Sunday, December 05, 2010

David Hicks Has a Friend.

The majority of my readership hails from the U.S. and given the U.S centric nature of its media, many of my readers would not know who David Hicks is.

A brief bio of the man can be found here.

The pertinent point is that Mr Hicks has admitted that he trained with a muslim militant camp linked with Al Qaeda, fought on their behalf, and was a member of their organization at the time of his capture in Afghanistan. When he was captured, he was a combatant of a proclaimed enemy of the U.S. and by implication, Australia, who is it's ally.

Americans have a chequered history with regard to the treatment of their captured combatants, though in the past their behaviour to prisoners was far better than nearly all the other nations of the world. I imagine the decline in their current treatment of prisoners mirrors the decline in their societal moral standards and the gradual re-acceptance of the use of torture as a legitimate intelligence gathering technique.

I personally feel that captured Al Qaeda, by forsaking the conventional rules of warfare, forsake the right to claim POW status ( and its legal protections). Though this does not mean that I approve of torture of prisoners. However, on the balance of probability, I imagine that that some of the captured Al Qaeda were tortured at Guantanamo and Mr Hicks probably was as well.

As an Australian citizen, I am concerned that an Australian is being mistreated whilst in a U.S. prison but on the other hand I'm appalled that he is in league with the enemies of my country, our allies  and my religion. The moral question then is what should Australia have done upon knowledge that he was captured by the U.S. forces and sent to Guantanamo?

Idiotic right wing commentators in Australia seemed to think that any form of punishment or torture is justified against Al Qaeda members. They fail to understand that torture doesn't only dehumanise the victim, it dehumanises the torturer as well. By accepting the practice of torture, we are corrupting ourselves.

Lefty commentators on the other hand, seem to think that the government should have petitioned more vigorously for the release of Mr Hicks from Guantanamo, as if his membership of Al Qaeda was an irrelevance. Their continual harping for his release showed their total unconcern for his membership of a terrorist organisation. An organisation which tortures, kills and treats prisoners appallingly and pushes its policy of expansion through deliberate non-distinction between civilian and military targets and whose purpose if realised, would trample those very liberties which the Left holds dear. By being a mistreated prisoner of the U.S. he gained moral legitimacy. His willingness to take up arms against the West was ignored, never mind his just deserts.

Our idiot lefty media, even arranged for him to confront the Prime Minister and I suppose the irony was lost on them; championing the man, who, if successful in his aims, would of have ruthlessly suppressed their very freedom of expression. Their idiot glee further proof that most men do not have the common sense to ensure even their own survival.

In my mind the Australian Government were excessive in their concern for Mr Hicks. They pressured the U.S. government for an early trial (he was fist cab off the rank) and argued for his humane treatment. I would have only argued for his humane treatment and kept his in prison till Al Qaeda was defeated. As it turned out, he was transferred to Australia where the predictable legal response occurred. He served just under seven months. The judiciary can be counted on always.

David Hicks is a evil man who was mistreated by the U.S. government, any moral evaluation of Mr Hicks must incorporate both these factors. The deliberate refusal to weight both aspects of his situation is an example of bias. To make him out as some type of martyr is Anti-American or Anti-West bias. It's as simple as that.

So which idiot has now come out in support of David Hicks? That's right Julian Assange

Mr Assange, 39, said his treatment by the federal government raised questions about what it meant to be an Australian citizen. ''Are we all to be treated like David Hicks at the first possible opportunity merely so that Australian politicians and diplomats can be invited to the best US embassy cocktail parties?''

That's right, he feels that David Hicks was wronged, which in my mind quite clearly illustrates the direction of Assange's moral compass. Al Qaeda laughs at the idiot West.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should read Hicks' book- he was never with al-Qaeda! You should check your 'facts' before you make statements like that.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Annon

Ummm....No.

Check out his bio link. He attended al Farouq training camp and alleges that he even met Osama.

