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Gitmo Still No "Gulag":

Back in June I endorsed former Soviet dissident Pavel Litvonov's argument that there is no basis for comparing Guantanamo or other U.S. detention facilities with the Soviet gulag. Since then there have been some distrubing allegations about how the CIA may be treating some captured Al Qaeda figures. For instance, one reader called my attention to this story alleging that the CIA maintains a network of "secret prisons" at which some captives may be treated in an inhumane matter, if not actually tortured. This is serious stuff — stuff that merits Congressional investigation if not outright condemnation.

As I have noted before, I believe Congressional action in this area is long overdue. Thus, I hope that the Senate stands firm and, at the very least, forces the Administration to clarify what sort of conduct we will tolerate, and why. I do not know enough about the practicalities — and have not thought enough about the moral questions — to have a firm view about what should be tolerated under what circumstances (e.g. when, if ever, is [waterboarding] an acceptable interrogation technique), but I am quite sure that the nation is not well served by giving the Executive Branch a free hand.

Returning to the issue at hand, I would like to underline my ultimate position: Not every mass murder is comparable to the Holocaust. By the same token, not every secret detention is comparable to the Gulag. In my view, the overuse of such comparisons undermines our ability to recognize the varying magnitudes of various evils. Such hyperbole deadens the sensitivity to moral distinctions in public discourse. Again, I am not excusing the conduct of our government. Some of the allegations are quite serious and, if true, merit condemnation, but that does not make Gitmo and other U.S. facilities equivalent to the Soviet Gulag.

NOTE: I accidentally omitted a word when this was first posted. The correction is in brackets above.

UPDATE: Kieran Healy thinks Amnesty International's original report was simply "a strategic effort to draw public attention to a real scandal" and that my concern about Amnesty's hyperbole is evidence of a "withered moral sensibility." Apparently I should not comment on such matters or quote articles on the subject unless I am prepared to condemn all inhumane or unpleasant treatment of detainees in all circumstances or become an expert on the nuances such questions. (Uh oh. I suggested there may be nuances here — my moral sensibility must be even more withered than Healy thought!)

For the record, this particular post was occasioned by a VC reader who wanted to know whether subsequent news reports had caused me to reconsider the gulag comparison since my initial post quoting a Washington Post article by a Gulag survivor. Perhaps Healy is correct that I should have spent more time during the intervening weeks figuring out precisely when coercive interrogation techniques may or may not be justified before responding to a reader. Or perhaps, like Healy, I felt my time was better spent working and blogging on other less weighty matters of professional or personal interest.

FINAL UPDATE: Just a few quick points and clarifications in response to comments below and this post by Marty Lederman. First, I have not defended the adminsitration on this issue, nor have I defended the use of torture. If the worst reports are accurate -- and these secret sites are in fact "torture centers" -- our government's actions should be condemned. I don't believe I ever suggested otherwise.

In response to Mr. Lederman, I will certainly admit that it is "more than a tad unseemly" that we are using Soviet-era detention facilities, and I have already endorsed Congressional efforts to define and limit executive discretion in this area. But I also think it is disingenous to claim my initial post was prompted by a "stray remark" from Amnesty International. After the report was issued, and other equivalent statements were made, Amnesty solicited a noted Gulag survivor to defend the charge. In other words, not "pretty much everyone is happy to grant" that the Gitmo-Gulag comparison is overdone, as Mr. Healy says below. To the contrary, some want to defend it. And, one last time, I did not seek to "pre-emptively condemn any gulag similies." Rather, as I noted in the update, I was responding publicly to a question from a reader.

For those who want more on this subject, read the items linked in Lederman's post, and read Mark Bowden's provocative and fairly persuasive op-ed in today's WSJ (link requires subscription). I'm done.

