Torture at Gitmo

Torture at Gitmo

I’ve been following the media storm over the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and the alleged torture of prisoners held there and I have a couple of different thoughts.

First, I think the only reason there’s attention being paid to Gitmo is that despite the constant media drumbeat of body counts out of the country, the American people are not getting riled up and angry about it like the media and the Democrats want them to be. Thus they’re looking elsewhere for ammunition, but if they think Gitmo is it, they’re sadly mistaken. Whatever is really happening there, I don’t expect Americans to be able to muster any sympathy for terrorists captured on the field of battle.

Let’s remember that’s what they are: they’re not prisoners of war. They’re enemy non-combatants, foreign nationals not allied to any sovereign power who attack civilian and military targets indiscriminately. The Geneva Convention does not apply to them. Nevertheless, they are being treated far better than they have a right to expect. They receive three sumptuous meals a day, are allowed to practice their religion undisturbed, and are given medical treatment. Yes, they are in prison, but that’s because they were captured committing terroristic acts on the battlefield.

As to the claims of torture, that’s another question. Obviously, torture qua torture is immoral and should be forbidden. But what constitutes torture? Is interrogation torture? What if the interrogation involves making the prisoner sit on a hard chair for two hours? How about four? How about having to stand? Sit under bright lights? Is manacled to the floor? Has water thrown in his face (a la Tom Cruise in Britain the other day)? At what point does interrogation become torture?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
36 comments
  • Dear Dom,

    Certainly, forcing a man to have an IV to increase his liquids till he urinates on himself constitutes torture. Having people in stress positions for long periods, denying them sleep constitutes physical/psychological torture. Could these same techniques be used by police against suspected criminals?
    Finally, I thought that all men were endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. It seems that this has been redefined as all American Citizens are endowed with certain inalienable rights. The fact is Dom is that you seem to think that the bill of rights does not reflect natural principles guaranteed to all men, but only man made principles for the lucky few. Neo-Conservatives promote Liberal Democracy and Human Rights for all, until those rights become inconvenient to an ideological goal. The hypocrisy of Neo-Cons truly knows no bounds. These people are human beings and they have a right to trial. If America can prove they are guilty of a crime, fine. If not you have to let them go. BTW I am not left wing or right wing, I am Catholic.

  • No less than Alan Dershowitz has an interesting take on interrogation and torture. Google him. I’m sure Mrs. Daniel Pearl has an interesting take, as does John McCain. If you’re lucky enough to meet an 80 year old man who was at Bataan, I’m sure he has an intersting story to tell, too, if you could pry it out of him.

    Making someone sit for long periods, applying shackles when needed, or subjecting them to bright light does not constitute torture. The are fed three times per day, have probably had more opportunities to shower in a one week than they’ve had in a lifetime, and are free to practice their faith. Coalition forces captued would not have the same.

  • Chris,

    What do you mean “you people”? You’re imputing thoughts on me that I haven’t expressed. I was asking what constitutes torture? I didn’t say it wasn’t torture. I simply want to know where torture begins and permissible interrogation ends.

    You need to get a grip and read more carefully before letting your emotions get the best of you.

    Why is denying someone sleep torture? Because it makes them uncomfortable? Is making someone uncomfortable the standard? Or is it causing permanent or semi=permanent damage?

    Rather than engage in vitriolic ad hominem attacks, let’s engage in some dispassionate discussion to examine the situation.

  • KMac,

    I understand what you’re saying, but I would caution on one thing. Just because someone would do something to you, doesn’t mean it’s ok to do it back. Just because al Quaeda would torture and execute our people doesn’t necessarily make it moral to do it back to them.

    That said, I agree with you that the things you enumerate do not constitute torture.

  • Dear KMac,

    I think you missed where I said I am a Catholic. I get my views of morality from the Church. Where do you get your views on morality? Mr. Dershowitz, Mrs. Pearl, and Mr. McCain are not authorities on Catholic Ethics. I certainly would not turn to advocates of baby murder (as McCain and Dershowitz) to get my understanding of what constitutes torture. It is also funny that the arguments you made concerning meals, showers, etc. were also advanced by people justifying slavery. Finally, “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” is not a Catholic principle. In just war theory, you are not allowed to torture individuals because your enemy does.

