Sanding our assholes with 150 grit.

Why non-Americans don't count

> Im interested though that you would so easily dismiss the opinion of someone just because they are not american?

This references http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?off.9.90157.21#discussTopic91953


> if we are going to be kidnapping people from foreign countries without trial and torturing them

Without wanting to promote this practice, but to argue it (because muppet wanted an argument and no-one else seemed willing to argue) ...

Firstly, does the article really mention people's being "kidnapped"? I thought that it was about "arrest and deportation": the first suspects mentioned for example had been in the custody of Swedish officials, who handed them over .. so, this is all being done with the complicity of two or three governments:

1) America
2) The country in which people are arrested (e.g. Sweden)
3) The country to which people are deported and by whom they're allegedly tortured (e.g. Egypt and Jordan ... or Afghanistan, though the article depicts Afghanistan as a country where there are no laws)

Because this is being done by governments, therefore perhaps it's ipso facto "due process"? It's not the process you would *like*, but it *is* process?

Also, you say "without trial": but, don't you imagine that the officials have *some* reason for doing what they do? I know that when Canada for example extradites someone (a suspect, or more properly "the accused") to the US to stand trial there, that extradition warrant *is* judicially reviewed; it is, as you said, not a "trial" in Canada (the trial will happen in the States), but they *do* review whether there's even enough paperwork to warrant extradition. Now Canada happens to have an extra policy about not extraditing to countries that torture or kill, but that isn't relevent to this argument ... what is relevant is that there is (is there not?) *some* reason for detention and extradition, and that detention and extradition *do* (and may, and must and therefore should) happen pre-trial ... and therefore, your saying "kidnapping without trial" (to say nothing of torture) is tendentious.


> opinion of someone not american is relevant to a discussion of whether or not we should?"

Assuming that 'we' *do*, I tried to guess an explanation of *why* we do.

Now you're asking another question: whether we "should". I analyse "should" as having several possible colors:

(1) "should" meaning "in accordance with national law" - perhaps a non-American isn't qualified to have any opinion on American national law? [Any foreigner who submits to the jurisdiction of American national law does so at their own risk; also America's national laws are not the only relevent player here: why aren't you equally or more interested in the Swedish and/or Egyptian laws]

(2) "should" meaning "in accordance with international law" - perhaps if America doesn't subscribe to various international treaties which might e.g. preclude torture, then these international 'laws' are irrelevent to America and Americans; and more especially, it's somewhat meaningless for a non-American to argue that America is breaking international law, unless that non-American can find a court in which that argument can be made

(3) "should" meaning "expedient" - I proposed an argument that the policy may expedite the attaining of vital intelligence, and would further propose that you would need to be privy to all the inteligence agencies' activitiees and results to be able to truly assess whether 'it' *is* in fact expedient ... and therefore perhaps a lay person cannot argue against the policy on the grounds of whether it's expedient (if you want to argue against the policy, then you would need to pick some differemt argument, for example "the end doesn't justify those means", or "using those means has unwarrantedly undesirable side-effects") ... but in that case it becomes an argument on the basis of politics/policy, and the (American official) people who make that policy wouldn't (I think) count the arguments or opinions of non-Americans

(4) "should" meaning "that is our policy" - if "policy" means "politics" means "I vote yay and/or nay", then again you can see why I suggest that non-American opinions don't count ... if you think otherwise, then tell me where/when I for example, as a non-American, get to vote on this (alleged American) pollcy?

(5) "should" meaning "moral" - firstly, perhaps there's no such thing as morality (there's only private and public policy, law, fait accompli, etc.); secondly, if there is morality, there appear to be several different moralities that various people subscribe to, that not everyone agrees with, and whose interpretation is a matter of opinion and of "being there yourself". There is "turn the other cheek" morality, for example ... I hesitate to propose that as a policy, because its expedience is uncertain ... entails risk, and may entail sacrifice ... and if the CIA *is* acting to protect America's interest, then who am I as a non-American to say that America's interest shouldn't be protected? Also, morality (as it is usually taught) does seem to admit to exceptions to various rules: "don't kill people" for example ... "unless you wake up one night and find them in your house uninvited, in which case we'd suggest that you shoot first and ask questions later" ... and again, as a non-American whose interests aren't being threatened (by terrorists) nor protected (by CIA) then why should I be allowed an opinion about whether any claim of self-defence is moral? Even the Golden Rule ("do unto others...") morality isn't relevent, unless you assert (as you did, but as your national laws do not) that "I do not consider it relevant to ask whether my government is performing the torture themselves or outsourcing it, I also do not consider it relevant to ask whether those who are being tortured are american citizens or not" (because unless you assert that, it can be argued that what is "done unto others" needn't concern 'us' because we Americans have a different set of laws that protect us), and you assert that the pre-trial arrest-and-torture is unjust and unwanted (because unless you assert that, it can be argued that what is "done unto others" needn't concern 'us' because 'we' are not suspects and therefore won't be arrested, OR argued that "yes, torture is worthwhile given the gravity of the information being sought, and if I were a suspect then I'd want justice to torture me to get it").

