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Cheney vs. Ignatieff on waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed


 

The scene from Washington D.C.: President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder has named a prosecutor to investigate alleged CIA abuses of terror detainees. Former Vice President Dick Cheney gives an interview to Fox News regarding this decision and what he calls a political investigation rather than a law enforcement action. “Enhanced Interrogation” as it is euphemistically called by its supporters and “torture” by its detractors, was carried out numerous times during the Bush presidency since 9/11.

Michael Ignatieff has published opinions on waterboarding and targeted assassinations (which the Cheney interview also addresses regarding predator drone strikes into Pakistan). As CIA officials are facing potential prosecution in the US regarding enhanced interrogation/torture, and lawyers who provided legal opinion regarding these techniques now face disbarment, it may be a good time for the Liberal leader to clarify his justification of the use of waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

Michael Ignatieff from Prospect Magazine, April 2006:

I submit that we would not be “waterboarding” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—immersing him in water until he experiences the torment of nearly drowning—if our intelligence operatives did not believe it was necessary to crack open the al Qaeda network that he commanded. Indeed, Mark Bowden points to a Time report in March 2003 that Sheikh Mohammed had “given US interrogators the names and descriptions of about a dozen key al Qaeda operatives believed to be plotting terrorist attacks.” We must at least entertain the possibility that the operatives working on Sheikh Mohammed in our name are engaging not in gratuitous sadism but in the genuine belief that this form of torture—and it does qualify as such—makes all the difference.

Dick Cheney from Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace today:

CHRIS WALLACE: The CIA released two other documents this week. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, preeminent source in al Qaeda — while they say that the overall program got absolutely crucial information, they do not conclude whether the enhanced interrogation programs worked. They just are kind of agnostic on the program and then there’s what President Obama calls the core issue.

DICK CHENEY: Well, these two reports are versions of the ones I asked for previously. There’s actually one, the detainee report pivotal for the war against al Qaeda, there’s one that’s more detailed that has not been released. The interesting thing about these is it shows that Khalid Sheik Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah were pivotal in the war against al Qaeda, that both were uncooperative at first, that the application of enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically waterboarding, especially in the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, convinced him he needed to cooperate. The EITs were critical and saved thousands of lives and let us defeat all further attacks against the United States.

Dick Cheney confirms Michael Ignatieff’s rationale for the use of waterboarding to prevent future terrorist attacks. Does Michael Ignatieff still hold this position? It would seem that on waterboarding, that Michael Ignatieff’s position is closer to Dick Cheney — who signed off on use of EITs — rather than Barack Obama, whose AG is now looking into prosecuting those that carried it out.

UPDATE: Some have suggested that I should include this quote of Ignatieff’s from the same essay. I am happy to do so.

“We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are.”

My original statements and questions still stand… because while I didn’t say that Michael Ignatieff supports waterboarding, I did say that he has justified it.

“To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil.” — Michael Ignatieff

1) “it may be a good time for the Liberal leader to clarify his justification of the use of waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.”

This is factual and even some Iggy defenders here note that the man justified waterboarding if he didn’t support it.

2) “Dick Cheney confirms Michael Ignatieff’s rationale for the use of waterboarding to prevent future terrorist attacks. Does Michael Ignatieff still hold this position?”

Indeed, while Cheney justifies (and supports) torture, the comparative quote above is one confirming the rationale (not support) of the other.

3) “It would seem that on waterboarding, that Michael Ignatieff’s position is closer to Dick Cheney — who signed off on use of EITs — rather than Barack Obama, whose AG is now looking into prosecuting those that carried it out.”

Dick Cheney has argued that waterboarding works as has Michael Ignatieff. This is illustrated by both quotes above.

At the moment, our good friend Kady is asking all party leaders on their stance on these topics. She’ll have a post up on that soon. I’m encouraged by her work on this, clarifying (without nuance) each leader’s position on the topic. As it has also been noted, Michael Ignatieff’s position has actually evolved from supporting these “lesser evils” to arguing that they may be justified without endorsing them.

Stephen Taylor is a conservative commentator based in Ottawa.


 
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Cheney vs. Ignatieff on waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

  1. It's interesting how Iggy confuses people with his intentions by first stating that "would not be waterboarding"…true politician.

  2. And what, pray tell, is the CPC position on waterboarding, Mr. Taylor? Please link to Stephen Harper's last denunciation of such practices. I'm sure you have the link there in your archives. Will check back.

    • Taylor has provided a quote of Ignatieff on waterboarding. In logical fairness, the onus is upon you to provide a similar quote from Stephen Harper.

      • Yes, Taylor has provided a quote from Ignatieff on waterboarding in which Ignatieff basically says "sometimes, torture can effectively make people talk" and "the Americans engaging in torture are probably not sadists who like to torture people, but legitimately want to get actionable intelligence out of their suspects".

        Then he quotes Cheney essentially saying "torture worked, and it saved lives".

        What the post fails entirely to mention, is that Ignatieff, while agreeing that torture can sometimes "work", then concludes that despite it's occasional "effectiveness" we nonetheless shouldn't engage in torture. Worse, this post is pretty clearly trying to say that Cheney and Ignatieff agree on whether we should be using torture, when in truth they certainly do not, and the quotes provided don't even go in to that question. Fine, Ignatieff and Cheney agree that torture can sometimes lead us to actionable intelligence. Nonetheless, their opinions on whether we should therefore USE torture are pretty diametrically opposed. Cheney's argues: it works, so it'll save lives, so let's do it. Ignatieff argues: "it works, but it's morally dubious and engaging in such a practice will ultimately do more harm to us than the harm it prevents, so let's not do it".

        Ignatieff's more nuanced argument isn't that useful for his political opponents though.

        • It's not nuanced, it's incoherent.

          First, Ignatieff tries–but fails–to distinguish clearly between outright torture and so-called "coercive interrogation." He criticizes those who would collapse the categories, but can't clearly say what actions belong in the latter group. He's willing to "get his hands dirty," to quote one of his phrases, but he can't say exactly how.

          Not very helpful, except to those who benefit from muddying the waters around exactly what is and isn't permissible.

          (By the way, IIRC, the relevant International Convention doesn't just ban torture, but also cruel, unusual, inhuman or degrading actions, and says further that NO extenuating circumstance justifies breaking the rules.)

          Which brings me to a further flaw in Ignatieff's position on the use of torture: so-called "ticking bomb" scenarios.

          In this scenario, Ignatieff's hypothetical well-intentioned interrogator crosses the line because of a Jack Bauer-style circumstance. Ignatieff's proposed solution to this problem is that the interrogator be prosecuted (for breaking the prohibition on torture), but be allowed to plead "necessity" on conviction to mitigate of punishment.

          In my view, this makes his ban almost meaningless, since–in the real world of a so-called War on Terror–prosecuted torturers will always plead necessity and, given the intellectual and moral climate fostered by people like Michael Ignatieff, will likely be believed: the signal ultimately sent will be all too clear.

          I could go on about how Ignatieff has misrepresented his position on this question, but I think it's important to remember that whatever he thinks about torture currently, or has thought about it in the past, his writing on the question–like his writings in favour of illegal aggressive war–show a distressing lack of critical thought, coupled with an almost axiomatic belief that those claiming to act in the interests of certain powerful states he favours (e.g. the US, the UK) have the right to violate international law in pursuit of their aims.