Membership of al-Qaeda is not like membership of the Nazi party. You don't pay your dues and get a card, rather it is a spiritual brotherhood devoted to the militant triumph of Islam. This brotherhood goes under different names, al-quaeda, the avengers of Allah's robe or whatever. In the end its the same as they all share common purpose. Hicks took up the sword against West. I suggest you check your facts.

Your aspergy understanding of the Jihad suggests to me that you are a lawyer. Is that so?

Anonymous said...

From a news article:
"Prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside told The Sunday Age Mr Assange's reference to Mr Hicks was apt, given the government's apparent enthusiasm to assist the US rather than an Australian citizen."

How sure are you that Assange's reference to Hicks is an indicator of his moral compass? The first time I read it my sentiment was that of Burnside above. Only later did I find the Burnside quote.

The Social Pathologist said...

How sure are you that Assange's reference to Hicks is an indicator of his moral compass?

Quite sure.

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Doug1 said...

Americans have a chequered history with regard to the treatment of their captured combatants, though in the past their behaviour to prisoners was far better than nearly all the other nations of the world. I imagine the decline in their current treatment of prisoners mirrors the decline in their societal moral standards and the gradual re-acceptance of the use of torture as a legitimate intelligence gathering technique.

Oh balderdash. Though the second part of your first sentence is right. The bit about it being due to moral decline couldn’t be further from the truth. In general it’s those most appalled by even psychological so called torture who are most in the thick of moral decline. That goes hand in hand with namby pamby thinking, and not facing real threats and facts.

The point of the Geneva convention is to establish rules of war that will at least somewhat civilize that inherently brutish business. Countries still need to defend themselves. Terrorists fight outside the rules of law. To argue that they deserve full Geneva POW treatment is absurd. Even that convention, made increasingly unrealistic in any truly heated conflict in the Kumbaya immediate aftermath of WWII, doesn’t accord full Geneva POW rights to enemy combatants that don’t follow certain basic rules of war, and terrorists of the al Quaeda and similar Jihadi ilk don’t remotely do so.

As for torture, I agree it shouldn’t be a routine practice even with terrorist enemy combatants. But for certain ones who are likely to have information valuable not just in punishing past acts (not sufficient) but more importantly in preventing future ones, then I think many in the West, particularly those more removed from threat of massive terrorist actions against them and those more to the wishful thinking left, have gone entirely too soft. Of course the third world piles on in supreme hypocracy, since most of their leaders frequently torture political prisoners dangerous to the government in any serious way – never might if their opponents use terrorist methods.
(con’t)

Doug1 said...

(con’t)

The classic example where psychological torture is justified is a terrorist enemy combatant who is likely to have information about a dirty nuke bomb plot against a major US city, such as NYC where I live. He should get some torture light? I consider that morally bankrupt and frank stupid, in an effort to preserve some imagined standard of purity. Many normally leftist intellectuals such as Alan Dershowitz agree that this is a case where certain kinds of coercive interrogation, which the left insists on calling torture, is justified.

I frankly get very tired of hearing purist intellectuals of whatever political stripe opine about how horrifically sinful even just psychological torture is limited to grave threat situations, when they’re really not on the front lines of such things in their own countries, to any appreciable extent. I.e. countries like Australia or Canada. Britain is in a better place to judge, but they’ve not had anything remotely like 9/11 since the blitz of WWII.

Note however that in the few cases I’m talking about, and they should be few, I’m talking about coercive interrogation, or if you prefer “torture light”. Which until well after WWII, and in much of the third world today, would hardly have been considered torture. I.e. I’m talking about psychological torture that doesn’t involve permanent injury such as chopping off fingers, heavy flogging (routine for significant infractions in the British Navy for centuries) or worse. That’s not on, not least because it’s no more effective and often less so than psychological torture. I’m talking about things like sleep deprivation, excessive noise, cold, badgering, disorientation, and yes at the far end of “coercive interrogation” or “psychological torture” water boarding. So long as the operative knows what he’s doing, that doesn’t leave any permanent physical injury. Or even much in the way of temporary injury either. But it is terrifying.

