Dragon b/w

bin Laden: the War model vs the Law Enforcement Model

I was curious to see what pecunium might have to say about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Two things stand out for me.

What I don't think it was is "justice". It was revenge. Which is, in it's way fine. A lot of people feel better now. Ok.

But justice, justice would be him in chains, in court, the evidence for his deeds laid out, and a chance for him to rebut them made available.

We begin with the ongoing – stereotypically left-wing – confusion between the war model and the law enforcement model. In the war model, Osama bin Laden (OBL) is considered to have declared war on the US, and prosecuted it. This has been his declared intention, and the war model merely takes him at his word. In war, soldiers are allowed to kill the enemy. There is no presumption of innocence because war is not a crime, at least as long as soldiers observe certain rules. Soldiers who surrender can be detained in prison camps without trial, because the purpose of detention is to keep them from prosecuting the war. You don't need to prove the soldiers were at war, because they declared themselves to be at war by, among other things, wearing the uniform of their country's military.
Now, under what circumstances can an enemy soldier be summarily shot on sight? (Let's assume the worst possible case -- he was offering no resistance.) Hugh Hewitt raised the question with "The Smart Guys" on his show. John Eastman pointed out that under the Geneva Conventions, OBL would be considered an "illegal combatant" and therefore subject to being shot on sight. I had to turn off halfway through Eastman's response, so I never heard Chemerinsky's point. I'll have to pull up the podcast. Nevertheless, at least one law school dean opined that the summary execution of OBL was perfectly legal. I think that's enough to consider it an open question.

In the law enforcement model, you have a presumption of innocence because it hasn't been established in court that a person has committed a crime. In this case, it's appropriate to administer Miranda warnings, and other Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment protections apply. Treatment of a criminal is distinct from treatment of a war prisoner, in that the object is punishment and not mere restraint. And even that occurs only after a judicial finding of guilt. Certainly, summary execution is not allowed under US criminal law.

The second thing I noticed was a distinct lack of excoriation. Obama receives much more gentle treatment than Bush ever did. Gone are the vitriolic adjectives heaped upon Bush and his administration. The most he says about Obama (on a slightly-related topic) is:

That's the sort of thing which makes me wonder if he deserves to be president, because it's the sort of thing I complained about his predecessor doing, and it's no different when Obama does it than when Bush did it, or some tinpot dictator does it somewhere else.

In other words, he still supports Obama, gives him the benefit of the doubt, and will need to be talked out of supporting him. He never supported Bush, gave him no such benefit, and considered him evil from the get-go.

This is his political bias, and he's certainly entitled to it. But it's essential to keep this filter in mind while reading his posts. They are not unbiased down-the-middle reporting.
Dragon b/w

The non-defense of DOMA

From CATO:

Liberals: If you think declining to defend DOMA is the right decision, how will you feel when a Republican administration declines to defend in a school prayer case? Or an abortion case? Or on Obamacare itself?
Dragon b/w

New book: The Wheel of the Year

Here, within this circle, we shall learn the dance of the Lady, Mother of all things, and her beloved, the Lord of Death and Resurrection.

This dance is ancient beyond time, yet eternally new. It is the dance of atoms and of particles that flicker in and out of existence in a wink. It is the dance of the sun and the moon. It is the stately dance of galaxies in their courses. It is the birth and death of our universe itself - the breath of the Gods. This is the unbroken circle, the Wheel of the Year. The circle is never broken, and its movement is never-ending.


The tale of the Lord and Lady is told again and again by every voice in all of time and space. Everything in the universe, from the largest to the smallest, relates the story in its own way and its own time. Their story rings across space and time, and in all the worlds that spin their way through eternity.

We shall follow this dance, in its many intricate steps. Indeed, we shall see this dance as many different dances, woven together into a tapestry of space and time, of light and life, and of mystery. We shall follow the story of birth and growth, of discovery and mastery, of age, ripeness, and decay. We shall pursue the twin mysteries of death and resurrection, and of love, without which none of the other mysteries would take place.

(From the introduction)
Dragon b/w

Memorial for Bob Null

The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society is holding a memorial service for Bob Null, who died of cancer on June 22.

