How about a wall of separation between mosque and state, too?

The sadly predictable hue and cry over President Obama’s comments regarding the proposed building of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center towers almost invariably get it wrong. Contrary to his supporters and contrary as well to critics who demagogue the question for partisan political mileage, the only correct position for any elected official from town councilman to president to take in this case is as follows:

Shut the f*ck up.

Presuming the proposed mosque would break no pre-existing laws, elected officials have no more business expressing any opinion whatsoever on the propriety, sensitivity or lack thereof in this case than they would opining over whether Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses should go around neighborhoods knocking on front doors, giant crosses should be erected in plain sight of non-Christians, religious groups like the Gideons should put bibles, etc. in hotel rooms and so forth. In other words, this is precisely the sort of officious intermeddling by public officials that justifies Jefferson’s desired “wall of separation between church and state.”

“But, surely, you don’t mean to contend that elected officials lose their own right to free speech, do you?”

Actually, yes. Yes, I do. Not in the legal sense, of course, but in the sense that there are certain things elected officials should not and cannot do without losing whatever respect, credibility, etc. they had in the first place. Elected officials and political candidates already abide by this rule in all sorts of ways. They don’t state publicly what they actually think about their opponents, various members of the press or even the public, itself. They don’t call ugly babies ugly. They don’t pick their noses or scratch their crotches in public, etc., etc. They don’t do these things not because they are principled men and women of integrity but because doing so will in fact cause them to lose political support and, perhaps, political office.

Sadly, they do not lose political support by demagoging these sorts of issues. But they should. That they do not is, in my opinion, yet another example of the tyranny of the majority in the sense that the biggest problem with democracy is that the people more or less get the government they want, God help us.

The only silver lining to that depressingly dark cloud is that most politicians are mere Gail Wynands and not Ellsworth Tooheys. And that’s probably not enough silver to fill a tooth.

As for whether a mosque should, in some non-legal sense of the term, be built near the site of the attack, well, I have my own opinion. And so, no doubt, do you. And they both should matter in the grand scheme of things exactly as much as the president’s opinion should. Namely, not at all.

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105 Responses to How about a wall of separation between mosque and state, too?

  1. Chris says:

    Wait, you believe elected officials shouldn’t publicly state their support for the first amendment? Because that is in essence what Obama and Bloomberg have done.

  2. D.A. Ridgely says:

    Was the First Amendment itself under attack? Or was this just yet another case of people expressing anger and frustration over someone else’s exercise of their First Amendment rights and clamoring for the government to stop them? Because if it is the latter, we have another branch of government ready, willing and able to protect those rights; namely, the judiciary.

    Now, you may argue that Obama, Bloomberg and some others have made public pronouncements on the matter in good faith, and you may be right. I doubt it because good faith and politicians rarely go together. But, benefit of the doubt, the unintended consequences of any sort of public pronouncement will add fuel to the fire either in support of or opposition to the mosque, itself. And that they have no business doing even inadvertently.

  3. Pinky says:

    .
    I’m happy this situation about the mosque near “Ground Zero” has come to be an issue as it puts the entire question of the separation of church and state on the table.
    .
    I know there are religious right lobbyists in Washington, D.C.; but, I wonder if any of them represent the interests of the World of Islam.
    .

  4. Heidegger says:

    I haven’t heard anyone state that they do not have the right to construct this mosque. If elected public officials can’t express their opinions on these kinds of matters, then what can they express? Motives are irrelevant. By a very large majority, the construction of this ghastly monstrosity is deeply offensive to the victims’ families—how could it not be? Not that that is or should be the deciding factor. “Shut the fu*k up” is certainly a novel defense of 1st Amendment rights…

  5. James Hanley says:

    I believe the First Amendment is under attack. We have elected officials, and formerly elected folks trying to persuade elected officials, trying to convince a specific group to not exercise their First Amendment rights. An informal campaign to compel you to surrender your rights is no less a threat to the free exercise of those rights.

    I think Obama’s first comment on the matter was an extended “Shut the f*ck up” (not since Calvin Coolidge have we had a president capable of speaking concisely), but his further comments just muddied the waters.

  6. ppnl says:

    “Was the First Amendment itself under attack? Or was this just yet another case of people expressing anger and frustration over someone else’s exercise of their First Amendment rights and clamoring for the government to stop them?”

    What is the difference? The first amendment will not fall because people believe it is a bad idea. It will fall because people let their short term emotions and political biases blind them. The judiciary is a kind of stop gap protection from the tyranny of the majority. But it is only useful against short term excesses of the majority. Long term the first amendment only has meaning if people have the courage to stand up for it.

    I do not like what you said about politicians giving up the right to free speech but I understand what you are trying to say. They have the right to say anything they want but what they say has consequences.

    On the flip side what they do not say has consequences.

  7. James K says:

    The words of politicians carry a power all of their own. When our current Prime Minister John Key was newly in office he kept publicly speculating about what the Reserve Bank was going to do with interest rates, something that would be quite natural to an ex-Merrill Lynch trader, but not something a Prime Minister should do in public.

    It seems to me that Obama said the right things here 1) his statement that the Muslim group had a right to build their community centre was a rhetorical defence of the First Amendment, and since defending the Constitution is in his job description that seems OK to me. 2) he refused to be drawn on anything but the legal issues, thereby concealing his opinion of the community centre to the necessary extent.

  8. buddyglass says:

    Heidegger: “I haven’t heard anyone state that they do not have the right to construct this mosque.”

    I have. Mostly its coming from people who are all about what “the majority” wants. If a community doesn’t want a mosque, then the community should get what it wants. Their reasoning, not mine. The comments I read were actually in reference to the mosque going up in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

  9. Heidegger says:

    Well, gentlemen, I stand corrected. It was my impression that the opposition was not challenging the legal and constitutional rights to construct this mosque, but rather voicing their anger and outrage at the choice of the sight that it was to be built on. And having a genocidal terrorist organization (Hamas) giving its strong endorsement is not the kind of PR gesture that’s likely to change many minds.

    Regarding Jefferson’s famous Danbury letter, “a wall of separation between church and state”, he was emphasizing the people’s right to worship their God WITHOUT government interference–in this case the Danbury Baptists. The restrictions of the First Amendment and the entire Constitution, are ONLY on what the government can NOT do—this “wall” is to protect the religious liberties of its citizens. Not sure how politicians opining one way or the other is a violation of this principle.

