RANGER AGAINST WAR: Whisky Tango Foxtrot <

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fix'd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken
--Sonnet 116, Shakespeare

Shakespeare may have been speaking of love, but he was saying that it was an unvarying and inflexible quality. It did not become something else at the whim of the observer. The real deal was not fickle. This constancy could also be applied to our allegiance to certain invaluable foundational documents, like the Constitution. As Shakespeare might say, "the star to every wandering bark."

Unfortunately, this steadfastness has gone missing recently in the conduct of our national agencies, according to a 437-page Federal Bureau of Investigation's "war crimes file" recently released by the Department of Justice's Inspector General. The New York Times says the report shows "internal dissent and confusion within the Bush administration over the use of harsh interrogation tactics (aka "torture") by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency (see the DoJ report here.)

To say the "Report Details Dissent on Guantánamo Tactics," is misleading since claims of prisoner mistreatment are not localized. Prisoner abuse went viral years ago, and has approached pandemic proportions. Torture is now an accepted U.S. policy tool for questioning terror suspects. As many FBI reports said, if these detainees were to be designated Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW's), the interrogators would be liable for prosecution.

The so-called "confusion" was based upon George Bush's erroneous philosophical stance that "everything changed after 9-11." Wrong, because the laws that bind all Americans are and will remain the same. If such a day comes that they do change, we are no longer America.

In one report, military interrogators collaborated with visiting Chinese officials to disrupt the sleep of Chinese Muslims held there.
"In another incident, it said, a female interrogator reportedly bent back an inmate’s thumbs and squeezed his genitals as he grimaced in pain."

The report cited "passionate objections" from the FBI over practices like inmate intimidation with snarling dogs, "short-shackling" to floors in temperature extremes and parading the prisoners nude before female soldiers. The report also commends the FBI for its "professionalism," but of course, that is not the concern -- "legality" is the only standard of import.

The FBI is an operational agency of the DoJ; if the DoJ does not object to the prisoner abuses, then the FBI's objections are just dust in the wind.

Terrorism is a legal issue, not a military one. If it were a war issue then the Department of Defense should deal with the intelligence requirements of warfighting. The CIA is a civilian intelligence agency distinct from the DoD, or at least is used to be before its militarization with the appointment of 4-Star nut-twister Michael Hayden.

There should be a national level policy regarding the topic of terrorism. Terrorism needs to be defined, along with an appropriate and proportional response to terrorist incidents. Is it war or is it criminal activity? It cannot be both.

Terming counter-terrorism "warfare" legitimizes criminals and waters down U.S. legal responses to the threat. Conversely, committing to a legal response does not negate the possibility of implementing actions to break up attack scenarios before they reach the execution phase. If U.S. policy cannot live within the confines of the law, how can we villanize terrorists for their illegal activities? How one defines terrorism should not depend on which side of the fence you're on.

In the old lead agency concept of terrorism counteraction, the FBI was the lead CONUS agency. This FBI primacy has become murky since Homeland Security (HS) has assumed the umbrella function. The breakdown is one of organizational hierarchy and responsibilities. The FBI and DoJ are experiencing an organizational disconnect.

Who is the lead agency in terrorist cases? Ask 20 people and you will get 20 different answers.

HS has clouded versus clarified the organizational functions of historical relationships. Lacking a clear definition of responsibility, the issue has morphed into a game of hot potato (or should we write, potatoe, since a lot of Republicans have shaped this confusion.)

No one wants to take the fall, that's for sure. The report notes that some DoJ believed military coercive techniques were "wrong," while others thought them merely "ineffective," and unlikely to garner actionable intelligence.

But Wrong and Illegal are two very different concepts. Emily Post would say it is "wrong" to wear white shoes after Labor Day -- who cares? Illegal is another level. The fashion police cannot throw you in jail; break actual laws and you will go to jail.

The issue of torture outstrips expeditiousness. Today, if it is effective,no one seems to care that an action may be illegal. But the pragmatic business model should not be used when the integrity of our nation is at stake.

The Constitution is an "ever-fix'd mark," and should not be at the whim of the junk bond trader mentality.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Offtopic, but I laugh everytime I hear Sen. McCain say things like, "I will never surrender in Iraq." As if winding things up in that locality would be surrender, and as if a Democratic president in '09 would be surrendering if he were to end the war.

Plus who are they going to surrender TO? The government they overthrew years ago? Allah? The United Nations? Give me a break.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 9:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Ark, your cmt is NOT really off topic since we cover that ground frequently.

This Ranger and several of our informed readers have some very deep seated fears that things can go pear shaped very quikly for US forces in Iraq.(OOPs i almost said Coalition Forces.) I really don't like to forecast gloom and death for our military BUT if we attack Iran and i believe Bush is dumb enuf to do so then things can go south very fast. Us forces may never be req'd to surrender but they can become beleagured with high casualties.I never for a moment doubt that the glorious new Iraq army and police will turn on us in a Bagdad minute. jim

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys said...

Ah, Jim, your idealistic side is showing. You think any of the yahoos in charge CARE what the difference is between wrong and illegal? And remember, the Constitution is a piece of paper. (I am, btw, enjoying some paper this week, too...toilet paper with Bush's face on it! If he can crap on MY Constitution....)

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:21:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

after starting out with some fairly cogent pieces about how iraq was different from vietnam i am more and more seeing ties and parallels. in nixonland one thing that completely boggles is that nixon used marie chennault and henry kissenger to torpedo any chances of peace in paris before the election.

he needed the war to be going on, and going badly in order to have his major talking points against humphrey. then, he dragged things out for his entire term, and probably would have gone on through his second while this accomplished absolutely nothing except killed more people. all around his bizarre concept of "peace with honor." honor would have dictated something along the lines of a commercial engagement with the vietnamese to help rebuild their economy and their infrastructure. a huge factor in the rice shortages we are currently seeing around the world is that our chemical assaults on the land of vietnam are still having a negative effect on what used to be the most reliable and abundant rice growing region in the world. (agent orange and its "roundup" cousins kill rice effectively too. they also linger in the soil and in a river delta environment their effects spread)

mcCain spews idiocy about "victory" because he can't admit we've already lost any hope of anything close to what would be called a victory. there simply isn't an iraq to deal with. it's FUBAR.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Your comment on no victory b/c, "there simply isn't an iraq to deal with. it's FUBAR," combined with the info. from a recent piece on MOH Murphy, who was caught in a region of no less than 22 warring factions, brought to mind of a very personal experience. A bit gory, but I believe relevant, so i will share it:

When I was 19, I suffered a ruptured ovary. The surgeon decided he would try and save it, and by his own telling kept stitching the tattered pieces together, only to have it re-rupture. He would then try again with the remaining parts. After six hours, he finally removed the fragmented ovary.

What could have been a 1/2 hour procedure turned into almost 6, a very dangerous proposition. Alas, I survived. I believe this surgeon's behavior provides a good analog to the idea of victory in Iraq.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 1:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Fixer said...

Big Mazeltov on the nomination. I couldn't think of others more deserving.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop the Madness!

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 5:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Whaaa...do y'mean "stop writing the blog"?


Thanks for your vote of confidence.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 7:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Never, never, never quit."

-Winston Churchill

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 9:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

ark, we will fight them on the beaches if they can swim their camels across the big pond. jim

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 9:27:00 AM GMT-5  

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