March 18, 2005

A Query

Can someone please explain to naive, plebe B.D. why we have full-blown Congressional hearings underway about this but not this? I mean, WTF.

Posted by Gregory at March 18, 2005 04:34 AM | TrackBack (41)


Moreover, who exactly is the constituency for the steroid hearings and why are they getting above-the-fold coverage all over the place?

Posted by: praktike at March 18, 2005 05:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

beats me. me eyes glaze over. does it move paper? torture, so dreary and 2004. the national pastime and pill-popping, so juicy and au courant. The provincials populating much of Congress don't get this either, alas. As with some newsrooms too, it seems...

p.s. prak, peace in our time?

Posted by: greg at March 18, 2005 05:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I can't answer why the steriod hearings are so popular. I don't think there is all that much interest in the general population for the MLB hearings.

Regarding the torture and fatalities, those are local issues. In other words, I follow the stories in the local paper about the local soldiers being tried in local courts for crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nationally, the reactionary antiwar group over-played the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal and created 'torture fatigue' in the population. I followed that link you have, and other than noting that it was taking place in a Senate Hearing, I was immediately bored by the headline.

I think most Americans understand that these things are going to happen when we have so many troops at war.

Posted by: Carl F at March 18, 2005 05:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"p.s. prak, peace in our time?"

Heh. Yes. Thanks for the kind words below. I wouldn't bother reading and responding to this site if I didn't think it was worth it.

Posted by: praktike at March 18, 2005 06:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

They don't want to alienate Carl F. Nor do they want to put him in a position where he has to admit to himself that the major questions have nothing to do with how many troops are in Iraq: why are we not allowing the Red Cross to visit KSM (and other ghosts); why are we sending people against whom the evidence is very thin the foreign countries where we expect them to be tortured (a principle with which Carl F may have no issues, but as to which the President's public position is adverse); what, really, is the evidence against most of the people being held or rendered; what intelligence significance does an ordinary AQ foot soldier have 3 years after capture; and the big one -- although not bad politics within the US, the current detention policy is clearly bad politics internationally: what are we getting in exchange for it?

I mean no personal disrespect to Mr. F. I accept his framing of the question as sincere, and the governing party's unease at changing the framing as genuine.

As for MLB -- this is a very easy "what will we tell the children" kind of story. 'Say it ain't so, Joe' said the boy to Mr. Jackson. Much more attractive narrative to be a part of, and under no circumstances can there be negative consequences to the members or anyone they care about.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at March 18, 2005 01:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'll not be offended by anything we're talking about here, it's only politics.

First, where can I read about the ICRC not being permitted to visit Khaleed Sheikh Mohamed? Second, is the U.S. government under any obligation to permit such visits? Finally, given the fact that ICRC visits do not ensure against torture or false imprisonment, what benefit do such visits offer the U.S. government or the American people?

Frankly, I'll take the Senate hearings, which G.D. doesn't seem to think are happening over periodic ICRC visits every time.

Posted by: Carl F at March 18, 2005 03:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Welcome to the Entertainment State. Why are you surprised?

Asking the CIA why they beat prisoners to death is boring; much better to subpoena a poor woman with a liquified brain. Then maybe we'll have hearings on why Scott Peterson's being fed anything but (stale) bread and water. And surely Congress has to take a stand on the Michael Jackson trial?

Democracy ... Plato *said* it would be like this.

Posted by: Anderson at March 18, 2005 10:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Perhaps the answer to your rhetorical question is that Congress has lost confidence in the Times and doesn't believe their accusations. Of course, the Times used the weasel word "may", so they cannot be wrong...

Posted by: David at March 19, 2005 01:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

perhaps a future presidential candidate is trying to get his face out in front of the people using this issue. i had thought a grand jury was already investigating so why congress? smells like a lead story on cbs evening news and free publicity.

Posted by: snoop at March 19, 2005 01:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Carl, YMMV, but there's this:

Here's the ICRC version of events:

I don't think ICRC lack of access to the ghost detainees is a matter of dispute. Even if events have changed, it's a historical fact that for several years, access was denied.

Obviously, there's nothing mutually exclusive about Senate hearings and ICRC visits. And while the ICRC can't prevent torture, I'd rather they be given access than denied access.

I haven't formed an opinion about whether we have an explicit treaty obligation to permit ICRC access to the ghosts, but that, to me, is really just arguing about what the meaning of is is. The ICRC wants to see them, and the US is saying no. In this battle, playing cute with the law, as the Admin has done with respect to its detention and interrogation policies from the start, may be enough to keep individual officers out of jail (except those who violate even the liberal Bybee/Yoo standards), but, it seems to me, is actually counterproductive when one considers the broader goals of the effort.

Posted by: Charleycarp at March 19, 2005 05:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"naive, plebe B.D." Yeah and Sam Irwin was just a country lawyer.

Seriously, the drug stuff makes no sense, save it gets press. And as crude as this sounds in a community of over 200,000 people (CIA, Military and EPWs) having only 26 murders in two years is fairly low rate. Would that Hartford Connecticut be so lucky. That people are getting prosecuted is the important thing.

Lets be honest, what is congress going to do:

Congressman (CM): Don't you think 26 murders by american troops is an outrage?

General(G): Yes I do sir.

CM: What are you doing about this outrage?

G: We are prosecuting the soldiers implicated and changing procedures so that EPWs and terrorists are safer in our hands. Indeed a couple of soldiers are already serving hard time at Fort Leavenworth. In a couple of cases we will be pursuing the death penalty. In addition we are trying to compensate the families of those murdered in a culturally acceptable fashion.

What the hell is congress going to do? Declare murder a bad thing? Get all pissy and ruin the chances of getting a conviction in some of the cases?

Posted by: David at March 19, 2005 08:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1. I have no idea why the gross number of US soldiers in Iraq has anything to do with anything.

2. There's plenty of ways the people can be abused short of murder. Ways that exceed the Yoo/Bybee standard, ways that exceed traditional interpretations of torture. (And I'm not talking about trivialities that folks often raise as straw men -- bending fingers back until they break may not meet the Bybee/Yoo standard, but I think we can agree that it is, in fact, torture).

3. Well, I'll tell you what I'd like to see Congress do. Pass a statute that specifically authorizes the Executive to detain persons suspected of terrorism, providing for timely and real due process, and an end to the authority. Specify the minimum conditions of the detention, and allow independent monitoring. In return for some loss of flexibility, we'd (a) [re]gain serious respect in the world and (b) not be stuck with the current Admin's outsized notions of Executive power, when the next guy or the one after gets it in his head to abuse power. This is important -- once the existence of such a power is accepted, it becomes a fact. (I'm reminded of the discussion in Dames & Moore v. Regan of the Executive's power to treat with foreign governments without Senate approval. An important power, gained by the Executive by congressional acquiescence.)

Posted by: CharleyCarp at March 19, 2005 11:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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