Join Ralph Nader and Lawrence Wilkerson on US Government Reactions to 9/11

On Monday, September 12, 2011 at 12:30pm at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St NW; (14th and V St NW), Washington, D.C. Free and open to the public.

Ralph Nader and Busboys & Poets will host a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on Monday, September 12, 2011. Looking at the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in a forthright way that promotes forward thinking.

Roundtable participants will include:

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mike German, policy counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy at the ACLU and former FBI agent.

Bruce Fein, adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and former executive editor of World Intelligence Review.

Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and people’s lawyer.

(HT: Matthew Zawisky)

NY Times Editor Finally Justifies His Existence; TAC Debuts New Blog

Bill Keller provides a handy list of people who should have been eternally discredited by their behavior after 9/11:

During the months of public argument about how to deal with Saddam Hussein, I christened an imaginary association of pundits the I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club, made up of liberals for whom 9/11 had stirred a fresh willingness to employ American might. It was a large and estimable group of writers and affiliations, including, among others, Thomas Friedman of The Times; Fareed Zakaria, of Newsweek; George Packer and Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker; Richard Cohen of The Washington Post; the blogger Andrew Sullivan; Paul Berman of Dissent; Christopher Hitchens of just about everywhere; and Kenneth Pollack, the former C.I.A. analyst whose book, “The Threatening Storm,” became the liberal manual on the Iraqi threat.

Alas, the “Eternally Discredited” and “Handsomely Rewarded” files keep getting mixed up in this best of all possible worlds.

While we’re all in retrospective mode, I’ll note that our friends at The American Conservative just debuted a new blog by Rod Dreher. Dreher, as you probably don’t remember, contributed to National Review from around 2001-2006. I do remember, as I followed National Review‘s blog closely during the run-up to the Iraq invasion (I even wrote a little tribute). I particularly remember one hot streak Dreher, then 36 years old, went on on March 17, 2003, the day President Bush gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum and the day after Rachel Corrie got crushed by an Israeli bulldozer. Some highlights:

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL [Rod Dreher]
The Little Green Footballs blog has a couple of photographs up showing the dead human shield Rachel Corrie showing Palestinian kids how to burn an American flag. Remind me again why we’re supposed to feel sorry for this America-hating, terrorist-loving idiot?
Posted at 11:32 AM

THE “BLIXIE CHICKS” [Rod Dreher]
“Up with Darryl Worley, down with the Blixie Chicks,” writes a Washington, DC, country fan, who’s thrilled by the news that country stations nationwide are dumping the Bush-bashing trio. The “Blixie Chicks” — I like that.
Posted at 11:41 AM

ONE CASUALTY OF WAR [Rod Dreher]
I’ve noticed, with regret, that it has become impossible to discuss the war with friends who oppose it. Mind you, I live in New York City, so I suppose it’s possible that people who are against the war are having similar problems offering their views in Red America. A liberal neighbor of mine stopped his car in the middle of the street the other day when he saw me on the sidewalk, and shouted out, “Your president is dragging us into a war nobody wants!” An old friend down South who is very liberal, and who denounced me in a scathing letter when I told her I voted for Bush (I then had to “confess” that I worked for NR), seems to have cut me off after a letter of months ago in which I said I supported war with Iraq. Haven’t heard a word from her since. This past February was the first birthday of mine in 22 years on which she hasn’t sent me a card.

Much more difficult for me to deal with are many of my anti-war conservative friends, with whom I have much more in common, and around whom I spend vastly more time. I’ve had no luck discussing things with them. I do believe there is a coherent conservative case to be made against war with Iraq, but in my experience, things from their side quickly degenerate into hot-tempered, paranoid expectorating about — you guessed it — the Jews. And once it goes that far, it’s game over. No rational discussion is possible.

And this is before the shooting has even started! I wonder if friendships are going to be a casualty of this war. Do you?
Posted at 01:23 PM

Well, that’s enough blockquoting, but be sure to check out these two gems: “MYXOMATOSIS” and HUMBLE BUT MAGNIFICENT. Ah, youth! Anyway, congrats to Rod and The American Conservative.

