Revealing the top secret industry

The Washington Post is running a three-part expose of America’s security industry, comprised of government agencies and a huge number of private contractors.  Here is the opening:

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

via A hidden world, growing beyond control | washingtonpost.com.

My thoughts:

(1)  The story, while fascinating, is irresponsible in revealing names and locations of top-secret facilities, to the point of including an on-line map.  (There is supposedly one in my home town!)

(2)  Conservatives predicted that the creation of yet another layer of Homeland Security would mean the growth of another vast federal bureaucracy, and this seems to be what has happened.

(3)  The main complaint of the story, though, is that all of these spooks and analysts are generating too much information for any one person to take in.  But one person doesn’t have to take it all in.  Agencies find information for those who need it.  Decentralized intelligence, as with much else, can be very effective.  The army unit of that Muslim shrink who killed all those people at Ft. Hood had an intelligence division.  Instead of writing reports about threat alerts and such, which is apparently what they did, they should have kept tabs on their own people.  The head of the CIA didn’t need to do that, but the army division intelligence office did need to.

(4)  What the series does say about what the private contractors do seems to prove their worth, against the thesis of the articles.  One of them invented a way to detect roadside bombs.  Others produce software to guide those drone aircraft that have become the scourge of Al Qaida.  No one can expect government intelligence employees to develop that kind of technology on their own.  Of course they need to use outside contractors.

(5)  That there is waste and redundancy I have no doubt, just as there is in the military.  But we owe all of these folks a lot for keeping us safe.  That’s the government’s major job, according to Romans 13.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Winston Smith

    Ronald Reagan once said that the closest thing to immortality in this life is a government progam. With the astonishing sprawl of the homeland security apparatus, one thing we can be sure of is that there will never, ever be an end to the War on Terror. In 20 years they will still be looking for Osama bin Laden, or, if necessary, a new boogieman will have to be invented. Too many federal bureaucrats and private contractors with mortgages and kids in college depend on perpetuating the climate of fear and inseecurity.

  • Winston Smith

    Ronald Reagan once said that the closest thing to immortality in this life is a government progam. With the astonishing sprawl of the homeland security apparatus, one thing we can be sure of is that there will never, ever be an end to the War on Terror. In 20 years they will still be looking for Osama bin Laden, or, if necessary, a new boogieman will have to be invented. Too many federal bureaucrats and private contractors with mortgages and kids in college depend on perpetuating the climate of fear and inseecurity.

  • WebMonk

    The articles and investigative work is an impressive monument to the extent of public sources of intelligence. But don’t worry too much about revealing secrets about where these buildings are – several of those buildings are commonly used in directions. I’ve followed directions which have been “… then continue on about a mile past the entrance to the CIA and take a right ….” Like the article said, several of the buildings have signs out in front of them and can be easily found with Google Maps. You can even get a nice aerial shot of CIA headquarters through Google.

    What gave me a laugh was that I found a place where they explicitly invited people with top secret clearances to comment. ROTFLOL! If anyone with a top secret clearance is dumb enough to do that, then they’ll probably lose their clearance. And who will comment on there? All the people who want to pretend that they have a top secret clearance.

  • WebMonk

    The articles and investigative work is an impressive monument to the extent of public sources of intelligence. But don’t worry too much about revealing secrets about where these buildings are – several of those buildings are commonly used in directions. I’ve followed directions which have been “… then continue on about a mile past the entrance to the CIA and take a right ….” Like the article said, several of the buildings have signs out in front of them and can be easily found with Google Maps. You can even get a nice aerial shot of CIA headquarters through Google.

    What gave me a laugh was that I found a place where they explicitly invited people with top secret clearances to comment. ROTFLOL! If anyone with a top secret clearance is dumb enough to do that, then they’ll probably lose their clearance. And who will comment on there? All the people who want to pretend that they have a top secret clearance.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Not everyone who has a clearance is involved in classified projects.
    For anecdotal evidence, take me, for example. The most use I’ve gotten out of my security clearance is the ability to take a short cut through the super computer center on my way to the cafeteria…

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Not everyone who has a clearance is involved in classified projects.
    For anecdotal evidence, take me, for example. The most use I’ve gotten out of my security clearance is the ability to take a short cut through the super computer center on my way to the cafeteria…

  • Peter Leavitt

    The interesting point is that for the first-time the left of center Washington Post has seriously criticized the largely dysfunctional intelligence establishment. Dana Priest was wrong to expose CIA interrogation practice during the war against terrorism, though she is on target with this article.

    On virtually every major issue including the decline of the Soviet Union, WMD and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the intelligence establishment has gotten matters wrong. Anyone who cares to understand the details of this might read Ishmael Jones book The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture

    The pseudonymous Jones, a former Marine infantry officer and deep undercover agent for the CIA, plausibly describes a culture of amateurism, bureaucratic risk aversion and gamesmanship.

    Many thoughtful people in Washington have come to the conclusion that the only way to reform the intelligence establishment would be to abolish it and start over again. As a conservative, I usually prefer cautious reform, though in the case of the CIA and the rest of American intelligence, I prefer obliteration and a brand new start.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The interesting point is that for the first-time the left of center Washington Post has seriously criticized the largely dysfunctional intelligence establishment. Dana Priest was wrong to expose CIA interrogation practice during the war against terrorism, though she is on target with this article.

    On virtually every major issue including the decline of the Soviet Union, WMD and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the intelligence establishment has gotten matters wrong. Anyone who cares to understand the details of this might read Ishmael Jones book The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture

    The pseudonymous Jones, a former Marine infantry officer and deep undercover agent for the CIA, plausibly describes a culture of amateurism, bureaucratic risk aversion and gamesmanship.

    Many thoughtful people in Washington have come to the conclusion that the only way to reform the intelligence establishment would be to abolish it and start over again. As a conservative, I usually prefer cautious reform, though in the case of the CIA and the rest of American intelligence, I prefer obliteration and a brand new start.

  • sg

    My husband and I thought the Dept. of Homeland Security was the creepiest name when it first came out. I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning. This is what you get when you don’t keep your enemies out of your country.

  • sg

    My husband and I thought the Dept. of Homeland Security was the creepiest name when it first came out. I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning. This is what you get when you don’t keep your enemies out of your country.

  • DonS

    I used to work in the secret world when I worked in aerospace. The problem is that because of “need to know” restrictions, no one can possibly get a handle on what is classified, and there is very little accountability for wasteful and corrupt practices, as well as for whether things are being appropriately classified. Embarrassments and overruns are often classified as a convenient way to avoid scrutiny. And who are we, on the outside, to criticize? We don’t, and can’t, know anything.

    Beyond the sense that probably only 10% of what is classified really needs to be classified, I’m not sure how we will ever address the problem.

  • DonS

    I used to work in the secret world when I worked in aerospace. The problem is that because of “need to know” restrictions, no one can possibly get a handle on what is classified, and there is very little accountability for wasteful and corrupt practices, as well as for whether things are being appropriately classified. Embarrassments and overruns are often classified as a convenient way to avoid scrutiny. And who are we, on the outside, to criticize? We don’t, and can’t, know anything.

    Beyond the sense that probably only 10% of what is classified really needs to be classified, I’m not sure how we will ever address the problem.

  • sg

    “(5) That there is waste and redundancy I have no doubt, just as there is in the military. But we owe all of these folks a lot for keeping us safe. That’s the government’s major job, according to Romans 13.”

    The government’s major job to keep us safe is indeed not limited to the military, but the gov’t routinely fails to act on evidence in keeping our enemies out of the country. No foreigner has a right to come to or stay in the United States. We need to recognize and embrace our sovereign status. We need to maintain a healthy level of suspicion in regards to all foreigners. We need to keep out foreigners who are hostile to US citizens, rather than overly surveilling the citizens of the US.

  • sg

    “(5) That there is waste and redundancy I have no doubt, just as there is in the military. But we owe all of these folks a lot for keeping us safe. That’s the government’s major job, according to Romans 13.”

    The government’s major job to keep us safe is indeed not limited to the military, but the gov’t routinely fails to act on evidence in keeping our enemies out of the country. No foreigner has a right to come to or stay in the United States. We need to recognize and embrace our sovereign status. We need to maintain a healthy level of suspicion in regards to all foreigners. We need to keep out foreigners who are hostile to US citizens, rather than overly surveilling the citizens of the US.

  • Winston Smith

    sg@5: “My husband and I thought the Dept. of Homeland Security was the creepiest name when it first came out. I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning.”

    When President Bush announced to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks, the creation of something then known as the “Office of Homeland Security,” I too felt an evil chill. The name sounded profoundly un-American. I had never heard my beloved country referred to as the “Homeland,” and the name conjured up totalitarian, old-world slogans like “Motherland” or “Fatherland.” We all know what kinds of governments use those words.

    It had been an anxious nine days or so, especially for those of us in the Washington, D.C. area, but as soon as the President uttered those words, I understood that a surveillance state, indeed a police state, was in America’s future.

  • Winston Smith

    sg@5: “My husband and I thought the Dept. of Homeland Security was the creepiest name when it first came out. I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning.”

    When President Bush announced to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks, the creation of something then known as the “Office of Homeland Security,” I too felt an evil chill. The name sounded profoundly un-American. I had never heard my beloved country referred to as the “Homeland,” and the name conjured up totalitarian, old-world slogans like “Motherland” or “Fatherland.” We all know what kinds of governments use those words.

    It had been an anxious nine days or so, especially for those of us in the Washington, D.C. area, but as soon as the President uttered those words, I understood that a surveillance state, indeed a police state, was in America’s future.

  • fws

    This is very scary stuff. potential makings of source of power for some future dictator when we feel so threatened that we are willing to surrender freedom in the hope that someone can make us safe.

    We all need oversight. I do trust and pray for our government. We have some fine people. But even those fine people are sinners and need the discipline of oversight. It needs to be built into absolutely everything.

  • fws

    This is very scary stuff. potential makings of source of power for some future dictator when we feel so threatened that we are willing to surrender freedom in the hope that someone can make us safe.

    We all need oversight. I do trust and pray for our government. We have some fine people. But even those fine people are sinners and need the discipline of oversight. It needs to be built into absolutely everything.

  • Jon

    @7 How will we recognize these foreigners, of whom we need to be suspicious?

  • Jon

    @7 How will we recognize these foreigners, of whom we need to be suspicious?

  • Louis

    #7: It is comments like yours that make me exceedingly happy that I immigrated to Canada, not the US.

  • Louis

    #7: It is comments like yours that make me exceedingly happy that I immigrated to Canada, not the US.

  • Jon

    @11 You don’t know how much I envy you.

  • Jon

    @11 You don’t know how much I envy you.

  • Peter Leavitt

    American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government. These activities are properly in place to detect criminals and unlawful enemy combatants planning deadly harm to many Americans.

    Among Obama’s most egregious mistakes was the 1/22/2009 Executive Order 13491 that closed the CIA program of interrogation that used when necessary enhanced interrogation techniques that during the Bush administration were quite successfully applied to prevent such alQuaeda operations as the planned downing of seven airplanes en route on 9/11 2006 from Heathrow to various airports in America, the intelligence for which was obtained from water-boarding Khalik Sheikh Mohammed.

    American moralists who oppose such surveillance and interrogation are rather naive and vastly ill informed.

  • Peter Leavitt

    American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government. These activities are properly in place to detect criminals and unlawful enemy combatants planning deadly harm to many Americans.

    Among Obama’s most egregious mistakes was the 1/22/2009 Executive Order 13491 that closed the CIA program of interrogation that used when necessary enhanced interrogation techniques that during the Bush administration were quite successfully applied to prevent such alQuaeda operations as the planned downing of seven airplanes en route on 9/11 2006 from Heathrow to various airports in America, the intelligence for which was obtained from water-boarding Khalik Sheikh Mohammed.

    American moralists who oppose such surveillance and interrogation are rather naive and vastly ill informed.

  • J

    @ 13 Your comment is sickening.

  • J

    @ 13 Your comment is sickening.

  • DonS

    J @ 13:

    Regardless of whether you agree with Peter’s point of view, as expressed @ 13, it is reasoned and respectfully stated. There is nothing “sickening” about reasonable discourse. If you oppose his point of view, say so, intelligently and with reasonable support and analysis. Otherwise, your ad hominem attacks are adding nothing to the conversation and are a waste of everyone’s time.

  • DonS

    J @ 13:

    Regardless of whether you agree with Peter’s point of view, as expressed @ 13, it is reasoned and respectfully stated. There is nothing “sickening” about reasonable discourse. If you oppose his point of view, say so, intelligently and with reasonable support and analysis. Otherwise, your ad hominem attacks are adding nothing to the conversation and are a waste of everyone’s time.

  • cattail

    I’m another who is very aware that a top secret clearance has very little to do with whether or not an employee really sees any secrets, “top” or otherwise. For 9 years I worked as an accountant (my title was “financial advisor” and most of my work was making sure that Federal accounting regulations were being followed) for a not-for-profit contract research firm doing research for the US Government at one of the Department of Energy’s nuclear sites. I had to have a top secret clearance just to work in several departments because a small fraction of their work was classified. I never saw anything that was remotely secret and (being an accountant, not a nuclear engineer) wouldn’t have understood it if I had! The closest I ever came to anything secret was seeing the outside of a couple of file folders marked “classified.” I did price several classified proposals, but all I had to work with was the cost data, not the non-financial details of the proposals.

    While many other concerns expressed here are legitimate, the number of employees with top secret clearances is definitely not an issue.

  • cattail

    I’m another who is very aware that a top secret clearance has very little to do with whether or not an employee really sees any secrets, “top” or otherwise. For 9 years I worked as an accountant (my title was “financial advisor” and most of my work was making sure that Federal accounting regulations were being followed) for a not-for-profit contract research firm doing research for the US Government at one of the Department of Energy’s nuclear sites. I had to have a top secret clearance just to work in several departments because a small fraction of their work was classified. I never saw anything that was remotely secret and (being an accountant, not a nuclear engineer) wouldn’t have understood it if I had! The closest I ever came to anything secret was seeing the outside of a couple of file folders marked “classified.” I did price several classified proposals, but all I had to work with was the cost data, not the non-financial details of the proposals.

    While many other concerns expressed here are legitimate, the number of employees with top secret clearances is definitely not an issue.

  • sg

    “How will we recognize these foreigners, of whom we need to be suspicious?”

    We need a more reasonable screening process that makes it harder to come here if you are from a country whose citizens have committed terrorist acts in the US. This is based on the assumption that we aren’t obliged to let anyone in. Travel to the US is a privilege. They have no right to come here. We have the right to keep out anyone for any reason.

  • sg

    “How will we recognize these foreigners, of whom we need to be suspicious?”

    We need a more reasonable screening process that makes it harder to come here if you are from a country whose citizens have committed terrorist acts in the US. This is based on the assumption that we aren’t obliged to let anyone in. Travel to the US is a privilege. They have no right to come here. We have the right to keep out anyone for any reason.

  • sg

    “American moralists who oppose such surveillance and interrogation are rather naive and vastly ill informed.”

    Sorry, Peter, as an American citizen, I far prefer the government kick out every single foreigner BEFORE they start infringing on my rights as a citizen.

  • sg

    “American moralists who oppose such surveillance and interrogation are rather naive and vastly ill informed.”

    Sorry, Peter, as an American citizen, I far prefer the government kick out every single foreigner BEFORE they start infringing on my rights as a citizen.

  • Peter Leavitt

    sg, we have many valuable law abiding foreign citizens in the U.S. who contribute a lot to our well being. We’ve historically been a nation of immigrants.

    Law enforcement authorities have every right to use legal methods of surveillance and interrogation while investigating suspicious activity among both foreigners here legally and Americans. Again, law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from surveillance and interrogation of suspected criminals and unlawful enemy combatants.

  • Peter Leavitt

    sg, we have many valuable law abiding foreign citizens in the U.S. who contribute a lot to our well being. We’ve historically been a nation of immigrants.

    Law enforcement authorities have every right to use legal methods of surveillance and interrogation while investigating suspicious activity among both foreigners here legally and Americans. Again, law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from surveillance and interrogation of suspected criminals and unlawful enemy combatants.

  • sg

    “We’ve historically been a nation of immigrants.”

    The more the media repeats this, the more we believe it.

    However, according to the New York Times online archive, that phrase barely existed in print, much less in the consciousness of the American public before the last 50 years. Maybe more accurate to say settlers. Albion’s Seed shows that 50% of all Americans can trace back to the original settlers who were here at the nation’s founding.

    They ratified our founding document, which has not been repealed, in which they clearly stated it was for the benefit of “ourselves and our posterity”. Personally, I welcome carefully screened immigrants who can benefit us and our posterity. Still, no one has a right to come here unless we want them to come. They certainly don’t have the right to come and cause problems that we have to pay for. The surveillance of citizens and others is more than inconvenient, it is very expensive. If immigration is costing us our safety, our money and our liberty, then it conflicts with our most basic rights. It is inherently unjust to the citizens to subordinate their interests to those of foreigners. Foreigners have their own lands and governments to protect their interests. Let them hold their own governments accountable to them. They and we would be better off for it. If we could do it, so can they. They aren’t children.

    Just a reminder:

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    The US is not just one giant pot of money, or safe haven for the benefit of anyone anywhere that wants a piece of it.

  • sg

    “We’ve historically been a nation of immigrants.”

    The more the media repeats this, the more we believe it.

    However, according to the New York Times online archive, that phrase barely existed in print, much less in the consciousness of the American public before the last 50 years. Maybe more accurate to say settlers. Albion’s Seed shows that 50% of all Americans can trace back to the original settlers who were here at the nation’s founding.

    They ratified our founding document, which has not been repealed, in which they clearly stated it was for the benefit of “ourselves and our posterity”. Personally, I welcome carefully screened immigrants who can benefit us and our posterity. Still, no one has a right to come here unless we want them to come. They certainly don’t have the right to come and cause problems that we have to pay for. The surveillance of citizens and others is more than inconvenient, it is very expensive. If immigration is costing us our safety, our money and our liberty, then it conflicts with our most basic rights. It is inherently unjust to the citizens to subordinate their interests to those of foreigners. Foreigners have their own lands and governments to protect their interests. Let them hold their own governments accountable to them. They and we would be better off for it. If we could do it, so can they. They aren’t children.

    Just a reminder:

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    The US is not just one giant pot of money, or safe haven for the benefit of anyone anywhere that wants a piece of it.

  • Tom Hering

    “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government.” – Peter Leavitt @ 13.

    Who determines the legitimacy of the surveillance activities? Who has oversight of these activities, and are they told everything that’s going on?

    Amazing how an expanded federal government always becomes good and trustworthy when the military or intelligence services are the issue.

  • Tom Hering

    “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government.” – Peter Leavitt @ 13.

    Who determines the legitimacy of the surveillance activities? Who has oversight of these activities, and are they told everything that’s going on?

    Amazing how an expanded federal government always becomes good and trustworthy when the military or intelligence services are the issue.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I think surveillance drones are the way to go in my neighborhood. I would just feel safer knowing someone was aware of what’s going on. They could be used to combat both the war on terror (you never know where some religious fundamentalists might pop up) and the war on drugs (certainly plenty of illegal stuff being passed around). And if they carry live ammunition just in case they need to “take care of” a troublesome citizen or two – well perhaps then crime will go down. That would be swell.

    Whoops – my Sarcasm Lock button was on. I meant to say, “yes this is scary, but if it makes money?” Oops slipped and hit that button again.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I think surveillance drones are the way to go in my neighborhood. I would just feel safer knowing someone was aware of what’s going on. They could be used to combat both the war on terror (you never know where some religious fundamentalists might pop up) and the war on drugs (certainly plenty of illegal stuff being passed around). And if they carry live ammunition just in case they need to “take care of” a troublesome citizen or two – well perhaps then crime will go down. That would be swell.

    Whoops – my Sarcasm Lock button was on. I meant to say, “yes this is scary, but if it makes money?” Oops slipped and hit that button again.

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    ” That there is waste and redundancy I have no doubt, just as there is in the military.

    When it comes to security and the military, redundancy is a feature, not a bug. You don’t want the structure collapsing when your only route to things is cut off or destroyed.

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    ” That there is waste and redundancy I have no doubt, just as there is in the military.

    When it comes to security and the military, redundancy is a feature, not a bug. You don’t want the structure collapsing when your only route to things is cut off or destroyed.

  • SAL

    #3 Beyond that most of the clearances are probably for contractors, not actual military or civil servants.

    In my division we’ve got less than 20 civil servants and over 100 government contractors.

    I’ve visited other places, where the ratio is 10 or 20 contractors for every government employee.

    This is what troubles me. When I began my service I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution; and to faithfully discharge the duties of my office.

    The contractors I work with take no such oath. Their loyalty is to $$$$ and the stockholders for which they serve.

    I certainly think we need to reduce the vulnerability involved in having so many people with divided interests having top secret clearances. Contractors are necessary but I think national security has become too vulnerable to corporate interests.

  • SAL

    #3 Beyond that most of the clearances are probably for contractors, not actual military or civil servants.

