Home / General / Rounding Up the Torture Gang Again

Rounding Up the Torture Gang Again


A typically essential Charlie Savage piece on Romney’s defense policy team:

In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in the Army Field Manual. Even as he embraced a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues — like drone strikes, military commissions, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act — Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.

By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.

The lesson here, obviously, is that if you care at all about civil liberties you should be indifferent to the outcome of the 2012 elections.

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  • c u n d gulag

    I look forward to Connor’s follow-up, explaining how he still can’t vote for Obama because of his indescriminate drone bombing, but that he can vote for Romney because the “target-specific” torture of individuals doesn’t hurt his sensitive fee-fee’s nearly as much.

  • Heron

    There are strong reasons to believe that we’re still torturing people in Bagram and at the CIA’s prison in Mogadishu, two facilities which unbiased observers have yet to be granted access to. Regarding the Mogadishu prison, that facility was secret until its existence was revealed by an investigative reporter a year or two ago, which suggests the continued existence of a secret prison program, which suggests the abuses suspected at Bagram and Mogadishu might be more widespread. This issue isn’t as clear-cut as you obviously think it is.

    • MacGyver

      You’re confusing American-run prisons with foreign-run prisons. The CIA isn’t a jailor. The CIA has tacitly observed prison abuses since, well, forever. I’m not sure why one would hold that against Obama by voting for Romney.

      • Heron

        Honestly? The CIA establishes a prison, hires the personnel, trains them, pays then, and you call it a “Somali prison”? Sure it’s a Somali prison; in the same way that the Contras were Nicaraguan deaths-squads. American guns, American uniforms, American training -but hey, look at that!- that’s a Nicaraguan flag! Well that settles matters; *phew* thought I was facing a moral dilemma there for a bit.

        I’m not saying vote Romney; I’m saying if you think our hands are clean of this you are pretty gullible. If you’re going to flag-wave an admin that does nasty things at least have the good-grace to look it’s behavior square in the face.

    • rea

      The Nation published an article claiming that the CIA ws working with the Somalis to hold a number of prisioners in Mogadishu. There’s nothing in the Nation article about torture.

      Heron’s point seems to be that if the CIA is holding prisoners, it must be torturing them. He doesn’t have any real evidence of torture. Such evidence was not lacking back in the Bush adminstration, when a torture program was in place.

      • Left_Wing_Fox

        Heron’s point seems to be that if the CIA is holding prisoners, it must be torturing them.

        I think it’s the lack of impartial observers at those facilities that raises the red flag. It has happened before, so without those observers, we cannot be sure it’s not happening now.

        • It’s impossible to prove a negative, of course, but there is no evidence to support the claim, and as we learned during the Bush years, torture doesn’t stay secret. Evidence comes out.

      • Murc

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that kidnappers who have built a secret prison in one of the most lawless places on earth are also torturers.

        In fact, I think it’s okay to assume that until proven otherwise.

        • Murc thinks it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

          • Murc

            I assume bad faith on the part of criminals, yes. Dudes are black-bagging people into a secret prison in Mogadishu? You’re damn right I’m gonna assume there’s torture involved as well.

            • *criminals

              Defined here to mean American intelligence.

              We call this “defining your conclusion.”

              Tell you what: I’m going to define anyone who makes your argument as a “hack,” and then make the inarguable statement that of course I assume bad faith on the part of hacks. This is a lot of fun, but I don’t see how it gets us anywhere.

              • Cody

                +1 For debate take down.

                I do see his point, but I’d suspect things won’t get any worse in that prison due to the CIA being there.

                I suspect they’re just there to make sure Al-Qaedi people they don’t like don’t escape in the prison breaks.

                • Ian

                  Murc is right. When an organization with a history of torturing people in secret prisons sets up a secret prison, you pretty much have to assume they’re torturing people. If they want to dispel that impression they should allow impartial observers.

                • Or we could RTFA instead of checking our guts.