          • Yes, except that Igntieff's position on the ticking time bomb is PRECISELY that it's irrelevant since it's not realistic, and his position is that we SHOULDN'T torture no matter the rationalizations because no matter how well intentioned it's just wrong.

            You look at the beginning of Ignatieff's argument and say "he's muddying the waters", I look at it and say, "he's showing us how muddy the waters are". Did he take some time as an academic rolling the ideas around and engaging in academic exercises? Yes. That's what academics do. His current stance against torture however is pretty unequivocal as far as I can tell, and pretending it isn't is just blatantly intellectually dishonest.

            Attack the man if you must for not always and forever believing what he believes today. Criticize him, if it's all you've got, for attempting a complex and nuanced discussion of a complicated issue as an academic is want to do. However, pretending you JUST DON'T GET IT is evidence either that you're deliberately pretending to be obtuse to score political points against an opponent, or, frankly, that you're just too obtuse to be taken seriously.

          • You're obviously not familiar with Ignatieff's position(s) on this question.

            Your facile generalization about "what academics do," however, places you firmly in the column of those who would be willing to take seriously Ignatieff's "Getting Iraq Wrong" column in the New York Times.

            Shameful evasion of logic, responsibility and the truth that it was, it nevertheless seemed to satisfy certain Ignatieff critics regarding his support for illegal wars of aggression. Not me, though–I've actually read what he's written.

            Sorry, LKO, but if you think Michael Ignatieff has been "attempting a complex and nuanced discussion of a complicated issue as an academic is want [sic] to do," then you and I have different definitions of key adjectives.

            Not that you're the first, by any means, LKO.

            Janice Stein, IIRC, once introduced Ignatieff to a Liberal audience as a person of conscience and principle.

            I concluded on that occasion that her dictionary read differently from mine.

          • Well, if I'm in a box with Janice Stein, and you're in a box with people who read the following as in any way even on the same PLANET as Dick Cheney's view of torture, then I consider myself blessed to be at odds with you!

            "We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are. This is the best I can do, but those of us who believe this had better admit that many of our fellow citizens are bound to disagree. It is in the nature of democracy itself that fellow citizens will define their identity in ways that privilege security over liberty and thus reluctantly endorse torture in their name. If we are against torture, we are committed to arguing with our fellow citizens, not treating those who defend torture as moral monsters. Those of us who oppose torture should also be honest enough to admit that we may have to pay a price for our own convictions. Ex ante, of course, I cannot tell how high this price might be. Ex post following another terrorist attack that might have been prevented through the exercise of coercive interrogation the price of my scruple might simply seem too high. This is a risk I am prepared to take, but frankly, a majority of fellow citizens is unlikely to concur."

    • Cue scary attack ad voice: "Michael Ignatieff has not come out against the flogging of clowns. In fact, he's never been seen at the circus in a good mood. Does Michael Ignatieff support clown flogging? We don't know… he just won't say."

      • Ignatieff is clearly against the flogging of clowns, and anyone who pretends differently is just playing politics. Surely, as a professor, he once wrote about how he can understand how someone can flog a clown out of a sense of duty to one's country, and that security officials who flog clowns on orders from their superiors aren't just sadists, but can legitimately said to have honest motives; but that doesn't mean he supports the flogging of clowns.

        Cheney thinks flogging clowns is not only tactically useful, but he follows that with the argument that we must therefore flog clowns, and anyone who doesn't think we should be flogging clowns is soft on humour. Ignatieff concedes that the flogging of clowns may on occasion "work" to drive clowns away from birthday parties, but then argues that the immorality of flogging clowns, the damage it will do to our reputation and our cause, and the broad potential for misuse of the authority to flog clowns simply isn't worth it's potential benefits.

        Unfortunately, Ignatieff's political opponents will always quote "flogging clowns will more often than not keep your birthday party clown-free", but always seem to forget to quote "nonetheless we should not condone the flogging of clowns".

  3. Back to work Stephen and I distinctly hope you can dig up a better quote from Ignatieff. In the one presented: 1) he says that waterboarding is torture and 2) those using waterboarding genuinely believe that it is effective and necessary. The only criticism I can imagine is that he is wasting print stating the obvious.

    What he does not say is perhaps informative. He does not say he personally believes waterboarding is effective in this piece, indeed he probably would be careful enough not to take an opinion where he lacks expertise. However, in other writings, he states that independent of whether it works it is both ethically wrong and ultimately counterproductive. Counterproductive not because it does not work, but rather because the damage we do to ourselves outweighs the value of the information gained.

    Cheney on the other hand seems to view torture as being worthwhile in and of itself, with possibility of claiming the information gained was valuable a bonus.

  4. I love this rag, MacLean's. It's behaving just like the rest of the mainstream news media: doing more of what it does worst as its fortunes decline.

    The end is near.

    • Why do you spend so much time here reading and commenting if all Macleans does is focus on what it does worst? Surely you have better things to do with your time other than bore the rest of us with your faux ennui.

      And why do we have to be informed that Taylor is a conservative commentator? No one else has that blurb identifying their political persuasion.

      • Indeed. As a gesture of fairness, can Wherry be blurbed on his posts as a hyperpartisan Liberal supporter?

      • Indeed. As a gesture of fairness, can Wherry be blurbed on his posts as similarly, explicitly partisan?

      • The reason why Taylor is identified as such is that he is the conservatie blogger – i.e. he is not a journalist per se but a full time apostle and evangelist for the Conservative Party of Canada. Check out his website and you will see. Macleans would be remiss not to mention this.

        • I am aware of his career. The problem is that he's no more or less biased than many an "objective journalist;" he just happens to be open and up-front about it. Why does that demand a special disclaimer, as though the reader's fragile mind can't handle partisan commentary?

        • I am aware of his career. The problem is that he's no more or less biased than many an "objective journalist;" he just happens to be open and up-front about it. Why does that demand a special disclaimer, as though the reader's fragile mind can't handle partisan commentary without the fiction of public-minded neutrality?

        • Who is Scott Feschuck?

          • I believe Scott, a writer for MacLean's is a former speechwriter for Paul Martin.
            Though I've never seen him described as a liberal commentator.

        • I guess conservative, and Conservative are the same thing to people who don't understand nuance.

          Imagine if the Liberal party was actually "liberal".

      • Quote:"And why do we have to be informed that Taylor is a conservative commentator?"

        I think he himself put that line there all by himself.

  5. Kenneth Whyte: This is a bad idea. Just let Taylor publish his commentary on his own site, and Wherry can largely cut and paste it here.

    • Feschuk (a regular contributor) is a former speechwriter for PMPM, and works with Scott Reid.

      Perhaps you should personally chose what to read, rather than asking for someone else to censor it for you.

      • I'm not asking anyone to censor it for me. Just suggesting they pay fair market value.

    • Not only do they want the government to protect them from speech, but Maclean's too.

      • That is now officially the lamest form of whining. Congratulations.

  6. Eric Holders recent announcment of investigations has nothing to do with EIT's.

    It is an investigation into whether certain CIA (or Blackwater) interrogators overstepped the bounds of the authourized techniques. (Those outlined in "the torture memos")

    Dick Cheney's assertion that this is a political witch-hunt is of couse wrong, and hopefully he will be answering questions under oath soon about failing to notify the intellegence commitiees in the house and senate about his personal CIA program. (Illegal in any-ones book).

    Iggy's statement here is quite nuanced as always, and I find myself in tentative agreement.

