Whitewash Investigation on Detainee Abuse Is Why We Need WikiLeaks

The Nation has a long study on the Army’s Detainee Abuse Task Force, which one of its members described as a “whitewash.”

Jon Renaud, a retired Army Warrant Officer who headed the task force as the Special Agent in Charge for the first half of 2005, now says of the DATF, “It didn’t accomplish anything—it was a whitewash.” Neither he nor his fellow agents could recall a single case they investigated that actually advanced to a court-martial hearing, known as an Article 32.

“These investigations needed to take place,” said Renaud, a Bronze Star recipient who retired in 2009 after twenty years in the military. “But they needed to be staffed and resourced with the same level of resources that they gave the Abu Ghraib case.” He noted that the Army assigned a general and staff to conduct a comprehensive investigation of Abu Ghraib. “That was a single case,” he said, “and we had hundreds of others for six people.”

In addition to the many details of abuses ultimately ignored in Iraq, the Nation’s story demonstrates why we need something like WikiLeaks. After all, not only should there be some kind of public accountability for abuses like this (that should be as accessible and widely reviewed as the Taguba Report), citizens ought to be able search for more information.

But DOD claims the DATF never existed.

Requests to the Army for information about the origins, mission and track record of the DATF were refused, and a FOIA request to CID was denied with this claim: “No documents of the kind you described could be located. No official ‘Detainee Abuse Task Force’ was ever established by the USACIDC.” After a lengthy appeals process, during which we provided several samples of DATF communications on DATF letterhead, this finding was reaffirmed: CID “never created an official ‘Detainee Abuse Task Force,'” the denial letter read. “Individual criminal investigation units may have set up informal, ad hoc task forces while deployed to emphasize detainee abuse investigations. In turn, they may have labeled certain investigations as being subject to a ‘Detainee Abuse Task Force.'” But “there was no official organization for such a task force.”

[snip]

Angela Birt, the Operations Officer who oversaw CID’s felony investigations across Iraq during 2005, including the DATF, expressed disbelief at the military’s response. According to Birt, the DATF did not receive an official unit designator; “there was no heraldry behind it,” she said. “But to say it didn’t exist in the terms that they said in the letter? Wow, that’s really embarrassing for them,” said Birt.

“To say, ‘You never existed,'” Renaud said, “It’s insulting. It’s insulting to the agents that worked on it.

“I have to assume they just don’t want to release the cases,” he went on, “because if anybody actually got ahold of all the cases [and] read over them, they would obviously see huge holes.”

In fact, one of the Nation’s sources noted that the military kept reopening the cases the ACLU was FOIAing.

Renaud explained that his superiors at Fort Belvoir sent him weekly e-mails containing an itemized list of cases they were ordering reopened. He also separately received a list of cases about which the ACLU had filed FOIA requests. And he began to notice a correlation.

“I challenged folks on this. I said, ‘Hey, are we reopening these cases because we’re going to work them? Or are we reopening them to play hide the ball because we don’t want to release them?'”

“We did discuss the potential that they were just sending these back because as long as they’re open, they’re not subject to FOIA,” said Birt. “The rule with [the] Crimes Records Center is: if a case is open, they will not honor a FOIA request because it might jeopardize open and valid investigative pursuits.”

So it’s not just DATF DOD was hiding from FOIA, it was the cases themselves (in a tactic the government appears to be repeating more generally).

The military, if asked, would probably deny that it issued orders not to investigate instances of Iraqi-on-Iraq torture. But, because of Wikileaks, we know they did issue that order.

This is the impact of Frago 242. A frago is a “fragmentary order” which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, “only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ”.

Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands. In effect, it means that the regime has been forced to change its political constitution but allowed to retain its use of torture.

The military, if asked, would probably deny knowing that the US turned detainees over to the Iraqi Wolf Brigade to be tortured. But, because of WikiLeaks, we know that did happen.

In Samarra, the series of log entries in 2004 and 2005 describe repeated raids by US infantry, who then handed their captives over to the Wolf Brigade for “further questioning”. Typical entries read: “All 5 detainees were turned over to Ministry of Interior for further questioning” (from 29 November 2004) and “The detainee was then turned over to the 2nd Ministry of Interior Commando Battalion for further questioning” (30 November 2004).

The field reports chime with allegations made by New York Times writer Peter Maass, who was in Samarra at the time. He told Guardian Films : “US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing,” while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners. The interior ministry commandos took over the public library in Samarra, and turned it into a detention centre, he said.

[snip]

The Wolf Brigade was created and supported by the US in an attempt to re-employ elements of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, this time to terrorise insurgents. Members typically wore red berets, sunglasses and balaclavas, and drove out on raids in convoys of Toyota Landcruisers. They were accused by Iraqis of beating prisoners, torturing them with electric drills and sometimes executing suspects. The then interior minister in charge of them was alleged to have been a former member of the Shia Badr militia.

And if it weren’t for WikiLeaks, we would know little about the multiple times our government bullied other countries to drop investigations of rendition and torture (one I’m certain we’ll see repeated when the President visits Poland later this month).

Without such transparency, the Nation study makes clear, there will be no accountability for the systematic flouting of US and international law.

But note the irony. As the Nation describes, none of the hundreds of abuse cases–not the ones that involved electrocution, not the ones that involved rape, not the ones that involved mock execution–resulted in a court-martial. But not only has the military charged Bradley Manning, but they have alleged that his actions–and not the torture and not the cover-up of torture–bring discredit on the armed forces.

image_print
  1. MadDog says:

    The FOIA aspect of this story cements the fact that the functionaries who comprise our government have come to the conclusion that they need not obey the law since there is never a downside in their disobedience and even if caught out, they’ll suffer no consequences.

  2. MadDog says:

    OT – The Long War Journal has a piece up on Hassan Ghul and though it re-plows much of what has already been plowed here at Rancho Emptywheel, it is still worth the read.

    In addition, the LWJ piece derives some of its sourcing from this Reuter’s piece, and I would note in this part the fact that not one adult male present in the OBL compound when the Seals arrived remained alive when the Seals departed:

    …(Even in ordering the risky Navy SEAL raid on May 1, Obama made allowances for Pakistan’s sensitivities. The raid was carried out by the U.S. military but under CIA legal authorities and command, partly for deniability if something went wrong and partly because the United States is not at war with Pakistan, a U.S. official said.)

    But there was one constant in the search for bin Laden. On September 17, 2001, six days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush issued a still-classified “finding” that gave the CIA “lethal authorities” to deal with the al Qaeda leader and his top lieutenants. Ever since, there was an expectation — even a preference — that bin Laden would be killed, not captured, Bush and Obama administration officials said.

    The same day that Bush signed the directive, he publicly declared bin Laden was wanted “dead or alive.”

    Numerous officials said they knew of no explicit command that bin Laden was not to be taken alive. When he ordered the SEAL raid, Obama had on his desk a written protocol for what would happen if the al Qaeda chief were captured and removed from Pakistan to an unnamed U.S. military installation, the senior White House official said.

    But it was vaguer than the rest of the operational plan, and the expectation among most of the people who planned and executed the mission was that bin Laden would be killed. If bin Laden had surrendered, Obama’s senior advisers “would have to reconvene and make a decision about what to do with him,” said one official, who like many requested anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters. “It was intentionally left to be decided after the fact…”

    • emptywheel says:

      FWIW, I will remain skeptical that he was freed until someone finds him alive. No one ever sources that claim, not even to an anonymous source. All we know is he was moved, from a Pakistani prison, in 2007.

      Given the fact that he was pretty deliberately moved out of US custody and into Pakistani custody, and given the precedent of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi (who was also conveniently not moved back to Gitmo with the other HVDs), I’m skeptical that he was freed.

      • MadDog says:

        The very idea that Hassan Ghul was “freed” seems oxymoronic given his apparent high-ranking Al Qaeda status.

        In techno-weenie parlance, tt does not compute. *g*

        I still have no single concrete fact to base my SWAG on, but everything put out publicly about Ghul makes me smell “turned”.

  3. donbacon says:

    A warrant officer in such a position has no power in the military, which is why they put him in the position.

  4. donbacon says:

    Of course to objective was to kill OBL. The U.S. had no evidence tying him to 9/11 so a trial was out of the question.

    • bmaz says:

      Baloney. There was, and is, a ton of evidence tying Bin Laden to 9/11. And more than plenty of the legally obtained, admissible in court, variety. I have no idea in the world how anyone could say “The U.S. had no evidence tying him to 9/11”.

      • donbacon says:

        I have no idea in the world how anyone could say “The U.S. has evidence tying him to 9/11″.
        1. Where is the evidence?
        2. Why didn’t the FBI want OBL for 9/11, if there is evidence?
        3. Why was OBL assassinated, if there is evidence?

        from the FBI file:

        FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive

        Murder of U.S. Nationals Outside the United States; Conspiracy to Murder U.S. Nationals Outside the United States; Attack on a Federal Facility Resulting in Death

        USAMA BIN LADEN

        Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world.

        • bmaz says:

          You can start with the fact he flat out admitted in a 2004 videotape that he directed the attack, as well as in other tapes. There are also tapes of him in planning sessions with hijackers. Oh, and the testimony of several other al-Qaida superiors such as KSM. This is ridiculous.

          • donbacon says:

            I agree it’s ridiculous, because you can’t come up with any evidence connecting OBL to 9/11. Neither could the FBI, apparently, as evidenced by his wanted poster, and that’s why bin Laden was assassinated instead of being tried.

  5. bailey2739 says:

    Marci, Don’t know when you sleep or how you manage to have a life beyond your research & writing, but I think you are consistently one of the BEST reads on the Internet!

  6. sherwood says:

    I generally agree, but this is where I get off the train:

    But not only has the military charged Bradley Manning, but they have alleged that his actions–and not the torture and not the cover-up of torture–bring discredit on the armed forces.

