Whose ox is being gored?

Al Gore’s recent U.S.-slamming speech in Saudi Arabia, which is causing quite a stir in the blogosphere, seems almost like a deliberate effort to live up (or down) to the “crazy Al Gore” meme.

According to the Associated Press:

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed “terrible abuses” against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.

Gore said Arabs had been “indiscriminately rounded up” and held in “unforgivable” conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida’s hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

“The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake,” Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. “The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.”

“Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it’s wrong,” Gore said. “I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country.”

Did some of the abuses Gore decries happen? I’m sure they did, though I suspect he makes them sound much more large-scale than they really were. Is it always wrong to criticize your country when abroad? (Assuming, here, that we are talking about a country such as the United States where it is possible to criticize government policies at home, and not, say, the former Soviet Union. Or Saudi Arabia, for that matter.) Actually, I don’t think so — though at the moment, with so much anti-American sentiment already existing in the Arab and Muslim world, it is — to put it charitably — imprudent to inflame those passions in an Arab Muslim country.

But even leaving that aside, Gore’s comments are disgraceful and bizarre for two reasons.

(1) Gore fails to mention the fact that non-Muslims in America, too, are often held in shockingly bad conditions after being arrested for minor immigration violations. This is, admittedly, a fact that does not (in my opinion) flatter our country. But Gore’s version is far worse, particularly when told to a Muslim/Arab audience, because it implies a concerted campaign to mistreat Arabs and Muslims in the United States. And I do think there is a good argument to be made that in the wake of 9/11, there were legitimate reasons for some ethnic/national profiling when looking at people whose presence in America was of questionable legality. I suspect, even, that most Americans — without endorsing anyone’s ill-treatment — would back such profiling.

(2) Gore was speaking in Saudi Arabia, whose human rights record speaks for itself (particularly with regard to the rights of religious minorities). To go before a Saudi audience and complain about human rights violations in the United States is like talking to a known serial rapist and expressing outrage at the actions of an occasional sexual harasser.

Gore should do the decent thing and apologize.

More: It’s worth noting that Gore also decried the Iranian regime:

On Iran, Gore complained of “endemic hyper-corruption” among Tehran’s religious and political elite and asked Arabs to take a stand against Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes but the United States and other Western countries suspect Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

“Is it only for the West to say this is dangerous?” Gore asked. “We should have more people in this region saying this is dangerous.”


That may be a good point, particularly about the need for other nations in the region to confront the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran (though one might also argue that Saudi Arabia is in its own way no better than Iran). But that’s hardly excuses the totality of Gore’s statement.

On a side note, it’s rather ironic that while many on the left (Michael Moore, for instance) have assailed Bush for being too cozy with the Saudis, Gore assails him for an overly tough policy on Saudi visas.

63 Comments

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63 responses to “Whose ox is being gored?

  1. Revenant

    Gore should do the decent thing and apologize.

    Gore is slowly turning into the next Ramsey Clark. If I were Karl Rove I’d be sending him gift baskets and thank-you notes on a regular basis.

  2. Anonymous

    Gore’s words here were deplorable.

    But I still say say he would have made a better President than Bush. It’s easy to say that, since it isn’t saying much.

  3. William R. Barker

    Ahh… shades of past threads regarding which Party’s establishment figures and elected (or formerly elected) national politicians are nuttier! (*GRIN*)

    Frankly, Cath… I was wondering if you’d even address Gore’s latest descent into wackiness. Thank you for allaying my fears! (*SMILE*)

    Cathy writes…

    “Did some of the abuses Gore decries happen? I’m sure they did, though I suspect he makes them sound much more large-scale than they really were.”

    You “suspect…???” You SUSPECT?!?! Jeez, Cath, carefully crafted understatement is all well and good, but come on… there’s such a thing as overdoing it!

    Cathy asks…

    “Is it always wrong to criticize your country when abroad?”

    Cathy answers her own question…

    “Actually, I don’t think so — though at the moment, with so much anti-American sentiment already existing in the Arab and Muslim world, it is — to put it charitably — imprudent to inflame those passions in an Arab Muslim country.”

    Well, Cath, we agree that it’s not “always” wrong to criticize your own country when abroad – at least if you’re a private citizen. When you’re the former Vice President of the United States, however…

    Bottom line, we agree that Gore’s comments were disgraceful. I would even go so far as to say Gore’s comments gave aid and comfort to the enemy and unless Gore is even dumber than he’s demonstrated himself to be over the years, he had to know they would – which makes the comments even more deplorable.

    Cathy continued…

    “Gore’s version … told to a Muslim/Arab audience … implie[d] a concerted campaign to mistreat Arabs and Muslims in the United States. Gore should do the decent thing and apologize.”

    Again, Cath… unless Gore is truly – clinically – off his rocker a simple apology simply wouldn’t cut it – at least not for me. Frankly, I don’t know what Gore can do to make amends. The man has basically crossed the line of acceptable partisan policy differences by misusing his position as a former Vice President of the United States to dishonor the United States he once swore an oath to defend. I have no doubt whatsoever that Gore’s comments will be used by terrorists and other enemies of America to “justify” further attacks on America, American interests… and that Gore’s incenderary rhetoric will ultimately result in the further taking of innocent American lives.