The memorial will take place at the LASFS clubhouse:
11513 Burbank Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91020

Date: Saturday, August 17 14, 2010
Time: 11:00 AM. to 4:00 PM (not a hard end time)

Bring your stories to share; Bob's family will be there.

The event is a potluck. Eylat Poliner is coordinating, or leave a comment here or at the Facebook event page linked above. The point is, we don't want everyone bringing desserts.
Dragon b/w

Variant standards on torture

A case being tried right now in Chicago involves a police detective who allegedly tortured a suspect.

Instapundit notes:
I suspect this would be getting a lot more attention if it had happened at Guantanamo instead of in Chicago.

UPDATE: Reader Matthew Heiman writes: “It would get a lot more play if it was Mayor Bush, Deputy Mayor Cheney, and Police Commissioner Rumsfeld. Otherwise, there is no grand dereliction of duty by the political establishment, it’s just bad cops.”

Maybe Terry Karney will read about this and add it to his list of causes. In the mean time, I find it hard to resist the impression that he doesn't care about torture unless he can blame it on George W. Bush.
Dragon b/w

We disagree.

Note: This response is being posted as a main post in my LJ because the logical place for it is no longer available to me. Comments from my account in Terry Karney's LJ are no longer allowed. So, instead of being buried thirteen pages down in a comment chain only four people are still following, I'll post my response here.

For the past several years, Terry Karney has been accusing George W. Bush of war crimes. Why? Because he advocates "torture".

"Torture", in this case, is all of the enhanced interrogation techniques that have been used in the war on terror, up to and including waterboarding. (Oh, he goes into fits over waterboarding.)

His latest tirade, he writes:
George Bush admitted to more crimes.

Specifically he said he'd had Khalid Sheik Mohammad tortured, and would do it again.

And in conclusion, he advocates:
Ok, so what does this mean? It ought to mean we try him, haul the evils he caused to happen into the harsh light of day, and (in a just world) sentence him to live the rest of his (I'd hope very long) life in prison.

If not, we can hope he is foolish enough to accept an invitation to Spain.

For really poetic justice someone might, while he's visiting Poppy in Kennebunkport, decide to invoke the "Noriega Doctrine" his father created, and swoop in and kidnap him to the Hague.

None of those, sadly, are going to happen. Therefore I shan't buy the champagne just yet, but a person can dream.

Well, in all fairness, I figured I'd point out there's another side to the argument. In particular, now that the techniques in use have been made public, Marc Thiessen has written a book explaining what came from using those methods. One of the things revealed was that, according to the religious beliefs of the Islamists, Allah will triumph over everything, no matter what. Therefore, a warrior is required only to resist to the best of his ability, and after that, all restrictions go away – no more resistance is required.

If we're going to call these techniques "torture", it would seem they work.

Now Terry has been arguing all along that "torture doesn't work", and has defined "torture" as "any physical or mental coercion – any". About this point, there's very little I feel the need to add to my open letter from three years ago. About the only thing to note is he has finally responded to my criticisms of this definition. He offered a source.
Nonsense. You ignore that I keep citing the source of my definition: The Geneva Conventions of 1948 [a ratified treaty, therefore in equal stature with the Constitution; supported by the International Convention Against Torture [signed by Reagan, ratified; and so also of equal standing} and the War Crimes Act of 1996 {passed by a Republican Congress} US Code TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 118 > § 2441)

OK, so I followed the link to the US Code title he referenced. Of particular interest:
(d) Common Article 3 Violations.—
(1) Prohibited conduct.— In subsection (c)(3), the term “grave breach of common Article 3” means any conduct (such conduct constituting a grave breach of common Article 3 of the international conventions done at Geneva August 12, 1949), as follows:

(A) Torture.— The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind.

Note: Torture is not "any physical or mental coercion" – it is the infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering.

After reading his linked citation, I remarked that comments in the thread about the importance of reading comprehension "deeply ironic". Karney's response:
That's it.

You admit the lack of citation you refer isn't an actual lack, but rather a rhetorical trope (unless you decided at this remove, after year of citation that this time it was worth your time).