    It’s of course perfectly right and proper that Manning is charged if there’s good reason to believe he leaked the cables. That doesn’t change the fact that Mannings (alleged) leak led to many good things (and quite likely a few bad ones). But it seems quite clear that he broke the law, and he should be punished (if found guilty) just like anyone else.

    If you want to argue that Manning should go free, then you have to show why the law should be changed and spying on the U.S. government should be legal.

      • sherwood says:

        I agree. When they charge Cheney, they should charge Manning.

        You’re being silly. If Manning gets off a spying charge because of Cheney’s misdeeds – who else gets off? Did the civil rights era white supremacist violence mean that Martin Luther King Jr got to gun down a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard if he met him on main street one day – and a court should have declared him innocent?

        The rule of law doesn’t work like that. Down that path is a country where conservatives have courts that declare “innocent” guilty people that they like and liberals have courts that do the same with guilty people we like.

        I’m perfectly fine with feeling that Manning deserves some gratitude for lifting the veil of secrecy on a lot of government business, but neither that nor the fact that he served as a gay soldier under DADT has any bearing whatsoever on whether he is guilty of the crime he’s accused of nor if he was mistreated.

        One of the most hypocritical and slightly nausiating aspects of GG:s Manning crucade is that those things are being conflated, and they shouldn’t be-

        • bailey2739 says:

          What the heck does Manning’s being guilty or not guilty have to do with our Government torturing him, and worse, torturing him BEFORE he’s even been tried? Where’s the “rule of law”? You’re obviously a plant, but this much should be irrefutable, even to you: The MOST nausiating moment by far was when Obama claimed ownership of Manning’s torture.

          Arguing the “Rule of law” is lame. Have you noticed anything that’s happened in Washington D.C. since 2000, starting with the Supremes appointment of “Chauncey” Bush as President? For the last 11 years far too many of “The injustices of the world” started in Wash. D.C. and have been hidden under the “secret” stamp.

          Your axe is obviously self-interest, i,e, maybe a job, but it’s unfathomable to me that anyone would argue the Gov’t. we elected to serve us has the “legal” right to conduct illegal acts and hide them under the “rule of law” when it is not a matter of utmost National Security? Have you no awareness of how this country was founded?

          • sherwood says:

            What the heck does Manning’s being guilty or not guilty have to do with our Government torturing him

            1) The government hasn’t tortured Manning. Disregarding the accuracy of Mannings accusations, nothing has been alledged that amounts to torture in the eyes of anyone but the terminally confused.

            2) I have made no suggestions that the matter of Manning’s guilt is in any way related to the matter of whether he’s been mistreated, in fact i have consistently argued the opposite.

            and worse, torturing him BEFORE he’s even been tried

            Why is that worse? You’re hilarious! It sounds like you’re implying that it would be justified to torture people as punishment if they were found guilty of a crime… But surely you don’t think that? That’s reprehensible.

            You’re obviously a plant

            You’re obviously clinically paranoid. It’s funny how on FDL being coherent, reasonable and not raving mad is taken as proof of COINTEL activity.

            but this much should be irrefutable, even to you: The MOST nausiating moment by far was when Obama claimed ownership of Manning’s torture.

            The most nausiating moment was something that happened in your head? That both makes sense and doesn’t make sense at the same time.

            Arguing the “Rule of law” is lame.

            Rebutal by appeal to “lameness” is triple lame.

            Have you noticed anything that’s happened in Washington D.C. since 2000, starting with the Supremes appointment of “Chauncey” Bush as President?

            Chauncey?

            For the last 11 years far too many of “The injustices of the world” started in Wash. D.C. and have been hidden under the “secret” stamp.

            A lot of bad shit went down during Bush II, yes, e.g. a conjob to herd the nation off to the wrong war and torture as established policy – all kept secret by appeals to “national security”. Is that what you was trying to say?

            Your axe is obviously self-interest

            My axe? Never heard that one before…

            i,e, maybe a job

            One of the reasons I post at FDL is that I’m fed up with fact-challenged, confused, ever-whining FDL:ers invading the comments sections of e.g. Political Animal, Balloon Juice, TPM etc. I came for the freakshow but stayed for the occasionally worthwhile posts about stuff that is poorly reported elsewhere.

            But I happen to believe a mob of ignorant simpletons doped up on conspiracies and magical thinking ranting at the president is to the detriment of progressive interests, so I’m putting some effort into educating you. I’m sure Jane, emptywheel et al finds it convenient to have their own gullible army of “liberal” branded teabaggers at their command though…

            but it’s unfathomable to me that anyone would argue the Gov’t. we elected to serve us has the “legal” right to conduct illegal acts

            I haven’t argued that, and besides a legal illegal act is a contradiction in terms. Don’t you proof read?

            If you’re trying to adress my original proposition – e.g. the point I’m trying to make – it was this:

            P: Bradley Manning is charged with espionage etc on account of him alledgedly giving classified information to wikileaks. Whether Manning was mistreated in detainment, whether he’s a “hero”, etc etc, is irrelevant to the issue of whether charging him was warranted. The latter depends only on if the government had good reason to believe he broke the law in question.

            Have you no awareness of how this country was founded

            By british subjects, on July 4th 1776, in Philadelphia. What did I win?

            • bailey2739 says:

              “1) The government hasn’t tortured Manning. Disregarding the accuracy of Mannings accusations, nothing has been alledged that amounts to torture in the eyes of anyone but the terminally confused.” You could’ve stopped right there.

              • sherwood says:

                You could’ve stopped right there.

                Yes of course, and I should have. For after having made 40+ posts here at FDL not once – not one (1) time – has one single FDL poster been able to respond like a normal grown adult on the merits. Either non-sequiteur one liners ore conspiratorial blurb, that’s the most one could hope for.

                Is it really not apparent to you that it is incumbent on you to actually show why it is reasonable to say that Manning was tortured? I’d like to see you try.

                In fact – I’ll go one step further: I’d like to see you show that anyone has been tortured while in U.S. custody since the inauguration of Barack Obama. I don’t think you can.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    Ditto. Whatever came before, that comment has the ring of one of Rahm’s Robots or a bit of HB’s s/w that has had added to it an emotion chip. If I recall, Data was never able to handle his very well.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      Glad to see poor Turing’s reputation being rehabilitated by Cambridge and the English maths/computer sciences community. Long past time, especially given that he was hounded to a premature death by hypocritical differential enforcement of a law, not often applied to the upper classes, that wasn’t corrected until the revisions incorporated into the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

            • bmaz says:

              This is the Emptywheel blog. If you come to act holier than thou and insult us here, your stay will be brief. I do not need your “education”, so you can stow that attitude somewhere without sunshine. Whatever you perceive to be going on at Balloon Juice, Political Animal and/or TPM has nothing to do with us here.

              If, however you want to engage on the merits in a meaningful discussion of the issues here, that is quite welcome. You can cut the shit out and, by the way, I will ask others to do the corollary and leave the insinuations go as to you too. Let us see if we cannot all play on a higher plane.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Well, this country was founded by lots of folks, with lots of different ideas about what sort of country we should be. The usual breakdown is that about a third were pro independence, about a third against and a middle third that could be swayed either way, but which was probably more worried about where their next meal was coming from. The drafters of the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation and of the Constitution were all quite remarkably wealthy.

              The Boston Tea Partiers reflected the interests of that crowd far more than those of the common man. The amount of tea they destroyed would have been a capital offense. Oddly, that event took place after the British had halved the landed cost of tea. Smuggling by wealthy merchants accounted for 2/3 to 3/4 of all the landed tea; the price drop threatened to make that line of work more dangerous than profitable. The Tea Partiers, in not very convincing Indian garb, were made out by their sponsors to be patriots, which illustrates one of Samuel Johnson’s more memorable barbs: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. So not everything is as it seems.

              Mr. Manning’s pre-charge and pre-trial treatment is entirely germane to the charges against him, or more precisely, to the manner in which the government proposes to make those charges stick in and outside of court. Since you refuse to consider that proposition, we’d better change the subject. Belittling the peanut gallery in exasperation isn’t likely to make it stop disagreeing with you or to make it more polite.

              • sherwood says:

                Mr. Manning’s pre-charge and pre-trial treatment is entirely germane to the charges against him, or more precisely, to the manner in which the government proposes to make those charges stick in and outside of court.

                I originally objected to emptywheel implying that Manning shouldn’t have been charged at all in the first place. This was my proposition:

                It’s of course perfectly right and proper that Manning is charged if there’s good reason to believe he leaked the cables

                and later rephrased as:

                P: Bradley Manning is charged with espionage etc on account of him alledgedly giving classified information to wikileaks. Whether Manning was mistreated in detainment, whether he’s a “hero”, etc etc, is irrelevant to the issue of whether charging him was warranted. The latter depends only on if the government had good reason to believe he broke the law in question.

                “The manner in which the government proposes to make those charges stick in and outside of court” is trivially irrelevant when considering that, agreed?

                Since you refuse to consider that proposition, we’d better change the subject. Belittling the peanut gallery in exasperation isn’t likely to make it stop disagreeing with you or to make it more polite.

                I haven’t refused to consider anything. Neither am I all that exasperated, in fact I’m rather enjoying myself so far. The snark was a imho quite benign response to the accusations of being a “plant” etc, and general lack of courtesy.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  The conditions of Mr. Manning’s pre-charge and pre-trial detention are not trivial, any more than they are trivial for the detainees in Gitmo, or anyone subject to detention and questioning by the police. That the president would take it upon himself to opine directly about an accused’s guilt, when he has direct command authority over the officers who will determine that, should Mr. Manning ever be tried, might suggest the untriviality of it.

                  • sherwood says:

                    The conditions of Mr. Manning’s pre-charge and pre-trial detention are not trivial, any more than they are trivial for the detainees in Gitmo, or anyone subject to detention and questioning by the police.

