The Flames are All Long Gone But the Pain Lingers On

I’m hard pressed to disagree with any of this. I wonder if this will earn a Moore award from Sullivan?

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123 replies
  1. 1
    eemom says:

    Su-LLY!
    Su-LLY!
    Su-LLY!

    hell, if you can’t beat ’em…..

  2. 2
    General Stuck says:

    I’m hard pressed to disagree with any of this.

    Neither can I. Osama’s dumb luck and the US Supreme Court gave us the bloody idiot administration of Bush and Cheney.

    A Gore presidency would have provided a significantly different track of history, imo. Especially regarding Iraq, and torture, and possibly even thwarting the 9-11 attacks.

    A perfect storm for a religious warrior like OBL to have American reactionary incompetent leaders to stoke the flames of his jihad.

  3. 3
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The only thing I would disagree with is that the contention that there has been fundamental alteration in the country. We have bad civil liberties eras before. The Aline and Sedition Acts, Palmer Raids, and McCarthyism come to mind. Jim Crow is, of course, a special case. Oh, there is also the internment of Japanese-Americans. For the most part, we recover and learn from these inglorious episodes. I see no reason that we cannot do the same today.

    Edited slightly for clarity.

  4. 4
    lllphd says:

    john, this is slightly OT, but just heard from a friend who shared a mild but very typically annoying mcmegan-ism. he was unaware of her in any way before he had googled a quote from MLK on loving your enemies, etc. she evidently posted yesterday a ‘this smells fishy’ put-down that does another typically mcmegan non-thorough non-research and declares herself RIGHT! and then evidently moves on.

    within 2 hrs, a commenter slams her with those annoying buggars called facts, and – according to this friend who followed all this aghast that someone so sloppy was employed in such a position by the atlantic, gasp! – as of late last night, several hours after posting, had yet to retract.

    not a huge deal, but just so much more of the same. now, mind you, i’m writing this while i’m waiting to receive links from him on all this )so i’m no better at my accusation in non-confirming, etc., but i’ve actually proven myself in the research dept hence the phd thang but hey not employed by the atlantic, but whatever). but what struck me was that she would take issue with a perfectly christian and MLK kind of statement and not believe it would be something he actually said.

    i mean, what does this say about her opinion of this highly regarded, self-sacrificing american (erm, black) hero?

  5. 5
    Ash Can says:

    Oh, he won, all right. It was fairly obvious shortly after 9/11, for all the reasons the article mentions, that he had won. It’s still good to have him gone, though, and good that it happened under the current administration, since it will increase the odds that we won’t be risking a repeat of the whole 9/11 nightmare after 2012 under another feckless and incompetent (if not outright malicious) administration.

  6. 6
    Paul in KY says:

    @General Stuck: Agree, General. He couldn’t have gotten a better (from his point of view) administration than Bush/Cheney.

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    How can someone write an entire post about how profoundly our country was changed by politics and politicians after 9/11 without once using Bush’s name? Someone coming in blind would think that all of the horrible things he listed were implemented by Obama.

    And will we really lose 6,000 American troops just in the four years of Obama’s term like he says here:

    By the end of Obama’s first term, we’ll probably top 6,000 dead U.S. troops in those two wars, along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans.

    Or, again, is that the overall count that started with Bush in 2003 that Balko is assigning to Obama?

    It’s becoming very irritating that Bush and Cheney are being completely written out of our history and all of their sins are being assigned to Obama. The financial crisis wasn’t Bush/Cheney’s fault. The deficit wasn’t their fault. Now, Iraq wasn’t their fault.

    (Edited for grammar)

  8. 8
    Poopyman says:

    No disagreement here. Smart commentators (i.e. me) noted that bin Laden and Bush were two faces of the same coin, that the loss of one would diminish the other, and in fact while both used the other they took steps to keep the status quo; Bush by abandoning the search for OBL, OBL by the timely release of tapes to ratchet up the anxiety in this country around election times.

    So Bush pretty much had carte blanche to change the psyche of this country. And now BHO finds it convenient to exercise the extra-constitutional powers alloted to the office.

  9. 9
    maya says:

    You’ve had your ration of grog. Now back to the oars.

  10. 10
    PeakVT says:

    @General Stuck: It’s likely that the country would have taken a different and much better path if Gore had been President on 9/11/01. But sometimes I wonder if the Repukes would have impeached Gore for allowing the attacks rather than supporting the President, as most Democratic politicians did until the drumbeats for the Iraq War started. The Republican caucus was less nuts in 2001, but they still believed in party before country.

  11. 11
    Poopyman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Can’t seem to find the evidence that an effort is being made to roll back those extra powers. I’d be happy to have the evidence pointed out, though.

  12. 12
    Paul in KY says:

    @lllphd: McMegan (like most Republican propagandists) never lets the facts get in the way of the message they are trying to dispense.

    What this message is in relation to Dr. King I’m not sure. I have a couple of theories, but I’m not going to share them as yet (still mulling them over).

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    The important thing is that pretty much no major commentating in the US gave a shit about what Osama bin Laden’s actual goals were.

    His obsession with overthrowing the House of Sa’ud in, hey, Sa’udi Arabia, for example.

    It’s not unrealistic to describe bin Laden’s attacks on US facilities and territories as a tactic to go after the US’ support of the Sa’uds, rather than as a goal in itself.

  14. 14

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    For the most part, we recover and learn from these inglorious episodes. I see no reason that we cannot do the same today.

