Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: For the kids, if nothing else

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Bremner,

    As for giving him Islamic burial rites, for that bastard, after what he did? He didn’t deserve any respect, let alone craven Islamic butt licking.

    I believe the idea is to be better than the terrorists.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18960 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Well, I guess you’d be surprised at how much intelligence can be gained from even the deleted sectors of those hard drives.

    You really think they model their organisation on the New Zealand Defence Force or the Jupiter Mining Corporation? That there’ll be files full of minutes and memos from the ammunition purchasing subcommittee and the honours and ceremonials secretariat?

    The way they appear to work from informed accounts, backed up by public events, is that Bin Laden was a spiritual leader and had negligible contact with any active operators. People placing bombs and ambushing troops do so largely by their own devices – they don’t get any logistical or tactical support from a central organisation, largely because they don’t need it.

    So there’ll be no paper trail on a computer – just the normal detritus of life. (Of course, the Americans will probably arrest and torture his greengrocer, on the grounds that “mangos” is clearly a code for “grenades”).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    From that Wired article:

    It took more traditional sleuthing to get al-Kuwaiti’s real name, according to the Times. That meant putting more operatives on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan to track him, yielding a partial name. Once they had that, they unleashed “one of their greatest investigative tools“: the National Security Agency’s surveillance net. The NSA monitored email and phone traffic until they had his full name: Shaikh Abu Ahmed.

    electronic surveillance, as in Waihopai. Sounds like Waihopai is part of a system that enabled getting bin Laden without recourse to torture.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, I am not saying Bin Laden's body should have been desecrated. Just tidy up his body as best as possible and have a photo released to prove once and for all to all and sundry that, yes UBL is dead. As was done for Hussein and his sons and Z man. Stop the crazies and conspiracy theorists from going into overdrive, and those theorists in the Middle East make those in the west look lame by comparison.
    As for his burial arrangements, I didn't say cover him in bacon and feed him to the dogs, just that I don't see any need to show any respect, particularly culturally sensitive respect, for a mass murdering bastard. Why not just put him in a body bag and throw him over the side? We all know that we are better than UBL and his acolytes; we don’t need to grovel to Islam to prove it.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 341 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Sounds like Waihopai is part of a system that enabled getting bin Laden without recourse to torture.

    Is it? Perhaps it's part of a system that incorporates torture for some things and not others.

    See, I can make oblique trolls that don't clearly state a point too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I still think that main issue will be economics which will be bad ground to play on for Obama ($5 a gallon gas and 8% unemployment will be tough to overcome),

    Feinstein's stating the obvious there, but Obama's helped enormously by the profound (and increasingly obvious) unseriousness of the GOP front-runners and Congressional Republicans who are about as popular as crabs at an orgy. According to the latest Times/CBS poll nobody is taking Republicans seriously either.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Actually, according to the timeline that Wired has put together, KSM didn’t cough up the name until 2007, after Bush had stopped waterboarding, and well after his 183 waterboarding sessions. As the authors point out, if the timeline is correct, that means abusive techniques failed to get the information.

    Steve Benen has a round up of links, including a denial that the intel came via waterboarding from Don Rumsfield, here:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_05/029251.php


    And on James' broader point that Obama turned his back on his campaign promises and followed Bush's lead, this is a useful reminder of what his policy was like then, and how the right wing reacted to it:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201105020001

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 214 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Bremner,

    we don’t need to grovel to Islam to prove it.

    I submit that that right there is your problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18960 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    So there’ll be no paper trail on a computer – just the normal detritus of life.

    I can't see how you can be so very sure of that. The Guardian's story certainly leaves open the possibility of valuable intelligence:

    US Navy Seals who raided the Abbottabad compound on Sunday and shot Bin Laden and two others dead took away a range of "removable media" such as computer disks. The US government believes some of the computer hardware could have been used to ferry messages to and from Bin Laden in the absence of an internet connection or phone link to the hideaway, a two-hour drive from Islamabad, the official said ...

    The seized computer hardware is highly likely to have been used by Bin Laden during his stay at the house, and messages from other parts of al-Qaida would have been ferried in by disk or hard drive and uploaded for him to read, US officials believe. They are hopeful of finding evidence of targeting plans, names and addresses of al-Qaida members, Bin Laden's correspondence and his directives ...

    "We may find out from this data how far Bin Laden has actually been at the centre of everything – how much he was a figurehead and how much he had a hands-on role," said Gareth Price, senior research fellow at Chatham House thinktank. "But the key thing will be what it reveals about al-Qaida's relationship with Pakistan."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18960 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Why not just put him in a body bag and throw him over the side?