    Has there been a more misunderstood metaphor, “wall”, in the history of human civilization? Of course, both sides, will accuse the other of misunderstanding the word with very well-reasoned arguments. Likely to be forever unresolvable which, in its own way, is probably the best thing for the country.

  10. stuartl says:

    James Hanley wrote:

    An informal campaign to compel you to surrender your rights is no less a threat to the free exercise of those rights.

    I disagree, this is far better than the state getting involved.

    If you do something I deem offensive, there is nothing wrong with trying to persuade you that what you are doing is inappropriate and offensive to me and others.

    BTW, I am totally in favor of the mosque, but hope someone builds a gay bar on one side and stripper joint with flashing signs across the street.

  11. Mark Boggs says:

    “he was emphasizing the people’s right to worship their God WITHOUT government interference”

    as well as their right to worship no God at all.

  12. Heidegger says:

    Okay folks, reality check time—The United States has approximately 2400 operating mosques. How many operating synagogues do suppose are in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria—perhaps, 5-10. How about this: Jewish population in Aden: 0; Algeria:0; Egypt: less than 100; Libya: o; Syria: 0;

    Geez, do you think there might be a bit of a tolerance issue here? And the United States is the country that needs to show the world that we’re inclusive, diverse, tolerant?????

  13. James K says:

    Do you not take pride in your country’s superiority to such backward regimes? It seems odd that your dislike of Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc. would lead you to want to emulate them.

  14. Mark Boggs says:

    Yeah, I’ve never understood the comparison to how many mosques the US has to how many churches the Muslim world has. If your desire is to race as fast as you can to the bottom in a battle of intolerance and unenlightened behavior, you’re well on your way using that logic. I suppose we should threaten them that we aren’t gonna treat our women equally until they do, huh? Or maybe we can excuse ourselves of bad behavior when it comes to things like torture (sadly, many already have and continue to do so) based on the fact that many of these countries have done far worse and may actually have such behavior codified in law.

    We’re supposed to live up to our ideals, not theirs, right?

  15. Chris says:

    By the way, it’s not about us showing the world anything, it’s about us actualling living according to our own professed values.

    Oh, and it’s not a mosque, it’s a cultural center.

  16. Mark Boggs says:

    Yes, but Chris, there will be Muslims there. What’s the difference?

    (/sarcasm)

  17. Heidegger says:

    James K. and Mark–how did my comments ever suggest I want to emulate those countries? It couldn’t be more to the contrary. If we really wanted to emulate those countries, for starters we would we would reduce to rubble every mosque in the country. Then treat women as dogs and dogs as women. Dogs are considered “unclean” in
    Islamic teachings—vision or hearing impaired students who are assisted by dogs are forbidden to enter Islamic schools. And then, we would ban ALL Western classical music. That’s right—Roll over Beethoven. Of course, all “non-Christians” would be banned from entering any Christian holy sites. A culture that has major problems with dogs, women, and Beethoven is certainly not a culture I would ever want to emulate.

    Chris–wrong, or maybe I should say, half-right. The Cordoba Initiative is to be a Cultural Center AND Mosque.

  18. Mark Boggs says:

    I think the point was that you seemed to be comparing our level of tolerance with theirs as though as long as we’re somewhere in front of them in that regard, it’s all good. When the point Chris and I were trying to make, with too much snark possibly, was that we have our own ideals and standards that we hold ourselves to independent of what other states or cultures do.

    Mosque, cultural center, Wal-Mart, who cares? As though a mosque is the vital ingredient in terrorism.

  19. Heidegger says:

    Mark–agreed. Your clarification was well stated. To compare our liberties to aforementioned countries is just absurd. They’re still sorting out grudges 1400 years old with no end in sight.

    Well, it didn’t take long for Obama to toss the mosque under the bus. Does this man have a principled drop of blood in his body? Hiding behind nuanced legalisms and not wanting to take a position on the wisdom of building a mosque at this site–he would have been much better off if he had left his first statement stand. He’ll be shoveling himself out of this hole for months….

  20. craig says:

    since someone had to make a reference to torture, try the treatment culminating in beheading on for size and take a look at what we’re accused of using as torture…water boarding. have you ever been waterboarded? I have. Not a single, lingering effect but you sure do want it to end.

  21. Chris says:

    Interestingly, what Obama did was basically what DAR wanted him to do: say it’s a separation of church and state question, and then decline, as a representative of the state, to say whether it was a good idea or not. I suppose that comes off as unprincipled to you, but it seems like exactly the right thing to me.

  22. Mark Boggs says:

    Craig-

    It isn’t my definition, the UN and every nation who signs on to the Geneva Conventions and the resolutions against torture define it as that. But once again, thank you for seeming to argue that because what they do is worse, we’re just peachy keen over here. And I’m sure that plenty of waterboarding victims through history are relieved to know that you found it merely unpleasant.

  23. Heidegger says:

    Mark, not so fast. When water boarding was used in 2003 to the three terrorists masterminds, it was legal and not considered torture by the Justice Department. Moreover, (rantings of Andrew Sullivan notwithstanding), Geneva Accords very specifically state that certain conditions must be fulfilled in order for detainees to protected by the Geneva Conventions—Article IV:

    “That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    That of carrying arms openly;
    That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.”

    The leaders of both parties were briefed by the CIA over 30 times and at no time did they voice ANY objection–just ask Pelosi and Rockfeller. Pelosi said she knew they “could” use enhanced interrogations but not that they “did”. Or something like that–relying on my memory of that whole episode. What’s more, the Democrat controlled congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005 and the Military Commissions Act 2006 which explicitly DOES NOT ban water boarding. Yes, Congress refused to ban water boarding–the CIA memo that was not objected to by members of Congress very directly states the conditions under which prisoners/enemy combatants could be water boarded:
    “1) only if the CIA has credible evidence that a terrorist attack is imminent, and knowing this information can prevent, disrupt, or delay this attack, and 2) other methods have failed to illicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing this attack.”