    You’re right, of course. And thanks for the optimistic message. The US has engaged in some very destructive behavior and learned from it and moved on. We might do it again.

  15. 15
    Tim F. says:

    Also, Iraq.

  16. 16
    Dennis SGMM says:

    No way that I wasn’t pleased to see OBL gone. My only quibble is that his, at long last, demise will be used to endorse the war on terror and all of the questionable policies that go with it.

  17. 17
    Xenos says:

    @General Stuck:

    A Gore presidency would have provided a significantly different track of history, imo. Especially regarding Iraq, and torture, and possibly even thwarting the 9-11 attacks.

    A Gore presidency would have been a disaster. The official and lumpen reactionary movements would have shut down the government several times in his first term, and the Villagers and the corporate media would have hounded him about one non-scandal after another.

    If he had stopped the 911 attacks Gore would have gotten zero credit for it, and an exhausted nation would have put W. in charge and we would still be living the nightmare. We still would have gotten an Iraq war, would have an even more corrupt Supreme Court, and would have an unaccountable shadow government run by Dick Cheney.

    If Gore were president and did not stop 911, it would be worse. The war fever built up with no outlet would have driven half the country crazy, and while Gore would build up the army responsibly Bush would take the enlarged army and go into Iraq, split the invasion force, and carry on to Damascus and Tehran. Just game it out and think it through. We would either have a vast and very troubled middle eastern empire or we would have faced utter fiasco unseen since Napoleon invaded Russia.

    Between getting most of the civilians out of the towers in time, and losing just 6,000 or so soldiers in the wars, and expanding the debt by just 7 trillion dollars and not completely wrecking the world financial system, we got a pretty easy deal out of it.

  18. 18
    300baud says:

    Thanks for posting this. It captures a lot of what I was thinking.

    It has always made me crazy that bin Laden went looking for a clash of civilizations and religions, and we insisted on giving it to him. As an atheist, I was deeply frustrated by the number of Christians who quickly forgot vast swathes of the New Testament (e.g., Jesus saying “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”), and decided to bring back the eye-for-an-eye stuff, except that they thought one eye per eye seemed a little low. Radley Balko provides a part of the accounting on how we basically let the terrorists win.

    Now that it’s finally Mission Accomplished, I have a little hope that we can get back to the business of living. And that we’ll manage to turn around our relationship with Afghanistan the same way we did Germany and Japan: through nobility and generosity. Only a little hope, sure, but it’s definitely there. We’ll see what happens when the choruses of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” peter out.

  19. 19
    Ash Can says:

    Also too, Belafon posted this link in the previous thread, to a news account of the Abbottabad raid. What struck me was that the commandos left with boxes full of papers, computer disks, etc. I’m thinking that this wasn’t just the erasure of Public Enemy Number One, it was a massive security breach for Al-Quaeda. Good times.

  20. 20
    Culture of Truth says:

    he achieved all he set out to achieve

    No he didn’t. The link itself says Osama wanted to draw the “West into a prolonged war — an actual war in Afghanistan, and a broader global war with Islam.”

    Even assuming that was the sum total of OBL’s aims, the West is not in a broad global war with Islam. Look at the Middle East and North Africa. Does it look like OBL’s vision is succeeding?

    Yes, the civil liberties aspect ranges from annoying to terrible, but did OBL aspire to institgate warrantless domestic wiretapping and laptop seizures? Possibly, but “The Looming Tower” suggests far more compex and different goals.

    I would suggest that the events of the last 10 years have seen, both in the U.S. and around the world, many losers and few winners, and Osama bin Laden is not among the latter.

  21. 21
    General Stuck says:

    we would have faced utter fiasco unseen since Napoleon invaded Russia.

    Napoleon invaded Russia? I thought McCain did that.

  22. 22
    Joe Beese says:

    The current president has also claimed the power to execute U.S. citizens, off the battlefield, without a trial, and to prevent anyone from knowing about it after the fact.

    “Lesser evil”, you say.

  23. 23
    slag says:

    I disagree with the notion that he won. But rather it’s more accurate to say that we’ve lost…so far.

    As Omnes Omnibus implies, there was nothing that OBL could do to us that we hadn’t already done to ourselves. There was nothing at all special about him, no matter what the David Brookses say. He was just your typical sociopath with delusions of grandeur who knew how to take advantage of a moment. Tim McVeigh of Arabia. Our response to him was ours and ours alone–he doesn’t deserve either credit or responsibility for that. We do.

    Osama’s dead; we’re not. We can always do better; he can’t. That’s not what I call winning.

  24. 24
    James E. Powell says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    For the most part, we recover and learn from these inglorious episodes.

    I’m not so sure Americans learn the right things from these episodes. What did America learn from the Viet Nam war? More propaganda, more suppression of dissent, don’t draft middle class kids, don’t show the war on TV, etc.

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Poopyman: I did not mean to suggest that such an effort exists, is organized, or is large. That being said, there are civil liberties groups and individuals who are working on things. There always have been. If, however, the people who are bothered by the list in Balko’s post just say that the country is fucked and don’t do anything, then, presto, self-fulfilling prophecy, they are right and we are fucked.