When was the last time an enemy of the United States didn’t use such methods on ordinary American soldiers or pilots they captured? Actually I think it was Nazi Germany which generally didn’t, unless they’d captured a spy or resistance member – which were equivalent to guerrilla fighters. (Since they didn’t target German civilians they weren’t terrorists.) The N. Koreans and Chinese, N. Vietnamese and Vietcong, Sadaam Hussein, and al Qaida groups have all used torture and /or staged and video taped beheadings. Still we shouldn’t use even psychological torture in a tit for tat manner – but rather only rarely when there’s a real shot at preventing large terrorist actions against us or our allies in the future, especially the nearish future.
(con’t)

Doug1 said...

(con’t)

As for it brutalizing the one administering the psychological torture, I’m sure it does some, depending on what prior experiences he’s had. So does combat infantry duty when the soldier sees actions, sees his buddies killed, and kills enemy soldiers where he can seen the fall dead. So do lots of things. If it saves lots of American or western civilian and other lives, and if we’re talking about terrorists way, way outside the rules of war, well then sometimes it’s justified, seems to me.

As for US Army and other personnel who claim that torture doesn’t work, they’re lying. That or they’re just spouting current Army dogma (to keep the brasses noses clean with the politicians of a more liberal persuasion and the media), and are foolish/stupid/not independently thinking enough to believe it. The KGB sure thought torture works, and it’s successor still does. So does the mafia, and S.American “mafias”. So do lots and lots of non western governments. Of course it’s an art and it won’t work if the interrogators aren’t skillful, and don’t have known information to check what the interrogator’s giving up.

All of this doesn’t mean I’m enthusiastic about stressful psychologically stressful interrogation, or “psychological torture”. I’ll say again it should be rare, and not used to make a criminal case, or to punish for past transgressions, but only to prevent the real possibility of future ones, if the subject knows enough – and is clearly part of a terrorist organization with teeth.

Until Germany began bombing English cities, many Brits had the view that carpet bombing the industrial capacity of the enemy, was morally wrong and not the British way, given the near certainty that collateral damage to German civilians would be very great. Most Brits felt very differently once the German Blitz of London, and Coventry and so on, was on and on big. The notion that rules of war should be adhered to near perfectly when the other side isn’t, in the current conflict with Islamisist terrorists isn’t paying them any heed whatsoever, is only a sustainable and reasonable moral posture when the enemy really can’t hurt you at all. 9/11 killed over 3000 people, injured many more, terrorized more (psychological torture), and cost the US an estimated 1 to 2 trillion in rebuilding costs and especially lost economic activity. That’s no small pin prick.

So I say you’re wrong, and sitting in an ivory tower, Dr. Social Pathologist.

The Social Pathologist said...

So I say you’re wrong, and sitting in an ivory tower, Dr. Social Pathologist.

It's not that I'm sitting in an Ivory tower, it's just that torture corrupts the torturer, and the society that supports him. In the end you loose what you're trying to save.

It is true that torture may yield valuable information and the whole argument for torture is that the ends justify the means. Smarter men than I have shown how utterly wrong this philosophy is.

I really can't understand why, if you're going to approve torture, people don't go the whole way. This isn't me being silly, it's just that I can't understand why stopping at just a little bit of torture is morally justifiable, while torturing a lot is not. Consider the case of a man having information about a nuke aimed straight at New York. Why not allow the outright no holds barred torture of this man, as clearly the life of one man is worth the price of saving millions of Americans. If you're going to do it, do it properly. Imagine that if you could not find this man, but his 12 y.o son knew where he was, would it be morally justified to torture him?

The whole premise of torture is, given enough pain, a man will talk. If there is a significant enough reason for getting the man to talk, why not ramp up the pain till he talks. Why stop at cold showers when gouging his eyes out will work. Or Better still, why not make him watch his kids being tortured. The moral math of the ends justifies the means still legitimises this. The physical and psychological destruction of a few human beings is better than a permanent loss of millions more. Isn't it?