  • Dear Dom,
    Read my post, I do not see myself saying “you people” anywhere. I only spoke of you with regard to detaining people without trial (I said that you thought they should not be afforded the natural rights in the Bill of Rights. And I assumed your conclusion must be that the Bill of Rights does not represent natural rights.) If this is not your opinion, I apologize. But then I can not see how holding people without trial for indefinite periods of time is not against the principles of the Bill of Rights.
    Then I spoke of Neo-Cons.

  • ~Why is denying someone sleep torture? Because it makes them uncomfortable? Is making someone uncomfortable the standard?~

    It’s not.  Police departments do this all the time and we applaud them. 

    The media’s reporting of “torture” is to incite the public against the US government.  It’s irresponsible journalism at it’s finest.  Some of it they create from whole cloth.  Abu Ghraib was reported long after investigation and prosecution had begun.  You really don’t think a story reported at the end of March will be in full courtmartial in May/June do you?

  • Dear Jaded,

    The reason it is torture is because a man will confess to anything after he has been deprived of sleep for a long period of time. With regard to police, it is true that this has been used, and it is also true that in some cases the suspects after having confessed, were later cleared by DNA evidence. This technique was also used during the Korean War to get US soldiers to confess to atrocities. Worked then as well.  Finally, some juries have thrown out confessions because of marathon interrogations, so the issue is not as cut and dry as you make it sound. Perhaps a study should be done to see if people will indeed say anything to be allowed to sleep whether it is true or not.  And then after they have been deprived of sleep for 56 hours or so we can see if they think they were tortured.

  • The Bill of Rights applies to citizens of the US and does not represent natural rights. Neither the Founding Fathers, the Supreme Court, or any legislative, executive, or judicial branch of the US government has ever held that the Bill of Rights should apply to non-citizens.

    I for one am glad that non-citizens do not have a right to keep and bear arms in the US or on US territory. Neither do they have a right to free speech and so on.

    It would be one thing to argue based on basic human rights, but the first ten amendments to the US Constitution are not recognitions of basic human rights, but are the natural rights of citizens of the US based on restricting the power of the government that governs them.

  • Boy, have we dumbed down torture.  I listened carefully to Senator “Dick Turban’s” heartfelt recitation of an alleged eye-witness account of an FBI agent at Gitmo: suspects lying on a floor subjected to rap music; urination and defecation on self; sleep deprivation; really hot room or really cold room—and I was tempted to applaud.

    The squeamish and the skeptical assume that each and every detainee at Guantanamo Bay gets the rough treatment above.  On the contrary, published reports such as the Winter 2005 City Journal indicate that these violent al-Qaeda co-workers (or worse) get three soldier-issue meals a day, five Islamic prayers a day called by a muezzin, copies of the Qur’an—the very document they interpret as inspiring their venom.  Rear Admiral James M. McGarrah, who monitors the enemy combatant detention program for the Navy, told a congressional panel that of the 558 detainees given hearings at Guantanamo, Cuba, 520 were properly classified as enemy combatants.  Of the remaining 38, he said, 23 have been released so far.

    The process, like everything else in human affairs, ain’t perfect.  But I can live with this.  In the months following WW II, it was well-known that German soldiers were routinely rounded up and shot, as Allied soliders were still being sniped at.  And, thanks be to God, no blog pontificators were there to second guess every move under the light of 100% Pure Catholic Armchair Ethics.  Here in LA, the same damn thing happens when the LAPD happens to serve and protect its citizens in a less-than-Monday-morning-pristine way.  We’re silent on evil and loud on the imperfect dealing with evil.

  • I think all forms of abortion are torture. 
    When these enemy combatants are being chopped up piece by piece or having their brains sucked out of their heads, give me a call and I will be the first to protest.  Right now, I am pretty busy defending innocent children who are unquestionably tortured, killed and canablized to worry about terrorists having to sit in a chair for a long time. 