    In my division we’ve got less than 20 civil servants and over 100 government contractors.

    I’ve visited other places, where the ratio is 10 or 20 contractors for every government employee.

    This is what troubles me. When I began my service I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution; and to faithfully discharge the duties of my office.

    The contractors I work with take no such oath. Their loyalty is to $$$$ and the stockholders for which they serve.

    I certainly think we need to reduce the vulnerability involved in having so many people with divided interests having top secret clearances. Contractors are necessary but I think national security has become too vulnerable to corporate interests.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Given the attitudes of some Americans expressed here, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of protecting this country from foreign sources attacking us. Looks like we’re plenty damaged here already.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Given the attitudes of some Americans expressed here, sometimes I wonder what’s the point of protecting this country from foreign sources attacking us. Looks like we’re plenty damaged here already.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Do tell. What are you referencing? The anti-immigration screeds? Such has always been a facet of collective life, not only in America but throughout the world and throughout time.

    As for me, I’ll be hoarding guns and beans in my bomb shelter hiding from Obama’s robotic drones.

    Or something.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Do tell. What are you referencing? The anti-immigration screeds? Such has always been a facet of collective life, not only in America but throughout the world and throughout time.

    As for me, I’ll be hoarding guns and beans in my bomb shelter hiding from Obama’s robotic drones.

    Or something.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@25), somewhere between the “conservative” thought that “We need to maintain a healthy level of suspicion in regards to all foreigners” (@7) on one end and the “conservative” thought that “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government” (@13), I got depressed about the future of America. You’re more than welcome to tell me that such appeals to bigotry or Big-Brotherism aren’t actually conservative — and, to the degree I agree with conservatism, I certainly agree. But ultimately, and again, perhaps depressingly, that’s for you “conservatives” to hash out.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@25), somewhere between the “conservative” thought that “We need to maintain a healthy level of suspicion in regards to all foreigners” (@7) on one end and the “conservative” thought that “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government” (@13), I got depressed about the future of America. You’re more than welcome to tell me that such appeals to bigotry or Big-Brotherism aren’t actually conservative — and, to the degree I agree with conservatism, I certainly agree. But ultimately, and again, perhaps depressingly, that’s for you “conservatives” to hash out.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, could you be specific regarding the government surveillance or interrogation techniques that could do harm to a law-abiding foreigner or domestic person in the U.S? Otherwise, I’m afraid you’re involved in another of your ubiquitous whines against conservative straw-men.

    Note well- I too was critical of sg’s remark that foreigners should be kicked out of the country.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, could you be specific regarding the government surveillance or interrogation techniques that could do harm to a law-abiding foreigner or domestic person in the U.S? Otherwise, I’m afraid you’re involved in another of your ubiquitous whines against conservative straw-men.

    Note well- I too was critical of sg’s remark that foreigners should be kicked out of the country.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD, I actually agree with you, and I confess to trolling you a little bit: such opinions are a bit depressing. On the other hand, nothing is new about those opinions, and they appear cyclically to keep progressive ambitions in check. Will they come to dominate American thought? Perhaps, but the danger, to my eye, is no greater now than it was at the time of World War I.

    I actually cannot deny that both remarks you cite are species of conservatism, though I subscribe to neither. Conservative is an exceedingly broad category, serving as a rubric into which we in America tend to dump anything that isn’t quasi-socialist. Even the old label “classical liberal” is deemed “conservative” in America, strangely enough. In any case, the “suspicious of foreigners out of a desire (often understandable) to preserve philosophical/cultural integrity” is an ancient version born of conservative impulses; it’s currently experiencing a much-needed (yes, I said it) renaissance in Europe as many locals begin to take the moniker “Eurabia” seriously. Peter’s “law and order” statist conservatism is also nothing new, but statism is only legitimately conservative in Europe. In the American context, statism is a decidedly liberal (i.e., desirous of changing current paradigms) idea except in the case of moral strictures.

    Suffice to say that the old trope that says we don’t need to fear the law/Big Brother if one is following the law/Big Brother is becoming a bit difficult to take seriously.

    But then again, the encrustation of the democratic state by an omniscient, but ossified and clumsy, bureaucracy empowered to do all things (but usually incapable of doing any of them well) is most certainly not unique to the United States. In fact, the process has progressed further in Canada and Europe than in the States. Both parties are complicit in its growth and empowerment.

    My version of conservatism is anti-bureaucratic.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD, I actually agree with you, and I confess to trolling you a little bit: such opinions are a bit depressing. On the other hand, nothing is new about those opinions, and they appear cyclically to keep progressive ambitions in check. Will they come to dominate American thought? Perhaps, but the danger, to my eye, is no greater now than it was at the time of World War I.

    I actually cannot deny that both remarks you cite are species of conservatism, though I subscribe to neither. Conservative is an exceedingly broad category, serving as a rubric into which we in America tend to dump anything that isn’t quasi-socialist. Even the old label “classical liberal” is deemed “conservative” in America, strangely enough. In any case, the “suspicious of foreigners out of a desire (often understandable) to preserve philosophical/cultural integrity” is an ancient version born of conservative impulses; it’s currently experiencing a much-needed (yes, I said it) renaissance in Europe as many locals begin to take the moniker “Eurabia” seriously. Peter’s “law and order” statist conservatism is also nothing new, but statism is only legitimately conservative in Europe. In the American context, statism is a decidedly liberal (i.e., desirous of changing current paradigms) idea except in the case of moral strictures.

    Suffice to say that the old trope that says we don’t need to fear the law/Big Brother if one is following the law/Big Brother is becoming a bit difficult to take seriously.

    But then again, the encrustation of the democratic state by an omniscient, but ossified and clumsy, bureaucracy empowered to do all things (but usually incapable of doing any of them well) is most certainly not unique to the United States. In fact, the process has progressed further in Canada and Europe than in the States. Both parties are complicit in its growth and empowerment.

    My version of conservatism is anti-bureaucratic.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: I wrote a rather long response to your message, but it mysteriously disappeared once I posted. I currently lack the energy and motivation to retype it (I neglected to copy and paste).

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: I wrote a rather long response to your message, but it mysteriously disappeared once I posted. I currently lack the energy and motivation to retype it (I neglected to copy and paste).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Once again, my software is consigning to SPAM legitimate comments like the one Cincinnatus refers to. I am checking the queue and approving them, though it sometimes takes me awhile. Your long response, Cincinnatus, has been posted.

    I was blaming my software. Now I’m blaming the surveillance of the top secret industry.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Once again, my software is consigning to SPAM legitimate comments like the one Cincinnatus refers to. I am checking the queue and approving them, though it sometimes takes me awhile. Your long response, Cincinnatus, has been posted.

    I was blaming my software. Now I’m blaming the surveillance of the top secret industry.

  • sg

    “Note well- I too was critical of sg’s remark that foreigners should be kicked out of the country.”

    I notice how you ignored the premise for that. So, I will repeat it. If foreigners come and create so many problems that they cost us our money, safety and liberty, then they should be kicked out.

    I don’t object to immigrants. I object to footing the bill for them and losing my liberty because we have to have constant surveillance to protect us from them. That isn’t bigotry. That is a normal reaction based in fact.

    You can’t just take some PC edict that sounds so sweet on the surface and then ignore all the evidence that it is just a idealistic fiction.

  • sg

    “Note well- I too was critical of sg’s remark that foreigners should be kicked out of the country.”

    I notice how you ignored the premise for that. So, I will repeat it. If foreigners come and create so many problems that they cost us our money, safety and liberty, then they should be kicked out.

    I don’t object to immigrants. I object to footing the bill for them and losing my liberty because we have to have constant surveillance to protect us from them. That isn’t bigotry. That is a normal reaction based in fact.

    You can’t just take some PC edict that sounds so sweet on the surface and then ignore all the evidence that it is just a idealistic fiction.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tip to those who don’t want their comments swallowed by the spam monster (including Cincinnatus, @30, whose comment was saved from the jaws of this beast at the last minute by the valiant Dr. Veith):

    Do not type out the word “soci@lism” (or its variants) without substituting some non-alphabetic character for one or more letters.
    I’ve tested this over and over. Such comments get eaten. I have no idea why that word, and apparently few others (at least in our discussions here), signals to the filters that one’s comment is spammy, but it clearly does. I, myself, blame Dr. Veith’s vehement anti-socialism/Communism/Alinskyism/Chinaism for this, as the software has clearly learned from his posts of his disdain for all such economic and social policies, and is trying to save him the grief of having to read comments from those trying to bring him over to where the grass is pinker. (No, I’m kidding. I think the software does that regardless of what you post here, Dr. Veith. But that word really is a surefire one-way ticket to the spam quarantine.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tip to those who don’t want their comments swallowed by the spam monster (including Cincinnatus, @30, whose comment was saved from the jaws of this beast at the last minute by the valiant Dr. Veith):

    Do not type out the word “soci@lism” (or its variants) without substituting some non-alphabetic character for one or more letters.
    I’ve tested this over and over. Such comments get eaten. I have no idea why that word, and apparently few others (at least in our discussions here), signals to the filters that one’s comment is spammy, but it clearly does. I, myself, blame Dr. Veith’s vehement anti-socialism/Communism/Alinskyism/Chinaism for this, as the software has clearly learned from his posts of his disdain for all such economic and social policies, and is trying to save him the grief of having to read comments from those trying to bring him over to where the grass is pinker. (No, I’m kidding. I think the software does that regardless of what you post here, Dr. Veith. But that word really is a surefire one-way ticket to the spam quarantine.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tip to those who don’t want their comments swallowed by the spam monster (including Cincinnatus, @30, whose comment was saved from the jaws of this beast at the last minute by the valiant Dr. Veith):

    Do not type out the word “soci@lism” (or its variants) without substituting some non-alphabetic character for one or more letters.
    I’ve tested this over and over. Such comments get eaten. I have no idea why that word, and apparently few others (at least in our discussions here), signals to the filters that one’s comment is spammy, but it clearly does. I, myself, blame Dr. Veith’s vehement anti-soci@lism/C0mmunism/Alinskyism/Chinaism for this, as the software has clearly learned from his posts of his disdain for all such economic and soci@l policies, and is trying to save him the grief of having to read comments from those trying to bring him over to where the grass is pinker. (No, I’m kidding. I think the software does that regardless of what you post here, Dr. Veith. But that word really is a surefire one-way ticket to the spam quarantine.)

    Postscript: Ironically, I failed to follow my own rule, and as such, an earlier version of this comment was swallowed by the spam filter. It’s hard to warn people not to say a particular word, you know.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tip to those who don’t want their comments swallowed by the spam monster (including Cincinnatus, @30, whose comment was saved from the jaws of this beast at the last minute by the valiant Dr. Veith):

    Do not type out the word “soci@lism” (or its variants) without substituting some non-alphabetic character for one or more letters.
    I’ve tested this over and over. Such comments get eaten. I have no idea why that word, and apparently few others (at least in our discussions here), signals to the filters that one’s comment is spammy, but it clearly does. I, myself, blame Dr. Veith’s vehement anti-soci@lism/C0mmunism/Alinskyism/Chinaism for this, as the software has clearly learned from his posts of his disdain for all such economic and soci@l policies, and is trying to save him the grief of having to read comments from those trying to bring him over to where the grass is pinker. (No, I’m kidding. I think the software does that regardless of what you post here, Dr. Veith. But that word really is a surefire one-way ticket to the spam quarantine.)

    Postscript: Ironically, I failed to follow my own rule, and as such, an earlier version of this comment was swallowed by the spam filter. It’s hard to warn people not to say a particular word, you know.

  • Cincinnatus

    Amusing.

  • Cincinnatus

    Amusing.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, thanks to the fine owner of this blog for rescuing my earlier comment from captivity, whether it deserved salvation or not.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, thanks to the fine owner of this blog for rescuing my earlier comment from captivity, whether it deserved salvation or not.

  • Winston Smith

    One of my comments spent about four days in limbo. It was on the “Politics” thread, discussing a billboard depicting certain notorious foreign leaders and referencing their ideologies. It would not surprise me if certain hot-button keywords trigger the spam function. I didn’t even mention /I agr@ or a bank account in Nig3ri@.

  • Winston Smith

    One of my comments spent about four days in limbo. It was on the “Politics” thread, discussing a billboard depicting certain notorious foreign leaders and referencing their ideologies. It would not surprise me if certain hot-button keywords trigger the spam function. I didn’t even mention /I agr@ or a bank account in Nig3ri@.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@28), I’d be happy to tell you more about “the government surveillance or interrogation techniques that could do harm to a law-abiding foreigner or domestic person in the U.S.” But not here. Tell you what, you give me your username and password for your email system, and I’ll compose my reply to you as an unsent draft email. You have no reason to worry about whether I’ll read your other emails while I’m there, or whether I’ll share your password or other information with other people. After all, you have nothing to fear … unless, that is, you’ve done something wrong and there’s incriminating evidence in your inbox. If you don’t provide me with your username and password then, unfortunately, I will have to assume you did, in fact, do something wrong — perhaps even criminal — and that you are attempting to hide that from me. Just post the necessary information here, thanks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@28), I’d be happy to tell you more about “the government surveillance or interrogation techniques that could do harm to a law-abiding foreigner or domestic person in the U.S.” But not here. Tell you what, you give me your username and password for your email system, and I’ll compose my reply to you as an unsent draft email. You have no reason to worry about whether I’ll read your other emails while I’m there, or whether I’ll share your password or other information with other people. After all, you have nothing to fear … unless, that is, you’ve done something wrong and there’s incriminating evidence in your inbox. If you don’t provide me with your username and password then, unfortunately, I will have to assume you did, in fact, do something wrong — perhaps even criminal — and that you are attempting to hide that from me. Just post the necessary information here, thanks.

  • DonS

    The best government surveillance and interrogation technique occurs every April 15, when we are required to submit all of our most sensitive and confidential data to the IRS, which then has every right under the law to interrogate us, through audits, to its heart’s content. As long as we have such personally invasive tax system, I don’t think we need worry too much about our cell phone calls and other incidental government surveillance.

  • DonS

    The best government surveillance and interrogation technique occurs every April 15, when we are required to submit all of our most sensitive and confidential data to the IRS, which then has every right under the law to interrogate us, through audits, to its heart’s content. As long as we have such personally invasive tax system, I don’t think we need worry too much about our cell phone calls and other incidental government surveillance.

  • sg

    “You have no reason to worry about whether I’ll read your other emails while I’m there, or whether I’ll share your password or other information with other people. After all, you have nothing to fear … unless, that is, you’ve done something wrong and there’s incriminating evidence in your inbox. ”

    Exactly.

    No reason for anyone to subject themselves to open scrutiny of all their personal communication just because they have nothing criminal to hide. Bravo, tODD.

  • sg

    “You have no reason to worry about whether I’ll read your other emails while I’m there, or whether I’ll share your password or other information with other people. After all, you have nothing to fear … unless, that is, you’ve done something wrong and there’s incriminating evidence in your inbox. ”

    Exactly.

    No reason for anyone to subject themselves to open scrutiny of all their personal communication just because they have nothing criminal to hide. Bravo, tODD.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@29), I wasn’t sure if you were being serious or not. That’s okay. I wasn’t really so much depressed about the future of America as I was complaining about those who seem inclined to throw away so much that is good about this country — namely, our assimilation of foreigners and our relative lack of Big-Brotherism.

    As for your claim that “suspicion of foreigners” is “needed” in Europe, I think you’ve misdiagnosed the problem. Yes, immigration is having a serious, problematic impact on much of Europe. But the problem is Europe’s inability to welcome those immigrants as full citizens and members of the culture, assimilating the better aspects of the cultures they left. New World countries tend to be pretty good at that. Old World ones, not so much. Cranking up the suspicion towards new or would-be immigrants (and almost certainly, therefore, against those already in the country) would only make problems worse in Europe, further alienating the population-within-the-population status they have. Not that I’m saying the problem can be solved. It’s a lot harder for a dark-skinned immigrant to blend in in Sweden, where being Swedish is likely as much a question of heritage and genetics as it is culture. Or maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. Not that any of this is on topic, but still.

    And Peter (@28), as for another one of your ubiquitous whines about “another of [my] ubiquitous whines against conservative straw-men,” please note Cincinnatus’ comment (@29). You can’t well label my comment as relying on a “conservative” straw-man if the statism to which I referred isn’t truly conservative in the first place.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@29), I wasn’t sure if you were being serious or not. That’s okay. I wasn’t really so much depressed about the future of America as I was complaining about those who seem inclined to throw away so much that is good about this country — namely, our assimilation of foreigners and our relative lack of Big-Brotherism.

    As for your claim that “suspicion of foreigners” is “needed” in Europe, I think you’ve misdiagnosed the problem. Yes, immigration is having a serious, problematic impact on much of Europe. But the problem is Europe’s inability to welcome those immigrants as full citizens and members of the culture, assimilating the better aspects of the cultures they left. New World countries tend to be pretty good at that. Old World ones, not so much. Cranking up the suspicion towards new or would-be immigrants (and almost certainly, therefore, against those already in the country) would only make problems worse in Europe, further alienating the population-within-the-population status they have. Not that I’m saying the problem can be solved. It’s a lot harder for a dark-skinned immigrant to blend in in Sweden, where being Swedish is likely as much a question of heritage and genetics as it is culture. Or maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. Not that any of this is on topic, but still.

    And Peter (@28), as for another one of your ubiquitous whines about “another of [my] ubiquitous whines against conservative straw-men,” please note Cincinnatus’ comment (@29). You can’t well label my comment as relying on a “conservative” straw-man if the statism to which I referred isn’t truly conservative in the first place.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, I’m happy to report, SG and Peter, that you’re both right (@39 and @28, 2nd para.)! By which I mean to say that you’re both wrong (cf. @27).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, I’m happy to report, SG and Peter, that you’re both right (@39 and @28, 2nd para.)! By which I mean to say that you’re both wrong (cf. @27).

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, ducking under Cincinnatus’ remark about conservative statism, doesn’t really answer the specific question that I asked you at 28. Good try though, as it was a question that you apparently couldn’t answer.

    Let me try another. If you were responsible for the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 who was involved in other major terrorist plans, would you, if necessary, use legal enhanced interrogation techniques including water boarding to secure vital intelligence from him?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, ducking under Cincinnatus’ remark about conservative statism, doesn’t really answer the specific question that I asked you at 28. Good try though, as it was a question that you apparently couldn’t answer.

    Let me try another. If you were responsible for the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 who was involved in other major terrorist plans, would you, if necessary, use legal enhanced interrogation techniques including water boarding to secure vital intelligence from him?

  • sg

    ” Yes, immigration is having a serious, problematic impact on much of Europe. But the problem is Europe’s inability to welcome those immigrants as full citizens and members of the culture, assimilating the better aspects of the cultures they left.”

    Evidence?

    Crime rate perpetrated by immigrants in Sweden is ten times the rate of crime perpetrated by Swedes. The fault is not that Swedes aren’t nice enough to immigrants. The problem is that immigrants aren’t that nice to Swedes. Stop blaming the victims.

  • sg

    ” Yes, immigration is having a serious, problematic impact on much of Europe. But the problem is Europe’s inability to welcome those immigrants as full citizens and members of the culture, assimilating the better aspects of the cultures they left.”

    Evidence?

    Crime rate perpetrated by immigrants in Sweden is ten times the rate of crime perpetrated by Swedes. The fault is not that Swedes aren’t nice enough to immigrants. The problem is that immigrants aren’t that nice to Swedes. Stop blaming the victims.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I’ll answer that one: I would only use *ahem* “enhanced interrogation techniques” if I believed in some form of situational ethics. (Whether those techniques are “legal” is another question altogether that I’m not sure we’ve settled yet.)

    And that’s a complicated question, but my “safe” answer is that no, I do not subscribe to a situational ethical paradigm generally speaking. Would you sleep with another man’s wife if, by doing so, she would reveals “major terrorist plans”? Not to make too many unwarranted assumptions, but I would venture to guess that you would not, regardless of the situation. What makes torture different?

    But I think tODD, despite skirting your “real” question, has you on the point of conservative statism. After all, who has traditionally supported torture, the war in Iraq, the construction of the “homeland security” apparatus, etc.? They call themselves conservatives, but their brand of “conservatism” isn’t one I support. You might ask yourself whether such “conservatism” is good for conservatism broadly understood in the American context. Is securitarianism/statism what America needs?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I’ll answer that one: I would only use *ahem* “enhanced interrogation techniques” if I believed in some form of situational ethics. (Whether those techniques are “legal” is another question altogether that I’m not sure we’ve settled yet.)

    And that’s a complicated question, but my “safe” answer is that no, I do not subscribe to a situational ethical paradigm generally speaking. Would you sleep with another man’s wife if, by doing so, she would reveals “major terrorist plans”? Not to make too many unwarranted assumptions, but I would venture to guess that you would not, regardless of the situation. What makes torture different?