              • Murc

                Defined here to mean American intelligence.

                No, defined here to mean “people who are constructing a secret prison, which expressly exists for the purpose of holding the people they kidnap.”

                Some of those people are members of American intelligence. They bring shame to their profession and their country.

                And to back up a little; this is the CIA we’re talking about. They have a long history of kidnapping and torturing people. Many ex-officers will admit it, some proudly. Why shouldn’t I assume bad faith?

                That wasn’t rhetorical. Why shouldn’t I assume that the guys with a long history of torturing people in their secret prisons are going to torture people in a secret prison?

                • Oh, so you AREN’T talking about American intelligence? This has nothing to do with the CIA?

                  Oh, wait, it does. What are you complaining about, then?

                  Anyway, do you think you could be bothered to take a look at the article? And notice that nobody is being tortured? And that your thought process here (CIA = torture) is invalid?

                  I’m not interested in a “I was right to be wrong” explanation. You were wrong. There is no evidence for what you claimed, so you replaced it with an ad hominen argument. That is never a good way to go about understanding the world.

                  You are going way beyond “assuming bad faith.” You are making a judgement not about someone’s mindset, but about the objective presence or absence of something for which there is not even a shred of evidence. Stop it.

                • Lyanna

                  A long history of admitted torture, no less.

                  There is a point at which people lose the benefit of the doubt. It’s silly to start with the assumption that there is no torture going on when you’re dealing with people who have been repeatedly been proven guilty of torture.

                • Cody

                  I don’t think your method of logic holds up… as we know.

                  America is the only country in the world to use nuclear weapons.

                  You need to prove to me we aren’t currently nuking countries around the world and it’s just not in the news! I mean, why would I not ASSUME people who have used nuclear weapons in the past aren’t currently using it?

                  Obviously this is a stupid example, yet you think this logic is sound. So prove away!

          • The past is the best predictor of the future, in the absence of other information. Given that the CIA collaborated enthusiastically with torturers in the past, and that most of the personnel involved in those collaborations were not, to anyone’s knowledge, fired, assuming that torture is not going on is the less logical conclusion.

            • The flaw in your reasoning is treating the CIA as an entity that determines its own policy, and remains consistent across administrations.

              The CIA is an agent of the White House. The collaboration with torturers you’re talking about is properly assigned to the President (Reagan in the 80s, Bush in the 00s). They collaborated with torturers, and became torturers themselves, because those were the marching orders that came out of that White House. They don’t do these things on their own.

              • wjts

                The CIA’s role in abetting and practicing torture has been remarkably consistent from administration to administration: they trained SAVAK agents in Iran during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Administrations; operated the Phoenix Program under Johnson and Nixon; and provided intelligence and military aid to right-wing Latin American regimes under Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan.

                • “Has been” is used to describe a situation of ongoing action.

                  The CIA’s role of abetting torture changed dramatically in 2009.

                  It is true that there had been a great deal of consistency in this area across administrations during the Cold War. On the other hand, the CIA’s involvement in torture changed dramatically between Clinton and Bush, and it changed again, quite dramatically, under Obama.

                • wjts

                  To my ears, the phrase “they don’t do these things on their own” implies that the CIA starts afresh with the advent of each new presidential administration – implicitly denying the existence of an institutional culture that persists across administrations. Though it’s true that Obama’s record on rendition, military detention, and torture is better than Bush’s, the CIA has shown itself to be an organization that actively embraced torture during the vast majority of its 65-year existence while denying that it has ever done any such thing. I’m a little dubious that what appears to me to be a deeply ingrained institutional practice has been completely expunged in the last three years from sites like Bagram and Mogadishu that allow for no external accountability. The CIA has never been the most truthful accountant of CIA activities.

            • rea

              All I can say is that I’m amazed at how much more competent the Obama administration is than its Bush predecessor. When Obama tortures, he manages to keep the evidence a secret.