                    Either you read sloppily or you’re being willfully obtuse. I didn’t say that they were trivial, I said they were trivially irrelevant (or iow obviously irrelevant) to my proposition. You can’t argue that detention and treatment during the detention is relevant to whether it was warranted to apprehend the person in the first place. The latter precedes the former, hence the former is irrelevant when determining if the latter was justified.

                    That the president would take it upon himself to opine directly about an accused’s guilt

                    But we’ve already established that you are basing this accusation off of an off the cuff remark during chit chat with a participant of a fundraiser and someone happened to be there with a camera or cameraphone. It’s completely unreasonable to pretend that parsing the wording of someone making casual conversation in an informal, and presumed non-public setting has any bearing on the judicial process.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The differential enforcement of the law is so stark, so vehemently one-sided and self-protective, that it mocks the law and the notion that justice will be carried out against Mr. Manning. It’s not that he may have committed the acts alleged; it’s that the government has and will punish him regardless, long before it ever proves its case.

      That’s not about justice, a speedy trial, assistance of competent counsel, the ability to see, confront and refute the evidence and witnesses arrayed against him. The government continues to try and publicly punish him in the court of public opinion, most startlingly in pre-trial, uncorrected statements of guilt by the President, a notorious example of illegally influencing those under his command. Meanwhile, Mr. Manning’s actual trial seems a long way off, but not his punishment.

    • bobschacht says:

      What Marcy is saying is that our beloved “Lady Justice” is not only not blind, but the blindfold has been cast aside and her thumb is on the scales. To be less poetic, the DOJ is not administering justice in an even-handed way, but coming down like a ton of bricks on some people, and being extremely forgiving of others, when the availability of evidence for criminal behavior is equal in quantity and quality. IOW, they have taken prosecutorial discretion to new heights of absurdity.

      Oops, I now see that EOH has beat me to the punch by half an hour @ 18. EOH, I owe you a beverage of your choice.

      Bob in AZ

      • sherwood says:

        What Marcy is saying is that our beloved “Lady Justice” is not only not blind, but the blindfold has been cast aside and her thumb is on the scales. To be less poetic, the DOJ is not administering justice in an even-handed way, but coming down like a ton of bricks on some people, and being extremely forgiving of others, when the availability of evidence for criminal behavior is equal in quantity and quality. IOW, they have taken prosecutorial discretion to new heights of absurdity.

        That is a good argument in favor of investigating and trying those that were (alledgedly) let off the hook, not of letting Manning get off scot-free. Manning is alledgedly & arguably one of the worst american spies in recent memory, so he definetely should be tried and sentenced to a long incarceration – if found guilty.

        Of course he should still be treated humanly in accordance with the applicable rules and any allegations that he hasnt been should also be investigated and dealt with under the usual framework. But there’s no trading one for the other – they are separate issues.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Nice of you to slip in the “if he’s guilty” bit. The rest of your comment assumes it.

          The two sets of issues are tied at the hip, not separate. Disdain for the rule of law is now normal procedure. When the elect allegedly break the law, the DoJ goes into protective, damage control mode, not investigative/prosecutorial mode. When whistleblowers and ordinary Americans allegedly violate federal law, it’s fire and brimstone time, and time for the Red Queen’s justice: sentence first, verdict afterwards.

          Bradley Manning, even if he committed the facts the government accuses him of, embarrassed the government. If he revealed secrets, they weren’t about nuclear weapons or stealth technology for submarines or fighters; he allegedly revealed secrets that proved the government a serial liar. That makes him a character in a John le Carre novel who gets bumped in the opening set up, not the guy around which the drama revolves.

          • bobschacht says:

            Yet more excellent! I am looking forward to this important ceremonial occasion.

            bmaz, I probably owe you a beverage of your choice. Didn’t you pay when we met in the PHX airport?

            Bob in AZ (Flagstaff)

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Indubitably, I’m sure, said in my best Lina Lamont imitation, which would make Don Lockwood cringe even more than hearing the “real” thing.

        • bobschacht says:

          Excellent. I await your arrival. But please provide at least a day’s notice, so that I can arrange my affairs.

          At your service,
          Bob in AZ

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Delighted, said with the voice Curly would use with Moe and Larry, but, sadly, it’s likely to be some time.

            • bobschacht says:

              Well then, please be sure to let me know at bobschacht AT infomagic DOT net, or look me up on facebook (but beware: there is another bobschacht on facebook who is a quite different person).

              Bob in AZ (Flagstaff)

  7. potsdam602 says:

    WikiLeaks might be the new separation of powers, or the new balance of power. The three branches now seem to be encroaching into, or may have already become one big immune Anything-Goes Power. I loved government class in jr. high and high school–learning about the best we in the US were intended, or structured to be.

  8. sues says:

    We need wikileaks to release to world how the pakistani ISI and military were hiding bin laden and for how long, who in pakistan is involved, name names and conversations. Do the world a favor.

  9. sherwood says:

    @earlofhuntingdon

    Well I’m not getting into litigating all the various complaints and accusations about mistreatment of Manning. Suffice to say is that the framework for detaining him, investigating him and eventually trying him is the same framework that applies to thousands other americans and service members. The same remedies that were available to them are available to him.

    Either way it’s irrelevant to my point. Since he is suspected of a crime, he should be investigated and tried. There’s no amount of mistreatment that makes him more or less guilty of what he did (or didn’t do). He should be treated under the framework that applies to other americans suspected of the same crime, and if his rights are found to have been violated, that should be handled appropriately.

    Still doesn’t change the fact that:

    But not only has the military charged Bradley Manning [..]

    Is way off the mark. Of course they charged him. They should charge him. He is suspected of taking 250 000 diplomatic cables and willfully allowing them to end up in the hands of anyone with a computer (which includes Mossad, Al Qaeda, North Korea, etc). If he is found guilty he should be put away for a long time, maybe the rest of his life.

    The government continues to try and publicly punish him in the court of public opinion, most startlingly in pre-trial, uncorrected statements of guilt by the President, a notorious example of illegally influencing those under his command.

    This is silly. Obama’s statement was caught on camera:

    The suggestion the president made was caught on camera during an impromptu and casual conversation regarding the Army private suspected of giving classified information to WikiLeaks.

    While it is difficult to make out all of what the president had to say in a clip of the remarks, he can be heard suggesting there’s a difference between the situation with Manning and that of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War

    The president making some informal remarks at a fundraiser and being caught on camera is far from the same thing as the POTUS publicly proclaiming the suspect guilty in his official capacity. This is a perfect example of the kind of specious hysterics GG and his sycophants trade in, and the reason why they should enjoy limited credibility by default. To make matters worse, Greenwald himself has commited precisely the same or maybe worse presumption of guilt re Manning since Greenwald has actually proclaimed him a “hero” assuming Manning did indeed leak the cables. As is natural because I think many of us assume that Manning did in fact leak the cables, and it’s human to not remember at every time to add qualifiers such as “assuming he did…”, “alledgedly..”, etc.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Not buying it. Mr. Manning’s treatment is not normal, routine or legal. His treatment at Gitmo demonstrated either that Marines cannot follow orders – an unlikely event, even if you’ve never seen A Few Good Men – or that they were following orders from high in their chain of command. Chief warrant officers and E-3’s do not make policy about how to treat prisoners, nor do they fail to follow the UCMJ because they feel like it.

      The characterization that Mr. Obama was caught in an unguarded moment expressing a personal opinion is a dog that won’t hunt. He is a constitutional law scholar for bloody sake, one of Harvard’s best and brightest, who taught Con Law at Chicago. That means he is well versed in the criminal law – the two are inseparable.

      He is nothing if not a studious, careful, contemplative, strategery-oriented politician, who goes out of his way not to annoy the opposition, though he seems happy to annoy those who might follow him. He said what he said. He knows it was wrong, and has done nothing to reverse the ill effects from it. He meant it, it’s policy. It’s wrong. He knows it. He’s staying the course.

  10. sherwood says:

    Not buying it.

    Am I making a pitch for a used car here? I am asking you if you believe the rule of law is to be applied or if it can be cast aside whenever you like or pity some guy.

    Mr. Manning’s treatment is not normal, routine or legal.

    Irrelevant, irrelevant and an assertion.

    His treatment at Gitmo

    He was never at gitmo, you tool. As I already said: I’m not getting into litigating the various accusations of mistreatments and nefarious complicity by the administration. I’ll give you my personal opinion from my previous experience: I think the mistreatments amounts to at most minor harassment, and the admin seems to have handled it perfectly adequately, e.g. making sure the matter was investigated. But that is my opinion, and you can keep yours.

    The point is that it is irrelevant. IOW: There’s no amount of mistreatment that makes him more or less guilty of what he did (or didn’t do). He should be treated under the framework that applies to other americans suspected of the same crime, and if his rights are found to have been violated, that should be handled appropriately. Exactly what I wrote above.

    The characterization that Mr. Obama was caught in an unguarded moment expressing a personal opinion is a dog that won’t hunt [monsignor]. He is a constitutional law scholar for bloody sake, one of Harvard’s best and brightest, who taught Con Law at Chicago. That means he is well versed in the criminal law – the two are inseparable.

    Obama is supposed to express himself in legalese at all times not only in the “60 minutes” studio, but also when chatting to someone after a fundraiser; 24-7 minding the possibility that somewhere there may be a kid with a camera phone filming him? Dream on.

    You think that Obama is some kind of faux-progressive supervillain. This is of course the most common trait of conspiracy thinking – assuming perfection instead of the real world people acting much like oneself.

    Occam’s razor, start using it.

  11. sherwood says:

    Nice of you to slip in the “if he’s guilty” bit. The rest of your comment assumes it.

    No – that is factually incorrect:

    Manning is alledgedly & arguably one of the worst american spies in recent memory, so he definetely should be tried and sentenced to a long incarceration – if found guilty.

    Not saying that I don’t think he’s guilty though – I do.