    But I think tODD, despite skirting your “real” question, has you on the point of conservative statism. After all, who has traditionally supported torture, the war in Iraq, the construction of the “homeland security” apparatus, etc.? They call themselves conservatives, but their brand of “conservatism” isn’t one I support. You might ask yourself whether such “conservatism” is good for conservatism broadly understood in the American context. Is securitarianism/statism what America needs?

  • sg
  • sg
  • sg

    “They call themselves conservatives, but their brand of “conservatism” isn’t one I support.”

    We should never have set foot in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • sg

    “They call themselves conservatives, but their brand of “conservatism” isn’t one I support.”

    We should never have set foot in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, so you would take responsibility for likely thousands of lives lost in order to uphold your personal virtue and good Protestant moralism.

    In fact the CIA obtained intelligence from KSM using legal water-boarding that likely prevented alQuaeda from executing plans to at various times down seven planes over the Atlantic, a plane attack against Heathrow, and to destroy the Library Tower at L.A.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, so you would take responsibility for likely thousands of lives lost in order to uphold your personal virtue and good Protestant moralism.

    In fact the CIA obtained intelligence from KSM using legal water-boarding that likely prevented alQuaeda from executing plans to at various times down seven planes over the Atlantic, a plane attack against Heathrow, and to destroy the Library Tower at L.A.

  • Cincinnatus

    That’s all fine and good, Peter, but last I checked (i.e., the last I heard from reports and analysis) was that a) Khalid Whathisname didn’t provide much valuable intel and b) what he did provide could have and/or was obtained without the use of “enhanced interrogations.”

    This is an editorial from a somewhat biased source, but it helpfully links to all the memos, etc., that corroborate what I’ve stated: http://www.slate.com/id/2216601

    One of the key tenets of the brand of conservatism to which I subscribe upholds unchanging moral principles–it “conserves” them, if you will. What those principles are we can discuss in another thread, but what we seem to be discussing here is whether there are unchanging moral principles in the first place, and what we should do about them politically if there are.

    And anyway, since you are fond of accusing folks of not answer your questions, might I point out that you neglected to answer my final question (amongst others) in comment #44.

  • Cincinnatus

    That’s all fine and good, Peter, but last I checked (i.e., the last I heard from reports and analysis) was that a) Khalid Whathisname didn’t provide much valuable intel and b) what he did provide could have and/or was obtained without the use of “enhanced interrogations.”

    This is an editorial from a somewhat biased source, but it helpfully links to all the memos, etc., that corroborate what I’ve stated: http://www.slate.com/id/2216601

    One of the key tenets of the brand of conservatism to which I subscribe upholds unchanging moral principles–it “conserves” them, if you will. What those principles are we can discuss in another thread, but what we seem to be discussing here is whether there are unchanging moral principles in the first place, and what we should do about them politically if there are.

    And anyway, since you are fond of accusing folks of not answer your questions, might I point out that you neglected to answer my final question (amongst others) in comment #44.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@42), blame me for “ducking under Cincinnatus’ remark” if you must — I am, for the most part, agreeing with him in this discussion, and don’t see a need to type the same arguments in my own tortured style just so I can stop worrying about whether you’ll think I’m man enough.

    But there are two possible ways to interpret the question (@13) you think I am incapable of answering. To recap, you said, “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government. These activities are properly in place to detect criminals and unlawful enemy combatants planning deadly harm to many Americans.”

    Now, one could, of course, define “legitimate” there such that it necessarily meant those things that give no reason to fear. This would be boringly tautological, and, as such, pointless. More likely is that, by “legitimate”, you mean what has already occurred and is probably still occurring. It is even possible that by “legitimate”, you meant “anything necessary to make me feel safe, no matter what the facts are”. But even if we just go with the previous meaning, it’s pretty obviously false that there is “nothing to fear”, which was the whole point of my reply to you (@37) which, you’ll notice, you have completely ignored to date, oh ye who accuses people of not responding to your points.

    So, again, why haven’t you given me your email username and password? There’s nothing to fear from it, right? You haven’t done anything wrong, have you? So let us into your account! The point of this exercise being for you to realize that there is plenty to fear, and you already do so — from my accidentally (or not) harming your data, to having it leak out to other people/entities (accidentally or not), to several other unpleasant scenarios. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that no one could possibly consider government access to your email account “legitimate” — many in the government have argued just that, and all the scenarios I listed above are therefore worth worrying about, at least in theory.

    I’d be more inclined to assume you weren’t just buying into the fearmongering (and engaging in it not a little bit yourself) and selling out your privacy/freedoms just for a (mostly false) sense of security, if it weren’t for your discussion with Cincinnatus on KSM on how you’d gladly torture if it meant believing you’d saved lives (even if, as Cincinnatus noted, it’s quite possible you didn’t, but hey, it’s only torture — it’s not like ethics or morals mean anything to Christians or Americans outside of the realm of theory).

    But listen. I’m not the one obsessing over who has and who doesn’t have cojones, who’s man enough. And if engaging in TV-style rock-’em-sock-’em “strap the bad guy to a chair and kick him in the teeth while the seconds tick down on a superimposed LED bomb timer” antics makes you feel more manly, or less scared, then I think we should do it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@42), blame me for “ducking under Cincinnatus’ remark” if you must — I am, for the most part, agreeing with him in this discussion, and don’t see a need to type the same arguments in my own tortured style just so I can stop worrying about whether you’ll think I’m man enough.

    But there are two possible ways to interpret the question (@13) you think I am incapable of answering. To recap, you said, “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government. These activities are properly in place to detect criminals and unlawful enemy combatants planning deadly harm to many Americans.”

    Now, one could, of course, define “legitimate” there such that it necessarily meant those things that give no reason to fear. This would be boringly tautological, and, as such, pointless. More likely is that, by “legitimate”, you mean what has already occurred and is probably still occurring. It is even possible that by “legitimate”, you meant “anything necessary to make me feel safe, no matter what the facts are”. But even if we just go with the previous meaning, it’s pretty obviously false that there is “nothing to fear”, which was the whole point of my reply to you (@37) which, you’ll notice, you have completely ignored to date, oh ye who accuses people of not responding to your points.

    So, again, why haven’t you given me your email username and password? There’s nothing to fear from it, right? You haven’t done anything wrong, have you? So let us into your account! The point of this exercise being for you to realize that there is plenty to fear, and you already do so — from my accidentally (or not) harming your data, to having it leak out to other people/entities (accidentally or not), to several other unpleasant scenarios. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that no one could possibly consider government access to your email account “legitimate” — many in the government have argued just that, and all the scenarios I listed above are therefore worth worrying about, at least in theory.

    I’d be more inclined to assume you weren’t just buying into the fearmongering (and engaging in it not a little bit yourself) and selling out your privacy/freedoms just for a (mostly false) sense of security, if it weren’t for your discussion with Cincinnatus on KSM on how you’d gladly torture if it meant believing you’d saved lives (even if, as Cincinnatus noted, it’s quite possible you didn’t, but hey, it’s only torture — it’s not like ethics or morals mean anything to Christians or Americans outside of the realm of theory).

    But listen. I’m not the one obsessing over who has and who doesn’t have cojones, who’s man enough. And if engaging in TV-style rock-’em-sock-’em “strap the bad guy to a chair and kick him in the teeth while the seconds tick down on a superimposed LED bomb timer” antics makes you feel more manly, or less scared, then I think we should do it.

  • Winston Smith

    It all comes down to your view of the total depravity of man. Calvinists understand that man is totally depraved — that is, there is no limit to the depths of evil to which our race can sink, as the last century showed only too clearly — and man must therefore be controlled, either internally (through conscience), or , more practically, externally (through law). That applies not only to the governed, but to those sinful human beings who would govern them.

    That philosophy (well known to James Madison and the other Framers) underlies our system of checks and balances, ensuring that no one person or group has too much power.

    So far, this is all Civics 101. When well-meaning folks like Peter Leavitt want to grant to the government wide-ranging and unchecked powers to combat evil, one wonders, politely, if they have understood the total depravity of man and the need for safeguards against evil men riding booted and spurred over the helpless and defenseless.

    Yesterday, the enemies of the state were the middle eastern persons of the Islamic faith. We imprisoned them withohut trial and used verscherfte vernehmung, er, sorry, “enhanced interrogation techniques” against them, and no one spoke up, because we were not mooslim trrrists.

    But now, under a new administration, the definition of “terrorist” or “enemy combatant” may be changing. The Dept. of Homeland Security, influenced by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, is trying to label gun owners, supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, anti-abortion activists, etc. as suspicious and needing to be watched. In other words, it’s right-wing groups that are now under the government’s microscope. Google “Missouri Information Analysis Center report” if you don’t believe me.

    It’s all very well to say that “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government,” but it’s not true. If the government doesn’t like you, they will spy on you and put you on a list.

    Continued freedom means that vigilant citizens must watch their government (and its private sector handmaidens) and make sure they are securely fastened down by the chains of the Constitution.

  • Winston Smith

    It all comes down to your view of the total depravity of man. Calvinists understand that man is totally depraved — that is, there is no limit to the depths of evil to which our race can sink, as the last century showed only too clearly — and man must therefore be controlled, either internally (through conscience), or , more practically, externally (through law). That applies not only to the governed, but to those sinful human beings who would govern them.

    That philosophy (well known to James Madison and the other Framers) underlies our system of checks and balances, ensuring that no one person or group has too much power.

    So far, this is all Civics 101. When well-meaning folks like Peter Leavitt want to grant to the government wide-ranging and unchecked powers to combat evil, one wonders, politely, if they have understood the total depravity of man and the need for safeguards against evil men riding booted and spurred over the helpless and defenseless.

    Yesterday, the enemies of the state were the middle eastern persons of the Islamic faith. We imprisoned them withohut trial and used verscherfte vernehmung, er, sorry, “enhanced interrogation techniques” against them, and no one spoke up, because we were not mooslim trrrists.

    But now, under a new administration, the definition of “terrorist” or “enemy combatant” may be changing. The Dept. of Homeland Security, influenced by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, is trying to label gun owners, supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, anti-abortion activists, etc. as suspicious and needing to be watched. In other words, it’s right-wing groups that are now under the government’s microscope. Google “Missouri Information Analysis Center report” if you don’t believe me.

    It’s all very well to say that “American citizens who respect and obey the law have nothing to fear from legitimate surveillance activities of the government,” but it’s not true. If the government doesn’t like you, they will spy on you and put you on a list.

    Continued freedom means that vigilant citizens must watch their government (and its private sector handmaidens) and make sure they are securely fastened down by the chains of the Constitution.

  • fws

    winston smith @50

    what he says.

    we are surrounded by proof of what winston says by the moment. passwords, padlocks, combinations , security, clearances would all be totally unnecessary were it not for sin. think of all the time effort and money that is wasted. and we just are so used to it we think this is normal. it is so not normal. it is sick.

  • fws

    winston smith @50

    what he says.

    we are surrounded by proof of what winston says by the moment. passwords, padlocks, combinations , security, clearances would all be totally unnecessary were it not for sin. think of all the time effort and money that is wasted. and we just are so used to it we think this is normal. it is so not normal. it is sick.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Right, fws.

    However those places without locks and security are recalled fondly by my parents and grandparents. They exist still in some areas. Such is the society we should seek. That is true community.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Right, fws.

    However those places without locks and security are recalled fondly by my parents and grandparents. They exist still in some areas. Such is the society we should seek. That is true community.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, national security is among the highest of government purposes. Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, JFK, and both Bushes understood this well. None of them fell prey to the tendency of pacifism or isolationism.

    That Slate article is full of errors regarding KLM’s Library Tower plot. For an analysis of this read Thomas Joscelyn’s article, Marc Thiessen Was Right About the “Library Tower Plot”

    The chief error in the article is Noah’s assumption that the Library Tower plot was fully defeated in 2002. Actually KLM after the 2002 failure intensely continued the plot in a similar way that he operated after the defeat of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

    As to Noah’s argument that a Library Tower plot was hopeless after 9/11, Joscelyn writes:

    One final note: Noah argued in his Slate pieces that a plot against airliners was no longer viable because passengers would not allow hijackers to take control of a plane and fly it wherever they desired. Tell that to the al Qaeda’s terrorists who have continued to target airliners for hijackings in the years since September 11. While there are never any guarantees of success, and we cannot know for certain what would have come of KSM’s Karachi cell, we do know that al Qaeda’s intentions are nothing to scoff at. Armchair assumptions about operational viability cannot and do not trump vigilance.

    Should you wish to understand this issue in depth, you might read Mark Thiessen’s book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA kept America Safe and How Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. An excellent book on the legal issues involved with the enhanced interrogation techniques is Terror Presidency by Jack Goldsmith, a professor of law at Harvard and head of the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice during the second Bush administration.

    Most of the media rhetoric about the issue of “torture” including that of Slate is ill informed and highly polemical. Thiessen correctly claims in his book that the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA were carefully considered and executed legally within the bounds of American statutes on torture. Enhanced interrogation was used on thirty of the highest level members of alQuaeda; only three were water-boarded; those who have carefully analyzed the results of these interrogations have concluded that the actionable intelligence gathered are convinced that real terrorist operations were defeated and thousands of lives were saved.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, national security is among the highest of government purposes. Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, JFK, and both Bushes understood this well. None of them fell prey to the tendency of pacifism or isolationism.

    That Slate article is full of errors regarding KLM’s Library Tower plot. For an analysis of this read Thomas Joscelyn’s article, Marc Thiessen Was Right About the “Library Tower Plot”

    The chief error in the article is Noah’s assumption that the Library Tower plot was fully defeated in 2002. Actually KLM after the 2002 failure intensely continued the plot in a similar way that he operated after the defeat of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

    As to Noah’s argument that a Library Tower plot was hopeless after 9/11, Joscelyn writes:

    One final note: Noah argued in his Slate pieces that a plot against airliners was no longer viable because passengers would not allow hijackers to take control of a plane and fly it wherever they desired. Tell that to the al Qaeda’s terrorists who have continued to target airliners for hijackings in the years since September 11. While there are never any guarantees of success, and we cannot know for certain what would have come of KSM’s Karachi cell, we do know that al Qaeda’s intentions are nothing to scoff at. Armchair assumptions about operational viability cannot and do not trump vigilance.

    Should you wish to understand this issue in depth, you might read Mark Thiessen’s book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA kept America Safe and How Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. An excellent book on the legal issues involved with the enhanced interrogation techniques is Terror Presidency by Jack Goldsmith, a professor of law at Harvard and head of the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice during the second Bush administration.

    Most of the media rhetoric about the issue of “torture” including that of Slate is ill informed and highly polemical. Thiessen correctly claims in his book that the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA were carefully considered and executed legally within the bounds of American statutes on torture. Enhanced interrogation was used on thirty of the highest level members of alQuaeda; only three were water-boarded; those who have carefully analyzed the results of these interrogations have concluded that the actionable intelligence gathered are convinced that real terrorist operations were defeated and thousands of lives were saved.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, my not giving you an email address has nothing to do with this issue. I limit my personal email address to close family and a few close friends, mainly because I’m a very private person. I, also, have a secretary who screens my personal and business email for the inevitable chaff. I couldn’t care less about those like you who troll around the internet looking for information on other people

    The government has every right to use the Internet and other forms of communication to investigate suspicious criminal and especially terrorist activity. Such surveillance is necessary and important to the security of individuals and the nation. Those who respect and obey the law are happy to allow law enforcement agencies wide latitude to use any effective means of surveillance to detect criminal activity.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, my not giving you an email address has nothing to do with this issue. I limit my personal email address to close family and a few close friends, mainly because I’m a very private person. I, also, have a secretary who screens my personal and business email for the inevitable chaff. I couldn’t care less about those like you who troll around the internet looking for information on other people

    The government has every right to use the Internet and other forms of communication to investigate suspicious criminal and especially terrorist activity. Such surveillance is necessary and important to the security of individuals and the nation. Those who respect and obey the law are happy to allow law enforcement agencies wide latitude to use any effective means of surveillance to detect criminal activity.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, was tODD’s point entirely lost on you? If you don’t trust tODD, who claims to have your best interests at heart, with your personal information, why do you and should you trust the government? Because government bureaucrats are more principled? Are more likely to respect implicit boundaries? Are more restrained or virtuous? Not likely.

    In any case, in response to your comment to me–in which you still neglect to answer my earlier question!–permit me merely to say that I am not inclined to debate the finer points of Khalid Sheik’s torture because that would be a fruitless discussion for us. We seem to disagree fundamentally on the nature of morality and so we are bound to reach incompatible conclusions regarding Khalid’s torture no longer how long we talk about it.

    Let’s be very clear: you are espousing a version of situational ethics that, in the end, is nothing more than a utilitarian ethic: you are evaluating the acceptability, praiseworthiness, or righteousness of an action based almost solely upon its consequences. Torturing a human being (assuming, for the moment, that we agree on the torturous nature of what was done to Khalid) is acceptable if we can plausibly claim that (more worthwhile?) lives were saved thereby. This is why my earlier question is so relevant and important, and is necessary so that we can understand precisely your moral paradigm and its consistency: if torture is sometimes acceptable, what about adultery? What about false witness? What about murder? Or, if you like, what if torturing Khalid had not, as some believe, yielded any worthwhile intelligence whatsoever? What if it turned out that he was innocent (just pretend for this thought experiment)? Would torture still have been acceptable because, um, I don’t know…because Khalid just isn’t a good person or something? Or maybe it wouldn’t have been acceptable. In which case, how are we to know when it’s acceptable to commit atrocities and when it is not?

    More to the point, are any actions by nature righteous/good/praiseworthy/virtuous and others by nature unacceptable/wicked/sinful? As a Christian, I would assume you would answer in the affirmative. If that is the case, how can you coherently argue that it is acceptable to commit actions that are by nature immoral in any circumstances?

    As for the rest of your point, suffice to say that there is a stark difference between creating a national government for the purposes of securing liberty and constructing a securitarian state. We seem disposed to dabble in the latter of late. Would Washington, Jefferson, etc., have approved of the “Department of Homeland Security”? Doubtful: it was a struggle for the Convention to agree upon the necessity of a “War Department”–even one very limited in its authority–and the possibility of a standing army–you know, like the one we have stationed in dozens of countries and on our own shores at this moment–was an object of terror.

    As for the presidents you cite, Lincoln (remembered for his tyrannical impulses during the Civil War) and the Roosevelts probably would have favored foreign entanglements and security bureaucracies galore, but you’re flatly wrong about Washington and the other “founders.” I assume you’ve read Washington’s “Farewell Address,” no? Isolationism was the order of the day! Washington and Jefferson in particular were quite adamant upon that point, and Jefferson was deemed a tremendous hypocrite for entering into “dealings” with France to negotiate unilaterally the Louisiana Purchase. But this is a silly debate: I don’t think you’ll find any serious scholar who would identify any of the Founders (except perhaps Hamilton) with a strong, centralized, securitarian apparatus.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, was tODD’s point entirely lost on you? If you don’t trust tODD, who claims to have your best interests at heart, with your personal information, why do you and should you trust the government? Because government bureaucrats are more principled? Are more likely to respect implicit boundaries? Are more restrained or virtuous? Not likely.

    In any case, in response to your comment to me–in which you still neglect to answer my earlier question!–permit me merely to say that I am not inclined to debate the finer points of Khalid Sheik’s torture because that would be a fruitless discussion for us. We seem to disagree fundamentally on the nature of morality and so we are bound to reach incompatible conclusions regarding Khalid’s torture no longer how long we talk about it.

    Let’s be very clear: you are espousing a version of situational ethics that, in the end, is nothing more than a utilitarian ethic: you are evaluating the acceptability, praiseworthiness, or righteousness of an action based almost solely upon its consequences. Torturing a human being (assuming, for the moment, that we agree on the torturous nature of what was done to Khalid) is acceptable if we can plausibly claim that (more worthwhile?) lives were saved thereby. This is why my earlier question is so relevant and important, and is necessary so that we can understand precisely your moral paradigm and its consistency: if torture is sometimes acceptable, what about adultery? What about false witness? What about murder? Or, if you like, what if torturing Khalid had not, as some believe, yielded any worthwhile intelligence whatsoever? What if it turned out that he was innocent (just pretend for this thought experiment)? Would torture still have been acceptable because, um, I don’t know…because Khalid just isn’t a good person or something? Or maybe it wouldn’t have been acceptable. In which case, how are we to know when it’s acceptable to commit atrocities and when it is not?

    More to the point, are any actions by nature righteous/good/praiseworthy/virtuous and others by nature unacceptable/wicked/sinful? As a Christian, I would assume you would answer in the affirmative. If that is the case, how can you coherently argue that it is acceptable to commit actions that are by nature immoral in any circumstances?

    As for the rest of your point, suffice to say that there is a stark difference between creating a national government for the purposes of securing liberty and constructing a securitarian state. We seem disposed to dabble in the latter of late. Would Washington, Jefferson, etc., have approved of the “Department of Homeland Security”? Doubtful: it was a struggle for the Convention to agree upon the necessity of a “War Department”–even one very limited in its authority–and the possibility of a standing army–you know, like the one we have stationed in dozens of countries and on our own shores at this moment–was an object of terror.

