Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Conservatives could do to get me to take them more Seriously

I am reading Michael Barone's latest article, in which he takes Obama to task for changing the way we fight the War on Terror.
The other problem is what I call the sloppy over-generosity of the American people. Except when aroused and alert, we have a tendency to be fat, dumb and happy, and to want to spread that happiness around. So, hey, let's give these detainees more rights than they're entitled to under the Geneva Conventions. It'll make us feel generous, and maybe it will make them like us.
OK come on, Barone. Do you really believe that Liberals support giving rights to suspected terrorists because then they will like us? One thing Conservatives could do to earn my respect is deal with what our arguments actually are.

That wasn't my main point though - my main point is I would love to see someone like Barone or Limbaugh deal with the reality of Khaled el-Masri (who Glenn Greenwald mentioned the other day) or others in a similar situation.
From the start, the rendition team suspected that his case was one of mistaken identity. But the C.I.A. officer in charge at Langley—the agency asked that the officer’s name be withheld—insisted that Masri be further interrogated. “She just looked in her crystal ball and it said that he was bad,” a colleague recalls. Masri says that he was chained in a freezing cell with no bed, and given water so putrid that he could smell it across the room. He was threatened and stripped, and could hear other detainees crying all around him. After several weeks, the C.I.A. officer in charge learned that Masri’s German passport was not a forgery, as was originally suspected, and that he was not the terror suspect the agency thought he was. (The names were similar.) Even so, the officer in charge refused to release him.

Eventually, Masri went on a hunger strike, losing sixty pounds. Skeptics in the agency went directly over the officer’s head to Tenet, who realized that his agency had been brutalizing an innocent man. Masri was released after a hundred and forty-nine days. But the officer in charge was not disciplined; in fact, a former colleague says, “she’s been promoted—twice.” Masri, meanwhile, has been unable to sue the U.S. government for either an apology or damages, because the courts consider the very existence of rendition a state secret—a position that the Obama Justice Department has so far supported.
El-Masri's situation is unfortunately not unique. One of the reasons to insist on actually gathering evidence against the people we imprison and having that evidence reviewed by people with some distance is to ensure that we aren't torturing or tormenting COMPLETELY INNOCENT PEOPLE!

But I do not recall Barone ever talking about the possibility of error. Let's be honest I got a problem with torturing guilty people, but I'd like to think we are all opposed to tormenting guys like Masri. I suppose saying that, though, would weaken Barone's position.

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