Saturday, December 29, 2007

This review of Goldsmith's book reminds me of another problem with the "I know it when I see it" approach to regulating the actions of officials in the war on terrorism. It is not the "see" part that causes so much trouble but the "when". The Congress saw all the techniques that are being called into question in the aftermath of 9/11 and didn't care. It sees the same things now and calls it a big problem. The whole approach of loading laws with vague and emotionally charged terms is not only that the law with change with the beholder but that the beholder will change with the times.

|The reviewer also takes the strange but all too common approach of blaming the Bush administration for the excesses of the Court system. A lot of bad precedents have been set because the Bush administration has insisted on using the same powers that presidents in previous wars have taken largely for granted, when they should have known that the current courts would never allow it. but is not that not an indictment of the courts at least as much as the Administration?
It is odd that he points out that the court has mostly held that the administration has to go back to Congress. But previous Courts have let Congress...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The guy from Bangladesh

You can always tell the guy from Bangladesh, he is the one that is smiling.

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I think we have an impoverished vocabulary for describing our differences. The assumptions that one has to make about how the world works and what motivates are enemies happen to be just the sort of propositions that define the fault lines in domestic political debate. It is not that the top officials writing the NIE report are "out to get" their "political enemies" so much as our domestic political disputes and our foreign intelligence disputes happen to revolve around the same questions.
Moreover, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Sun have raised legitimate questions about the three intelligence officials who were principally responsible for crafting the NIE. The Journal cited an intelligence source who described the three men as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials." If true, then we need to know what role these three individuals had in writing the NIE as well as the "Key Judgments" published for public consumption.
 blog it

Sunday, December 09, 2007

So They Knew All Along?

So, according to the Washington Post, the Democrats knew all along about waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques and at the time all they had to say was keep up the good work? And now they are talking about indicting people for torture?

So many things could be said about this, one doesn't know where to begin. A first thought though might be for those in the profession of intelligence gathering who feel they could use some written guidance in the law about what is aloud and what is not. The argument that we can high-mindedly outlaw "torture" and leave it undefined because 'we'll know it when we see it' is surely now seen to be hollow. How what officers do will be seen after the fact is entirely dependent on what will be politically expedient to see it as when we see it.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Think sanctimoniously, act oafishly

The big conference on global warming has a big carbon footprint. If the crisis is so dire, maybe they could have video conferenced it?

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So Much for the Huck?

It is one thing to want to spend a little more money on the poor, quite another to free convicted rapists that go on to rape--and murder--again. Add in a smarmy, prevaricating response and it is time to chuck the Huck!

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Islamic Justice

Read the first line of this Academic Classic:

In a world in which Islamophobes blur the distinction between the
barbaric acts of Muslim extremists and terrorists and the religion of
Islam, two recent legal decisions in Sudan and Saudi Arabia will
reinforce accusations that Islam is an intolerant religion.

This is quite a serviceable construction, suitable for dealing with most any kind of unwelcome observation.

In a world where people who don't like Mike Reinhard blur the distinction between social drinking and just plain getting hammered, two recent incidents where Mike Reinhard was found passed out drunk will reinforce accusations that he is a lush. (note to self: re-check this passage when you have sobered up)

You see, pointing out that kind of behavior is just the sort of unflattering observation, ceasing on an isolated incident, that people who don't like me are likely to make, which proves that the people making it are not objective observers and thus should not be believed.

The possibilities are endless. Think if the KKK had had such wit. "Sensational newspaper accounts of the last two lynchings risk reinforcing the notion that we are some kind of racists." Or, "Sadly, Herr Hitler's recent actions will play into the hands of Teutoniphobes and Jews around the world who...." Well you get the idea.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


You can't accuse the Global Terrorist Incident tracking website of not being thorough. Today I open it up and see that Mississippi has had a terrorist incident: a suspicious package was found at the airport and the special Olympics event scheduled to be held there was postponed for two hours.

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The Black KKK

A black commentator calls the culture of "keeping it real" and the criminal behavior it supports a sort of black KKK.

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