale perhaps, I think, but one that many Iraqis hope will come true.

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Old 12-21-2008, 08:11 PM   #165
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"we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." - Anne Coulter
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