    As for the presidents you cite, Lincoln (remembered for his tyrannical impulses during the Civil War) and the Roosevelts probably would have favored foreign entanglements and security bureaucracies galore, but you’re flatly wrong about Washington and the other “founders.” I assume you’ve read Washington’s “Farewell Address,” no? Isolationism was the order of the day! Washington and Jefferson in particular were quite adamant upon that point, and Jefferson was deemed a tremendous hypocrite for entering into “dealings” with France to negotiate unilaterally the Louisiana Purchase. But this is a silly debate: I don’t think you’ll find any serious scholar who would identify any of the Founders (except perhaps Hamilton) with a strong, centralized, securitarian apparatus.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t think people should be allowed to vote when they’re scared.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t think people should be allowed to vote when they’re scared.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 56: That’s a very fine speech, but much of it is based on a faulty premise, namely the assumption that what was done to KSM was torture. Good people disagree on this issue, and that does not mean they are entirely different moral planes, as you assert. Nothing that was done to KSM during interrogation comes anywhere close to what was done, for example, to John McCain in the “Hanoi Hilton”, where permanent and painful injury was routinely inflicted, and even rudimentary medical treatment was routinely denied, all while subjecting the prisoners to grotesque unsanitary conditions with completely inadequate nutrition. Making a prisoner uncomfortable, without lasting harm, does not fall into that category, and even the suddenly dreaded waterboarding is done to our very own troops, routinely, to prepare them for possible capture.

    As for the rest of your argument, I diverge from Peter in his view, though I recognize the federal government’s constitutional obligation to provide for the national defense. Good people draw the line in different places as to just how much routine surveillance is reasonable for this purpose. However, again, as I mentioned yesterday, as long as the Internal Revenue Service maintains all of our personal information in their files for the administration of our ridiculously intrusive tax system, a little generally directed routine surveillance in the public world (eg screening of cell phone calls between U.S. domiciles and targets in suspected terrorist countries) hardly seems like the reason to get all flustered and worried about government mischief.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 56: That’s a very fine speech, but much of it is based on a faulty premise, namely the assumption that what was done to KSM was torture. Good people disagree on this issue, and that does not mean they are entirely different moral planes, as you assert. Nothing that was done to KSM during interrogation comes anywhere close to what was done, for example, to John McCain in the “Hanoi Hilton”, where permanent and painful injury was routinely inflicted, and even rudimentary medical treatment was routinely denied, all while subjecting the prisoners to grotesque unsanitary conditions with completely inadequate nutrition. Making a prisoner uncomfortable, without lasting harm, does not fall into that category, and even the suddenly dreaded waterboarding is done to our very own troops, routinely, to prepare them for possible capture.

    As for the rest of your argument, I diverge from Peter in his view, though I recognize the federal government’s constitutional obligation to provide for the national defense. Good people draw the line in different places as to just how much routine surveillance is reasonable for this purpose. However, again, as I mentioned yesterday, as long as the Internal Revenue Service maintains all of our personal information in their files for the administration of our ridiculously intrusive tax system, a little generally directed routine surveillance in the public world (eg screening of cell phone calls between U.S. domiciles and targets in suspected terrorist countries) hardly seems like the reason to get all flustered and worried about government mischief.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, situational ethics has nothing to do with the CIA’s interrogation of KSM including water-boarding. President Bush and the CIA were careful to keep all of the enhanced interrogation techniques within bounds of American law. Thiessen in his book remarks that John Yoo’s Office of Legal Counsel so called “torture memo” is actually an anti-torture memo in that it carefully restricts the enhanced interrogation techniques. Since those who were interrogated by the CIA were unlawful enemy combatants, they had no Geneva Convention legal status.

    Todd, few of us are scared, just alert, notwithstanding your smart-ass remark.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, situational ethics has nothing to do with the CIA’s interrogation of KSM including water-boarding. President Bush and the CIA were careful to keep all of the enhanced interrogation techniques within bounds of American law. Thiessen in his book remarks that John Yoo’s Office of Legal Counsel so called “torture memo” is actually an anti-torture memo in that it carefully restricts the enhanced interrogation techniques. Since those who were interrogated by the CIA were unlawful enemy combatants, they had no Geneva Convention legal status.

    Todd, few of us are scared, just alert, notwithstanding your smart-ass remark.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter and DonS: Both of you are quite obviously avoiding the primary point of my comment and the issue itself. Notice that I distinctly qualified my argument:

    “Assuming for the moment that what was done to KSM constituted torture.” Of course, it’s somewhat of a foregone conclusion, as it’s been generally acknowledged that water-boarding does constitute torture. I don’t care what happened to John McCain in Vietnam. Are the Viet Cong really our standard of comparison? High moral ambitions I see!

    But that’s not the point. The point of my question was this, and neither of you have answered it. At best, Peter is now backtracking with a “…but but but it’s not actually torture!” That’s not the question. The question, furthermore, isn’t whether waterboarding/torture is legal or not. That’s irrelevant to an evaluation of the ethical status of waterboarding and/or torturue. Abortion is legal, after all.

    The question, based upon Peter’s earlier ambiguity about what is moral and what is not, is whether torture is acceptable under any circumstances. In other words, pretend that waterboarding does constitute torture. Or, if it helps, pretend we used thumb screws on KSM or hooked him up to a car battery (oh wait, that happened somewhere else, didn’t it?). If it saved lives, would that be acceptable? If so, why? What if KSM turned out to be innocent or a useless source of information? Then what? If torture is ok sometimes, what about adultery?

    Stay on topic, guys.

    p.s. Don, if I object to the IRS’s intrusive record-keeping, am I still allowed to object to the intrusive surveillance by the rest of our security apparatus?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter and DonS: Both of you are quite obviously avoiding the primary point of my comment and the issue itself. Notice that I distinctly qualified my argument:

    “Assuming for the moment that what was done to KSM constituted torture.” Of course, it’s somewhat of a foregone conclusion, as it’s been generally acknowledged that water-boarding does constitute torture. I don’t care what happened to John McCain in Vietnam. Are the Viet Cong really our standard of comparison? High moral ambitions I see!

    But that’s not the point. The point of my question was this, and neither of you have answered it. At best, Peter is now backtracking with a “…but but but it’s not actually torture!” That’s not the question. The question, furthermore, isn’t whether waterboarding/torture is legal or not. That’s irrelevant to an evaluation of the ethical status of waterboarding and/or torturue. Abortion is legal, after all.

    The question, based upon Peter’s earlier ambiguity about what is moral and what is not, is whether torture is acceptable under any circumstances. In other words, pretend that waterboarding does constitute torture. Or, if it helps, pretend we used thumb screws on KSM or hooked him up to a car battery (oh wait, that happened somewhere else, didn’t it?). If it saved lives, would that be acceptable? If so, why? What if KSM turned out to be innocent or a useless source of information? Then what? If torture is ok sometimes, what about adultery?

    Stay on topic, guys.

    p.s. Don, if I object to the IRS’s intrusive record-keeping, am I still allowed to object to the intrusive surveillance by the rest of our security apparatus?

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 60: I’m going to split up my answer, and address your p.s. first.

    Answer — YES!!!!! I am not saying that I like the federal government’s intrusive surveillance techniques. I am libertarian in outlook, though I acknowledge that some of this activity is necessary to prevent another World Trade Center incident, which I like even less.

    However, what fries me is when liberals who LOVE the income tax and want more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy, get all “hand-wringy” about the Patriot Act.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 60: I’m going to split up my answer, and address your p.s. first.

    Answer — YES!!!!! I am not saying that I like the federal government’s intrusive surveillance techniques. I am libertarian in outlook, though I acknowledge that some of this activity is necessary to prevent another World Trade Center incident, which I like even less.

    However, what fries me is when liberals who LOVE the income tax and want more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy, get all “hand-wringy” about the Patriot Act.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 60: Now for the rest of your post. I don’t support our government engaging in torture. Under any circumstances.

    I assume that answers your question, as to me. I’ll let Peter speak for himself. However, again, we fundamentally disagree on the “torture line”. I don’t acknowledge your point that it is a “foregone conclusion” that waterboarding is torture, and I don’t agree with you that waterboarding can be correlated with abortion, for reasons that should be obvious.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 60: Now for the rest of your post. I don’t support our government engaging in torture. Under any circumstances.

    I assume that answers your question, as to me. I’ll let Peter speak for himself. However, again, we fundamentally disagree on the “torture line”. I don’t acknowledge your point that it is a “foregone conclusion” that waterboarding is torture, and I don’t agree with you that waterboarding can be correlated with abortion, for reasons that should be obvious.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 60: And, to clarify my post @ 61, no, I know that you are not a liberal, and am not accusing you of being one. You’re just a little bit farther along the libertarian pathway than I am.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 60: And, to clarify my post @ 61, no, I know that you are not a liberal, and am not accusing you of being one. You’re just a little bit farther along the libertarian pathway than I am.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, in a very extreme situation, such as a terrorist knowing the location of the place of a planted nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon, I would have no problem with the President ordering the CIA to take any measure including torture to obtain the necessary intelligence. Also, I have no problem with Pres. Truman’s decision to drop nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every American president has to make hard choices between American ideals and security. An excellent book on this topic is by the theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr: Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics.

    In the case of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA at the isolated black sites in Europe, Pres. Bush and his Office of Legal Counsel [OLC] were careful to make sure no serious and lasting physical and emotional took place. None of these interrogations came remotely close to the brutality that John McCain experienced in North Vietnam.

    While it might be “generally” acknowledged that the CIA was involved in torturing al Quaeda detainees, those who have taken a close look and balanced view of what took place do not regard it as torture. That’s why the Department of Justice under Obama decided not to prosecute John Yoo and Jay Bybee of the OLC who were responsible for the so called torture memos that authorized the enhanced interrogation techniques during the Bush administration.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, in a very extreme situation, such as a terrorist knowing the location of the place of a planted nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon, I would have no problem with the President ordering the CIA to take any measure including torture to obtain the necessary intelligence. Also, I have no problem with Pres. Truman’s decision to drop nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every American president has to make hard choices between American ideals and security. An excellent book on this topic is by the theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr: Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics.

    In the case of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA at the isolated black sites in Europe, Pres. Bush and his Office of Legal Counsel [OLC] were careful to make sure no serious and lasting physical and emotional took place. None of these interrogations came remotely close to the brutality that John McCain experienced in North Vietnam.

    While it might be “generally” acknowledged that the CIA was involved in torturing al Quaeda detainees, those who have taken a close look and balanced view of what took place do not regard it as torture. That’s why the Department of Justice under Obama decided not to prosecute John Yoo and Jay Bybee of the OLC who were responsible for the so called torture memos that authorized the enhanced interrogation techniques during the Bush administration.

  • fws

    don s @62

    I am probably moderate. maybe liberal. maybe libertarian. depends…

    I don’t think govt intrusiveness is ever good. I would rather see a tax somehow on consumption rather than an income tax.

    as for the line that you draw as to “what is torture”. imagine your daughter or some other loved one being tortured or sexually humiliated or whatever, in some 3rd world country. what would justify that country doing that to your daughter. sexual humiliation would not physically harm her, but…..

    I think reflection on this is very good for deciding where a line needs to be drawn on calling something torture or not….

  • fws

    don s @62

    I am probably moderate. maybe liberal. maybe libertarian. depends…

    I don’t think govt intrusiveness is ever good. I would rather see a tax somehow on consumption rather than an income tax.

    as for the line that you draw as to “what is torture”. imagine your daughter or some other loved one being tortured or sexually humiliated or whatever, in some 3rd world country. what would justify that country doing that to your daughter. sexual humiliation would not physically harm her, but…..

    I think reflection on this is very good for deciding where a line needs to be drawn on calling something torture or not….

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@61), can you point me to one liberal, famous or not, who “LOVE[s] the income tax and want[s] more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy,” yet also “get[s] all ‘hand-wringy’ about the Patriot Act”? I can’t think of many who fulfill both criteria.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@61), can you point me to one liberal, famous or not, who “LOVE[s] the income tax and want[s] more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy,” yet also “get[s] all ‘hand-wringy’ about the Patriot Act”? I can’t think of many who fulfill both criteria.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I don’t think people should be allowed to vote when they’re scared.”

    Like when they are scared they won’t be able to afford medical insurance? Or scared they won’t get government handouts? Like that kind of scared?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I don’t think people should be allowed to vote when they’re scared.”

    Like when they are scared they won’t be able to afford medical insurance? Or scared they won’t get government handouts? Like that kind of scared?

  • DonS

    FWS @ 65: If my daughter had been arrested for terrorist acts, as KSM was, then that country would be justified in interrogating her, and using “enhanced interrogation techniques” if necessary to extract information reasonably necessary to protect the lives of the citizens of that country. This is a standard consistent with that which I think justfies those techniques by members of our intelligence services.

    Of course, a fairer question on your part would be in relation to my son, not my daughter. Because I, being old-fashioned and such, still think women should be treated substantially more gently than men unless they have absolutely demonstrated that they don’t deserve that more chivalrous treatment.

  • DonS

    FWS @ 65: If my daughter had been arrested for terrorist acts, as KSM was, then that country would be justified in interrogating her, and using “enhanced interrogation techniques” if necessary to extract information reasonably necessary to protect the lives of the citizens of that country. This is a standard consistent with that which I think justfies those techniques by members of our intelligence services.

    Of course, a fairer question on your part would be in relation to my son, not my daughter. Because I, being old-fashioned and such, still think women should be treated substantially more gently than men unless they have absolutely demonstrated that they don’t deserve that more chivalrous treatment.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 66: Do you really need that to acknowledge my point? Because I remember many commenters on this very blog repeatedly complaining about the Patriot Act and the security measures put in place by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11. I remember you, in particular, being very upset by the general surveillance of cell phone calls. Now, I don’t know whether you support the income tax, but a lot of liberals do, because they think the necessary intrusion into the personal privacy of U.S. citizens is worth it to extract a “fair share” of taxes from “the rich”. A desire for security and a desire to “get the man” are equally poor reasons for accepting unwarranted government intrusion into our privacy. That’s all I’m saying.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 66: Do you really need that to acknowledge my point? Because I remember many commenters on this very blog repeatedly complaining about the Patriot Act and the security measures put in place by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11. I remember you, in particular, being very upset by the general surveillance of cell phone calls. Now, I don’t know whether you support the income tax, but a lot of liberals do, because they think the necessary intrusion into the personal privacy of U.S. citizens is worth it to extract a “fair share” of taxes from “the rich”. A desire for security and a desire to “get the man” are equally poor reasons for accepting unwarranted government intrusion into our privacy. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The phrase “legal enhanced interrogation techniques” gives me the willies!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The phrase “legal enhanced interrogation techniques” gives me the willies!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Criminy, Don (@69)! On one thread, you criticize someone for not providing sufficient evidence in an anecdote she was telling in a speech, and yet when I call on you to point me to one example to substantiate your claim, you ask me if I “really need that to acknowledge [your] point?”

    What, exactly, is your standard, Don? It seems pretty clear to me that you’re conflating two completely unrelated constituencies with little else in common except that they can be labeled, in some way, as “liberals” (@61). And you’re doing this to heighten a sense of hypocrisy or inconsistency — which sense is, I’m pointing out to you, utterly artificial. And you can’t prove otherwise.

    Yes, I complained about many aspects of the Patriot Act. Well done! You’re halfway to proving your claim! Now all you have to do is point to any comment in which I show that I “LOVE the income tax and want more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy.” Should be easy, right?

    Or are you merely content to remember that some liberals said they didn’t like the Patriot Act, and some other liberals said they want more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy (honestly, who said that? — name names), and assume that it must have been the same people, since it serves your rhetorical purpose?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Criminy, Don (@69)! On one thread, you criticize someone for not providing sufficient evidence in an anecdote she was telling in a speech, and yet when I call on you to point me to one example to substantiate your claim, you ask me if I “really need that to acknowledge [your] point?”

    What, exactly, is your standard, Don? It seems pretty clear to me that you’re conflating two completely unrelated constituencies with little else in common except that they can be labeled, in some way, as “liberals” (@61). And you’re doing this to heighten a sense of hypocrisy or inconsistency — which sense is, I’m pointing out to you, utterly artificial. And you can’t prove otherwise.

    Yes, I complained about many aspects of the Patriot Act. Well done! You’re halfway to proving your claim! Now all you have to do is point to any comment in which I show that I “LOVE the income tax and want more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy.” Should be easy, right?

    Or are you merely content to remember that some liberals said they didn’t like the Patriot Act, and some other liberals said they want more enforcement of our income tax laws, no matter what that entails for our privacy (honestly, who said that? — name names), and assume that it must have been the same people, since it serves your rhetorical purpose?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 71: OK, this is interesting. I’m always surprised at what points turn out to be controversial.

    OK, let me explore this a bit more. Are you disavowing the income tax? Or are you seizing on my hyperbole regarding the word “love”, and using it to try to make a point? Because if you are disavowing the privacy intrusions perpetrated on American citizens by the invasive nature of the income tax, then we are absolutely on the same side.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 71: OK, this is interesting. I’m always surprised at what points turn out to be controversial.

    OK, let me explore this a bit more. Are you disavowing the income tax? Or are you seizing on my hyperbole regarding the word “love”, and using it to try to make a point? Because if you are disavowing the privacy intrusions perpetrated on American citizens by the invasive nature of the income tax, then we are absolutely on the same side.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Here, Don, let’s try your statement on the other foot:

    What fries me is when conservatives who LOVE the Patriot Act and want more enforcement of it or any other security measure, no matter what that entails for our privacy, get all “hand-wringy” about the too much government power or taking away our freedoms.

    See, because I distinctly remember — on this very thread! — conservatives saying both things! So clearly conservatives — or, at least those conservatives — are hypocrites, right? Right?! Does that seem like a reasonable statement to you?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Here, Don, let’s try your statement on the other foot:

    What fries me is when conservatives who LOVE the Patriot Act and want more enforcement of it or any other security measure, no matter what that entails for our privacy, get all “hand-wringy” about the too much government power or taking away our freedoms.

    See, because I distinctly remember — on this very thread! — conservatives saying both things! So clearly conservatives — or, at least those conservatives — are hypocrites, right? Right?! Does that seem like a reasonable statement to you?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@72), it’s your claim, you back it up. Do your own research. You’ve got a great memory, obviously, and access to all my comments here on Cranach — plus access to all the comments by those other liberals you must be referring to. Google it.

    Now, if you don’t know what I think about the income tax, then clearly I am not one of the “liberals” that “fries” you to which you’d referred earlier (@61). So I ask again, to whom were you referring?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@72), it’s your claim, you back it up. Do your own research. You’ve got a great memory, obviously, and access to all my comments here on Cranach — plus access to all the comments by those other liberals you must be referring to. Google it.

    Now, if you don’t know what I think about the income tax, then clearly I am not one of the “liberals” that “fries” you to which you’d referred earlier (@61). So I ask again, to whom were you referring?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 73: I agree.

    No one should “love” the Patriot Act and there is much about it that should be repealed as being unduly intrusive, with insufficient security benefits to justify the intrusions. Similarly, the 16th Amendment should be entirely repealed as a terrible, invasive experiment, and consumption and excise taxes substituted as the primary source of federal revenue. In no way should the IRS be an enforcer of health care mandates.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 73: I agree.

    No one should “love” the Patriot Act and there is much about it that should be repealed as being unduly intrusive, with insufficient security benefits to justify the intrusions. Similarly, the 16th Amendment should be entirely repealed as a terrible, invasive experiment, and consumption and excise taxes substituted as the primary source of federal revenue. In no way should the IRS be an enforcer of health care mandates.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 74: I am confident in my claim. You may believe or disbelieve it. It is your choice.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 74: I am confident in my claim. You may believe or disbelieve it. It is your choice.

  • fws

    bryan @ 70

    everything the nazis and communists did were legal. so it should scare you. especially that word ~legal.

  • fws

    bryan @ 70

    everything the nazis and communists did were legal. so it should scare you. especially that word ~legal.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    indeed – can’t you just imagine. “You have nothing to worry about, Bryan, we’ll limit ourselves to the legal method on your family.”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    indeed – can’t you just imagine. “You have nothing to worry about, Bryan, we’ll limit ourselves to the legal method on your family.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, well, Don (@76), as long as you’re confident, I guess I don’t really care what the facts are. Do let me know if you’re ever not confident about any claims you make up, though, will you?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, well, Don (@76), as long as you’re confident, I guess I don’t really care what the facts are. Do let me know if you’re ever not confident about any claims you make up, though, will you?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan Lindenwood: The phrase “legal enhanced interrogation techniques” gives me the willies!

    I agree that “enhanced” is a mealy-mouthed bureaucratic term. I use it simply due to its legal use by the Office of Legal Counsel.
    A better term would be “tough” or “aggressive.

    Bear in mind that the CIA, like most police departments, find it necessary to use tough though legal interrogation methods in order to get the truth from detained criminals and unlawful combatants.

    In the case of KLM, the #3 man of al Quaeda and master behind the 9/11 attack, when asked about future al Quaeda plans, his response was You will soon know. The CIA then used tough but perfectly legal forms of interrogation, eventually up to water-boarding that broke his resistance and led him to provide vital, actionable intelligence about the alQuaeda organization and its planned major attacks.

