Justice in a time of war

Eight German agents came to our shores in the late spring of 1942 and brought explosives with them to do harm, They came in two parties and all were known to each other. All spoke English and most had lived in the USA. Two were naturalized US citizens. Team members Joseph Dasch and Ernst Burger (who had spent time in a concentration camp) decided to betray the mission and Dasch went to see J. Edgar Hoover. Within less than two weeks, all were in Federal custody.

FDR decreed that the agents not be subject to civilian courts but to a secret military tribunal. Such tribunals had not been used since the Civil War. Other rules were waived in that a vote of two thirds of the members of the tribunal would establish guilt and allow imposition of the death penalty.

All admitted their guilt. The trial was rather lengthy and it took three weeks to reach guilty verdicts and impose death sentences on all eight. Several days later, six of the group were electrocuted in Washington DC.

Dasch and Burger were saved from the electric chair and ordered imprisoned. Both were ordered released by Harry Truman and returned to Germany three years after the end of the war. Dasch wished to stay in the United States but this wish was never granted. None of the agents had carried out their plans and some seemed reluctant to so. We were at war so no major complaints about short-circuiting the judicial process were heard.

Details of the case may be found under Ex parte Quirin. Chief Justice Rehnquist dealt with the matter in great detail in his 1998 book: All the Laws but One : Civil Liberties in Wartime. New York: William Morrow & Co.. ISBN 0-688-05142-1.

We were at war and they did come to blow up America. The incident was made into the 20th Century Fox 1943 film “They Came to Blow Up America”. There are some factual errors in the film. They added a ninth saboteur.

German agents were more effective during World War I with the massive ‘Black Tom’ explosion in New Jersey. The blast even damaged the Statue of Liberty. The major act of possible WW II sabotage was the burning of the liner Normandie in NYC. The ship was to become a troopship and many believed that the arson was a mob hit to encourage the use of mobsters to maintain waterfront security.

56 Comments

  1. The germans were also better at this type of infiltration and mayhem in countries they were going to invade as a means of preparation.

  2. And did you incarcerate and torture 80 Germans in order to find the eight German agents?

    Why is it that “conservatives” who are supposedly so worried about government power are all for it when it comes to the incarceration and torture of possibly, even probably innocent people of Arab extraction?

    All admitted their guilt. The trial was rather lengthy

    I’m sorry – the what was rather lengthy? What was that word again?

  3. How many ‘innocent’ persons have we incarcerated and tortured to get information on terrorists? Is not a person with information of potential mass murderers an accessory to a crime?

    Perhaps some may have been “as innocent as OJ” but we should shed few tears for that sort.

  4. How many ‘innocent’ persons have we incarcerated and tortured to get information on terrorists? Is not a person with information of potential mass murderers an accessory to a crime?

    Art, you are a person with information of potential mass murderers.

    Anyhow – read this and this. Welcome to America, land of the unfree and home of the pantie-wetters.

  5. What was that about ad hominem when you have nothing substantial to add?

    We’ve dealt with the unfree bit. As regards the “panties-wetting”, consider that the US managed to get through WWII, Vietnam, and the Gulf War without feeling the need to throw away civil liberties. But when 19 guys with box-cutters suddenly get really really lucky, the country erupts into blind panic, and people are lining up to take their shoes off and let uniformed goons take their water bottles.

    The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.

  6. ..and people are lining up to take their shoes off and let uniformed goons take their water bottles….Pho

    Pho has a point about some of the idiocy in the Homeland Security Crowd. One should remember that the terrible trio was made up of McGaw (of BATF), Minetta (a liberal Dem), and the oafish Tom Ridge. These created the Technicolor Threat Scheme and doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in pork but stonewalled the common sense effort to allow air crew members to be armed.

    They were driven by political correctness to create inconvenience for the innocent and had nothing to do with fighting terrorism in the field.

  7. Pho, there was nothing ad hom about it. I was referring to this comment of yours regarding Art: “Art, you are a person with information of potential mass murderers”.

  8. Phoenician in a yadayadayada wrote:

    “The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.”

    Which implies what, exactly? That Americans should be willing to do so? On what basis?

    [Your cue to start singing "Kumbaya"]

  9. Pho, your seething hatred of all things American has totaly fucked up your brain.

    What brain? All I see is the usual left wing talking points spewed ad nauseum, with barely a trace of actual, original thought. He’s like Blu with her 9/11 Twoofer stuff. only at least Blu is usually a nice person.

