J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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40 Responses

  1. Avatar BSK says:

    As I said elsewhere, if we want to claim to be on the morally superior path, every now and then we need to do something morally superior. And if we have officially or unofficially surrendered the morally superior path, than it is hard to justify even taking actions. We punish folks because we find their actions immoral, because we believe that they are actions that should not be undertaken. If we submit that we longer find those actions immoral, than what complaint can we make when they are performed?Report

  2. Avatar A Farmer says:

    I hope that we didn’t secure that intelligence from torture. Even if we did, in what round of waterboarding did that occur, #1, #75 or #183? After that, why didn’t Bush make utilizing that intelligence a priority? These Bush lackeys who want to shunt Obama and give all the credit to the thugs of the Bush administration should answer why, when we had Bin Laden trapped on Tora Bora, did he not press in and kill or capture him?Report

  3. Avatar A Farmer says:

    Anyway, according to the report I heard, this intelligence was gathered from a detainee four years ago, well after the torture of KSM. I think these are just conservative hacks muddying the waters and spreading the usual untrue conservative talking points. “People believe waterboarding works, so we’ll claim that KSM and the other guy gave up this information when they were waterboarded. Bush is great, ya ya ya. ” They still have to answer questions like why Bush allowed Iraq to fall apart until after they lost the 2006 midterms, then they decided it was time to admit we needed more troops on the ground? Or why they completely ignored Afghanistan from 2003 onward? They can not come up with answers to these questions which will show them in a good light.Report

    • Avatar Axel Edgren in reply to A Farmer says:

      As long as torturing certain Arabs bring sexual satisfaction to certain institutes and “serious” commentators, water-boarding WILL be a FUNDAMENTAL position of the GOP.

      They say it is all based on “prudent” and “pragmatic” calculations, but in the end you will just be helping a bunch of 50-year old maniacs get their anti-brown rocks off. Fact. Their “concern” for U.S. civilians extends from their desire for non-autonomic orgasms. Mark my words – they are that pathetic.Report

  4. If ever anyone deserved a grogger….

    And I agree heartily with your post.Report

  5. Avatar Axel Edgren says:

    Tyson did not K.O. himself all over again – that is all 0n his opponent. I am drunk all as all HELL right now and I can tell Mike and Obama won one over the beltway weaklings even as I speak. It is a one-round K.O. for. him against Tyson, the one he was aiming for without water-boarding from round one. But you weaklings thought Obama would NOT dare to fight like that, no?

    He was going to take down Osama from from round one. But you rednecks., you thought he was too “pussy” to take down Osama… Just proves what I have always said – he is your country’s best hope!

    If you vote anything else than Obama in Nov. 2012, you are a danger to the U.S!

    BEST WISHES!!!Report

  6. There is something very strange about this wording in the report cited by Commentary:

    Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

    This (clearly leaked by someone close to Cheney or Rumsfeld) pointedly does not say “the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides was given up by KSM and al-Libi in the course of harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.” It provides no timeline at all to connect the disclosure of the nom de guerre and the “harsh interrogation tactics.”

    Blaise has noted in these parts before that most usable intelligence is garnered in the first moments after capture. KSM and al-Libi were not instantly teleported to Poland and Romania once they were apprehended.Report

  7. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    For those who don’t speak Hebrew, Yimmach sh’mo v’zikhro = his name and memory should be erased. It’s a ritual curse.

    When I was learning Hebrew, I became friends with a sofer, a man who letters a Torah. It’s a year of work and a strange year at that, for he is engaged in an act of constant ritual.

    When a sofer warms up his kilmus pen, he has a scrap of parchment upon which he writes the word Amalek, then strikes it out. The word includes all the standard strokes for Hebrew calligraphy. Amalek was an enemy of Israel, and its name is struck out, yimmach sh’mo v’zikhroReport

  8. Avatar Elia Isquire says:

    Thankfully Rumsfeld seems to have squashed this already, though undoubtedly the usual wingnut offenders will hold onto it until the day they die.

    BTW, excellent DBT reference. Always a good decision.Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to Elia Isquire says:

      Heard Rumsfeld on Hannity’s radio show today. He did not know the law regarding assassinations of foreign leaders. Scary. Very scary.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to Elia Isquire says:

      I’ve got a few more DBT references in the scrap pile of abandoned sentences and paragraphs from this post… It took me until last week to realize that GO-GO BOOTS had been out for two months already. So I’ve been bingeing.Report

  9. Avatar JohnR says:

    Reading comprehension is a lost art, I see. When you see carefully weasel-worded claims like that (A, and also B, [leaving to the reader to assume that A caused B]), it’s a pretty good bet that A & B are completely disconnected. Screw that crap. If you want to find some sort of justification for the fact that Bush and Cheney spat on the Constitution vastly more than Reagan and Nixon did (and after all, torture was just one of the patently and arrogantly illegal actions they authorized), that’s up to you. Says a lot about you, of course, and about those like you who claim patriotism while crapping on everything the Founding Fathers held dear, but it’s up to you. “Libertarianism”; pah!Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to JohnR says:

      Reading comprehension is a lost art, I see.

      I am in awe of the lack of self-awareness involved with this comment.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It took me several reads to even work up a hypothesis. To make his comment cohere at all, I think we have to assume that JohnR had believed at least the following:

        • J.L. Wall is a libertarian.
        • Like all good libertarians, Wall supports torture.
        • Wall made the first blockquote approvingly.
        • It falls to JohnR — so bravely! — to make the points actually made in J. L. Wall’s very own post.

