New Additions to the Blogroll

I want to welcome the following sites to the Recommended Sites list in the right-hand column:

  • Andrew Sullivan – A professed “conservative” who has consistently upheld reason and logic in his arguments instead of emotion. A welcome addition who is already a big player in the blogosphere.
  • Political Wire – A rather unbiased political analysis blog with breaking news and overviews.
  • Winning Argument – A very new website (first post on June 8th) that compares political arguments — based on fact and evidence alone — and determines the winner. Definitely an up-and-comer, though I would suggest upgrading to a top-level domain and having it point at Blogspot.
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Another Beheading: Paul M. Johnson Jr

An al-Qaida group said Friday it killed American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr, posting an Internet message that showed three photographs of a severed head that appeared to be his. AP/Yahoo has the details in “U.S. Hostage Beheaded, Terror Group Says”

Paul M. Johnson Jr

see more…

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Richard Perle: Sy Hersh Will be Sorry… Eventually

This is extremely amusing. Jack Shafer has posted a rather scathing piece where he tracks Perle’s promise to sue Sy Hersh for libel in an English court over Hersh’s investigative profile, then the subsequent chickening out (March 12, 2004) and promise to try his case in the court of public opinion — through a release 80 to 90 pages of transcripts that would “make it absolutely clear that his reporting in his article is false,” Slate has the scoop in “The Perle-Hersh Transcript Watch”:

As a scholar of journalism and a distinguished fellow in Perlean studies, I would very much like to see those transcripts. Christ knows I could squeeze another Perle column of them. So where are they? It can’t possibly take three months to rent some server space and upload 90 pages of text to a Web site.

Maybe Perle’s stumbling block is technological. If that’s the case, Perle can messenger or e-mail the transcripts to me, and I’ll get them posted on the Web overnight. I’ll even send the URL for the transcript pages to David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, so he can weigh whether a correction is in order.

This is a great article to spread around. Perle is being a weasel and hoping that this fades from memory, but it won’t.

The Perle-Hersh Transcript Watch [Slate]

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NYT Discovers Icon of American Abuse

Iranian pop culture

You know the New York Times is sorta finally on the ball (after how many weeks?) when they finally realize that the Abu Ghraib picture of a hooded detainee standing on a box with wires snaking out is the prominant pop cultural reference to the scandal. The less than stellar report is available in “Torture Incarnate, and Propped on a Pedestal”:

The image appears in mock advertisements in New York, in paintings in San Francisco, on murals in Tehran and on mannequins in Baghdad. It shows no dogs, no dead, no leash, no face, no nakedness, no pileup, no thumbs-up. It is the picture of a hooded prisoner standing on a box, electrodes attached to his outstretched arms.

Why this image above all the rest? It is far from the most violent, but easily the most graphic. You need less than a second’s glance to know exactly what it is. The triangle of the hood silhouettes sharply against the hot pink or chartreuse background of a fake iPod ad. Andy Warhol himself could not have done better.

I’ve been covering this pop-culture adaptation of the torture and abuse pictures coming out of Abu Ghraib, but it’s good to see that the mainstream media isn’t completely out of the loop.

Of course, the Politburo Diktat reveals the more appropriate places for putting the picture in “Forget the Swoosh”.

Torture Incarnate, and Propped on a Pedestal [New York Times]
Forget the Swoosh [Politburo Diktat]

see more…

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William Safire: Egg On Face

Or maybe it’s something else dribbling from the corners of his mouth… Who am I to say? Slate is slamming the famous New York Times’ columnist for banging the drum of the MohammedAtta/Iraq link in their roundup “Hell, No, They Won’t Let Go”:

The commission also tried to kill the never-say-no theory that Mohammed Atta met an Iraqi spy in Prague. As the staff reports note, a few days before the supposed meeting, Atta was caught on a security camera in the U.S., and his cell phone was used in the U.S. right before, during, and after it. For those keeping score, this is the same meeting Times columnist Bill Safire once termed, “an undisputed fact.”

But don’t stop there, Slate, because Safire keeps on getting it wrong, such as in the article November 2003 article — Missing Links Found — which is, well, full of lies (and more dubious Atta links).

But hey, it’s not like Safire has a history of prevaricating or anything.