              • rea

                And more seriously, you people who think the CIA is torturing people in Mogadishu need to go reread the Nation article linked above. The article is sourced to former detainees, who decribe their detention. None claim to have been tortured.

                • rea

                  Let me say that again, with more emphasis: NONE OF THE FORMER DETAINEES CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN TORTURED!!!

                • firefall

                  Which shows how effective the torture was, to scare them that much


      • Heron

        I see you’re conveniently ignoring the numerous allegations of torture made against the US in the years since that executive order, and the fact that Obama had also issued an executive order ending “black sites” which this location clearly is. We should trust what a politician says, even when it has been shown that other statements they’ve made, directly related to that statement, are lies?

    • c u n d gulag

      The sad reality is that the US has probably been torturing people indirectly through proxies for decades.

      I remember reading a NY Times article back in the very early 70’s, when I was a young teenager, which made me totally anti-torture.
      It was about a South Vietnamese run intelligence facility outside of Saigon, and the reporter followed some CIA guy into it, and wrote that he saw North Vietnamese spies/sympathizers (innocent people?) hanging from the walls, shackled.
      One guy hanging there had one eye pulled out, another had his ears torn off. I don’t remember the rest of the horror’s, but that has stayed with me since then.

      I’m not condoning it by any stretch. I’m just saying that it’s probably been going on since Vietnam, maybe even the Korean War – if not before.
      And maybe we weren’t the ones doing it – but it was being done in our name.

      The US just wasn’t as open about rendition as Cheney and Bush, et al.
      And we didn’t have our soldiers and intelligence people DIRECTLY torture people. And even those evil Cheney/Bush sociopaths had to come up with a less messy name for it – “enhanced interrogation.”
      Whatever they want to call it, they’re ALL War Criminals.

      And I still can’t accept the fact that so many people in this country are so blase about this – let alone those who advocate for it.

      Torture is torture, and must NEVER be used. On top of obviously being inhuman (or, all too much so, which is why it needs to be completely eradicated, if we’re to advance as a species), it’s ineffective.

      Having said this, I’m still going to vote for President Obama, because Mitt and his Neocons want nothing more than to get back into making every day another episode of “24” somewhere in the world. And have our people doing the torturing.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks


        The fact that a Romney Administration would almost certainly be worse than the current administration is another reason to do what one must to prevent Romney’s election. But it cannot and should not constitute a defense of the Obama administration’s appalling failure to come to terms with the legacy of the Bush admnistration’s torture regime or to truly do what it can to eliminiate or even reduce torture as a practice in the world, At best, we seem to have returned to an unacceptable status quo ante of torture by proxy.

        This is truly an area in which the term “lesser evil” is wholly apt.

        • david mizner

          Obama doesn’t torture suspects; he kills them with drones instead. Progress!

          • This is such a bullshit argument.

            Torture is something you do to a captive, to someone in your custody. To claim that Obama is using drones “instead of” torture, you’d have to believe that he is using drones against people in custody.

            Which is not only bogus, but so utterly, obviously bullshit as to call into question the good faith of anyone who would make the argument.

            (And if you have a problem with the distinction between someone in custody and someone at large, take it up with the Geneva Conventions.)

      • Brutusettu

        Torture is torture, and must NEVER be used. On top of obviously being inhuman (or, all too much so, which is why it needs to be completely eradicated, if we’re to advance as a species), it’s ineffective.

        Are you claiming that McCain isn’t “an admitted war criminal”?

        • c u n d gulag

          I’m no McCain fan at all, but, outside of his being a pilot in Vietnam who killed his share of people on the ground from the air (which has been SOP since at least WWI, if not before, from balloons), how is he a War Criminal?

          My recollection is that he was one of the few Republicans who actually voiced an opinion against the evil Cheney/Bush agenda’s on rendition and torture. Did I miss something?

          • Brutusettu

            I had the extra “(/sarcasm)” tag in there, but then took them out because I thought the quote marks would surely be enough. I was wrong.