    FWS, at 77, CIA activities don’t come remotely close to the sort of extreme surveillance and interrogation methods that the Nazis and Communists used. Your clever insinuation that America is comparable in this regard to Germany during WWII and the Soviet Union is viciously slanderous.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan Lindenwood: The phrase “legal enhanced interrogation techniques” gives me the willies!

    I agree that “enhanced” is a mealy-mouthed bureaucratic term. I use it simply due to its legal use by the Office of Legal Counsel.
    A better term would be “tough” or “aggressive.

    Bear in mind that the CIA, like most police departments, find it necessary to use tough though legal interrogation methods in order to get the truth from detained criminals and unlawful combatants.

    In the case of KLM, the #3 man of al Quaeda and master behind the 9/11 attack, when asked about future al Quaeda plans, his response was You will soon know. The CIA then used tough but perfectly legal forms of interrogation, eventually up to water-boarding that broke his resistance and led him to provide vital, actionable intelligence about the alQuaeda organization and its planned major attacks.

    FWS, at 77, CIA activities don’t come remotely close to the sort of extreme surveillance and interrogation methods that the Nazis and Communists used. Your clever insinuation that America is comparable in this regard to Germany during WWII and the Soviet Union is viciously slanderous.

  • Winston Smith

    “Enhanced (literally, sharpened) interrogation techniques” is a translation of “verschaerfte vernemung.” The older phrase is in German. No extra credit for guessing who came up with it.

    As far as I am concerned, an America that has to resort to water torture and other methods of the Spanish Inquisition to defend itself is not an America worth defending. As far as preventing acts of terrorism is concerned, I live in the near suburbs of a major American city, and the result would probably affect me personally.

    I still say the use of torture in interrogations is an abomination in the sight of God and any civilized society.

  • Winston Smith

    “Enhanced (literally, sharpened) interrogation techniques” is a translation of “verschaerfte vernemung.” The older phrase is in German. No extra credit for guessing who came up with it.

    As far as I am concerned, an America that has to resort to water torture and other methods of the Spanish Inquisition to defend itself is not an America worth defending. As far as preventing acts of terrorism is concerned, I live in the near suburbs of a major American city, and the result would probably affect me personally.

    I still say the use of torture in interrogations is an abomination in the sight of God and any civilized society.

  • fws

    i would love to see suspected,…. (remember innocent until proven guilty in a court of law…habeus corpus and all those formalities that dirty harry said were a sign of weakness….) terrorists treated with such respect and dignity that they would have to report back that the americans were virtuous and good.

    this would maybe not win a battle. but it would ultimately win the ideological war we face. I am not so naive to think that we do not need conventional arms and troops. but we need to defend our principals or we are not worth defending.

  • fws

    i would love to see suspected,…. (remember innocent until proven guilty in a court of law…habeus corpus and all those formalities that dirty harry said were a sign of weakness….) terrorists treated with such respect and dignity that they would have to report back that the americans were virtuous and good.

    this would maybe not win a battle. but it would ultimately win the ideological war we face. I am not so naive to think that we do not need conventional arms and troops. but we need to defend our principals or we are not worth defending.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Regarding what Winston was talking about (@81), here’s an article noting the extensive similarities between modern-day defenders of Verschärfte Vernehmung and their Nazi co-idealists.

    Of course, such striking similarities miss the main difference between Nazi Germany and present-day America, which is that we are the Good Guys, while they were the Bad guys.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Regarding what Winston was talking about (@81), here’s an article noting the extensive similarities between modern-day defenders of Verschärfte Vernehmung and their Nazi co-idealists.

    Of course, such striking similarities miss the main difference between Nazi Germany and present-day America, which is that we are the Good Guys, while they were the Bad guys.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, even with your limited Rice education, you might know that it doesn’t follow that due to a similarity of translation from the German that American interrogation methods come close to those of the Germans.

    The truth is that you’ve made no reasonable attempt to take a close and fair look at what the CIA did after 9/11 with tough interrogation methods. Ideological liberal that you are, you troll the Internet on the issue and come up with a ludicrously absurd and nasty post by Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish and call it a day.

    Incidentally, during the Obama administration in 2009, the CIA working with the Pakistan ISI, captured two senior alQaeda officials who during the Bush administration would have been transferred to a CIA interrogation site or GTMO. Instead, since Obama shut down the CIA interrogation program and allows no new detainees to GTMO, these men were transferred to the ISI for interrogation. It is well known by the State Department that Pakistan can be exceedingly brutal with interrogation. What OBama has done with these two men, and continues to do, is to either outsource senior alQuaeda men to other Middle East countries for interrogation or kill them and sometimes their families through drone strikes. During the Bush administration when some captured alQuaeda men were allowed to be interrogated by a Middle East country, Sen. Leahy regarded this as “outsourcing torture.”

    So Bush is regarded as the “torture” president, while St. Obama keeps America’s skirt clean by outsourcing alQuaeda detainees for interrogation. Deliver us.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, even with your limited Rice education, you might know that it doesn’t follow that due to a similarity of translation from the German that American interrogation methods come close to those of the Germans.

    The truth is that you’ve made no reasonable attempt to take a close and fair look at what the CIA did after 9/11 with tough interrogation methods. Ideological liberal that you are, you troll the Internet on the issue and come up with a ludicrously absurd and nasty post by Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish and call it a day.

    Incidentally, during the Obama administration in 2009, the CIA working with the Pakistan ISI, captured two senior alQaeda officials who during the Bush administration would have been transferred to a CIA interrogation site or GTMO. Instead, since Obama shut down the CIA interrogation program and allows no new detainees to GTMO, these men were transferred to the ISI for interrogation. It is well known by the State Department that Pakistan can be exceedingly brutal with interrogation. What OBama has done with these two men, and continues to do, is to either outsource senior alQuaeda men to other Middle East countries for interrogation or kill them and sometimes their families through drone strikes. During the Bush administration when some captured alQuaeda men were allowed to be interrogated by a Middle East country, Sen. Leahy regarded this as “outsourcing torture.”

    So Bush is regarded as the “torture” president, while St. Obama keeps America’s skirt clean by outsourcing alQuaeda detainees for interrogation. Deliver us.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, setting aside your ad hominems directed at tODD’s educational background and intellectual capacity, it might be helpful to remember that the Bush administration was, erm, famous for the “extraordinary rendition” technique. I think Bush had his bases covered on torture, and Obama, if anything, is a frail imitation in that respect.

    For the record, I think Bush and Obama are nearly identical in terms of foreign policy. The differences are merely rhetorical.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, setting aside your ad hominems directed at tODD’s educational background and intellectual capacity, it might be helpful to remember that the Bush administration was, erm, famous for the “extraordinary rendition” technique. I think Bush had his bases covered on torture, and Obama, if anything, is a frail imitation in that respect.

    For the record, I think Bush and Obama are nearly identical in terms of foreign policy. The differences are merely rhetorical.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, the ad hominem remark about Todd was intended as humor. I actually know some Rice men in the business world whom I respect.

    You’re right that Obama has ended up following many of Bush’s foreign policies, as any president would given the reality of the serious radical jihadists and other enemies that we face.

    On the matter of CIA interrogation of senior alQaeda men, Obama made a serious mistake ending the program with an executive order. While he gets some valuable intelligence through outsourcing to Pakistan, the ISI is far less sophisticated and quite more brutal at both the initial interrogation and debriefing levels. The result is that at present we are likely getting far less valuable intelligence. The CIA was rather skilled at gathering intelligence from senior alQaeda men through linked debriefing of detainees.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, the ad hominem remark about Todd was intended as humor. I actually know some Rice men in the business world whom I respect.

    You’re right that Obama has ended up following many of Bush’s foreign policies, as any president would given the reality of the serious radical jihadists and other enemies that we face.

    On the matter of CIA interrogation of senior alQaeda men, Obama made a serious mistake ending the program with an executive order. While he gets some valuable intelligence through outsourcing to Pakistan, the ISI is far less sophisticated and quite more brutal at both the initial interrogation and debriefing levels. The result is that at present we are likely getting far less valuable intelligence. The CIA was rather skilled at gathering intelligence from senior alQaeda men through linked debriefing of detainees.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, I haven’t studied the rendition issue carefully and am reluctant to comment on it. From what little I understand of it, Clinton initiated the program and the CIA has continued it as a tool through the Obama administration. The LA Times wrote in February 2009 regarding the Obama administration’s initial view as follows:

    “Obviously you need to preserve some tools — you still have to go after the bad guys,” said an Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing the legal reasoning. “The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice.”

    On the matter of CIA interrogation and debriefing, I’ve read Marc Thiessen”s recent book, Courting Disaster, and on the legal side of the issue John Yoo’s book Crisis and Command and Jack Goldsmith’s book, The Terror Presidency. On the critical side of the matter, I read Jane Mayer’s book, Dark Side.

    If you know of a decent book on rendition, I should be grateful for a recommendation. I stay for the most part away from the Internet on these issues, as the ratio of signal to noise tends to be rather low.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, I haven’t studied the rendition issue carefully and am reluctant to comment on it. From what little I understand of it, Clinton initiated the program and the CIA has continued it as a tool through the Obama administration. The LA Times wrote in February 2009 regarding the Obama administration’s initial view as follows:

    “Obviously you need to preserve some tools — you still have to go after the bad guys,” said an Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing the legal reasoning. “The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice.”

    On the matter of CIA interrogation and debriefing, I’ve read Marc Thiessen”s recent book, Courting Disaster, and on the legal side of the issue John Yoo’s book Crisis and Command and Jack Goldsmith’s book, The Terror Presidency. On the critical side of the matter, I read Jane Mayer’s book, Dark Side.

    If you know of a decent book on rendition, I should be grateful for a recommendation. I stay for the most part away from the Internet on these issues, as the ratio of signal to noise tends to be rather low.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, a final remark to you on this issue. It would be wonderful if men could solve the problem of radical evil by being kind to one another. However, most serious Christian thinkers, including Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Niebuhr, John Paul, and Benedict understood and understand that in a world of fallen men it is necessary to fight hard, sometimes with great loss of blood and treasure, for justice and tranquility, however paradoxical given the love of Christ.

    Luther, for example, had no problem supporting a war against unruly German peasants who involved themselves with radical evil against undoubtedly oppressive rulers. Should anyone wish to fight a revolution, they need to have sufficient power and wit to see it through.

    A tendency toward pacifism or isolationism is a tempting alternative, though history teaches that bullies must be fought, whether in the schoolyard or among nations.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, a final remark to you on this issue. It would be wonderful if men could solve the problem of radical evil by being kind to one another. However, most serious Christian thinkers, including Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Niebuhr, John Paul, and Benedict understood and understand that in a world of fallen men it is necessary to fight hard, sometimes with great loss of blood and treasure, for justice and tranquility, however paradoxical given the love of Christ.

    Luther, for example, had no problem supporting a war against unruly German peasants who involved themselves with radical evil against undoubtedly oppressive rulers. Should anyone wish to fight a revolution, they need to have sufficient power and wit to see it through.

    A tendency toward pacifism or isolationism is a tempting alternative, though history teaches that bullies must be fought, whether in the schoolyard or among nations.

  • Tom Hering

    Didn’t Luther change his mind about putting down the Peasant’s Revolt? Even sending out a second letter rather quickly to that effect (but still too late to stop the slaughter)?

  • Tom Hering

    Didn’t Luther change his mind about putting down the Peasant’s Revolt? Even sending out a second letter rather quickly to that effect (but still too late to stop the slaughter)?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Tom, Luther well understood that Muntzer had perverted the peasant’s Reformation into a disordered, unholy grab for power. He understood the plight of the peasants and regretted their wholesale slaughter, though he understood that perfect justice in the long run will come at the eschatological end not from mere fallen men.

    In our time in a strange sort of way Obama is playing the Muntzer role; it appears just now that he is headed for a modern political form of slaughter. Fortunately that is the way of the world.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Tom, Luther well understood that Muntzer had perverted the peasant’s Reformation into a disordered, unholy grab for power. He understood the plight of the peasants and regretted their wholesale slaughter, though he understood that perfect justice in the long run will come at the eschatological end not from mere fallen men.

    In our time in a strange sort of way Obama is playing the Muntzer role; it appears just now that he is headed for a modern political form of slaughter. Fortunately that is the way of the world.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@86), “the ad hominem remark about Todd was intended as humor.” And humorous it was — if, indeed, said word can capture what is, now that I think about it, closer to hilarity. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if your true full name isn’t Peter Levity, as opposed to the pseudonominal handle you cribbed from bestselling techno-thriller The Andromeda Strain (one of only millions of bits of information gained from my regular trollings of the Internet, which I refer to as “using Google” — you should try it some time, it really is easier than just attempting to read everything on the Internet and trying to remember where every factoid is and yes, I am being every bit as humorous as is your wont).

    Anyhow, you know more know what “reasonable attempts” I’ve made to understand something than you can reasonably claim to tell me what people do and don’t understand (though, of course, you are constantly telling us that as well, such is your clairvoyant power). And yet, with such amazing mental powers, you still can’t see beyond the straw man you’ve constructed in my likeness, assuming as you do that I would defend Obama’s actions in this area while decrying Bush’s. I think both are wrong. Oh, did I just blow your pigeonholing mind?

    Anyhow, I just don’t have it in me to engage the rest of the straw army you’ve constructed today (i.e. @88, wherein anyone who doesn’t agree with you on torture oh we don’t call it that is necessarily a pacifist or isolationist — doubtless a heartland isolationist can you come up with new pejorative terms into which to pigeonhole people please.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@86), “the ad hominem remark about Todd was intended as humor.” And humorous it was — if, indeed, said word can capture what is, now that I think about it, closer to hilarity. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if your true full name isn’t Peter Levity, as opposed to the pseudonominal handle you cribbed from bestselling techno-thriller The Andromeda Strain (one of only millions of bits of information gained from my regular trollings of the Internet, which I refer to as “using Google” — you should try it some time, it really is easier than just attempting to read everything on the Internet and trying to remember where every factoid is and yes, I am being every bit as humorous as is your wont).

    Anyhow, you know more know what “reasonable attempts” I’ve made to understand something than you can reasonably claim to tell me what people do and don’t understand (though, of course, you are constantly telling us that as well, such is your clairvoyant power). And yet, with such amazing mental powers, you still can’t see beyond the straw man you’ve constructed in my likeness, assuming as you do that I would defend Obama’s actions in this area while decrying Bush’s. I think both are wrong. Oh, did I just blow your pigeonholing mind?

    Anyhow, I just don’t have it in me to engage the rest of the straw army you’ve constructed today (i.e. @88, wherein anyone who doesn’t agree with you on torture oh we don’t call it that is necessarily a pacifist or isolationist — doubtless a heartland isolationist can you come up with new pejorative terms into which to pigeonhole people please.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I can assure you that my actual name is Peter Leavitt, of whom there are not a few in New England, though I shan’t prove it to you in email or any other form of conversation. Count this as another assumption of yours based on chaff.

    As to the alleged straw-man argument at 88, FWS at 87 stated a wish that we deal with captured senior alQuaeda men in the “ideological” war on terror with kindness, a clearly pacifistic remark. KSM admitted from the beginning that he planned the 9/11 attack in detail.
    The CIA, also, had hard information that he was also involved in future plans that he refused to discuss. That’s when the legal tough interrogation took place. An unlawful enemy combatant without Geneva convention rights, he was a cold-blooded killer responsible already for the death of thousands of people and in the midst of planning future attacks. Until his resistance was broken, he could not have been treated kindly. What would you recommend to have done with him?

    If you don’t want to seriously debate the topic, fine, though your presumption that I would make of you a straw-man in the way that you incessantly do about conservatives is mistaken. So far on this thread you’ve offered up a ludicrous reference from Andrew Sullivan that is easily refuted. My guess is that the real reason that you don’t wish to discuss the topic is that you are rather ill-informed on it.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I can assure you that my actual name is Peter Leavitt, of whom there are not a few in New England, though I shan’t prove it to you in email or any other form of conversation. Count this as another assumption of yours based on chaff.

    As to the alleged straw-man argument at 88, FWS at 87 stated a wish that we deal with captured senior alQuaeda men in the “ideological” war on terror with kindness, a clearly pacifistic remark. KSM admitted from the beginning that he planned the 9/11 attack in detail.
    The CIA, also, had hard information that he was also involved in future plans that he refused to discuss. That’s when the legal tough interrogation took place. An unlawful enemy combatant without Geneva convention rights, he was a cold-blooded killer responsible already for the death of thousands of people and in the midst of planning future attacks. Until his resistance was broken, he could not have been treated kindly. What would you recommend to have done with him?

    If you don’t want to seriously debate the topic, fine, though your presumption that I would make of you a straw-man in the way that you incessantly do about conservatives is mistaken. So far on this thread you’ve offered up a ludicrous reference from Andrew Sullivan that is easily refuted. My guess is that the real reason that you don’t wish to discuss the topic is that you are rather ill-informed on it.

  • Winston Smith

    Another problem with the use of torture in high-stakes interrogations is that it quickly becomes routine in other contexts. It is said that hard cases make bad law — in other words, rulemaking based on extreme or outlying cases yields distorted results, while making rules or laws with the normal, garden-variety case in mind is a better way to get reasonable and fair laws.

    Fans of “24″ (I detest the show, based on what little I could make myself watch of it) have no doubt been convinced that our heroic defenders are always having to squeeze information out of some terrorist as precious seconds tick away on the timer. Has that ever happened, anywhere, anytime, in real life? I don’t know. (some would no doubt put the KSM interroagtion into that category, though there was no ticking bomb per se.) What I do know is that once torture becomes acceptable in high-stakes situations, it will eventually become standard operating procedure in less urgent proceedings. If the ends justify the means, first we torture to save Los Angeles, then we use torture in homicide investigations, and finally it will become routine, once the precedent has been set and the public desensitized to it. The public can become as desensitized to torture as it can to pornography. Slippery slope and all that.

  • Winston Smith

    Another problem with the use of torture in high-stakes interrogations is that it quickly becomes routine in other contexts. It is said that hard cases make bad law — in other words, rulemaking based on extreme or outlying cases yields distorted results, while making rules or laws with the normal, garden-variety case in mind is a better way to get reasonable and fair laws.

    Fans of “24″ (I detest the show, based on what little I could make myself watch of it) have no doubt been convinced that our heroic defenders are always having to squeeze information out of some terrorist as precious seconds tick away on the timer. Has that ever happened, anywhere, anytime, in real life? I don’t know. (some would no doubt put the KSM interroagtion into that category, though there was no ticking bomb per se.) What I do know is that once torture becomes acceptable in high-stakes situations, it will eventually become standard operating procedure in less urgent proceedings. If the ends justify the means, first we torture to save Los Angeles, then we use torture in homicide investigations, and finally it will become routine, once the precedent has been set and the public desensitized to it. The public can become as desensitized to torture as it can to pornography. Slippery slope and all that.

  • DonS

    Winston @ 93: Are you arguing with yourself? You’ve made your point that you believe water boarding and other techniques used by the CIA in post-9/11 interrogations are torture. Not everyone agrees with you. So, what are you gaining by continuing to routinely use the word “torture” in your arguments? Do you mean actual torture, like that imposed upon John McCain by North Vietnam? If so, I think most, if not all, of us agree with your point. If you mean the harder interrogation tactics which YOU regard as torture, then your argument is lost on those of us who disagree with your definition of the term. Maybe you are thinking that if you repeat it enough, we will all fall into line with your point of view? The media often does that, and it does seem to eventually work (choice, choice, choice…..).

  • DonS

    Winston @ 93: Are you arguing with yourself? You’ve made your point that you believe water boarding and other techniques used by the CIA in post-9/11 interrogations are torture. Not everyone agrees with you. So, what are you gaining by continuing to routinely use the word “torture” in your arguments? Do you mean actual torture, like that imposed upon John McCain by North Vietnam? If so, I think most, if not all, of us agree with your point. If you mean the harder interrogation tactics which YOU regard as torture, then your argument is lost on those of us who disagree with your definition of the term. Maybe you are thinking that if you repeat it enough, we will all fall into line with your point of view? The media often does that, and it does seem to eventually work (choice, choice, choice…..).

  • Peter Leavitt

    Winston, when the CIA uses tough legal interrogation techniques, they must go through a careful process of approval up to the Sec’y of Defense and the President; when used they are supervised by medical and psychological personnel. The CIA used them only on 34 senior alQaeda officials who had knowledge of planned future terrorist attacks. All of this is to make sure that such techniques do not become standard operating procedure.

    Only three men were water-boarded. Altogether some 80 thousand men have been captured in the War on Terror. The CIA applied tough methods to only thirty-four of the one hundred men detained. Most of them are in Iraq or Afghanistan; at the most 800 men were at GTMO. At present about 200 are at GTMO due to actions taken by both Bush and Obama,

    Also, after 9/11 the government had virtually no actionable intelligence. After using these techniques, especially against KLM and Abu Zubayda, the CIA understood alQaeda management operations much better and were able to roll up planned attacks on the Library Tower in LA, the downing of seven international flights in the mid Atlantic from Heathrow to various points in the U.S. within the same hour, and plane attacks on Heathrow and the London financial district.