Hell, No, They Won’t Let Go [Slate]
Essay; Prague Connection [New York Times]
Missing Links Found [New York Times]
Abolish Tenure at the New York Times (Safire is lying again edition) [Explananda]

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Enron Tapes: MP3 Remix

Boing Boing has a great link to a mix of the Enron tapes with Snap!’s The Power in their post “Enron/I Got the Power mashup”. Tuba Frenzy created them, saying in his post “I’ve Got The Power”:

Ever since the big Enron bankruptcy and subsequent accounting scandal broke a couple of years ago, I’ve gotten a perverse pleasure from laughing at all things Enron-related. I still enjoy hunting for Enron memorabilia on eBay….funny stuff like the “Enron Code of Ethics” (unused, of course!!) or Enron schwag peppered with ironic quotes like “Ask Why” or MLK’s “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” But I digress….I got such a kick out of these Enron trader conversations that I decided to take portions of the audio clips and incorporate them into a remix of a song that seemed pretty topical: Snap!’s big 1990 hit “The Power”.

As for mashup fate of future Enron tapes? Tim at Tuba City says “…, someone with superior digital audio skills should try a remix of the Electric Slide (aka “Electric Boogie” by Marcia Griffiths) or maybe Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”. And then we’ll take it higher…”

Enron/Snap! The Power MP3 (5.1MB) [Tuba City]
Enron/I Got the Power mashup [Boing Boing]
I’ve Got The Power [Tuba City]

see more…

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DNC Releases “trustees” List; Can’t be Found

The DNC released a list of “trustees,” fundraisers who bring in $250,000 or more for the party and its presidential nominee, and “Patriots,” who raise at least $100,000. The Washington Post has an editorial on it in “Patriot Names” (haha, get it? Like Patriot Games? Okay, lame). Anyways, that editorial isn’t all that interesting, but it’s a good idea to release the list.

The really interesting thing was American Dynamics’ digging to actually find the list. He couldn’t, and explained his aggravation in “Name That Trustee”:

A search directly on the DNC site for “trustee” their name for $250,000 plus donors turns up nothing relevant. Google likewise has failed me. Wonder if perhaps they’d rather the “release” be kept off the internet and inside the beltway…

I tried searching as well, to no avail. So I called the DNC headquarters to determine just where the list was, and was told that it was supposed to be put up yesterday. When asked if it was accesible from the front page and how to find it, I was told to ask the tech department. Multiple calls to the tech department was equally frustrating as it continuously went to voicemail. I tried asking other people, and no one was aware of where the document was on the website.

Maybe it’s a fluke, but this could be something bigger.

Patriot Names [Washington Post]
Name That Trustee [American Dynamics]
Search Results [DNC]

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VanDyke File: More Interviewees

I know, I’m being pretty slack today, but that’s because I’ve been talking to a lot of different people for the exclusive article for Watchblog. I’ll see if I can link some news in here today.

I also want to ask people to suggest links for me to post. You’ll get thanks and kudos in the form of a linkback to your own site from the entry, and that’s not too bad, because we could all use some more exposure. I do have a ton of RSS feeds that I go through every day in determining what to run (if I was able to do this full time, I’d have 20 entries a day), and I do get emails and AIM messages from friends with links. Just think, you could help swing the hammer of truth. Use the suggest a site feature at the top of the column on the right.

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Daily Show on State Dept. Global Terror Report

Lisa Rein has put up some more Daily Show clips, and thankfully she put up the one where the State Department’s Global Terror Report is just ripped to shreds. Jon Stewart says it best concerning the 8 pages of corrections: “The first page or two: honest errors. Third page? Uhhhhh… perhaps a questionable half-truth. By page six? You’re fuckin’ lying. {laughter}”

Daily Show - State Dept Terror Report
[click to view video (requires Quicktime)]

New Daily Show Clips Up [On Lisa Rein’s Radar]
State Dept. Global Terror Report: Double Plus Good [Hammer of Truth]

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Conflicting Reports: Try to Keep a Straight Face

Thanks to Bob Sawyer for pointing these CNN screenshots of the 9/11 commission saying there’s no link, while Bush keeps saying there is in “Lies, Damn Lies, and CNN”:

CNN front page
[click for larger image]

CNN side by side
[click for larger image]

This is just too surreal. Flying in the face of truth, Bush and the gang just won’t stop repeating the Al Qaida/Saddam link.

Lies, Damn Lies, and CNN [Bob Sawyer]
9/11 staff: No al Qaeda cooperation with Iraq [CNN]
Bush stands by al Qaeda, Saddam link [CNN]

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Alcohol Abuse on the Rise

AlcoholIt seems that there are more people getting sloshed these days (myself included). Reuters has the full story in “More Americans Abuse Alcohol, Study Finds”:

They found that the number of American adults who abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent rose to 17.6 million or 8.46 percent of the population in 2001-2002 from 13.8 million or 7.41 percent of the population in 1991-1992.