    As with just about everything else in life, this is a much, much more complicated issue. In any case, it is now banned and not permitted to be used under any circumstances, ticking nuke bomb or not.

  24. Mark Boggs says:

    Yes, and it isn’t it frightening to know that with a few strokes of a pen, your Justice Dept. (Yoo and Bybee, specifically) can declare anything they want legal or illegal apparently?

    And despite what seems to be an attempt to place me on one side of a partisan divide on this one, I find the actions of most of our elected leaders deplorable and cowardly during that period of time. If being for the decent treatment of SUSPECTED terrorists makes me some kind of radical, then I’ll gladly take that label.

    Oh and you might want to take a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Convention_against_Torture

    We signed and ratified this, which would (and I’m no lawyer) make it, according to our Constitution’s treatment of treaties, the law of the land. So the idea that you can carve out a niche under the third Geneva Convention seems a bit forced. Sadly, I suppose if the Justice Department wants to “decide” that none of it applies to our behavior, then I suppose we can still do what we did and still feel proud of ourselves and superior to others.

  25. Mark Boggs says:

    From the Convention against torture:

    Article 1
    1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

    Article 2
    1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. (my italics)

    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

  26. craig says:

    I guess frowning at or ignoring a POW is torture

  27. Mark Boggs says:

    Yeah, that’s what I said. Apparently, your reading comprehension is tortured.

  28. craig says:

    I guess so

  29. Heidegger says:

    Mark, I would advise you to please check the signatories of Convention Against Torture. Cuba? Libya? Somalia? Congo? Sudan???? Freaking SUDAN???? You’re going to hand off the defense of the United States to these thugocracies—countries that still practice slavery? The CAT is a cynical charade of the highest order and no, we are not legally bound, in any way, to abide by these provisions.

    On another note–are you related to Wade Boggs?

  30. Mark Boggs says:

    Again, IANAL, but tell me how our being signers and ratifiers of this treaty doesn’t somehow apply under the following, because it seems the Geneva Conventions do: From that Constitution thingy, Article VI –

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    And once again, the argument that, relative to other countries that torture, we’re still a bit better seems a bit weak to me. Aren’t we supposed to lead by example? Or is that just a bunch of words?

  31. Mark Boggs says:

    And the idea that not torturing people somehow surrenders the defense of our country to third world thugocracies is a bit of a stretch, is it not? So the only way for us to be completely safe is to have torture in our quiver? Correct me if I’m wrong, but have we not spent the better part of the last decade “defending” ourselves by invading a few countries in the Middle East? You’d think , according to your logic, that our adherence to agreed upon international law would make that impossible. Or is it because we tortured people that we were finally freed to defend ourselves?

  32. Heidegger says:

    Mark–good points and questions–unfortunately, am in a terrible rush but will get back to you–I find this to be a very interesting subject. If this is such a clear-cut case of torture, why didn’t this administration investigate the previous administration and hold all guilty parties accountable? The Dems had the White House, a super majority in the Senate and a substantial majority in the House. I think the evidence would show Democrats were just as complicit as Republicans in the sanctioning of “enhanced” interrogations. Later….

  33. Mark Boggs says:

    As I recall Mr. Obama saying, “we should look forward instead of backward.” Do I think they should have investigated everything regardless of what was found? Absolutely. It goes back to the idea that if the law only applies to some of us, it really isn’t worth much. And that also means that our high and mighty phrases about equality and liberty are not much more than lip service. And again, I sense an attempt to make this a partisan issue. It shouldn’t be. It should be an issue of whether the rule of law means what it says it means and whether we actually hold ourselves to those standards even when it might seem more expedient not to.

  34. Mark Boggs says:

    And, if I didn’t make it clear, I have no love for Obama’s continuation of the Bush admin. executive policies on secrecy as well as his refusal to investigate anything from that period of time. It only perpetuates the notion (like Nixon’s pardon) that “it’s OK if the President does it.”

  35. James Hanley says:

    A great defense of the idea of not engaging in torture, by Mr. Boggs. His opponents put up several irrelevant arguments.

    Mr. Heidegger notes that “thuggish” countries have also signed the Convention Against Torture, as though that’s relevant. It’s not, because regardless of who else signed it we committed to a treaty obligation, and as Mr. Boggs notes, that makes it part of U.S. law. But if we want to play the “who signed it game,” we might note that Mr. Heidegger was dishonestly selective in noting signatories, because it was also signed by, for example, Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, Luxemborg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. If you’re going to play guilt-by-association, Mr. Heidegger, you’re going to lose this round.

    Craig wants us to believe that waterboarding isn’t torture because it isn’t as bad as beheading and doesn’t leave permanent effects. First, we should specify permanent physical effects, as it certainly can leave permanent mental effects, and that in itself is part of the definition of torture. Second, X not being as bad as Y doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not in the same category. Stealing a bicycle is not as bad as robbing a bank, but both are theft. And waterboarding is defined as torture in international treaties. Craig apparently would have the U.S. become a lawless nation by ignoring its treaty obligations. Craig would also have the U.S. be a two-faced hypocritical nation, as we have traditionally treated waterboarding as torture, even convicting Japanese soldiers of war crimes for waterboarding American and other Allied soldiers in WWII. But for Craig, apparently, the U.S. is special and doesn’t have to follow the same rules we’re going to enforce on others.

  36. craig says:

    that’s right waterb oarding….no big thing

  37. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    Are you saying that the U.S. was wrong to convict Japanese soldiers for waterboarding Allied prisoners?

  38. craig says:

    is that all they did?

  39. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    They did other things as well, but they were specifically convicted for the act of waterboarding, just as, for example, a rapist who murders their victim is convicted, separately, of rape and murder. And in law, we can distinguish between the elements of charges and argue about whether certain ones are legitimate charges or not. In fact those who study the law make such arguments all the time. Numerous Supreme Court decisions have rested on arguments about whether certain elements of a criminal charge were legitimate or not. So this is not mere pedantry and hair-splitting, but the very substance of real live legal cases.

    So my question stands. Regardless of what else these Japanese soldiers did, were charged with, and were convicted of, should the U.S. have charged, tried, and convicted them of torture by waterboarding?

  40. craig says:

    I’d have to see the info, but what you’ve told me doesn’t change my opinion. I, like Hendrix, am experienced.