    After the interrogators break the resistance of senior alQuaeda men, they are given to debriefers who are not allowed to use tough techniques. As to the term “torture” note that the New York Times and NPR are careful not to use the term that is often used loosely on the Internet. Torture by definition is intent to inflict severe physical or psychological pain on a person. CIA interrogators are strictly required to have no such intent. Their intent is limited to gathering life-saving intelligence.

    The comparison of what our government does with its tough interrogation methods what was done by the Germans and Soviets under Nazism and Communism is based on a severe lack of knowledge and much ill will.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Winston, when the CIA uses tough legal interrogation techniques, they must go through a careful process of approval up to the Sec’y of Defense and the President; when used they are supervised by medical and psychological personnel. The CIA used them only on 34 senior alQaeda officials who had knowledge of planned future terrorist attacks. All of this is to make sure that such techniques do not become standard operating procedure.

    Only three men were water-boarded. Altogether some 80 thousand men have been captured in the War on Terror. The CIA applied tough methods to only thirty-four of the one hundred men detained. Most of them are in Iraq or Afghanistan; at the most 800 men were at GTMO. At present about 200 are at GTMO due to actions taken by both Bush and Obama,

    Also, after 9/11 the government had virtually no actionable intelligence. After using these techniques, especially against KLM and Abu Zubayda, the CIA understood alQaeda management operations much better and were able to roll up planned attacks on the Library Tower in LA, the downing of seven international flights in the mid Atlantic from Heathrow to various points in the U.S. within the same hour, and plane attacks on Heathrow and the London financial district.

    After the interrogators break the resistance of senior alQuaeda men, they are given to debriefers who are not allowed to use tough techniques. As to the term “torture” note that the New York Times and NPR are careful not to use the term that is often used loosely on the Internet. Torture by definition is intent to inflict severe physical or psychological pain on a person. CIA interrogators are strictly required to have no such intent. Their intent is limited to gathering life-saving intelligence.

    The comparison of what our government does with its tough interrogation methods what was done by the Germans and Soviets under Nazism and Communism is based on a severe lack of knowledge and much ill will.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yeah, a bunch of ignoramuses full of “much ill will” in those of us concerned that our nations moral authority with adherence to natural law is gone. Those who would (I think wisely) warn that legal water-boarding of detainees now with the supervision of “doctors” and “professionals” could lead to other legalities too horrible to describe (under the same sinful human supervision). Lots of “ill will” toward one’s fellow man in us “heartland isolationists” (as you have accused us many times) who usually do believe in a strong and decisive defense, but not in meddling in the affairs of other sovereign nations. You know – a proper respect for other Authorities and God-given freedoms. I would think these would be concerns and self-reflections a thoughtful guy like Peter Leavitt would at least acknowledge, if not embrace. But it seems that since these form a critique and/or warning of possible dangers within Peter’s own fatherland, that he must defend today’s legalities, no matter how disconcerting they may be. Peter, can’t you at least share our concern regarding present and future dangers inherent in our nation’s current foreign policy?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yeah, a bunch of ignoramuses full of “much ill will” in those of us concerned that our nations moral authority with adherence to natural law is gone. Those who would (I think wisely) warn that legal water-boarding of detainees now with the supervision of “doctors” and “professionals” could lead to other legalities too horrible to describe (under the same sinful human supervision). Lots of “ill will” toward one’s fellow man in us “heartland isolationists” (as you have accused us many times) who usually do believe in a strong and decisive defense, but not in meddling in the affairs of other sovereign nations. You know – a proper respect for other Authorities and God-given freedoms. I would think these would be concerns and self-reflections a thoughtful guy like Peter Leavitt would at least acknowledge, if not embrace. But it seems that since these form a critique and/or warning of possible dangers within Peter’s own fatherland, that he must defend today’s legalities, no matter how disconcerting they may be. Peter, can’t you at least share our concern regarding present and future dangers inherent in our nation’s current foreign policy?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, governments involved daily have to balance high Christian ideals with the realities of national security. One risks becoming a righteous moralist when applying high Christian moral standards to governmental matters having to do with cold-blooded, murderous enemies. This has been understood by Christian theologians for about two millennia. The best relatively recent Christian theologian to discuss this was Reinhold Niebuhr in his book Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Public Policy.

    Neibuhr points out that when nations deal with radical evil such as that caused by Hitler and Stalin, hard measures must be taken, measures that individual moral men would not think of in their ordinary personal relations.

    Bear in mind that the tough interrogation measures that have been used against senior alQaeda men do not amount to torture as their intent is not to inflict severe and lasting physical and mental pain.

    Marc Thiessen talked to one of the CIA men who used these tough measures, knowing that many Americans would regard them as brutal and appalling. In justifying this to his own conscience, he said that he thought about the couple on 9/11 who holding hands jumped from about the Ninetieth floor of the World Trade Center, not from the point of view of vengeance, but hoping to help prevent another such horror. In my view these CIA men doing this exceedingly hard mental work are real heroes as well as good Christians, if they happen to be Christian.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, governments involved daily have to balance high Christian ideals with the realities of national security. One risks becoming a righteous moralist when applying high Christian moral standards to governmental matters having to do with cold-blooded, murderous enemies. This has been understood by Christian theologians for about two millennia. The best relatively recent Christian theologian to discuss this was Reinhold Niebuhr in his book Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Public Policy.

    Neibuhr points out that when nations deal with radical evil such as that caused by Hitler and Stalin, hard measures must be taken, measures that individual moral men would not think of in their ordinary personal relations.

    Bear in mind that the tough interrogation measures that have been used against senior alQaeda men do not amount to torture as their intent is not to inflict severe and lasting physical and mental pain.

    Marc Thiessen talked to one of the CIA men who used these tough measures, knowing that many Americans would regard them as brutal and appalling. In justifying this to his own conscience, he said that he thought about the couple on 9/11 who holding hands jumped from about the Ninetieth floor of the World Trade Center, not from the point of view of vengeance, but hoping to help prevent another such horror. In my view these CIA men doing this exceedingly hard mental work are real heroes as well as good Christians, if they happen to be Christian.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    That’s what government’s for, Peter: to restrain evil, through laws, courts, and punishment. That’s what I worry about – People getting the whole law, order, and punishment out of whack when they think they are the ones to determine what is evil and what is not. It gets us all out of order. That’s the danger that seems inherent in also your reasonable but sinful mind. You seem to think there is something holy and above the law about U.S. Government and legalized torture when it comes to terrorism. And I think you are wrong about that. I guess we’ll have to disagree.

    And frankly, I don’t care what the “interrogator” thinks about to justify what is not justified. Its creative, I’ll grant you that – but I don’t think its justified. We have descended to their level – and we should have a repentant attitude about that – not a self-centered, righteous, we-torture-better(more legal, thought-out, and American Righteous)-than-you one.

    I don’t disagree that “hard measures must” at times be taken, but we are never to forget that the men we fight – as evil as they may be, are still to be treated as men. The way we fight is very important. Its about dignity and honor. Its why my brothers and I seldom got in trouble from my father when we fought. He knew we were learning. But if he ever caught us fighting dirty (complicated rules here – you wouldn’t probably understand), we certainly knew that we had crossed a line. Is there a line for you, Peter? If the U.S. legalizes it for use by our military – Its all fair for you, right?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    That’s what government’s for, Peter: to restrain evil, through laws, courts, and punishment. That’s what I worry about – People getting the whole law, order, and punishment out of whack when they think they are the ones to determine what is evil and what is not. It gets us all out of order. That’s the danger that seems inherent in also your reasonable but sinful mind. You seem to think there is something holy and above the law about U.S. Government and legalized torture when it comes to terrorism. And I think you are wrong about that. I guess we’ll have to disagree.

    And frankly, I don’t care what the “interrogator” thinks about to justify what is not justified. Its creative, I’ll grant you that – but I don’t think its justified. We have descended to their level – and we should have a repentant attitude about that – not a self-centered, righteous, we-torture-better(more legal, thought-out, and American Righteous)-than-you one.

    I don’t disagree that “hard measures must” at times be taken, but we are never to forget that the men we fight – as evil as they may be, are still to be treated as men. The way we fight is very important. Its about dignity and honor. Its why my brothers and I seldom got in trouble from my father when we fought. He knew we were learning. But if he ever caught us fighting dirty (complicated rules here – you wouldn’t probably understand), we certainly knew that we had crossed a line. Is there a line for you, Peter? If the U.S. legalizes it for use by our military – Its all fair for you, right?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, lines were drawn with the interrogation methods.

    First, none of them are allowed to cause severe physical or mental harm.

    Second, permission yo use the tough methods had to be secured from high authority.

    Third the tough methods are supervised by medical and psychological personnel.

    Fourth, such methods can be used only for unlawful enemy combatants who target innocent civilians lacking Geneva Convention rights.

    Fifth, the tough methods are used only in relation to actual attack plans known by these proven cold blooded of innocent civilians.

    Your remark that if it’s used by the military as far as I’m concerned, insinuating anything goes is rather nasty. One grows weary of your self righteous moralizing. Your example of your father is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand, however personally sentimental.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, lines were drawn with the interrogation methods.

    First, none of them are allowed to cause severe physical or mental harm.

    Second, permission yo use the tough methods had to be secured from high authority.

    Third the tough methods are supervised by medical and psychological personnel.

    Fourth, such methods can be used only for unlawful enemy combatants who target innocent civilians lacking Geneva Convention rights.

    Fifth, the tough methods are used only in relation to actual attack plans known by these proven cold blooded of innocent civilians.

    Your remark that if it’s used by the military as far as I’m concerned, insinuating anything goes is rather nasty. One grows weary of your self righteous moralizing. Your example of your father is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand, however personally sentimental.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    When those lines were drawn – lines were moved, no? I’m uncomfortable with the direction those lines could continue to move in the future and where even “medical and psychological personnel” may lead us in the future. You seem to be very comfortable with the direction of our nation’s foreign policy especially in regards to all this top secret added surveillance of the populace. I think it at the very least calls into question if our response is and will continue to be just. And besides, through this discussion, which I appreciate, you are helping me firm up my own arguments for just war and appropriate treatment of both citizens and enemy combatants through rules of law and justice. Thank you, Peter. However, I will disregard your comment and sentimentally hold onto the lessons taught me in my youth. They remain valuable to me, so you’re probably right, I shouldn’t expect anyone else to see the connections. So sorry for bringing it up.

    Peace, brother.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    When those lines were drawn – lines were moved, no? I’m uncomfortable with the direction those lines could continue to move in the future and where even “medical and psychological personnel” may lead us in the future. You seem to be very comfortable with the direction of our nation’s foreign policy especially in regards to all this top secret added surveillance of the populace. I think it at the very least calls into question if our response is and will continue to be just. And besides, through this discussion, which I appreciate, you are helping me firm up my own arguments for just war and appropriate treatment of both citizens and enemy combatants through rules of law and justice. Thank you, Peter. However, I will disregard your comment and sentimentally hold onto the lessons taught me in my youth. They remain valuable to me, so you’re probably right, I shouldn’t expect anyone else to see the connections. So sorry for bringing it up.

    Peace, brother.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bryan (@100), I saw the “connections”, too, in your story. But then, we heartland isolationists probably find it easy to understand each others’ points like that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bryan (@100), I saw the “connections”, too, in your story. But then, we heartland isolationists probably find it easy to understand each others’ points like that.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, could you adduce some evidence that these lines were in any way moved? As far as I know, they were not. If anything they have been steadily tightened.

    Another term for heartland isolationist is “paleoconservative” of the Buchanan variety. Though it’s convenient for you to claim it in your support for Bryan, you’re rather an ordinary left-coast liberal who on this thread has contributed zilch of any substance. You didn’t even come up with one of your signature side issues to divert the thread into nonsense.

    N.B., I didn’t label Bryan a heartland conservative. I’m not sure what his politics are; they’re not clear from this thread.

    BTW, the term “heartland isolationist” is not necessarily pejorative. It describes a certain reality. Modern heartland isolationism came into play historically before and during WWI. It is alternately referred to by historians as the Non-Partisan League or upper- midwest isolationism. Just now it is particularly evident with relation to the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps something is in the air on those parts.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, could you adduce some evidence that these lines were in any way moved? As far as I know, they were not. If anything they have been steadily tightened.

    Another term for heartland isolationist is “paleoconservative” of the Buchanan variety. Though it’s convenient for you to claim it in your support for Bryan, you’re rather an ordinary left-coast liberal who on this thread has contributed zilch of any substance. You didn’t even come up with one of your signature side issues to divert the thread into nonsense.

    N.B., I didn’t label Bryan a heartland conservative. I’m not sure what his politics are; they’re not clear from this thread.

    BTW, the term “heartland isolationist” is not necessarily pejorative. It describes a certain reality. Modern heartland isolationism came into play historically before and during WWI. It is alternately referred to by historians as the Non-Partisan League or upper- midwest isolationism. Just now it is particularly evident with relation to the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps something is in the air on those parts.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “Tightened”, but not “moved” to allow for new “legal enhanced interrogation techniques”. Now there’s a turn of a phrase.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “Tightened”, but not “moved” to allow for new “legal enhanced interrogation techniques”. Now there’s a turn of a phrase.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “BTW, the term “heartland isolationist” is not necessarily pejorative… Modern heartland isolationism came into play historically before and during WWI” – This is too funny.

    BTW, then I’m certainly a pre-modern heartland isolationist. From my understanding of U.S. politics, pre-WWI, my very rational and fight-for-actual-peace-with-one’s-global-neighbor view was held by many more people than your enlightenment-modernist/post-modernist preemptive-war one . Yes, indeed, I’ll gladly claim that badge: Pre-Modern Heartland Isolationist, in fact I may start attaching those letters to the end of my name Rev. Bryan N. Lindemood, PMHI. Very nice. Thanks again, Peter: you always help me out a lot!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “BTW, the term “heartland isolationist” is not necessarily pejorative… Modern heartland isolationism came into play historically before and during WWI” – This is too funny.

    BTW, then I’m certainly a pre-modern heartland isolationist. From my understanding of U.S. politics, pre-WWI, my very rational and fight-for-actual-peace-with-one’s-global-neighbor view was held by many more people than your enlightenment-modernist/post-modernist preemptive-war one . Yes, indeed, I’ll gladly claim that badge: Pre-Modern Heartland Isolationist, in fact I may start attaching those letters to the end of my name Rev. Bryan N. Lindemood, PMHI. Very nice. Thanks again, Peter: you always help me out a lot!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, the Bush administration in 2006 removed water-boarding and a few other measures from the approved list of tough interrogation methods, though he- and Obama- both reserved the method for use in extraordinary circumstance. You need to do some homework on this issue and try somehow to understand the basic facts.

    By 2006 the CIA had likely developed better intelligence from human sources within alQaeda. After 9/ 11 we had virtually no actionable intelligence on alQaeda.

    Again, if you have knowledge that these lines have moved toward “new” methods do enlighten us. I suspect you’re talking through your hat, or as they say in Texas, you’re an all hat no cattle fellow.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, the Bush administration in 2006 removed water-boarding and a few other measures from the approved list of tough interrogation methods, though he- and Obama- both reserved the method for use in extraordinary circumstance. You need to do some homework on this issue and try somehow to understand the basic facts.

    By 2006 the CIA had likely developed better intelligence from human sources within alQaeda. After 9/ 11 we had virtually no actionable intelligence on alQaeda.

    Again, if you have knowledge that these lines have moved toward “new” methods do enlighten us. I suspect you’re talking through your hat, or as they say in Texas, you’re an all hat no cattle fellow.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    They say different things where I’m from, but I don’t think they are nice. I don’t think they are very nice in Texas either, or D.C. or at the Pentegon, or behind the remote control on the latest drone. Sinners all – hence my tiny little concern about unlimited secret powers. Hmm, I wonder why I also don’t know what government thugs dream about doing in dark rooms in secret prisons to people condemned as terrorists before those individuals have even had a chance to defend themselves or to be tried by an impartial court. Oh, yeah, its top secret, and alas, I don’t have a security clearance. Could it be that a huge top secret industry could also be cover for huge government sins? No, certainly not! Heaven forbid! In the U.S. that’s not even possible – as you are so good at pointing out we have government laws that everyone can trust backed up my inerrant politicians and sergeants and holy doctors and psychologists. No one with a top secret security clearance would ever hide anything the government did wrong! (I’m ashamed to even question the rightness or wrongness of the way they brush their teeth, who am I after all?) I don’t know why that idea ever came into my mind – I better go repent and learn to trust in princes more and submit to the government better. Since that’s the sort of allegiance you’re after, Peter, I really think its about time you post your personal email for tODD. He’s even a repentant confessional Lutheran. Certainly if we can trust the Government so, you can trust him.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    They say different things where I’m from, but I don’t think they are nice. I don’t think they are very nice in Texas either, or D.C. or at the Pentegon, or behind the remote control on the latest drone. Sinners all – hence my tiny little concern about unlimited secret powers. Hmm, I wonder why I also don’t know what government thugs dream about doing in dark rooms in secret prisons to people condemned as terrorists before those individuals have even had a chance to defend themselves or to be tried by an impartial court. Oh, yeah, its top secret, and alas, I don’t have a security clearance. Could it be that a huge top secret industry could also be cover for huge government sins? No, certainly not! Heaven forbid! In the U.S. that’s not even possible – as you are so good at pointing out we have government laws that everyone can trust backed up my inerrant politicians and sergeants and holy doctors and psychologists. No one with a top secret security clearance would ever hide anything the government did wrong! (I’m ashamed to even question the rightness or wrongness of the way they brush their teeth, who am I after all?) I don’t know why that idea ever came into my mind – I better go repent and learn to trust in princes more and submit to the government better. Since that’s the sort of allegiance you’re after, Peter, I really think its about time you post your personal email for tODD. He’s even a repentant confessional Lutheran. Certainly if we can trust the Government so, you can trust him.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, you might look up Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, a died in the wool heartland isolationist who vehemently opposed going to war with Japan. Over time he came to see the virtue of internationalism and as a Republican leader crafted a bi-partisan foreign policy after WWII that laid the foundation for European recovery and the Cold War policy that ultimately defeated the Soviet Union.

    Basically Vandenberg came to see that America needs to be strong in the world in fighting the enemies of the West. Our present war against the radical Islamics who wish to impose Shariah Law in the world, though of a different nature is fully as fateful as WWII, the piety and illusions of the heartland isolationists notwithstanding.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, you might look up Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, a died in the wool heartland isolationist who vehemently opposed going to war with Japan. Over time he came to see the virtue of internationalism and as a Republican leader crafted a bi-partisan foreign policy after WWII that laid the foundation for European recovery and the Cold War policy that ultimately defeated the Soviet Union.

    Basically Vandenberg came to see that America needs to be strong in the world in fighting the enemies of the West. Our present war against the radical Islamics who wish to impose Shariah Law in the world, though of a different nature is fully as fateful as WWII, the piety and illusions of the heartland isolationists notwithstanding.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Peter, I wonder what Sen. Vandenberg would think of our hyper-secretive-pre-emptive-perpetual-war of today. Would he even believe we have conserved the “West”? I think not. Lines shifting everywhere – I’m concerned about conserving something good about the West. You actually believe current military policy is conserving Western ideals after you have argued so extensively for top secret “legal enhanced interrogation techniques” running roughshod over Christian moralists?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Peter, I wonder what Sen. Vandenberg would think of our hyper-secretive-pre-emptive-perpetual-war of today. Would he even believe we have conserved the “West”? I think not. Lines shifting everywhere – I’m concerned about conserving something good about the West. You actually believe current military policy is conserving Western ideals after you have argued so extensively for top secret “legal enhanced interrogation techniques” running roughshod over Christian moralists?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, the War against radical Islam is quite unconventional. As Pres. Bush said back in September of 2001, it is a shadow war against an enemy that hides behind civilian lines and uses unconventional forces to attack and terrorize civilians.

    How would you go about handling KSM whom the CIA knew was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack and was planning other such attacks. Again, when asked about the details of future attacks he replied that You will know soon.

    Vandenberg, the senior Republican leader in foreign relations, would likely have known of OSS [the predecessor of the CIA] covert activities that would have been rather more unpleasant than enhanced interrogation techniques. The leader of the OSS, Wild Bill Donovan, did not play softball.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bryan, the War against radical Islam is quite unconventional. As Pres. Bush said back in September of 2001, it is a shadow war against an enemy that hides behind civilian lines and uses unconventional forces to attack and terrorize civilians.

    How would you go about handling KSM whom the CIA knew was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack and was planning other such attacks. Again, when asked about the details of future attacks he replied that You will know soon.