So the above was a discussion of "should", summarised as:

(1) non-Americans don't make nor interpret American national law ... and neither am I Swedish nor Egyptian etc.
(2) non-Americans don't have an international court in which to constrain America's actions via international law
(3) only an intelligence wonk (which excludes the majority of non-Americans, and I expect excludes everyone who posts on this board) can claim to have an informed opinion
(4) non-Americans don't vote on American policies or policy-makers
(5) morality is debatable, *and* Americans can claim to have more "skin in the game" than others (except for the detainees, of course)

Some parting thoughts on your statement "surely their opinion is relevent":

* An answer is "yes: for example, the American officials' actions depend on the opinions of the Swedish, Egyptian, and Jordanian officials"
* Another answer is "yes: the opinions of foreign nationals eventually have consequences or repercussions that affect America"
* Another answer is "no: they didn't elect me and they can't touch me"
* Another answer is "hell no: we're the greatest military power on earth, why on earth should we care for the opinions of foreign cheese-eating surrender monkeys and brown-skinned, bearded, turban-wearing, suicide-bombing infidels?"
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
+++Firstly, does the article really mention people's being "kidnapped"? I thought that it was about "arrest and deportation": the first suspects mentioned for example had been in the custody of Swedish officials, who handed them over .. so, this is all being done with the complicity of two or three governments:+++

"Arrested" without evidence, probable cause, or provocation IS kidnapping, no matter WHAT the laws in your particular little niche of the globe may say. Law does not dictate Truth.
Permalink muppet 
March 11th, 2005
I wish I could have hooked up a generator for all the energy expended in all those key strokes, more heat is always welcome.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 11th, 2005
What is Truth?

What is Justice?

What is Right?


Muppet, you seem to be implicitly making your arguments based on assumptions of absolute truth and absolute morality. Is this a fair assessment?
Permalink Gibber 
March 11th, 2005
I think he does. Many times he indicates that certain things are morally reprehensible regardless of circumstances and who is doing them.

Do you disagree? Can you think of something so horrible that you cannot imagine it would ever be right under any circumstances? muppet can.

It's like the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Some people can imagine circumstances so horrible that the least awful option is still terrible, but because it was the least awful, they accept it.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 11th, 2005
I'm not muppet, nor do I claim to speak for him. It's just an observation of his past statements and attempting to extrapolate a trend. He's free to tell me I'm wrong.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 11th, 2005
Chris,

You were going good 'til you got into "depends on what the meaning of should should be". I stopped reading at that point.

muppet,

""Arrested" without evidence, probable cause, or provocation IS kidnapping, no matter WHAT the laws in your particular little niche of the globe may say."

Chris suggested there was probably a judicial review by the Swedish judiciary before this man was extradited, which likely would have included some review of evidence, probably cause, or provocation. Do you have reason to believe there was no such process in this case?

And lastly, I suspect Chris is doing an brilliant job playing Devil's Advocate, as no one else was willing to :).
Permalink Jim Rankin 
March 11th, 2005
er, Christopher, I mean.
Permalink Jim Rankin 
March 11th, 2005
> "Arrested" without evidence, probable cause, or provocation IS kidnapping

Yes, you're welcome to explain that that is the way in which you define/use the word "kidnapping".

FYI, the following are all of the few snippets from the article that say anything one way or the other about the presence or lack of "evidence, probable cause, or provocation":

* renditions have become one of the most important secret weapons in the war on terror. In recent years, well over 100 people have disappeared or been "rendered" all around the world.

* U.S. agents collaring terrorism suspects. Some notorious terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, were rendered this way.

* But as Correspondent Scott Pelley reports, it's happening to many others. ... And a few may have been rendered by mistake.

* Two Egyptians living in Sweden, Mohammad Al-Zery and Ahmed Agiza, were arrested [sic] by Swedish police and brought to an airport.