            • c u n d gulag


          • rea

            McCain is an “admitted” war criminal, even if he isn’t actually a war criminal–he made the admission under duress while a prisoner of the North Vietnamese

      • Anonymous

        To put it in perspective, torture was a tacitly approved, though illegal, police practice at least into the 1960s.

        • DrDick

          Well into the 70s if not beyond, actually.

          • R Johnston

            Through today, really. And it’s mostly legal because courts are run by morons. Witness, for example, how the taser is used.

            • DrDick

              Don’t even get me started on excessive force.

            • JL

              Or zip-tie-style handcuffs. A police officer who wants to cause pain can get a lot of mileage out of those (and even cause long-term disability if they go far enough with it). Not to mention the further pain caused when the cuffs are so tight that someone has to cut into the victim’s flesh to cut them off.

              Chalk that up to “Distressing things I’ve learned over the last year.”

      • david mizner

        I still can’t accept the fact that so many people in this country are so blase about this.

        That’s a result, partly, of the lack of accountability. Support for torture has risen in recent years. Hard to imagine that happening had there been prosecutions or at least a public reckoning.

        • Um…that’s not hard to imagine at all.

          • Actually, I’m struggling to imagine how it is that prosecutions would necessarily reduce the popularity of torture at all.

            • david mizner

              Highly publicized trials, murder trials in some cases, and/or a more general public airing of what happened in the years after 9-11, in all its bloody reality wouldn’t influence public opinion? As opposed to what we have now — torturers traveling the country on book tours, bragging about torturing.

              • No, I really doubt it would. Not in terms of the people who are affirmatively pro-torture, anyway. If anything I would imagine that prosecutions would only serve to harden their support for torture.

              • rea

                Highly publicized trials, murder trials in some cases, and/or a more general public airing of what happened in the years after 9-11, in all its bloody reality wouldn’t influence public opinion?

                Well, yeah, it might well influence public opinion, but not necesarily in a good way. What you overlook is the very real possibility that if we put those people on trial for torture and murder, we’d lose, either in front of the jury or in the court of public opinion.

                The Romney campaign would not be leaking proposals to torture more people if they did not think it was to their political advantage to do so.

                • Well if you want to talk about the jury, I would say that winning a conviction is all but guaranteed not to happen under the circumstances.

                • david mizner

                  The Romney campaign would not be leaking proposals to torture more people if they did not think it was to their political advantage to do so.

                  But he hasn’t gone full-bore pro “enhanced interrogation.” It’s no clearcut political winner.

                • It’s no clearcut political winner.

                  Some issues go through a period in which the public punishes anyone, on either side, who brings it up. Torture seems to be in such a phase right now.

                • Bill Murray

                  The Romney campaign would not be leaking proposals to torture more people if they did not think it was to their political advantage to do so.

                  The Romney campaign has spent quite a bit of time and money proving they are morons

                • Good point, Bill.

                  Arguments relying on the Romney campaign’s political judgment suffer from the same flaw as a strategy of basing your MBS-purchases on S&P ratings.

              • Hard to imagine that happening had there been prosecutions or at least a public reckoning.

                How did the very public fight over trying KSM in civilian courts in NYC work out? Was public opinion moved in favor of the President’s position by litigating that issue in the court of public opinion at the height of his popularity?

        • Malaclypse

          Hard to imagine that happening had there been prosecutions or at least a public reckoning.

          I’ll take that bet.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Seriously. The decision to prosecute any torturers was obviously wrong, but to think that these trials would have decreased the popularity of torture is a classic pundit’s fallacy.

            • Murc

              Well, let’s be fair, Scott. Conducted properly, they might have done.

              People are pretty okay with torture as long as it’s only happening Jack Bauer style. I have a pretty low opinion of humanity in general, but most people have at least some functional sense of empathy, and a competently prosecuted torture trial would feature lots of innocent people with broken bodies standing up and telling their stories in a high-profile open court, accompanied by even more horrific photographic evidence than we’ve already seen.