    The two sets of issues are tied at the hip, not separate. Disdain for the rule of law is now normal procedure. When the elect allegedly break the law, the DoJ goes into protective, damage control mode, not investigative/prosecutorial mode. When whistleblowers and ordinary Americans allegedly violate federal law, it’s fire and brimstone time, and time for the Red Queen’s justice: sentence first, verdict afterwards.

    I’m not sure what actual cases other than Manning you are supporting your propositions with, let’s just say I don’t agree with the characterization and I suspect that neither does anyone who don’t spend plenty time reading Greenwald and FDL.

    Anyway, in some convoluted way you are implying that there’s political expediency to pursuing the leaker of the cables. And sure. You’re absolutely right. The wikileak realease(s) were front page news, all around the world. Week after week. They were a huge embarrassment. So of course the government are going to go after the leaker. But:

    1) That would have been true for any administration at any time in the history of the union. That the Obama admin chose to do so is not an indication of something nefarious, or noteable or particular to this administration. It’s what’s to be expected.

    2) Aside from the PR implications, the actual security breach was enormous, e.g. 250 000 diplomatic cables on wikileaks has the same operational impact as 250 000 diplomatic cables in the hands of Mossad, Al Qaeda, GRU etc etc. Do you think that the U.S. government would choose to do nothing had they found that 250k diplomatic cables were leaked to Mossad?

    Bradley Manning, even if he committed the facts the government accuses him of, embarrassed the government. If he revealed secrets, they weren’t about nuclear weapons or stealth technology for submarines or fighters; he allegedly revealed secrets that proved the government a serial liar.

    The leaker took 250 000 diplomatic cables and made sure that they would end up on the internet. If you take a minute to think about

    a) What a diplomatic cable is.
    b) How long it would take you to read 250k of them and judge if the release of any of them would put individuals or U.S. interests at risk.

    …then you should realize that you are talking out of your ass. The fact is that the leaker both knew he was causing severe damage and that he had no way of knowing exactly how severe.

    The problem you’re having is that you’re not able to reconcile the good that came from the release of the cables (getting to know what the government is up to behind the scenes) with the bad. Because you think their release was very very good in a sense, it could not also be very very bad in another sense. But that does not follow. It’s a fallacy.

    That makes him a character in a John le Carre novel who gets bumped in the opening set up, not the guy around which the drama revolves.

    Dramaturgic conventions are tools to make the reader feel suspense and satisfaction, so infering reality from the conventions of spy novels is likely to confuse your judgement. You know that right?

    Having said that, sure Manning, or the leaker, is likely to be in some sense “small fish” if that’s what your getting at. It has no relevance though, for the question of whether Manning should be investigated, tried and sentenced if guilty.

    Timothy McVeigh, the UNA bomber, Jeffrey Daumer, the Shoe Bomber – they’re all small fish. The doped up gangbanger that shoots and kills the owner of some corner shop is small fish. It’s irrelevant. Does small fish get caught and judged by the letter of the law, while big players sometimes are able to circumvent the law while having caused quantatively greater damage? Yes. Is there an injustice in Wall Street fatcats gambling and knowingly risking the World Economy for quick billions and getting off scot-free while indirectly causing the death of thousands in the third world? Again yes. But that issue is bigger than Braddley Manning. It’s not reasonable to say that the Wall Street tycoon went free so ergo Manning must go free. Why not McVeigh? Why not Daumer? Why not the gangbanger?

    The injustices of the world are irrelevant to Manning. You should know as much.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nice of you to slip in the “if he’s guilty” bit. The rest of your comment assumes it.

      No – that is factually incorrect:

      Manning is alledgedly & arguably one of the worst american spies in recent memory, so he definetely should be tried and sentenced to a long incarceration – if found guilty.

      Not saying that I don’t think he’s guilty though – I do.

      There’s a contradiction in there somewhere, I’m sure.

      It may be true that only DFH’s think that the rule of law is not some quaint nostrum from the 18th century. As for examples of the widespread practice of excusing the elect from it, off the top of my head I would list the following:

      Not investigating or prosecuting those responsible for the Bush era torture memos or the illegal politicization of the Justice Department.

      Not investigating systemic bank foreclosure frauds.

      Not investigating former Sen. Ensign, but charging the man he cuckolded for “conflicts of interest” for performing the services Ensign arranged for him to keep him quiet – and to compensate for firing him because he objected to, um, being cuckolded by his boss and a sitting Senator.

      Not investigating the unlawful deaths, allegedly at the hands of American interrogators, of three Gitmo inmates that the government, Pentagon, Gitmo commanders and the NCIS concluded, improbably, were suicided – engaged in asymmetrical warfare – the reporting of which recently won Scott Horton a major journalism award.

      • sherwood says:

        There’s a contradiction in there somewhere, I’m sure.

        How so? Me believing that Manning is guilty and me deducing stuff from the premise that he is are not the same thing.

        It may be true that only DFH’s think that the rule of law is not some quaint nostrum from the 18th century.

        Almost certainly not. But DFH’s are almost certainly the only people that think that only they do. Hence, DF Sanctimonious H’s.

        As for examples of the widespread practice of excusing the elect from it, off the top of my head I would list the following:

        Not investigating or prosecuting those responsible for the Bush era torture memos or the illegal politicization of the Justice Department.

        Very unfortunate. My guess would be that Obama admin were wary of starting a political nuclear war, as all the former Bushies would have gone full take-no-prisoners tear-the-country-asunder attack mode at the prospect of facing prison time and being publicly humiliated and paria for the forseable future. Of course the government was full of complicit people in position to f-ck stuff up for the Obama admin. Let a terrorist plot slip between the cracks; carry on EI at some CIA site and leaking it to the press, etc.

        So, revoked the torture policy, let it slip and went for the domestic agenda. Unfortunate, but understandable.

        Not investigating systemic bank foreclosure frauds.

        I’m not privy to the details, so i’ll take your word for it.

        Not investigating former Sen. Ensign, but charging the man he cuckolded for “conflicts of interest” for performing the services Ensign arranged for him to keep him quiet – and to compensate for firing him because he objected to, um, being cuckolded by his boss and a sitting Senator.

        The senate investigation was refered to the Justice Department yesterday. You’re prejudging the outcome.

        Not investigating the unlawful deaths, allegedly at the hands of American interrogators, of three Gitmo inmates that the government, Pentagon, Gitmo commanders and the NCIS concluded, improbably, were suicided – engaged in asymmetrical warfare – the reporting of which recently won Scott Horton a major journalism award.

        We’re talking Bush era events here, right? See my thoughts above. But: yes the handling of Bush era abuses is not rule of law, but rather political considerations ovveriding rule of law. I concede that. But the outset is Bush admin creating an amoral clusterf-ck and dropping it in the lap of his successor. There are no good options once you get to that point.

        The hard truth is that it’s compareatively much easier to sin and then protect your ass by being willing to take the ship down with you than it is to clean up after the person who shat all over everything. Obama cut a deal with the devil and tried to move on. He ended the torture policy and he’s willing to argue publicly that we will not use it because that’s not who we are. I willing to accept, though I’m not satisfied, with that outcome.

        So moving back to Manning then: Sure. If manning were in a position to wreak havoc in the same way that all those complicit in Bush era transgressions were, he may have gotten off too. But what happens if we take a stroll down that road? We are forced to conclude that since the rule of law was not applied fairly and consistently in every case it shouldnt be applied at all? But that’s not acceptable, since our goal is for the rule of law to be applied always. So while I agree that there is an injustice when comparing Mannings lot to Dick Cheney’s, there’s still no particular reason for us to compare Manning’s lot to Dick Cheney’s rather than Timothy McVeigh’s or Jeffrey Dahmers. The outrage applies to Cheney getting off, not to Manning not getting off (if he is in fact guilty).

  12. sherwood says:

    This is the Emptywheel blog. If you come to act holier than thou and insult us here, your stay will be brief.

    How so? Does emptywheel or FDL has a policy against making fun of stupid people accusing me of being a government “plant”?

    I do not need your “education”

    You do but you don’t know it.

    so you can stow that attitude somewhere without sunshine.

    Screw you too buddy. Don’t forget that you’re the one that thought it perfectly fine and courteous to accuse me of being a paid stooge peddling opinions for money. Assuming bad faith is just the beginning of your poor form. IOW, the ridicule you got was well earned.

    If, however you want to engage on the merits in a meaningful discussion of the issues here, that is quite welcome. You can cut the shit out and, by the way, I will ask others to do the corollary and leave the insinuations go as to you too. Let us see if we cannot all play on a higher plane.

    The kettle implying the table is a pot. In other words that’s mostly what I did from the start, but you asserting that I’m “obviously a plant” and that my “axe is self interest” made me irritated (and confused).

    But fair enough. I’ll lay off the sniping. Here’s my proposition again:

    P: Bradley Manning is charged with espionage etc on account of him alledgedly giving classified information to wikileaks. Whether Manning was mistreated in detainment, whether he’s a “hero”, etc etc, is irrelevant to the issue of whether charging him was warranted. The latter depends only on if the government had good reason to believe he broke the law in question.

    Do you agree?

    • bmaz says:

      Screw you too buddy. Don’t forget that you’re the one that thought it perfectly fine and courteous to accuse me of being a paid stooge peddling opinions for money. Assuming bad faith is just the beginning of your poor form. IOW, the ridicule you got was well earned.

      Uh, no; I did nothing of the sort. Buh bye.

      • sherwood says:

        Oops sorry I had you mixed up with bailey2739 (Since you responded to my post directed at him).

        • bmaz says:

          As I said, this is not the place for these kind of shenanigans. l do not wish to take this further; I sincerely hope that you do not either. Let’s stick to the merits on all sides, eh? (And to the regulars here, give this guy that benefit as well and let’s see where the discussion goes without the sniping. People here do not have to all necessarily agree, they just have to argue meritoriously).

  13. sherwood says:

    That response was quite a mistake, as I’ll leave others to point out to you.