    Thou I may accept that those who carried out these interrogations believed they were doing right, I am unconvinced that they were actually effective (as Dick Cheney, but not Iggy claims).

    I AM sure however, that any good that was achieved thru these meathods was far outweighed by the loss of the moral high-ground in international opinion, and the erosion of our core values as a nation.

    Torture is wrong, and under any other name, it still smells like barbarism.

  7. What Blogging Tories is too small a sandbox for Mr. Taylor to selectively quote his opponents?

    OK Macleans….. when we gonna see Liberal and NDP and Green counterparts to this goon?

    • Doesn't Aaron Wherry count?

      • What about Andrew Coyne, like Wherry he works for Macleans. Taylor is the Blogging Tory king who's main objective is to try to twist, mislead and more so, spends all his time digging for dirt.

        Have you ever read the Blogging Tories – enough to make you sick.

        And, I agree with NorthernPoV – Liberal, NDP and Green. Otherwise, this magazine is not balanced.

        • Feschuk – former LPC PM speechwriter and colleague of Scott Reid.

          Good enough for you?

          • He's not associated with the Liberal party anymore. Taylor *cough* is.

          • How is Taylor associated with the CPC? From his information it seems like he works for Manning Centre. He might be a CPC member, but isn't Feschuk (and by extension Reid)?

          • Don't make me laugh. Seriously.

          • "Don't make me laugh"

            or…

            "don't make me defend my suspicions because I don't have factual support"

          • Riiiight, my nefarious and unsupported suspicions that Stephen Taylor is associated with the Conservative Party of Canada. You clowns just don't know when to give up, eh?

            I miss the other Anon.

          • Jack,

            You never know who you're talking to on these boards. Unless you can find some proof for your accusation we should consider it moot.

            It would be like me saying Kate McMillan works for the Saskatchewan Party… while she pushes ovbiously for one side, she is definitely not in their pay.

            What is it with lefties and assuming that anyone who disagrees with you must be in the pay of organizations you dislike? "That scientist doubts CO2 forcing he must work for an oil company!" etc.

            Shouldn't I accuse you of being in the pay of CUPE because your views are to the left of mine?

          • I'm not saying Taylor is "in the pay" of the CPC, but are you seriously denying that he is a professional Conservative partisan? Because if you are, you apparently know nothing about the Canadian blogosphere. Taylor, bless his heart, is the single most prominent Conservative blogger.

          • I'm not saying Taylor is "in the pay" of the CPC, but are you seriously denying that he is a Conservative partisan? Because if you are, you apparently know nothing about the Canadian blogosphere.

          • I'm not saying Taylor is "in the pay" of the CPC, but are you seriously denying that he is a professional Conservative partisan? Because if you are, you apparently know nothing about the Canadian blogosphere.

          • I'm not saying Taylor is "in the pay" of the CPC, but are you seriously denying that he is a professional Conservative partisan? Because if you are, you apparently know nothing about the Canadian blogosphere; you're very new here and it wouldn't surprise me. FYI, Taylor, bless his heart, is the single most prominent Conservative blogger.

          • Jack,

            Again, there's a difference between conservative and Conservative. He is a professional conservative blogger. I have known him personally for more than a quarter century.

            I would say that your self-assuredness is probably the reason why you only get into fights on this board.

          • I do plenty on this board besides getting into fights, as you'd know if you weren't on your first week here, Jon. Jeez, talk about "self-assuredness."

            Taylor is both a conservative (as defined by self-defined conservatives, i.e. a radical Whig) and a Conservative. He is the de facto head of Blogging Tories. I don't care if you've known him since you shared a wet nurse, that's the way it goes and you're not making a nice first impression.

            May I say that pretending to be a non-partisan "commentator" while actually being a fellow of the Manning Institute, i.e. an American-style tax-deductible political farm system, smacks of dishonesty? But then you appear honestly not to grasp the concept, so I guess as long as Revenue Canada says it's OK . . .

          • Jack,

            He either works for the CPC or he doesn't.

            You have yet to provide any credible information backing up your claim. Again, Stephen didn't pretend anything… at the end of his post it says "Stephen Taylor is a conservative commentator based in Ottawa.", he runs bloggingtories.ca which spans from red tories like myself to socons like Right Girl, but not beholden to the CPC.

            Unfortunately you can't see that someone can have an ideology separate from large political tent parties. That's really sad.

            It's also pretty sad that low taxes and elected parliament are "radical Whig" ideas in your mind. Perhaps you can do yourself a favour and actually read what he has to say, rather than assuming you have any idea.

            I also couldn't care less what impression I have given you.

            Regards,

          • Incidentally it's called the Manning Centre. It's run by a Reform guy. Any proof that Manning is a Conservative, rather than a conservative?

          • LOL, you're too funny, Jon. Please keep it up. BTW can you please prove that the sky is blue? Do that and I'll consider proving to you that Manning of the Manning Whatchamacallit is a Conservative.

          • Jack,

            I believe the onus is on you to find proof. You've provided nothing at all.

            Here's a hint, check the party membership lists. Check donation lists. Find a single thing to prove what you said earlier.

        • Hmmm… I don't know if you should be demanding balance according to your view. Some amped up fundamentalists in Toronto tried that once and Maclean's told them to pound sand.

    • to bloody funny. Thanks for the laugh

  8. As always, I'm on the wrong side of the fence. And I used to think I was normal. Ha!

    It seems to me that these interogators are very well trained. We've never heard of anyone dying from waterboarding. Recently we learned that a Canadian University study in cold water immersion was used by the CIA; they used it to determine the limits a body can take so they wouldn't kill anybody.

    It is my opinion that these guys attacked us, at home and have openly declared that they will do it again. Don't kill the bastards, but do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    We criticized the intelligence groups for not stopping it before it happened and now we criticize these same people for keeping us safe.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was obviously one of the bad guys!

  9. Geez, isn't it curious that Stephen Taylor links to an article that you cannot read without a subscription? I suppose we're just to take the quote at face value and not consider the context of the article? I mean it's not like M. Ignatieff is well known for nuanced writing that examines the validities in opposing viewpoints or anything.

    Stephen Taylor of course would never take the Liberal leader's words out of context for partisan gain, would he?

      • Actually, none of the links that come up from that search include the rest of the article, with the exception of this one, posted by one Aaron Wherry a few months back. It would seem that the additional context does not completely back up Taylor's contention that his view is similar to that espoused by Dick Cheney in the quotes interview, as he — Ignatieff, that is — argues that even if it *did* work, that it would be wrong to do so, and Cheney, if I'm reading correctly, concludes that it would not.

        • MORE KADY, LESS STEPHEN TAYLOR!!

    • Don't let your frugality or ignorance get in the way of your partisanship.

  10. Perhaps Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is obviously one of the bad guys…. what do we do when we get to the less obvious cases?

    • You start with torture lite – sleep deprivation and starvation. Then you expect our trained interrogators to make an educated assessment and go from there.

      Unless you think sleep deprivation and making them go hungry is too harsh?

  11. Taylor would, for partisan gain, work at twisting and taking words out of context. That's his purpose in life.

    If you can't win by good pollicy, meaningful debate – then demean and destroy.

    Conservative / Republican strategy.

    • Waterboard the messenger much? Iggy would be proud.

    • I believe that's a political strategy. I don't think it has a left right bend to it.