The researchers cannot say why heavy drinking is up.

I know, you’re probably thinking: “how is this political?” Well, go find all the political drinking games. There’s the multiple State of the Union drinking games, the Reagan State Funeral Drinking Game, The Democratic Debate Drinking Game, the Political Hearings Drinking Games, it goes on ad nauseum. It’s no wonder that we’re all becoming lushes, we’re trying to trick our brains into thinking that things are somehow good, when in fact everything that we’re told is utter trash.

Drink on!

More Americans Abuse Alcohol, Study Finds [Yahoo/Reuters]
2004 State of the Union drinking game
2003 State of the Union drinking game
2002 State of the Union drinking game
Reagan State Funeral Drinking Game [theStranger.com via Wonkette]
The Democratic Debate Drinking Game [Slate]
Political Hearings Drinking Game [Flutterby]

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Draft: The Allen Plan

An interesting, if misguided, plan was proposed in place of a general draft. Thought Crimes lays out the details in “The Allen Plan”:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could deploy 35-50,000 trained soldiers to Iraq in say, three to six months? Ideally, these would be folks who want to be in Iraq and are already familiar with and acclimated to the environment. Even better, these folks would already have their own weapons and gear and actually be close to the “theatre of operation” as the folks in the military like to say.

A pipe dream you say? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you all the civilian contractors currently in Iraq.

Now, I say misguided, because continuous conscription is something that has always been an unbalanced process that favors military expedition instead of national sovereignty. Also, it is unfair to ask for Americans to sacrifice to the country, when we are already doing that for the sum of our lives. That’s called taxation. I would have no problem trading taxation for a term of service, however I don’t agree with letting them have their cake and eating it too.

The Allen Plan [Thought Crimes]

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9/11 Commission on Saddam/Al Qaida Link: ‘No Credible Evidence’

CheneyDick Cheney is either totally off his rocker, or he’s the biggest liar ever seen. Here’s the most insane contradiction I have ever seen as the AP reports that there’s no credible link between Saddam and Al Qaida in “9/11 Panel Disputes Iraq Link in Attacks”:

Bin Laden made overtures to Saddam for assistance, the commission said, as he did with leaders in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in his drive to build an Islamic army.

While Saddam dispatched a senior Iraqi intelligence official to Sudan to meet with bin Laden in 1994, the commission said it had not turned up evidence of a “collaborative relationship.”

Stunning, if you remember that a mere two days ago, Cheney was still citing Saddam’s Al Qaida link as a pretense for invasion. AP reports in “Cheney Claims al-Qaida Linked to Saddam”:

The vice president on Monday offered no details backing up his claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaida.

“He was a patron of terrorism,” Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. “He had long established ties with al Qaida.”

Maybe he has super secret information that no one else does. Or maybe he also believes in Santa Clause. Wonkette has the snark on this in “Cheney Insists on Existence of Al-Qaida/Hussein Connection, Santa Claus”:

Asked to defend his claims — which have been largely discredited by policy experts and denounced by members of Congress — Cheney demonstrated the administration’s latest approach to intelligence gathering, putting his fingers in his ears and singing, “La-la-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!”

9/11 Panel Disputes Iraq Link in Attacks [AP]
Cheney Claims al-Qaida Linked to Saddam [AP]
Cheney Insists on Existence of Al-Qaida/Hussein Connection, Santa Claus [Wonkette]

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VanDyke File: Interviewers and Interviewees

First of all, my apologies for not posting anything yesterday. Here at work, our data center lost power (long story, but over 1000 servers went down when the UPS failover uh… failed) and with it our Internet connection to our satellite office (where I work from) was gone. Obviously I had to attend to work related matters all day, even though it entailed working the phones and giving status updates to customers who were rightly upset. Consider yesterday an anomaly.

On to the interviewers and interviewees part:

I was interviewed last week by Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review in regard to the Alexandra Polier story. The story is up now at “A Tale of Two Rumors: How Reagan, Kerry News Spread Online” — it’s pretty good.

Out of the blue, Stephen Waddington of Ranier PR sent me an email, saying “I run a tech PR firm in the UK, and have just completed a paper on blogs as a media channel, in which I pick up on some of your original ideas from the article(s) you wrote about how news travels the Internet.” You can read it at “Blogs as a media channel” — definitely interesting.

I got hold of Aaron Russo — the former Libertarian presidential candidate — for a phone interview last night. He had interesting things to say about the media coverage (or lack thereof) of 3rd parties and specifically the Libertarian campaign. I still have a lot of research and interviews to conduct for the article, which is slated to run Monday at WatchBlog as a feature. It will be reproduced here after a couple days.