  26. 26
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    When future historians several generations hence write about the late 20th Cen American Empire and its era of globalization, they will call it the Age of Leverage. We constructed amazing things by leveraging a small base of resources to obtain out of scale results. But leverage is a form of wagering, a bet that nothing will go wrong. Systems like that are extremely vulnerable to termites, saboteurs and greedy fools. The collapse of the towers on 9-11 was both the beginning of the end of the Age of Leverage and a metaphor for what has happened to our civilization in a larger sense (e.g. the collapse of the credit markets in 2008). We built so high and so ambitiously that is was easy for somebody to come along and smash it, and also easy for fools and scoundrels to help in the demolition job in pursuit of their own ends. That is what OBL and the Bush admin did. Our task is not to rebuild it just as it was before, but to build something more sustainable.

  27. 27
    different church-lady says:

    As bad as Daily Kos can be, there was a great diary about “the Pornography of Despair” over there about a month ago.

    Screw the Moore Award — this wins a POD.

  28. 28
    Paul in KY says:

    @Dennis SGMM: I saw some TV show last night (CNN, I think) where the commentators were doing all they could (IMO) to try & endorse the ‘enhanced interrogations’ as being crucial to getting the goods on the Al Qaida courier.

    They were just about slavering.

  29. 29
    Poopyman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I did not mean to suggest that such an effort exists, is organized, or is large. That being said, there are civil liberties groups and individuals who are working on things. There always have been. If, however, the people who are bothered by the list in Balko’s post just say that the country is fucked and don’t do anything, then, presto, self-fulfilling prophecy, they are right and we are fucked.

    True and true. And I’m certainly not throwing up my hands and saying “we’re fucked” by pointing out that the new administration too closely follows the old. Just that we’re not getting any help restoring the checks and balances from any branch of government at this point.

    The struggle continues.

  30. 30
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    Culture of Truth beat me to it. Bin Laden got the clash he wanted, and nothing came of it save death and destruction. The Egyptians, Tunisians, and Yemenis have done more to topple Islamic despotism in the past few months than Bin Laden had done in two decades.

  31. 31
    Alexandra says:

    The government launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign implying that people who smoke marijuana are complicit in the murder of nearly 3,000 of their fellow citizens.

    This is something I must have missed at the time. Can anyone shed any light on what this was about?

  32. 32
    Paul in KY says:

    @Xenos: I disagree. I think Pres. Gore would have done a fine job. He wouldn’t have had the proclivities that plagued Clinton, there would have been ‘fatigue’ from those years & if the attacks had happened, I think the nation would have rallied around him (for a period of time).

  33. 33
    burnspbesq says:

    Some of us were saying that on 9/12/11, in the future conditional tense (i.e., “if we respond to this by pissing away our treasury and our civil liberties, then the bad guys win”). Sometimes being right is unsatisfying.

  34. 34
    Paul in KY says:

    @Culture of Truth: I think he did achieve what he could realistically have hoped to achieve. He didn’t get his grand caliphate, but that was crazy talk anyway.

  35. 35
    rea says:

    Balko is right in general but wrong about some of his particulars. Border searches of laptops, for example, is pretty clearly licit under about 200 years of constitutional law.

  36. 36
    Poopyman says:

    @Paul in KY: Frmr Navy Sec’y and 911 Commissioner John Lehman was on my radio this morning here in DC doing the same thing. Seems like the current goal is to push hard to legitimize “enhanced interrogation techniques” because they worked. No one is pushing back or opining that less harsh techniques would have delivered the same results.

    And am I not remembering correctly that the FBI interrogators were getting good intel out of KSM before the CIA took over and started the waterboarding?

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    One of the reasons that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney learned nothing from Vietnam is that they made extraordinary efforts to avoid going there and learning something.

    Unlike Al Gore and John Kerry.

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:

    Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse.

    Bullshit. Osama bin Laden’s secret plan was to make the US more authoritarian? Really?

    And we are changed forever? Really?

    Dumbass war on drug campaigns are the direct result of the war on terror? Variations on reefer madness have been going on for decades.

    The good points in the post are buried in the typical, whinny ass, navel-gazing solipsism that too often substitutes for a coherent liberal perspective.

    And other posters here are dead on in that Osama not only achieved very little, but the Arab Spring blooming throughout the Middle East suggests that even those who bin Laden sought most to affect have rejected everything that he represents. Hell, they may even teach us something about democracy and civil liberties. It wouldn’t be the first time that the West was rescued by the Muslim world.

  39. 39
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m getting used to this. It’s part of the deal that that nig– um, er, the President is responsible for everything bad that’s occurred in the US since … well, forever.

  40. 40
    Paul in KY says:

    @Poopyman: I read something today where Kalid Skink-Mohammed (sic) never gave up that name or refererred him when he was being waterboarded, but months later in a ‘less-enhanced interrogation’ mentioned the dude’s nom deguerre.

  41. 41
    Uloborus says:

    @Joe Beese:
    ‘Lie’, actually. But hey, pretend a court didn’t determine that guy waived his own right to a fair trial all you like. Then go on to pretend this is somehow unprecedented. There’s a Pattern, right? Even if it’s all made up of lies like this?

    EDIT – And you know, that Pattern is SO convincing. After all, he has his lawyers argue State Secrecy! Oh, wait, he does it on the same principles all presidents before Bush always did? Hey, Guantanamo’s not closed! He could TOTALLY have overridden the Senate’s 92-8 vote saying that no, he’s going to keep it open.

  42. 42
    drkrick says:

    @Poopyman:

    And am I not remembering correctly that the FBI interrogators were getting good intel out of KSM before the CIA took over and started the waterboarding?

    Better than that. They got 100% of the useful information before the waterboarding started. After that, it was all fapping material for Bush, Cheney and Weinberger.