Hilarious:
Wow, look at all the straw fly! You really knocked that scarecrow down something fierce, Don Coyote.
11.6.2005 7:43pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You know you're relevant on the net if you have nonsensical hecklers. Congrats, JNV.
11.6.2005 7:59pm
eeyn524:
merit condemnation

Wow. You sure that's not too severe?
11.6.2005 7:59pm
fi99ig (mail) (www):
Juan, I absolutely agree with you that referring to CIA detention units as gulags is wrong (just as I agree with you that referring to various less horrific events as holocausts is wrong). But the fact that you are so willing to point out this wrong, and yet so unwilling to plainly state that Americans engaging in torture is wrong, strikes me as being, well, almost perverse. If you haven't thought enough about the moral questions, then what are you waiting for?

Now perhaps what you mean is that it doesn't take much thought to see that calling them gulags is wrong. But, frankly, how much thought does it take to see that state-sanctioned torture is wrong?
11.6.2005 9:17pm
M (mail):
USA- Still not (quite) as bad as Stalin's Soviet Union! That's certainly a sentiment we can all get behind. I wonder if it's the view Cheney is pushing while fighting tooth and nail to keep the system of secret prisons and the right to violate the convention against torture (as well as basic human decency.)
11.6.2005 9:53pm
Hilarious is Right:
Really, what is the point of this post? Who the hell is arguing that "Gitmo and other U.S. facilities [are] equivalent to the Soviet Gulag"? Talk about straw men.

What we've learned in the past two years about U.S. interrogation and detention standards is astounding: top DOJ lawyers using every trick in their toolboxes to make the prohibition against torture meaningless. Rumsfeld and his top civilian lawyer Williams Haynes concluding that waterboarding is a "humane" form of interrogation. The U.S. military incorporating the DOJ legal opinions and thus subverting decades of tradition and adherence to the law. CIA officials engaging in interrogation-related homicides, and no one being held accountable. FBI agents actually reporting that techniques used by our own military constitute torture. An administration stonewalling every avenue of independent investigation, then threatening to use its first veto to shut down the most minimalist legislative response to this scandal, the McCain Amendment.

And the most interesting thing that anyone posts on the subject on this web site is a warning -- to no one in particular -- that comparisons to the Soviet Gulag are inapt?
11.6.2005 10:49pm
JR (mail):
Of course Gitmo isn't the Gulag. The Gulag didn't spring fully into existence over a weekend, and besides the Bolsheviks had the imperial Siberian prison system to build on. It takes time for a country to develop a full-blown network of concentration camps. Gitmo is a first step- let's see, says the administration, what we can get away with, what the public and the courts will put up with.

I find these apologetics bewildering. It's always, "we're not as bad as Al Qaeda, we're not as bad as Mussolini, we're not as bad as the Nazis, we're not as bad as the Communists." You don't have to be a mass murderer to deserve the death penalty, and Bush doesn't have to be as evil as Stalin to be a liar and a criminal.
11.6.2005 11:32pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
As everyone else said, JNoV simply attacks a straw-man, and his disclaimer that he hasn't thought enough about this issue is sick. Go think about it. You are a f--king law professor for christ's sake. Your job is to think. Basically, you are covering for your hero George W. Go cry about left-wing bias some more then post a song to show us you are hip; you are much better at that than writing about serious subjects.
11.6.2005 11:37pm
Katherine:
"I do not know enough about the practicalities -- and have not thought enough about the moral questions -- to have a firm view about what should be tolerated under what circumstances"

So. What would it take to get you to think about it enough to have a firm view? I've worked a lot on this issue. One thing it's not, is boring.

"Some of the allegations are quite serious and, if true, merit condemnation"

So. Are you at all curious whether they are true? What would it take to convince you to do the google and nexis searches necessary to find out? I could make a helpful list of search terms. I could even find citations to specific articles, that would verify them.
11.6.2005 11:44pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Wow, so much nonsense, so little time.