    Because we not only should be better than terrorists, but at least as good as the German troops who gave Allied soldiers decent burials after the Battle of Crete, rather than dumping “the enemy” in the sea like so much trash?

    If you can’t act better than God-damned Nazis, I don’t know what we’re actually fighting for.

    And thinking about the headline of this post, I'd actually like "the kids" to know that you can dislike someone -- hell, even loathe them with good cause -- but there are common decencies that are not negotiable. Like not treating human bodies like trash.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Whoops,

    As for giving him Islamic burial rites, for that bastard, after what he did? He didn’t deserve any respect, let alone craven Islamic butt licking.

    What, like harassing the USSR to the point of it giving up an going home, arguably playing a significant part in the down fall of Communism?

    No winners here.

    here • Since Apr 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell, from what I have read previously, when waterboarding was a current topic of controversy, KSM didn't give up much of anything pre waterboarding. Post waterboarding he was a changed man who would answer any question without the need for additional waterboarding. Post waterboarding, he "sang like a canary" on a continuing basis, presumably because he didn't want to do anymore involuntary snorkeling without a snorkel. At one point in time, probably in the 2004 2005 timeframe, just about everything the US knew about Al Qaida came from KSM, thanks to his aqua induced change of outlook.
    I wish we lived in a world where this kind of stuff didn't have to happen from time to time, but we don't live in a world like that yet.
    To listen to the critics of enhanced interrogation, people were being randomly pulled off streets all over the world for a quick waterboarding. In reality only 3, three, three people were waterboarded. Not 30, not 300, not 3000, nor 30,000. Just 3. Three. Including KSM and Al Libbi, both of whom contributed info that assisted with getting UBL the other day. None of whom were exactly nice chaps, and we got a mother lode of info from them. How anyone thinks waterboarding 3 nasty bastards is outrageous after the organization they were a part of killed 3,000 people, and wanted to kill many more, is so far beyond me as to be in outer space.
    I wish the Obama administration would just be honest and say that, yes, policies that Obama previously opposed did contribute to the success of this important mission. He would get a lot of respect for that, including from the independents that he needs to vote for him next year that are currently 2 to 1 against him, but his loony tune left wing base would go nuts. But who else are they going to vote for?

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 341 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, I would submit that Wehrmacht troops are in an altogether different league from Nazis. Would you have gone out of your way to give Joseph Mengle or Heinrich Himmer a nice burial? I wouldn't have.

    As far as whether the Repubs and their ideas and policy suggestions are being taken seriously, some kind of spending limits or cuts as part of a deal to raise the debt limit is gaining support amongst Dems in the Senate. Joe Manchin has come out in support of that. Post Nov 2010, the US is a different world.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 341 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Bremner,

    Your guy says otherwise:

    Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is claiming the information that tipped the U.S. off to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden’s location was not collected through the controversial enhanced interrogation technique known as waterboarding.

    “It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance,” Rumsfeld said during an interview with the conservative magazine Newsmax. “But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”

    You can assume all you like that KSM's earlier treatment set the conditions for his later information, but the evidence suggests that it was conventional interrogation rather than torture that actually did the job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18960 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    They are hopeful

    Indeed.

    ... evidence of targeting plans, names and addresses of al-Qaida members, Bin Laden’s correspondence and his directives …

    I know most of you can't imagine doing anything without using the latest cool Apple(TM) applications to stylishly fluff everything up, but these people are both security conscious *and* consider 632 to be the peak year of mankind's development. It's highly likely that they would have done that stuff verbally and on chalkboards.

    the key thing will be what it reveals about al-Qaida’s relationship with Pakistan

    You think they wrote that stuff down? One good reason for living next door to the ISI is that they could just pop in for a meeting whenever they wanted. Why would they document stuff that would clearly create big problems if found?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Bremner,

    Would you have gone out of your way to give Joseph Mengle or Heinrich Himmer a nice burial? I wouldn't have.

    That says more about your morality than theirs.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16746 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    If you can’t act better than God-damned Nazis, I don’t know what we’re actually fighting for.

    Perspective, dude. I wouldn't go desecrating bodies myself, but I can fully understand how people feel that way with respect to this particular body.

    However, it seems to me that the way it was done was actually quite sensible. Some care taken to avoid offending Muslims directly. Some care to ensure no symbolic grave site. And in doing so, considerable disrespect to the memory of OBL. James underrates the importance of not offending Muslims, particularly Muslims sympathetic to the US, in particular American Muslims, by the simple observance of some basic rites. Or he overrates the value of the American public's satisfaction at inflicting indignities on the dead. That's not really something to encourage, even if it is understandable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I wish the Obama administration would just be honest and say that, yes, policies that Obama previously opposed did contribute to the success of this important mission.

