Saturday, April 15, 2006



How much clearer can it be?

Last month, in a post on yet more torture and abuse in Iraq, I laid out the evidence that torture of detainees by US interrogators was condoned at the highest levels of the Bush administration:

We have widespread reports of torture and abuse, documented in photographs, videos, and statements from both victims, US personnel, and official interrogation records; we have memos from those at the top (notably Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld [PDF] and Lt General Ricardo Sanchez [PDF]) authorising such techniques to be used; testimony from commanding officers that in at least some cases such treatment was authorised (however erroneously) on the basis of those memos; arguments from Justice Department lawyers that its all perfectly legal [PDF] (despite clear statements in both international and US domestic law to the contrary); attempts by senior members of the executive to prevent it from being banned or even seriously investigated; and a stunning lack of prosecutions unless there are photographs which make the news (which implies that the crime isn't so much torture as getting caught). While we do not yet have a document from Rumsfeld or Sanchez ordering the torture of any particular detainee (though their memos suggest that such could exist, and we do have evidence that they ordered detainees to be kept "off the books" so their condition could not be monitored by the Red Cross), the abuses reported from the lowest levels match those authorised by the highest; while clearly some of what has gone on was unauthorised, it is also equally clear that there is a concrete policy that torture is acceptable in at least some cases, and that some of what has been reported was fully consistent with that policy.

If there's a weak point in this story, it's the gap between policy and implementation - a gap exploited in full by those at the top to deny responsibility and say "that wasn't what we really meant". But that gap is slowly being filled. Salon today reports that Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld personally supervised the interrogation of Mohamed al-Kahtani, a detainee who was subjected to treatment that even US military investigators called "degrading and abusive":

Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.

Not mentioned by Salon, but mentioned in other material and in the interviews its story is based on, is the fact that al-Kahtani was menaced, Abu Ghraib-style, with snarling dogs, and kept in a lit cell in total isolation for 160 days. The end result of this treatment was described in passing in this National Journal article:

By late November 2002, an FBI agent wrote, [the detainee] was "evidencing behaviour consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to nonexistent people, reporting hearing voices, cowering in a corner of his cell covered with a sheet for hours on end.)"

In short, they psychologially tortured this man until he went mad. And all this time, Rumsfeld was showing a close, personal interest in this particular individual's treatment, receiving weekly briefings. While the report concludes that Rumsfeld did not specifically prescribe this treatment, it is entirely consistent with the general techniques he had previously authorised, and the close supervision exercised significantly undermines any claim that it was not condoned. Again, you have to ask, how much clearer can it be?

31 comments:

Rumsfeld certainly chould resign or be sacked, and kudos to the army generals denouncing him at present. What you describe here Idiot does of course pale in comparison to the abattoir that Abu Ghraib was under Saddam. This by no means renders the brutalising of this man excusable, yet does depict how far Iraq has come - from a regime where this would have been considered lenient punishment, to one where it triggers investigations and press coverage. And aren't you glad for that.

Posted by Adrien : 4/15/2006 01:46:00 PM

Well - didn't realise that Al-Kahtani was captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taleban. He had planned to be a member of the 9/11 crew, but wasn't allowed to enter the US. Wikipedia also reports that he had met with OBL twice, had attended terrorist camps, and had been in contact with many senior A/Q figures.

In shrt, this is a major a/q figure, who was quite prepared to kill women and children in cold blood - was hoping and intending to, and who may have known major details about future a/q attacks. I'm sorry Idiot, your sympathies may go out to this animal, who chose a life of trying to kill as many innocent civilians as possible, but I'd rather save mine for real victims. Like Hatun Surucu.

Given that this consitutes torture for you, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about China harvesting organs from LIVING falun gong prisoners. That's cutting someone's kidneys or liver out and leaving them to die. Different?

Posted by adrien : 4/15/2006 02:26:00 PM

Adrien: torture does not cease to be bad depending on whether it is done by Saddam's thugs, or American ones. If we oppose it, we must oppose it regardless of who it is done by or to.