  41. James Hanley says:

    So should the U.S. compensate the families of those Japanese soldiers for wrongful conviction?

    But more to the point, if waterboarding is not torture, then why does the U.S. military use it in their training to prepare soldiers for the torture they might receive?

    And please persuade me that you’ve actually experienced it. Frankly, I disbelieve, because most of those who have experienced and speak out about it do call it torture.

  42. James Hanley says:

    Re: The views of those who have experienced waterboarding.

    Here, here, here, and here. They all say it’s torture.

  43. Mark Boggs says:

    Thanks for that reminder about the Japanese soldiers, James. Sometimes when you get weighed down under the mounds of evasive, qualified, and (in Craig’s case) anecdotal bull$hit you forget these vital nuggets of fact from history about whether or not we consider(ed) it torture.

  44. craig says:

    my word is good; we’re trained because it and real torture is used against us

  45. craig says:

    only the last link is useful, btw

  46. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    Too evasive to be persuasive. (Rhyme not intentional.)

    If you’re referring to SERE-type military training programs, my understanding is that they do not distinguish between waterboarding and “real torture.” It’s easy for you to type those words; not so easy to persuade me that your unusual position is actually correct.

  47. craig says:

    I wouldn’t want to dissuade you, disabuse you or persuade you. I’m just telling my experience.

  48. tonycoyle says:

    Heidegger

    WTF?

    highly offensive to the Christian families

    Fixed that for you.

    Did you realize there was a mosque in the WTC? That many moslems (american and foreign) died in the tragedy? Or do ragheads not count?

  49. tonycoyle says:

    methinks Craig is a lying douchebucket . Of course, that is only my opinion, I have no independently verifiable evidence available to support that assertion.

    However, in support of my assertion I do have numerous postings, attributed to someone posting as ‘Craig’, – ref. the above commentary. You might care to note in addition, that this is significantly more evidence than ‘Craig’ brings to support his assertions regarding torture.

  50. craig says:

    that’s me douche bag whatever that is

  51. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    Your experience–which I have been given no reason to believe is true, other than your bare assertion, unaccompanied by any explanation or detail that would make it remotely persuasive–is countered by the experience of numerous others. Even were I to believe you have actually been waterboarded, I’d be compelled to say that the preponderance of the evidence weighs against you, as far more people who have been subjected to waterboarding claim it is torture than claim it is not.

    There’s also the fact that the U.S. has historically treated waterboarding as a torture, and the fact that we’re signatories to a treaty that defines it as torture and requires us to refrain from it.

    But, hey, some random guy on the internet claims to have experienced it and claims it’s not torture. What the hell, I’m convinced!

  52. James Hanley says:

    Tony,

    Although you may not be alone in your assessment, we do ask our commentors to refrain that type of pejorative.

  53. craig says:

    I think I already said this once: I wouldn’t want to dissuade you, disabuse you or persuade you. I’m just telling my experience
    and I don’t care if you don’t believe me, it is however evidence and think of all the people who were called crazy for having a different opinion (the life of a moderate)

  54. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    It’s not evidence; it’s bare assertion. It’s not evidence until we have some reason to believe you actually experienced it.

  55. craig says:

    making you believe me would make it evidence? that means it would have been evidence before you believed me and it’s silly for you to call me a liar just because in your paradigm it is impossible for a waterboarded person to be ambivalent about how tortuous the experience was

  56. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    I haven’t called you a liar. I’ve just noticed that you haven’t given us any reason to believe you. I remain agnostic.

    You are correct that whether or not it is evidence is not affected by my belief in it. I wrote sloppily. To clarify, before I can have any reason to treat it as evidence, I must have reason to believe the experience is real.

    Where I am not agnostic, and think you are indisputably being dishonest, is in your claim that you don’t want to affect others’ beliefs. If you did not, you wouldn’t have joined the discussion and made a claim to have some authority on the subject.

  57. craig says:

    no I just objected to the torture argument used by Mark in the mosque discussion

  58. craig says:

    “made a claim”
    I guess when you are calling someone a liar you say “you are a liar” lol

  59. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    Actually, yes, I do. I can see why you would assume “made a claim” implied that, but because, as a scholar, I tend to place so much emphasis on evidence, when I say “made a claim,” I mean only made a claim, and add clarifying information on the amount of evidence, or lack of, for such claim. People make false claims frequently without being liars–they’re just mistaken (and I can testify that I have made false claims in the past without lying also).

    Because I don’t know you, and because it’s possible that you’re a Navy Seal and just don’t want to divulge that info, I can’t make a claim that you’re lying. But I am not yet willing to believe.

  60. Mark Boggs says:

    And my argument was that people want to say that because other countries are worse and do worse that makes our transgressions excusable. That’s where I call crap. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you’ve been waterboarded, forwards, backwards, and three ways from Tuesday. But there has to be a reason that the United States has defined waterboarding as torture and has signed treaties defining it as torture and has historically prosecuted it as torture, your experience to the contrary. Besides, if it really isn’t that torturous, could it really be all that effective in gathering information from belligerent terrorists?

  61. Mark Boggs says:

    And just so it doesn’t get swallowed up thread, I’ll make the point again: If waterboarding is not so torturous, can it really be all that effective in getting reluctant and hostile terrorists to spill their beans?

  62. craig says:

    that would depend on several other factors

  63. Mark Boggs says:

    So it could be torturous depending on the circumstances, say, if a hostile enemy was doing it to you rather than your own peers?

  64. craig says:

    I don’t think I understand the question.

  65. craig says:

    but here’s a much more important question

    in an honor code school, if a student leaves the honor pledge off of an assignment, is it cruel and unusual punishment for the prof to grade it zero?

  66. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    You’re verging on troll territory. Please don’t.

  67. craig says:

    interesting response

  68. Mark Boggs says:

    Yeah, Craig, that makes all the discussion up thread seem rather disingenuous on your part.

  69. D.A. Ridgely says:

    I’m happy to see my post stirred up some interesting and lively discussion while I lounged off the grid for the last week or so at South Padre Island.

    Carry on.