  10. He’s not particularly artful about it, perhaps, but Pho is pretty accurate about us being pretty cowardly when it comes to fighting terrorism. Art’s anecdote tells us about a time when we were willing to give people who wanted to attack us a fair trial, complete with the right to confront their accusers and to challenge the evidence against them. Sure, it was a military tribunal, but it was one with standards. And it was during a time when we were honest-to-God at war against a military force that could have done us real harm.

    Today? We’re facing off against a bunch of yahoos in caves (and apparently houses here in Raleigh?) who maybe have the capacity to get off the odd bomb blast here and there every few years. And yet we’re so scared that we’re willing to accept morally detestable actions like torture, discard our justice system, and accept the growth of government police powers well beyond what any reasonable interpretation of the Fourth Amendment would allow? It makes me sick.

    Phil Gramm’s right – we’ve become a nation of whiners. We seem to have responded to September 11th by bolloxing freedom and justice and hiding under our blankets. And that annoys the hell out of me.

    Let’s not confuse just doing something with doing something principled. And let’s not confuse belligerence with courage.

  11. Well, Jeff you have a point. However, I see it like we are blindfolded and trying to find our way throgh a maze. We were at war against an honest-to-God military force and now we are at war against cells of yahoo’s. We owe people who fight without uniforms none of the rules of war or Geneva. But we can’t just go and blow up every country they are in. So how do we fight them? I don’t know the answer and it has become a moral struggle just to protect ourselves and not “just kill everybody”. Many other nations in history would not have been so restrained. And though we’ve made many mistakes the fact we don’t kill everyone speaks to our innate desire to try and be just. Perfection we can’t get, maybe honor. But we certanly can’t have bombs going off all over the damn country now can we? Unless we are willing to sacrifice our loved ones to be fair to our enemies. I’m not.

  12. Let’s not confuse just doing something with doing something principled. And let’s not confuse belligerence with courage.

    But what is a “principled” way to fight terrorists? That’s one big distinction between this and “conventional” wars of the past. Even the Nazis mostly stuck to the rules of war, but this current crowd plays by no rules at all.

    Also, let’s not forget that we fought WW 2 with the attitude of “Whatever it takes to win”. That’s why we firebombed a number of Japanese cities and nuked two more of them. Indeed, General Curtis LeMay, who headed up bombing operations against Japan, pretty much admitted that, had the Japanese won, they’d have been justified in charging him as a war criminal. The difference, of course, is the Japanese didn’t win.

  13. Pho, there was nothing ad hom about it. I was referring to this comment of yours regarding Art: “Art, you are a person with information of potential mass murderers”.

    Er, Jon, it’s perfectly accurate.

    Art is (I assume) white and American; terrorists have been white and American. This is about the level of evidence under which some of the Gitmo inmates have been picked up.

    Art is a person with information of potential mass murderes. So are you. So am I.

  14. I like the downplay of terrorist attacks that kill people. A few odd bomb blasts here, a few there ……

  15. Phoenician,

    You were saying that the Brits and the Spaniards had lived with decades of bombings.

    “The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.”

    What, again, was the point of that observation?

  16. As regards the “panties-wetting”, consider that the US managed to get through WWII, Vietnam, and the Gulf War without feeling the need to throw away civil liberties.

    Just ask Japanese Americans in World War II.

  17. The action taken against the Japanese-Americans in World War II was part racism, part panic but it had a lot of popular support. The action was a West Coast thing and there was no counterpart in Hawaii or on the West Coast. While there were a few spies, there was no organized sabotage. Quite a few young men from the camps did serve courageously in the U. S. Army and took a lot of casualties.

    We are dealing with real monsters today and they play by a vicious set of laws. There were some counterparts in our history. The French and Indian War left a lot of hatred and the actions of some Confederate ‘irregulars’ was dealt with by hanging upon capture.

  18. I like the downplay of terrorist attacks that kill people. A few odd bomb blasts here, a few there ……

    Oklahoma City. By the “logic” used here, the military should be used to round up everyone who knew McVeigh or attended a militia meeting with him or went to the same gun show, and they should be tortured onthe grounds that might have information relevant to his actions.

  19. Why would we round up any of McVeigh’s friends or relatives now? That threat has been neutralized. Literally.

  20. But when 19 guys with box-cutters suddenly get really really lucky, the country erupts into blind panic, and people are lining up to take their shoes off and let uniformed goons take their water bottles.

    The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.

    So what? We didn’t react appropriately to the bombings? Is that it? There’s a protocol to follow? We haven’t been bombed for decades, so maybe our response was uh, a good and effective one. Because there is a reason *why* the Brits and Spain have lived with decades of bombings – (question: why are they continually so vulnerable?)