  43. 43
    slag says:

    @Poopyman:

    Seems like the current goal is to push hard to legitimize “enhanced interrogation techniques” because they worked.

    My answer to that is, who cares if they worked? If I take your wallet and get myself a new laptop with the cash, is that ok because theft “worked”? Some tactics for getting what one wants are simply not acceptable. So, just arguing that they work is absurd to anyone who doesn’t already find those tactics acceptable.

  44. 44
    Poopyman says:

    @Paul in KY: And I heard it exactly the other way around on the radio — that they got it from waterboarding, which I was pretty sure was BS.

  45. 45
    Uloborus says:

    @Joe Beese:
    And remember how he shot down DADT repeal and got up at the SOTU and his deficit speech and told everyone he was endorsing Simpson-Bowles and made sure their vision was part of the budget he negotiated? Oh, wait, you were wrong about all of that.

    And the rumors about secret prisons and torture that you’re sure MUST be true because they sound so believable unlike the rumors of FEMA concentration camps?

    Your house of cards is missing a house of cards.

  46. 46
    Paul in KY says:

    @slag: Excellent point.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Paul in KY:

    The thing about torture is that you’ll say anything to make it stop.

    Whether it’s true or not, whether it’s information that your torturer can actually use or not.

    It’s not reliable.

    But it does make Dick Cheney’s dick hard.

  48. 48
    Poopyman says:

    @slag: Yes. My point was that the ethics haven’t been addressed at all. The push now is to legitimize the techniques because they work. That lets at least one and possibly two administrations off the hook if they can pull it off. And the MSM is doing their best to help.

  49. 49
    Poopyman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: That, two blue pills and an air pump.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I saw some TV show last night (CNN, I think) where the commentators were doing all they could (IMO) to try & endorse the ‘enhanced interrogations’ as being crucial to getting the goods on the Al Qaida courier.

    The Village is desperate to be proven right in their unthinking support of everything Bush/Cheney did, and they’ll fabricate the “evidence” if they have to. The actual evidence points towards KSM giving the information during a normal (ie non-torture) interrogation prior to being waterboarded. From everything I’ve seen, KSM was waterboarded after the interrogators felt they had gotten everything useful from him, which puts the lie to their claim that “torture worked.”

  51. 51
    lllphd says:

    @Paul in KY:

    the link for that post is here. the quote of interest is:

    ‎”What’s fascinating is the speed of it. Someone made up a quote, attributed it to MLK jr, and disseminated it widely, all within 24 hours. Why? What do you get out of saying something pithy, and getting no credit for it? Perhaps they only wanted to say this thing, & knew that no one would pay attention unless it came from someone else.”

    she’s answer her own question if she took the time to actually research it.

    was actually hoping folks here would pounce on her, but i guess that sport is no longer appealing, even boring, she’s so prone to be this lame.

    thx.

  52. 52
    cmorenc says:

    @Ash Can:

    It’s still good to have him gone, though, and good that it happened under the current administration, since it will increase the odds that we won’t be risking a repeat of the whole 9/11 nightmare after 2012 under another feckless and incompetent (if not outright malicious) administration.

    I sadly agree with bullet-points outlining the institutional damage OBL did to our country (immensely enhanced by having an administration chock full of reactionary incompetent idiots, from the top down).

    NEVERTHELESS the fact that OBL was found and nicked at the direction of a competent, democratic President is an essential requisite toward our nation’s chances to eventually heal from that damage and pursue a far sounder course. It fundamentally changes the balance and dynamics of the national security narrative which GOP blowhards had presumed post-9/11 that they’d successfully taken permanent ownership of.

  53. 53
    Stillwater says:

    bin Laden and Bush were two faces of the same coin

    As usual, the Onion got there first: Privileged Children Of Millionaires Square Off On World Stage.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Uloborus:

    But Obama did call the WNBA champions to congratulate them, so clearly everything else Joe says must be true.

    We’re really not dealing with a master of logic here. Or someone who can tell the difference between facts, opinion, and fantasy, for that matter.

  55. 55
    Poopyman says:

    @Mnemosyne: IIRC, this is all out there in a 60 Minutes episode from several years back. An interview with the FBI interrogator, if I’m not mistaken.

  56. 56
    slag says:

    @Poopyman: Nothing new there. If only we had more moral leaders (or more leaders who are moral) to help us out here. But we don’t. So, it’s up to us to make the case for clarity.

  57. 57
    Poopyman says:

    @Stillwater: FSM bless The Onion! From Oct 2001, chock full of actual facts, and a sad, hilarious picture caption to boot.

  58. 58
    Superluminar says:

    From Balko:

    I’m relieved that bin Laden is dead. And the Navy SEALs who carried out the harrowing raid that ended his life have my respect and admiration. And for all the massive waste and abuse our government has perpetrated in the name of fighting terrorism over the last decade, there’s something satisfying in knowing that he was killed in a limited, targeted operation based on specific intelligence.

    well nice of him to thank the SEALs, but obviously thanking the President would be a step to far. What a dick.

  59. 59
    WereBear says:

    I do think a President Gore would have stopped 9/11; he even had experience in an administration that foiled the Millennium Bomb plot. That should have been pounded into everyone’s head; that’s what you get for trying to be a grownup!

    It took a Dumbya Administration to ignore all warnings and put their Terror Czar in a broom closet.

  60. 60
    Poopyman says:

    Semi–on–topic: Geographers Had Calculated 89% Chance That Bin Laden Was In ABBOTTABAD

    (Link from the GOS)

    SCIENCE!!