  70. craig says:

    Interesting that there is much ado in discussing the classification of a now outlawed interrogation technique within the definition of torture whereas cruelty in the classroom, ie learning environment, is currently taking place across the campuses of the “honor” colleges and the response? That’s trolling. That’s disingenous. The Honor Constitutions I’m aware of don’t even authorize a punishment/discipline by the prof because the Honor Council is responsible for that. But it is easier to talk about the esoteric past than something right here, right now in our own backyard.

  71. craig says:

    and furthermore, students pay a tidy sum and entrust themselves to their mentors

    at least POWs know to steel themselves

  72. Mark Boggs says:

    Craig,

    I’m not sure what windmill you’re tilting at, but the attempt to equate whatever that windmill is with torture (which was outlawed before, during, and after the time we did it) is baffling, and I assume that is what prompts Mr. Hanley’s suspicion of trolling.

  73. craig says:

    it seems to me that professors would not hesitate to condemn such practices in the classroom; failing to do so renders the waterboard issue moot

  74. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    I’m a college professor who spends a lot of time in the classroom. And I have no idea WTF you are talking about.

    Are you under the impression that being excessively cryptic and vague will give the impression that you’re intelligent and intellectually sophisticated? It doesn’t, you know. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  75. craig says:

    “in an honor code school, if a student leaves the honor pledge off of an assignment, is it cruel and unusual punishment for the prof to grade it zero?”

    simple question

  76. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    Short answer: No.

    Medium answer: No, although one could argue it’s unfair.

    Longer answer: No, although one could argue it’s unfair. Indeed it seems to be an astoundingly anserine and irrelevant question, so do you actually have some reasonable point in asking, or are you just indulging in foolishness for the sake of indulging in foolishness?

  77. craig says:

    cool, I learned a new word

    but, if someone in your position with time in the classroom can’t see that treating a student and paying customer that way is cruel, I don’t see why waterboarding matters

  78. D.A. Ridgely says:

    Speaking as a long ago TA and grader of term papers and tests, I think the better question is whether it would really be all that bad to water board the occasional undergraduate.

  79. craig says:

    I don’t know but I was thinking of grad students.

  80. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    You’re seriously equating giving someone a zero on an assignment, even a grad student, to subjecting them to controlled drowning?

    You have persuaded me that you have no commentary of value to contribute to this blog. Please go somewhere where such foolishness is appreciated.

  81. craig says:

    I didn’t equate the two. It was more like an implied question. If you don’t condemn mistreating students, why does mistreating a few alleged terrorists matter to you?

  82. Mark Boggs says:

    Craig,

    You’ve officially jumped the shark or nuked the fridge with whatever tangent you’ve stumbled onto. As though Mr. Hanley’s not telling you he thinks failing a student for not doing whatever you’re saying they didn’t do is unconditionally deplorable means that he can’t be worried or concerned about the indignity and inhumanity visited upon people in captivity (not to mention the violation of the law in doing so).

    Something tells me, like the waterboarding thing, this being failed for omitting something is, for you, a personal anecdote?

  83. James Hanley says:

    Craig,

    You are equating the two. By putting them in comparison to each other, you are equating them. Now let’s get to your question.

    If you don’t condemn mistreating students, why does mistreating a few alleged terrorists matter to you?

    1. I said assigning the zero was not cruel and unusual punishment, but one could argue it’s unfair. That’s a far cry from “not condemning it.” I would condemn it if it is unfair.

    2. We have not established that it is unfair or a “mistreatment” of students. You have asserted that it is, and I have agreed that it’s arguably unfair, but we have not in fact established that it is unfair. If it’s not unfair, it’s not mistreatment. So why might it arguably be not unfair? Because the students presumably agreed to the conditions and rules of the institution. Having done so, and having then violated those conditions or rules, with foreknowledge of the consequences of doing so, why is it unfair that they suffer those consequences.

    3. Even if I did agree that it is unfair treatment of students, and then I also condoned it despite agreeing it is unfair, there is no necessary logical extension between that and my beliefs about the illegitimacy of waterboarding. Waterboarding is cruel and unusual, assigning the zero–even if unfair–is not. Your question seems to assume your belief that waterboarding is not a big deal, but as you know, I don’t share that belief. You may not technically equate the two actions, but you clearly see them as closer in value than I do. Because I see them as substantively different, approving waterboarding would not follow even if I were to approve of unfairly giving students bad grades.

    4. Alleged. May I repeat that? Alleged. Your bland word, “mistreatment,” is a deliberate attempt to downplay the significance of waterboarding. You are arguing for the torture of people who may be innocent. I won’t do that. And your word games are far too coarse and unsubtle to even begin to trap me into doing that.

    See, here we have a perfect example of what Jon Rowe was talking about in a recent post, the “tarbaby” effect. An truly foolish argument takes no time at all to state (because it has no “thinking time” behind it), but the refutation that bothers to take it seriously is a very time-consuming task. And of course the refutation will be followed by yet another foolish comment that takes no time to make because it also has no thought behind it.

    This is also an example of why I personally find it so hard to abide by our commenting policy. Certain commenters don’t deserve the basic cordiality that we request. It is not for their sake that we have this policy, but for the sake of the tone of debate.

    So, Craig, I’ve made my concerted effort to respond to your comments thoughtfully, despite those comments being undeserving of any thoughtful consideration. If you are not simply a troll, and would like to continue a reasoned debate, then you need to pull your weight and begin engaging in actual reason yourself.

  84. craig says:

    I don’t think you answered my question.

  85. Heidegger says:

    Craig, having a terrible time following your line of reasoning and logic. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Your ploy could simply be rings around rings around rings of nothingness. Why can’t you state where, why, how, and why were you waterboarded? It’s hugely important to this discussion—how can you have ANY credibly without some basic details about your “ordeal”. And why are you so fiercely tearing into James Hanley? I must say he is exhibiting far more patience and understanding than is deserved. You’re sounding like one of the Columbine wack jobs–sorry—your comments are derangely abstruse. Could you be a former student of Dr. James? A very bizarre ax you’re grinding.