But clearly, you feel differently on the matter.

As for the Chinese harvesting organs from live and unwilling donors, I agree, its utterly monstrous. But I thought that would have been clear enough given my already stated opinions on the Chinese harvesting organs from executed prisoners.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/15/2006 04:53:00 PM

adrien,

You find it offensive that liberal blogs keep going on about the USA and torture, instead of focussing on other evils in the world (eg China).

It's because discussion occurs when there is disagreement, not when there is agreement. We all pretty much agree about the evils of the Chinese govt when it comes to human rights (though Idiot and other liberal bloggers do mention this stuff).

But

(a) there are those who simply cannot believe that the USA would sink so low as to do this

(b) there are those, like you, who consider it acceptable to torture people who haven't even had a fair trial.

I think liberal blogs go on about it because we can't seem to hammer the point home that The USA is Torturing People and That's Bad.

But there's a third one.

(c) We're involved in this. We wouldn't send troops in to support a Chinese invasion. We did send troops in to support the USA in Afghanistan and Iraq, we could well do so again. Our own sins, and sins by an alliance we are in, are more relevant to out conversations that others.

Posted by Icehawk : 4/15/2006 08:59:00 PM

As for the ludicrous comparison with 'Saddam's thugs', let's have a look at that. You're comparing on case - of a man interrogated around the clock for what he may have known with the casual and unbelievably brutal torture and execution of literally thousands and thousands - fed into shredders, electrocuted, limbs amputated, etc. Let's have a look at just one description from an ex-Iraqi torturer called 'Kamal':

the BBC interviewed "Kamal," a former Iraqi torturer now confined in a Kurdish prison in the north. "If someone didn't break, they'd bring in the family," Kamal explained. "They'd bring the son in front of his parents, who were handcuffed or tied and they'd start with simple tortures such as cigarette burns and then if his father didn't confess they'd start using more serious methods," such as slicing off one of the child's ears or amputating a limb. "They'd tell the father that they'd slaughter his son. They'd bring a bayonet out. And if he didn't confess, they'd kill the child."

One would have to go on at novel-length to even begin to list these atrocities. Your al-qaida friend is still alive. Thousands and thousands of victims of real torture - ongoing torture - are still dying in the most appalling conditions. You know, you may defend your concern with guantanamo bay, where, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has died, as 'editorial choice'. Yet in the face of the countless more severe, ongoing atrocities it seems to me to bespeak an idle unconcern with practices of torture when it cannot be used to further your political prejudices. To quote the Euston manifesto on this peculiar coawrdice:

"The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of "rendition", must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag".


This indeed where your moral idiocy leads, Idiot - to comparisons of the Gulag - killer of at least 2 million Russians with Guantanamo bay. I can not think of a more effective way of devaluing the current atrocities of Sudan, China and the like, than by passing over them repeatedly in silence to foreground the comparatively minor prolonged interrogation of an A/Q figure.

Posted by adrien : 4/16/2006 06:14:00 AM

Ah! I see! Our torture isn't as bad as their torture and its all in a good cause anyway so we can go about our lives safe in the knowledge we retain our moral authority in the world. Thank you adrien for pointing that out, *phew* I was worried for a while!!

Posted by Sanctuary : 4/16/2006 09:01:00 AM

Let's just say rumsfeild should be sacked (either for stupid planning or for being involved in this mess) and leave it at that, without needing to defend the USA as a whole or try to taint the USA as a whole with those actions.

Posted by Genius : 4/16/2006 11:08:00 AM

Adrien: I think the simple answer to that screed is to say that it is definitely not a "double standard" to say "torture is bad, no matter who it is done by and where". Quite the reverse; the double standard is implicit in your outrage that anyone could dare criticise the US for departing from those principles you at the same time claim are universal. Unspeak had a nice skewering of these Orwellian claims of "double standards" from the "decent left" last week. Interestingly, they also have an equally nice skewering of precisely this section of their "Euston Manifesto", which concludes with the simple logical point that

If A is worth saying and true, its worth and truth do not depend on whether or not you also have the opportunity, time, or expertise to say B.