A Tale of Two Rumors: How Reagan, Kerry News Spread Online [Online Journalism Review]
Blogs as a media channel [Ranier PR]
WatchBlog

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Abu Ghraib: Prepare For A Moral Chernobyl

The story is continuing to unfold about the abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib, but we may have to start using stronger words once the more dire pictures and videos emerge. Christopher Hitchens writes for Slate in “A Moral Chernobyl: Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib”:

We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word “abuse” will have to be dropped.

[…]

And the jihadists will continue to make big mistakes based on their mad theory. […] But you must not bring in that pig or that electrode. That way lies madness and corruption and the extraction of junk confessions.

Yeah, I also noticed that congressmen like James Inhofe (“I’m outraged more by the outrage”) have been barely peeping over the growing scandal. Who wants to lay down money that this is going to pop by Thursday? Just in time to complete the worst Bush week to date. Things are truly beginning to come to a head, and it’s very likely that the grumblings of impeachment will start growing louder as the whole scandal comes to light.

A Moral Chernobyl: Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib [Slate]

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Red Cross: Abuse “Approved at Highest Levels”

The Red Cross has passed on some documents to the media that they claim will prove that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorized at the top of the Bush administration. The Telegraph has the details in “Interrogation abuses were ‘approved at highest levels'”:

According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident.

“There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses,” said Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration’s approach. “The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped.”

Well, we now have the 26 former officials coming forward this week to call for Bush’s ousting, and now this memo which some news outlet is going to be running. Is it me or does this seem like a good time to bet on a trifecta?

Angry Finger is also seeing the pattern this is starting to form, and he’s absolutely ecstatic in this piece “Bush Week”

Joe Stump also sees the slew of bad news coming down early this week (though he does post some of last week’s news) in his story “Bad Week For Bush”

Interrogation abuses were ‘approved at highest levels’ [Telegraph] (via BuzzFlash)
26 Former Reagan/Bush Sr. Officials: Bush Must Go [Hammer of Truth]
Bush Week [Angry Finger]
Bad Week For Bush [Joe Stump]

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Polier Article Correction: Yeah, I Make Mistakes

It’s been brought to my attention that during my interview with Bob Kolker, I was apparently made aware that Alexandra Polier was actually writing the article and was involved. I sincerely don’t remember this, but I just want to go ahead and apologize for that. I do remember a woman named Alex calling to fact-check the Friday before the story ran, and I sort of put it together from there. She didn’t tell me her last name and I figured she was the New York Magazine fact-checker. Yeah, I’m pretty stupid, huh? This is what was wrong:

I must say, I was duped: I was interviewed by Bob Kolker, yet she is the one writing the article.

I am also going to post an additional update to the original post so that no one gets the wrong impression. After all, it would be a bad sign if the Hammer of Truth wouldn’t admit when he’s wrong.

I got called to task on this (during another interview, ye gads), and I’m not afraid to say I made an honest mistake (I also apologized for it in that interview). I guess I should lobby to get this stem-cell research looked into, because this Alzheimer’s might just be contagious (or maybe it’s just the Republican plague, who knows?).

Oh, and if anyone hasn’t heard yet, Alexandra Polier never had sex with John Kerry. Can we kill this fucking story already?

Alexandra Polier: “How I Got Smeared” [Hammer of Truth]

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Signal Orange: More Harm Than Good

Signal Orange - PrewittAn interesting idea from a website called Signal Orange. Their idea is to create a bunch of t-shirts with the names of those killed in Iraq and where they were killed (ie- Cpl Evan Ashcraft can’t vote):

Signal Orange doesn?Äôt say that these soldiers or their families condemn or support the war, and it doesn?Äôt speak for them. Whether they opposed or supported the war, they were fighting for our right to decide democratically whether a war is just or not. They?Äôve been buried twice–once in the ground, and once in the media. If we can make them visible in the media through Signal Orange, we can demonstrate that they had voices that have been lost.

While their reasoning is commendable, that needs to be on the shirt as well. Because honestly, people are going to give the shirt a glance and find it extremely crass and offensive. I think this is a protest that is better served by a mass demonstration instead of something that is very likely going to cause the wearer to get a beatdown if they run across a couple of Marines.