    Okay Mark, Dr. Jim, Dr, James, Dr. J–“which do to you prefer”, you are now POTUS. You have been presented with incontrovertible evidence that a catastrophic second wave of terrorist attacks are soon to occur—yes, imminent—you have in your custody three very high level, uncooperative terrorists masterminds. Here’s how the Justice Department memo states it the waterboarding situation: “It may be used on a High Value Detainee only if the CIA has ‘credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent’; ‘substantial and credible indicators that the subject has actionable intelligence that can prevent, disrupt or deny this attack’; and ‘[o]ther interrogation methods have failed to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack.’”
    So, President Hanley, Boggs, are you going to let a million people go up in flames because we signed onto a worthless, toothless, anemic UN treaty? A treaty, by the way, that is NON BINDING? Torture is and has already been illegal in the US and the CID provisions of the UNCAT were not applicable–our Constitution takes very go0d care of how international laws are imposed on American citizens. The US Senate adopted a very, very important reservation to the UNCAT:

    [T]he United States considers itself bound by the obligation … to prevent “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” only insofar as the term “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

    So, Presidents Hanley, Boggs, the world anxiously awaits your reply.

  86. Heidegger says:

    Make that “when”. Oh, waterboarding may be terrifying but when administered by the CIA, it is painless. Certainly not as bad as having to listen to John Tesh.

  87. Heidegger says:

    Breaking news!!!!! Jewish population in Afghanistan: ONE!!!!! Not making this up. Good Lord, where do you suppose that poor chap might be holed up. Maybe it’s Chomsky’s summer cottage.

  88. craig says:

    “Hide” you areprob ably readingway too much into it. No I’m not an Adrian alum. Fiercely tearing into….is this the same blog we’re discussing

  89. Mark Boggs says:

    First off, we’re sure these high profile terrorists are high profile terrorists? Because we held a bunch of guys at Guantanamo that we were sure were terrorists. So much so that, even when they were cleared of charges, we still felt the need to hold them indefinitely. You’ll pardon my skepticism about your hypothetical in that it assumes so much to be absolute certain knowledge as to be laughable.

    You write: credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent’; ‘substantial and credible indicators that the subject has actionable intelligence that can prevent, disrupt or deny this attack’; and ‘[o]ther interrogation methods have failed to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack.’”

    I’ll let CAJ Coady, who reviewed Bob Brecher’s book “Torture and the Ticking Bomb” do the summarizing on this issue: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=15385 (and you should read the whole review as it addresses more than just the following)

    “They are supposed to “know” (or be reasonably confident) that a bomb has been planted, though they don’t know where, that it is going to explode very shortly (so there is no time for any remedy but torture), that the prisoner has the information about the bomb’s whereabouts, that the prisoner is likely to yield the information under torture, and that the torture can be delivered in such a way that, in the time available, the prisoner will not die or become incapable of communicating under torture. In the real world of intelligence fallibility (think Iraqi weapons of mass destruction), false imprisonment (think Guantanamo Bay) and sometimes fanatically dedicated terrorists, it is hardly within the realms of likelihood that these conditions will be fulfilled together. Indeed, it may be rather more likely that either there is no bomb, or the captive is not a terrorist, or not the one who knows the whereabouts of the bomb, or he/she is too tough to yield to torture, or can hold out long enough for the bomb to explode, or can deliberately give information that sends you on a wild goose chase so that the bomb explodes, or is innocent but still gives you false information in order to stop the torture and so the wild goose chase is again the upshot, or the prisoner dies or is rendered incapable too soon. Or some compatible combination of several of the above.”

    He continues on with where this “ticking time bomb torture” leads by extension:

    If, for instance, it is legitimate to torture a “known” terrorist for a “known” imminent ticking bomb, why not a merely suspected terrorist or a possibly knowledgeable acquaintance for a dreadful crime that might be committed in the future? Why not preventive torture of “rogue” individuals who might lay ticking bombs in the future? After all, this would eliminate the time constraints that make torture in the standard ticking bomb scenario so potentially unreliable.

    And as far as the argument about the Senate writing into their ratification of the UNCAT some sort of qualification that it only applies in so far as it doesn’t supercede the intent of the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause in the Constitution? First, it assumes that it is inherent in that clause that waterboarding wouldn’t be considered cruel or unusual. Second, it is my cynical view that politicians wrote those qualifiers in there out of irrational fear and CYA mentality so that they could absolve themselves of any responsibility for horrible things while at the same time being able to get in front of the cameras and congratulate themselves for signing such important and humanity-affirming international legislation.

  90. James Hanley says:

    Heidegger,

    I wouldn’t say craig is “fiercely tearing into me.” His comments don’t have enough substance for that to be an accurate description.

    As to your scenario, no, I would not waterboard them. Waterboarding will get people to talk, certainly, but how do you know if they are telling you the truth? It is too likely to get you false information. From what I’ve read–and what I’ve heard from a friend who is trained in investigation and interrogation–you have a higher chance of success through more friendly interrogation tactics. But even if you didn’t, the odds of actually gaining useful actionable information, and knowing which of the things the detainee tells you actually are valid and actionable, is too low to make waterboarding really useful.

    My conclusion is that waterboarding is used by people who are more interested in torturing people than in actually gaining useful information.

  91. James,

    For clarification is it always wrong or if it could be proved that it got good info, for arguments sake, would you condone it? I actually agree with you just wondering.

  92. Mark Boggs says:

    Not sure whether to reply to the actual post as I did or to put it here for chronology sake, but in reply to Heidegger’s “ticking time bomb” scenario:

    First off, we’re sure these high profile terrorists are high profile terrorists? Because we held a bunch of guys at Guantanamo that we were sure were terrorists. So much so that, even when they were cleared of charges, we still felt the need to hold them indefinitely. You’ll pardon my skepticism about your hypothetical in that it assumes so much to be absolute certain knowledge as to be laughable.

    You write: credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent’; ‘substantial and credible indicators that the subject has actionable intelligence that can prevent, disrupt or deny this attack’; and ‘[o]ther interrogation methods have failed to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack.’”