But of course, that's probably equally lacking in "moral clarity", right?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/16/2006 11:46:00 AM

Genius: Rumsfeld shouldn't just be sacked; he should be indicted. Torture and conspiracy to torture are crimes in US domestic law, and this fits the definition under that law.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/16/2006 11:51:00 AM

I/S,
first things first.
Asking for him to be sacked in no way prevents you from asking for him to be procecuted later if indeed what he did warrents such a procecution.
It will also assist in him getting a fair trial.

Posted by Genius : 4/16/2006 02:47:00 PM

I disagree - and I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on this. The USA should be criticised for what it gets wrong and praised for what it gets right. I still think it gets more right than wrong. If you think the opposite you would enlighten me by posting your views on Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Yet, your signal lack of concern for torture that dosn't suit your political agenda to me devalues any sinicerity in your increasingly hysterical posts about our A/Q friend. You are not concerned about China's organ harvesting, Saudi Arabia's brutal misogyny, Sudan's genocide or other atrocities. If you were, you would devote time to them. You do not. These are OBVIOUSLY of peripheral concern to you. I'm sorry, but the fact that THOUSANDS die in circumstnces of appalling brutality upsets me - especially when the 'moralists' of the left like yourself would prefer to devote their time to the single case of a man who would have killed as many civilians as possible - regardless of who they were.

As for the refutation of the Euston manifesto - we'll have to disagree on this. Suffice to say that I see you as an apologist for atrocities you are not brave enough to raise here. How often have you blogged on ALL THE OTHER TORTURE IN THE WORLD compared to your posts on Guantanamo where NOBODY HAS DIED??? Do you have figures? What else is this but hypocrisy from someone who supposely finds this disgusting?

That is the sum of your moral concern. And that is unspeakably dispicable. Please stop the pretence of being concened for that which you cannot be bothered raising.

Posted by adrien : 4/16/2006 03:47:00 PM

Hmm.... Is there really so much to disagree about here? Adrien thinks I/S exaggerates the scale and seriousness of US torture etc. and downplays non-US torture etc. leading to facile and inflammatory comparisons. I/S and Icehawk etc. do basically concede that others (Saddam included) have been much worse than the US. They also concede that their interest in the US case is parochial in some respects - we're friends/semi-allies and linked to the US in many other deep ways (we refer both in and out of court to their case and statute law a lot) so we feel bound to speak up in this case more.

It would be a terrible double-standard to not criticize the US for their torturing (I/S is right), but we are also submitting the US (and other bits of the anglosphere) to a higher standard than we would almost anyone else (Adrien is right).

Not sure about the idea that Rumsfeld should be indicted... Bush has asserted (a) the executive's prereogative to decide when there's a war on, (b) that when there's a war on the executive is not bound by any law, and (c) that there's a uniitary executive so that anything Rumsfeld does is just more executive action and so can't be illegal by (a)&(b). An indictment would have the virtue of forcing all of (a)-(c) into the open in a very dramatic way as opposed to the current track which is to have these very important questions hashed out over the next 10 years or so in various courts in a piecemeal way (with gathering political momentum for possible consitutional amendments clarifying the whole mess at the end of that). But... there's a war or two on, so there's not much taste in the US for getting on to the indictment fast track that I can see, and it's not clear to me that that there isn't wisdom in that. (There's something broader in US culture that's being worked through about torture - anyone who's watched _24_ and rooted for Jack Bauer is vaguely complicit I think - perhaps then the indictment has to finally fall on the country as a whole and the people know it.)