    Vandenberg, the senior Republican leader in foreign relations, would likely have known of OSS [the predecessor of the CIA] covert activities that would have been rather more unpleasant than enhanced interrogation techniques. The leader of the OSS, Wild Bill Donovan, did not play softball.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I have to say that you’ve constructed a real straw man for yourself in this case. While I don’t necessarily object to the label “Heartland isolationist” being applies to my person and views, none of us (with the possible exception of fws’s peacenik-ish moment) here have remotely expressed isolationist views.

    An isolationist is someone who spurns all international involvement and commitment. None of us has advocated anything of the kind. Unless you’ve redefined “isolationist” to mean someone who opposes certain narrowly defined “heightened interrogational methods” and/or torture, you’re attacking a view that hasn’t even been expressed here. Similarly, being opposed to one or more wars (say, the War in Iraq, or even the general War on Terror) or one or more treaties (say, NAFTA) does not make one an isolationist; it merely means someone is opposed to a particular war. George Washington was a bit of an isolationist, as war Thomas Jefferson. But there aren’t very many these days who seriously espouse avoiding foreign commitments and “entanglements,” and I know that there is no substantial portion of the American public who would still support that proposition–not enough to elect anyone. In fact, I can’t think of a single prominent living isolationist (no, Ron Paul is not an isolationist).

    I repeat: just because I think that torture is impermissible does not render me subject to your pejorative nomenclature. Nor does it relegate tODD, Bryan, and others to that heap of views that are apparently “unserious” in today’s discourse. I haven’t heard any faintly isolationist statements in this entire discussion. While neoconservatives (who are actually hawkish progressives/liberals who switched to the Republican party in the postwar era) have been recently fond of constructing a polar world in which one is either a raving hawk or a raving hippie–i.e., Heartland isolationist–this is simply an incorrect assessment of the world. I don’t have to support your wars and your methods of making war to be something other than isolationist.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I have to say that you’ve constructed a real straw man for yourself in this case. While I don’t necessarily object to the label “Heartland isolationist” being applies to my person and views, none of us (with the possible exception of fws’s peacenik-ish moment) here have remotely expressed isolationist views.

    An isolationist is someone who spurns all international involvement and commitment. None of us has advocated anything of the kind. Unless you’ve redefined “isolationist” to mean someone who opposes certain narrowly defined “heightened interrogational methods” and/or torture, you’re attacking a view that hasn’t even been expressed here. Similarly, being opposed to one or more wars (say, the War in Iraq, or even the general War on Terror) or one or more treaties (say, NAFTA) does not make one an isolationist; it merely means someone is opposed to a particular war. George Washington was a bit of an isolationist, as war Thomas Jefferson. But there aren’t very many these days who seriously espouse avoiding foreign commitments and “entanglements,” and I know that there is no substantial portion of the American public who would still support that proposition–not enough to elect anyone. In fact, I can’t think of a single prominent living isolationist (no, Ron Paul is not an isolationist).

    I repeat: just because I think that torture is impermissible does not render me subject to your pejorative nomenclature. Nor does it relegate tODD, Bryan, and others to that heap of views that are apparently “unserious” in today’s discourse. I haven’t heard any faintly isolationist statements in this entire discussion. While neoconservatives (who are actually hawkish progressives/liberals who switched to the Republican party in the postwar era) have been recently fond of constructing a polar world in which one is either a raving hawk or a raving hippie–i.e., Heartland isolationist–this is simply an incorrect assessment of the world. I don’t have to support your wars and your methods of making war to be something other than isolationist.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, moderate isolationists tend to reject foreign entanglements, just as moderate pacifists tend to reject war. Moderate conservatives tend to fight serious enemies. Your view that “neo” conservatives are some sort of hawkish progressives, while clever, is rather mistaken.

    Your assumption that America has been involved in torture gives you away as ill informed on this issue. Even the New York Times and NPR are careful enough not to use that buzzword that poisons any intelligent discussion of the issue of how best to deal with with senior alQaeda men.

    As to Washington, he was the leading general in a war against England that historians say was supported by one-third of the people, opposed by a third, and regarded indifferently by a third. He advised against further European entanglements since he knew that America lacked the strength to fight further European wars.

    America from the time it fought the Indians through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Gulf, Iraq, and at present Afghanistan tends to fight for justice and its vital interests, notwithstanding the pleas of those like FWS who tend toward pacifism and like you who tend toward isolationism.

    The basic conservative view is that in the long run wars are prevented by strength and the willingness to fight as opposed to the weakness and vacillation that causes most wars. Had the West stood up to Germany in the thirties WWII would no have been necessary., something that Churchill made clear. If you wish to understand this view in depth, I should suggest that you read Donald Kagan’s book, On the Origins of War: and the Preservation of Peace. Kagan is a distinguished Yale professor of history.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, moderate isolationists tend to reject foreign entanglements, just as moderate pacifists tend to reject war. Moderate conservatives tend to fight serious enemies. Your view that “neo” conservatives are some sort of hawkish progressives, while clever, is rather mistaken.

    Your assumption that America has been involved in torture gives you away as ill informed on this issue. Even the New York Times and NPR are careful enough not to use that buzzword that poisons any intelligent discussion of the issue of how best to deal with with senior alQaeda men.

    As to Washington, he was the leading general in a war against England that historians say was supported by one-third of the people, opposed by a third, and regarded indifferently by a third. He advised against further European entanglements since he knew that America lacked the strength to fight further European wars.

    America from the time it fought the Indians through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Gulf, Iraq, and at present Afghanistan tends to fight for justice and its vital interests, notwithstanding the pleas of those like FWS who tend toward pacifism and like you who tend toward isolationism.

    The basic conservative view is that in the long run wars are prevented by strength and the willingness to fight as opposed to the weakness and vacillation that causes most wars. Had the West stood up to Germany in the thirties WWII would no have been necessary., something that Churchill made clear. If you wish to understand this view in depth, I should suggest that you read Donald Kagan’s book, On the Origins of War: and the Preservation of Peace. Kagan is a distinguished Yale professor of history.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@111), let me get this straight. You reject as “clever [but] rather mistaken” Cincinnatus’ claim (@110) that, “neoconservatives … are actually hawkish progressives/liberals who switched to the Republican party in the postwar era”, and then go on to recommend a book by Donald Kagan, a self-described former “old-fashioned, Roosevelt, New Deal liberal” who went on to be one of the original signatories to the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century (a group that pretty much defines neoconservatism).

    Are … are you … hmm. Are you being ironic? Are you trolling us? Do you know what you’re talking about?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@111), let me get this straight. You reject as “clever [but] rather mistaken” Cincinnatus’ claim (@110) that, “neoconservatives … are actually hawkish progressives/liberals who switched to the Republican party in the postwar era”, and then go on to recommend a book by Donald Kagan, a self-described former “old-fashioned, Roosevelt, New Deal liberal” who went on to be one of the original signatories to the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century (a group that pretty much defines neoconservatism).

    Are … are you … hmm. Are you being ironic? Are you trolling us? Do you know what you’re talking about?

  • Cincinnatus

    I don’t deny that I tend toward isolationism, Peter. My point is that you can’t simply dismiss our views by calling them isolationist, especially because isolationist sentiments haven’t even been expressed in this discussion. My opposition to certain modes of interrogation doesn’t tend isolationist or interventionist. It’s an ethical position I’ve taken unrelated to my stance on foreign policy.

    As for your “understanding” of neoconservatism, permit me to point out that you are completely and utterly incorrect.

    Wikipedia is not my source for this claim, but this article, in its second paragraph, merely summarizes the matter better than I can:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

    Neoconservatives are former liberals/progressives who migrated to the Republican party after growing disaffected with the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to continue embracing certain progressive ideals. They’re an odd fusion of conservative and liberal ideas, but it is historical fact that they are originally rooted in progressive ideology. Indeed, their views on foreign policy are simply Woodrow Wilson’s highly idealistic progressive internationalism translated into modern terminology and housed in a certain wing of the G.O.P. In fact, they’re so prominent that we now have to call traditional conservatives “paleoconservatives” in order to maintain a distinction. Paleoconservatives came first. Neoconservatives were once liberal democrats. Again, historical fact.

    There are no connotations here. I only pointed it out so that you would stop pretending that neoconservative foreign policy is somehow a more “original” or veritable form of conservatism. At least get the facts straight. Embrace the heritage of your interventionist views. A liberal democrat by the name of Roosevelt rather than any kind of conservative “stood up” to Germany. A liberal democrat intervened in WWI. A liberal democrat escalated the Vietnam war. A liberal democrat initiated the Korean War. A liberal Republican began the Iraq war, but his “democratization thesis” was merely distilled progressivism. Even Reagan was progressive in his foreign policy views. Since most prominent Republican leaders of the past few decades have been “hawkish” in this respect, it’s all too easy to identify such views with conservatism–but there’s nothing conservative about it.

    Also, I’ve already read Kagan. Thanks anyway for the recommendation. You’ve recommended it to me multiple times. It’s a good book and a fine piece of scholarship, but that doesn’t mean I agree or should agree with his ideological persuasions.

  • Cincinnatus

    I don’t deny that I tend toward isolationism, Peter. My point is that you can’t simply dismiss our views by calling them isolationist, especially because isolationist sentiments haven’t even been expressed in this discussion. My opposition to certain modes of interrogation doesn’t tend isolationist or interventionist. It’s an ethical position I’ve taken unrelated to my stance on foreign policy.

    As for your “understanding” of neoconservatism, permit me to point out that you are completely and utterly incorrect.

    Wikipedia is not my source for this claim, but this article, in its second paragraph, merely summarizes the matter better than I can:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

    Neoconservatives are former liberals/progressives who migrated to the Republican party after growing disaffected with the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to continue embracing certain progressive ideals. They’re an odd fusion of conservative and liberal ideas, but it is historical fact that they are originally rooted in progressive ideology. Indeed, their views on foreign policy are simply Woodrow Wilson’s highly idealistic progressive internationalism translated into modern terminology and housed in a certain wing of the G.O.P. In fact, they’re so prominent that we now have to call traditional conservatives “paleoconservatives” in order to maintain a distinction. Paleoconservatives came first. Neoconservatives were once liberal democrats. Again, historical fact.

    There are no connotations here. I only pointed it out so that you would stop pretending that neoconservative foreign policy is somehow a more “original” or veritable form of conservatism. At least get the facts straight. Embrace the heritage of your interventionist views. A liberal democrat by the name of Roosevelt rather than any kind of conservative “stood up” to Germany. A liberal democrat intervened in WWI. A liberal democrat escalated the Vietnam war. A liberal democrat initiated the Korean War. A liberal Republican began the Iraq war, but his “democratization thesis” was merely distilled progressivism. Even Reagan was progressive in his foreign policy views. Since most prominent Republican leaders of the past few decades have been “hawkish” in this respect, it’s all too easy to identify such views with conservatism–but there’s nothing conservative about it.

    Also, I’ve already read Kagan. Thanks anyway for the recommendation. You’ve recommended it to me multiple times. It’s a good book and a fine piece of scholarship, but that doesn’t mean I agree or should agree with his ideological persuasions.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, it’s true that some progressives turned conservative, though the conservative position regarding national security ought not be denigrated due to this phenomenon. Conservatives didn’t need progressive views to understand the need to fight serious enemies. This whole demonization of “neo” conservatives is a liberal and isolationist myth.

    Also, conservatives are not simple-minded “interventionists, as you simple-mindedly allege. They understand that serious enemies need to be deterred and, if necessary, fought. Again WWII would not have been necessary had those who tended toward isolationism and pacifism not been fought. Another president who had to contend with isolationists and pacifists was Lincoln before the Civil War. Only through his wisdom and courage was the union saved and slavery ended.

    As to Roosevelt, he was adamantly opposed before WWII by the isolationists through the Liberty League who sought to keep America ought of WWII. Fortunately the moderate Democrats and conservatives gave him the support necessary to prosecute the war and assist Churchill even before Pearl Harbor.

    I rather doubt that you seriously read Kagan’s book. What would be your answer to the basic thesis of his book?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, it’s true that some progressives turned conservative, though the conservative position regarding national security ought not be denigrated due to this phenomenon. Conservatives didn’t need progressive views to understand the need to fight serious enemies. This whole demonization of “neo” conservatives is a liberal and isolationist myth.

    Also, conservatives are not simple-minded “interventionists, as you simple-mindedly allege. They understand that serious enemies need to be deterred and, if necessary, fought. Again WWII would not have been necessary had those who tended toward isolationism and pacifism not been fought. Another president who had to contend with isolationists and pacifists was Lincoln before the Civil War. Only through his wisdom and courage was the union saved and slavery ended.

    As to Roosevelt, he was adamantly opposed before WWII by the isolationists through the Liberty League who sought to keep America ought of WWII. Fortunately the moderate Democrats and conservatives gave him the support necessary to prosecute the war and assist Churchill even before Pearl Harbor.

    I rather doubt that you seriously read Kagan’s book. What would be your answer to the basic thesis of his book?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I think you’re still seriously misunderstanding both me and conservatism.

    -Conservatism is fundamentally non-interventionist. You somehow picked up the notion that I think they are interventionist. I do not know where you think I said this. This does not necessarily translate into strict isolationism. Please add a dab of nuance to your ideological categories. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, are highly interventionist because they believe in the efficacy of state power to cure a host of ills (i.e., progressivism!). More particularly, they support the democratization thesis: democracies never wage war with one another, they hypothesize (see Francis Fukuyama); therefore, the way to foster world peace is to propagate democracy, often by force, across the globe. This is an idealistic thesis that is rooted in progressive notions but is also (one of) George Bush’s primary motivations for the invasion of Iraq. Nowhere did I allege that either of these positions is “simple-minded.” Neoconservatives are not authentically conservative. Nowhere did I allege that this was a bad thing. It simply is historically. Lincoln was not conservative. You betray your non-conservative/neoconservative foreign policy assumptions by claiming that he is. Again, this is neither categorically bad or good. It simply is.

    -The idea that neoconservatism as liberal is actually a “liberal, isolationist myth” is preposterous nonsense. Have you read anything whatsoever about the roots of conservatism and neoconservatism? I’m not indulging an ideological soapbox. I’m relaying an undeniable fact of intellectual history. This book may help: http://www.amazon.com/American-Conservatism-Encyclopedia-Bruce-Frohnen/dp/1932236430

    -Nowhere did I or would I deny that “serious enemies need to be deterred and, if necessary, fought.” Of course, that’s irrelevant to the topic of this discussion thus far. No doubt we would disagree as to what deterrence may involve in certain situations and which particular enemies need to be fought (and who actually constitutes a serious enemy), but I do not challenge the principle. You’re constructing another straw man.

    -Not that I need to defend my reading comprehension abilities, but insofar as a work of history can have a thesis (whether it should is another matter), Kagan’s is very roughly that waging war is necessary for the preservation of long-term, greater peace. Carry a big stick and all that. It’s rather uncontroversial prima facie, though I doubt I would agree with Kagan in its full application. I disagree, for instance, with his interpretation of the Peloponnesian War and of Thucydides.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I think you’re still seriously misunderstanding both me and conservatism.

    -Conservatism is fundamentally non-interventionist. You somehow picked up the notion that I think they are interventionist. I do not know where you think I said this. This does not necessarily translate into strict isolationism. Please add a dab of nuance to your ideological categories. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, are highly interventionist because they believe in the efficacy of state power to cure a host of ills (i.e., progressivism!). More particularly, they support the democratization thesis: democracies never wage war with one another, they hypothesize (see Francis Fukuyama); therefore, the way to foster world peace is to propagate democracy, often by force, across the globe. This is an idealistic thesis that is rooted in progressive notions but is also (one of) George Bush’s primary motivations for the invasion of Iraq. Nowhere did I allege that either of these positions is “simple-minded.” Neoconservatives are not authentically conservative. Nowhere did I allege that this was a bad thing. It simply is historically. Lincoln was not conservative. You betray your non-conservative/neoconservative foreign policy assumptions by claiming that he is. Again, this is neither categorically bad or good. It simply is.

    -The idea that neoconservatism as liberal is actually a “liberal, isolationist myth” is preposterous nonsense. Have you read anything whatsoever about the roots of conservatism and neoconservatism? I’m not indulging an ideological soapbox. I’m relaying an undeniable fact of intellectual history. This book may help: http://www.amazon.com/American-Conservatism-Encyclopedia-Bruce-Frohnen/dp/1932236430

    -Nowhere did I or would I deny that “serious enemies need to be deterred and, if necessary, fought.” Of course, that’s irrelevant to the topic of this discussion thus far. No doubt we would disagree as to what deterrence may involve in certain situations and which particular enemies need to be fought (and who actually constitutes a serious enemy), but I do not challenge the principle. You’re constructing another straw man.

    -Not that I need to defend my reading comprehension abilities, but insofar as a work of history can have a thesis (whether it should is another matter), Kagan’s is very roughly that waging war is necessary for the preservation of long-term, greater peace. Carry a big stick and all that. It’s rather uncontroversial prima facie, though I doubt I would agree with Kagan in its full application. I disagree, for instance, with his interpretation of the Peloponnesian War and of Thucydides.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, when it comes to economic andm domestic political matters conservatism favors non-intervention by the state. When it comes to dealing with serious enemies, conservatives, except for your paleo isolationist kind, know enough to fight; that’s why the conservative Lincoln opposed the isolationists of his time and fought the South over the issue of the extension of slavery and the preservation of theUnion. It’s, also, why Washington Adams, et al opposed the indifferent isolationists of that time and fought England. against tough odds.

    Why is it irrelevant to this discussion that the captured senior alQaeda
    terrorists involved in the present war cannot be interrogated with tough legal methods? What would you have done with KSM in 2003?

    Kagan’s book has a definite thesis; you haven’t come close to a clear understanding or refutation of it.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, when it comes to economic andm domestic political matters conservatism favors non-intervention by the state. When it comes to dealing with serious enemies, conservatives, except for your paleo isolationist kind, know enough to fight; that’s why the conservative Lincoln opposed the isolationists of his time and fought the South over the issue of the extension of slavery and the preservation of theUnion. It’s, also, why Washington Adams, et al opposed the indifferent isolationists of that time and fought England. against tough odds.

    Why is it irrelevant to this discussion that the captured senior alQaeda
    terrorists involved in the present war cannot be interrogated with tough legal methods? What would you have done with KSM in 2003?

    Kagan’s book has a definite thesis; you haven’t come close to a clear understanding or refutation of it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, if you’re not disposed to educate yourself about the history of conservatism and its various permutations, then there isn’t much point in my debating you anymore. I can’t argue with someone who is factually wrong about so much and doesn’t care to amend his views. It’s worse than talking to a brick wall: at least I can pretend that the wall has understood my views and doesn’t continue to spout nonsense. Such a study of conservatism would reveal to you several truths–that are, by the way, normatively neutral:

    -Paleoconservatism is not an extremist brand of conservatism residing on the fringes of conservative thought. Edmund Burke first articulated the modern conception of conservatism in the 1790′s. A gander at his Reflections on the Revolution in France will quickly reveal to you that conservatism as originally understood was “paleoconservatism,” traditionalism. In your attempt to pigeon-hole paleocons, by the way, you’ve neglected to note that Burke–again, so you don’t forget, the father of (paleo)conservatism–wrote another tract entitled “Letters on a Regicide Peace” in which he vigorously espouses war with the revolutionary regime in France to “contain” its feverish Jacobin ideology, hearkening to the conservative Cato’s repeated remonstration “Carthago delenda est.” There is nothing particularly isolationist about paleoconservatism, to which I subscribe in at least some respects.

    -Neoconservatism is a newcomer to the conservative party, and is, in fact, widely regarded by “true” conservatives to be an imposter and usurper. Neoconservatism is, in fact, rooted in a diaspora of very liberal democrats who became disaffected with their party and simply switched the letters after their names to “R” back when the G.O.P. was still the “big tent.” This is indisputable. While they favor certain free market principles, they are, like most progressives, believers in the efficacy of government to assert its prerogatives to solve a host of problems, particularly in the realm of foreign policy with their subscription to democratic peace theory. I repeat: neoconservatives are not actually conservative at all but are progressives. I did not make this up. This is not a filthy lie propagated by sinister liberals. This fact is not even disputed by scholars. It’s a fact of intellectual history. George W. Bush had more in common with Woodrow Wilson than with Taft or Eisenhower or Coolidge.

    -Abraham Lincoln did not even pretend to be conservative. He was regarded in his own time and he is regarded now (by scholars) as a consummate progressive. The Republican party at the time, indeed, was the progressive party. There was nothing conservative about asserting the national Union over State power. There was nothing conservative about suspending habeus corpus during the war. There was nothing remotely conservative about unilaterally emancipating the slaves. There was certainly nothing conservative about using martial law to reconstruct the South, though he was less indulgent of vengeance than the Radical Republicans in his own party.

    -I am not isolationist.

    Ok? Is that clear? These are facts, not opinions. Thus, to your other point: I didn’t argue that “tough” interrogations were irrelevant to a discussion of conservatism. If you recall, I argued that accusations of my isolationism and various falsehoods about neoconservatism, etc., are irrelevant to a discussion of the merits of “tough” interrogations. Got it? I can make an ethical claim about tough interrogations or a particular war or torture or what have you without asserting a totalizing ideological paradigm.

