Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who's more effective at fighting terror?

So the polls always tell us that the thing the Republicans still have the edge over the Democrats on is the war on terror. It's hard to understand, isn't it? Except that the R's have been very successful at scaring people, and when people are frightened they will go for the most dangerous, violent person to protect them.

The problem is, what Bush wants to do doesn't work. We see the report from today's Times. It's the report on "extraordinary rendition", the practice of kidnaping someone, sending them away to a country with fewer scruples about torture than we claim to have, and torturing them until we get tired of it. As a device to obtain intelligence, however, it would probably be more effective if we were doing it to people who actually know something. But here's what we now know about Maher Arar, the victim of extraordinary rendition in this particular report:

“I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constituted a threat to the security of Canada,” Justice Dennis R. O’Connor, head of the commission, said at a news conference.

That's right, your government grabbed an innocent guy off his airplane, flew him to Jordan and drove him to Syria, and had him tortured there. He didn't know anything, had no connection with al Qaeda, posed no threat to the United States or Canada, so when we got tired of beating him with an electrical cable because he didn't have any information to give us, we kicked him on the ass and sent him back to Canada.

And Bush wants to be able to keep on doing this! That's right--he wants to be able to keep torturing people, and, one thing that most people haven't focused on, even the "compromise" bill that the Republican senators want abolishes the writ of habeas corpus, so that if the government decides they want to capture you and hold you captive there is nothing you or any court can do about it.

And this is what they say they need to fight terrorism. Our enemies torture innocent people, so if we can't do the same thing we'll lose out on the torture race. Kind of like the arms race back in the 60's, only the people we're torturing are unarmed.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of examples of what actually works, and the people who know what works work for the government. Jane Mayer has a great piece in last week's New Yorker about the work the FBI has done with an informer they call Junior. They've gotten a lot of information from him, they've been working with him for years, and here's what the experts who are actually talking to him and getting useful information from him say:

Coleman, for his part, believes that “people don’t do anything unless they’re rewarded.” He says that if the F.B.I. had beaten a confession out of Fadl with what he calls “all that alpha-male shit,” it would never be able to talk to him now. Brutality may yield a timely scrap of information, he conceded. But in the longer fight against terrorism such an approach is “completely insufficient,” he says. “You need to talk to people for weeks. Years.”

So who is really able to fight terrorism? The party that wants to keep kidnaping and torturing people, or the party that wants our government to follow the law?

Not a hard question, is it?


Blogger scott huminski said...

I'd say Gov. Douglas would be best at fighting terror because he has done his best to create a police state in Vermont.

See link


October 06, 2006 3:14 PM  

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