    We didn’t just line up to take our shoes off and give up our water bottles, Pho. Obviously there have been redundant and/or seemingly ridiculous responses in the aftermath, granted, but certainly that is not all that we’ve done. I realize it’s pointless to try to explain because at the end of the day, it’s Bush’s fault and with you, all things come down to Bush.

    Anyway, get back to us after New Zealand is bombed and thousands lose their lives, m’k?

  21. Why would we round up any of McVeigh’s friends or relatives now? That threat has been neutralized. Literally.

    How would you know for sure unless you round them up and torture? McVeigh didn’t act alone – and the people he worked with are far more likely to be able to get hold of WMD than some psychos in an Afghan cave.

    We didn’t just line up to take our shoes off and give up our water bottles, Pho. Obviously there have been redundant and/or seemingly ridiculous responses in the aftermath, granted, but certainly that is not all that we’ve done.

    Nah – you submitted to wiretapping, and your country engaging in pointless invasions and the torture of prisoners.

    Wingnuts are all for the submission when someone in authority points at a boogeyman.

  22. The Phoenician wrote:

    The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.

    That’s very true, and continues to be true:


    Car bomb strikes Spain barracks, wounding 46


    Children among injured in 4 a.m. attack blamed on Basque separatist group

    MADRID – A car bomb exploded outside a Civil Guard barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos early on Wednesday, injuring 46 people in an attack authorities blamed on Basque separatist rebels ETA.

    The blast at around 4 a.m. (10 p.m. ET) ripped away most of the outer wall of the multi-storey barracks in one of the biggest attacks for some time by ETA, whose ranks have been decimated by arrests.

    “It’s almost a miracle no one was hurt more seriously,” an emergency services spokesman said, adding that the barracks had been evacuated and fire fighters were going through the building.

    Are you suggesting that law enforcement means, carefully combing through the rubble and putting together evidence after the crimes have been committed, have been successful, after “decades,” in stopping the internally grown terrorist attacks in the UK and Spain?

  23. Phoenician,
    You were saying that the Brits and the Spaniards had lived with decades of bombings.
    “The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.”
    What, again, was the point of that observation?

    The only “Point” is on Pho’s head. He also neglected to mention Israel.

    It should also be noted that both the Brits and Israelis have used very aggressive tactics against terrorists and terrorist suspects, up to and including the use of actual torture (no nice, clean waterboarding).

    Terrorists aren’t ordinary criminals, and they aren’t uniformed combatants, either. The best (albeit imperfect) historical analogy is to the pirates of old, who, as Art has reminded up on occasion, were entitled to no more legal niceties than to receive a summary hanging. Ditto for spies under the rules of conventional warfare.

  24. Why would we round up any of McVeigh’s friends or relatives now? That threat has been neutralized. Literally.

    Exactly. But why ruin a ridiculous analogy by pointing to actual facts?

  25. Oklahoma City. By the “logic” used here, the military should be used to round up everyone who knew McVeigh or attended a militia meeting with him or went to the same gun show, and they should be tortured onthe grounds that might have information relevant to his actions.

    That might have some relevance if:

    A) McVeigh & Co. were members of a large, international terror group that had displayed the ability to repeatedly carry out acts of mass murder on an ongoing basis.

    Or,

    B) The 19 terrorists of 9/11 had been the sole members of Al Qaida, such that the threat posed ended with their deaths.

    Since neither A nor B are remotely accurate, your analogy is, as previously noted, ridiculous.

  26. Persistence in the face of Reason, wrathfully wrote: “The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.”

    … and was asked:

    ” Which implies what, exactly? That Americans should be willing to do so? On what basis?

    [Your cue to start singing "Kumbaya"]“28 July 2009, 10:48 am

    … and was asked:

    “What, again, was the point of that observation?” 28 July 2009, 5:04 pm

    … and was asked:

    “Are you suggesting that law enforcement means, carefully combing through the rubble and putting together evidence after the crimes have been committed, have been successful, after “decades,” in stopping the internally grown terrorist attacks in the UK and Spain?” 29 July 2009, 7:55 am

    And …. still no explanation. Of course.

  27. Wingnuts are all for the submission when someone in authority points at a boogeyman

    For the life of me pho, I really don’t know where you come up with this shit.

  28. How would you know for sure unless you round them up and torture? McVeigh didn’t act alone – and the people he worked with are far more likely to be able to get hold of WMD than some psychos in an Afghan cave.

    Because there was plenty of evidence to convict McVeigh.

    Really, Dana, there are reasons trolls get banned. Pho hijacks every thread to bash the U.S., George Bush, conservatives and every person that comments on this blog. I don’t really see the point anymore. It’s tiresome and tasteless.

  29. “What, again, was the point of that observation?

    I keep forgetting wingnuts don’t get connections.