UPDATE: I’ve been accused of cherry-picking. OK. Please, do go read every single word Dreher wrote at National Review — for instance, this dusty relic from prehistory. Islamocalypse! Apparently, at some point after Dreher left National Review for far less prominent publications, he had some second thoughts. I’m not terribly impressed by what people say after the damage is done, but here you go.

Can Norway Avoid Adopting a Post-9/11 Mentality?

Reuters:

Norwegians believe penalties for serious crimes in their country should be tightened in the wake of a shooting and bomb attack that killed 77 people in July, an opinion poll showed Monday.

In a survey of 1,283 people conducted six days after the July 22 attack, 65.5 percent said the penalties were “too low” and only 23.8 percent believed they were suitable, newspaper Verdens Gang reported.

Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year old anti-Islamic immigration zealot who has confessed to the bombing in Oslo and shooting spree on a nearby island, has been charged by police with terrorism, which carries a sentence of up to 21 years.

Such reactions are understandable. Perhaps Norway’s notoriously lenient penal code should be toughened, though according to every source I’ve found, Norway has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world, under 1 per 100,000 population. When you’re that close to zero, the costs of lowering the stat may outweigh the benefits.

The 1-and-Under Club: Homicides per 100,000 pop.
The 1-and-Under Club: Homicides per 100,000 pop.
Whatever you believe about punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation, and the rest of criminology, you have to acknowledge the risks of overreacting to tragedies. For example:

Per Sandberg, chairman of the parliament’s Justice Committee, said stiffer sentencing will be on the agenda when party leaders resume debate on August 15.

“I am sure when we come to August 15 the political discussion will be about sentences, searches by the police and everything else around this case,” Sandberg told Reuters.

“My party has always wanted that. I believe there will be new measures.”

Here we have a politician already stretching the public’s demand for longer sentences into a mandate for increased surveillance and “everything else.” That politician, by the way, belongs to the right-wing Progress Party, which once counted Breivik among its members, so he’s hoping for a twofer: a chance to distance the party from the villain by calling for harsh punishment and an excuse to push through laws that his party “always wanted” — laws whose enforcement will probably fall hardest on the Norwegian Muslims whom Breivik hated. Nice.

But Norway may not take the path the United States charged down after 9/11:

Justice Minister Knut Storberget told VG he was “not surprised” by the calls for stricter laws. “We must listen and have a debate, while not draw hasty conclusions… it’s important that policy isn’t shaped in a state of panic.”

Hanne Marthe Narud, a political scientist at the University of Oslo, said Norway’s parliament is likely to stand against immediate public calls for harsher sentencing and more surveillance.

“A lot of these attitudes we see now are reflections of the terror event,” she told Reuters, referring to the VG poll.

“I don’t think the politicians will change legislation on this point as a spontaneous reaction. It may be considered, but there will be a broad debate first.”

Norwegian diplomat Eirik Bergesen, who was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, wrote the following a week ago:

The typical step a society takes after a terrorist attack is towards stricter security measures. It happened after 9/11 and has continued to happen in the US in the decade that is soon to have passed. Obviously, as a symbol of Western civilisation the US is a more prominent terrorist target, and concise parallels are difficult to draw. However, Norway has surprised foreign observers I have spoken to, and maybe even ourselves, in that we instead have managed to take a step back. Through careful reflection proving that there are other ways of maintaining order than merely through more rules and regulations. That increasing the social trust, in a society that already enjoys amongst the highest levels of social trust in the world, is a more rewarding option.

I hope that careful reflection prevails.

Norwegian Wood

Before Norwegian authorities arrested a sole, Norwegian suspect in today’s murders, America’s professional bullshitters stroked themselves into quite the, er, terrection, if you will. A sampling:

Jennifer Rubin:

This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. …

Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — I will point the finger at Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and yet backed the Gang of Six scheme to cut $800 billion from defense — would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security.

Will Saletan:

Oslo Peace Process. Nobel Peace Prize. Today’s attacks show how little terrorists respect countries that pursue peace.