    God Bless,

    Isabel

  • Dom,

    You are correct I should have been more specific about which ones I consider part of the natural law. Obviously No. 1 does not apply. But I would disagree about the right to bear arms. This right comes from the right to self defense. If I am a foreign visitor (long term) to America and I am living in a dangerous area, I have a natural right to defend myself, and if that means buying a gun, so be it. A government can not deny anyone (citizen or not)  of life, or the means necessary to preserve it without just cause. This may not be American jurisprudence, but than American jurisprudence gave us Dred Scot and Roe v Wade.
    I would also say that keeping someone in confinement indefinitely, without access to legal review (due process), is a violation of a person’s natural right to liberty. I believe the Supreme Court agreed with me on this one.
    So let me specific:

    Do you believe that a person can be held indefinitely without due process?

    Neo Cons says yes, I say no, what say you?:)

     

  • Dear Mr. Coffine,

    Again, I am Catholic. I base my opinions on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Those allied soldiers committed a despicable act, and if it went unrepented, upon their death most likely went to hell. The end does not justify the means.

    Dom,

    You must admit comments like those above can not be based on Catholic teaching. This is my biggest problem. The current administration (and I feel a Democratic administration would have done the same) rejects Catholic ethics on a just war, so everything they do must be viewed with suspicion. You are right about democrats playing politics, but because the dems are wrong does not make the republicans right.

  • You need to make a distinction between the constitutional rights and natural rights. They are not the same thing. A non-citizen is not entitled to constitutional rights.

    Second, rights>The current question is whether the suspects having a “military trial” fulfills this requirement, or do they have a right to a civilian trial.

  • Mr. Sarsfield:  Adjust armchair, pontificate, sip Cola, repeat.

    We get that you’re a Catholic. Congratulations.  I never said the ends justified the means.  I never said we should glorify the random shooting of people in German uniforms.  I was talking about snipers who were caught trying to murder American, British and Canadian soldiers.  Those enemy combatants didn’t get a frizzy-haired NYU lawyer to harp about their civil rights.  Perhaps you wish they did. 

    You’re all wet in your assertion that the Bush Administration rejects Catholic ethics on just war.  How do you know?  You’re conflating interviews with “Vatican officials,” the opinions of Archbishop Martino, media statements by “Curial sources” with binding magisterial teaching.  Pope John Paul II of blessed memory was not in favor of the US intervention in Iraq.  That’s true, although he wasn’t the anti-war mascot the NCR painted him to be either.  And as a non-Republican, non-US Citizen, I have to agree with Sen. Santorum that President Bush is the first Catholic president.

    In the context of who may or may not receive Holy Communion, a man now known as Pope Benedict XVI recently wrote, “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    Before you consign to the eternal flames those with whom you disagree, please consider re-reading the first half of that last sentence. 

  • Dom,

    First. Of course I have problems with the way terrorists fight. But I do not have any control over them. I do have some control (by voting and petitioning the government) of how my government behaves.
    Second. Are you saying that anyone who fought the Americans when they invaded Afghanistan was a terrorist? Let’s say a muslim nation invaded America in order to end the slaughter of innocent unborn children, would that make anyone who fought for America a baby killer? Would I be able to defend my country from a foreign power, even if my government was allowing evil to happen. Pope Benedict fought against the Americans in WWII was he a Jew killer because of it? Was it a sin for Catholic Germans to fight against the Allies? Put these people on trial and prove that they were not defending their country, but that they were terrorists.
    Finally, non-enemy combatant, I believe, is term made up by this administration to keep from having to abide by the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs. I do not believe there is any international definition of this term.

  • Are you saying that anyone who fought the Americans when they invaded Afghanistan was a terrorist?

    No, but then neither was just anyone captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan brought to Gitmo. Most battlefield prisoners were kept in Afghan prisons. Only those shown to be either al Quaeda fighters or certain Taliban terrorism supporters were brought to Gitmo. Thousands of prisoners were captured in Afghanistan, but less than 600 total have been in Gitmo, most of them non-Afghanis.

    You are making the same mistake again of calling the men at Gitmo prisoners of war and soldiers. They are not. They are enemy combatants, terrorists captured on the battlefield. They were not fighting to defend Afghanistan (especially since it was Afghanis overthrowing their evil dictatorship that US troops were supporting). They were fighting to kill Americans and to defend the evil Taliban regime. Again the majority of prisoners in Gitmo are not Afghanis.