    Bush gave up on the policy of enhanced interrogation in 2006. It wouldn't make much sense for Obama to praise a policy that Bush eventually came to oppose as well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Would you have gone out of your way to give Joseph Mengle or Heinrich Himmer a nice burial? I wouldn’t have.

    And I’ll close the gate behind you, and ring the bell. Heinrich Himmler committed suicide after he was captured, and for some bizarre reason he was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the Lüneburg Heath. I’ve no idea how “nice” it was, but I’ve seen no evidence that his corpse wasn’t treated respectfully.

    Now, let’s go for a somewhat sounder analogy. Those who were convicted and sentenced to death after the Nuremberg Trails were allowed visits from clergy before their executions, if requested. Their bodies were cremated, and though the ashes were not returned to their familiies (out of concern that any grave would become a pilgrim’s trail for neo-Nazis) they were respectfully scattered in the Isar river in Munich.

    If you want to call that “craven Nazi butt licking”, then I say, Sir, you have no decency and invite you to return to your bridge immediately.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If you want to call that "craven Nazi butt licking", then I say, Sir, you have no decency.

    It seems to me that this was again a case of practicality triumphing over understandable human expressions of rage (as we saw with Mussolini's body). The war was over, and this time the Allies understood that humiliating the Germans was actually part of what caused the conflict. Also, they wanted West Germany to be a buffer against the Russians.

    Symbolic gestures of respect for enemy dead are mostly practical. You want the war to finish? Start treating the enemy like they are human.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to James Bremner,

    he “sang like a canary” on a continuing basis, presumably because he didn’t want to do anymore involuntary snorkeling without a snorkel

    And one of the very good reasons for distrusting torture as an interrogation method is that its results are not consistently reliable. Terrify someone enough, and they'll say anything they think you want them to say just to ensure they don't have to be subjected to the torture again. It's a well-known and unavoidable flaw with coercive interrogation techniques, and no amount of hero-worshipping Dubbyah and his minions for their brutality can change that.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Actually, even that analogy is off. James’ assumption seems to be, repeatedly stated, that Islam itself is unworthy of respect, the implication being that Osama bin Laden is representative of Islam as a whole. He refers not to “terrorist butt-licking” but “Islamic butt licking,” so your analogy should be “German butt-licking” perhaps, or “Catholic/Lutheran butt licking.”

    Respect shown to the remains of bin Laden or Goering, Himmler <i>et al</i> does not necessarily mean respect to those individuals, but to the general community of those affiliated to the same faith who explicitly were not guilty of their crimes and therefore do deserve courtesy. That is how I understand the rituals surrounding death.

    Just as James cannot distinguish between Islam and terrorism, he seems to confuse common decency with humiliating submission, which means that he has no concept of what common decency is at all.

    I love the irony of defending the actions of American armed forces to him.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to BenWilson,

    Perspective, dude. I wouldn’t go desecrating bodies myself, but I can fully understand how people feel that way with respect to this particular body.

    So can I. There was a time where I'd have felt a warm glow at the news that the drunk driver responsible for the death of my sister had been raped or beaten in prison, and would continue to be so for the rest of his worthless life. On some visceral, level I can understand the appeal of atavistic hobgoblins like Darth McVicar.

    But when the hell do you just call your reptilian hind-brain to heel? Because mine gets antsy with fucking around with the basic, and non-negotiable, taboo that you don't disrespect the dead.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I know most of you can’t imagine doing anything without using the latest cool Apple(TM) applications to stylishly fluff everything up, but these people are both security conscious *and* consider 632 to be the peak year of mankind’s development. It’s highly likely that they would have done that stuff verbally and on chalkboards.

    Oh, c'mon. There's plenty of evidence that al Qaeda has extensively used computers and the internet (and relatively sophisticated techniques such as stenography), some of which comes from the computers seized in Afghanistan in 2002.

    If the reports are correct, the SEALs got hard drives, removable media, optical discs and physical documents. It's possible there's nothing in any of it, or nothing new or useful, but it makes no sense to simply declare that as fact.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18960 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Because mine gets antsy with fucking around with the basic, and non-negotiable, taboo that you don't disrespect the dead.

    Death customs are one of the least rational of our morals, hence the enormous variance in them. In some cultures the dead are left for scavengers to eat. In others, humans eating them was a sign of respect. We also have divergent morals about what to do with enemy dead. I'm not so sure any way is more "moral" than any other. But I do think there are practicalities involved which, at least in this case, favor respecting the customs of the culture from which the dead person came. For starters, tit-for-tat is a likely outcome of disrespect.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

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