    What – you’re talking about this:

    I’d like to see you show that anyone has been tortured while in U.S. custody since the inauguration of Barack Obama. I don’t think you can.

    I’m being perfectly earnest. It’s not that I haven’t run across many FDLers and Greenwalders screaming bloody murder but once scratching the surface no one ever brought the beef. So I’d really really like to know what the most clear cut case is.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Please don’t snow me with the meaning and global importance of of a “diplomatic cable”. Apart from sometimes communicating the careful analyses of ambassadors – George Kennan comes to mind – they have bought prostitutes and Cuban cigars, spread convenient lies, started wars through lies, impugned honest citizens and wreaked havoc on the innocent.

    Regarding my reference to a John le Carre novel, you said,

    Dramaturgic conventions are tools to make the reader feel suspense and satisfaction, so infering [sic] reality from the conventions of spy novels is likely to confuse your judgement. You know that right?

    And all this time I thought I was making a derisory analogy about the behavior of a government that would hound its whistleblowers for violating confidentiality laws rather than address its own systemic excessive, illegal or corrupt behavior, revealed by that whistleblower at great personal cost. The DoJ’s charging decisions in the Ensign affair capture that problem in microcosm.

    On the other hand, your comparing true whistleblowing to mass or serial murderers – McVeigh, Dame – by saying that they are all “small fish”, but should be tried because of the inherent nature of their crimes, whatever the “bigger crimes” were they complained of, is perilously wide of the mark. It’s hard to conceive of how such an analogy was crafted in good faith by someone so obviously skilled with words.

    • sherwood says:

      Please don’t snow me with the meaning and global importance of of a “diplomatic cable”. Apart from sometimes communicating the careful analyses of ambassadors – George Kennan comes to mind – they have bought prostitutes and Cuban cigars, spread convenient lies, started wars through lies, impugned honest citizens and wreaked havoc on the innocent.

      It is hereby noted for the record that you have voiced your disapproval of all activity being conducted at embassies around the world. But it was never my intent to scare you with big words. I was rather getting at the fact that intelligence work being conducted on location is communicated back to the US by means of such diplomatic cables, and hence leaking them entails leaking intelligence. Case in point, information about Al Qaedas couriers were in the wikileaks cables.

      Therefore, leaking the cables entails leaking U.S. intelligence. You remember all those people we put in jail for selling U.S. intelligence to the russkies back in the cold war era? Spies? This is the same thing.

      And all this time I thought I was making a derisory analogy about the behavior of a government that would hound its whistleblowers for violating confidentiality laws

      How do you propose we distinguish between spying and whistleblowing? Spying for wikileaks is whistleblowing, but whistleblowing for Mossad is spying?

      rather than address its own systemic excessive, illegal or corrupt behavior, revealed by that whistleblower at great personal cost.

      It’s not an either or proposition. We should do both. The truth is that Manning – if guilty – is both guilty of espionage and a whistleblower. Like I said from the outset, the only reasonable position is that he deserves gratitude and being sentenced by the full force of the law if he is found guilty.

      The DoJ’s charging decisions in the Ensign affair capture that problem in microcosm.

      You’re still prejudging Ensign and making the fallacious assumption that Ensign (if guilty – take note!) getting off justifies Manning getting off. It doesn’t.

      On the other hand, your comparing true whistleblowing to mass or serial murderers – McVeigh, Dame – by saying that they are all “small fish”, but should be tried because of the inherent nature of their crimes, whatever the “bigger crimes” were they complained of, is perilously wide of the mark.

      Consider the case of Arthur Bremer, who shot George Wallace. Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace for fame, but let’s for the sake of argument pretend that Bremer shot Wallace because Wallace was a white supremacist firebreather fanning the flames of intolerance and causing pain, suffering and the perpetuation of Jim Crow Dixie. Should he have gotten off because justice isn’t being perfect? You know that that’s not a defensible position. We can have no “people that we think are really good guys get off” laws. The system breaks down.

      There’s a conservative cause celebre – I don’t remember his name – a guy of jewish heritage that spied for Mossad. Some conservatives think he should be pardoned because Israel is our ally and they consider him one of the good guys doing what he did out of (israeli) patriotism (which they consider a virtue).

      Your “whistleblower” is tomorrows “israeli partisan”, and it doesnt stop with espionage.

      It’s hard to conceive of how such an analogy was crafted in good faith by someone so obviously skilled with words.

      I reject the implication but accept the flattery with gratitude (if given in earnest).

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What do you mean “we” Kemosabi?

    There is much that is trivial and irrelevant. Mr. Manning’s pre-charge and pre-trial detention are not among them. Like word order in German, the ordering by politicians of legal acts is sometimes a matter of emphasis, not cause and consequence.

    • sherwood says:

      There is much that is trivial and irrelevant. Mr. Manning’s pre-charge and pre-trial detention are not among them.

      You are being evasive, and your persistence is making me start to suspect bad faith. I’ll just paste in what I wrote again verbatim:

      I didn’t say that they were trivial, I said they were trivially irrelevant (or iow obviously irrelevant) to my proposition. You can’t argue that detention and treatment during the detention is relevant to whether it was warranted to apprehend the person in the first place. The latter precedes the former, hence the former is irrelevant when determining if the latter was justified.

      What do you mean “we” Kemosabi? Like word order in German, the ordering by politicians of legal acts is sometimes a matter of emphasis, not cause and consequence.

      Are we in agreement that this was the occasion when Obama uttered the words that made your blood boil?

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/22/bradley-manning-obama-video_n_852553.html

      Do you agree with my characterization of this as him making an off the cuff remark during chit chat with participants of a fundraiser and someone happened to be there with a camera or cameraphone?

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The assumption that your comments, the artfully subversive way you reinvent and overstate mine, or your rhetorical claims of agreement “scare” me is unwarranted, as is the discreetly indirect accusation of bad faith. If there’s flattery here, it’s not from me.

    • sherwood says:

      The assumption that your comments, the artfully subversive way you reinvent and overstate mine, or your rhetorical claims of agreement “scare” me is unwarranted, as is the discreetly indirect accusation of bad faith. If there’s flattery here, it’s not from me.

      Ok, I’m done here. But I’d wish for you to reconsider the standard your holding your president to. It’s awfully high.

      Cheers.

      • bobschacht says:

        But I’d wish for you to reconsider the standard your holding your president to. It’s awfully high.

        I share EOH’s concerns about the President’s pronouncement of guilt, and the fact that he may have uttered it during the course of “an off the cuff remark during chit chat” is irrelevant. His remarks were extremely prejudicial and inappropriate. And that should not be regarded as a “high” standard, but indeed a low standard. He should know better.

        I agree that it was appropriate for Manning to be arrested, but the length of his confinement before he was charged, and his treatment during that lengthy period before being charged was highly inappropriate. I checked out of any further debate with you when you denied @ 31 that the government has tortured Manning. That obtuseness gave me sufficient warning that you are tone-deaf, and the tone of your subsequent comments confirmed that impression.

        To summarize, I do not dispute the appropriateness of Manning’s arrest, but I have grave concerns about his initial detention and treatment, and the premature Presidential pronouncement of guilt. If the charges against him are true (which has not yet been proven in court), he will have to pay the court-determined price. However, I respect his service as a soldier of conscience if he did, in fact, leak the correspondence. As a country, I think we are better off for the leaks, just as we are better off because Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers.

        Bob in AZ

        • sherwood says:

          I share EOH’s concerns about the President’s pronouncement of guilt, and the fact that he may have uttered it during the course of “an off the cuff remark during chit chat” is irrelevant. His remarks were extremely prejudicial and inappropriate. And that should not be regarded as a “high” standard, but indeed a low standard. He should know better.

          It goes to the matter of intention. An informal remark in an informal setting is nothing more than a mistake. Perhaps it indicates that the president privately thinks Manning is guilty, perhaps it doesn’t. If the possibility that POTUS privately considers Manning guilty is shocking to someone that’s perfectly fine, but I don’t personally agree.

          But all the claims around here that the President was trying to influence the judicial process or that the judicial process was indeed compromised based on that video clip are frivolous imho. If the comment had been made at a speech, presser or in a tv interview there would have been a case to be made, but it wasn’t; it was a private conversation and the intended audience was one person. Furthermore, Manning’s lawyers are perfectly free to file the video of the President in court, and argue – well whatever the argument is.

          To summarize, I do not dispute the appropriateness of Manning’s arrest, but I have grave concerns about his initial detention and treatment, and the premature Presidential pronouncement of guilt. If the charges against him are true (which has not yet been proven in court), he will have to pay the court-determined price. However, I respect his service as a soldier of conscience if he did, in fact, leak the correspondence. As a country, I think we are better off for the leaks, just as we are better off because Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers.

          Let’s agree to disagree on the issue of Mannings detention and treatment. My own point of view on that is that what I’ve heard so far amounts to alledged harassment or mistreatment and it all boils down to stuff like: was it reasonable to consider Manning’s health being in threat by other prisoners at the same facility; was he at one point suicidal, and matters of that sort. I.e. I never saw anything that peruasively established malicious intent. I never saw anything that implied the admin being involved (apart from the Obama video, which I, as stated, find unpersuasive).

          But I’m not getting into convincing anyone that I’m right on that. Reasonable people can disagree. Manning has a right to his day in court and having the alledged mistreatments considered and if he never gets that I’ll join the chorus.

          On the rest I pretty much agree. I also think that the leaks were to the benifit of the country and the world and that Manning deserves credit in analogy with the Pentagon Papers (although probably causing some damage as well, which cannot be completely ignored).

          • bailey2739 says:

            “Reasonable people can disagree”. Do you not recall the Bushies Relying on the phrase to neutratize anyone they couldn’t bully into submission? You’re entitled to your opinion but that certainly doesn’t mean your opinion is reasonable. You expect to be acknowledged as reasonable because you’ll rethink the Manning matter IF he “NEVER” gets a day in court? What’s most unsettling about your positions & challenges is just how far to the right Obama Administration has moved from what he campaigned on. Rule of law? Take an INDEPENDENT poll & see what Democratic voters think.