Posted by stephen glaister : 4/16/2006 11:50:00 PM

Stephen: I regard it as entirely uncontentious that Saddam's torturers were worse, and that there are worse atrocities going on in the world as we speak (the reason it tends not to be mentioned is precisely that uncontentiousness). But I don't see that as letting anyone off the hook. Things don't cease to be bad simply because others were worse, except possibly in the minds of four-year-olds.

I think you're wrong on that second point. I'm not trying to hold the US to a higher standard than anywhere else; quite the opposite: I'm holding it to the same standard I expect from every other country - not torturing people. My interest may be heightened by parochial concerns, and my outrage by the shock of seeing a country that has generally been a beacon for freedom and human rights backsliding, but at the end of the day, the moral standard is the same: countries should not torture people, and they should abide by the basic UN human rights standards such as the ICCPR, which guarantee (among other things) habeas corpus, natural justice, and the right to a fair trial. I don't think that's difficult to understand at all.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/17/2006 01:40:00 AM

A good post, Stephen, even if I disaree with your point regading 'double standards' with regard to America...

As for your latest equivocating apology, Idiot - your claim that "the reason [worse atrocities] tend not to be mentioned is precisely that uncontentiousness" - is simply disgusting. Does the fact that we all know that Saudi Arabia (or China, etc) brutalises and murders its citizens somehow make it less newsworthy for you? Apart from the gross intellectual dishonesty here - claiming to universally condemn torture and then trivialising the appalling selectivity of your interest in it - it is plain bullshit.

Perhaps we could unpack this a little. In the past 3 months there have been several credible accounts of China's organ 'harvesting' (the very term is gut-wrenchingly inadequate) from live Falun Gong prisoners. The Epoch Times covers them well. (for example http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/6-3-13/39272.html)

Yet, beyond a handful of Falun-Gong website and several right-leaning blogs, the story hasn't been touched by the 'liberal' blogosphere. The reaction seems to be precisely yours - "oh, we know China's kinda bad - so what?" Consequently these appalling crimes continue to receive the oxygen of apathy and secrecy that they need to continue. I have written many letter to newspapers about this - only one has been published - in a local NJ paper. Due to the 'uncontentiousness' of China being bad, it one of the countless atrocities that continues unhindered and largely unspoke about, while everyboday screams about America and Guantanamo bay.

You don't seem to understand - to paraphrase your 'justification' above, that if one speaks exclusively of A and ignores B, one CREATES precisely the conditions B needs to survive. I could give you many examples of atrocities, passed over in silence by you and the huge majority of the 'left' blogosphere, that would make the treatment of your A/Q friend seem mild. if the left cared equally about torture in all situations (as it claims to, one might expect to find one blog concentrating on China, one on America, and so on. Yet one sees an almost exclusive focus on America, confirming the pervasive lack of concern for 'uncontentious' (as you call it) torture (read torture in any non-Western country). If you freely admit that there is worse torture in the world happening than in Guantanamo bay, and yet blog exclusively about Guantanamo, what does that say about your priorities? To me it says a lot.

Now, I challenge you to read this:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74819

and then tell me that Gitmo merits more concern and column space in the blogosphere.

Posted by adrien : 4/17/2006 03:15:00 AM

In fact I both request and challenge any reader here to turn their attention to this:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74819

Adrien

Posted by adrien : 4/17/2006 03:22:00 AM

Adrien: I agree, we'll never see eye to eye on this. I think universal moral values are in fact universal and should be applied equally to friend and foe alike. You don't. I don't think this leaves you with much to stand on if ever faced by your Chinese or Saudi or Sudanese equivalent - but you seem to prefer to hide behind moral outrage rather than addressing the point anyway.

