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November 07, 2007

Deep Thoughts By Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, declares, "The [Democratic] party will lose the presidential race if it defines itself as soft on terror."

Yes. Yes it will.

Better public intellectuals, please.

November 7, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

"And by 'lose the presidential race' I mean 'won't get my, Alan Dershowitz', vote'."

Posted by: El Cid | Nov 7, 2007 10:35:27 AM

"By 'soft on terror,' I mean 'pro-Constitution.'"

Posted by: Henderstock | Nov 7, 2007 10:42:47 AM

A rancid lawyer is a truly terrifying thing.
Capable of so much damage.
John Yew, the Dersh, ...

Posted by: Northern Observer | Nov 7, 2007 10:47:34 AM

That whole essay is a mess, and I think it shows the muddle people get themselves into when you start trying to find the torture that's okay versus the one that isn't - Dersh insists you can separate "the routine use of torture in interrogation of suspects or the humiliating misuse of sexual taunting that infamously occurred at Abu Ghraib" from the "ticking bomb scenario" where you torture someone for specific, theoretically life saving, information. But of course, you can't. You're just then leaving room for the question of what constitutes a "ticking bomb" and just how soon the "imminent danger" is before torture becomes okay. This thing about questioning Mukasey was a big deal not because waterboarding is confusing or because it's okay in some scenarios, but because this is not hard: it's either torture to waterboard, or it's not. Torture is okay, or it's not. It's not sort of okay. And Dershowitz - who really shows his truest, least tolerant colors in moments like these - can try to make opposition to torture into "soft on terrorism" all he likes, but no, that won't make it so. It's the "we can only get this stuff through torture" logic that's the problem.

Posted by: weboy | Nov 7, 2007 10:47:40 AM

The fact that Alan Dershowitz even has a job is a profound indictment of our society.

Posted by: Jason C. | Nov 7, 2007 10:54:19 AM

John Yoo. Let's not besmirch a usually harmless conifer.

Posted by: jerry | Nov 7, 2007 11:02:19 AM

I thought Dershowitz used to be a good lawyer once upon a time. Not any more though.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience | Nov 7, 2007 11:02:59 AM

Quick contest, what year was it when Dersh last said something intelligent?

Posted by: russell | Nov 7, 2007 11:13:21 AM

I do not see how the Democrats can loose this elections but maybe one of the Democratic candidates can pull off a loss in some clever way that I have not though of.

Posted by: Floccina | Nov 7, 2007 11:17:04 AM

Honest question, can anyone tell me when Dershowitz went bat-shit crazy? Was it pr-9/11? Was it related to the 2nd Intifada? Or was it much earlier?

Posted by: Steve Balboni | Nov 7, 2007 11:21:37 AM

Shouldn't congress step up and resolve the question once and for all, instead of using it for political gain? If waterboarding is torture then pass a law saying it is, if they don't pass any such law then by their silence are decalring it legal. In which case trotting out for the soundbites saying the AG should know the difference is disgusting. What sort of sick person plays politics with something they believe to be torture.

If it is torture declaire it so then arrest anyone cought doing it and lock them away. Sitting silent becuase they don't have the balls to back what they believe is why they are considered soft on terrorism, crime, and national defence. If the cowards don't have the spine to stand for their own beliefs how can we expect them to stand for the nations?

Posted by: Nate O | Nov 7, 2007 11:47:37 AM

The Harvard law professor will lose his credibility if he keeps appearing on the Wall Street Journal's bizarre op-ed page.

Posted by: Garuda | Nov 7, 2007 12:10:13 PM

"Stop defining yourself as soft on terror! Stop defining yourself as soft on terror!" --Nelson Muntz

Posted by: KCinDC | Nov 7, 2007 12:20:40 PM

Why on earth is every single right wing loon saying the aexact same thing that NateO just argued?

If it is torture declaire it so then arrest anyone cought doing it and lock them away.

Gee, who might be responsible for enforcing that? I believe it would be... the attorney general!

Posted by: Tyro | Nov 7, 2007 12:35:32 PM

Shouldn't congress step up and resolve the question once and for all, instead of using it for political gain? If waterboarding is torture then pass a law saying it is, if they don't pass any such law then by their silence are decalring it legal. In which case trotting out for the soundbites saying the AG should know the difference is disgusting. What sort of sick person plays politics with something they believe to be torture.

Note the logical inconsistency. On the one hand demanding that Congress explicitly declare waterboarding to be torture, while on the other claiming that all that is required to affirm such methods as non-torture is "silence". Presumably to be truly anti-waterboarding requires legislative action while to be pro-waterboarding requires none. Never mind that if Congress were actually being silent on the subject there would have been no reason for us to be discussing the question in the first place.

I wouldn't suggest that people engaged in such contradictory non-reasoning are sick, just neurotic.

Posted by: WB Reeves | Nov 7, 2007 12:38:04 PM

Yes, Nate, why doesn't Congress specifically define pulling out fingernails are torture as well? It's not mentioned anywhere, so it must not be torture now.