      For example:
      Warren Kinsella is a Liberal who makes his life on twisting words and (in the case of Stockwell Day) insulting whole religions to win. Remember Barney the Purple Dinosaur?

      Even what you did right there, in your post was, lying by omission and hoping that no one would notice.

      Welcome to the big show. We don't fight fair here.

  12. "does not completely" and "similar". Your logic is not strong here.

    "It would seem that on waterboarding, that Michael Ignatieff's position is closer to Dick Cheney — who signed off on use of EITs — rather than Barack Obama, whose AG is now looking into prosecuting those that carried it out."

    *closer to Cheney than BO on waterboarding. Agree or disagree?

    • Considering that Ignatieff appears to have come to the conclusion that torture is not justified, even if it works, and Cheney is, if I'm reading this interview correctly, stating that his view is exactly the opposite, I'm comfortable with the strength of my logic here. As to your question, I'm not nearly informed enough on Barack Obama's position on torture/coercive interrogation to say whether Ignatieff's view is closer to his than it is to Cheney, but considering that he — Ignatieff, that is — went into some detail about the safeguards that must be in place if a state is to allow the use of coercive interrogation/torture in Lesser Evils, I have no reason to think he would disagree with Obama's decision to have the Attorney General investigate past practices.

  13. From "Lesser Evils" an op-ed from Ignatieff in NYTIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/02/magazine/lesser… Sorry 4 tha link.

    "Sticking too firmly to the rule of law simply allows terrorists too much leeway to exploit our freedoms. Abandoning the rule of law altogether betrays our most valued institutions. To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil. The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions. If we can't, any victories we gain in the war on terror will be Pyrrhic ones."

  14. ug. That is SO out of context!

    In the next paragraph he's says… "NOT!"

    • Oh, for heaven's sake, the entire last three pages of that essay go into great detail about the need for safeguards and scrutiny. You can agree or disagree with his overall position — I'm sure a lot of Canadians, and Liberals, did and do, but both Taylor's original argument, and those of some commenters in this thread, are ill-informed at best, and downright misleading at worst.

      • So Iggy holds *both positions?

        Paul Martin once said human rights isn't measured in shades of grey, it's black and white.

        Michael Ignatieff, Paul Martin you are not.

        • I agree with you that the current iteration of Ignatieff ('Ignattieration?') makes Paul Martin look like whatever the opposite of a windsock is, but in fairness to the 2004/2006 Ignatieffs, there is a natural evolution in his views from Lesser Evils to If Torture Works, but at no point does he actually endorse torture, period. He hems and haws and does his Hamlet routine, but he doesn't give an enthusiastic thumbs up to waterboarding. The thing I don't get, though, is this: Ignatieff's *actual position on coercive interrogation/torture* is, as far as I can see, one with which many Canadians would *profoundly disagree*. So why not make *that* the centrepiece of your arguments, instead of these easily debunkable out of contextisms?

        • I agree with you that the current iteration of Ignatieff ('Ignattieration?') makes Paul Martin look like whatever the opposite of a windsock is, but in fairness to the 2004/2006 Ignatieffs, there is a natural evolution in his views from Lesser Evils to If Torture Works, and at no point does he actually endorse torture, period. He hems and haws and does his Hamlet routine, but he doesn't give an enthusiastic thumbs up to waterboarding. The thing I don't get, though, is this: Ignatieff's *actual position on coercive interrogation/torture* is, as far as I can see, one with which many Canadians would *profoundly disagree*. So why not make *that* the centrepiece of your arguments, instead of these easily debunkable out of contextisms?

  15. Considering that Ignatieff appears to have come to the conclusion that torture is not justified, even if it works, and Cheney is, if I'm reading this interview correctly, stating that his view is exactly the opposite, I'm comfortable with the strength of my logic here. As to your question, I'm not nearly informed enough on Barack Obama's position on torture/coercive interrogation to say whether Ignatieff's view is closer to his than it is to Cheney, but considering that he — Ignatieff, that is — went into some detail about the safeguards that must be in place if a state is to allow the use of coercive interrogation/torture in Lesser Evils, I have no reason to think he would disagree with Obama's decision to have the Attorney General investigate past practices. berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

  16. MI has suggested waterboarding may be a "necessary evil". BO's admin is now looking in prosecuting the CIA over EITs.

    • Actually, from what I recall, there is nothing in Lesser Evils that in any way precludes the notion of unauthorized or unwarranted actions by state operatives subsequently being subject to review, congressional and/or judicial. He also goes on at length about the need for scrutiny. In fact, I don't think there's anything in that essay that in any way contradicts what Obama has ordered, so I guess I'd have to say that Ignatieff's position is closer to his than Cheney, although whether that means it is *also* closer to the views of Canadians is another question entirely, of course. berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

      • I think this is clear:

        "Sticking too firmly to the rule of law simply allows terrorists too much leeway to exploit our freedoms. Abandoning the rule of law altogether betrays our most valued institutions. To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil. The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions. If we can't, any victories we gain in the war on terror will be Pyrrhic ones"

        • Oh, for heaven's sake, the entire last three pages of that essay go into great detail about the need for safeguards and scrutiny. You can agree or disagree with his overall position — I'm sure a lot of Canadians, and Liberals, did and do, but both Taylor's original argument, and those of some commenters in this thread, are ill-informed at best, and downright misleading at worst.

        • Yes, I saw that quote later in the thread. Did you happen to read the rest of the article? Particularly the last three pages? I think it pretty much confirms that even the Ignatieff of 2004 — two years before the Prospect article — would be on Obama's side, and not Cheney's, as far as bringing in the Attorney General. berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

        • Since we've had a thread collision of sorts, as far as this particular argument goes, you might want to move down to where I'm discussing this with the other Anon, who — now that I think about it — may or may not be the same as the one to which I am replying now. In any case, that would be less confusing, and require less retyping.

          • Ask Jonathan if they have the same IP addresses.

        • The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions.

          Uh, and doesn't Ignatieff conclude that we can't, and therefore we shouldn't engage in these lesser evils?

  17. I understand you are new here, Mr. Taylor, but it is customary for the one who posts to respond to direct questions posed in the comments. Jack Mitchell asked you a direct question two hours ago, and I, too, am waiting for your response.

    • Jack can do his own legwork. Taylor wrote a post about Iggy and Cheney that is already 100 lines long.

      You have some people hear whining that Taylor should not write at all, and then you have you and Jack complaining he does not write enough.

    • Mr Taylor: I hope your behaviour is misleading … but your behaviour is leading us to believe you are a liar and a misleader. Please show some gumption and let us know if we are mistaken.

      • attack the messenger…

        Ignatieff needs to answer about his position on torture (it's justification (which we know he has argued) and its use)

  18. He's practicing Van Loan torture Jenn – you ask a question – and ask a question – and ask a question – until you go blue in the face – and still don't get an answer!
    It's call the Question Period form of torture!

  19. This is a pretty misleading post, imho.

    Both Ignatieff and Cheney do argue, it's true, that torture often "works". Now, agree or disagree with that, but fair enough, on that they appear to agree.

    However (and it's a pretty huge however) while Cheney concludes from this "it works, therefore we should do it", Ignatieff concludes that it doesn't ultimately matter that it works, that engaging in torture does more harm to us, to degrade our moral standing and our international legitimacy, than the "benefits" of torture could ever make up for, and so we shouldn't do it (ain't it funny how people always quote Ignatieff's "torture sometimes works" line, and ignore his "but we shouldn't do it anyway" conclusion).