I am interested though in your disagreement with UnSpeak's point about the Euston manifesto. What exactly do you disagree with? I'd regard it as completely uncontentious to anyone with even an elementary grasp of logic, and the premises it rests on - that the truth or worth of any particular statement does not depend on who says it - as unarguable. The only way you can reject it is to say that truth (or worth) does depend on who is speaking. Which I suppose would explain a great deal about the ravings of the "decent left"...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/17/2006 03:24:00 AM

I note that you've avoided ansering any actual questions again, Idiot , and conveniently ignored completely my enquiry about whether you think that organ harvesting merits more concern than Gitmo. As for universal values - please don't make me laugh. You have raised to an art form the the sweeping under the carpet of inconvenient atrocities and brutalities. What constitutes a moral outrgae for you is entirely subordinate to whether it can be used to further your political agenda - hence your obessive posts about the US, and it being (to quote you) 'uncivilised' - when you would never dream of applying this epiphet to a non-Western country. This is the extent of your 'universalism' - a moral cataract that prevents you from troubling yourself unduly with the huge majority of torture in the world.

As for your desperate attempt to accuse me of discerning between friend and foe' - this is precisely what you do daily via your anti-American hysteria. I would be quite happy for Rumsfeld to be indicted, but when you can convince me that Gitmo merits equal attention to organ harvesting or the genocide in Sudan, then I'll listen. This is what universalism in a moral sense is - as i doubt you'd recognise it if it ran over you in the street - the concern with atrocities, regardless of where or by whom they occur. Don't preted that if Gitmo was run by the Russians you'd be half as concerned - and nor have you posted on the atrocities appening in the rest of the island - ie in Cuba. And you call this evidence of 'universal' moral values? Moral myopia, more like.

The Euston manifesto 'rebuttals' will have to wait a bit until I read them again, suffice to say I think they're incoherent, to say the least.

Now I ask you again (and please stop trying to hide):

1. Did you support the NATO (read US) military intervention in Kosovo.
2. Did you support the war in Afghanistan and do you accept that life in the country has changed for the better since the downfall of the Taliban?
3.Do you think that the organ harvesting of live prisoners is a greater moral crime than what has happened at Gitmo and hence worth more attention than Gitmo?

You see, if you anwered yes to three, and did believe in universal moral values, you would spend more time writing about the Chinese practice - a universalist would choose her concerns non-politically; which means in order of seriousness. You have already admitted you don't do this by stting that you see as 'non-contentious' the fact that more serious atrocities than gitmo happen continually. Why focus on Gitmo then? I await an answer.

I look forward to your next evasion of these questions.

Posted by adrien : 4/17/2006 04:54:00 AM

Despite Stephen’s post you still seem to be bashing heads.
I/S,
The first point is that regardless of the fact that you plan on applying a single standard the effect is to apply a double standard.

One of the things that drove this home to me was being in a meeting with some very rich Chinese businessmen who were entirely convinced that the US was evil beyond imagination. they regurgitated some conspiracy website type stories. the scary thing is that these were VERY powerful people. In China people grovel when they see them coming but its THE US that is evil.

I guess the difference between your moral position and the effect of that position. you indeed are even handed (when addressing any of these issues) but the cumulative effect of you and many others focusing on various things is the situation above.

A bit like if I was to investigate you for criminal activity 24 hrs a day every day I could probably convict you on something. Which is different from prosecuting you for something I wouldn’t prosecute anyone else for if it fell in my lap.

Having said that there is no reason not to pursue through normal legal channels whether rumsfeild should remain "in power" or if he has done anythign illegal etc etc.

Posted by Genius : 4/17/2006 10:00:00 AM

As to GItmo - I am seriously concerned about whether the US's strategies are effective.

I would hope that they are at least from a practical point of view getting reviewed regarding whether they are actualy delivering enough benefit in exchange for all the bad press cost and whatever else involved.

Posted by Genius : 4/17/2006 10:04:00 AM

Adrien, you have to be deliberately obtuse on this, surely. Let's lay it out real simple for you:
1. China is a totalitarian state. Its rulers don't care what the Chinese think, let alone what we think. We all know this.
2. China's tyrants place no value on human life and treat their citizens accordingly. We all know this and no-one disagrees.
3. Why then would I/S devote large amounts of blog space to denouncing Chinese torture? It would be a pointless exercise - there's no-one to persuade, and the Chinese govt isn't swayed by public opinion.