    You’re also wrong on your last point. Enemy combatant is defined by international law and the Geneva Convention does not apply to them. By the way, the US is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention and only abides by its terms as a courtesy; it is not bound by it.

  • Dear Mr. Coffin,

    You seemed to be indicating that the actions of the Allied soldiers were just and in accord with the Catholic theory of a just war. You can not kill an enemy caught on the battlefield, that no longer poses risk to your life. As a veteran of US Armed forces I can assure you that this is still the case even in the US military.
    With regard to Bush being Catholic. That is a joke. He is not even Pro-life by Catholic standards. Mr. Bush believes that innocent babies conceived by rape and incest can be killed. It is okay to kill babies using IUD. The most that could be said of him is that he is anti-most abortions. He has rejected the idea that Iraq must be imminent threat before it can be dealt with. It was only a gathering threat. He said the war was just, but he was only referring to it’s justness from his perspective. Why do you think that honest Neo Cons are calling for a reformulation of the Just War theory. Because they are honest enough to see that current American foreign policy does not fit into its definition. Finally, there can be disagreements on the practical application of the Just War theory, but there can not be disagreement on the principles. My contention is that Bush rejects the Catholic principles of the just war.

  • Oh, dear.  I guess we should be happy that you “have problems with the way terrorists fight.”  Someone has to make those very tricky moral distinctions.

  • Dear Dom,

    Unlawful enemy combatants are dealt with in Art. 5 of the Third Geneva Convention:

    (Art 5):“Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act…” is a prisoner of war “…such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.”

    Now you said that America has never signed this, well so be it. But under international law a combatant is treated as a POW until their status is determined by “competent tribunal.” Show me the records of the tribunal procedures that the Bush Admin. followed in determining these people “unlawful combatants.”

    I think one of our major disagreements is that I do not trust the word of this Administration. They are asking us to believe that these people are terrorists based on their say so alone. They will not allow anyone to review their decisions and they will not even tell us how the determination was arrived at. I am sorry, but I do not trust any politicians with that kind of power (Republican or Democrat). Would you trust even a Pope or a Bishop that much?

  • “Should any doubt arise….” 

    That sounds simple; so under the Convention, who decides whether there is doubt? 

    Maybe we’ll need to have a tribunal just to decide whether there is a doubt about a detainees’ status, so he can have another tribunal hearing on the status itself.  No, that sort of undercuts the point of Art. 5.

    After all, a detainee may deny that he is an unlawful combatant forever, but that by itself doesn’t imply that there is a doubt about it.  How shall this be resolved? 

    Is this clause—shock—left up to the good faith of the government implementing it?

  • Chris,

    Why didn’t you quote Article 4 of the same Third Convention which actually enumerates who gets to be considered a prisoner of war? Article 5 dictates the treatment accorded to POWs, but the definitions of article 4 show that unlawful enemy combatants are not accorded the protections given to POWs.

    Your ellipsis of article 5 is also deceptive (although I assume unintentionally so; but the phrase you took out is so short, why remove it?). Here is what it says: and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4,

    Except that, as I maintain, the terrorists as Gitmo don’t belong to the categories in Article 4.

    Anyone who wants to can read it for themselves here: http://www.globalissuesgroup.com/geneva/convention3.html

    The key to your quote of article 5 is the first phrase: “Should any doubt arise…” There is no doubt about them, thus no tribunal is needed. But even if one is needed, you assume that the tribunal must take the form of a military or civilian court.

    There is a military process by which the prisoners are classified. As someone else pointed out, some of them have already been classified as releasable and sent home.

    I think you’re refleflexive dislike of Bush and conservative politics (hence your continued derogatory use of the term Neo-cons) has colored your judgment, as you pretty much admit.

    I happen to trust Bush and his administration. I trust them with that power because that’s their job. If you won’t trust anyone with the power, then the answer must be anarchy.

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear that torture is banned.  What qualifies as “torture” is apparently any use of physical or moral violence to extract confessions:

    [2297] Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.

    [2297] Cruciatus, qui physica vel morali utitur violentia ad confessiones extorquendas, ad culpabiles puniendos, ad adversarios terrendos, ad odium satiandum, observantiae personae et dignitati humanae est contrarius.