    Finally, I accept the fact that I have explicated neither a “clear understanding nor a refutation” of Kagan’s history, mostly because I neither promised nor attempted to do either. Mostly because that’s even more irrelevant to the topic at hand. If you want to start a book club, I’m free Wednesday evenings (I kid), but in the meantime, simply asserting that you’ve read Kagan while I, ostensibly, haven’t searched its depths as closely as you have does nothing whatsoever to bolster your argument. Congratulations: you’ve read Kagan’s book and like it a lot. So have I and so do I. So what?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, if you’re not disposed to educate yourself about the history of conservatism and its various permutations, then there isn’t much point in my debating you anymore. I can’t argue with someone who is factually wrong about so much and doesn’t care to amend his views. It’s worse than talking to a brick wall: at least I can pretend that the wall has understood my views and doesn’t continue to spout nonsense. Such a study of conservatism would reveal to you several truths–that are, by the way, normatively neutral:

    -Paleoconservatism is not an extremist brand of conservatism residing on the fringes of conservative thought. Edmund Burke first articulated the modern conception of conservatism in the 1790′s. A gander at his Reflections on the Revolution in France will quickly reveal to you that conservatism as originally understood was “paleoconservatism,” traditionalism. In your attempt to pigeon-hole paleocons, by the way, you’ve neglected to note that Burke–again, so you don’t forget, the father of (paleo)conservatism–wrote another tract entitled “Letters on a Regicide Peace” in which he vigorously espouses war with the revolutionary regime in France to “contain” its feverish Jacobin ideology, hearkening to the conservative Cato’s repeated remonstration “Carthago delenda est.” There is nothing particularly isolationist about paleoconservatism, to which I subscribe in at least some respects.

    -Neoconservatism is a newcomer to the conservative party, and is, in fact, widely regarded by “true” conservatives to be an imposter and usurper. Neoconservatism is, in fact, rooted in a diaspora of very liberal democrats who became disaffected with their party and simply switched the letters after their names to “R” back when the G.O.P. was still the “big tent.” This is indisputable. While they favor certain free market principles, they are, like most progressives, believers in the efficacy of government to assert its prerogatives to solve a host of problems, particularly in the realm of foreign policy with their subscription to democratic peace theory. I repeat: neoconservatives are not actually conservative at all but are progressives. I did not make this up. This is not a filthy lie propagated by sinister liberals. This fact is not even disputed by scholars. It’s a fact of intellectual history. George W. Bush had more in common with Woodrow Wilson than with Taft or Eisenhower or Coolidge.

    -Abraham Lincoln did not even pretend to be conservative. He was regarded in his own time and he is regarded now (by scholars) as a consummate progressive. The Republican party at the time, indeed, was the progressive party. There was nothing conservative about asserting the national Union over State power. There was nothing conservative about suspending habeus corpus during the war. There was nothing remotely conservative about unilaterally emancipating the slaves. There was certainly nothing conservative about using martial law to reconstruct the South, though he was less indulgent of vengeance than the Radical Republicans in his own party.

    -I am not isolationist.

    Ok? Is that clear? These are facts, not opinions. Thus, to your other point: I didn’t argue that “tough” interrogations were irrelevant to a discussion of conservatism. If you recall, I argued that accusations of my isolationism and various falsehoods about neoconservatism, etc., are irrelevant to a discussion of the merits of “tough” interrogations. Got it? I can make an ethical claim about tough interrogations or a particular war or torture or what have you without asserting a totalizing ideological paradigm.

    Finally, I accept the fact that I have explicated neither a “clear understanding nor a refutation” of Kagan’s history, mostly because I neither promised nor attempted to do either. Mostly because that’s even more irrelevant to the topic at hand. If you want to start a book club, I’m free Wednesday evenings (I kid), but in the meantime, simply asserting that you’ve read Kagan while I, ostensibly, haven’t searched its depths as closely as you have does nothing whatsoever to bolster your argument. Congratulations: you’ve read Kagan’s book and like it a lot. So have I and so do I. So what?

  • DonS

    Peter & Cincinnatus: I am greatly enjoying your discussion, though it is probably frustrating the two of you. The problem, of course, is that the term “conservative” is a malleable one, as, for that matter, is the term “liberal”. When you complicate things by talking about neocons and paleocons, you can quickly become derailed, and talk past one another, which you have done.

    Lincoln was fairly radical in his day, and quite the federalist, in the classic sense (this defintion has also shifted over the years) of course, but he would be an extreme conservative today. His federalism was born of necessity — he believed a strong national government to be necessary to preserve the union, and he believed the union to be worth preserving. On the other great social issues, gay marriage, abortion, public prayer — quite the conservative, I would say, under today’s standards :-)

    Conservatives shifted from isolationism to interventionism because of the post-war threat of expansionist Communism. Communism posed a great risk to capitalism and liberty, and was enough to startle conservatives out of their isolationist lethargy. With the defeat of Communist expansionism when the Soviet Union fell, some conservatives have returned to a more isolationist approach, while others, especially in the wake of 9/11, view Islamic terrorism as a similar threat to liberty.

    In short, the conservative movement is much more fragmented today, with respect to foreign policy and social issues. What still unites us is our common distaste for an expansionist federal government, its increasingly threatening debt levels, and its increasing threat to individual liberty. Regardless of our other differences, it is important that we work together on these.

  • DonS

    Peter & Cincinnatus: I am greatly enjoying your discussion, though it is probably frustrating the two of you. The problem, of course, is that the term “conservative” is a malleable one, as, for that matter, is the term “liberal”. When you complicate things by talking about neocons and paleocons, you can quickly become derailed, and talk past one another, which you have done.

    Lincoln was fairly radical in his day, and quite the federalist, in the classic sense (this defintion has also shifted over the years) of course, but he would be an extreme conservative today. His federalism was born of necessity — he believed a strong national government to be necessary to preserve the union, and he believed the union to be worth preserving. On the other great social issues, gay marriage, abortion, public prayer — quite the conservative, I would say, under today’s standards :-)

    Conservatives shifted from isolationism to interventionism because of the post-war threat of expansionist Communism. Communism posed a great risk to capitalism and liberty, and was enough to startle conservatives out of their isolationist lethargy. With the defeat of Communist expansionism when the Soviet Union fell, some conservatives have returned to a more isolationist approach, while others, especially in the wake of 9/11, view Islamic terrorism as a similar threat to liberty.

    In short, the conservative movement is much more fragmented today, with respect to foreign policy and social issues. What still unites us is our common distaste for an expansionist federal government, its increasingly threatening debt levels, and its increasing threat to individual liberty. Regardless of our other differences, it is important that we work together on these.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@118) “What still unites [conservatives] is our common distaste for an expansionist federal government, its increasingly threatening debt levels, and its increasing threat to individual liberty.” Really?

    So all conservatives agree that Medicare Part D was a bad idea? That the Department of Homeland Security was a bad idea? That tax cuts without spending cuts are a bad idea? And what “threats to individual liberty” do all these conservatives agree on? The Patriot Act? Warrantless wiretapping, in particular? The “legitimate surveillance activities of the government” (@13)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@118) “What still unites [conservatives] is our common distaste for an expansionist federal government, its increasingly threatening debt levels, and its increasing threat to individual liberty.” Really?

    So all conservatives agree that Medicare Part D was a bad idea? That the Department of Homeland Security was a bad idea? That tax cuts without spending cuts are a bad idea? And what “threats to individual liberty” do all these conservatives agree on? The Patriot Act? Warrantless wiretapping, in particular? The “legitimate surveillance activities of the government” (@13)?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, basically you are arguing from a paleo-conservative point of view that idealizes small government and isolationism and accusing me of not understanding that this is true conservatism.

    I share some of the paleo-conservative’s views, especially those of Russel Kirk based on Burke when it comes to social order and orders, though I am a more traditional conservative when it comes to a strong federal government that pays careful attention to threats against American security and interests. Also, I am the sort of conservative that favors a free economy that involves extensive and sophisticated world-scale capitalism.

    The so-called neo-conservatives favor a strong and engaged national government when it comes to security and national measures that support the free flow of capital, trade, and labor. Actually, in my view the neo-conservatives are traditional ones in that the Kristols and Podherretz’s, are well aligned with the traditional conservatism of, say, Hamilton, Washington, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the Bushes that favors strong national engagement on national security matters and some aspects of national economic development and justice. They are far from aligned with the defensive small bore conservatism of, say, a Patrick Henry, Patrick Buchanan, and Ron Paul. After all, the Constitution was designed basically to combat the weakness of the Articles of Association with a strong federal government on matters of national security and development. That’s why the President has extraordinary power as commander in chief of the military and we have such things as a great national road system for which Eisenhower may take credit.

    The fact that you view Lincoln as a sort of progressive hawk as opposed to a conservative makes clear your narrow, small bore style of conservatism. Lincoln in a very conservative way opposed the extension of slavery and was willing to use massive federal power including the suspension of habeas corpus to conserve the union. The southerners started the war by insisting both on the extension of slavery and secession. Also, while Lincoln favored such measures as establishing state universities, he was far from Wilsonian or FDR statist progressivism. While not a Burkean intellectual, he well understood the virtue of small platoons in society.

    At 115 you admit to an isolationist tendency and at 117 you flat out declare that you are not an isolationist; which is it?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, basically you are arguing from a paleo-conservative point of view that idealizes small government and isolationism and accusing me of not understanding that this is true conservatism.

    I share some of the paleo-conservative’s views, especially those of Russel Kirk based on Burke when it comes to social order and orders, though I am a more traditional conservative when it comes to a strong federal government that pays careful attention to threats against American security and interests. Also, I am the sort of conservative that favors a free economy that involves extensive and sophisticated world-scale capitalism.

    The so-called neo-conservatives favor a strong and engaged national government when it comes to security and national measures that support the free flow of capital, trade, and labor. Actually, in my view the neo-conservatives are traditional ones in that the Kristols and Podherretz’s, are well aligned with the traditional conservatism of, say, Hamilton, Washington, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the Bushes that favors strong national engagement on national security matters and some aspects of national economic development and justice. They are far from aligned with the defensive small bore conservatism of, say, a Patrick Henry, Patrick Buchanan, and Ron Paul. After all, the Constitution was designed basically to combat the weakness of the Articles of Association with a strong federal government on matters of national security and development. That’s why the President has extraordinary power as commander in chief of the military and we have such things as a great national road system for which Eisenhower may take credit.

    The fact that you view Lincoln as a sort of progressive hawk as opposed to a conservative makes clear your narrow, small bore style of conservatism. Lincoln in a very conservative way opposed the extension of slavery and was willing to use massive federal power including the suspension of habeas corpus to conserve the union. The southerners started the war by insisting both on the extension of slavery and secession. Also, while Lincoln favored such measures as establishing state universities, he was far from Wilsonian or FDR statist progressivism. While not a Burkean intellectual, he well understood the virtue of small platoons in society.

    At 115 you admit to an isolationist tendency and at 117 you flat out declare that you are not an isolationist; which is it?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry, in the above it ought to be Articles of Confederation

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry, in the above it ought to be Articles of Confederation

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, you finally offer a correct definition of “neoconservatism,” but you’re still incomprehensibly insisting that neoconservatives are somehow the true conservatives. They are not. Irving Kristol was the first prominent “neoconservative” and there was nothing all that conservative about him. I will grant you Hamilton: at the least, there is vigorous debate as to his conservative credentials. At best, he was an aristocrat who favored a strong government with monarchical tendencies, and his federalist faction favored such things as a national bank and executive supremacy. We can save for another time the debate as to whether the anti-federalists or the federalists were the true “conservatives” in that discussion. At any rate, the Constitution produced as not conservative, and was, in fact, illegal, given that the only specified purpose of the Convention was to amend–not discard and replace!–the Articles.

    But the fact that you class Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Teddy Roosevelt as “conservatives” beggars belief and reveals that you still don’t understand conservatism. Again, I seriously recommend that you peruse the Encyclopedia I linked above or something of a similar nature.

    Lincoln is passed off as a conservative today because he happened to be a Republican, these pundits with a dim view of history forgetful of the fact that, until the early 20th century, the Republican Party was the progressive party. I’ve already explained Lincoln. Roosevelt–he who called himself “progressive,” was forced out of his own party as too progressive, and who later founded the progressive Bull Moose Party–was certainly not conservative (recall that the Republican Party of the time was home to Robert LaFollette et al.). Eisenhower–he who couldn’t decide whether to run as a Republican or a Democrat and eventually settled for the party that was most electable at the time–was no conservative either. As fantastic as is the Interstate Highway System, the early space program, and an aggressive foreign policy of containment, none of those things are conservative (except, arguably, the foreign policy–but the massive securitarian bureaucracy spawned by Eisenhower’s waging of the Cold War has been the greatest unconservative threat to freedom of the past seven decades. Eisenhower was the enabler of his own military-industrial complex). Don’t mistake me: I am an admirer of all the figures you cite, and all of them were more or less “great” presidents. But there was little that was conservative about any of them.

    I think part of your problem is that you wish to attribute to conservatism anything good or productive or admirable or heroic that has been accomplished in American history–probably because you self-identify, correctly or not, as a conservative. But this is silly. As a conservative, I’m quite willing to confess that until the 1910s (and beyond in the South) , the Democratic Party was the overwhelmingly conservative party on many matters, including slavery and segregation (unfortunately). That’s just how it is. It’s not an insult to you or I. But your pathological desire to attribute all or nothing to a single ideology–a quite common pathology in the modern epoch–is just that: an ideological pathology that incorrect interprets world history.

    I think what is needed for this discussion to continue fruitfully is some engagement with the actual history of conservatism, not your latter-day impressionistic assertions of what conservatism means to you (based upon your calling yourself conservative whether or not any of your views are actually conservative) and what you think it should mean. I don’t say that to be insulting, but to remind you that conservatism is independent of party labels in the United States and, unless conservatism has come to mean–as it does in Europe–a defense of the bureaucratized State, then your interpretation is largely incorrect.

    In short, you seem to reduce conservatism to a Hamiltonian favoritism of an “energetic” centralized government able to do many powerful things. Let me merely remind you that this is not an accepted definition of conservatism (except in Russia). Your attempts to marginalize paleoconservatism do not alter this fact.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, you finally offer a correct definition of “neoconservatism,” but you’re still incomprehensibly insisting that neoconservatives are somehow the true conservatives. They are not. Irving Kristol was the first prominent “neoconservative” and there was nothing all that conservative about him. I will grant you Hamilton: at the least, there is vigorous debate as to his conservative credentials. At best, he was an aristocrat who favored a strong government with monarchical tendencies, and his federalist faction favored such things as a national bank and executive supremacy. We can save for another time the debate as to whether the anti-federalists or the federalists were the true “conservatives” in that discussion. At any rate, the Constitution produced as not conservative, and was, in fact, illegal, given that the only specified purpose of the Convention was to amend–not discard and replace!–the Articles.

    But the fact that you class Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Teddy Roosevelt as “conservatives” beggars belief and reveals that you still don’t understand conservatism. Again, I seriously recommend that you peruse the Encyclopedia I linked above or something of a similar nature.

    Lincoln is passed off as a conservative today because he happened to be a Republican, these pundits with a dim view of history forgetful of the fact that, until the early 20th century, the Republican Party was the progressive party. I’ve already explained Lincoln. Roosevelt–he who called himself “progressive,” was forced out of his own party as too progressive, and who later founded the progressive Bull Moose Party–was certainly not conservative (recall that the Republican Party of the time was home to Robert LaFollette et al.). Eisenhower–he who couldn’t decide whether to run as a Republican or a Democrat and eventually settled for the party that was most electable at the time–was no conservative either. As fantastic as is the Interstate Highway System, the early space program, and an aggressive foreign policy of containment, none of those things are conservative (except, arguably, the foreign policy–but the massive securitarian bureaucracy spawned by Eisenhower’s waging of the Cold War has been the greatest unconservative threat to freedom of the past seven decades. Eisenhower was the enabler of his own military-industrial complex). Don’t mistake me: I am an admirer of all the figures you cite, and all of them were more or less “great” presidents. But there was little that was conservative about any of them.

    I think part of your problem is that you wish to attribute to conservatism anything good or productive or admirable or heroic that has been accomplished in American history–probably because you self-identify, correctly or not, as a conservative. But this is silly. As a conservative, I’m quite willing to confess that until the 1910s (and beyond in the South) , the Democratic Party was the overwhelmingly conservative party on many matters, including slavery and segregation (unfortunately). That’s just how it is. It’s not an insult to you or I. But your pathological desire to attribute all or nothing to a single ideology–a quite common pathology in the modern epoch–is just that: an ideological pathology that incorrect interprets world history.

    I think what is needed for this discussion to continue fruitfully is some engagement with the actual history of conservatism, not your latter-day impressionistic assertions of what conservatism means to you (based upon your calling yourself conservative whether or not any of your views are actually conservative) and what you think it should mean. I don’t say that to be insulting, but to remind you that conservatism is independent of party labels in the United States and, unless conservatism has come to mean–as it does in Europe–a defense of the bureaucratized State, then your interpretation is largely incorrect.

    In short, you seem to reduce conservatism to a Hamiltonian favoritism of an “energetic” centralized government able to do many powerful things. Let me merely remind you that this is not an accepted definition of conservatism (except in Russia). Your attempts to marginalize paleoconservatism do not alter this fact.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, first the Constitution was duly ratified and last I heard perfectly legal. The founders who drafted it properly came to the conclusion that amending the Articles of Confederation would be unwieldy and that it was necessary to act de novo. If the people who considered the Constitution in state bodies had seriously objected to it, as illegal it would hardly have been be ratified.

    Wilsonian idealism or Progressivism is regarded by most historians as an attempt following the French Revolution to make the state central in economic and political life. I’ll grant that T.Roosevelt founded the Bull Moose party as a progressive party, though I wouldn’t call him a progressive with a capital P. Lincoln was far from being a statist in the French Revolution sense. Most Republican presidents including Lincoln wanted to be progressive on issues, though none tended to be distinct statists like Wilson, FDR, and at present OBama.

    I follow William Kristol in the Weekly Standard and John Podherretz in Commentary; neither of these so called “neo cons” comes close to being a statist economically and politically. This fevered animus toward the “neo cons” is absurd. Both these men are genuine conservatives in the American tradition. The idea that Bush was cleverly influenced by these demon neo cons is ludicrous. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were perfectly capable of making their own careful judgments on policy matters.

    Your problem again is equating paleo-conservatism with traditional conservatism. Your side essentially lost that fight in June of 1788 when the Constitution with a strong national though still federal government
    was ratified and established.

    Personally, on the domestic side, I regard the federal government as a dangerous, financially unsustainable colossus. By and large I am pleased to have a strong military and diplomatic corps that looks carefully after national security and other vital interests, however
    badly compromised by those who tend to isolationism and pacifism

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, first the Constitution was duly ratified and last I heard perfectly legal. The founders who drafted it properly came to the conclusion that amending the Articles of Confederation would be unwieldy and that it was necessary to act de novo. If the people who considered the Constitution in state bodies had seriously objected to it, as illegal it would hardly have been be ratified.

    Wilsonian idealism or Progressivism is regarded by most historians as an attempt following the French Revolution to make the state central in economic and political life. I’ll grant that T.Roosevelt founded the Bull Moose party as a progressive party, though I wouldn’t call him a progressive with a capital P. Lincoln was far from being a statist in the French Revolution sense. Most Republican presidents including Lincoln wanted to be progressive on issues, though none tended to be distinct statists like Wilson, FDR, and at present OBama.

    I follow William Kristol in the Weekly Standard and John Podherretz in Commentary; neither of these so called “neo cons” comes close to being a statist economically and politically. This fevered animus toward the “neo cons” is absurd. Both these men are genuine conservatives in the American tradition. The idea that Bush was cleverly influenced by these demon neo cons is ludicrous. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were perfectly capable of making their own careful judgments on policy matters.

    Your problem again is equating paleo-conservatism with traditional conservatism. Your side essentially lost that fight in June of 1788 when the Constitution with a strong national though still federal government
    was ratified and established.

    Personally, on the domestic side, I regard the federal government as a dangerous, financially unsustainable colossus. By and large I am pleased to have a strong military and diplomatic corps that looks carefully after national security and other vital interests, however
    badly compromised by those who tend to isolationism and pacifism

  • Peter Leavitt

    Don, excellent post at 118. Your analysis of why conservatives moved to intervention due to the threat of Communism is right. I would add Fascism and at present the Islamic jihadists. I agree that conservatives of all stripes need to work together to defeat the Progressive statists. I actually applaud the influence that the paleos are having at present. This Tea Party outfit is a wonderful thing. Say nothing to Cincinnatus about this.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Don, excellent post at 118. Your analysis of why conservatives moved to intervention due to the threat of Communism is right. I would add Fascism and at present the Islamic jihadists. I agree that conservatives of all stripes need to work together to defeat the Progressive statists. I actually applaud the influence that the paleos are having at present. This Tea Party outfit is a wonderful thing. Say nothing to Cincinnatus about this.

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