December 11, 2006

Imagine My Surprise

I received a bit of stick in one of the comment train of one of my most recent posts, after I pointed out the humourous similarity between the processes the US government is proposing to "try" alleged terrorists, and those of the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s. Some thought it both extreme, and beyond the pale of serious criticism, and yet (almost paradoxically) "hackneyed" and "unoriginal". As a reminder, Claude wrote in comment 31:

. . . bracketing putative Gitmo trials with Stalin. . . goes wildly beyond any sane person's idea of constructive criticism.

Well, no doubt Claude is trolling the comments section of "American Conservative", which I came across while browsing Andrew Sullivan. One James Bovard writes therein:

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to prohibit defendant Majid Khan, a former Catonsville, Md. resident who was nabbed in Pakistan, from revealing to anyone -even his defense attorney -the interrogation methods he endured. A Justice Department spokeswoman claimed that letting Khan discuss his interrogation with his lawyer “is inadequate to protect unique and potentially highly classified information that is vital to our country’s ability to fight terrorism.” Thus, the feds can use whatever Khan said against him while hiding the methods that made him squeal.
The MCA creates procedural biases akin to a 1938 Moscow show trial. Defense attorneys can “challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable,” the Washington Post noted. But it will be almost impossible to disprove an accusation when a defense lawyer is not allowed to question or perhaps even know who made the charge.

American Conservative's latest issue includes scribblings from such unreliable lefties as Peter Hitchens, Taki, Pat Buchanan and no doubt others of similar weak moral fibre.

Posted by Eurof at 10:12 PM GMT

The poison of treason runs deep in America's veins. We need Purity of Essence.

Posted by: Jame on December 12, 2006 01:31 AM

Such an artful construction: "a former Catonsville, Md. resident". The implication is that Khan is a citizen, when he is not.

Besides which you and Bovard are not speaking of Moscow show trials in the same sense - he is opposed to procedural elements whereas you liken them in intent.

I'll be nice to Bovard here on account of his being associated professionally with a friend of mine, Jame's and Sanford's. He is, however, either deliberately disingenuous or an idiot.

Posted by: Sterling on December 12, 2006 05:48 AM

(OK, maybe not THAT nice.)

Posted by: Sterling on December 12, 2006 05:53 AM

". . .you and Bovard are not speaking of Moscow show trials in the same sense - he is opposed to procedural elements whereas you liken them in intent."

A moronic and meaningless distinction. What, you think the procedure, which you seem to accept is reminiscent of Stalinist procedure, has been settled on by accident!? Bovine starts his piece:

"Have Republicans become the party of torture, secret prisons, and indefinite detention?"

and introducing it on his blog, he writes:

"It is good to see the screws tightening on some of these Bush rascals. This scandal could put an end to Bush II."

It's not a piece about procedural niceties.

Posted by: eurof on December 12, 2006 09:13 AM

And since when is it OK to torture non-US citizens? That's more like an act of war as well as a breach of human rights. And I don't remember the Declaration of Independence adnd the Constitution adding "except for stupid foreigners" at the end of every clause.

At least you have been a bit more consistent and started torturing your own citizens, namely Padilla, though I note you just torture the off-white citizens -- the white ones who fight against you get a trial and a low security prison in California.

And luckily, as your friend Bovine points out, you have universally extended the right to be denied habeus corpus and be tortured to your own citizens, in that admirable even-handed manner of yours. Now ANYONE can be an unlawful combatant in the GWOT, on the simple say so of Dubya, and make their own contribution to the Struggle for Freedom. I sincerely hope this privilege can be extended to you.

Posted by: euro on December 12, 2006 09:38 AM


A spirited, if fatally flawed, effort.

1. Of course something can be hackneyed and OTT at the same time. Isn't that, inter alia, what inspired Godwin's law?

2. Your post claimed "commies and fascists" had taken over in Washington. QED.

3. Your rascally, bearded friend Bavard is guilty of same when he writes "Bush has been able to seize nearly boundless power because his Administration has been able to control what American know." I like that "nearly". Yes, I know Bavard is a paid-up "conservative" and you will crow that therefore my point is invalidated, but conservatives are at least equally capable of asininities as you lefties.

4. You seem delighted to discover that there is conservative opposition to Dubya. It may be news to you, but it too, whilst accurate, is a stale, hackneyed observation. Some conservative opposition is principled and well-argued. Sometimes, though, it loses its grip on reality. Your other bearded chum Andrew Sullivan is a sterling example of that.

5. What you, the bearded Bavard and Sullivan sorely lack is any smidgeon of proportion. Sure, there is something ludicrous, reprehensible and abhorrent about some of the alleged details of these "trials". But that really, honestly doesn't make Dubya's regime the equivalent of Stalin's, as you and your bearded pals allege (and, in so doing, cheapen and besmirch the level of public discussion with an unbecoming hysteria). The point about the internment of Germans and Japanese in WWII (in the "commies and fascists rule Washington") thread was that it too victimised some innocent people and was worthy of condemnation. The supposed "scandal of the American torture regime" is a similar case. Fair enough to point to anomalies, as I think the great Orwell did back then, but to get all morally equivalent is worthless hysterical posturing. WWII internment and today's Gitmo are parallel cases.

6. Without necessarily going the whole hog on murderous-dictator-comparisons, so, arguably, is Pinochet, the recently-dead Chilean of French descent, greatly admired by your own heroine, the Blessed Margaret. Why do you suppose Thatcher admired him so? Wasn't it because she weighed the leftist oppositionists he killed against the Chilean success those disgusting measures enabled?

7. Taki?!?! Entertaining and charming, to be sure, but hardly a conservative heavyweight.

Eurof, you are a rascal, your every post a petard with which you publicly hoist yourself.

Posted by: Claude de Bigny on December 12, 2006 10:17 AM