            • sherwood says:

              “Reasonable people can disagree”. Do you not recall the Bushies Relying on the phrase to neutratize anyone they couldn’t bully into submission?

              A Bushie at one time said that reasonable people can disagree so now that sentiment is tainted for all eternity? You’re pretty far gone man… If I say that “Glenn Greenwald is on a misguided crucade against president Obama over Bradley Manning” does that mean I’m a secret Bushie for using a word (crucade) that Bush once used to say a very stupid thing? You should take some “you”-time and consider your folly.

              You’re entitled to your opinion but that certainly doesn’t mean your opinion is reasonable.

              Isn’t that precious?

              You expect to be acknowledged as reasonable because you’ll rethink the Manning matter IF he “NEVER” gets a day in court?

              What I’m saying is that when Manning gets his day in court the merit of the allegations of mistreatment, Obama prejudging the case at the fundraiser, etc, will be tried according to the law of the land. If that day never comes, something is amiss.

              What’s most unsettling about your positions & challenges is just how far to the right Obama Administration has moved from what he campaigned on.

              How do you infer “how far to the right [the] Obama administration has moved” from my opinion? I am me. The Obama administration is the Obama administration. I am a Obama supporter, granted, but my opinions are still mine.

              Moving on, you’re off the mark. Obama never campaigned on espionage to go unpunished, even espionage amounting to whistleblowing. Obama never campaigned on immunity from the law for liberals. No presidential candidate ever has AFAIK in the history of this nation.

              Rule of law? Take an INDEPENDENT poll & see what Democratic voters think.

              You couldn’t find one democratic politician that wouldn’t say they support the rule of law. Don’t you support the rule of law?

              As I stated elsewhere Obama approval was at: 70% with conservative dems, 75% with moderate dems and 80% with self identified liberal dems, the week before the ObL operation. (Gallup, not sure if that’s suffiently independent for you?)

              You are part of a small but very vocal minority. President Obama is popular among liberals.

              • bailey2739 says:

                Obama popular among Liberals? I apologize, maybe I missed something. I recall Obama fighting for & passing Republican HCR over Polls suggesting massive American support for a MUCH more Democratic plan, running away from MANY campaign promises, catering to the mega-banks that wrecked our economy, supporting policy that’s done enormous and sure to be long-lasting damage to the middle class, savers & the retired community. What is it that Obama has done that has earned him this popularity among Liberals you write of?

                • sherwood says:

                  Obama popular among Liberals? I apologize, maybe I missed something. I recall Obama fighting for & passing Republican HCR over Polls suggesting massive American support for a MUCH more Democratic plan, running away from MANY campaign promises, catering to the mega-banks that wrecked our economy, supporting policy that’s done enormous and sure to be long-lasting damage to the middle class, savers & the retired community. What is it that Obama has done that has earned him this popularity among Liberals you write of?

                  Well those are two different issues: is he popular among liberals and should he be popular among liberals.

                  The answer to the first question is yes, he is popular with liberal democrats, and much more so than moderate conservative democrats. Here is the latest Gallup data for the first post ObL week, when Obama was at 51-40 nationally:

                  Lib dem 86
                  Mod dem 80
                  Cons dem 69

                  So as you can see he is much more popular with the left wing of the democratic party than he is with the Blue dog/Third way/DLC wing.

                  Moving on to the question of whether he should be popular with liberals…

                  I recall Obama fighting for & passing Republican HCR over Polls suggesting massive American support for a MUCH more Democratic plan

                  “Massive” is overstatement bordering on dishonest. Furthermore, polling does not magically translate into getting stuff through congress. Public opininion hasnt changed much since 1992 and Hillarycare never got out of commitee. Perhaps “liberals” appreciate him getting a HCR bill passed at all, which as you may know have been tried for >100 years now with little success.

                  The PPACA taxes the rich and redistributes the money to pay for single payer for everyone below 150% poverty line (Medicaid) and heavy subsidies for those making less than 44k$ a year. That’s progressive entitlement legislation. The “republican” meme gets so much play because it is a convenient way for Obama et al to dissarm accusations of “socialism”, so they don’t dispute it but push it themselves.

                  One would wish for self-styled “tru liberals” to be able to recognize deeply progressive poverty fighting legislation but following Jane’s unfortunate example, some don’t.

                  running away from MANY campaign promises

                  Such is the usual complaint around here, but usually on closer inspection poorly supported by facts, or not within Obamas power to deliver (see: Guantamo, closing it).

                  catering to the mega-banks that wrecked our economy

                  Mixed bag. Got passed and signed the Finance Reg bill which is the first new major regulation of an industry since the rise of Reagan and Thatcher.

                  The charge would be more reasonable and honest if it was “he didnt do as much to punish and constrain the mega banks and wall street as we would have liked”.

                  supporting policy that’s done enormous and sure to be long-lasting damage to the middle class, savers & the retired community

                  This is pretty trivially false. The only thing that damaged the middle class was extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and that was a negotiated deal that included e.g. extension of unemployment benefits etc plainly to the benefit of working americans hurt by the recession.

                  But all that doesn’t matter. Obama has his discontents among liberals, especially among netroots. But they’re a minority and dwarfed by his discontents among e.g. blue dogs. It’s just that they scream the loudest.

                  Also it might be a good thing to remember that some people lazily called “liberal” aren’t really, e.g. Glenn Greenwald is afaik a civil libertarian, so while he may agree with “lefties” on civil liberties it’s far from clear that he does on economic matters, or that he necessarily is a champion of the “left” for that matter. And he’s far from the only one…

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            “It goes to the matter of intention.”

            Precisely, but the sources from which you derive it are superficial and ignore basic psychology, let alone the politics of power. “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” is as much a statement of intent and policy as a sealed proclamation; it’s just more convenient and enables plausible deniability when someone carries out that policy.

            Frankly, an off-the-cuff remark is worse than a proclamation. It is a statement of personal feeling and belief, which are ordinarily considered more sincere than official proclamations, something one realizes after the first date.

            That the president may have felt he was uttering a private remark doesn’t alter his belief; it reinforces it. It’s the sort of thing that predators, who litter large bureaucracies, intuitively understand and act on, as do those who rise to lead them. It is from that direction that something wicked this way comes.

            • sherwood says:

              Precisely, but the sources from which you derive it are superficial and ignore basic psychology, let alone the politics of power.

              The video of the President making the remark that caused all the rage and b-tthurt was embedded in the page, we can all watch it for ourself and say whether we agree with the characterization or not.

              “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” is as much a statement of intent and policy as a sealed proclamation; it’s just more convenient and enables plausible deniability when someone carries out that policy.

              Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest” is of course a remark made by a character in a William Shakespear play, which is rather symptomatic of your M.O. of conflating dramaturgy with the real world.

              But let’s parse this. In the play King Henry II says this in his court in the company of his closest advisers. Humoring then the fiction of “Obama as Henry II” it would seem reasonable that Obama would say “is there no-one who can ensure the swift conviction and punishment of this meddlesome private” in the Oval office, in the company of Rahm Emanuel (it’s gotta be Rahmbo agreed?).

              It’s pretty obvious how that would provide even more plausible deniability , don’t you think? And then Rahmbo, being his usual malicious self, would have a fatcat whisky and cigarr session with prosecutors, judges and whathaveyou and voice the same deniable sentiments. So your little theory is ridiculous. Occam’s sliced its wrists and it perished even before it left your mouth.

              Frankly, an off-the-cuff remark is worse than a proclamation.

              Down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass. You are 100% categoricly wrong. E.g., the president holding a speech declaring Manning guilty by decree would be a big f-king deal.

              It is a statement of personal feeling and belief, which are ordinarily considered more sincere than official proclamations, something one realizes after the first date. That the president may have felt he was uttering a private remark doesn’t alter his belief; it reinforces it.

              Note that it is perfectly allowed for the president to have personal feelings and beliefs; what isn’t allowed is for him to interfere with the judicial process. Ergo your point is moot.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That standard is high only because your milepost is George Bush. Rather like considering public employees’ pay and benefits to be high because you’re comparing them to Wal-Mart’s.

  17. harpie says:

    Very late, and haven’t read everything, yet, but this [from the aticle]:

    “We did discuss the potential that they were just sending these back because as long as they’re open, they’re not subject to FOIA,” said Birt. “The rule with [the] Crimes Records Center is: if a case is open, they will not honor a FOIA request because it might jeopardize open and valid investigative pursuits.”

    …made me think of ghost detainees.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Even Ed Meese understood that lawyer president Richard Nixon dangerously misspoke when he made a similar gaff; it was immediately corrected. Until Bush’s choices, Meese was among the least talented of those ever to sit as Attorney General. That’s setting the bar low enough.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nixon’s and Reagan’s lawyers are so confusing. The Attorney General who admonished Nixon to correct his infamous remark about Charles Manson’s guilt – made during Manson’s trial in 1970 – was later convicted felon John Mitchell, not Ed Meese.

      • sherwood says:

        Well there you go:

        Nixon made the remarks during an impromptu press briefing at a law enforcement conference in Denver. He criticized the press, saying that it tends to “glorify and to make heroes out of those who engage in criminal activities.”

        Nixon, critically, was speaking directly to the press in official capacity; Obama was not.

        Here’s Tricky Dick:

        “here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”

        Dickie explicitly proclaims Manson “guilty” – again something Obama hasn’t done – which is obviously not appropriate while making comments to the press as POTUS.

        But do we blame Dickie for privately holding the opinion that Manson was guilty? Not me.

        President Nixon may have freed Charles Manson-not by an act of executive clemency, but by one of errant stupidity.