* Al-Zery and Agiza, both of whom had been seeking asylum in Sweden, found themselves in an Egyptian prison

* The Egyptians say Agiza is an Islamic militant and they sentenced him to 25 years. But Al-Zery wasn't charged. After two years in jail, he was sent to his village in Egypt. The authorities are not allowing interviews

* Major destinations read like a roadmap to the war on terror - 30 trips to Jordan, 19 to Afghanistan, 17 to Morocco, 16 to Iraq. Other stops include Egypt, Libya, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

* he was on vacation in Macedonia last year when Macedonian police, apparently acting on a tip, took him off a bus, held him for three weeks, then took him to the Skopje airport where he believes he was abducted by the CIA.

* At that point, did anyone ever tell him that they'd made a mistake? "They told me that they had confused names and that they had cleared it up, but I can't imagine that," says el-Masri. "You can clear up switching names in a few minutes."

* "How do you know if you're picking up the right people," Pelley asked Scheuer. "You do the best you can. It's not a science," says Scheuer. "It's gathering as much information as you can, deciding on the quality of it and then determining the risks the person poses. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake."
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
Aaron,

Quite right. In reading these discussions between C. Wells and Senior Muppet, I've concluded that their reasoning is based on diametrically opposed world-views, and as such the two will never, and indeed would be unable to, come to any sort of agreement on the issue, nor probably on many similar issues.

Muppet (and please correct me if I'm wrong) seems to hold to the ideal that there are things which are inherently right, and things which are inherently wrong, and no matter what the cost would not choose the wrong thing (for example, I'm guessing, if given the chance to go back in time, would not kill Hitler as a baby). This is kind of ironic because this trait is one that Bush has been bashed about (there's only black and white, no gray), particularly by Europeans (he's a Crusader, etc).

Christopher is arguing the point that sometimes the ends justify the means, that it's not a matter of right versus wrong, but of the lesser evil (rendering, torture) versus the greater evil (lots of people being killed). Following the phiosophy that Christopher has used in other arguments (and not trying to put any words in his mouth), an infantile Hitler would be fair game for assasination.

Or I could be totally wrong and the real argument is about which of the evils (actual torture vs possible mass deaths) is actually greater.
Permalink Gibber 
March 11th, 2005
I would say that Christopher is arguing more for the rule of law, even though laws and treaties may sometimes produce undesirable outcomes.
Permalink Jim Rankin 
March 11th, 2005
> Muppet (and please correct me if I'm wrong) seems to hold to the ideal that there are things which are inherently right, and things which are inherently wrong, and no matter what the cost would not choose the wrong thing

I don't know whether that's true. In the original thread I questioned muppet about his pacificism (reluctance to use violence in self-defence) and his reply was:

"I think that any truly moral person is a pacifist most of the time. Of course most people would generally rather avoid conflict and death. That said, I'm not against a moral and legal war OF DEFENSE. I don't think that the conflict in Iraq meets any of those criteria. I certainly don't think that some 'secret' war being waged with these 'renderings' does."

Given that he said "most of the time", and "moral and legal war", and "I don't think", it wasn't completely clear to me what he does stand for. I found FullNameRequired's original post far less equivocal.

Anyway I think that if muppet *is* arguing anything about "inherently wrong", the "wrong" is that in his opinion there's insufficient due process and evidence to justify treating these detainees in this way (and not for example arguing that torture is always and by definition wrong no matter who is so treated and when).
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
Excellent point Jim.

But are laws just a context, the framework in which moral beings must work within, but who's thoughts aren't controlled by it? I think people can still find ways to do "bad" (or "good") things legally, no matter what the law, finding (or creating) the necessary loopholes to achieve their ends. Sure they can be hampered (or encouraged) from a course of action by a law, but it doesn't stop them from thinking about it until they come up with a way to do almost exactly what they wanted to do in the first place. Case in point, torture. It's against American law to torture people for any reason. So what have we done? We find a loophole in national and international law to outsource it to Egypt, because we wanted to get useful information about terrorists planning on killing people.

Of course I'm showing my bias with the above, that good laws don't make good people, and that there is such a thing as good and bad.
Permalink Gibber 
March 11th, 2005
> Following the phiosophy that Christopher has used in other arguments (and not trying to put any words in his mouth), an infantile Hitler would be fair game for assasination.

Inasmuch as I'm an apologist for the Administration, you may be justified in puting those words there: because it seems to me that Bush for example has argued for preemptively removing Hussein, on the basis that Hussein might become or cause a threat in the future.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
Yes Christopher, I see your point. I'm eagerly awaiting Muppet's response.