(1) Google or Lexis searches would give you news accounts, not primary sources. "If true," means that someone with as little of an agenda as possible looking at the primary sources and doing some actual investigating. In this case, that means Congressional oversight, as useless as that typically is. The media is useless in this regard, for the most part, not because of bias (which everyone has) but because they don't know how to do that any more. Modern media is half opinion and half press release, with no investigation at all. In any event, as I've noted here before, the question is typically not whether torture is permissible (plainly it isn't) but what constitutes torture.

As to the alleged straw man, Amnesty International Executive Director Irene Khan at one point made the comparison of Gitmo to the Gulag (displaying AI's betrayal of its founding priciples and an apparent incredible lack of historical knowledge). Dick Durbin made the same accusation (he's a legislator, so we can forgive his stupidity, I guess there weren't enough real estate broker jobs to go around and he had to do something).

Given that two people of relative prominence made the charge, is it really a straw man to negate the charge? I'd say not, but then I'm not looking for a reason to bust anyone's chops. Though I have a great deal of contempt for the men and women in Congress, they are all we have, and it is high time they stepped up to the Constituional plate and exercised some oversight over the war they authorized.
11.7.2005 12:19am
PM (mail):
i. Every time you choose to write about something and not write about something else you reveal your priorities and interests.

ii. Your post clearly implies that improper comparisons annoy you (or interest you?) a lot more than torture by our government.

iii. You create an obvious strawman in linking to Healy's post on doormen. No one suggests that you need to _constantly_ write on the subject of torture (you may, for example, have nothing new to contribute to the discourse). But when you do address the subject, the emphasis you give to the various facets is infinitely telling.
11.7.2005 12:25am
Katherine:
No. There are reliable news accounts, but there are also government documents. Death certificates and the like. There are also detainees' accounts which are corroborated several times over. Interrogators' accounts. Detailed factual reports from human rights organizations. And I see no reason at all to disregard well-sourced news articles. They don't all require reliance on anonymous sources.

Undoubtedly we need a Congressional or independent comission investigation or a special prosecutor to know the whole story--I trust you guys are getting ready for full throated support of the Levin Amendmment? But there is enough information available now, from enough reliable sources, for me to say that anyone going around saying "these allegations, if true, merit condemnation" is choosing to be ignorant.
11.7.2005 12:29am
CharleyCarp (mail):
No it's not the Holocaust, but there's that great line at the end of Judgement at Nuremburg. Burt Lancaster says to Spencer Tracy: "Judge Haywood -- the reason I asked you to come ... Those people, those millions of people ... I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it. You must believe it." Tracy replies, "Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent."

The truth about the US prisons, and treatment of the prisoners, is going to come out. It's going to be ugly. And the people who provided cover for the Admin -- both when it began, and even now -- are going to have to shoulder some of the blame.
11.7.2005 1:03am
Hilarious:
Once we move Gitmo to Alaska (the wildlife animal preserve, perhaps? have them work the oil fields?), could someone *please* remind the guards not to tatoo numbers on their arms so we can say, "Everyone who says this is just like Buchenwald is ridiculous."
11.7.2005 1:08am
relativism:
Comparisons with gulags are so unfair. Stalin didn't site his extra-legal torture prisons outside national territory so as to slide around his own laws. No, he just set them up within his own borders. That doesn't compare at all with Bush administration methods.
11.7.2005 2:27am
JNV vs. the world:
I'm glad to see that not a single commenter is in agreement with JNV disgraceful post.
11.7.2005 2:28am
rollo (mail):
"coercive interrogation techniques"
That's a virtual euphemism there. The subject is torture, not coercion, and not interrogation.
The implication of torture is damage, permanent psychological and/or physical damage.
One of the wider implications is damage to innocent suspects.
The concept of permanent damage to the innocent being justifiable by hinky moral algebra, and the symmetry of that rationale with overt evil, should also be debated.
"...two people of relative prominence made the charge..." [that Gitmo = Soviet Gulag]
No, the charge is torture and inhumane detention, and other violations of the Geneva Accords.
The comparison is to the gulags.
You answer the charge by negating the comparison.
There's also a sense that this is not an urgent matter, but a philosophical point that needs lengthy discussion and contemplation. The problem with things like fascism and other forms of tyrannical rule is - once they're on top they can't be legislated away again. They don't play fair.
The American image in the world of nations has gone from that of a somewhat hypocritical but relatively generous hero to a greedy skulking sociopath.
The consequences of that should concern even the least compassionate of us.
11.7.2005 2:32am
JR (mail):
John Jenkins:
What Amnesty's Irene Khan said was this:
"Guantanamo has become the gulag our times, entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law."