Guantanamo may have gleaned some intelligence triumphs but it was a "hearts and minds" disaster. The wikileaks cables showed that even the U.S. administration saw it as a net liability. (and they would have been privy to the intelligence gathered, If it were producing the goods I don't think it would have be closed).

The KGB sure thought torture works, and it’s successor still does. So does the mafia, and S.American “mafias”.

And the societies in which these institutions thrived were healthy societies? Societies you'd want to live in.

A society that accepts torture is a society that is going to accept a lot of other "necessary" evils. Like spying, TSA groping and utilitarian principles when it comes to violating fundamental rights.

(cont.)

The Social Pathologist said...

As for carpet bombing, the
Strategic Bombing Survey , commissioned at the end of WW2, found that indiscriminate carpet bombing was pretty ineffectual at hampering the war effort. Bombing directly the means of production, particularly energy generation and distribution was very effective on the other hand.

I agree that terrorists don't deserve the protection and privileges of the the Geneva convention, but they certainly aren't the fodder for the behaviour that would be classed as animal cruelty. They get treated like common criminals.

Solzhenitsyn understood the problem enough. The dividing line between good and evil goes through men's hearts. This is not namby pamby moral theorising, but the wellspring from which our soiciety derives its vitality. He understood that a torture was the endpoint of a society that had become morally corrupted and was dying from the inside.

Doug1 said...

"I agree that terrorists don't deserve the protection and privileges of the the Geneva convention, but they certainly aren't the fodder for the behaviour that would be classed as animal cruelty. They get treated like common criminals."

I specifically indicated, but let me state it unmistakeably, that I don't believe in psychological torture or "torture light" as punishment for any act whatsoever. I only think it's justified in a few cases where it seems doing it to a knowledgeable terrorist might well prevent FUTURE acts of terrorism with large loss of life.

I find it hard to justify NOT doing it in such as case. Seems purist to me.

Doug1 said...

Social Pathologist--

I really can't understand why, if you're going to approve torture, people don't go the whole way. This isn't me being silly, it's just that I can't understand why stopping at just a little bit of torture is morally justifiable, while torturing a lot is not. Consider the case of a man having information about a nuke aimed straight at New York. Why not allow the outright no holds barred torture of this man, as clearly the life of one man is worth the price of saving millions of Americans.

If whole hog would work and psychological with stress wouldn't, then in extreme cases such as millions for one mangled terrorist's body, then I agree with your logical provocation. It would be justified, provided he's in on the criminal mass murder conspiracy.

But I don't think it does work better, from what I've learned. Threatening it might well work though. Leaving open ended in the interrogee's mind how far things might go does apparently work.

Doug1 said...

As for carpet bombing, the
Strategic Bombing Survey , commissioned at the end of WW2, found that indiscriminate carpet bombing was pretty ineffectual at hampering the war effort.


John Kenneth Galbraith was a key investigator and author of that review. He didn't have strong moral bias going in now, did he?

The Brits were trying to take out German industrial targets in their night raids (leaving the fire bombing of Dresden near the end of the war aside) but did realize a lot more more bombs would not hit their industrial but rather civilian targets if the flew at night. The Americans flew during the day for the most part, due to the greater accuracy, aided as well by their especially accurate for the time bomb sighting equipment, which didn't work at all well at night.

The main thing probably was 1) the Brits had far fewer trained pilots and bomber aircraft to subject to withering daytime anti aircraft bombardment and german fighter planes (they had fewer gun defenses than American mid and late war bombers as in the "Flying Fortress"), and 2) given the often nightly blitz over London which killed tens of thousands of British civilians, they were less motivated to spare Nazi supporting German ones.

I basically don't believe in requiring one way adherence to the Geneva accords -- though at the same time I don't think occasional breaches by one side should justify the same or wholesale breaches by the other. However when one side is blizing every night, and there's as well a real strategic reason for taking greater risks of German civilian casualties (so as not to lose most of your limited bomber airfleet), I can well understand the British position.