              That said, it would be nowhere near a guaranteed slam dunk in terms of moving the needle.

              • david mizner

                Need not be trials but some sort of public airing that shows Americans that the military and the CIA tortured innocent people and tortured many people to death, etc. That would help keep support for torture from continuing to rise, perhaps cut into its support. It’s not as if Americans are gaga for torture (esp. compared to, say, drone strikes) — the polls have always showed a pretty even split, with the pro-side edging up recently into a majority, but that’s support for torture “in some cases.”

                • I think the argument here is “Americans lack the civilized responses of the Germans.”

                • The same airing of facts that brings out the details of the torture would also bring out the details of who was being tortured, and of the splendiferous service records of the heroes who were willing to take on such an onerous task for their country goshdarnit.

                • david mizner

                  Some of the people who were tortured were innocent. Some were children. Some were innocent children. To quote Himself: bring it on.

                  Why do you think the GOP is working so hard to keep the SCCI report bottled up in committee? The report that, chair Dianne Feinstein says, shows “abusive treatment of detainees in U.S. custody was far more systematic and widespread than we thought.”

                  The truth hasn’t come out yet.

                • Some of the people who were tortured were innocent.

                  And most weren’t.

                  You point out the same thing about people killed in air strikes; some of them were the wrong people! Yes, they were – how’s that working out in terms of public opinion?

                  I wish you were right. I wish the public would be as aghast about the use of torture as you and I are. But I look at what the public thinks about things as basic as the rights of the accused in criminal cases, the right to an attorney, and the conditions in American prisons, and I just can’t share your optimism.

                • Malaclypse

                  And most weren’t.

                  That’s no fucking excuse.

                • It’s not meant as an excuse. Go back and try to follow the conversation.

                • Malaclypse

                  Sorry, is a hot-button thing for me, and I misread.

                • It’s an easy issue to get worked up about. Out of context, my statement does look appalling.

              • Malaclypse

                Conducted properly, they might have done.

                You will never get a cleaner case than Caley’s court martial.

              • Might? Sure, I can get down with that. Likely? I don’t think so. And to be perfectly clear, DM’s original contention was that it was “hard to imagine” that it wouldn’t work that way, which is obviously not true.

          • Cody

            I feel like (fairly legitimately) the American public would not be happy with prosecuting someone who performed torture for us.

            Why? Because like me, they would initially point the finger at the person who gave the order. I’m not going to fault soldiers (too much) for carrying out directives they were told they HAD to do. Of course this doesn’t completely absolve them of their crimes, but it is something I consider.

            TL;DR: We’d have to prosecute George. W. Bush. And that obviously isn’t happening.

            We’d also want to do it 3 years ago while he was still super unpopular.

      • but it was being done in our name.

        When the South Vietnamese tortured NVA and VC captives, they were doing it “in our name?” They weren’t doing it in the name of South Vietnam?

        • Murc

          That is actually a tricky, and legitimate, question. South Vietnam was a client state; to what extent do patrons assume responsibility for the acts of client states? Issues such as knowledge and ability to stop said acts would come into play, as well as if said actions were undertaken explicitly (as opposed to only implicitly) on our behalf.

          Sounds like something Farley would write about, actually.

          • “Taken explicitly on our behalf” and “done while a client state of ours” are two very different levels of responsibility.

            I’m saying, why would we assume that South Vietnamese military in a South Vietnamese prison torturing captives from the forces that were waging war on South Vietnam were doing so “in our name?”

  • I’d say the real news here is that the Times allowed someone outside of the opinion page to use the word “torture”, even if it was a “strict no-torture policy”. They used to have a real hard time with the t-word.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      As did NPR. Goddam librul media!

    • david mizner

      Well, this main issue is whether the Times is willing to call water boarding (by Americans) torture. As far as I can tell, the Times is still refusing to “take a side” or succumb to “political correctness,” even though Keller is no longer the editor.