Now consider the use of torture by the USA:
1. It's a democracy, so its govt can be affected by public opinion.
2. Not everyone agrees that the USA engaging in torture is significant - you are a case in point.
3. On that basis, it's definitely worth devoting blog space to arguing against the USA's use of torture - there are clearly people to be persuaded, and if enough of them can be persuaded it will have an effect.

There's a difference between political activism and tilting at windmills - or at least, there is if you're doing it right.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 4/17/2006 05:00:00 PM

Adrien is merely being difficult. Idiot's mentioned the atrocities in China previously. He's certainly no backer of torture by regimes other than America. This statement is just preposterous:

"a universalist would choose her concerns non-politically"

Posted by muerk : 4/17/2006 06:17:00 PM

Genius: The first point is that regardless of the fact that you plan on applying a single standard the effect is to apply a double standard.

No, the only double standard in evidence is Adrien's. I/S has always been unequivocally opposed to the use of torture: I cannot recall ever seeing any support for such activity under that byline. Adrien, on the other hand, seems only to oppose torture when it is committed by people she doesn't like. That is the double standard, and that is why it is Adrien who is the hypocrite.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/17/2006 06:23:00 PM

Anonymous,
You missed the point. I don’t thing I/S is applying a double standard.
But as consequentialist I note that despite the fact that he is not personally applying a double standard the result IS a double standard.
*waits for readers to run around like chickens without heads not able to understand how that works* (and for deontologists not to care).

Muerk
> This statement is just preposterous: "A universalist would choose her concerns non-politically"

Well if you reject that it leaves significant scope for you to end up supporting Adrian’s position. Based on being a partisan and opposing the "greater evil”... and it also means there is no hope of agreement.

PM,
The problem is if you attack your friends because you can influence them and don’t attack your "enemies" (I’m taking crazy despots to be your enemies here) because you can’t then while you are efficiently using your influence, in the end you are hurting your friends and helping your "enemies" (relativisticly).

If you are lucky your friends will start to behave like you want them to. If you are unlucky your friends will capitulate in the face of your "enemies".

I would say there is a very serious danger (close to a certainty) that the latter will be the case.

Posted by Genius : 4/17/2006 07:46:00 PM

by the way I dont object to people noting US abuses.

Posted by Genius : 4/17/2006 07:50:00 PM

What a steaming load of bullshit - Psycho Milt, your point that we should leave China alone because we can't DO anything is just pure moral cowardice disguised as 'realism'. China, hosting the Olympics next, is extremely sensitive to media portrayals and world opinion. Are you saying that a country whose economic recovery is driven by trade ISN'T sensitive to World opinion? I loathe your 'it's bad, we all know that, so lets ignore it' approach. To me, that is the epitomy of moral cowardice: "Why then would Idiot devote large amounts of blog space to denouncing Chinese torture"?

Hell, I'll tell you why - because it's HAPPENING, and it's killing people on a large and increasing scale. How dare you assume that nothing can be done about this/nothing will change, so its useless speaking of it? You highlight spectacuarly what I find so appalling about much of today's left. You spend your whole time searching for justifications (the US is a Democracy, we can't see any hope of changing things in Sudan)to downplay the overwhelming majority of torture in the world.

As for you, anonymous - is that really the best you can do? All you can contribute to the debate? Oh well...

I find myself in agreement often here with Genius, who at least has the courage to assert that ALL countries should be held responsible for the mistreatment, torture, and killing of their citizens. Your comments about China show that you set the bar a lot lower for them. That's pure hypocrisy.

And Idiot - still no answer, which I suppose is admission enough. I'm still waiting...

Posted by adrien : 4/18/2006 01:46:00 AM

adrien - you seem to have a lot of facts on the china issue.
Why dont you start your own blog instead of bitching at others for not covering it to your satisfaction.
What is the prerequisite for discussing america's well documented beaking of international law and treaties?

