Scalia: ‘Torture Is Not Punishment’

In an interview on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl asked if the term “cruel and unusual punishment” applies to someone “being brutalized by a law enforcement person,” Scalia replied:

“To the contrary, has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so.”

The exchange continued:

“Well, I think if you are in custody, and you have a policeman who’s taken you into custody…,” Stahl says.

“And you say he’s punishing you?” Scalia asks.

“Sure,” Stahl replies.

“What’s he punishing you for? You punish somebody…,” Scalia says.

“Well because he assumes you, one, either committed a crime…or that you know something that he wants to know,” Stahl says.

“It’s the latter. And when he’s hurting you in order to get information from you…you don’t say he’s punishing you. What’s he punishing you for? He’s trying to extract…,” Scalia says.

“Because he thinks you are a terrorist and he’s going to beat the you-know-what out of you…,” Stahl replies.

“Anyway, that’s my view,” Scalia says. “And it happens to be correct.”

Long WWII Tours Not an Issue?

I think highly of Ivan Eland as a person and as a foreign policy analyst. His piece on today’s site on the danger of recruiting into the military people with bad records of behavior is on target. On the way to making his points, though, Ivan writes the following:

One problem is that when the U.S. is not fighting a war against what the American public perceives as a dire threat (for example, the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese during World War II) – that is, the war is one of choice, such as Iraq or Vietnam – the nation is unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to win. In World War II, serving more than 12 months overseas was not an issue.

Is he sure that these tours were not an issue? Or could it be that people didn’t dare protest because they feared being accused of being unpatriotic or even feared being punished if they protested? After all, many of them probably knew how Woodrow Wilson had handled dissent during World War I. Maybe they learned the lesson. There is far too much nostalgia about World War II but, interestingly, less so from people who were actually in it. When I was a child in the 1950s and 1960s, I couldn’t get WWII vets to say much about their experiences. Maybe they thought no one would really listen.

But we need to listen. Next time you talk to a World War II vet, make sure you don’t presume to know what he thought and felt.

Two final notes about Ivan’s use of language. First, nations don’t make sacrifices; people do. Second, any war a government engages in is a war of choice. Even if your side is attacked, going to war is still a choice. It might be a good choice, but it’s a choice.

More on the Likudist Fronts

Just to add a little to last month’s post, “Is the Pentagon Policy Shop Funding Likudist Fronts?”, on Devon Gaffney Cross’ London-based Policy Forum for International Security Affairs, Jeffrey Gedmin’s (?) Case for Freedom, and Anatol Sharansky’s OneJerusalem.org, all of which appear to have as a common denominator — and a common, Israel-based IP address — interlocking directorates, their participation at last June’s Prague Conference on Democracy and Security Conference (about which I’ve written twice, here and here) and OneJerusalem’s director, a New York-based attorney named Allen Roth, who, it turns out, is a long-time aide and adviser to Ronald Lauder. It was Lauder, a major supporter of former Israeli Prime Minister and Likud chief Binyamin Netanyahu, who reportedly gave $1 million to OneJerusalem to launch a campaign against President Bush’s Annapolis conference last fall, apparently because he feared that renewed, U.S.-backed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could lead to a divided Jerusalem. It was also in his capacity as president of the World Jewish Congress, a post to which he was elected in 2007, that Lauder appealed in a controversial open letter to the current prime minister, Ehud Olmert, not to do anything that would compromise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.

The first thing worth noting is that both the Policy Forum and Case for Freedom websites appear to be moribund. Despite the $79,000 Pentagon grant it received last September and its new mandate to reach out beyond the elite media “to the active, curious, and engaged public” in Great Britain and Europe, the Policy Forum site — which is entitled Policy Forum for International Affairs but which refers to itself internally as Policy Forum for International Security Affairs — apparently hasn’t been updated since last June when it ran some opinion pieces on the U.S. presidential campaign.

The Case for Freedom site, which describes itself as a “dynamic community for dissidents and freedom’s advocates across the globe,” appears nearly as dead as Policy Forum’s. Its last news entry is a link to a February 26 article from the Daily Telegraph entitled “China Mounts Dissident Assault before Games.” Aside from its dynamic self-description, the inactivity on the Case for Freedom site is particularly remarkable given the fact that it was launched at Sharansky’s Prague Conference (at which Bush himself gave a high-profile address over the objections of the State Department) and the peculiar role played by Gedmin, the president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), in the launch. Indeed, ten months after the group’s founding, Gedmin’s interview of Gary Kasparov remains the featured item on the group’s home page.

Gedmin, of course, is the former director of the New Atlantic Initiative at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) (which sent a five-person delegation led by Richard Perle and Michael Novak to the Prague Conference). Shortly after 9/11, in November, 2001, Gedmin became head of the Aspen Institute in Berlin where his job, according to right-wing Philanthropy Roundtable’s “National Terror Guidebook,” was to “explain key Bush administration policies (and) …challenge the more common assumptions held by Europeans about the United States.” In other words, his role was somewhat similar to that of Devon Gaffney Cross’, who began operating her Policy Forum in London in 2002. As I noted in last month’s post, Cross and Gedmin have been close colleagues for quite some time. In addition, however, I’ve been told by two sources acquainted with the Berlin office’s activities that, on taking over the office, Gedmin boasted to his new colleagues that he was bringing to his new job a $1 million grant — from Lauder’s foundation. (It’s worth noting that the Berlin office in FY 2005 was also awarded a $1.7 million grant to “bring together key policy makers, opinion leaders, NGO representatives, media, and human rights activists from the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. to discuss practical steps toward the promotion of civil society and democracy in the region” from the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, then overseen by Liz Cheney). Among the main activities of the office under Gedmin was to bring prominent neo-conservatives and other hawks to Berlin to meet with prominent Germans.