    “The Brits and Spaniards didn’t institutionalise torture and break their own laws to spy on their own citizens.”

  30. A) McVeigh & Co. were members of a large, international terror group that had displayed the ability to repeatedly carry out acts of mass murder on an ongoing basis.

    Uh-huh:

    McVeigh embarked on a flirtation with the militia movement, which believes that ordinary Americans are under imminent threat of attack, from nuclear war, communists or central government.
    [...]
    Drifting between Pendleton and the homes of his ex-army chums: Terry Nichols in Decker, Michigan; and Michael Fortier in Klingman, Arizona, he made some money selling guns at gun fairs.

    There he would certainly have come into contact with anti-tax, anti-government, racist and militia groups, but there is nothing to suggest that he ever signed-up to any of them.

    This means there was more connection between McVeigh and the militias than there was between several of those tortured in Gitmo and Al Qaeda. And, of course, the militia are associated with murder plots.

    Who knows what evidence would show up about McVeigh’s connections if only the government rounded up militia members and tortured them?

    Or, again, does your sort of justification depend on the colour of a person’s skin and their religion?

  31. Except, Phoe, what we did with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols seems to have worked.

    Your argument is premised on the (faulty) assumption that there’s only one way to respond to terrorism. Clearly, there have been several ways which have been effective, in specific situations. Sometimes the law enforcement method works well enough, and other times it does not.Aggressiove interrogation was needed in some situations, and has worked.

    Once the Bush Administration started to focus on terrorism, their means were very effective. It’s hard to argue with success.

  32. And we have seen how effective the Spanish have been!

    Image: Barracks hit by bomb blast

    Santi Otero / EPA
    Forensic experts collect evidence next to a crater against a backdrop of devastation following the explosion of a car bomb outside a Spanish Civil Guard’s 14-story police station, which includes living quarters for civil guards’ families, in Burgos, northern Spain, on Wednesday.
  33. For the life of me pho, I really don’t know where you come up with this shit.

    His “Message” is basically “America Sucks” repeated 24/7/365. It’s like living next door to a braying jackass that never shuts up and never changes its tune.

    Is it any wonder no one here takes his rants seriously any longer? Hell, he makes me miss Blu! At least she was entertaining. Pho is what the Brits aptly call a crashing bore.

  34. Sharon: “Pho hijacks every thread ….”

    That’s baloney.

    Apparently you, Sharon, can’t stand criticism, so you want Phoenician shut out. Is that your definition of free speech and open discussion.

    Moreover, she backs up her opinions with careful documentation.

    You should do as well!

    I think we should feel fortunate on this blog to have someone like Phoenician, instead of the pablum that passes for debate too often, myself included!

    I find myself always going to her posts first from the list of posters.

  35. Re: Uh-huh:

    Van Zandt is quoted as saying then that the bomber would turn out to be a white male, acting alone, or with one other person [emphasis mine], and in his mid-20s.

    He would have military experience and be angry at the government for what happened at Waco.

    Van Zandt was right.

    Acting alone or with one other person. Comparison to Al Qaida, a worldwide terror organization with hundreds, even thousands of members- next to nil.

    Another Pho rant shot down in flames.

  36. I think we should feel fortunate on this blog to have someone like Phoenician, instead of the pablum that passes for debate too often, myself included!

    Well, if you don’t mind a compliment from someone who normally disagrees with you, at least you engage in actual discussion, conversation, a genuine two way debate.

    With Pho, there’s rarely any attempt to engage the other person, just the same old rants, America sucks, blah, blah, blah, all delivered with the same bellicose, sneering tone that barely acknowledges the other person as a human being, let alone one having a POV worthy of respect if not agreement.

    I won’t say if Pho rises to the level of a troll, but he (and yes, that’s a “He”) certainly is a major league pest!

  37. That’s baloney.

    Apparently you, Sharon, can’t stand criticism, so you want Phoenician shut out. Is that your definition of free speech and open discussion.

    I’m not for the government determining who speaks and who doesn’t. At the same time, Pho’s tactics are tiresome and boring. We get that Pho hates America, American hegemony and American influence. That it drones on endlessly thread after thread–with Dana’s permission and the encouragement of those here–makes most discussions, frankly, boring.

    Moreover, she backs up her opinions with careful documentation.

    No, usually it’s just tricks and diversion. Can’t win the argument presented in the post? Just change the direction of the thread!

    You should do as well!

    Oddly enough, when I do that, you cry that I’m not playing fair or that I’m just using “talking points.”

    I think we should feel fortunate on this blog to have someone like Phoenician, instead of the pablum that passes for debate too often, myself included!