    The paragraph cites Denzinger (1965 ed.) 3722.  Perhaps someone with a copy of this book would be kind enough to look up the reference.

    In order to keep one’s head about these things, it might be a good practice to imagine that the Cristeros were the ones detained, and see if that affects one’s beliefs any.

  • Christopher Sarsfield,

    I strongly suggest that you rephrase this remark:

    The most that could be said of him is that he is anti-most abortions.

    You appear to be implying that saving 3900 babies a day is not worth much to you.

  • Dom,

    I was pointing out that an unlawful combatant is considered a POW until a tribunal (obviously run by the capturing country) finds them to be indeed an unlawful combatant. However, I think in order for these tribunals to be considered legitimate they should be public. Secret tribunals have a nasty connotation. Were there tribunals which these men came before – or were there only interrogations. You and I do not know the answer (though I have my suspicions) because the current administration will not say how they determined these men to be non lawful combatants. Look I want non lawful combatants tried and punished. However, I would like them to have the ability to defend themselves with legal representation. I personally do not see how that is asking too much. If they are found guilty, they should be punished – even capitally if that is what is called for. The people who ran Nazi concentration camps were given no less.

  • Dear Seamole,

    The comment was made that President Bush is the “first Catholic president.” I only pointed out that he is not pro-life according to Catholic understanding. Certainly, you do not believe it is all right to kill innocent children because they were conceived by rape or incest. I did not mean to insinuate that saving babies is not worth much. If anything, I only meant to imply that President Bush is not doing enough to save those 3900 babies. As he has said he has no intention of changing abortion laws, beyond what the american people would like. So he supports bans on partial birth abortion and parental consent, because polls show a majority of Americans in favor of these positions. I only wish he had spent as much political capital trying to save babies as he did in bringing this country to war.

  • Dom,

    You say there is a process by which these people are classified. Could you please enlighten us as to what that process is?

  • ou say there is a process by which these people are classified. Could you please enlighten us as to what that process is?

    If several dozen detainees were classified as eligible for release, ergo there is a process by which people are classified. I already said I’m not an expert on this topic, but logic serves.

    On your other point, you seem intent on imagining the worst about President Bush and giving the benefit of the doubt to terrorists. Does that indicate anything to you?

    The difference between our points of view is that I trust Bush and you do not. You think he’s capable of the worst kind of skullduggery and I think he has the best interests of America at heart and is an honorable man.

    Come on, admit it: you’re a liberal. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad Catholic, necessarily.

  • Dom,

    I hope the last sentence was said in jest. Nothing I have said should make a Catholic think I am a liberal. Of course Republicans (hopefully of the non-Catholic variety) believe that anyone who does not agree with them is a liberal. I am a Catholic. In the Catholic understanding of political thought. President Bush would be a right wing *liberal*, as opposed to the left wing liberals of Democrats. I think liberal democracy is a horrible form of government, because it is for sale to the highest corporate bidder. Where the majority can tyrannize the minority (ie pass laws that kill the unborn, and the infirm). I also believe it perverts the true meaning of liberty (the freedom to do what is right) and replaces it with something akin licentiousness. My favorite form of government would probably be corporatism (go to this link if you wish to know what this is and why it is catholic: http://www.cheetah.net/~ccoulomb/questforthecatholicstate.html ) I believe in the Social Reign of Jesus Christ as King. I am an ultramontane, so I believe that nations as well as men must be subject to the Pope. I believe that Catholics should study everything from a Catholic perspective, so if you are a political scientist, you should go first to the great Catholic political theorists, and the encyclicals of the Popes, instead of going to heretics and pagans. I believe in true Patriotism ie that you love your country because it is yours, and you respect other people (foreigners) that love their country because it is theirs. I abhor the heresy of Nationalism (which is a perversion of patriotism) that says I love my country because it is the greatest country on earth, and because my country has done something it must be moral, and beyond this other people (foreigners) have to love my country too and acknowledge it as the best country on Earth. So no Dom I am not a liberal – the liberals usually call me a fascist when discussing politics with them. So take heart, Democrats hate me as much as Republicans.smile Finally, with regard to the term Neo Con, I was not using that term to insult them, I thought that they called themselves Neo-Conservatives, to distinguish themselves from Conservatives (like Buchanan, George Bush Sr.). If you have a different term to identify them by please let me know. BTW, where did you turn to learn about political theory?