Once again, one has to ask how much sense it makes for a prominent neo-conservative, Iraq war advocate and staunch defender, and beneficiary of Lauder’s largesse to be placed in charge of U.S. government broadcasting to Arab and Iranian audiences on issues such as U.S. policy in the Middle East and the Gulf. (Of course, another AEI alumnus, James Glassman, is chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the RFE/RL’s oversight body, and has been nominated to serve as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.) Surveys of regional opinion have consistently shown overwhelming frustration and anger with Washington’s steadfast support for Israel in its conflict with Palestinians. So why place someone in such a high-profile government post who is so clearly part of a network of individuals who are so as closely associated with Likudists like Netanyahu, Sharansky, and Lauder? Why, indeed, place someone in such a high-profile post who is so clearly part of a network that even opposes negotiations of the kind promoted by Bush himself?

Meanwhile, you’ll remember that the IP address that is home to One Jerusalem, Case for Freedom, and Policy Forum also hosts the personal blog of Caroline Glick, the hard-line deputy managing editor and columnist of the Jerusalem Post and one-time Netanyahu foreign-policy adviser. As a correspondent pointed out, Glick is also senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Frank Gaffney’s ultra-hawkish Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC, where, according to her blog, she “travels several times a year to Washington (to) … brief senior administration officials and members of Congress on issues of joint Israeli-American concern.” Gaffney, of course, is Devon Cross’ brother and a beneficiary of casino king Irving Moskowitz, although it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Lauder and Roth were also CSP contributors.

Finally, another correspondent pointed out that the mysterious Zacharias Gertler, who served with Roth as a director of Cross’s Policy Forum until last May, was credited by yet another close Netanyahu and One Jerusalem associate, former Israel Amb. Dore Gold, with being “the real force who inspired” his 2003 book, “Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism.” In Gold’s acknowledgments section, Gertler’s help and encouragement are noted directly before those of Yigal Carmon, the president and co-founder (with Meyrav Wurmser) of MEMRI, and of Allen Roth and Steven Schneier, a major Netanyahu fund-raiser who also attended the Prague conference as a representative of the Policy Forum. Gold’s writings are a frequent feature on onejerusalem.org’s website.

ICasualties Is Returning

After an absence of a couple of weeks, ICasualties.org is coming back online.

ICasualties.org is the best source for details on US casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They have compiled an extensive database of this information, which is sortable by state, city, time periods, rank, service, etc. They help to feed this information to Antiwar.com and much of the alternative and mainstream media.

ICasualties was recently the victim of a malicious cyber-attack which disabled their server and sent visitors to random sites. The perpetrators have not been identified. Our administrator, Michael Ewens, contacted their Webmaster, Michael White to offer advice on how to battle the attack. They expect to be getting more of their old content back up over the next several days.

It is important to resume linking to ICasualties.org to restore their previous high rankings on Google and other search engines. They do an important job and it is important to support them.

Congress Quietly Repeals Martial Law Provision

In late 2006, Congress revised the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act to make it far easier for a president to declare martial law. Those changes were repealed at the end of this January as part of Public Law 110-181 (HR 4986), the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (signed into law by President Bush on January 28, 2008).

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), who championed the opposition to the original law, was also the hero of the repeal. It helped that all the nation’s governors opposed the 2006 law.

Boise State Professor Charlotte Twight, the author of the excellent Dependent on DC, alerted me to the change last night. I checked on Nexis and the only news coverage I found regarding the repeal was a 322-word Gannett News wire story from February 1 that focused on how the repeal made governors happy.

I first wrote about the Posse/Insurrection peril for American Conservative a year ago. My most recent piece on the subject was an article for the January issue of the Future of Freedom Foundation’s (FFF) Freedom Daily. The law was changed between the time the piece was published and when FFF posted the January article online on April 9.

War Is an Economic Policy, Senator McCain

This morning I received a request to sign an “Economists’ Statement in Support of John McCain’s Economic Plan.” The statement laid out his plans to prevent taxes from rising, to reduce some taxes, such as the corporate income tax, to support free trade agreements, and to restrain the growth of domestic government spending. Notice something missing? I did.

Here’s the answer I sent to the co-chair, economist James Carter:

There’s nothing in there I disagree with. [I later found a few things but I agreed with the vast majority.] The problem is that it leaves out a huge part of his economic policy that will make it virtually impossible to achieve what’s in the statement. That huge part is his policy on war–with Iraq and maybe with Iran. War is very expensive and is part of an economic policy. So by signing the statement, I would be helping Senator McCain maintain the fiction that there’s no connection between war and economic policy. I’m unwilling to do that.