    I’ll let CAJ Coady, who reviewed Bob Brecher’s book “Torture and the Ticking Bomb” do the summarizing on this issue: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=15385 (and you should read the whole review as it addresses more than just the following)

    “They are supposed to “know” (or be reasonably confident) that a bomb has been planted, though they don’t know where, that it is going to explode very shortly (so there is no time for any remedy but torture), that the prisoner has the information about the bomb’s whereabouts, that the prisoner is likely to yield the information under torture, and that the torture can be delivered in such a way that, in the time available, the prisoner will not die or become incapable of communicating under torture. In the real world of intelligence fallibility (think Iraqi weapons of mass destruction), false imprisonment (think Guantanamo Bay) and sometimes fanatically dedicated terrorists, it is hardly within the realms of likelihood that these conditions will be fulfilled together. Indeed, it may be rather more likely that either there is no bomb, or the captive is not a terrorist, or not the one who knows the whereabouts of the bomb, or he/she is too tough to yield to torture, or can hold out long enough for the bomb to explode, or can deliberately give information that sends you on a wild goose chase so that the bomb explodes, or is innocent but still gives you false information in order to stop the torture and so the wild goose chase is again the upshot, or the prisoner dies or is rendered incapable too soon. Or some compatible combination of several of the above.”

    He continues on with where this “ticking time bomb torture” leads by extension:

    If, for instance, it is legitimate to torture a “known” terrorist for a “known” imminent ticking bomb, why not a merely suspected terrorist or a possibly knowledgeable acquaintance for a dreadful crime that might be committed in the future? Why not preventive torture of “rogue” individuals who might lay ticking bombs in the future? After all, this would eliminate the time constraints that make torture in the standard ticking bomb scenario so potentially unreliable.

    And as far as the argument about the Senate writing into their ratification of the UNCAT some sort of qualification that it only applies in so far as it doesn’t supercede the intent of the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause in the Constitution? First, it assumes that it is inherent in that clause that waterboarding wouldn’t be considered cruel or unusual. Second, it is my cynical view that politicians wrote those qualifiers in there out of irrational fear and CYA mentality so that they could absolve themselves of any responsibility for horrible things while at the same time being able to get in front of the cameras and congratulate themselves for signing such important and humanity-affirming international legislation.

  93. James Hanley says:

    King,

    In all honesty, I remain uncertain about that. If we could know with certainty that waterboarding this person, whom we know with certainty to be a terrorist, and whom we know with certainty has the information we need, and we can know with certainty that the information received will be credible, then I have a hard time saying, “No, it would be wrong.” I don’t generally like utilitarian balancing, but since he’s the person trying to cause harm to others, causing some harm to him in order to prevent the harm he’s trying to cause isn’t a sacrifice of one innocent person for other innocent persons.

    But I believe that case is so rarefied that it’s only a question suitable for debates about ethics. We almost certainly can’t know with certainty that the person has the information we need (his capture, if he had the knowledge, may have led his conspirators to change their plan); and we absolutely can’t know with certainty that he’ll give us valid information, and we absolutely can’t know with certainty when we receive information whether or not it is valid. In this I agree wholly with Mark Bogg’s comment preceding this one.

    But I would also add that if we have anywhere near enough information to capture this person, and to know that a terrorist attack is actually imminent, then we probably have further information about that impending attack. One of the flaws in the pro-torture to prevent an attack scenario is that it presumes a vast amount of crucial information has already been unearthed by intelligence/investigative agencies, but just not that one vital piece of the puzzle. That’s great for making movies and TV shows, but it’s not a scenario that happens in the real world.

  94. Fair enough James. I agree that the chances of all those factors coming together are slim. I also agree with your conclusion. I have often said that if I knew 100 percent with no doubt at all that the baby sitting in crib was Hitler I would have to blow the baby away. But that is far fetched because one would have to believe that their was no intervention possible in the convening years that would have sent him in a different direction. I refuse to believe that.

    Anyway, just wanted to see where you stood on that.

  95. “But I would also add that if we have anywhere near enough information to capture this person, and to know that a terrorist attack is actually imminent, then we probably have further information about that impending attack. One of the flaws in the pro-torture to prevent an attack scenario is that it presumes a vast amount of crucial information has already been unearthed by intelligence/investigative agencies, but just not that one vital piece of the puzzle. That’s great for making movies and TV shows, but it’s not a scenario that happens in the real world.”

    Thus the absurd hypotheticals to scare the shit out of everyone so we can waterboard someone’s driver. It still pisses me off.

  96. Heidegger says:

    Well, King of Ireland, they (the chances of all those factors coming together are slim.) DID come together. Surprise, surprise, gentlemen this was not a hypothetical situation–the chronology of events laid out was precisely as the events unfolded in 2002-2003–sorry, I’m just really sickened–after reading your comments, smoke is pouring out of my eyes and ears in anger because it is so obvious your insular, impenetrable, heartless, cold as stone academic universe blinds you, irretrievably, from the reality of the insatiable bloodthirsty Islamist goal that wants to kill every single goddamn Infidel—-WAKE THE FRIG UP!!! You are all so predictably politically correct on almost every issue–left-leaning at least 90% of the time–why do you bother cloaking your positions as “libertarian”? (A lack of intestinal fortitude is one reason) You are so far, far away from true libertarian sensibility. You can look at the incinerated remains of 3000 slaughtered human beings at Ground Zero, and worry, kvetch, whether the mastermind of this atrocity didn’t get a mint placed under his pillow at Gitmo??? Because that’s what you’re doing. That’s what you do. Life in the ivory academic tower is so, so comfy–you receive constant gratification, worship, idolotry from your acolytes and sycophants–all your nice little abstract theories and explanations for what ails the world fits so snugly in your contrived and controlled “libertarian” refuge, sanctuary. And worst of all, none of you of you LOVE Beethoven!! Zero curiosity. Zero love. Zero worship. Bloodless philistines, all!

  97. Heidegger says:

    Apologies. Went off the rails. Lost a dear, dear friend on 9/11—still a raw, open wound–that’s my problem, though.

  98. D.A. Ridgely says:

    I may be a bloodless Philistine, but at least I know the mint goes on top of the pillow!

    More seriously, I don’t share my colleagues’ (here and elsewhere) conclusion that torture can only be ethically justified in such unlikely scenarios that a complete ban on ethical grounds is warranted. Nor do I think the lack of confidence, let alone certainty in the reliability, trustworthiness or accuracy of the information thus gathered is all that relevant. Once obtained, such information can often be quickly verified or falsified; but it is the chance, however remote, that the information does save many lives weighed against the harm inflicted on one or a mere few persons that justifies the practice on utilitarian grounds. Or that at least in principle can justify such practices on utilitarian grounds. As always, the devil is in the details and rule utilitarianism tends to be oblivious to details.