    I find myself always going to her posts first from the list of posters.

    Given that you agree with its opinion, I’m not the least surprised.

  38. No, usually it’s just tricks and diversion. Can’t win the argument presented in the post? Just change the direction of the thread!

    It’s not even the content, bad as it is (repetitive and tiresome) as the tone. I’ve yet to see Pho show even a modicum of decency to anyone here, and his comments are invariably wrapped in the same attitude of smug superiority that only one in a country that has no real relevance in the world (or stake in the War on Terror) can afford to mount. It would be like being sneered at in WW 2 by the neutral, pacifist Swedes for the tactics the allies used to beat the Axis when their own stupid, irrelevant nation was not directly at threat.

    PS Pho can be just as obnoxious elsewhere (Pandagon, cough, cough), only there he’s more likely to assume the role of a fawning toady as opposed to a left wing moralizing snob.

  39. Except, Phoe, what we did with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols seems to have worked.

    This is a classic example of “post hoc ergo propter hoc” i.e. “We have not been atacked since we rounded up and tortured random innocent Arabs, therefore rounding up and torturing innocent Arabs protects us from attack.” Alas, not only is it logically flawed, it doesn’t match the facts:

    To help determine whether the United States is growing more or less safe, FOREIGN POLICY and the Center for American Progress teamed up once again to survey more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike—in the second FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index. First launched last June, the Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation’s foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the Global War on Terror. Its participants include people who have served as secretary of state and national security advisor, senior White House aides, top commanders in the U.S. military, seasoned intelligence officers, and distinguished academics and journalists. Eighty percent of the experts have served in the U.S. government—more than half in the executive branch, 26 percent in the military, and 18 percent in the intelligence community.

    As with the first index six months ago, the results show that America’s foreign-policy community continues to have deep reservations about U.S. policies and priorities in the war on terror. Eighty-one percent see a world that is growing more dangerous for the American people, while 75 percent say the United States is losing the war on terror. Those numbers are down marginally—5 and 9 percentage points respectively—from six months ago. Yet, when asked whether President George W. Bush has a clear plan to protect the United States from terrorism, 7 in 10 experts say no—including nearly 40 percent of those who identified themselves as conservatives. More than 80 percent of the experts continue to expect a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade, a result that is unchanged from six months ago.

    Acting alone or with one other person. Comparison to Al Qaida, a worldwide terror organization with hundreds, even thousands of members- next to nil.

    You obviously failed to see that that was a prediction. As it turns out, McVeigh did have connections to the militia – it would endanger America not to find out more about these connections, and if that involves rounding up and torturing Americans for information, you should be supporting that. Assuming you’re consistent in the same sort of thing you advocate for foreign Muslims.

    Let us not forget the report showing that right-wing extremism is a threat to Americans, already tied to terrorist attacks like that on Tiller.

    Why, Eric, are you on the side of these terrorists and against America? Why are you not supporting rounding them up and locking them away so America can be safe?

    Perry – get hold of John Ralston Saul’s “The Doubter’s Companion” and read up the entry on “Politeness”.

  40. Let us not forget the report showing that right-wing extremism is a threat to Americans, already tied to terrorist attacks like that on Tiller.

    Oh sure. ONE dead abortionist versus thousands killed on 9/11, hundreds killed elsewhere by Al Qaida (London, Spain, Bali, East Africa) not to mention the terrible slaughter of civilians in Iraq by Al Qaida terrorists and suicide bombers.

    Yeah, a real valid comparison there. Excuse me while I yawn with excitement over your stunning ability to make an actual “Point” …

  41. Phoenician in a time of Romans wrote:

    ‘What, again, was the point of that observation?’

    I keep forgetting wingnuts don’t get connections.

    “The Brits and Spaniards didn’t institutionalise torture and break their own laws to spy on their own citizens.”

    Placing aside your effete complaint that I should supply you with both enthymemes and syllogisms and thereby relieve you of the tedium of making your own arguments, your quote doesn’t really get to the crux of the matter does it: since both your civil liberties comparisons and implied underlying assumptions are more than suspect.

    Apparently, what you really intended initially was that we should emulate them in taking it as axiomatic or politically necessary, that tolerance of a little everyday terrorism is the price of living in an “enlightened” pluricultural civilization.

    That, is of course a nonsense contention, but one which if it were thought to be true, would lead one not to the conclusion that a little terrorism sustainable, but that pluricultural political societies are not.

    The upshot is that your government examples have not solved the bombing problems they experience with tolerance, while they have failed to protect the lives of their citizens.

    And as we know, civil liberties are in fact much more restricted in Great Britain, than here; as the London speech code arrests, and the widespread presence of municipal surveillance cameras demonstrate.