    The more I write… the more I think about this… the angrier I get. This isn’t some sort of joke, Cathy. If there was ever a topic that didn’t lend itself to humorous titles like “Whose Ox Is Being Gored,” this topic is it. This isn’t funny, Cathy. Gore’s comments are not a laughing matter.

  4. W.B. Reeves

    The man has basically crossed the line of acceptable partisan policy differences by misusing his position as a former Vice President of the United States to dishonor the United States he once swore an oath to defend.

    This is pretty humorous, considering the way the current occupant of the White House has construed his own oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    I haven’t read the entirety of Gore’s remarks but the snippet here hardly supports the semi-hysterical imputation of treason.

    The only substantive issue I see is one that Cathy approaches in a rather backhanded manner. She suggests that Gore may be exagerating the instances of abusive and excessive actions taken against Arabs in the US.

    That’s the nub of the question as far as I’m concerned. Was Gore being factual or engaging in hyperbolic mistatement for political effect? If the latter, he deserves criticism. If the former, I can’t see the cause for anger other than partisan defensiveness.

    Interesting logic though. Public criticism of abusive actions by the U.S. Government “dishonor” the United States whereas the actual abuses, even if factual, do not.

  5. Revenant

    Was Gore being factual or engaging in hyperbolic mistatement for political effect?

    He was engaging in hyperbolic mistatement. But even if he had been telling the truth, that doesn’t mean he would have been right to do so. Saudia Arabia is a profoundly bigoted society; feeding them information that encourages that bigotry is a bad idea, and “but I was telling the truth” is no excuse.

    Suppose Gore had been speaking before, say, an audience of white supremacists, and had decided to spend his time talking about how blacks commit far more murders per capita than whites do, get lower test scores, and how every country with a majority-black population is riddled with corruption, crime, and poverty. Would the fact that every single one of those statements is true *really* be a valid defense for choosing to say those particular things to that particular audience? I don’t think so.

    I think you really need to ask yourself why Gore decided to go to the country that produced Osama bin Laden and all but two of the 9/11 hijackers and go out of his way to encourage them to be angry at the United States of America.

  6. W.B. Reeves

    He was engaging in hyperbolic mistatement.

    Well I’m glad you’re certain of this because I’m not. I don’t have access to any official oversight by an objective source to reassure me. If you do, please share.

    But even if he had been telling the truth, that doesn’t mean he would have been right to do so. Saudia Arabia is a profoundly bigoted society; feeding them information that encourages that bigotry is a bad idea, and “but I was telling the truth” is no excuse.

    If what Gore was saying were true, he wouldn’t have been giving out any information that his audience didn’t already possess. I fail to see how a former Vice President of the U.S. stepping up and fessing up to what his audience already knew would excite bigotry. Quite the contrary.

    The reality of dissent at the highest level of the political class would likely breed a more expansive and varied view of U.S political culture. One that would fix the responsibility for abuses with those actively promoting such policy rather than the nation as a whole. Unless, of course, you think Arabs incapable of making such critical distinctions.

    If, on the other hand, you are correct and Gore was engaged in misrepresentation, you’d have a point.

    Suppose Gore had been speaking before, say, an audience of white supremacists, and had decided to spend his time talking about how blacks commit far more murders per capita than whites do, get lower test scores, and how every country with a majority-black population is riddled with corruption, crime, and poverty. Would the fact that every single one of those statements is true *really* be a valid defense for choosing to say those particular things to that particular audience? I don’t think so.

    What, exactly, do you know about the audience in question, other than they were likely all Arabs, that leads you to equate them with White Supremacists? Further, is your objection to what Gore said, or simply to his audience?

    To answer your question, my reaction to your hypothetical is that it would depend on the context in which the points were made. Did Gore at any point suggest that the abuses he refered to justified attacks on the U.S.? Did he argue that such actions on the part of the current Administration legitimized an attitude of unremitting hostility toward the U.S.? Or was he arguing that such putative abuses were a hindrance to greater understanding and amity between the Arab peoples and the U.S.?

    If your hypothetical speaker at a white supremacist function had been arguing for inter-racial unity, despite the points raised, I might question his judgement but not his character.

    BTW,

    …and how every country with a majority-black population is riddled with corruption, crime, and poverty.

    Do you include the nations of the Caribean under this blanket “fact”?

    I think you really need to ask yourself why Gore decided to go to the country that produced Osama bin Laden and all but two of the 9/11 hijackers and go out of his way to encourage them to be angry at the United States of America.

    I think you should ask yourself why you’re channeling Michael Moore.

  7. Anonymous

    If you read the FBI’s report on what happened during the period following 9-11 you would realize that Gore understated the case. What happened is known fact and it would be foolish to pretend it did not.
    Secondly, in the modern communication era it matters little where something is said. In micro-seconds it can be all over the world.
    Third Gore also stated that the majority of Americans did not approve of this and that many in the government were working to prevent such events from happening again.
    (Which his critics always fail to note.)
    Interestingly enough it seems that only the hardcore Bush-lovers are concerned about this. Perhaps this is a way to rationalize their guilt

  8. thecobrasnose

    Careful, rev–you might be opening yourself up for a good Wm. Bennetting.

