Friday, June 17, 2005

Attention Pod People

Please take the two Christopher Hitchens Replicants you've produced and return the real one. This is not the work of the same guy who's been on the high-minded radio-chat-show circuit pimping a pretty decent accounting of Thomas Jefferson. After an introduction to the gruesome propoganda Hitch feels is a-ok for the Iraq regime to use(freedom on the march, evidently), he lays out his usual case against the jihadist enemy, throws in the pro-forma dig at a Democrat - Gore this time, but the sentence would read just the same if Kerry were substituted - and then offers "at least some sympathy" to the administration in its attempts to deal with a "new kind of enemy"(that's been in existence since at least 1979). Finally, we get the by now all too standard admonition to "the left" about how serious this business of Islamofacism really is, how wonderful the administration is for taking it seriously and how hypocritical "the left" - this time Amnesty - is for insisting the United States ought to behave a little better, followed at last by the stock in trade "covert sympathy for the enemy" libel. All in all it's the Pod II Hitch By Numbers, and one begins to wonder if someone hasn't written one of those rhetoric generators in Hitch style who's current events lexicon is kept fresh via a Reuters RSS feed.

But then there's the new wrinkle. Fresh from erecting "the right's" usual strawman - that those who object to, say, torturing detainees are also suggesting that they be set free (well, maybe Alexander Cockburn has, I don't know, I don't read Counterpunch, but Durbin certainly hasn't) he whips out his "gotcha" lighter and touches it to the straw. The people we've got detained are definately not nice people and intend to do us harm, and as such certain harsh techniques are not-uncalled for. Ok, I'm sure you're wondering when we're going to ask, so how about now? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME????

First off, this is not the product of the self satisfied Dangerous Mind. If Pod II Hitch thinks he's being either original or provocative, he's sadly mistaken. Rush Limbaugh, Jonah Goldberg and others have him beat by over a year. Second no sensible person is suggesting we ought to let these people run around free. What we are suggesting is that the United States should not behave in this manner. No one is trying to elicit sympathy for our enemies, we're suggesting it's a bad thing if we become like them. Finally, we know that these techniques have nothing to do with information extraction and everything to do with venting some post-9-11 angst out. I could go on, but it's been put very very well elsewhere:

Nobody has yet even suggested that the disgusting saturnalia in Abu Ghraib produced any "intelligence" worth the name or switched off any "ticking bomb." How could it? It was trashily recreational...

...Skill, in these matters, depends on taking pains and not on inflicting them. You make the chap go through his story several times, preferably on video, and then you ask his friends a huge number of tedious questions, and then you go through it all again to check for discrepancies, and then you watch the first (very boring and sexless) video all over once more, and then you make him answer all the same questions and perhaps a couple of new and clever ones. If you have got the wrong guy—and it does happen—you let him go and offer him a ride home and an apology. And you know what? It often works. Only a lazy and incompetent dirtbag looks for brutal shortcuts so that he can get off his shift early. And sometimes, gunmen and bombers even have changes of heart, as well as mind...

...But you must not bring in that pig or that electrode. That way lies madness and corruption and the extraction of junk confessions.

Read the whole thing. It's a very sensible, humane peice that seems to have been written by a sensible human being.

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