  61. 61
    cmorenc says:

    @lllphd:
    For McMegan to continue having such a prominent position at the Atlantic after such a voluminous, lengthy track record of egregiously sloppy errors of both fact and illogic, even the most cynically sexist hypothesis that she could be sleeping with someone important at the magazine isn’t plausibly sufficient. She must possess photographs she took of someone important blowing a goat (perhaps a juvenile goat) while wearing women’s underwear, or something similarly devastating they wouldn’t dare want to have revealed. Whatever it is, it must be some sort of powerful leverage she has for them to willingly keep her on as resident village idiot at the Atlantic, and keep such a straight face about it.

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @WereBear:

    Upon their arrival in DC, the deserting coward malassministration was advised by the Clinton National Security team, repeatedly, that Al Qaida was going to be their most important challenge.

    So what did these adults do? They ignored those Clinton advisors (because they were Clinton advisors) and concentrated all their efforts on stem cell research, as in sabotaging it at the behest of the forced birthers.

  63. 63
    Culture of Truth says:

    It is probably best not to get too deep in the weeds about what a person who was likely half-crazy wanted and whether he got it. Nevertheless, one could easily contend that OBL’s life has been largely a pattern of failure up until the end, though he clearly did provoke the U.S. into actions he could only have hoped for (i.e. Iraq). Even there, though, the real point is that the neocons got what they wanted (but ultimately failed too).

    Whatever terrorists do or do not want, the question Americans ought to be asking themselves is what do they want and what are they willing to do, or give up, to get it. Perfect safety from terrorists? Freedom from government intrusion? My concern is not the answers, it’s that the questions are not often debated and when they are, are characterized by claims of imminent mushroom clouds, or the presence of child pornography (on laptops) which tends to shut down discussion, even among judges.

  64. 64
    Jay C says:

    @Xenos:

    Your alt-history based on a Gore Presidency is amusing – for about twenty seconds – but badly off in its fundamental premise.

    If President Gore had, through, say, better application of security procedures following the 8/6/01 PDB, managed to prevent or diminish the effect of the 9/11/01 attacks, this country’s recent history would be different by exponential magnitudes.

    The 9/11 attacks caused a massive national freakout in this country – one which we are still (badly and self-defeatingly) dealing with: and were exploited – immediately – by a warmongering neo-imperialist Administration in pursuit of policy goals it is virtually impossible to imagine a Gore Administration would entertain for an instant. I think the main alternate timeline would have been more like: No 9/11 = no Afghan “cakewalk” = no Iraq War = no PATRIOT Act = no torture “enhanced interrogation” and the disgraceful excuse-mongering for it, no Afghanistan II (maybe) etc.

    Now a President Gore might well have not been re-elected in 2004 (and maybe even lost to Dubya the Dim again, who knows?), but it’s a stretch, IMO, to assume that a Bush 43 Admin/, taking office in 2005, would be able to get away with promoting their sick neocon fantasy-war without post-9/11 hysteria to play off, and to bash their opponents with.

    Oh, and what Radley Balko sais. FTW.

  65. 65
    Xboxershorts says:

    @Brachiator:

    Not intentionally trying to pop your bubble, but…yes. Bin Laden publicly stated his objective 7-8 years ago.

    Here it is at CNN:

    http://articles.cnn.com/2004-1.....s=PM:WORLD

    He also said al Qaeda has found it “easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.”

    “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations,” bin Laden said.

    If you read the whole thing between the lines, yes, it is easy to draw the conclusion that OBL’s objectives match that which Radley Balko blogged about in the OP cited article.

  66. 66
    Joe Beese says:

    @Uloborus:

    that guy waived his own right to a fair trial

    Cite?

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Stillwater says:

    @Jay C: Now a President Gore might well have not been re-elected in 2004 (and maybe even lost to Dubya the Dim again, who knows?)

    You know a guy isn’t a real winner when even in liberal fantasies he loses three outa four elections.

  69. 69
    Svensker says:

    @PeakVT:

    While Gore would have been far preferable, I still have nightmares about Joe Lieberman one heartbeat away from the WH. Bomb Iran anyone?

  70. 70
    piratedan says:

    @Alexandra: there was an ad campaign that attempted to connect dots that the drug war and the war on terror was the same thing, ergo if you’re doing drugs you’re supporting the terrorists. It was so tenuous a connection that the ad campaign was abandoned rather quickly because at the time, even the R’s saw it as a reach.

  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Geeze, what a tool you are, Beese.

    The man was not going to allow himself to be taken alive. That means he waived his right to a fair trial.

    The stupid. It burns.

  72. 72
    Poopyman says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    It is probably best not to get too deep in the weeds about what a person who was likely half-crazy wanted and whether he got it.

    You’re talking about Cheney, right?

  73. 73
    Xboxershorts says:

    @Tarly:

    And it’s a damn fine fisking too!

    Not entirely undeserved. But hey, Balko writes from the perspective of the sum of his own experiences. Don’t we all, more or less?

    It was good to remind the masses that, for a substantial percentage of our population, this sort of authoritarian behavior has been the norm for the life of the republic.

  74. 74
    Jay C says:

    @Stillwater:

    Ummm, “liberal fantasy” or “alternative history” – to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to …

    And anyway, even in this “fantasy” Al Gore would have won, not lost “three outa four elections” (1992 & 1996 as VP, 2000 if there was any real justice in the world). And it’s just a lazy assumption that the GOP would have tapped GW Bush again had he lost in 2000. It’s a good probable, since Dubya was a good dependable sockpuppet for the Republican PTB, but it’s not an absolute.