The aspect of the Gulad that she was invoking was the idea of indefinite detention without due process. The full quote makes that clear.

You can criticize her for hyperbole- human rights activists tend to get angry when they see the United States betraying its own professed ideals- but I see no sign that she was betraying Amnesty's "founding priciples" or demonstrating a lack of historical knowledge.

Anyway, you seem awfully mad at Khan for what she said. How about directing a little anger at Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for what they've done?
11.7.2005 5:26am
Kieran (mail) (www):
Apparently I should not comment on such matters or quote articles on the subject unless I am prepared to condemn all inhumane or unpleasant treatment of detainees in all circumstances or become an expert on the nuances such questions. (Uh oh. I suggested there may be nuances here -- my moral sensibility must be even more withered than Healy thought!) ... Or perhaps, like Healy, I felt my time was better spent working and blogging on other less weighty matters of professional or personal interest.

Juan, this is just schoolboy debate stuff. You are not a stupid person. You must be aware that nothing I wrote implied that you drop everything and devote your life to this subject; nor did I say there were no nuances about it; nor do I suggest that one should never think about less weighty subjects. What I said was that when it comes to this specific story, you can make a decision about what the issue really is, what matters about it. Is this story really about an instance of hypberbole by a respected watchdog organization, or is it really about the U.S. government secretly torturing people? You're right that the literal comparison to gulags is hypberbolic. Pretty much everyone is happy to grant this point. What concerns your critics is why you seem to think this is really worth focusing on, given the context. Is being right on this point more important than becoming even a little bit more informed and concerned about (and, I think, condemning) the fact that the government is running secret torture centers? The Washington Post story brings new evidence to light about these practices, and your priority is to pre-emptively condemn any gulag similies. Like I say, it’s a question of perspective.
11.7.2005 8:17am
Neal R. (mail):
Marty Lederman weighs in here.
11.7.2005 10:12am
pedro (mail):
(1) The US is allegedly engaging in the detention (and torture) of foreigners in secret prisons. The administration penchant for secrecy makes these claims difficult to corroborate, and its attempts to keep what Non-Volokh perhaps would call "non-traditional interrogation techniques" (nobody please dare call them "torture", that would be an affront to nuance, I suppose) legal, and to have the CIA be exempt to perform them, at the request of the President, together with the precedent of Abu Ghraib, give enough credence to the allegations to merit a congressional investigation.

(2) An Amnesty International official makes the hyperbolic comparison of current American prisons to the Gulag.

Who merits condemnation: the secretive US administration, with its attempts to make the use of torture (torture-lite, or torture-American-style-lite, if JNV prefers it being called so), or the activist institution Amnesty International, whose rhetorical inaccuracy so incenses the right wing? Well, of course the US administration doesn't merit condemnation just yet, and, given the classified nature of the information necessary to assess the alleged problem, it is very unlikely the US administration will ever merit condemnation, according to people like Non-Volokh, and the majority of distrust-the-State-only-when-it-comes-to-taxes-and-spending libertarians. But the indignant AI official calling attention to the matter in such an un-nuanced way? Ah, now that's someone who deserves all the condemnation in the world. How dare this official compare torture-American-lite to torture, or selective, and diminutive instances of illegal incarcerations with the practices of Banana Republics, or the glorious American prison system to the Gulag! How dare these leftists pay so much attention to issue (1), when it is so important to obsessively complain about (2).
11.7.2005 10:20am
Anderson (mail) (www):
You know, I used to regret the VC's general silence about America's adventures with torture (with the honorable exception of Orin Kerr), but posts like JNV's above make me wish we could go back to the silent treatment.