    I don't see how you could have a post much more misleading or dishonest than simply arguing that Cheney and Ignatieff both think torture can sometimes make people talk, and then completely ignoring that one man then argues that we should therefore torture people, while the other argues that torture's "effectiveness" is immaterial, and that we simply shouldn't torture, even if it works.

    From my own point of view, whether torture "works" or not is entirely besides the point. I mean, indiscriminant firebombing of cities arguably "works" to make an enemy capitulate too. That doesn't mean the ends justify the means.

  20. and in your words, what would Ignatieff's position be?

    • “I thought maybe a teensy tiny bit of humilitation, sleep deprivation and other R-rated tactics might be okay, provided there was sufficient scrutiny and ample safeguards, and the government didn't lie to us like they did over Iraq, which, incidentally, made me look kind of foolish, but let's not get into that now. But then I realized that actually, what makes us a civil society is the whole not-torturing-people thing, and plus, I was starting to look foolish again because of that whole believing that the government would follow a strict code and use trained operatives and only do it in locked-room-with-a-dirty-bomb-somewhere-in-Los-Angeles situations like Alan Dershowitz envisioned. So I wrote an article for The Prospect in which I came out against the whole notion, because my motto is, better late than never. Can we talk about asbestos now?” berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

    • "I thought maybe a teensy tiny bit of humiliation, sleep deprivation and other R-rated tactics might be okay, provided there was sufficient scrutiny and ample safeguards, and the government didn't lie to us like they did over Iraq, which, incidentally, made me look kind of foolish, but let's not get into that now. But then I realized that actually, what makes us a civil society is the whole not-torturing-people thing, and plus, I was starting to look foolish again because of that whole thing about believing that the government would follow a strict code and use trained operatives and only do it in locked-room-with-a-dirty-bomb-somewhere-in-Los-Angeles situations like Alan Dershowitz envisioned. So I wrote an article for The Prospect in which I came out against the whole notion, because my motto is, better late than never. Can we talk about asbestos now?"

      • …indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil. The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions.

        What I read from this is that these lesser evils which include coercive interrogation *can be justified* only because they prevent the greater evil.

        He says that the question is that we shouldn't debate whether we're using these techniques but if our "free institutions" can keep control over them (ie. safeguards). If we can't we shouldn't use them. But if we can?

      • Why don't you get it right from the horse's mouth? Maybe, just maybe, you could ask Ignatieff to clarify his position? You know, maybe bring up his old quotes and ask him to explain.

        Lots of ink has been spilled relishing in the injustice of the Tories using Iggy's words against him. But why has NO ONE from the press gallery asked Count Silver Spoon why he referred to himself as American less than four years ago? Oh wait, it's easier just to write stories about election speculation and personality.

        And considering Harper was asked by one of your colleagues if he loved Canada, maybe you can bring up Iggy's past proclamations of citizenship? It might get in the way of you live blogging a committee know one cares about or referring to yourself in the third person. Tough, I know.

        • Probably because I'm more interested in what he — and the prime minister, and all the other politicians that I cover — say, do and think *now*. berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

        • Probably because I'm more interested in what he — and the prime minister, and all the other politicians that I cover — say, do and think *now*.

          • Good to hear that, although I don't think your sentiments are universal. Harper's "culture of defeat" quote lasted for a good 5 years as political fodder.

          • Harper is a conservative. You can hold things against them forever.

            You're forgetting the rules of Canadian Politics: What a Liberal thinks is what "Canadians" think? What a conservative thinks is a "far right" opinion.

            amazing how 40% of Canadians are far right.

          • Political expediency seems to direct what most think now.

            History helps us know what thinkers thought when they were paid to be thinkers.

            Taylor asks "Does Michael Ignatieff still hold this position?" This would be to figure out what 2009 Ignatieff thinks.

            Nowhere does Taylor say "Michael Ignatieff supports torture" but rather Ignatieff has argued for the justification of torture.

          • No Taylor do what conservatives do best: Half-truths, Assumptions, Innuendo, Lies.

            His message is: Ignatieff = Cheney
            Despite that Cheney is in favor to apply of any kind of torture on supposed terrorist while Ignatieff clearly doesn't share that view.

            But it's funny to see the fake morale indignation of conservatives zealots when it's not even difficult to find on their blog that they would prefer that enemies combatants be executed on the spot without due process (ex: Ezra Levant made a post promoting exactly this a few months ago).

          • At least with the Conservatives you get half truths, rather than outright lies.

            "We will eliminate the GST" I was 9 and I remember that.

          • Yeah, because the promise to not tax income trusts was just an "half lie". It's not a real lie when Harper says it.

            Also, Copps resigned for not fulfilling that promise, I have yet to see a conservatives MP accept the blame for just one of their mistake.

          • That's one fine memory you got there Jon. I'm guessing that what with your elephant-like skills of recollection I don't need to remind you that it was introduced by a Conservative government now do I?

            (you guys are funny, you seem to think that if you keep reminding us that Chretien didn't scrap the GST everyone will magically forget that it was Mulroney who gave it to us.)

          • Consumption tax is a good thing.

            What I wrote in context is Liberals lie as well as conservatives. Please don't think your side (to Zeph) is any better.

          • My point is not about which "side" is better.

            I'm merely pointing out that Stephen Taylor pretends to be interested in truth when he is not. And his question are more in the line of "when did you stop beating your wife?". He doesn't want to know the answer, his question is more "I think Ignatieff and Cheney are ideological brother" (poorly reasoned arguments and out of context quotes supplied) but if I frame this as a question then I look less partisan. Heck, as Norman Spector pointed out below, the very same article where Taylor selectively took his quotes, Ignatieff clearly says:
            "We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are. … If we are against torture, we are committed to arguing with our fellow citizens, not treating those who defend torture as moral monsters. Those of us who oppose torture should also be honest enough to admit that we may have to pay a price for our own convictions."

          • I remember that, too, and I disagreed with Trudeau about it. I also remember Flaherty promising not to tax income trusts, I believe Harper also campaigned on that promise. I agreed with them when they turned right around almost immediately and taxed income trusts. So as far as I'm concerned, they both broke their promises and did the right thing.

            What does this have to do with Stephen Taylor's complete misrepresentation of Ignatieff's position?

          • So the past really is the past? Yesterday didn't matter? Four years ago is just too far back to go? The agriculture sub-committee on beans is the bigger scoop?

            He called himself American and he wants to be the leader of Canada. It's not worth one question?

            Oh, and please realize you're analyzing his old musings on torture while saying you're not interested in his declarations on citizenship because they were in past. Your logic stinks.

          • Hysterical conservative argument #021: He called himself American! Be scared! He can't be PM!

          • Also,

            He called Canadian Peacekeepers a joke, and said that you have to go to the Pentagon to get any heavy lifting done.

          • And that's supposed to be a false assertion, somehow?

          • No that would be Liberal argument #1. shoe's on the other foot now… and back then it was a twisted lie by Paul Martin. Now, it's a legitimate question. Dion held dual citizenship with France and the argument could be made that one could have split loyalties. With Ignatieff, it's his reference to his country he left 34 years ago… and no, a book does not fix that.