  • As general rule of thumb, when someone starts out “I’m not left-wing or right-wing”, then they’re left-wing.  See Dan Rather, et. al.  But not always.

    Chris – just out of curiousity, since you reject any the possibility that the Bush administration is pursuing the GWOT for any motives that you personally find acceptable, what do you think the “real” agenda is?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • *** Labels and ad hominems are annoying, folks. ***

    Sarsfield, do you support suspending habeas corpus and enforcing state abortion statutes under the courts martial if necessary?  If not, do you have another way in which the President could have “spent as much political capital trying to save babies as he did in bringing this country to war”, and gotten any return on his investment whatsoever? 

    Actually, I made a false comparison.  Executive branch remedies against judicial tyranny on the scale required to quell the ensuing liberal unrest, even with the support of the legislative branch, would require spending far more political capital than the Iraq campaign, more capital perhaps than even George W. Bush had in the days after 9/11.  That is an unfortunate fact of life in the culture of death. 

    I agree with the twinning of the two issues, however, at least on a moral level; if we went into Iraq ostensibly to overthrow a dictator who committed genocide against 2 million of his own people since 1979, why aren’t we taking more action to overthrow the dictators who have committed genocide against 46 million of our own people since 1973? 

  • Dear Wbecklam,

    If you read my post on my political leanings you will see that they lean towards Franco, Salavar, Doulfass, and Moreno. None of these people are considered liberals.
    Unfortunately, too many American Catholics have bought the lie that there can only be one legitimate form of government (ours) and that a person must be either a liberal or conservative as defined by american political thought.
    With regard to the motives of the Bush administration, I believe they are sincere, however, I believe they are very flawed. President Bush believes that it is our nations mission to spread Freedom (the liberal understanding of the term – see above) and Democracy through out the world. I believe he honestly believes that these things will be the salvation of man. However, I also believe that he does not reject the wholly the idea “that the end justifies the means.” Because of this is able to make certain necessary sacrifices (ie denying certain people their liberty with out due process, fudging the real threat Sadam posed to the US, etc.) while at the same time insisting that other countries never do this. I believe he sincerely believes that America is/could be the Savior of the world, and protector/ruler. This is why he can hold on the one hand that America is sovereign (therefore we can all the WMD we want), and on the other hand say that we reserve the right to preemptively attack any other country (no matter what form of government they have) who tries to build an arsenal that could compete with the US’s. (Notice this is definitely not a principle of the Just War theory.)  As I said/implied in my previous post, I believe there is only one person on earth that can stand in judgment of another sovereign nation and that is not President Bush or America but rather the Pope.
    I also believe that his policies have increased the risk of terrorism to Americans. The muslims say that America wants to take away their muslim identity and have it replaced with a radical secular government (a puppet of the US), where contraception, divorce, pornography and all sorts of materialism will prevail. The policies of the President have only heightened those fears. So I believe terrorism will continue all the more. Terrorist do not hate us because of our freedom, they hate us because we are trying to force that freedom on them. This war also has only encouraged real threats like China, N. Korea, etc to not fear us. We attacked a country with 90% of its defenses already gone (due to the first Gulf War), yet we have been unable to occupy and maintain peace. The world used to think that we could fight a two front war (in Asia and in Europe) and still win. Yet it seems clear to the world that we can barely control one small country with almost no defenses. This war really has shown the weakness of the modern American army, that stress technology at the expense of troops.
    So to be clear I believe President Bush is sincere in his beliefs about freedom and democracy. But his reasoning is flawed because he does not understand certain basic principles (such as the fallen nature of man).I believe his policies have made America less safe, and have also led to a real limiting of the true liberties of America.  This all is obviously way off the original point. However, many conservatives are voicing the same concerns (Buchanan, Sen. Hegal (sp?), members of the Bush Sr. administration, etc)

  • < Where the majority can tyrannize the minority (ie pass laws that kill the unborn >

    Chris, it was actually the minority doing the tyrannizing.