I'm not willing to continue allowing you to be a dishonest actor.

So, not because I am incapable of dealing with dissent (certainly years of forbearance here ought to prevent such a charge from having traction), but rather because you admit to dishonesty in your practice, I'm putting paid to your account and closing the book on you.

Actually, I "admit" no such thing. I "admit" the citation doesn't say what he thinks it does, and offers no support to his definition. Thus, the irony of his and his followers' insistence on the importance of "reading comprehension".

The section of Title 18 he linked does not support his definition. Not at all, not even approximately. His definition remains his own, made up by him, and unworkable. As I've mentioned, even the act of keeping detainees detained is coercive, and by Karney's definition must be counted as "torture". I had thought as much, when he first offered his definition. Now, it's plain his definition is made up – it's what he wants the law to say.

The Geneva Conventions are referred to in the US Code. If the definition of torture is in any inconsistent with the Convention referenced, there is no indication. And I don't see any place in the text of Article three where torture is actually defined. Commentary at the ICRC site notes that such a definition is not easy to come by:
The word torture has different acceptations. It is used sometimes even in the sense of purely moral suffering, but in view of the other expressions which follow (i.e. inhuman treatment including biological experiments and suffering, etc.) it seems that it must be given here its, so to speak, legal meaning -- i.e., the infliction of suffering on a person to obtain from that person, or from another person, confessions or information.

When terms like "severe pain or suffering" or even, for that matter, "suffering" come up, we wind up having to draw lines. How much pain is "severe" pain? At what point does pain or even discomfort become "suffering"? Someone has to draw a line somewhere.
One line, also from Karney's comments, seems to be, "are you willing to endure it?"
If you are willing to have it done to yourself, or your loved ones, if they are suspected/accused, then, just maybe, you have a morally defensible (though disgusting) position.

I offered my response, and a professional logician offered his in the comments to my open letter. I see no need to add to it.
For legal purposes, since Terry's preferred definition is silly and unworkable, someone has to draw a reasonable line somewhere. One attempt to determine on which side of the line various interrogation methods might lie was offered by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, but Karney will no doubt call him Evil Incarnate and deem anything he has to say as unworthy of notice.
The interested reader is invited to follow the link and read the letter -- it's only six pages – barely a third of a percent of the Health Care Bill.

In sum:

Terry Karney's definition of "torture" is absurd, unworkable, and unsupported by any of the links he's offered as support.

Terry Karney does not have very good reading comprehension, and uses text as a pretext from which to launch a tirade, rather than a source of information.

Replies to Terry Karney from me are no longer accepted on his LiveJournal, so any defense against his charges of dishonesty and worse must be posted elsewhere. Like here.
Dragon b/w

Most irritating...

After my copy of the "Shoggoth on the Roof" soundtrack disappeared (following the six-car pile-up on the Grapevine),  I finally decided to track down a vendor and buy a replacement copy.  I made the purchase over the vendor's website on June 10.

On August 2, I contacted them to find out when I could expect to receive it.  I was told it was mailed on June 12, but the Post Awful had no record of delivery -- they'd submit an inquiry.

Well, I've been giving them room to work -- I've sent two e-mails asking for a status report.

Just now, I sent an e-mail asking if anyone else carries the CD.

Unfortunately, payment was made with a debit card, so I don't have the ability to dispute the charge.  (Would I have that ability after more than three months, merely because I haven't received the product yet?)  

I can understand not wanting to spend money on a possible duplicate shipment, but maybe someone ought to sit these people down and introduce them to the concept of "customer good will".
Dragon b/w

Fire in the hills

Fire up the street!Karen Anderson has evacuated her home, as have her neighbors on the cul-de-sac where she lives. This photo is a view up my street. The dark cloud of smoke is in the same direction as her house.

Her neighbors thought she was crazy when she loaded essentials into her car Saturday night. Now her neighbors think crazy may have its good points.
Water dropThere are at least two of these guys working the Seven Hills area, where Karen lives.
Less smoke is good...After half an hour of their attention, the situation was looking a lot better.