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Thursday, October 11, 2007

More On Yglesias and Kleiman

Matt Yglesias is showing why I admire him (and was surprised at his very sloppy analysis of what Clinton said about torture) here. He explains why he was wrong about Iraq. He makes no excuses. For example, he doesn't mention that he was very young (21 or 22) and busy writing about meta-ethics. Instead he just says he was ignorant and followed main stream Democrats.

Mark Kleiman is showing that he is not a professional blogger and has to work as a professor. He is also showing his self important side telling Clinton what she must do to have a chance to get his vote. Her responding is significantly less likely than his responding to me (he has linked to me actually me writing about torture he did really !).


If Hillary Clinton didn't intend to evade the torture question (as her handlers and her friends in the blogosphere insist) there are two things she can do about it:

1. Issue a simple statement: "When I'm President, there will be no waterboarding, no cold room, no sensory deprivation, no 'long time standing,' and no renditions."

2. File, and ask for hearings on, a bill for the relief of Khaled al-Masri.

Unless she does one of those things, those of us for whom torture is a deal-breaker will have to conclude that her ambiguity was and is deliberate, either because she thinks it would be bad general-election strategy to be too far out there on behalf of human decency or because she's not ready to limit her Presidential options with respect to the maltreatment of captives.

Now I think she was quite clear in the WaPo interview. If one thinks that "abide by the Geneva conventions and the laws we have passed" is unclear, one should look up the conventions and the laws. They are clear.

However, I want to pick on Kleiman. I remember the phrase "extraordinary rendition" which, unless the extraordinary is redundant, implies that the current kidnapping policy involves rendition in addition to ordinary rendition. Taken literally, Kleiman's suggested clear answer implies that he opposes ordinary rendition too. I'm not a lawyer and don't know what, if anything, an ordinary rendition is, so I will just note that, for all I know, extradition leads to an ordinary rendition. Thus I am not sure that Kleiman didn't carelessly say that he insists that Clinton rule out ever extraditing anyone to say Canada or Sweden (he certainly rules out extraordinary rendition to countries which do not torture -- how about the rendition of the Achile Lauro hijackers to Italy (which didn't torture them and released Abu Abbas the head of the terrorist organization)).

I am being picky at least and possibly totally wrong, but this is a criticism of recommended wording. Note that Kleiman was not in an interview and had time to work on the language. Clinton is dealing with people who will twist her words (or in the case of Kornblut and Balz lie about what she said). It makes sense to refer to highly detailed treaties and laws which were carefully drafted and debated rather than risk trying to summarize their essence in an interview. That is what Clinton did.

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