    Your actual problem, Phoenician, is not with totalitarian societies, but with any hint of what you suspect is cultural exclusivity or preference.

    Your notion of freedom consists of universally distributed slavery.

  42. Apparently, what you really intended initially was that we should emulate them in taking it as axiomatic or politically necessary, that tolerance of a little everyday terrorism

    Bzzzt. “Rounding up mostly innocent people and torturing them” “not tolerating a little everyday terrorism”. Thank you for playing, and do enjoy the home version of the game.

    You know, DNW, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that whenever you start pulling out the largest words possible, you’re trying to cover up some monumentally stupid leap of logic.

    “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” – George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946

  43. And as we know, civil liberties are in fact much more restricted in Great Britain, than here; as the London speech code arrests, and the widespread presence of municipal surveillance cameras demonstrate.

    Great Britain’s USS is indeed a problem.

    However, if you think “civil liberties are in fact much more restricted” because people are watched more often in Britain…

    (Wikipedia) “The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate,[3][4] and total documented prison population in the world.[5][6] As of year-end 2007, a record 7.2 million people were behind bars, on probation or on parole. Of the total, 2.3 million were incarcerated.[7] More than 1 in 100 American adults were incarcerated at the start of 2008. The People’s Republic of China ranks second with 1.5 million, while having four times the population, thus having only about 18% of the US incarceration rate.[8][9]
    [...]
    By comparison in 2006, the incarceration rate in England and Wales was 148 persons imprisoned per 100,000 residents; the rate for Norway was 66 inmates per 100,000 and the rate in New Zealand was 186 per 100,000.[3] In Australia in 2005, the rate was 126 prisoners per 100,000 residents.[3]

    The incarceration rate in the People’s Republic of China varies depending on sources and measures: in 2003, for sentenced prisoners only, the rate was declared at 118 inmates per 100,000;[3] in 2008, an estimate for all forms of imprisonment in China assessed the incarceration rate at 218 prisoners per 100,000 population.[24]

    However, these figures are disputed. Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in forced-labor camps for criticizing the government, estimates that 16 to 20 million are incarcerated, including common criminals, political prisoners, and people in involuntary job placements. Ten million prisoners would mean a rate of 793 prisoners per 100,000 citizens in the People’s Republic of China.[25]

  44. The incarceration rate in countries reflects social and political factors and one can do all sorts of lying using the statistics.

    One can be executed for a management screwup in China or for being a rape victim in Iran. While some ‘thug-huggers’ in the USA (and foreign busybodies) treat a lot of our vicious criminals as ‘political prisoners’ and ‘victims’, those afflicted with the “Free Mumia” fetish can be disregarded as irrational.

    Our more ludicrous imprisonments on the basis of opinion alone are rare and noteworthy. The zany poet Ezra Pound was kept for years in a Federal funny farm for his pro-fascist statements during WW II. What aid and comfort he gave to the Axis is questionable.

    Would-be “shoe bomber” Reid should have been executed using the same approach applied to the would-be German saboteurs.. It pays to encourage the others.

  45. What prison population has to do with civil rights is a complete mystery.

    Wonder what Orwell would say about people who, when confronted with an argument they don’t like, simply change the subject?

  46. The incarceration rate in countries reflects social and political factors and one can do all sorts of lying using the statistics.

    The only relevant question regarding prisoners is whether they were jailed after due process of law. If they had access to a defense attorney, a trial by jury, were read their rights by the arresting officer, etc., then their civil rights were in no way violated. End of story.

  47. Phoenician: “Perry – get hold of John Ralston Saul’s “The Doubter’s Companion” and read up the entry on “Politeness”.”

    Thanks, Phoenician, I have ordered the book.

    On the topic of the extremely high rate of incarceration in the US, I have a huge concern, because it is a marker of the social health of our society.

    Income disparity, poverty (lack of food, shelter, health care), three strikes you’re out drug laws, the melting pot, private run prisons for profit, all are factors.

    What troubles me most is that we are not focusing on this serious symptom of social malaise. Moreover, social trends toward more poverty, more drug use, out-of-control influx of immigrants, and increased corruption in the private corporate and public government sphere,tell me that we are on the wrong track.

    To me, it all comes down to values, since they determine attitude and action. Our basic values are out of kilter. This has nothing to do with religion; in fact, I observe that religious myth, tensions, and differences due to absolutism, actually contribute to the problem of value shortfalls. If instead we live by the core value known as the golden rule, we would minimize these social ills, as is the case in other cultures which I have observed first hand.

  48. Perry, you sound a little like Jimmy Carter with your social malaise comment. My question to you would be when do you think this social malaise began because is certainly impacts some of the statements you made.