Idiot/savant has discussed china numerous times.
And frankly, if a country is going to harp on about being the moral compass for the world, it should expect to be held to account.
This isnt a "they're worse than i am" issue.

fraser

Posted by Anonymous : 4/18/2006 09:50:00 AM

"Why dont you start your own blog instead of bitching at others for not covering it to your satisfaction."
Exactly. Guess I should have put it that way.

Adrien - not deliberately obtuse then? Maybe just disingenuous. I/S hasn't ignored China, as various people on the thread have pointed out. Personally, I think it makes more sense to put effort into persuading the people who think torture is OK if the US is doing it, than to create endless threads along the lines of "The rulers of China are murderers." "Yes, I agree." "Me too!" "I also despise the Chinese tyrants." "You tell 'em!" If there were a bunch of readers out there who felt that torture and murder are OK if the Chinese govt does them, then maybe it would start taking up more blog space. But there aren't any such readers.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 4/18/2006 11:07:00 AM

There you go doing it again, psycho milt. What does it matter whether it's fucking contentious or not? It's torture. And it's such torture, the lack of interest in which many like yourself and Idiot spend their posts explaining away. "Endless threads along the line of 'the rulers of China are murderers'" may be tedium personified for you, but thankfully not all think your way.

I have been arguing all along that given the lack of coverage of China, Sudan etc in the left Blogosphere - take Idiot as a nice example - it obviously shows that such torture IS of LESSER CONCERN than comparatively minor episodes at Guantanamo bay.

In 2 years, China will be hosting the biggest sporting event in the world. Up through then it will be intensely vulnerable to world opinion. This is a country that ships falun gong supporters into camps where they - according to eyewitnesses and former guards - do not come out of. These are camps equipped with crematoriums. Doctors who have worked inside 2 of these have said that they are death camps. One would hope that these reports are ridiculously exaggerated, but given the evidence that keeps coming, it seems more and more unlikely. I'm sorry you see this as meriting less attention/investigation than 'contentious' ("US"?) cases.

As for the predicatable "why don't you blog" question - I prefer to remain a letter writer with what spare time I muster - meaning that I reach people who don't read blogs. Each to her own. I also think that the self-appointed guardians of left-wing morality - like Idiot - shoud be challenged over their double standards and rank hypocrisies.

Speaking of you, Idiot - I wait patiently for an answer to my questions. Bit hard for you?

Posted by adrein : 4/18/2006 12:37:00 PM

Just for you, psycho milt: from the Epoch Times, which covers Falun-Gong and the CCP extensively, an interview with Dr. Zhang Xuerong:

Reporter: What should the people of the world be doing about this human rights disaster in China?

Zhang: The CCP harvests organs from living Falun Gong practitioners and then burns their bodies. Such horrible crimes are consistent with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin's policy of "destroying them physically." Jiang vowed to annihilate Falun Gong within three months—that was back when the persecution first began in July of 1999. He was unable to do it in that short amount of time, and his extermination policy has extended into its seventh year. During all this time, Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to all means of torture and coercion. Organ harvesting is just the most recent development in a long list of atrocities.

We call on the people of the world to talk to their governments and help raise awareness of the persecution. We encourage them to support our efforts to conduct a complete investigation into China's system of concentration camps. We ask for their support in our continuing efforts to uncover the truth. Let's together take actions to put an end to the persecution.

Click here to read the original article in Chinese


It must be hard having to beg and plead for the world's attention at times like this. The same people screaming themselves hoarse about Gitmo have shown a complete lack of concern for years with the continual evidence of atrocities that has emerged regarding China's attempts to eradicate its falun gong practitioners. Such noise about America. Such silence about China and Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, etc etc. Now why might that be? Because we can't have a debate over it, as you put it? Don't kid yourself. These are not issues for the "human rights" pontificators (hello again, Idiot)of much of today's left, because they are not politcally expedient. Let's not pretend further.

