Chris Wallace (isn’t making any sense)

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Charles Schirra says:

    I have a rock on my front porch, it keeps elephants away. How can I tell? No one has seen an elephant anywhere near my house in over a decade!Report

  2. We definitely need an objective truth commission to study this long enough to intelligently analyze all the major questions. Otherwise the spinners on both sides will have everyone dizzy. To be objectively fair to Chris Wallace, let me suggest he may have been saying there MIGHT be a correlation. I’m not sure you can exptrapolate from his statement that he’s making a conclusive connection. Just as I won’t extrapolate from your post that you are saying all the interrogation techniques haven’t contributed to the absence of another attack. I think most serious adults can agree that torture is antithetical to our principles — this is why we need the truth commissions to help answer what constitutes torture — were the enhanced interrogation methods actually torture — did they likely lead to information which saved lives and prevented further attacks — if anyone went over the line, was it individual exuberance or a systemic problem — does the problem go to the top levels, if there is a widespread problem of torture. There are many questions which need to be solved before we run off half-cocked.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    From my perspective, I’d think that the fact that we went apeshit in Iraq probably has more to do with us not being attacked again than that we, coincidentally, have merely not been attacked again. (Note: please do not read “more to do with” as “THIS IS THE ONLY REASON AND THERE ARE NO OTHERS”)Report

    • Avatar Ryan says:

      Whereas I think the reason we haven’t been attacked again is that being attacked in the first place was largely coincidental. Which is not to say that it wasn’t fueled by US policy or religious fervor or pure stark-raving-madness (or whatever your personal favorite interpretation is). But, in US history, we have been attacked by foreign terrorists how many times? Not a lot, and almost no one has been killed by those attacks (relatively speaking). 9/11 is far more of an aberration than a lot of people seem to want to admit. For all we hear about Bush preventing another attack through aggressive action, the first 42 Presidents prevented terrorist attacks by doing mostly nothing. That’s a great track record for Nothing!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of Nothing.

        It is, however, the case that there were a non-zero number of attacks against Western Imperialist Nations in the years that followed 9/11. Why didn’t they target the US? There are dozens of reasons… it’s easier to attack a place a few kilometres away instead of one that is thousands of miles away, for example. But I wonder if Iraq didn’t also create an unforeseen negative externality. (Which, mind, should not be seen as a defense of the Iraq War II.)Report

        • IOW – it’s easier to attack us in Iraq than here. This, of course, has a two-fold effect – those few who would be willing to take the steps necessary to attack us here no longer needed to concern themselves with taking those steps, while those who would not be willing or able to take those steps suddenly no longer needed to do so. So, yeah, there’s no attacks on the US mainland….but losing several thousand young men and women in Iraq to terrorist attacks is a pretty steep price to pay for a marginally decreased risk of terrorist attacks here at home.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Please understand. I am not trying to defend or support (or condemn, for that matter) anything. I’m just trying to figure out what happened (or didn’t happen) and trying to figure out why.

            The problem with that is that it leads to counterfactuals (which are somewhat interesting) but those lead to countercounterfactuals (which are somewhat less interesting) and by the time you get to countercountercounterfactuals, you’re in la-la land.

            But, of course, what if it *DIDN’T* lead to countercountercounterfactuals?Report

  4. Yes, these are the questions a Truth Commission could consider — it would very enlightening if we had some of our top thinkers, public and private, consider all these questions and attempt to find some useful answers so that we handle things better in the future.Report

    • Avatar ChrisWWW says:

      Mike,
      These questions were answered long ago by American leaders who signed comprehensive bans on torture even under difficult circumstances like war.

      We also already know that the torture was widespread and resulted in the deaths of over 100 prisoners. We also know, thanks to public statements by Bush and Cheney, that the orders to torture came from the top.

      The only question remaining is whether or not we have the institutional will to hold our former leaders responsible for clear and flagrant violations of standing law.Report

  5. ChrisWWW — I disagree — I think there is much to learn from all this. In a world now under the threat of terrorist acts, dealing with the third way of war, I believe we need a thorough evaluation of how best to react. I understand your partisan urge to punish, and if punishment is justified, then good, but to think we’ve learned what we need to know is not really true.Report

    • Avatar ChrisWWW says:

      Mike,
      Terrorists existed when Reagan signed the law strengthening the US prohibition against torture. Reagan had actually declared his own war on international terrorism.

      Before that we faced a far more deadly foes like the Soviet Union and the Axis Powers (which, like current terrorists, were painted as illogical nutcases), and yet we still decided torture was immoral and promptly made it illegal internationally.

      As for my “partisan urge to punish,” I’ve said before that possible Democrat co-conspirators like Nancy Pelosi should also be under investigation for war crimes. So how does that fit in with your partisan narrative?Report

  6. Some of you are beginning to sound like law and order Republicans. As we go forward in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting an enemy that doesn’t have a uniform or the rules of war in his/her back pocket, an enemy that doesn’t really have a state, merely a connection to a religion and a culture, we need to look at our response, our prior doctrines, to revaluate our ideas about war and state, and to develop a much better understanding of our new place in the world — and we need to better understand who and what we are fighting.Report

  7. Well, perhaps it’s not partisan on your part — I apologize, but most of the hoopla is — this is why we need an objective Truth Commission — not to decide if torture should be illegal — no sane person promotes torture — but the word “torture is being thrown around so loosely, we need to find out what was torture and what is not torture, plus all the other big questions involved. I don’t really see a Truth Commission as be controversial — we need some objectivity.Report

    • I tend to think that judges and juries do a pretty good job interpreting facts and law, or at least a better job than a panel of retired politicians that will inevitably be self-consciously balanced between partisan Rs and Ds and thus unwilling to question the DC centrist consensus.Report

      • I’m not talking about retired politicians — for God’s sake, that would be disastrous. I don’t know where that came from. I said “thinkers”.Report

        • Plus, I’m not talking about a trial. Judges and lawyers are good with that, but what I’m talking about is experts who’ve spent their lives researching and writing about this issues. Perhaps, psychologists, political scientists, ethicists, philosophers and people who have given much thought to the issues of state, war and international relations. It’s a sad state of affairs to say we can’t find anyone principled who would be objective.Report

        • I’m just saying that in practice, that’s what any truth commission would look like. I know it’s not what you would envision, but it’s unfortunately the way Washington works.Report

  8. Avatar ChrisWWW says:

    Okay Mike. Sorry I misunderstood what you were looking for in a truth commission.Report

  9. I don’t believe things “have” to be a certain way — we can accomplish objectivity.

    I don’t know why the League hates my ideas — except Bob Cheeks — other places I’m considered a quite the genius in these matters.Report

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