But that doesn't excuse Dresden.

The Social Pathologist said...

. I only think it's justified in a few cases where it seems doing it to a knowledgeable terrorist might well prevent FUTURE acts of terrorism with large loss of life.

The problem is how do you know who has the info, and how do you know the info is accurate?

See the Marcus McDilda story. (Google his name) Irrespective of my moral opprobriation of it, torture seems to have a very poor record of providing reliable results.

Since the Japanese were facing the very real situation that you were hypothesising about, are you now saying that they were right to torture American Airmen?

I'm not being namby pamby about this. Nor is an overriding concern for "ethical purity" an issue(though this is a big issue). My concerns are short term operational and long term societal.

The best soldiers are always troubled by the practice and it demoralises them making them lose faith in their cause, the worst are justified in the short term by their results, and as a consequence promoted. The net result is that more and more terror is used to justify the ends.

The U.S. used quite a bit of torture in the Vietnam war. Of course there were other factors involved, but it didn't bring them victory. In fact everyone involved in that program wants to distance themselves from it, and not only because of political correctness.

The whole aim of guerrilla warfare is to show your opponent to be a total cunt. The use of torture plays into his hands. Torture is like "no fault divorce". May be a good idea for the couple in the short term, deadly for society in the long term.

Guerrilla warfare needs a lot more thinking. Torture and bigger bombs are not the way. Vietnam was a failure, Afghanistan and Iraq don't seem to be going so well either.

Carpet bombing in WW11 had as much to do with technological limitations as much as morality. When Hitler started bombing London, the RAF breathed a sigh of relief as it took pressure off their airfields and allowed them to gain gradual air superiority. Hitler may have just conquered England if he wasn't such a prick. Good soldiering is not incompatible with good morals.

Galbraith had many faults, the Strategic Bombing Survey was not one of them. Post war, the Germans confirmed his findings.

Doug1 said...

Since the Japanese were facing the very real situation that you were hypothesising about, are you now saying that they were right to torture American Airmen?

By what kind of logic would an American airman be able to provide information that would allow the Japanese to prevent the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (As well I'll note that those were "mere" atomic, not thermonuclear hydrogen bombs, and didn't do any more damage than a several nights repeated fire bombing raids of whole squadrons of American planes of Tokyo, where we killed a good lot more Japanese.)

As well that was full out total war, or damn near total. (Poison gas, prohibited in Geneva accords between the world wars, wasn't used by any of the combatants in WWII so far as I know, nor did any engage in attemped widespread poisoning of civilian water supplies, etc.)

Terrorism by and large depends upon stealth to be carried out, and also upon the relative liberality of the society attacked in not taking measures such as killing 10 civilians among groups the terrorists' care about, as counter measures. Starting, say with the terrorists' immediate and extended family. Ask yourself how well terrorism worked in occupied Western Europe under the Nazis. How well did it work against the Romans, and how often was it tried. How about against the Mongols?

As for psychological torture not working well, I've looked into it come and I'm become convinced like many things that's simply a MSM lie, aided and abetted by the US Army for reasons I've stated. It does take skilled practioners to work well. More brutal methods DON'T necessarily work better. In general what works best is good cop, bad cop, together with being able to convince the subject you already know a good part of what you're asking him to give up. Which requires cracking the case methodically.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Doug1
By what kind of logic would an American airman be able to provide information that would allow the Japanese to prevent the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

You've got to look at this from the Japanese perspective, they were clearly happy for any scraps of knowledge. Scraps pieced together paint a bigger picture.

Ask yourself how well terrorism worked in occupied Western Europe under the Nazis.

It was reasonably crap in Western Europe but far more effective in Eastern Europe where the Nazi reprisals were more brutal.

In general what works best is good cop, bad cop, together with being able to convince the subject you already know a good part of what you're asking him to give up. Which requires cracking the case methodically.

You should read up on this fellow.

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