"Moral bankruptcy" comes to mind.
11.7.2005 10:28am
JosephSlater (mail):
I don't mean to pile on, but I think JNV's post is an example/symptomatic of a lot of what I hear on the right these days. Beyond praising the Alito pick, there's very little affirmative defense of anything the Bush administration is doing (even defenses of the Iraq war focus mostly on the decision to go to war, rather than the current prosecution of it).

Instead, the focus is on attacking the other party or people on the other side, even though they are out of power. Why examine the mistakes the Bush administration has made, when you can find a few quotes that arguably over-react to those mistakes or show that the other side is/was mistaken too? The reaction to Katrina wasn't all Bush's/FEMA's fault! Some Dems. thought Saddam had WMDs too, so how can they criticize the Iraq war now? Gulags? That's outrageous! Our secret prisons that engage in stuff that sometimes looks like torture isn't as bad as the Soviet Gulags! Did some commentor on DailyKos say Alito was like Hitler ...?
11.7.2005 10:46am
Jon H (mail):
Juan,

By your logic, the Soviet Gulag of 1919 couldn't be called the Gulag, because it was worse later on.

And the Gulag of the 1920s couldn't be called the Gulag, because it was not as bad as the cumulative evil built up by the time of the Gulag's eventual shutdown.

What would you call the Gulag on its opening day in 1919, when it was just a baby, and probably wasn't much bigger than the current American gulag?
11.7.2005 11:29am
Houston Lawyer:
Sorry to spoil the tenor of the moral posturing going on in the comments section. I'm still wondering why we haven't executed a fair number of these unlawful combatants. I don't for a second believe we are detaining these terrorists without good reason and I believe their intelligence value has long since expired. I don't think we lack volunteers for firing squads either.
11.7.2005 11:34am
Anderson (mail) (www):
I don't for a second believe we are detaining these terrorists without good reason

Well, Houston, that's what lots of people were saying about the Gitmo folks before we released a few hundred of them. Psych!

And Hamdi, such a terrible danger to the U.S. that Bush went to the SCOTUS to keep him on ice, turned out to be harmless enough that we released him after the White House lost in court. We just made him promise not to sue us.

As for why we haven't just shot a bunch of them, well, if you don't already understand that, I'm probably not the one to explain it to you.
11.7.2005 11:38am
Barry (mail):
I'm sure that the administration has secretly executed a number of people. Properly outsourced, of course, so that plausible deniability is maintained.
11.7.2005 11:44am
Jon H (mail):
Houston,

We don't 'execute' our prisoners, that would be too humane for Bush and Cheney. They prefer that we hang prisoners from their elbows and pulverize their legs, and leave them to die.

I think Jesus told us to do that in his famous Sermon in the S&M Dungeon, part of the Texas Apocrypha.
11.7.2005 11:46am
Josh Jasper (mail):
Houston Lawyer:

Sorry to spoil the tenor of the moral posturing going on in the comments section. I'm still wondering why we haven't executed a fair number of these unlawful combatants. I don't for a second believe we are detaining these terrorists without good reason and I believe their intelligence value has long since expired. I don't think we lack volunteers for firing squads either.

People like you are the ones who would turn Gitmo into something worse than a Gulag. You want death camps.

Hey, Professor non-Volokh, if someone calls for executing people who've never been tried based on the president's insistance that they're dangerous, and insists that theere's a large enough movement in society that'd be pleased to be executioners based on nothing more than the president's say-so, are Nazi comparisons starting to become apt?
11.7.2005 12:19pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Oh, and back to JNV's topic of inappropriate comparisons:

Who engaged in the following "hyperbole"?
For me, the alleged prison scandals reported to have occurred in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo Bay have been a disturbing reminder of the mistreatment of our own POWs by North Vietnam. The conditions in our current prison camps are nowhere near as horrific as they were at the "Hanoi Hilton," but that is no reason to pat ourselves on the back. The minute we begin to deport prisoners to other nations where they can legally be tortured, when we hold people without charges or trial, when we move prisoners around to avoid the prying inspections of the Red Cross, when prisoners die inexplicably on our watch, we are on a slippery slope toward the inhumanity that we deplore.
Michael Moore? Howard Dean? Or could it be Melvin Laird, SecDef under Nixon?