Signal Orange [via Metafilter]

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U.S. Gestapo: Pentagon Seeks Domestic Spy Agency

Domestic SpyingJeez, here’s one from the you-gotta-be-fucking-kidding-me file: The Pentagon is trying to get a bill passed that would effectively allow them to detain and interrogate people here in America. Forget obvious infringement on the Posse Comitatus Act or the fact that we already have the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and a vast number of 3-letter agencies already policing America, they want the start up the Gestapo right here in America. Newsweek has the full story in “Intelligence: The Pentagon Spying in America?”:

Without any public hearing or debate, NEWSWEEK has learned, Defense officials recently slipped a provision into a bill before Congress that could vastly expand the Pentagon’s ability to gather intelligence inside the United States, including recruiting citizens as informants.

[…]”This… is giving them the authority to spy on Americans,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies

Spying on neighbors, I mean, that shit only happens in countries that hate freedom. Like East Germany, Soviet Russia, China, and North Korea.

And do you really trust these people not to set up an Abu Ghraib in our own backyard and really start interrogating Americans? Hell, you might know a friend of a friend who’s Middle Eastern, you might have terrorist ties.

Intelligence: The Pentagon Spying in America? [Newsweek]

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Feds Putting Weapons in Citizens’ Luggage?

Here’s a weird one. Apparently the TSA is a bit under-worked and needs some excitement. Why not drop some weapons into unsuspecting passenger’s luggage and let the fun begin. NewsMax (whaaa?) has the story in “Feds Putting Weapons in Citizens’ Luggage?”:

“I’ve been to Europe, where they search your bags in front of you, and I have no trouble with that,” Grindle said. “But it makes me nervous having my bags searched without me being present, especially when inspectors are flipping things in my bags that don’t belong to me. What would stop them from putting illegal drugs in my bag?”

The best part is the response to this:

TSA mouthpiece Chris Rhatigan said the reports mystified her. “If I could answer that question, I’d be rich. They could have been honest mistakes. Perhaps the bags somehow popped open during their travels, and someone dropped something inside. I honestly don’t know.”

That’s right folks, your bags now have the mysterious ability to just pop open, which is convenient for someone to plant a weapon in there.

Feds Putting Weapons in Citizens’ Luggage? [NewsMax]

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iRaq: 10,000 Songs for the Doomed

More of these posters. It’s interesting that any pop-culture Iraq reference seems to also include iPod imagery.

iRaq poster

Whatever, we totally endorse political graffiti that makes a bold statement about the lack of mp3s in torture rooms.

Los Angeles war posters

see more…

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26 Former Reagan/Bush Sr. Officials: Bush Must Go

This is going to be the bombshell of the week for the Bush administration. A (mostly) non-partisan group of retired and former high-level government officials are going to be issuing a joint statement calling for Bush not to be re-elected in November. The statement will explicitly condemn Bush’s foreign policy. The Los Angeles Times has the scoop in “Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go”:

The document does not explicitly endorse Kerry, according to those familiar with it. But some individual signers plan to back the Democrat, and others acknowledge that by calling for Bush’s removal, the group effectively is urging Americans to elect Kerry.

“The core of the message is that we are so deeply concerned about the current direction of American foreign policy ?Ķ that we think it is essential for the future security of the United States that a new foreign policy team come in,” said Oakley.

Much of the debate over the document in the days ahead may pivot on the extent to which it is seen as a partisan document.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this spun as a partisan issue as a preemptive strike by the Rove team. But considering that only two of the twenty-six have actually endorsed John Kerry (frankly I don’t see how calling Bush’s policies a failure could be partisan), this strategy of attack may end up exploding back on the White House.

Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go [Los Angeles Times]

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Best Reason for Abiding by Geneva Conventions

I ran across what has to be the best reason for following Geneva Conventions. Lately I have been hearing a lot of arguments that counter with “this is war…” or “it’s just an anomaly…” (it’s not) and even “it’s not so bad, they do worse…”. Well those arguments now have a compelling counter-argument and reasoned response. Unlearned Hand examines it fully in “Reciprocal Torture is Not the Problem”:

If an Iraqi militiaman thinks he is going to be mistreated by the coalition, or shipped off without rights to a Caribbean island for indefinite detainment, he is much less likely to surrender. Why not simply fight to the death?

The best historical example is the final assault on Germany. German POWs were treated well by American and British forces, and our forces received relatively good treatment in return. But even more importantly for present purposes, as the German regime began to crumble, Germans were willing to surrender to American and British forces. By the end of the war we had over 400,000 POWs in America (German and Italian), not to mention thousands of prisoners still in Europe.

Truly the most insightful response to the subject of “why not” that I have seen to date.

Reciprocal Torture is Not the Problem [Unlearned Hand]

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