December 2007 Archives


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To bloggers who made a difference in 2007.

Thanks to each one of you who took your passion and did something with it.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

Another JAG officer takes a stand on torture

Share / Email highlighted another JAG officer taking a stand on principle against the use of torture.

"It was with sadness that I signed my name this grey morning to a letter resigning my commission in the U.S. Navy," wrote Gig Harbor, Wash., resident and attorney-at-law Andrew Williams in a letter to The Peninsula Gateway last week. "There was a time when I served with pride ... Sadly, no more." [...]

It was in the much-publicized interview two weeks ago between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who is the chief legal adviser at the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions, that led Williams to resign.

In the interview, Graham asked Hartmann how the uniformed legal community should respond if the Iranian government used waterboarding to torture a U.S. solider into disclosing when the next U.S. military operation would occur.

Hartmann responded: "I am not prepared to answer that question." [...]

Williams, 43, felt that Hartmann was admitting torture is now an acceptable interrogation technique in the United States -- an admission that did not sit well with him.

"There was this saying in the Marines: 'We don't lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate people who do,' " Williams said. "And that sort of echoed through the Navy."

I'm glad to see that there are officers like Andrew Williams and Ian Fishback who will stand up and say, 'This is not right. This is not what our military stands for.' I hope more join them.

Mr. Williams' complete letter is available here.

If you've not read Captain Fishback's letter to Senator McCain which he shared with the Washington Post, it is a must read item which I encourage you to read and book mark. It is so hard to choose an excerpt but this, I think, strikes at the heart of what he said.

The Irresponsible New York Times

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In a perfect example of the Appeal to Authority fallacy, the NY Times published this.

Not up on your fallacy definitions? Casey Morris defined it in a DCP post about another egregious example (which is worth a read all on its own).

This is a fallacy called "Appeal to Authority" for those of you that didn't have to sit through argumentation class in college. It means that just because someone is an expert in one area, doesn't mean that he is an expert in anything but that one area.

In other words, expertise in one area does not confer automatic expertise in another area. Which is why it is so puzzling that the NY Times would provide Fred Kagan a platform on which to broadcast his non-expert opinions on Pakistan.

Kagan's scholarship focused "on the 19th century Russian military"; a focus unrelated to Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan in either historical or current day context. Brandon Friedman aka The Angry Rakkasan dismantled Kagan's supposed expertise almost a year ago. He examined Kagan's CV, his peer-reviewed papers (only 4 - none on Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq). His review of Kagan's career established that in no way is Kagan qualified to offer an 'expert' opinion on world affairs other than the development and evolution of Russia into the Soviet Union and back into Russia.

Our media should scrutinize and shine a bright light on the credentials of the "experts"; not provide a platform for so-called experts who have no more qualifications than I have to blurt out their latest non sequiturs.

I'd like to see the NY Times do a thorough examination of Fred Kagan's scholarly background. Something like Brandon Friedman did almost a year ago at Daily Kos, one of those blogs that media types like to discount. The ideal would be an investigative article, thoroughly researched and well-substantiated, not a he-said, she-said variety.

Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch summed it up well:  "this type of 'village' idiocy, which reads like post-adolescent masturbatory drivel (sorry...), does need to be kept to a minimum in coming weeks, lest our policy-making class get carried away again towards other epic blunders."

Giving someone as unqualified as Kagan the platform of the New York Times op-ed page from which to make ridiculous recommendations, such as let's send our special forces into Pakistan to take over all their nuclear facilities and weapons, is a completely irresponsible action by the NYT.

And finally, a message to the NY Times op-ed editor:

You should know better.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

The Hue and Cry over Huckabee

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Now that Huckabee has surged ahead in the Iowa and South Carolina polls on the Republican nomination race, conservative bloggers and pundits have some interesting things to say about him and the race.

John Cole at Balloon Juice has some interesting selections. Good for a chuckle:

Can schadenfreude be fatal?

Andrew Sullivan has also weighed in at The Daily Dish.

It's amazing to me to watch Rich Lowry and Charles Krauthammer begin to panic at the signs of Christianism taking over the Republican party. Where, one wonders, have they been for the past decade? They have long pooh-poohed those of us who have been warning about this for a long time, while cozying up to Christianists for cynical or instrumental reasons. But now they want to draw the line. Alas, it's too late, I think...

Radar Online on Joe Klein's Folly

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John Cook at Radar Online has written about Joe Klein's errors and missteps with his inaccurate piece on the FISA bill which has brought Joe much opprobrium in Left Blogistan. There are so many delicious lines, I hardly know where to begin but here's a sample.

Klein's reactions on Swampland to his FISA critics are precious goldmines of self-aggrandizing pretense that must be savored at length to appreciate their rich subtleties and overtones. His first response acknowledged--in an insufferably cloying way--that although partisan murk clouded the issue, he "may" have made a mistake, before going on to claim that if he indeed had made a mistake, "we are talking about relatively obscure and unimportant technical details." In other words, Klein sat down to write a column about obscure and unimportant technical details.

Klein's next weigh-in on the blog, two days later, was headlined "FISA: More Than You Want to Know," as though his responsibility to assess the veracity or lack thereof of the claims he made in his columns involved some kind of burdensome slog through legislative thickets beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Why are you making me do this? This is hard!

His post artfully shifted the issue from whether the bill says what he said it says to whether his Republican sources or Democratic sources were correct in their interpretations (who knows? This law stuff is complicated) before actually committing to pixels the following words, which will live on as one of the finest specimens of sheer journalistic hubris ever issued from one of the genre's most accomplished practitioners:

"I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right." I don't have time find out if what I write is true, people! I'm too busy claiming that other things are true. And even if I did have time, I'm not qualified to say whether the things I write are true anyway!

If you missed Glen Greenwald's updates on this, do check out this post.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village