            "Mr. Harper, Canada is our neighbour, not our country"

          • So Conservatives who like to complain that liberals denigrate Americans are… denigrating Americans (and somehow you don't seem to realize that it can't strictly be a Liberal argument if Conservatives use it too). But it's interesting to see how fast you and your fellow brethren ditch principles for political expediency .
            Also legitimate questions about Dion's dual citizenship!? Arnold Schwarzenegger has a dual citizenship and Americans never questioned his loyalty. Conservatives supporters somehow think that because you imply something, then you have no burden of the proof whatsoever. Worse, you are not even able to provide a single practical consequence to your innuendo. Ex: assuming that Dion was "madly" in love with France and hated Canada, there isn't much a PM can do aside from trying to have free trade deals or stuff like with that country that but I clearly remember the argument back then, Conservatives were so hysterical about this that it almost sounded like Dion would allow France to annex Canada. Same with Ignatieff, you're not even able to say in why your question is relevant in any way. Ignatieff was director (in the USA) of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy… hardly a long time but you are entitled to think this is very scary.

            BTW: When Harper was denigrating Canada abroad, it raised questions about what he would do as a PM. This has practical consequences. Calling yourself American while living in the USA is just common sense (the USA don't have the same tolerance for people who live in their country but refuse to wear the label).

        • Uh, Lucy? Not sure where you think you are, but here we do care (very much) about the committee meetings Kady covers.

          But why has NO ONE from the press gallery asked the current, sitting Prime Minister his views on torture? Oh wait, it's easier to not ask him anything, since he won't answer anyway.

          • I'm pretty sure that Nixon didn't answer Woodword and Bernstein's questions either. You have to actually get a story before reporting it.

            Reporting on press releases is just filtering for the masses….

          • Well, unless there's a Deep Throat with access to the prime minister's innermost thoughts willing to share them with reporters, I'm not sure if that's an apt comparison to the question that Jenn asks, since this relates to what he thinks, not what he — or anyone else — may or may not have done, as was the case with Watergate. I know it's easy — and fun! — to blame the media — and that goes for all sides, by the way — but that doesn't mean it's always justifiable.

          • I assume it's as easy and fun as being media judging politicians.

      • Very well said, Kady!

    • "I thought maybe a teensy tiny bit of humiliation, sleep deprivation and other R-rated tactics might be okay, provided there was sufficient scrutiny and ample safeguards, and the government didn't lie to us like they did over Iraq, which, incidentally, made me look kind of foolish, but let's not get into that now. But then I realized that actually, what makes us a civil society is the whole not-torturing-people thing, and plus, I was starting to look foolish again because of that whole believing that the government would follow a strict code and use trained operatives and only do it in locked-room-with-a-dirty-bomb-somewhere-in-Los-Angeles situations like Alan Dershowitz envisioned. So I wrote an article for The Prospect in which I came out against the whole notion, because my motto is, better late than never. Can we talk about asbestos now?"

  21. Stephen Taylor's conclusion ignores Iganiteff's actual argument.

    Ignatieff seems to be arguing that the guys conducting the torture believe that the ends justify the means – not that they are just giant a**holes.

    This is a far cry from Ignatieff endorsing the same position. One can understand a viewpoint – even on a controversial subject like torture – without sharing it. In fact, this is a pretty useful thing do in everything other than politics.

    Stephen Taylor is either stupid (which I doubt) or deliberately being intellectually dishonest with his conclusion (which I suspect).

  22. Stephen Taylor's conclusion ignores Iganiteff's actual argument.

    Ignatieff seems to be arguing that the guys conducting the torture believe that the ends justify the means – not that they are just giant a**holes.

    This is a far cry from Ignatieff endorsing the same position. One can understand a viewpoint – even on a controversial subject like torture – without sharing it. In fact, this is usually a pretty useful thing do.

    Stephen Taylor is either stupid (which I doubt) or deliberately being intellectually dishonest with his conclusion (which I suspect).

  23. Intellectually dishonest — that was the phrase I was looking for!

    • Or willfully blond.

  24. 2004 Ignatieff: we can do coercive interrogation if its transparent and democratic? This wouldn't seem to mesh with our Canadian tradition of protecting minority rights from that of the majority.

    2006 Ignatieff says those that defend torture aren't moral monsters.

    That's quite an evolution.

    Shocking someone's testicles with a car battery is either right or wrong, isn't it? This isn't subject to democratic review.

    Also, I think you give Ignatieff more benefit of the doubt on his nuance (on torture!) than Taylor's nuance suggesting that Ignatieff should clarify his justification of torture (which he did do, even if he didn't advocate for it) and yes, the fact that it has evolved is quite concerning (rights aren't rights yesterday, but rights today. What will tomorrow's Ignatieff say?)

    Taylor isn't dishonest, he's asking questions of a man who could be Prime Minister.

    • See, now you've got it. “What will tomorrow's Ignatieff say?” is a *far* more powerful argument than attempting to simplify (and, in this case, come very close to misrepresent) his position(s) on coercive interrogation/torture. You could even add in his 180 degree flip on the Iraq war, since the question is one of judgment. Why should anyone believe he'll make the right call first next time? berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

    • See, now you've got it. "What will tomorrow's Ignatieff say?" is a *far* more powerful argument than attempting to simplify (and, in this case, come very close to misrepresent) his position(s) on coercive interrogation/torture. You could even add in his 180 degree flip on the Iraq war, since the question is one of judgment. Why should anyone believe he'll make the right call first next time?

      • "Why should anyone believe he'll make the right call first next time?"
        That is us asking you to ask that question.
        You're the professional journalist.

        • No, I'm suggesting that would be a more powerful argument for a political opponent/partisan critic like, for instance, Stephen Taylor to make. In case you didn't notice, it's actually a rhetorical question, which is why it would be pretty silly to pose it to Ignatieff — or, for that matter, to the prime minister, who also supported the war in Iraq, although his views on torture are, at this point, unknown. berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

        • No, I'm suggesting that would be a more powerful argument for a political opponent/partisan critic like, for instance, Stephen Taylor to make. In case you didn't notice, it's actually a rhetorical question, which is why it would be pretty silly to pose it to Ignatieff — or, for that matter, to the prime minister, who also supported the war in Iraq, although his views on torture are, at this point, unknown.

          • I'm pretty sure that I'm making a youtube video asking those questions right now. Complete with scary music.

    • Uh huh, instead of asking the man who IS Prime Minister. And while he's busy asking the man who would be Prime Minister, he's a little lacking on the listening to the answer part.

      But that isn't intellectually dishonest, now is it?

  25. Oops, I meant blind.

    • I was going to say that there is nothing wrong with being willfully blonde.

      • I'm not a mind reader, but I'd guess that Taylor's point wasn't to say that Ignatieff supports torture, but that he says a lot of broadminded, longwinded things, and doesn't seem to believe in anything.

        Why not ask Ignatieff "when he started to feel like a Canadian again?" that would be topical.

        or even press him to say his favourite lake in Algonquin, or what he would do with Khadr if the USA returned him.

        • Riggght. He wasn't AT ALL trying to suggest that Ignatieff supports torture. He just totally innocently compared a highly selective quote from Ignatieff's article to a quote from a famous person who supports torture, while completely ignoring the fact that Ignatieff is arguing against torture in the very article he cites, and then arguies that Ignatieff is providing a "rationale" for water-boarding despite the fact that Ignatieff begins the very article he's talking about by including himself (Ignatieff) among the group of thinkers who "oppose torture under any circumstances".