Posted by: KCinDC | Nov 7, 2007 12:44:16 PM

"Shouldn't congress step up and resolve the question once and for all, instead of using it for political gain?"

Indeed they should. Bush would just veto it, though.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Nov 7, 2007 1:08:28 PM

... or ALLOW THEMSELVES to be defined as soft on terror.

Posted by: Jeremy | Nov 7, 2007 1:56:20 PM

"The [Democratic] party will lose the presidential race if it defines itself as soft on terror."

I don't know, these sorts of predictions by fiat never seem to pan out. For example, I assumed that Dershowitz would lose all credibility with rational people if he argued that there was reasonable doubt that O.J. Simpson murdered Brown and Goldman. And yet, everyone seems to have forgotten that he went before a crowd at Harvard and did just that. He even used the ridiculous argument that "most battered women don't end up getting murdered by their batterers." During the Q-and-A portion, someone asked, "what percentage of women who are battered by their husbands and are later murdered are murdered by someone other than their abusive husbands or ex-husbands?" You will be shocked to learn that Dershowitz was unable to answer the question.

At the time, I asked myself where someone goes after making a logical blunder of that magnitude in defense of a double murderer. Apparently, the answer to that question is the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by: anonymous | Nov 7, 2007 3:07:18 PM

If waterboarding is torture then pass a law saying it is, if they don't pass any such law then by their silence are decalring it legal.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nate, you're full of it. The question is not whether or not it is torture because it is already legally defined as such. By dodging the question, Mukasey is basically saying it is OK for the Executive Branch to disregard the law without coming right out & saying so.

Now it is time for Senate Democrats (& hopefully a few Republicans) to squash the 'soft on terror' meme by denying his appointment as AG.

Posted by: bob in fla | Nov 7, 2007 4:05:52 PM

Alan Dershowitz: a hack for Israel.

Posted by: Kazumatan | Nov 7, 2007 4:55:05 PM

The 'ticking timebomb' scenario as its constantly paraded around on this subject leaves out a lot of the real world. What do I mean..

People have the idea that because something is illegal it cant be done. ..it can, but it shouldnt. Citizens are perfectly capable of doing illegal acts, we merely have to be ready to accept the consequences if we are caught.

..in the west we have an honour system. One that we have inherited through our history as a western nation, greatly influenced by european history and norms. We've been ignoring that whole system instead of being the vanguard for it as our government so loudly proclaims to be. ..torturing is bad in that system, it is dishonorable, and needs to be shunned absolutely.

So to that end we have made it illegal.. and we should make all forms of it illegal, so that great consequences fall upon those who would use it.

..now we have the ticking timebomb scenario. Jack Bauer knows that should he not 'break' this terrorist a nuke will go off in New York city. ..its a crappy job but he should know that torture will land him in prison, and cost him his job, if he is conviceted by a jury.

So we would all hope that he would take that risk.. in the name of queen and country as it were.. break the guys arm, get the info, and save NY. YAY!

Then theres the credits and the trial we never see on the show.. where all the evidence is provided to a jury.. and hopefully hes aquitted.

Or maybe he was wrong.. he breaks the guys arm.. and it turns out, it wasnt a nuke at all.. just a really bad fruit cake misidentified by the NSA. ..then poor ole Jack needs to suck it up .. hope the jury is lenient, and pay for his illegal torture.

We all are glad that the guys went up and charged on
Iwo Jima and Omaha beach. Those guys put their lives on the line to save the country.. they really didnt have to. We have to hope that Jack Bauer in our little scenario will have the same guts and take that risk. ..or if the risk is too great, and he just doesnt want to risk his 401k. then most likely he doesnt believe enough in the danger for the country, or isnt a patriot enough to defend it with his life and security.

..either way, we need to show the world that the end does not justify the means. ..and that legally, and institutionally we are against torture. ..we dont have do define every instance in law.. thats what we have a citizenry for, and a jury system. To color in the black and white of the law.

Posted by: davidb | Nov 7, 2007 10:44:50 PM

"Although I am personally opposed to the use of torture, I have no doubt that any president--indeed any leader of a democratic nation--would in fact authorize some forms of torture against a captured terrorist if he believed that this was the only way of securing information necessary to prevent an imminent mass casualty attack."

They all start out saying this, even though it makes no sense. If you are personally opposed to torture except in the circumstances where you're not, you're not actually opposed to torture.

Dershowitz doesn't believe all the experts who have said that torture is not only evil and inhumane, but unreliable.

"This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives."

Yes, it's true that the Nazis got all kinds of information out of the people they tortured before they killed them. The NAZIS? I can't believe he's using them to support the argument that torture works.

Posted by: Damozel (administrator) | Nov 8, 2007 4:58:31 PM

good call damozel.. also hes discounting the number of times that victims of torture gave misleading information that cost the nazis. Even further often underlings are intentionally mislead about the rest of the organization purely to prime the engine of the enemy intelligence apparatus with false information. Its valid to the victim which lends it all the more credence.

...and whats with so many people shining a favorable light on the nazis to make us look good lately? Thats just no good at all.

Posted by: davidb | Nov 8, 2007 7:39:10 PM

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