Posted by adrien : 4/18/2006 01:04:00 PM

"These are not issues for the "human rights" pontificators (hello again, Idiot)of much of today's left, because they are not politcally expedient. "

not politically expedient my freakin ass!
There are plenty of "left wing" commentators who have raised these issues time and again.

It seems the one who is really obsessed with gitmo is adrien.

also adrien, you keep asking for replies to your questions. Well heres one i asked you some time ago (i know this is getting off topic - sorry) "how comfortable is your moral armchair?"

You seem to enjoy throwing around phrases such as the "moral leftie armchair" quite a lot. However when the question was put to you, you resorted to avoidance and name calling.

c'mon dude, you actually do have some good points. but you shoot your self in the foot via your printed behaviour.

In summary, china does have a shitty record on human rights, i think we all agree on that. And people here in New Zealand do make an effort to speak out against it, hell even our MP's get of their arses and make a stand.

The real question is why does the US seem to be currently behaving as if its some kind of competition.
The answer is that america has always had a dodgy record in regards to human rights, its just more obvious these days (eg: executing minors and mentally disabled people, bombing iraq while under clinton, the whole indonesia/timor situation, numerous "regieme changes" to name a few of the top of my head).

That isnt to say that EVERYTHING they do is bad, and yes, america is capable of doing (and in some areas does do) much good in the world.

Do we really have to publish a disclaimer everytime we criticise the US? Cant certain things be taken as given? - even after they have been pointed out in the comments repeatedly?


fraser

Posted by Anonymous : 4/18/2006 04:21:00 PM

I can't believe this thread boils on!
I continue to think that there's really a lot more agreement here than people are allowing.....

I'm with Adrien/Genius in lots of ways of respects.... but but finally I do agree with the "get your own blog" sentiment although I wouldn't put it so harshly! It doesn't seem to me to be incumbent upon I/S et al. to divide their attentions equally (or whatever God-like impartiality and perspective would require). The relentless focus on western cases of various sins is one of the boundary conditions of a site like this. It's limited and partisan, but it's normally of interest: I/S argues his corner pretty well and gives good comment, as it were. The partisanship and partiality can get wearisome of course, but it does have its funny side. Repeatedly promise to nuke milllions of Israeli civilians and you won't attract I/S's attention (at best a few "Maybe someone in the UN should write a report on this", "Let's not be hasty" remarks...), but war-game to take out military sites to try (probably ineffectively as the gaming itself shows) to do something about that and I/S is on your ass! You gotta laugh.

Anyhow, Adrien: One reason to cut I/S some slack about the focus on US torture stuff is that the predicate has been laid by the While House legal team for live organ transplant-/saddam-would-be-proud-level torture. Yoo or Gonzalez (I forget which) refused to rule out crushing the testicles of a child of a terrorist to get the parent to talk as a legitimate technique. The Bush admin. has signalled that they jolly well are prepared to cross any line, plumb any depth. And a lot of Americans have decided they're right to do so in a war against undeterrables (hence, distressingly, torture etc. wasn't an issue in the 2004 presidential election and it's, in some sense, the least of Bush's and Rumsfeld's political worries right now). That's horrible and it makes this a time of great moral peril for the US. Kicking up a stink in blogs world-wide as well as in the US has, on balance, I think, helped keep the anti-torture hard-line flame alive while the US slowly thinks its way back from the brink of abandoning all its enlightnment traditions in favor of truly medieval stuff. The US has 2/3 of the jobs in the English-speaking world and probably 5/6 of those worth having (at least if you're an egghead) - OTOH most of us aren't going to live in China/learn Chinese - ergo even on a very narrowly self-interested basis we need the US to reconnect to its ideals and honorable traditions ASAP. I don't think I/S is exactly thinking along these lines but

Posted by stephen glaister : 4/18/2006 09:00:00 PM