    Though, we note that this scenario makes Al Gore into the Democratic equivalent of GHW Bush… not the best analogy for one’s historical reputation.

    One thing that I AM reasonably assured of: a Gore Presidency would have done something other than indulge in trogloditic denialism about climate change and petroleum-alternative energy sources.

  75. 75
    Scott P. says:

    You can definitely make a strong case that we lost, but it’s wrong to say that Bin Laden won. He achieved none of his ultimate goals, nor are any of them likelier now than in 2001 (no thanks to us, in many cases).

  76. 76
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Agree. I think Jesse Ventura said he could get Cheney under a waterboard & have him confess to the zodiac murders in about 10 mins or less.

    God, I’d pay to see that!

  77. 77
    Culture of Truth says:

    I don’t put much credence into anything OBL may have said as late as 2004, any more than a cat which tries to jump on a ledge, finds it too narrow, ungainly falls off, lands on the ground, rolls back up and proudly looks around to say ‘I totally meant to do that.’

  78. 78
    Joe Beese says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The man was not going to allow himself to be taken alive. That means he waived his right to a fair trial.

    You make a comment on Balloon Juice making fun of Muammar Gadaffi’s clothes. Gaddafi reads it and then charges you with the capital crime of undermining his rule.

    Not trusting the Gaddafi system of justice, you try to avoide capture by his agents.

    A-ha! You’ve now demonstrated that you’ll never let yourself be taken alive!

    So Gaddafi’s agents need no longer bother with arresting you and putting you on trial. They can simply kill you.

    This is an awfully convenient system for dictators.

    Oh, but wait. We were talking about Obama…

  79. 79
    different church-lady says:

    @Paul in KY (and others): my guess on this is that so many people are wrong on the internet in so many different ways that nobody will ever get any sleep ever again.

  80. 80
    different church-lady says:

    @Joe Beese: Joe, has it ever occurred to you that some points aren’t worth arguing?

  81. 81
    Svensker says:

    @rea:

    It might have been legal for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t expected. Speaking as someone who lived near the Canadian border for decades and who crossed frequently, the change since 9/11 at the border is astounding. Where I used to saunter across (pretty much literally) with only a drivers license, it’s now Fortress America with dogs and guns and your papers please. It might be making people feel “safe” but it sure doesn’t have anything to do with being a free people.

    Get a copy of The High & The Mighty (Ernie Gann movie from the 50s) if you want to see the change.

  82. 82
    WereBear says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Exactly.

    OBL only got what he wanted because the Bush Administration played right into his hands.

    There was suffering from 9/11. There was destruction of our country from the Neocons.

  83. 83

    @Jay C: I think the Bush admin had a lot of help achieving goals they already had in mind (Afghanistan & Iraq, consolidating power in the Executive branch) by the fact that 9/11 happened. Possibly with Gore it doesn’t happen, or if it does our response is fundamentally different — that is, based on different goals because I don’t think a Gore admin has even remotely similar goals as the Bush admin did.

    And, not quite what Balko says because I believe Bush (Cheney really) found it all too convenient to have a public mood for looking past the Constitution, ironically with near-nationalistic fervor. So maybe OBL “won” but really we had an administration in power that was trying to lose.

  84. 84
    Paul in KY says:

    @lllphd: Gad! You sent me to McMegan (couldn’t tell from the link name that popped up). I never want to give her a page hit. No problem, though.

    The ‘Love your enemies’ quote is from Jesus, I believe & is something Dr. King would have echoed. Was it a Dr. King quote as I left the site as soon as I figured out who it was?

  85. 85
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Joe Beese:

    I thought we were talking about Osama bin Laden here.

    Apparently you’re not.

    ‘Scuse me for actually being related to the topic.

  86. 86
    different church-lady says:

    @Tarly: Endless thanks for that link.

  87. 87
    New Yorker says:

    I don’t disagree with any of that either, John, but it’s hard to say bin Laden “won” when he wanted to overthrow the various US-backed middle eastern dictatorships and establish an Islamic caliphate. Loony as that might sound, it’s what he wanted. Instead, a largely secular and peaceful mass movement was what ended the Mubarak regime. That had to hurt bin Laden more than anything.

  88. 88
    New Yorker says:

    In the end, neither we nor bin Laden won, mainly because bin Laden’s ideology was loony, and the ideology of neoconservatism, funnelled through an incompetent puppet like George W. Bush, was also loony.

  89. 89
    Paul in KY says:

    @cmorenc: I wonder if she’s some kind of legacy hire. She might be related to a major investor (part owner) in ‘The Atlantic’. Just a guess.

    Has to be something.

  90. 90
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    So the Soviets won the Cold War because of McCarthy, nukes, and us building up our military to the size it is today? We are fighting a group of people willing to attack us. I think this is a little early to be talking about this, though I do think that we will have trouble backing off some of the things we have done because they make people falsely feel safe.

  91. 91
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Let’s just say that bin Laden’s short term goals, which were to recruit more fighters and to drain the treasury of the Great Satan, were accomplished in spades, thanks to his doofus collaborators, the deserting coward and the Dark Lord.

    His long term goal of a New Caliphate is about as likely to happen as Rushdoony’s Dominionist America. The fundies, of all flavors, are fighting rearguard actions now.

