Fat Steve's Blatherings

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The St. Onge/Monaco Dialogue continues: Secret Prisons


        Jerry Monaco of New York has been leaving long, thoughtful, rather impassioned comments on this blog.  You can find the previous ones here, here, and here.  My response to that last contribution ran so long, I've decided to break it up by subject.  Of course, this neat separation won't last, but I expect that, and don't mind it.

        All blockquoted material is from Jerry's previous comments, unless otherwise noted.

        Concerning the CIA "secret prisons" for terrorist seized abroad, Jerry wrote:
        The fact that we have committed atrocities elsewhere would not justify any country in the world in kidnapping "known terrorists" that we are harboring off of our streets and it does not justify us in kidnapping "known terrorists" off of their streets.

        I disagree.  To take a hypothetical example: if some group of people in the U.S. was assassinating French citizens, because we didn't approve of France's policy, and the U.S. Govt. didn't cooperate in apprehending them, then France would have every moral and probably legal right to defend itself by kidnapping the assassins off our streets, transport them to France or wherever, and deal with them in whatever method they thought would be most effective in stopping the attacks.

        But my hypothetical example has little to do with the "CIA secret prisons" issue.  For we aren't kidnapping people off the streets, according to the stories on this subject I read.  Instead, foreign governments were described as arresting people in their own countries, then turning them over to us.  So when you write:
        And powerful people in Europe who don't like being used as a playground for spy games without being informed and are afraid that they too will become targets of the CIA or of terrorist organizations are disturbed that secret prisons are in their backyard.
Well, based on the stories I've seen, the powerful people in Europe were informed, and actively aided us.  The "secret prisons" were set up with their consent and aid.

        Still, I can agree almost completely that:
        If secret prisons and torture is wrong, if terrorizing populations is wrong, if supporting terror regimes is wrong, it is wrong no matter if powerful people are disturbed or not.
  I dissent only on your grammar.  But I note, you did say "if."

        In the end I would still like my basic question answered.  Do you think the evidence is good that secret prisons are being used by our government or not?

        Thank you for reminding me to be more careful in my writing.  I thought I'd answered that question in the affirmative, but I see I failed to communicate.  Yes, I think the U.S. has been holding people accused of terrorism in secret prisons.  I am dubious about the details, but there are enough reports to make me believe the basic story.

        I will mostly ignore your last paragraph, the one that starts "By the way I read the Pod's piece in Commentary."  I disagree with almost all your factual assertions.  But I will make one point.  You say it is the policy of our government to make certain kinds of foreign governments fear us.  Good.  The evidence as I see it is that there are people in the world who want to harm the U.S.  I want those people to be afraid of us; I want everyone who supports the first group to be afraid of us; I want anyone who suspects they're standing near those in the first two groups to be afraid of us.  I do not believe universal peace and love will ever occur.  I do believe we will always have enemies, no matter what we do.  Enemies who are afraid of seem less likely to attack us.

        Your mileage may vary.

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