        Not a single one of which is true. Together they’re a really clunky hypothesis, but I’m afraid I don’t have anything better. Care to enlighten us, JohnR?Report

      • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Between his and our inebriated friend’s comment above, I think I can safely raise the “Mission Accomplished” banner on this post.Report

  10. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know if I hate bin Laden, but it is pretty hard to think up a figure who would be more deserving of it- not only for the 9/11 attacks, but for the vehement and constant call to kill the most vulnerable and innocent in the service of abject, self-absorbed nihilism combined with the claim that this represented faith in God. It’s hard not to think he was just another rich kid telling the poor kids to kill themselves for his sake. I understand your feeling that the US became monstrous in fighting him. But looking past the US to the ledger of the world, it’s hard not to feel this was a small but significant gain.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I’ve pondered this a lot over the last day.

      My initial reaction on seeing the crowd outside the White House was shock. It seemed in very bad taste to me. But then, I’m not a crowd person in any case, so I do have a bias.

      Ultimately I’ve changed my mind. People danced in the streets when Hitler was defeated, too. If that’s your thing, go for it. I share your happiness, if not the way you express it.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        They had a giant party at the end of Return of the Jedi after Vader killed the emperor too.

        Even the dead came!Report

        • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

          I would have been the guy sulking in the corner muttering to whoever made the mistake of stopping long enough about, “Don’t they know that things are only going to get harder from here on out? Now they have to govern a galaxy — and what do we have? A smuggler, a spoiled faux-princess, and some sort of magic ninja dude who’s the son of the lately deceased Bad Guy #2. Not to mention the remains of a massive imperial army that’s been bred, trained, and brainwashed to kill us all and defend the “Empire”… Yep, party time.”Report

      • Right, well I’m pretty sure that you and I are not coming at it with the idea of sin, so it really does boil down to a matter of taste and decorum. Is it in bad taste? It could be, yes. But, what if we’re talking about a military family celebrating because they feel the deaths of their loved ones and friends weren’t in vain? Or if we’re talking about some kid the age of my students who feel that a psychic weight that they grew up with has now been lifted from them? I don’t know- it’s just that, in the grand scheme of things, celebrating the death of a person whose life was dedicated to sewing the seeds of war doesn’t seem so objectionable.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        If only they were celebrating V.W.o.T. Day, or even just V.A. or V.I. Day.Report

  11. Avatar Barry says:

    I’m skipping to the end, so please forgive me if I’m beating a dead horse (OTOH, this horse needs to be well-killed).

    IIRC, KSM had been waterboarded over 100 times by 2002-03; if he gave any intel worth a sh*t, why didn’t Dubya act on it?

    Mark Thomspon: “There is something very strange about this wording in the report cited by Commentary:”

    I hadn’t seen that – Commentary is a nasty-@ss necon rag; I’ll believe them when we find the WMD’s.Report

  12. Avatar North says:

    Nothing I’ve read so far indicates a concrete link between any tortured elements and OBL being dispatched. So far it appears to only be in the fevered imaginings of the right desperate to salvage some crumb of consolation from the smoldering ashes of what used to be their ‘Wussy effete liberal lead behind” prong of attack on Obama.Report

  13. Avatar Barry says:

    And remember that it was what – hours? after the news broke that right-wingers were effusive in praise for Bush (see the Village Voice for examples, and National Review for more).Report

  14. Avatar Scott says:

    CIA Director Leon P. admits harsh interrogation worked. Now will the liberals stop whining about it?

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:


      Neither will I.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

      Imagine, if you will, a universe in which a CIA Director says “yeah, we failed. Entirely. Nothing we did helped.”

      Can’t do it, can you?

      Now, this isn’t to say that the CIA Director is lying… just that we cannot take what he says at face value and we certainly ought not value it to the point where we’d be willing to sell our souls based on what he says on national television.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:


        I can imagine it. However, it seems more likely that Leon is telling the truth as he appears to be contradicting the white house party line. I figure Leon would be more likely to lie so as to agree with Barry than to lie and disagree with his master.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

          he appears to be contradicting the white house party line

          What is the White House party line? Use a source!Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:


            I posted one, did you bother to read it?Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

              I did.

              This doesn’t say what you said it said:

              > “We had multiple series of sources that
              > provided information with regards to
              > this situation… clearly some of it came
              > from detainees [and] they used these
              > enhanced interrogation techniques
              > against some of those detainees,” he
              > told NBC anchor Brian Williams.
              > When asked by Williams if water-
              > boarding was part of the “enhanced
              > interrogation techniques,” Panetta
              > simply said “that’s correct.”

              That does not equal, “CIA Director Leon P. admits harsh interrogation worked.”

              It also, for the record, does not equal “harsh interrogation worked”.

              Nor does it equal, “harsh interrogation was necessary to acquire this intelligence”.

              Nor, finally, does it equal, “Anything that works is okie-fucking-dokey for us to use.”

              Killing off 5.5 billion people in other countries would make life a hell of a lot easier for everybody in the U.S. No resource shortages! No more global warming problems! Whoo, awesome!Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

              “The fact is that no single piece of information led to the successful mission,” White House spokesman Carney told reporters at Tuesday’s White House press conference. He also said that administration officials are not reconsidering the administration’s opposition to tougher interrogation practices. There is “no change whatsoever,” he said.

              So… that’s your basis for claiming that Leon is disagreeing with “his master”?

              I’m sure you can understand how someone might be unmoved.Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

        I can. Well, sort of. Not when he’s sitting in the Director’s chair, though. Or even 5 years out. 20 years out, though… yeah.

        For a very interesting example of this, go rent Fog of War if you haven’t seen it yet. McNamara’s either hugely conflicted over his part in U.S. history, or Errol Morris is a freaking genius editor (or both).

        Old men (or women) ruminating on the course of their lives will sometimes admit they’ve made mistakes. They’ve tried lying to themselves for years and no feeling of absolution has come. Death is coming, confession is good for the soul.Report