  92. 92
    Joe Beese says:

    @different church-lady:

    has it ever occurred to you that some points aren’t worth arguing?

    I know that you’re not concerned about the President having the power to kill American citizens without trial because Obama is a swell guy who would only do it when absolutely necessary. (At least, that’s what he said – and we know he wouldn’t lie to us.)

    But you do realize that Obama will not be President forever? And that in all likelihood, there will be another Republican president someday? Maybe that Sarah Palin we keep being told to be terrified of?

    So the question isn’t whether you trust Obama not to abuse his self-claimed power to kill American citizens without trial. The question is whether you trust the next Republican president not to abuse that power after Obama establishes it for them.

    If you still think it a trivial matter, you can discuss what Michelle wore to the correspondents’ dinner.

  93. 93
    Paul in KY says:

    @Stillwater: In my fantasy, after leading the Afganistan invasion after 9-11, Pres. Gore was on the ground at Tora Bora & helped supervise Bin Laden’s demise, which catapulted him to stratospheric approval ratings & led to a repeal of the ‘no 3rd term amendment’ & then led to his re-election, and re-re-election.

    How’s that for a fantasy? I’m gonna get a smoke.

    Edit: After an unfortunate matzo ball accident, VP Lieberman was replaced on the ballot by Sen. Bernie Sanders (it is a fantasy!).

  94. 94
    different church-lady says:

    @Joe Beese: I had no idea Osama bin Laden was an American citizen.

    I learn so much here.

  95. 95
    singfoom says:

    Yeah, I don’t really disagree with that post. My only quibble is that I don’t think we’re in a war with Islam and this administration and the previous administration has repeatedly made statements to that effect, but that the perception in the wider world could be that we are even while we think we aren’t.

    However, I imagine that the answer to “Is the West at war with Islam?” might be answered a hell of a lot differently by someone living in Afghanistan or Iraq right now compared to the answer given by someone living in the United States.

  96. 96
    Paul in KY says:

    @Joe Beese: Joe, you are comparing ‘Ghaddafi’ justice with our jurisprudence. I think that’s a stretch. IMO, we would have bent over backward to ‘give him a fair trial & a clean hanging’, in the words of Judge Roy Bean.

  97. 97
    different church-lady says:

    @Paul in KY:

    After an unfortunate matzo ball accident, VP Lieberman was replaced on the ballot by Sen. Bernie Sanders

    Shit… if Rule 34 applies to this, we’re all doomed.

  98. 98
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @singfoom:

    However, I imagine that the answer to “Is the West at war with Islam?” might be answered a hell of a lot differently by someone living in Afghanistan or Iraq right now compared to the answer given by someone living in the United States.

    Bingo.

    Things we think are pretty innocuous and not threatening at all might be perceived as a blatant attack on some other culture.

    Our idea of “war” may not jibe with theirs, which could include a lot of things that we don’t see as very warlike. Rock and Roll, for example.

  99. 99
    Joe Beese says:

    @different church-lady:

    I had no idea Osama bin Laden was an American citizen.

    Obama’s standing assassination order is for a 40-year old American citizen born in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

    Since he has an Arab name, which will cloud your thinking on the subject, pretend that his name is “John Taylor”.

  100. 100
    Paul in KY says:

    @different church-lady: A man has got to have a reason to get up in the morning ;-)

  101. 101
    different church-lady says:

    @Joe Beese: The topic of the fucking post: how does it work?

    My bad — didn’t realize we were on one of the bullet points.

    Point being that someone waives their right to a fair trial because they resist capture is idiotic. So you don’t need to go into your usual contortions to prove otherwise.

  102. 102
    singfoom says:

    @Tarly: Eh, I think the criticism of Balko’s piece was ham-handed and illogical. Yes, we did terrible things to the native Americans. Yes, we did horrible things in Central America in the 70s/80s.

    I don’t think that Balko was arguing that we were a perfect noble Republic and then 9/11 happened and everything went to shit.

    I would also add that the creation of a new system of indefinite detention that has been legalized formally (by the administration) is a huge step in a bad direction that goes against what I think our founding ideals are.

    The modern context is important, so no, the Republic has not fallen, but it’s even less noble than it was before and on those points I don’t think Jack Crow got it right.

  103. 103
    Paul in KY says:

    @different church-lady: God, in this case, I hope Rule 34 doesn’t apply :-)

    I do think naked ladies playing the guitar in the shower sounds hot.

  104. 104
    Joe Beese says:

    @different church-lady:

    your usual contortions

    To the American exceptionalist, being asked to consider a matter as if it were some lesser country involved does indeed seem like a “contortion”.

  105. 105
    Stillwater says:

    @Paul in KY: Gore takes the Oath of Office and before leaving the dais Israel signs a two state solution, the Muslim Brotherhood rises up against Al Queda taking their guns and dialysis machines thereby rendering them politically impotent, Saddam says ‘I’m your guy’ and means it this time, Lil’Kim rides a failed missile test into the sky over Korea which rains Freedom Fries over his starving people, global temperatures return to early/mid little ice age temperatures (in a karmic concession to bipartisanship), and the entire Supreme Court puts itself up for review prior to reappointment.

    Take that!

  106. 106
    TooManyJens says:

    @singfoom:

    I don’t think that Balko was arguing that we were a perfect noble Republic and then 9/11 happened and everything went to shit.

    His post said, “We have also fundamentally altered who we are. A partial, off-the-top-of-my-head list of how we’ve changed since September 11 . . .”