But in the interim, let me pose a hypothetical situation, if the "wrong" truly is an issue of "unlawfulness"and lack of due process, would we (and by we I mean Muppet) be happy with rendering if Congress and/or UN (or whatever body makes international laws) passed a law saying the process was OK? And just for arguments sake lets say that the Supreme Court and/or World Court didn't strike such a law down for being unconstitutional or whatever.
Permalink Gibber 
March 11th, 2005
> on the basis that Hussein might become

Or rather, it was on the basis that Hussein *will* become ...
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
Well, there's one quick "moral" defense: Would you accept this in your own country -- would you let Belgium, France or China have the power to grab US citizens in this manner?

There are few moral assumptions involved -- only whether we're not complete hypocrites.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
March 11th, 2005
Hmmm, maybe George W. is really from the future and has come back in time to prevent that timeline... just a crazy thought, couldn't help it, sorry.
Permalink Gibber 
March 11th, 2005
>Christopher suggested there was probably a judicial review by the Swedish judiciary before this man was extradited, which likely would have included some review of evidence, probably cause, or provocation. Do you have reason to believe there was no such process in this case?

There have been several cases where there was exactly zero judicial review of any kind before kidnapping the people and sending them off to be tortured in violation of international treaties and in violation of the laws of our nation.

The point of Public Law 108-458 was to retroactively legalize these deportations and to ensure that an unelected official (who is not a judge) will be making thes decisions and that these decisions will be forever removed from any and all judicial review.

I don't think you guys just understand how outrageous their behavior is.
Permalink Peter 
March 11th, 2005
Because we are aliens.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 11th, 2005
my christ you are like a bunch of old ladies discussing flower arrangement - and sorry OP I stoppped reading, like rankim, at the blathering around the word 'should'

ok, so you are all perfectly comfortable with the idea that people; possibly citizens and possibly not, but certainly without going through a trial; can be taken and tortured?  so long as we have laws controlling the fact and so long as someone in our administration has ok'd it, everything is fine?
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 11th, 2005
"my christ you are like a bunch of old ladies discussing flower arrangement"

Instead of young democrats discussing idiot Bush?

I don't think you could change the world without a logical calm mind.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 11th, 2005
"I don't think you could change the world without a logical calm mind."


wtf? who is trying to change the world? this is a web forum.


Despite the fact that I am utterly disgusted and repulsed by the physical cowardice and moral bankruptcy of my fellow countryman I dont want to change them, I just want them to get the fuck out of my country and leave america to the decent people, the ones who dont expect life to be safe and who are not willing to sacrifice their principles and their belief in human rights for some undefined extra degree of 'safety' affored by giving their government the right to 'arrest' and torture people.

Given that the terrorists are 'jealous of our freedom', I guess it makes sense to give it up, hey.

fuck me, is there anything uglier than a bunch of frightened people trying desperately to rationalise their cowardice.
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 11th, 2005
> and sorry OP I stoppped reading, like rankim, at the blathering around the word 'should'

I'll be briefer then.

> ok, so you are all perfectly comfortable ... ?

No. So what?
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
"No. So what"

ahh, that explains a lot.

you are sufficiently morally bankrupt that, even in the face of such a transgression by your own government, you cannot even muster the facade of moral outrage on a web forum.

way to go.
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 11th, 2005
> even in the face of such a transgression by your own government

My government is not American, it's Canadian; so who, or what transgression, are you referring to?

> you cannot even muster the facade of moral outrage on a web forum

I could try if you like: "They sound so *wicked*! How *could* they?? Surely they *shouldn't*!"
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
> I could try if you like:

How much good does that do?
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
-----"My government is not American, it's Canadian; so who, or what transgression, are you referring to?"----

weren't the Canadian government involved in a case of abduction of one of their citizens that ended being tortured in some Arab country until they let him go for lack of evidence and he got back to Canada?
Permalink Stephen Jones 
March 11th, 2005
I think it was the US government doing the depotation.

US officials clamed they informed Canadian government ahead of time. Canadian officials denied.

Roshoman case.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 11th, 2005
"My government is not American, it's Canadian; so who, or what transgression, are you referring to?"

oh, ok.

in that case I dont think your opinion counts, sorry.
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 11th, 2005
> weren't the Canadian government involved in ...?

There is one case I heard of, where a man named "Maher Arar" with joint Canadian/Syrian citizenship was detained in and then deported from the States to Syria: which resulted in questions in Canada (and that inquiry has not finished yet) regarding what exactly various Canadian officials told the Americans before the Americans deported him.

There's a synopsis of it (a reverse timeline) at http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/arar/

Maher Arar has a web site at http://www.maherarar.ca/
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
> in that case I dont think your opinion counts, sorry.

Well there you go.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 11th, 2005
> Because we are aliens.

Speak for yourself, antenna head.
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March 11th, 2005

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