        • Because I'm not here to act as Talking Point Emissary, that's why. I'll ask the questions that I think are worth asking; other reporters will do the same.

          • not reaching for a Pulitzer then eh?

          • Oh ye of little faith. My questions might end up being far better than the ones that that slavishly adhere to the messaging from any one side. berried, bien sur. From: IntenseDebate Notifications

          • It's true.

            And Pulitzers tend to be given to those who follow a centre left orthodoxy, so not asking Ignatieff any hard questions might actually help.

        • Indeed, Cheney is known for being equivocal and long-winded, hence the comparison.

          YOU may think that Ignatieff says a lot of broadminded, longwinded things – and a lot of evidence supports that claim – but that was clearly not the point Taylor was making.

  26. or rather, that Ignatieff has argued for the justification of torture if he doesn't support it.

    Nuance?

  27. excuse my poor punctuation.

  28. Eric Holders recent announcment of investigations has nothing to do with EIT's.

    It is an investigation into whether certain CIA (or Blackwater) interrogators overstepped the bounds of the authourized techniques. (Those outlined in "the torture memos")

    Dick Cheney's assertion that this is a political witch-hunt is of course wrong, and hopefully he will be answering questions under oath soon about failing to notify the intellegence commitiees in the house and senate about his personal CIA program. (Illegal in any-ones book).

    Iggy's statement here is quite nuanced as always, and I find myself in tentative agreement.

    Thou I may accept that those who carried out these interrogations believed they were doing right, I am unconvinced that they were actually effective (as Dick Cheney, but not Iggy claims).

    I AM sure however, that any good that was achieved thru these methods was far outweighed by the loss of the moral high-ground in international opinion, and the erosion of our core values as a nation.

    Torture is wrong, and under any other name, it still smells like barbarism.

  29. I fail to see anything wrong with liking Algonquin – I loved it as a kid.

    The next G8 being held in Canada – is being held in Algonquin territory. So, I guess it's good enough for Harper too.

    • Algonquin is great…. I used to work on Canoe Lake.

      The Algonquin thing is about Ignatieff's recently published "I really do love Canada" mea culpa.

      • Anybody who used to work on Canoe Lake is clearly not a real Canadian.

  30. Just in case I wasn't clear enough in my first post:

    No-one will be investigated for the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or anyone else.

    This investigation (for good or ill), will only focus on those who used techniques beyond water-boarding, or the other EIT's that were authourized by the white house.

    That makes the last sentence of this article an outright falsehood, and much of the rest of it… moot.

    • Yes, exactly.

      Regarding the last line, can we expect a correction from Macleans, seeing as it is a clear fact of public record that this is untrue?

  31. At the start of the article in question, Ignatieff wrote, "The debate over torture is not as simple as it seems. Those of us who oppose torture under any circumstances should admit that ours is an unpopular policy that may make us more vulnerable to terrorism. It is difficult to think about torture honestly." He's clearly a serious guy. He tackles the issue with clarity and honesty, unlike the shameless partisan hacks who attempt to cherry-pick out of context quotes to sow confusion rather than clarity or understanding.

    Right at the start, Ignatieff says, "those of us who oppose torture under any circumstances", making it clear to any honest person reading the article that by "us", he counts himself as one of those who opposes torture under any circumstance (and that even honest people who hold his position strongly find it challenging at times to do so).

    Taylor and his ilk are about as far from honest as anyone can get. It would be a welcome change if some serious journalists — and they still do exist — would very very publicly call out these hacks for their calumny, brazen deceptions and flat-out lies.

  32. And we`re all looking forward to a vociferous defence of PM Harper by Kady O`Malley the next time Wherry is misleading, or cut and pasteing, or intellectually dishonest, or whatever he does.

    • psst…"vociferous" means loud or noisy. You probably should've gone with "strident" or "spirited" there.

      (let this be a lesson to us all…nothing kills good internet snark quite like a poor grasp of the English language ;)

      • Yeah, loud and noisy will do——Actually Kady in good reading—she attempts sometimes to be objective, Wherry doesn`t even try and Taylor might have one post to Wherry`s one hundred.

        And thanks teacher Richard for your continued scrutiny (sp. ) of those poor souls that need your wisdom—-I think there is some punctuation a couple posts back that need some fixin

    • Huh. There I was, halfway through the pile of comments on this particular posting of Stephen Taylor's, when I thought to myself, "That Kady O'Malley, it's pretty great of her to chime in as often as she does here – and on her blackberry, no less – with additional background material, with detailed analysis of Ignatieff's position and her own interpretation of it, suggestions for strong angles from which to attack Ignatieff, and OH MY GOD, she does it all while managing to be infinitely patient with the likes of the Anons and Jons."
      But as good as Ms. O'Malley is, she is human and she makes mistakes. For instance, all through this discussion, she thought it was about Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Gordon, when in fact, as William points out, it's about Stephen Harper.

      • No , as I said earlier Kady is defending Iggy in this post—–and I am looking forward to her defending PM Harper in another post.

        • Sorry, but you've now said this twice, and I feel as though I really do have to clarify my motivation here (which I had hoped was sufficiently clear already, but apparently not): I am not defending Ignatieff, or his positions on coercive interrogation/torture, in the past or today. I am pointing out flaws in the argument that Taylor is using against him, which is — in the words of Norm Spector, among others — intellectually dishonest. That doesn't mean that there aren't valid lines of attack that can't be taken against Ignatieff on this front, just that this isn't one of them. For the record, I've pointed out similarly disingenuous arguments targeting the prime minister in the past, including, most recently, some of the specific criticisms deployed against him over last week's senate appointments.

    • Actually Paul seems to like to step in to slap Aaron when he goes offside.

  33. The "let's trash Iggy" mode in media is getting a little obvious. Harper must have thretened funding or licensing or something.
    If you're looking for someone to trash, just search Harper quotes. Those would make interesting stories

  34. Well, at least we've migrated away from the silly "torture never works" line that so many kept tossing out with little thought. Life would be sooo much easier if that nonsensical line were true.

    A while back I mentioned that it is precisely because torture does sometimes work that we are in this mess. I see more and more people have at least come that far.

    As for Stephen Taylor: you are doing no favours to your "side" here, methinks. Your alleged "exposure" of Michael Ignatieff's difficulty thinking through all the pros and cons of this difficult issue actually makes me think much more highly of the man. Congratulations. The Little Shop of Tories will be so proud of you.

  35. Stephen

    Regrettably, your post is intellectually dishonest.

    Here's Ignatieff's conclusion in the Prospect article you cite:

    "We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are. This is the best I can do, but those of us who believe this had better admit that many of our fellow citizens are bound to disagree. It is in the nature of democracy itself that fellow citizens will define their identity in ways that privilege security over liberty and thus reluctantly endorse torture in their name. If we are against torture, we are committed to arguing with our fellow citizens, not treating those who defend torture as moral monsters. Those of us who oppose torture should also be honest enough to admit that we may have to pay a price for our own convictions. Ex ante, of course, I cannot tell how high this price might be. Ex post following another terrorist attack that might have been prevented through the exercise of coercive interrogation the price of my scruple might simply seem too high. This is a risk I am prepared to take, but frankly, a majority of fellow citizens is unlikely to concur."

    • A few posters have used the term "intellectually dishonest". This is bothersome.