VC fans must of course appreciate the importance of "slippery slopes."
11.7.2005 12:29pm
pedro:
Many Republicans (like Mr. Cheney) and some libertarians-lite have a fascination with the ticking bomb problem, and they evoke it by way of argument to legalize torture. The argument goes something along the following lines: "you know person X knows the precise location of a bomb that is going to go off in a certain amount of time in, say, downtown NYC; the only way to get the information is to torture person X; is it then legitimate to engage in torture?"

The answer is that, while it may be indeed legitimate to engage in torture to extract the necessary information, it is absolutely unnecessary to make torture legal. If I find myself in the scenario described above, the unfair dichotomy I find myself in is very similar to the dichotomy I would find myself in were torture legal; indeed, I have two options:

(1) I engage in the morally disgusting practice of torture to extract the information and save millions of lives, but commit a crime in the process;

(2) I don't torture person X, and live with the knowledge that millions of people may die due to my decision not to engage in torture.

Cheney would have the dichotomy be a bit nicer for would-be torturers. He would have me face a similar dichotomy with (1) replaced by

(1)' I engage in the morally disgusting practice of torture to extract the information and save millions of lives.

But this is utterly unnecessary. If torture is the only way to go to obtain such pressing information, the prospect of committing a crime or going to jail bears absolutely no weight in a decent person's mind. It is clearly the case, in artificial and unlikely dichotomies like the ones produced--by the power of stipulation--above, that option (1) is preferrable to option (2). Keeping torture absolutely illegal does not make the decision any harder on anyone in a dire situation as the ticking bomb problem, and it has the benefit of providing strong disincentives for torture to be employed in less dire situations. There is no need to preemptively absolve would-be terrorists by the power of stipulation, I say.
11.7.2005 1:50pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Also, Pedro might mention that there would be widespread political support for pardoning anyone who was guilty of torture in such circumstances, assuming a jury convicted him in the first place.

The "ticking bomb" simply lends itself to abuse. Look, here's a Qaeda operative tied up in my office. I don't know of any "ticking bombs." But if I tortured him, might I not find out about such a plot? Isn't it better to be safe than sorry? Etc.
11.7.2005 3:19pm
Josh Jasper (mail):
Pedro: Anyone trained in resitsitn interrogation has been taught that the thing to do in a 'ticking time bomb' scenario is to lie creativley multiple times before you're being tortured, and during, as much as you can hold out for. This taints anything you say under torture, because there's no real way for an interrogator to verify if what you're saying is true or not, and your best bet is to delay or mislead anyone sent to investigate where the bomb is.

It's a simple solution, and it's known. It's also why torture does not work in situations like that.

Also, todays Islamic terrotists don't use time bombs. They use remote detonated car bombs, or suicide attacks.

*IF* we had a competent cell of terrotists in the US (which is possible, but unproven) and they decided to blow up something large, they probably wouldn't use a time bomb. They'd either drive a large bomb near the target and remote detonate it after parking, or use suicide bombers.

Evidence suggests that they'd time and coordinate the attacks to cause maximum damage, like the 9-11 attacks or the London attacks.

What's most important at that stage is not information gained by torture, but information gained by intel and investigation. Who were they, who did they have frequent contact with, etc...

The whole torture thing is just stupid. God knows why Bush sees value in it, except as a political tool of opresion.