    “social trends toward more poverty”

    Perry, the statistics I’ve seen from the Census Bureau do not back up that contention. The poverty rate has been steady for years fluctuating in up and down economic cycles. Is there some data you are referring to?

    “more drug use,”

    Again, the statistics don’t really back your contention. If there are increases in 2008 and 2009 are they a trend or just normal fluctuations.
    http://monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/07drugpr.pdf

  49. Phoenician in a time Romans, wrote:

    “Apparently, what you really intended initially was that we should emulate them in taking it as axiomatic or politically necessary, that tolerance of a little everyday terrorism

    Bzzzt. “Rounding up mostly innocent people and torturing them” “not tolerating a little everyday terrorism”. Thank you for playing, and do enjoy the home version of the game.

    You know, DNW, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that …”

    What’s becoming obvious from your textual manipulations Phoenician, is that you are, as Sharon suggests, a resentful troll with a chip on its shoulder; and a dishonest one to boot.

    If you are going to edit sentences in such a way that the proposition actually advanced is deleted, you should at least use some of the conventions available for signaling that you have done this. Then, you can go off diddling yourself and no one will have cause to object.

    As it is, your ideologically motivated dishonesty makes any prospect of rational exchange on the merits, impossible.

    Phoenician, you had approvingly remarked as part of the contrast you made with the U.S., that the Brits and Spaniards had been the victims of, had lived with, ongoing terrorist bombings for decades.

    Your very remark contains within it, an implicit recognition that they had not been able to solve the terrorist bombing problem.

    So, it’s obvious to everyone that the UK and Spain haven’t succeeded in that area. Yet you approvingly cited the choice – that you imply they have made – to live with the bombings, rather than engage in taboo activities.

    Among your accusations regarding the US approach toward tracking down and destroying our attackers, was that we engaged in “torture”, and that it was racially motivated and culturally selective in application.

    Placing aside the truth or falsity of that accusation against us, you cite as your bright and shining examples of supposedly successful governments, governments whose policies have been unable to defend their own citizens from terrorist attack for decades.

    My comment that you were falsely implying [knowingly or unknowingly] with your examples that: ” … tolerance of a little everyday terrorism is the price of living in an “enlightened” pluricultural civilization.” was a fair one.

    You didn’t like the exposure, so you obfuscate in response.

    ” … whenever you start pulling out the largest words possible, you’re trying to cover up some monumentally stupid leap of logic.”

    The problem is with your faulty education, not my vocabulary.

    I don’t know what kind of schooling is necessary in order to become a public librarian in New Zealand, but it’s obvious from what you have written before that you don’t really know anything about law (Constitutional or otherwise), or philosophy, other than what you have been able to glean from your politically motivated Internet surfing exercises. If you had any real training in these areas you wouldn’t have made the kinds of stupid errors we have regularly seen you making.

    Phoenician attempting to redirect elsewhere:

    ” However, if you think “civil liberties are in fact much more restricted” because people are watched more often in Britain …”

    I think civil liberties are much more restricted in Great Britain because you can be arrested and jailed for speech code violations; because self-defense is for all practical intents and purposes a dead letter under their law; because press censorship is legal (as in Australia [cite: the race motivated rapes, reporting restrictions]) and because they have no bill of rights that has any greater force of law than any other ordinary act of Parliament (Dicey).

    “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” – George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946

    You should try taking his advice.

  50. What prison population has to do with civil rights is a complete mystery.

    Gee, I dunno. What could locking people up have to do with civil rights? It’s a mystery,..

    Phoenician, you had approvingly remarked as part of the contrast you made with the U.S., that the Brits and Spaniards had been the victims of, had lived with, ongoing terrorist bombings for decades.

    No, you moron. I approvingly remarked that they’d managed to live with ongoing terrorist bombings with turning into (total) panty-wetting control freaks, in stark contrast to a certain ironically stlyed “Home of the Brave”.

    I think civil liberties are much more restricted in Great Britain because you can be arrested and jailed for speech code violations; because self-defense is for all practical intents and purposes a dead letter under their law; because press censorship is legal (as in Australia [cite: the race motivated rapes, reporting restrictions]) and because they have no bill of rights that has any greater force of law than any other ordinary act of Parliament (Dicey).

    Ah, now you’re cherry-picking criteria. One might just as well point at the level of incarceration in the US, the numerous (and growing) incidences of police brutality not being investigated, and the level of legal and non-legal surveillance on the populace. This is, of course, also cherry-picking.