This was, of course, seconded by Saletan’s colleague Dave Weigel.

The Atlantic ran with the unsubstantiated Muslim-terrorist angle and [edit: this article was from July 13, 2010; see Update 2 below] scoffed at any suggestion that the Norwegian government’s ongoing involvement in two wars in Muslim countries might have anything to do with an attack by Muslims:

It may be pointless to search for a single grievance to explain the recent plot. Most likely, a combination of factors placed Norway on the jihadists’ radar. In al-Qaeda’s binary worldview, Norway is part of the “Jewish-Crusader alliance.” Not a platinum member, perhaps, but a member nonetheless. If you’re not with al-Qaeda, you’re with the United States.

(Perplexed hat tip to Jesse Walker, whose reading recommendations will be taken less seriously in the future.)

There are plenty of other examples of this war-on-terror-justifying gun-jumping; feel free to post the most egregious in comments. And who knows? Maybe blondie really will turn out to be a Muslim, as The Daily Mail hopefully suggested*. But even if that’s so, as Glenn Greenwald put it:

[T]hese kinds of civilian-targeting attacks are, as I said, inherently unjustifiable (though if NATO declares the leader of Libya a “legitimate military target” and air bombs his residence, what’s the argument as to why the office of the Prime Minister whose country is at war with Libya is not a legitimate target?). The point is that it’s completely unsurprising that a nation at war — whether Norway or the U.S. — is going to be targeted with violent attacks. That’s what “being at war” means, and it’s usually what it provokes. And the way this fact is suppressed (“a coordinated assault on the ordinarily peaceful Scandinavian nation” = the post-9/11 why do they hate us?) highlights how we view violence as something only those Others commit, but not we.

*UPDATE: The Daily Mail, with characteristic integrity, has revised the linked story without notice to remove the original suggestion that the suspect might be — cross your fingers! — Muslim.

UPDATE 2: In haste, I jumped the gun on dissing The Atlantic. I missed the date and read it as background on today’s attacks.

Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted

Breaking: Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted in Trial for Protest at the US Capitol Calling for Guantanamo’s Closure and the Investigation of Deaths at the Prison.

From WitnessTorture.org:

On Monday, June 14, twenty-four activists with Witness Against Torture were acquitted in Washington, D.C. Superior Court of charges of “unlawful entry with disorderly conduct.” The charges stemmed from demonstrations at the US Capitol on January 21,2010 – the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.

“With his decision, the judge validated the effort of the demonstrators to condemn the ongoing crime of indefinite detention at Guantanamo,” says Bill Quigley, legal adviser to the defendants and the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Our acquittal is a victory for free speech and for the right of Americans to stand up for those falsely imprisoned and abused at Guantanamo,” says Ellen Graves, one of the defendants. “We tried to shine a light on the unconstitutional policies of the Bush and now the Obama administrations. That light shone brightly today.”

“We will use our freedom to continue to work for the day when Guantanamo is closed and those who designed and carried out torture policies are held to account,” says defendant Paul Thorson.

On January 21, activists dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises,Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006. Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been – as recent evidence suggests – the result of the men being tortured to death (see [the other] Scott Horton, “Murders at Guantanamo, March, 2010, Harper’s).

WitnessTorture.org

Guantanamo ‘Suicides’ on Fox

Click play to see the heroic anti-torture human rights lawyer, Columbia law professor and Harper’s magazine journalist The Other Scott Horton (no relation) discuss the case of “The Guantanamo ‘Suicides’” on Freedom Watch with Andrew Napolitano

The Guantanamo ‘Suicides’

Australian radio interview with Horton and witness Hickman:

Seton Hall report

Six Questions for Dr. Michael Baden: The Guantánamo autopsies

Six Questions for Rachid Mesli: The missing throats

The Official Response Begins

DOD Contradicts DOD: Seton Hall responds

Time for a Special Prosecutor

A Marine Biologist Scopes Out “Camp No”

Court Dismisses Suit Over Gitmo Deaths

Cross-posted at Stress.