OTOH, his father was head of the CIA while KUBARK was still in operation, so perhaps it's some sick family tradition.
11.7.2005 4:17pm
pedro (mail):
Josh Jasper,

I agree wholeheartedly that the whole thing is stupid, and I agree that the likelihood of the kind of ticking bomb scenario that the power of Republican and libertarian (indeed, what a shame that libertarians, of all people, play this silly game) stipulation suggests is negligible. My comment was an attempt to engage the substance of the philosophical musings of these people, granting them the unlikely scenarios they so jealously concoct.
11.7.2005 5:04pm
Josh Jasper (mail):
Pedro, you misunderstand, even if it is a given, torture is more likley to produce false information than it is the truth. Most professional interrogators with the army know this. It's one of the practivcal reasons FM32-54 is written the way it is. Torture produces bad intel, and that kills soldiers.

Playing the numbers, torture will produce more wrong information than more spohisticated means to interrogation.

Not that this stops Bush. He and science are at opposite sides of the spectrum.
11.7.2005 7:26pm
pedro (mail):
The situation, Josh, is concocted in such an artificial way, that it is part of the premise of the scenario is that torture is the only way to get the information, and that torture is assumed to work in achieving that goal. You underestimate the power of stipulation of these people.
11.7.2005 7:32pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
11.8.2005 2:26am
Barry (mail):
CharleyCarp: "The truth about the US prisons, and treatment of the prisoners, is going to come out. It's going to be ugly. And the people who provided cover for the Admin -- both when it began, and even now -- are going to have to shoulder some of the blame."

I wish. They'll just retreat behind a cloud of lies, BS, spin and evasions. After a bit of a rest, they'll deploy a historical revisionist barrage, and counter-attack. Remember that many of these people started their DC careers under Nixon.

Those who serve concentrations of wealth and power have a lot of that on their side.
11.8.2005 10:55am
Nils (www):
I love the moral clarity nuances!
11.9.2005 8:40am
Michael John Keenan (mail):
Subject: Where are the other secret torture chambers?
To: ombudsman@washpost.com, kid_keenan@yahoo.com

The Minds Limit Today

In Jean Amery's, The Minds Limit, his capture and
descent into torture by German Nazi's, starts by
pointing out that his torturers showed no "banality of
evil" in their faces. First there is the "laugh" and
then the "first blow." The prisoner then realizes that
they are "helpless". Lost is the "trust in the world."
Certainly there is no "mutual aid in nature." No. It
is time for the "business room." But before describing
his own torture the author makes "good on a promise I
gave." Not that they where not specialists in torture,
but more so his conviction that "torture was the
essence of Nationalist Socialism....more accurately
stated, why it was precisely in torture that the Third
Reich materialized in all the density of its being." I
ask you dear citizens should we also "codify" that the
detainees at Camp Xray can also be children as
recently reported in the news? Not only does that
sound slightly like the rule of anti-man but I do
believe anti-child included. And if that is so then
the rule practiced as such has "expressly established
it as a princple." So just what else in "essence" does
go on at Camp Xray? "Tricks"? Plead mercy, pray tell?
And now comes Abu Graib. Refuse Himmlers offer for a
Certificate of Maturity in History and stop those jet
flights I would suggest, Mr. Cheney. Nay, to forsake
the Constitution and be depraved of our humanity would
be more painful in the end. Slavery to torture is all
you will get. Go tell that to the Marines. Why Mr.
Cheney haven't you already tendered your resignation?
At least Hitler was restrained from jettisoning the
Geneva Conventions even with his back against the wall
in February of 1945. I smell now the chief prosecutor
Jackson's closing arguments at the Nuremberg trials.

I am Citizen Michael John Keenan
11.9.2005 5:00pm
Sylvain Galineau (mail):
If Healy even followed Amnesty's campaigns, he would know that there is nothing 'strategic' about such hyperbole. The world is full of NGOs who must compete with one another for scarce dollars and even scarcer attention. Resulting in exaggerated claims and, in general, anything that will register on the overloaded radar screen of the average citizen.
11.13.2005 9:12am