      “I think this Kennedy School study — by focusing on whether we have embraced the politically correct term of art in our news stories — is somewhat misleading and tendentious.”

      In an e-mail message on Thursday, Mr. Keller said defenders of the practice of waterboarding, “including senior officials of the Bush administration,” insisted that it did not constitute torture.

      “When using a word amounts to taking sides in a political dispute, our general practice is to supply the readers with the information to decide for themselves,” Mr. Keller wrote.


  • Jesse Levine

    The president’s rejection of the torture regime was the high water mark of his advocacy for civil liberties. It’s been such a slippery slope since then that it’s hard to see, apart from that significant issue,how a Romney administration would be qualitatively worse on the other issues involving civil liberties. Beyond that, Obama took accountability off the table, thus providing future cover for horrendous acts by the security/surveillance public-private industry. Advocating re-election based on other concerns is fine, but civil liberties is simply not an Obama strong suit, especially in view of what he promised as a candidate.

    • Marc

      Are we playing buzzword bingo?

      Because you show no evidence of having read the link, understanding what “civil liberties” means (hint: there are ethnic minorities, women, and sexual minorities involved), and no apparent understanding of the positions of either party.

    • DrDick

      Obama took accountability off the table

      How could he take something off the table that has not been there since Iran-Contra (or possibly Watergate)?

      • Or, ya know, ever. No American government has ever prosecuted its predecessor for war crimes/crimes against humanity.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Right. I remember in the last thread people arguing that it’s impossible to imagine Clinton and Reagan failing to prosecute torturers. On the basis of what? When it comes to misty-eyed nostalgia about an America that never existed, some progressives are the equal of Reagan himself.

          • mark f

            That was the weirdest assertion I’ve ever seen put forth in an LGM thread, beating out even FDR-used-the-bully-pulpit-to-start-WWII.

            • Jesse Levine

              Hey gang, what would you call effectively immunizing the Bush-Cheyney cabal for it’s war crimes. Oh yes, “looking forward”. I call it taking accountability off the table. And, by the way, it doesn’t matter what jail you’re in if you are subject to indefinite detention without trial or charges.

              • Malaclypse

                I call it taking accountability off the table.

                So do I. Perhaps you can point to any administration prosecuting a previous administration for criminal acts, which is the topic being discussed.

                • Jesse Levine

                  No, the topic being discussed is Obama’s record on civil liberties.

                • Not on this subthread.

                • DrDick

                  I would say that is not holding them accountable, but it is not “taking it off the table”, because it has never been on the table in the first place. that construction assumes that there is some precedent for holding prior administrations accountable and there simply is not any.

              • Cody

                Immunizing? He didn’t promise to pardon them pre-conviction.

                He’s simply not pursuing it, and honestly there is no political will to. You’ll have to convince the voters that it’s a worthy cause first.

                Cause if Obama announced today he was prosecuting George W. Bush for war crimes, 80% of Americans would be voting for Romney. People will never accept their American Leader can be a war criminal.

        • Murc

          No American government has ever prosecuted its predecessor for war crimes/crimes against humanity.

          And I’ll never stop being enraged about that, or regarding the Presidents and Attorneys General who have failed to do it as betraying their oaths of office and, in fact, their basic humanity on a fundamental level.*

          *This statement is in no way intended to be an endorsement of political disengagement, heightening the contradictions, voting third-party, or Ron Paul.

    • It’s been such a slippery slope since then that it’s hard to see, apart from that significant issue,how a Romney administration would be qualitatively worse on the other issues involving civil liberties.

      Zero (0) suspects have been put into military custody under the Obama administration. In fact, he waged a high-profile fight to take Gitmo suspects out of military custody and try them in the real court system. He sacrificed a great deal of political currency in this doomed effort, right in the middle of his big first-term legislative push.