    So, we could instead look at a disinterested third party assessment (admittedly from 1999). Since this weights by the HDI (i.e. “more developed countries should know better”), you come off as slightly worse than Uganda. Of the developed countries, only Israel and South Korea are rated as being worse at protecting human rights than the US. In absoluter terms, you rate between Russia and Brazil. This is mainly, but by no means entirely, due to the death penalty and the way it is applied unjustly.

    Now, this is from 1999 – it’s possible that this situation has improved since. I doubt it – I don’t think they approve of official torture either.

  51. Phoenician:

    “No, you moron. I approvingly remarked that they’d managed to live with ongoing terrorist bombings with turning into (total) panty-wetting control freaks, in stark contrast to a certain ironically stlyed “Home of the Brave”.”

    In other words Phoenician, you approvingly said and implied what I said you had said: “The Brits and Spanish lived with decades of bombings.”

    Thus my earlier reply stands:

    “Which implies what, exactly? That Americans should be willing to do so? On what basis?

    [Your cue to start singing "Kumbaya"]“

    Your party Phoenician, gives up the freedom of speech in the UK, is subject to arrest in their homes for speech code violations, and lives under camera surveillance in the public square; while I yield up a water bottle at the airport when accessing private transportation services here, and live with the knowledge that we are keeping Islamo-fascist jihadists in Gitmo.

    And the result? Your guys continue to be bombed … but, in a manner which happens to satisfy your kumbaya impulse.

    Fine. It’s all the same to me if you die with a jihadist 2″x4″ up your arse and a smile on your face. Maybe you can find a hand to hold in your last moments. That should add a certain piquancy to your sacrifice.

    Now, I’m going to take an additional moment to do something that will once and for all illustrate your bad faith and troll-like nature, and the pointlessness of even exchanging with you.

    I’m going to re-present the important passages that you have been deleting from this exchange in your attempt to steer the argument away from the shoals on which your little packet of collectivist indignation has been foundering.

    The passages in question will be placed in brackets and italicized.

    Phoenician:

    [" The Brits and Spaniards didn’t institutionalise torture and break their own laws to spy on their own citizens."]

    DNW:

    [" The upshot is that your government examples have not solved the bombing problems they experience with tolerance, while they have failed to protect the lives of their citizens.

    And as we know, civil liberties are in fact much more restricted in Great Britain, than here; as the London speech code arrests, and the widespread presence of municipal surveillance cameras demonstrate. "]

    Phoenician trying to redirect from civil liberties to penal matters:

    [” However, if you think “civil liberties are in fact much more restricted” because people are watched more often in Britain …”]

    DNW:

    I think civil liberties are much more restricted in Great Britain because you can be arrested and jailed for speech code violations; because self-defense is for all practical intents and purposes a dead letter under their law; because press censorship is legal (as in Australia [cite: the race motivated rapes, reporting restrictions]) and because they have no bill of rights that has any greater force of law than any other ordinary act of Parliament (Dicey).

    Phoenician:

    “Ah, now you’re cherry-picking criteria. One might just as well point at the level of incarceration in the US, the numerous (and growing) incidences of police brutality not being investigated, and the level of legal and non-legal surveillance on the populace. This is, of course, also cherry-picking”

    One might “just as well” you say?

    No, idiot, one might not just as well. The above shows that what I was explicitly referring to were the traditional civil and political rights and liberties of free men as partly enumerated in documents such as the American Bill of Rights, formerly contained with force of law in the British bill of rights, and as commented upon by such long recognized constitutional experts as A.V. Dicey.

    Now, you ignorant little twit, you try to claim that my reference to these particular legal concepts is an example of “cherry picking”, when in fact they exemplify the very concept of rights in law.

    And the only reason your stupid gambit looks only slightly less ridiculous than it deserves to, is because you have determinedly swept away the entire prior context on the exchange on rights, in an attempt to steer away from the constitutional and legal concept of rights, toward some social-equity as law horseshit mix you have dredged up from the left-wing “Guardian”.

    You think it is news that the barbarism of female circumcision is the manifestation of a “barbaric” mentality?

    You and I don’t need to be talking to each other really. We want radically different and incompatible things that cannot be negotiated. (Sure you didn’t have an ancestor that fled from the top of Kings Mountain to Canada and then to New Z?)

    What I want is freedom from your worthless interference; and what you want is a totalitarian government that wrangles every human being into your fetid social equity network, enshrines your weakness and debility, offers you a socially provided rice bowl, and above all, governmentally mandates social affirmations for your personal dysfunctions.

    Forget it, chump.

    What a drag your parasitical and endlessly pressing kind is.

    Could it be a congenital thing?

    Whatever, it remains your problem and not mine; until such time that is, when you insist on making it mine.

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