        Defense attorneys for Manson, Leslie Van Houten, and Susan Atkins-who face charges of murder stemming from the mass killings last August of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons-moved for a mistrial yesterday after learning that Nixon had said that Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”

        And Manning’s lawyer can eventually bring the same complaints to court as the lawyers of the Family did back then. It didn’t get them off though…

  19. sherwood says:

    That standard is high only because your milepost is George Bush. Rather like considering public employees’ pay and benefits to be high because you’re comparing them to Wal-Mart’s.

    The standard is high because you couldn’t find one president in the history of the Union that didn’t fail it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      When even Richard Nixon and Ed Meese apologize for overstepping the law and propriety, I would say the standard is easily met. You keep riding that horse, expecting it to keep galloping, but forget to put in the quarters to make it do so.

      • sherwood says:

        Well I asked you if you could please remind us of what specific incident you’re refering to? Some of us got our DFH membership card after the Nixon era you know.

  20. sherwood says:

    Even Ed Meese understood that lawyer president Richard Nixon dangerously misspoke when he made a similar gaff; it was immediately corrected. Until Bush’s choices, Meese was among the least talented of those ever to sit as Attorney General. That’s setting the bar low enough.

    Do you mind refreshing my memory? What did he say & what was the occassion?

    • bmaz says:

      First off, thank you for toning down the sniping and discussing on the merits. Personally, I find merit to both sides of the discussion you and Earl are having regarding Manning. Some things are not easily pegged into the right or wrong and/or legal/illegal categories. Manning is one of them. I think he could be viewed as some fashion of hero and have done the country a big service by leaking what he is alleged to have done. By the same token, said acts, assuming perpetrated, are pretty clearly and directly illegal, especially under the UCMJ. Whether what was done to him in his initial nearly a year in detention may or may not have been torture depending on your definition of torture, but that is a matter of semantics. It was inappropriate, oppressive, punitive and debilitating; and those are not supposed to be characteristics of pre-trial detention under any circumstance. In a procedural due process sense, it does ultimately have some (probably limited though) impact on guilt or innocence, as that is the phase of the process where such facts are addressed and it is theoretically a remedy that dismissal is granted for it under a theory analogous to malicious prosecution, but that is beyond unlikely. More likely, under the UCMJ, it is a consideration that could well affect (by subtracting relevant sentence multipliers used in determining length of sentence) any sentence handed sown. We shall see, that is indeed what the process is about. It would be nice if the government moved it all along a bit faster I would say.

      As to your question, I am going to take a flyer that what Earl was referring ot is Nixon’s comment on Charles Manson’s guilt to which John Mitchell (not Ed Meese) immediately tried to clean up from.

      • sherwood says:

        First off, thank you for toning down the sniping and discussing on the merits.

        No, thank you!

        Personally, I find merit to both sides of the discussion you and Earl are having regarding Manning. Some things are not easily pegged into the right or wrong and/or legal/illegal categories.

        Granted. I, however, have at least a small amount of faith in a trial eventually sorting that out.

        Manning is one of them. I think he could be viewed as some fashion of hero and have done the country a big service by leaking what he is alleged to have done.

        Granted, but it must be said also, probably, some damage.

        By the same token, said acts, assuming perpetrated, are pretty clearly and directly illegal, especially under the UCMJ.

        Yes.

        Whether what was done to him in his initial nearly a year in detention may or may not have been torture depending on your definition of torture, but that is a matter of semantics.

        I don’t agree that it is a matter of “semantics”. In fact, I think Mannings champions – e.g. Greenwald – are doing great harm to the cause of civil liberties in this country by trying to equate the alledged mistreatment of Manning with e.g. the treatment of Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Guantanamo. The latter is appropriately denoted “torture”. Being waterboarded 183 times is torture. Being woken up in the middle of the night if your head is not visible is not “torture”. Claiming that it is amounts to crying wolf and p-ssing away the credibility of civil liberty champions in this country.

        It was inappropriate, oppressive, punitive and debilitating;and those are not supposed to be characteristics of pre-trial detention under any circumstance.

        Like I stated previously, I haven’t seen enough evidence to agree as of yet. Take the waking in the middle of the night for example: if he was indeed suicidal, monitoring him and checking on him so that he didnt kill himself was warranted. The problem is that it boils down to word against word. Manning says he wasnt suicidal, his detainers say he was.

        I’m not saying that I can’t imagine him being treated more harshly in an effort to make him cooperate and spill the beans for example. His detainers taking advantage of regulatory grey areas and the likes, to make his life a little bit more miserable. But how does that reflect on the Obama admin? There’s no reason to blame anyone but the staff at Camp Arifjan or at Quantico, unless it can be traced up the chain of command.

        In the case of Bush era abuses we know that Bush et al explicitly authorized waterboarding, stress positions and all of the other “enhanced interrogations”/torture techniques. It was their policy. And looking at something like Abu Ghraib we know that Bush was ultimately responsible because they opened the can of worms of getting “tough”, of throwing humanity and laws aside. But of course there were people at AG taking liberties that went beyond even the framework the Bush administration put in place, and they were ultimately responsible for their own actions.

        But Manning’s treatment at Qantico is reported to differ from other prisoners mostly in him being on Suicide Watch. Most of the alledged mistreatment (the checks at nighttime, temporary removal of clothes, removal of glasses) was defended as measures to prevent Manning from hurting himself. So it comes down to the intent of his handlers. Was there good reason to believe that Manning was at risk from himself or others, or was that used as a pretext to harass him while officially keeping within the rules? That’s not easy to prove, and probably defaults to accepting the assessments of the staff on location.

        In a procedural due process sense, it does ultimately have some (probably limited though) impact on guilt or innocence, as that is the phase of the process where such facts are addressed and it is theoretically a remedy that dismissal is granted for it under a theory analogous to malicious prosecution, but that is beyond unlikely. More likely, under the UCMJ, it is a consideration that could well affect (by subtracting relevant sentence multipliers used in determining length of sentence) any sentence handed sown. We shall see, that is indeed what the process is about. It would be nice if the government moved it all along a bit faster I would say.

        Agreed to the last sentiment; It’s been almost a year since he was arrested.

        • bmaz says:

          Only thing that I would add is that every medical/psychiatric/psychological professional involved at Quantico concurred that he was neither suicidal nor a threat to himself or others and that the protocols were inappropriate. Under pertinent regulations, suicide and prevention of injury protocols are to only be imposed upon a foundation of a finding by the med/psy experts. Clearly that was not the case here.

          Under most international standards, prolonged sleep deprivation and/or exposure humiliation are considered forms of psychological torture. Are they of a different character than direct physical beating or waterboarding? Yes, obviously in a real sense they are. Over time though, they can be every bit as destructive psychologically, which is often the goal in application. I can see why people differ as to whether to call this “torture”; but it is what it is, and it is pernicious irrespective of the nomenclature.

          • sherwood says:

            Only thing that I would add is that every medical/psychiatric/psychological professional involved at Quantico concurred that he was neither suicidal nor a threat to himself or others and that the protocols were inappropriate. Under pertinent regulations, suicide and prevention of injury protocols are to only be imposed upon a foundation of a finding by the med/psy experts. Clearly that was not the case here

            I won’t challenge that – I don’t know enough about the details to be the judge. Just noting also that I was a bit off the mark and apparently Manning was on Prevention of Injury, not suicide watch. I believe that I have a recollection of a case being made that that involves protecting Manning from other detainees as well, and it’s fairly easy to see why there could have been a security issue with other prisoners given his profile. But far from every measure taken wrt Manning is consistent with protecting him from attack so that’s obv not the whole story…

            Under most international standards, prolonged sleep deprivation

            Sure. But I don’t agree that “prolonged sleep deprivation” is established re Manning. I don’t think it’s even been alledged. Bush era Guantanamo OTOH we have confirmed periods of 72 hours and more without any sleep, enforced by full lightning, extremely loud music, forced standing etc – all sponsored and authorized by the executive branch. There’s a qualitative difference here that we loose sight of at our peril.

            and/or exposure humiliation are considered forms of psychological torture.

            This is the strongest part of the case IMHO, the allegation that Manning had to sleep naked. But notably this is only alledged to have taken place for three days.

            Are they of a different character than direct physical beating or waterboarding? Yes, obviously in a real sense they are. Over time though, they can be every bit as destructive psychologically, which is often the goal in application.

            Well, yeah in theory, but I think you’re taking it a bit to far, and not applicable to this particular case in my judgement. The very fact that someone would try to “break” a man (if that is what happened, which I’m not sure I agree with) by taking away his glasses and forcing him to sleep naked for three nights is an indication that that someone was constrained in his actions by the very rule of law and the regulations he was forced to work within as it were.

            If we assume this someone scrupulous, it stands to reason that he would have preferred Manning on the Breaking wheel or subjected to waterboarding.

            IOW, the difference is real and illustrates that the rule of law is in effect and working to constrain people of questionable morals from commiting the imoral acts (torturing) that made us as a society put the laws and regulations there in the first place.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Literalness is not an unalloyed good: politics lives and breaths, and elections are made and won through metaphor and simile. The bible, literature, theater and film are their principal sources, hence, the sharpness of Mr. Rich’s political observations in the New York Times.

    Unfamiliarity with or disbelief in the machinations typical of large bureaucracies, whether medieval or modern, aids and abets their effectiveness. American political history and the history of America’s large corporations amply illustrate that politics and the law do not operate in the manner described in Texas schoolbooks. The same is true in other countries. Mark Hanna is a more typical figure than Johnny Appleseed.

    In a White House not known for its concern about the rule of law, Mr. Nixon’s comment about Manson was immediately recognized as inappropriate. The publication of Obama’s comment raises identical issues, more pressing ones, in fact, since, as the military’s commander-in-chief, he is at the top. Its lack of response, combined with the conditions of the government’s pre-charge and pre-trial detention are troubling.

    • sherwood says:

      Literalness is not an unalloyed good: politics lives and breaths, and elections are made and won through metaphor and simile. The bible, literature, theater and film are their principal sources, hence, the sharpness of Mr. Rich’s political observations in the New York Times.