    The point of the Crow’s Nest post was that these weren’t changes at all, but that there has always been a violent and authoritarian streak in American government. Some people didn’t notice so much when that streak was directed primarily at disprivileged people, but now that well-off white dudes are among the targets, they think it’s a fundamental change. It seems completely logical to me.

  107. 107
    Paul in KY says:

    @Stillwater: Righteous, Dude!

  108. 108
    Poopyman says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I do think naked ladies playing the guitar in the shower sounds hot.

    Bare Naked Ladies? No. Just… not ….
    Nope.

  109. 109
    chopper says:

    fuckin libertarians, can’t even crack a smile. “i don’t care if bin laden’s dead, none of you should be happy until all of the following needs have been met:”

    i mean yeah, he’s got a point about shit but FFS let people be happy for once. it’s like i’m surrounded by jewish mothers here.

  110. 110
    singfoom says:

    @TooManyJens: I get it and I know of the streak of which he talks about, but I just disagree.

    I know that our nation has done horrible things, but I think it aspires to great things. Are those examples that Crow listed low points in our history?

    Yes.

    I think you can approach Balko’s list of changes while understanding the “Noble Republic” is a myth and they still have power. From 2001, our government and our people internalized many of the points that Balko made. The fact that in previous era, comparable actions were taken that we should also be ashamed of, doesn’t change the fact that those changes occurred in the body politic and the nation at large as a reaction to 9/11.

  111. 111
    Paul in KY says:

    @Poopyman: Not the band, silly. Actual XX chromosoned people thrashing the guitar while in the shower.

  112. 112
    TooManyJens says:

    @singfoom: But how is it a fundamental change in our national character, as Balko claims? The one argument I could see making is that we gave up some of the pretense of being against torture, abrogation of civil liberties, etc.

    Balko’s list does have power. I think it still has power if you consider it as a list of continuations and expansions of ugly policies, and as a list of lessons we still haven’t learned, rather than as some kind of fall from grace.

  113. 113
    MattR says:

    @singfoom: @TooManyJens: I see both sides of this argument. Radley’s piece is definitely more persuasive than this one from CNN (which argued that Bin Laden could not change American character). I would say that one way that we have fundamentally changed is that white people are now more willing to allow the government to exercise its authoritarian streak on them. I also think there is a decent critique of Radley’s piece to say that while the United States has “lost” as a result of our response to 9/11, OBL did not really “win” since the changes to the American lifestyle (and “giving up our freedoms”) were not really OBL’s goals.

  114. 114
    singfoom says:

    @TooManyJens: @MattR:

    The fundamental change for me is the normalization of the expanded police state and the acceptance of torture as a legal, useful tool. Sure, we’ve had both before in specific instances, but I don’t think the American public of yesteryear would stand for some of the restrictions placed on us now because of 9/11.

    Now, it’s the norm, and to question it in a larger context can blow some people’s minds…

  115. 115
    gex says:

    Maybe we could coin a faggot award, where we insult someone by calling them a faggot but insist it isn’t homophobic. Sully seems a good first recipient. Right Yevgref?

    Sully would win most, and we can call him a faggot for his ludicrous ideas, and feel all good about how we figured out how to use that word as an insult without demeaning all other gays.

  116. 116
    lllphd says:

    @Paul in KY:

    the quote is from a sermon delivered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL, at Christmas, 1957. Martin Luther King wrote it while in jail for committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott.

    apologies to all for not warning of the mcmegan link. she is truly a foul piece o’ work.

  117. 117
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @TooManyJens:

    The one argument I could see making is that we gave up some of the pretense of being against torture, abrogation of civil liberties, etc.

    There’s an old saying that “Hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue”. Now normally hypocrisy is seen as a bad thing, but the flip side of it is that while we may at times act like brutes, we aspire to be something better than that. And leveraging that aspiration, working to turn it into a reality, is what the Progressive Movement has been about IMHO. It seems to me that in the wake of 9-11 we lost some of our aspirational hypocrisy and doing so has made the US a worse place to live, not a better one.

  118. 118
    Paul in KY says:

    @lllphd: No problem on the link. Thank you for researching that quote, I was pretty sure Dr. King had said that.

  119. 119
    TooManyJens says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Yes, I agree. We used to at least say we didn’t torture, and that this made us better than our enemies. It may not have been true, but we felt like it should be. Now … well, a lot of us don’t. If that were Balko’s argument, I’d agree that there had been a fundamental shift.

  120. 120
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Xboxershorts:

    The only difference between now and 50 or 100 years ago is that straight white men are getting the same treatment everyone else has gotten for years, and suddenly it’s not fair!

    @MattR:

    I would say that one way that we have fundamentally changed is that straight white people are now more willing to allow the government to exercise its authoritarian streak on them.

    Fix’d. We just watched a great “American Experience” episode about the Stonewall Riots, and one of the reasons they happened was because gay and lesbian New Yorkers were very familiar with police tactics meant to intimidate them.

  121. 121
    lllphd says:

    @Paul in KY:

    yeah, like i said, it sure says something about mcmegan that she’s have such a snide, suspicious presumption that king would never have said such a thing.

    what is it with these people?

  122. 122
    Phoebe says:

    @slag:

    Our response to him was ours and ours alone—he doesn’t deserve either credit or responsibility for that. We do.

    Yeah. I have nothing more to add. I just wanted it repeated.

  123. 123

    To the original question? Bullshit.

    Radley Balko Lays An Egg

    http://hisvorpal.wordpress.com.....ys-an-egg/

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