Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Terrorists Win

Well, it looks like the terrorist got what they wanted. They have turned us into a police state. When your government can skirt required limits and then defend having done so with a straight face, our "way of life" has been destroyed.


Anonymous said...

If the NYT had released this while the universities were still in session would there have been a wave of demonstrations? Where I'm at, it's too damn cold (below 0 Fahrenheit as I type this) to go outside long enough for a decent demo...but where are our Sun Belt friends?

Will the outrage last long enough for people to hit the streets after New Years?

Why hasn't there been any talk about organizing demonstrations?  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

This morning I was in nearly in tears when I heard about new reports of prisoner treatment in Gitmo. He was a Ethiopian born, UK raised prisoner. The stories, if I understood the report correctly were coming from his lawyers, which is the only way to get the stories out. The prisoner’s unverified account says that people were strung for up to 48 hours in pitch dark with Eminem blaring, let down to sleep for a few hours and then strung up again. The same detainee says they were shackled to rings on the wall in the dark for 2 weeks with Eminem and some other like noise that was eventually replaced with phantom sounds. People, he said, lost their minds and were banging their heads against the walls screaming.

Two things: If I was Eminem, I'd be loudly protesting the use of my music for such purposes. I’d say he has a good reason to protest and an obligation to do. He has a fan base that would listen.

Second: The accounts are unverified, but look how ready we are to believe them. In the past, we would have never believed the U.S. would do such things. We would have called for an investigation with confidence, knowing that we would be proven innocent. Now, we are more than ready to believe it, and we fight investigations for fear the reports will be proven correct.

I was nearly in tears over the level of cruelty that was described and over the fact that we have become this.

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

Bush thinks that he may break any law and do anything to anybody he thinks is an enemy of the state. If the Democrats and Congress stand up to Bush now, the system will work. If not, then we are all in a lot of trouble.

I suspect any one of us might be on the Bushg's enemies list, because by being critical of him, he argues, we give aid and comfort to terrorists. I am not joking.  

// posted by LTG

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest... horrible stuff. No matter what they may be accused of, such treatment is apalling. One wonders if this kind of thing will cease now that congress has banned inhumane and degrading treatment.

But I rather doubt it.

Anonymous said...

This is so eloquent, I have reproduced it here verbatim from the Christian Science Monitor. Fair Use, I contend. It explains better than I could have why the ends-justify-the-means philosophy of the Bush administration is morally and spiritually destructive.

What torture does to torturers

By Rushworth M. Kidder

CAMDEN, MAINE – Last week, President Bush agreed to legislation banning cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of prisoners in US custody. His U-turn ended months of debate about the ethics of torture. Now come revelations that the White House approved eavesdropping on American citizens inside the United States without court-ordered warrants.
These two information-gathering methods are markedly different: One inflicts pain while the other invades privacy. But each has credible national security arguments in its favor. Each raises profound human rights objections. And each threatens to compromise the nation's moral authority abroad.

But there's another issue, largely unexplored, that speaks to a deeper concern: the effect of such activity on the perpetrators. What is the impact on those we ask to carry out those actions?

Stanley Milgram's famous obedience experiments at Yale in the 1960s shed light here. He recruited individuals to test (so they were told) the role of punishment to promote learning. They were asked to follow an experimenter's orders and administer increasingly powerful electric shocks - up to 450 volts - whenever a "learner" gave the wrong answer.

Unknown to those giving the shocks, the experiment was a fake. The experimenter in a gray lab coat was a plant. The learner was an actor mimicking anguish. No shocks were ever sent. The point was to see how long the recruits would persist (though Mr. Milgram didn't use these words) in torturing their victim in obedience to authority. The sobering answer: a very long time.

One of Milgram's recruits, William Menold, had just been discharged from combat duty in the US Army. Growing increasingly concerned for the learner he was zapping, he complained to the experimenter, who told him to carry on and that he would accept full responsibility. Mr. Menold recalls that he then "completely lost it, my reasoning power," and became fully obedient. Milgram's biographer, Thomas Blass, notes that Menold "described himself as an 'emotional wreck' and a 'basket case' during the experiment and after he left the lab, realizing 'that somebody could get me to do that stuff.'"

Would Menold have been so emotionally battered if the experiment had involved wiretaps rather than shocks? Hardly. But the two activities are on the same scale, if at different ends. If anywhere along that scale our nation makes citizens "do that stuff" to others, are we dehumanizing those who do it? In taking advantage of undefended victims, are we degrading our own personal integrity?

Those aren't idle questions. Personal integrity isn't achieved through inoculation. It's a process. Rooted in core ethical values, it shapes itself, decision by decision, across a lifetime. It depends on consistency, continuity, and repetition. Each lapse makes the next one easier.

If that's true for individuals, it's also true for organizations and nations. When an individual merges unthinkingly "into an organizational structure," warned Milgram, "a new creature replaces autonomous man, unhindered by the limitations of individual morality, freed of humane inhibition, mindful only of the sanctions of authority."

Government agencies, especially those defending the nation through espionage and military action, depend on personal integrity. Yet they create these "sanctions of authority." They can even require unethical actions. When they do, however, they risk creating in the perpetrators either an anguished guilt or an amoral numbness. A convicted Watergate-related figure, Egil "Bud" Krogh, recalls what it was like to sacrifice conscience for what he saw as President Nixon's unquestionable authority. Whenever you do something like that, he says poignantly, "a little bit of your soul slips through your fingers."

That's not what democracy is about. None of us wants our public servants turned into pliant emotional wrecks. And none of us wants the nation cast in the role of the gray-coated Grand Experimenter, calmly overriding individual ethics in the name of collective expediency. With the torture debate over for now, it's time to begin the conversation on the broader differences between moral and immoral authority.

• Rushworth M. Kidder is president of the Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine, and the author of "Moral Courage."

// reprinted without permission by LTG


// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

"a little bit of your soul slips through your fingers" . . . I like that. It is what happens. I think we have had this conversation before. When you go back to the law of the jungle, the law that says we have to eat or be eaten, you have sacrificed your humanity and returned to the Hobbesian state of nature. I am coming to accept more and more that it is the law of society that keeps us in check – a sense of obligation about how you are to treat your fellow man. As Kant said: "Duty is the necessity to act out of reverence for the law" Emmanuel Kant

But since so many of our laws have been abrogated, we have to really re-visit the system that allowed for this. I have said it and said it . . .we need to have a new kind of national dialogue- one that includes a serious discussion about righteousness and justice. It has reached a crisis point- a bigger crisis than anything we have faced since the inception of our nation.

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

This situation is the result of a strange combination of events. A 50-50 split in public opinion resulting in simultaneous control of the House of Reprsentatives, the Senate and the White House by a single party. Usually when a single party gets that kind of power they are supported by a huge majority.

This is a nasty nasty fluke. We just have to get past the crisis then the system will return to it's normal circumstances.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I agree with USWest, and that's why I posted the article. The point is that we need to start a national dialog on why Bush is immoral. Saying he broke the law is not enough - he will be forgiven if people think "his heart was in the right place." It's not. He means us all serious harm.

Bush must be impeached. 

// posted by LTG