    Which is in any case irrelevant to me because I’m not a utilitarian, or at least not an unalloyed utilitarian. But that’s about as much as I’m willing to rehash on the ethics of torture.

    Its legality is, of course, another question entirely. Whether waterboarding constitutes a form of torture for most if not all legal purposes (yes, it does), whether its practice is therefore prohibited by generally accepted international law (yes, it is) and applicable U.S. law (probably, though not as clearly as some have argued) are all questions of fact, albeit facts about the positive law. Such questions tend not to interest me all that much except insofar as it seems to need to be constantly pointed out that the relationship between the positive law and the ethical is contingent at best and all too often nonexistent.

  99. Mark Boggs says:

    Heidegger,

    Condolences for your loss.

    First, I’m a golf professional, not an academic. So my views are not the product of some four-wall, ivory tower blinders and I think it maybe too broad a brush you use to apply the affliction to anyone who teaches. And it presupposes that people like me or the garbage man or the construction worker have some sort of innate connection with some mythical “Real America” where common sense and good taste rule. We all know that just ain’t so. That said…

    I’d really like to see the facts behind this case in 02-03. Not to doubt your passion about its validity, but they (govt. officials) knew for sure that an attack was imminent just not where and they knew the guys they had in custody had intimate knowledge of the particulars of this attack? And these suspects were tortured until they broke and the info gained from the torture was the vital ingredient to thwarting the attack? You’ll have to color me skeptical about that.

    And I certainly don’t mean to denigrate the emotion you feel from your loss on that day, I just think it’s a perfect example of why we shouldn’t let emotion be the motivation behind an established policy. In much the same way that I don’t think I’d be very good at questioning the main suspect in a case where one of my children was kidnapped.

  100. Heidigger,

    Sorry fot the loss. I am not an academic nor a liberal though. I just hate that I have to stand in line at an airport or give 50 pieces of mail to replace my license because someone blew something up and can do it anytime they want and all these supposed safe guards will not stop them.

    IMO you do not right Islamic intolerance and brutality, by the way most Muslims do not live in the Middle East and want nothing to do with terror, with Guantonomo and water boarding. For Christs sake they can round anyone they want up for up to 96 hours no questions asked now. Does anyone think if we are willing to give government this much power that one day they will not use it on our own people?

    A casual study of history shows that bogeymen have been used more than once to control the people. Communism fell apart and now we have our bogeyman. Yes, we do need to be aware of terrorism but to make it the sole focus of international policy is foolish. How about just leaving their land.

    Chris produced a great book, that I think James started reading too, that shows that Islam as radicalized more than at any other point in its history since the West has occupied parts of the Middle East since the collapse of the Ottomans. Now I realize that at its worst Islam, much like Christianity at its worst, can be imperialistic and needs to be kept an eye on.

    But, as i learned from a brilliant 9th grader I taught in a paper she wrote on the Calfiphate and War on Terror, Islam has been so stratified and weak since the collapse of the Ottomans as a whole their threat level is small. I think they need to worry more about us.

  101. Heidegger says:

    Ah, DAR, you never fail to make me laugh! “I may be a bloodless Philistine, but at least I know the mint goes on top of the pillow!” Brilliant and thanks for the laughs!And from what I understand, yes, the info obtained from the interrogation techniques was quickly verified resulting in the apprehension of key al-Qaeda lieutenants and allies presumably saving thousands of lives as a result–which I know will be hotly contested. I fervently hoped there would be an investigation into the whole “torture” issue with this new administration but typically, it’s all about political expediency. I just don’t buy the “time to look forward” defense–he rarely fails to blame Bush, on a daily basis, for everything under the sun–even the BP oil leak.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts Mark and King of Ireland (LOVE that name!). I know losing a friend on that horrible day is irrelevant to this discussion–sometimes it just blows up, but as you said, Mark, this is a perfect example of why it’s important not to let emotion be the motivating factor when deciding policy. I’ll have to get back to that book King that you recommended, the one Chris posted—I started it, got about a quarter of the way through it, and that was it–was it on the PL site? Forget the name of it–if you get a free moment, could you please let me know? Thanks.

    And no, you’re not all bloodless Philistines! I have no doubt, “An die Freude” is firmly and safely ensconced in your frontal and parietal cortexes to be used and heard at a moment’s notice—maybe it would even get you through, God forbid, …..waterboarding!

    p.s. I think I’ve uncovered the real identity of this character, “Craig”–could he be….Mancow??

    p.p.s. Some much needed levity on this issue….

  102. Chris can give you the link. He is on Science Blogs. He also comments here frequent enough. I think it was the post about Tom Van Dyke by James that he linked it. Powerful book that if read would change our foreign policy. Also hits on the same ideas we talk about here at times between the different brances of Christian thought.

    Seems both have a history of ;

    1. A literalist dogmatic branch that feeds on war and power

    2. A more rationalist branch influenced by how certain aspects of Greek thought are compatible with the Koran or Bible.

    3. A more rationalist approach that elevates Greek thought over the Koran/Bible and gets rid of parts that do not seem to fit with this form of rationalism.

    And a lot of stuff in between. The battle in the end will be between the latter two in both religions if we allow the information age to do its job instead of bombing the shit out of them.

  103. James Hanley says:

    Ahh, Heidegger, reaching for the “out of touch academic” card, eh? It’s never far from the hands of those who want to put emotion over analysis.

    But as an academic, I’m always open to new facts. So instead of vague references to some unspecified 02-03 event, why don’t you provide us the facts so that we can judge whether indeed that rare confluence of events actually came together, or whether, as I suspect, some right-wing apologists for torture lied about that confluence coming together. If it’s an obvious enough case to get that upset about, you shouldn’t have too hard a time persuading me of its accuracy.

  104. pinky says:

    .
    Obviously this is a major issue in America.
    .
    I am recommending a little reading about what Shadia Drury has to say about Carl Schmitt in her book on Leo Strauss and The American Right. Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Strauss-American-Right-Prof-Shadia/dp/0312217838
    .

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