    <  My favorite form of government would probably be corporatism >

    I read the article.  The bit about representation by social bodies, etc., translates into representaion by special interests.  In general, Mr. Coulombe advocates despotism by the elitists.  When he started singing the praises of “permanent forces” running the government and mentioned England, all I thought of was how much my Irish ancestors enjoyed rule by inbred Saxons and paying tithes to the Church of Ireland (not).  And DeValera’s attempt at an Irish version in 1937 only kept the country an economic backwater; designer poverty might be quaint for the tourists, but it stinks for the natives.  Suppose your dream does comes true – do you get to be a baron or a peasant?

    < I believe that nations as well as men must be subject to the Pope >

    This is unrealistic – this ain’t a Catholic world and won’t be til the Parousia.  And conversion by coercion is a sin.

    < the liberals usually call me a fascist >

    Well, if you go around peddling Coulombe’s article, I can see why, although the label is wrong.  Maybe latter day Tory is a better description – it’s also not a mere unimaginative smear.  But I kinda wonder why you joined the US military; after all, that’s about defending a piece of paper which spells out a government set up by men who went to a lot of trouble getting rid of Fat George’s

    Regarding Bush and abortion, you’re making much the same accusations the abolitionists made against Lincoln.  But guess who actually got slavery abolished?  Think about it.

    < Terrorists…hate us because we are trying to force that freedom on them. >

    No, they hate you because you’re a perverse infidel, your womenfolk are all perverse infidel harlots, and they consider your very existance an affront to Allah.  And short of offing yourself, there’s not a thing you can do about it.  In short, this is pure unadulterated hatred.  The business about support for Israel, bases in Saudi, blue jeans, etc., is all window dressing.

    Khomeni should have taught you that.  A lot of Amercans didn’t grasp that (and still haven’t), which is why they were so surprised on 9/11.

    Y’know, it’s part of Catholic teaching that restitution must be made in cases of injustice.  If Operation Iraqi Freedom was unjust, shall we reinstall Saddam & Thugs, Inc.?

    Dom asks:
    < What constitutes torture? >

    Obviously, 3 squares a day, hot showers, clean clothes, temperate climate, and a real bed.

    < If so, what should we do about it? >

    Let ‘em stay at Senator Durbin’s house.  If they cut him up into little pieces, well, while training GIs is expensive, senators are generally just hot air and are easily replaced.  If D’s house isn’t big enough, there’s all those Kennedy compounds.  I thought about Howard Dean’s place, but if he threw another one of his screech acts, that really would be torture.

  • Sarsfield,

    Your criticisms of Bush on abortion land on his sainthood, not the choice of supporting him over a Democrat.  The moves you suggest to educate the public would most likely backfire. 

    The plan since 2000 has been to go for the Supreme Court, to overturn Roe and return the matter to the political arena.  Until the reign of Roe is overthrown, no legislative proposals would be of any utility. 

    I do not foresee in the immediate future a Republican candidate winning the Presidency who is not demonstrably anti-Roe, as Bush is, at least indirectly. 

    Would you agree that the right to life should trump the principle of separation of powers?

    The suspension or repeal of the Constitution would endanger many lives, for example by provoking civil war and violent unrest.  It is not to be taken lightly.  In particular, all other approaches must be exhausted, and there must be a chance of success. 

  • Hello Mr. Sarsfield,

    As Seamole has just pointed out, Bush is limited in some real degree as to what he can do, constitutionally, about abortion.  The statutes he has signed so far – partial birth abortion, etc. – are those that he thought he could get away without running afoul of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.  And Carhart v. Stenberg.

    Has Bush used the bully pulpit as much as he could have?  Well, this is a different charge.  And one I would tend to agree with. 

    I think the suggestion made earlier that Bush is in any way a Catholic president is certainly hyperbole and worse.  His position is more correctly described as anti-abortion, by and large, with caveats. 

    But in terms of his legal and constitutional powers, your expectations of Bush on abortion seem to me to be unreasonable.

  • P.S. The Supreme Court is indeed the key. Let us judge Bush on when he actually nominates a real, living breathing human being to the Court – and even more fully when said justice actually rules on abortion legislation. 

    If he pulls a Souter I’ll be just as bitterly disappointed as you will be.

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