      Do you think this record would continue into a Romney administration? Perhaps it would be worth looking back at the Republican response to the Underwear Bomber’s arrest by the FBI and prosecution in the federal courts to answer this question.

      • Lyanna

        Also worth looking at how the Republicans tried to spin Obama’s response to the murder of Ambassador Stevens as an “apology” for American free speech, and the rumblings about how the murder proved Muslims were savages.

        I think a Romney administration would have responded to the murder with a bloody crackdown that would have involved many people hauled off to indefinite detention and likely tortured.

  • Joe

    “a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues” or talk of a “national security state” (Balkin/Levinson wrote a good law article mid-Bush how this country was in a trend in that direction and it would continue no matter who was elected) is more accurate than “civil liberties” which concerns many other issues such as gays, reproductive rights, labor issues, etc. in which “hawkish” doesn’t quite work in the context of Obama even if in various places some around here has criticized him for not being liberal enough.

    • Cody

      Yes, definitely. I don’t think anyone can truthfully ascertain Obama has done any worse than maintain the “Status Quo”.

      This isn’t really a great thing, but I’ll take it. He’s made some attempts, but there are a lot of people in the US of A who don’t really care about the liberties of people who aren’t them.

  • Joe

    The link to “military commissions”:

    In May 2009, President Obama said they would be used to prosecute some terrorism suspects, although with added protections for defendants’ rights. Then in January 2011, after Congress passed a law restricting the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba to face trial in the United States, administration officials said that they were preparing to revive and revamp the tribunal system.

    The law restricting transfers stopping proposals by Obama to transfer them. Things like that, his position on other civil liberty issues (e.g., voting), him bringing back respectability and intelligence to the office and yes, the opposition, are reasons why I won’t feel bad voting for him in Nov.

    Scott’s reminder that in comparison to past Presidents, Obama comes off rather well also has to be noted. Those not voting for Obama now surely haven’t voted Democrat for quite some time, I bet.

    • Thank you. It’s like the KSM/NYC trial fight never happened, according to some pundits.

      It would be a lot easier for take the argument that Obama needs to “fight” more seriously if the people making it had his back even the slightest bit when he did fight, or gave him even the slightest credit for fighting and losing the good fight.

      • if the people making it had his back even the slightest bit when he did fight

        Who did have his back, if not for the people making this argument, who were busy pushing on their own elected representatives at the time?

        • The people who spent the period of the KSM trial fight writing about how his policy wasn’t complete and there were other detainees whose trials weren’t being planned didn’t have his back.

          Similarly, the people, like Glenn Greenwald, who decided that the most important torture-related issue to discuss in 2009, when there was a big partisan fight over the issue, was to repeat the bogus CIA claims/Republican talking point that Nancy Pelosi had been briefed, didn’t have his back.

          And the people who talk about his record on military detention without noting that he has NEVER placed anyone in military detention, and sacrificed politically to try to get people out of military detention, don’t have his back.

      • Joe

        A comment waiting moderation quotes an article noting the number of “terror suspects that the Obama administration has captured, off the conventional battlefield, and taken into American custody” is one. Anyone know who that is?

        • Are you sure about that language?

          Because there have been many terrorism suspects captured off the conventional battlefield and taken into American custody. The Underwear bomber, the Times Square bombers…everyone arrested in the US on a terrorism charge.

          Did you mean American military custody?

          • Joe

            I’m quoting from a Grio article from 7/24/12, “Did Congress force Obama into his controversial terrorism policies?” by Ari Melber. I linked to it in another comment but too many links or something put it on the moderation track.

  • Joe

    The largest quantifiable gap between Bush and Obama’s counterterrorism approach can be boiled down to a single piece of military data: one. That is the total number of terror suspects that the Obama administration has captured, off the conventional battlefield, and taken into American custody.


    He has, of course, done more to kill such people (via authorizations of various types) though in comparison to the deaths in Iraq, the numbers are rather low.

    Anyway, who is this one person?

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