      In his deceptive use of quotes to imply precisely the opposite of the writer's very clearly stated beliefs, and in his attempt to associate the writer's position with that of Dick Cheney, Taylor is being dishonest.

      No modifier required.

      Will there be any consequences for Mr. Taylor? Will Macleans dis-invite him as a guest commentator? Or will they just be happy that so much traffic has been generated by the deceit of our very own petit-Drudge?

  36. Aha! Another falsehood appears in Taylor's post:

    "Stephen Taylor is a conservative commentator based in Ottawa."

    He isn't commenting on events or issues. He's manufacturing them.

  37. I think it's good to have partisan commentary once in a while. Of course, I'd go with Ezra Levant or someone like that — you know, more provocative and funnier — than the dreadfully dreary Taylor.

  38. Mr. Taylor has managed to cross the line in record time by quoting the middle of an argument, and playing "choose your own adventure" as to it's meaning. An honest writer would then supply the context.

    By not doing so he has earned himself a poor reputation amongst those who take pride in their writing, not their politics. As for myself? I'll just ignore him from now on.

  39. So, my apologies as this had doubtless been discussed in the comments above (but with all the nesting, while useful, it's really hard to navigate a complicated conversation – cue Michael Ignatieff joke here).

    So, my question is, what is the position of the Prime Minister of the country and our government generally on this question? The criticism of this post seems to be "Michael Ignatieff is too hard on terrorists and is therefore out of step with the Canadian people" and so I wonder, where does Stephen Harper fall on this Cheney to Obama scale? In what ways is Harper softer on terrorism than hard cases like Cheney and Ignatieff? Where does Prime Minister Harper stand on waterboarding?

    I get that there's probably nothing Ignatieff could even say at this point to convince some people that he's against torture, but presumably if Ignatieff's problem is that his position is too complex and too harsh this suggests that the Prime Minister has a simple, easily articulated position that definitively and unequivocally condemns the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

    Could anyone save me the time of Googling and point me to the Prime Minister's simple, clear and unequivocal position on this important debate? (or the government's generally would suffice). It seems clear from Mr. Taylor's post that conservative believe that Mr. Ignatieff is to the right on this issue (is there anyone in the democratic world to the right of Cheney on this?) but I just wonder how far to the left the PM is on this interrogation question.

    • Just to prove I'm not lazy, I do remember the Harper government listing the U.S. (given activities at Gitmo) as a place where diplomats had to be on the look out for possible evidence that prisoners have been tortured. However, given that they also don't even want to ask for Khadr's repatriation, despite listing the U.S. (and Gitmo) along with Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel and China as "places with greater risks of torture" it would seem there's some wiggle room wrt the government's condemnation of torture.

      Still, listing the U.S. as a place where there's a greater than normal risk of torture certainly does separate our government from Cheney!

  40. Shouldnt Macleans disclose the fact that Stephen Taylor is paid by the Conservative Party and the PMO to write stuff like this?

  41. Taylor should really do better than this. He is confusing a COMMENTARY with an OPINION.

    Ignatieff was commenting on what he thought was the rationale, not giving his opinion on the practice…at least not in the quote provided.

    Of course, when he did give his opinion, it looked something more like this:

    "We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are…"

  42. Stephen

    I'm afraid your update does not do it.

    The OED defines justify–as follows: "To show (a person or action) to be just or in the right."

    Mr. Ignatieff does not justfiy waterboarding.

    He understands that it might be effective in eliciting information and preventing carnage.

    He acknowledges that the public might support it for that reason.

    He admits that he is in the minority in his bottom line.

    But let's be clear on his bottom line: he does not support it and maintains that "we" should not be doing it.

    • "On all fronts, keeping a war on terror under democratic scrutiny is critical to its operational success. A lesser-evil approach permits preventive detention, where subject to judicial review; coercive interrogation, where subject to executive control; pre-emptive strikes and assassination, where these serve publicly defensible strategic goals. But everything has to be subject to critical review by a free people: free debate, public discussion, Congressional review, in camera if need be, judicial review as a last resort."

      He is arguing that the lesser evil approach allows coercive interrogation and that these EITs can be just if subject to executive control, congressional and judicial review.

      That would be justification in a legal sense.

      He has said that those that argue for torture are not moral monsters. This is an ethical justification.

      • The rules that have been put in place by the Obama Administration permit coercive interrogation

  43. Taylor's update is beyond sophomoric. He deliberately misrepresented Iggy's position on torture and torqued it further by placing him in line with Cheney. Now he's trying to parse the meanings of "justify"?

    Here's an example. Imagine someone said, "The accusation, that I beat my children, is completely false." In Taylor's world, he could state that the person SAID, "I beat my children" and insist he was correct in doing so. Those words certainly appear, but the words before and after them are sort of important, don't you think? This is basically the approach he took with the Iggy quote.

    As the kids say: EPIC FAIL.

    • But here it's more of an NDP colour. And over at the Manning Memorial Swimming Pool it's probably quite dark by now.

      You should register with Intense Debate, btw, so as to avoid looking obsessed (allows you to edit, add, etc.).

    • But here it's more of an NDP colour. And over at the Manning Memorial Swimming Pool it's probably quite dark by now.

      You should register with Intense Debate, btw, so as to avoid looking obsessed (allows you to edit, add, etc.).

      Incidentally, you reminded me that Google is my friend. Found a few interesting remarks about Taylor and the CPC on the first page of results. I guess I could google the night away but researching the obvious is not my style.

      • From what I know about you based on your writings, I'll probably never take advice from you.

        Also, who is Eugene Parks, and why hasn't Taylor or the CPC been looked at by elections Canada, and since when does a Dipper quote anything (especially a comment with no proof) from Damien Penny?

        These questions should be answered before you post them as fact.

        Also, Manning's political affiliations have been with Reform and Alliance. Not the CPC.

      • I found a Eugene Parks…

        He managed to write 6 posts over 5 months on his green party blog. I'm not sure I'd cite him as a credible source.

        • I wasn't citing this Parks chap as a credible source, I'm not an NDPer, I have no idea who Damien Penny is, I couldn't care less what Elections Canada has to say about Mr. Taylor, and it's absurd to say that Manning has no relationship to the CPC. Just as it's absurd to say that a guy who attends the CPC convention, is patted on the back by sundry CPC delegates if not Cabinet ministers, who posts interview after interview with high-ranking Conservatives, who routinely breaks news from inside the CPC caucus, and who defends the CPC with practically every exhalation, is not a CPC supporter, regardless of whether he happens to have a membership card or not. To maintain that one can do both, i.e. subsist on one's partisan blogging (whence the Manning fellowship) and remain a non-partisan "small-c conservative," is the kind of thing that makes one suspect that, as with certain Shiite extremists, Conservatives think lying for the Cause is no sin. That is not the view of a decent human being, but perhaps you have no conscience to consult.

          • LOL, you're seriously maintaining this, eh? So as to argue that Stephen Taylor, Esq., is not a Conservative? What's to gain, I wonder? Credibility? A tax break? A career as an "independent" journalist? Or is it just the pleasure of lying? That is a distinctly Tory hedonism these days.

          • LOL, you're seriously maintaining this, eh? So as to argue that Stephen Taylor, Esq., is not a Conservative? What's to gain, I wonder? Credibility? A tax break? A career as an "independent" journalist? Or is it just the pleasure of lying? That is a distinctly Tory hedonism these days; which I suppose is proof positive that you, at least, are a CPC stooge.

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