      See the problem with metaphor and simile is that they lend themselves to sophistry, a discipline you’ve – pardon me – practiced with excellence during our little exchange. And there we find the value of literalness, I would suggest, in removing the veil of sophistry and discovering the world of facts hidden beneath.

      Unfamiliarity with or disbelief in the machinations typical of large bureaucracies, whether medieval or modern, aids and abets their effectiveness.

      And for that very reason we must be explicit about how those machinations can work and cannot work. That’s why I took the time of illustrating just how specious your interpretation of the Presidents off-the-cuff remark really was. That you have conceded the point should be fairly clear by now.

      American political history and the history of America’s large corporations amply illustrate that politics and the law do not operate in the manner described in Texas schoolbooks. The same is true in other countries. Mark Hanna is a more typical figure than Johnny Appleseed.

      Even accepting the proposition, how do you deduce the particular from the general? All politicians are crooks, hence Barack Obama is a crook was not where you started out and it looks like an embarrassing place to end up from where I’m standing.

      In a White House not known for its concern about the rule of law, Mr. Nixon’s comment about Manson was immediately recognized as inappropriate.

      On account of Nixon specifically proclaiming Manson “guilty” during a press briefing in an official capacity as POTUS; neither of which applies to Obama’s remark. Do you have any response to that?

      The publication of Obama’s comment raises identical issues, more pressing ones, in fact, since, as the military’s commander-in-chief, he is at the top.

      No, they don’t since Obama did in fact not say that Manning was “guilty” to the press. Details matter.

      Its lack of response, combined with the conditions of the government’s pre-charge and pre-trial detention are troubling.

      If the accusation is that the White House should have clarified Obama’s remarks, perhaps. For all I know perhaps they have? But why should he really have to clarify an informal comment that is parsed to high hell by some people with to much time on their hands. It was perfectly clear on it’s face that it wasnt an official statement.

      Re the detention & conditions see my exchange with bmaz.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Civil liberties, free speech as well as the right to be informed of one’s rights and to be treated – not simply regarded by the law – as innocent until proven guilt, only have meaning when they are available to those you don’t like as much as they are to those you do. Otherwise, it’s your or the government’s discretion and not the law.

        Hyperbole derives from a lack of nuance and restraint; analogy can exemplify without hyperbole’s distortion, but neither should be taken literally. Like sophistry, it is in the eye of the beholder. You are convinced that Obama is right and that his critics are over-zealous and misguided, or worse, they damage his authority. We don’t agree on that either.

        • sherwood says:

          Civil liberties, free speech as well as the right to be informed of one’s rights and to be treated – not simply regarded by the law – as innocent until proven guilt, only have meaning when they are available to those you don’t like as much as they are to those you do. Otherwise, it’s your or the government’s discretion and not the law.

          I agree. Your point?

          Hyperbole derives from a lack of nuance and restraint;analogy can exemplify without hyperbole’s distortion, but neither should be taken literally. Like sophistry, it is in the eye of the beholder.

          Quit hogging the bong, put down that heidegger book, and focus bro.

          You are convinced that Obama is right and that his critics are over-zealous and misguided, or worse, they damage his authority. We don’t agree on that either.

          Look. I’ve been giving you my best effort and my good faith for quite a while now. But in quite stark contrast to bmaz I don’t consider you very interested in facts, logos or grownup conversation. I see no point in us wasting any more energy on this.

          • bmaz says:

            Meh, Earl has been here a long time and is very good; you two just have some fundamental disagreements. As I said before, that is okay. If you flesh things out fully and parry back and forth and still have disagreements, even after both have grown and moved a little, then that is a pretty damn good discussion. Even if you still disagree at the end. And so it was.

            • sherwood says:

              Fair enough. Sorry Earl for poor form. I still don’t believe me and Earl will get much further on this issue right now though, like you said – good discussion.

  22. bobschacht says:

    An observation on the “discussion” among the commenters here. Even though we value here evidence-based discussion, any blogging community such as that in the Wheel(er) house develops a “conventional wisdom”– it is simply too tiresome to start from scratch on every single issue. We start with an assumption about basics. For example, if you want to take a graduate course in New Testament Studies, you had better know Koine Greek. It would be a waste of class time to have to keep going over fundamentals.

    Similarly here, anyone who has been around the Wheel House for a while acquires a certain level of expected knowledge. And group norms about avoiding ad hominem attacks, a certain level of courtesy, and respect. Occasionally this results in the common acceptance of certain allegations as “facts” which are not really adequately supported by the evidence.

    We get our usual assortment of trolls here who disagree with our conventional wisdom. Most of them don’t have anything, either in evidence or logical acumen. Usually they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, and not an ounce of humility (and/or a bad attitude.) Usually they are quickly discovered and dealt with. Occasionally, one drops by who is willing to carry on a rational evidence-based discussion who disagrees with our conventional wisdom (often expressing disdain for it), and who actually knows enough about the subject at hand to spot the weak points in our conventional wisdom. This sometimes results in constructive dialog, and our conventional wisdom gets adjusted. And that is a good thing.

    More often, the interloper is poorly informed, full of disinformation, has a bad attitude, and is disrespectful of longstanding commenters in good standing. Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out who is which. If we are lucky, the newcomer learns his or her manners, and becomes a productive member of this internet community. It is good when that happens.

    Bob in AZ

  23. sherwood says:

    An observation on the “discussion” among the commenters here. Even though we value here evidence-based discussion, any blogging community such as that in the Wheel(er) house develops a “conventional wisdom”– it is simply too tiresome to start from scratch on every single issue. We start with an assumption about basics. For example, if you want to take a graduate course in New Testament Studies, you had better know Koine Greek. It would be a waste of class time to have to keep going over fundamentals.

    Yes, to be expected.

    Similarly here, anyone who has been around the Wheel House for a while acquires a certain level of expected knowledge. And group norms about avoiding ad hominem attacks, a certain level of courtesy, and respect. Occasionally this results in the common acceptance of certain allegations as “facts” which are not really adequately supported by the evidence.

    We get our usual assortment of trolls here who disagree with our conventional wisdom. Most of them don’t have anything, either in evidence or logical acumen. Usually they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, and not an ounce of humility (and/or a bad attitude.) Usually they are quickly discovered and dealt with. Occasionally, one drops by who is willing to carry on a rational evidence-based discussion who disagrees with our conventional wisdom (often expressing disdain for it), and who actually knows enough about the subject at hand to spot the weak points in our conventional wisdom. This sometimes results in constructive dialog, and our conventional wisdom gets adjusted. And that is a good thing.

    More often, the interloper is poorly informed, full of disinformation, has a bad attitude, and is disrespectful of longstanding commenters in good standing. Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out who is which. If we are lucky, the newcomer learns his or her manners, and becomes a productive member of this internet community. It is good when that happens.

    Yes. Trolls are disruptive and annoying. The good thing about them is that they are easily identified by the M.O. “stirring up sh-t for the lulz”, which usually doesnt include having a consistent set of beliefs nor being reasonable.

    So I agree, constructive dialog makes everyone prosper and grow and it’s all good.

    If you don’t mind I’ll be a bit rude and take slight issue with the “avoiding ad-hominem attacks” claim, given the fact that I have been accused of beeing a paid Cass Sunstein stoog on at least three occasions during the last two days of posting only. At FDL that is, not specifically the “Wheel House”.

    Myself, I usually try to adjust my level of snarkiness and snideness according to the level of good faith and courtesy I feel I’ve received in any particular exchange. But I usually ignore “seniority”. Call me a pathetic misfit if you must.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What goes around comes around. Nobody here is shy; they just know that sometimes it’s best to walk away.

  25. bailey2739 says:

    I can’t imagine anyone arguing that Obama is popular among “liberals”, unless he/she gets to control the circumstances, i.e. lambasting a reporter for publishing pictures of his recent S.F. fundraiser. If you like Polls, how about addressing independent Pew Polls Jon Walker repeatedly referred to during HCR “debate?” on the % of Americans in favor of a “public option” (after it’s explained to them), & the % of Americans in favor of Dorgan’s Amendment to allow prescription drugs to be re-imported from Canada – that was never allowed to see a vote? I recall 70% to the first, and that’s certainly “massive” to me. Sure PPACA has benefits, how could any Bill so large not have, but to portray Obama as Robin Hood would be a bad Hollywood rewrite. In short, the “Dole” Bill is a travesty limiting Insurance Industry’s costs to a paltry $60 B/yr while guaranteeing its continued right to raise prices as it sees fit. The middle class has been ravaged over the last 30 years. Obama’s solution, to let 21-26 year old ADULTS stay on their parents HC? Want more on this, please don’t cherry pick for soundbites, read Jon Walker’s extensive HCR coverage & challenge him to debate it. You couldn’t get a better forum than FDL & it would be fun.

    The problem with your 100 years is the timing for real, significant HCR was perfect. WE GAVE OBAMA a once in thirty year Congressional majority to right terrible wrongs – at a time when our country desperately needed a Democratic Idealogue to make the case. All he had to do was reign in our out of control HC Industry, to widen Medicare to those over 55. He could’ve paid for it & a lot more with the money he threw at Wall St. & the megabanks, Iraq & Afganistan.

    As for Obama’s being more popular with Liberals than BlueDogs, I don’t know of one substantial piece of “Liberal” legislation he’s pushed through Congress that didn’t give MORE away. It must’ve been very late when you wrote, “Obama didn’t do as much to punish & constrain the megabanks & wall st. as we would have liked”. For starters, Obama threw Trillions to Wall St. w/o making ANY serious demands on them. Common sense would’ve forced them to borrow from savers in the marketplace & limit the Gov’t. role to guaranteeing the notes. By supporting the FED’s programs to bail out its Banks, Obama punished middleclass savers who now earn 0% interest, while he rewarded the Banks that brought us to our knees. In short, he sure hasn’t lived up to his Billing.