  9. W.B. Reeves

    Careful, rev–you might be opening yourself up for a good Wm. Bennetting.

    If I wanted to make inflamatory accusations based on an uncharitable reading of rev’s comments I could have already done so.

  10. Revenant

    If what Gore was saying were true, he wouldn’t have been giving out any information that his audience didn’t already possess. I fail to see how a former Vice President of the U.S. stepping up and fessing up to what his audience already knew would excite bigotry.

    I imagine that most white supremacists already know that blacks commit more crimes and do worse in school than white people do. Hearing a once-prominent politician saying those things, however, would give them a new level of meaning. It is one thing to be convinced that Arabs are treated badly in the United States, but quite another to hear the ex-VP make the same claim.

    What, exactly, do you know about the audience in question, other than they were likely all Arabs, that leads you to equate them with White Supremacists?

    I know that the majority of the audience was Saudi, and that Saudi Arabian culture is viciously misgynistic, homophobic, and religiously bigoted, not to mention disrespectful of all basic human rights. I further know that bin Laden’s goals — retaking Muslim land, destroying the United States, etc — enjoy the support of between 30 and 50% of Saudis, depending on how the questions are posed.

    So yes, I’m comfortable with comparing Saudis to white supremacists — although since the former are much better-connected well-financed, and numerous then the latter, the comparison might downplay the threat they pose.

    Did he argue that such actions on the part of the current Administration legitimized an attitude of unremitting hostility toward the U.S.?

    When you get up in front of an audience that hates X and proceed to badmouth X, you don’t need to explicitly say “so of course you’re justified in hating X”. It is a given that the result will be that the people you’re speaking to will feel more secure in their hatred. Gore’s a politician; he knows that.

    Do you include the nations of the Caribean under this blanket “fact”?

    So far as I’m aware. The Bahamas are a drug smuggler’s paradise, the Dominican Republic is poor and has significant problems with government corruption, Haiti’s a basket case… which nation were you thinking of that goes against the trend?

  11. Pooh

    Cathy,

    Is it always wrong to criticize your country when abroad?

    Are you seriously asking? Are you intending to imply that it is usually wrong to do so? Having not read the text of Gore’s speech I can’t comment as to the substance, but I don’t think I can agree with the standard by which you would have us judge the matter.

  12. Revenant

    Are you seriously asking?

    Given that she answers her own question with “actually, I don’t think so”, it was pretty obviously rhetorical.

  13. Anonymous

    “I suspect he makes them sound much more large-scale than they really were”

    You suspect – do you know? How many innocent men are still in Guantanamo?

    “imprudent to inflame those passions in an Arab Muslim country”

    I “suspect” that this could defuse passions rather than inflame them. He is telling them that not all Americans hate Arabs. Let’s hope they don’t draw too many conclusions from Ann Coulter’s statements (BTW should she apologize for the “ragheads” comment?).

    “most Americans — without endorsing anyone’s ill-treatment — would back such profiling”.

    Right. Profiling without ill-treatment. Plus, what most Americans want is always a good thing, right?

    Cathy, it reads like you have it in for Al Gore. You are certainly not alone. It would be interesting to see you “pick apart” almost any speech Dubya has made with the same attention to detail.

    Rob G

  14. Anonymous

    Oh yeah, I overlooked the overworked “crazy Al Gore” meme. Can you remind us how this came about?

    One of the most shameful episodes in the annals of the American Press, is how they enabled and participated in the propagation of distortions, half-truths and blatant fabrications about Gore. While giving Dubya a free pass. If anyone owes an apology, it is your colleagues. I haven’t seen it yet.

    Rob G

  15. Revenant

    You suspect – do you know? How many innocent men are still in Guantanamo?

    Gore wasn’t referring to Guantanamo.

    I “suspect” that this could defuse passions rather than inflame them. He is telling them that not all Americans hate Arabs.

    So why lie to them and pretend that the Bush administration hates Arabs? Bush is, if anything, too cozy with the powers-that-be in much of the Arab world. If Gore wanted to convince his audience that we didn’t hate Arabs, he would have explained that our policies have been based not in hatred of Arabs or Islam, but in fear of terrorist attacks.

  16. Anonymous

    Revenant, right. Guantanamo doesn’t register with Arabs or Muslims. Any discussion with Muslims about American policy is screaming “Guantanamo”. It plays a huge role in how Arabs, Muslims and the rest of the world view the U.S.A.

    The Bush administration loves rich Arabs. Much as it loves rich Americans. The only people it holds in more contempt than poor Americans are poor Arabs.

    “Our policies”. Dude, please. Gore’s job is to explain Bush’s policies? I think Al Gore is a very smart man, but why should he be expected to do what nobody has yet done? You must mean the policies that have made us all much safer by securing nuclear materials, reducing the number of terrorists, terrorist attacks, making ports safer, etc. The policies that ensure prompt action in case of disaster. Yeah.

    The only policy I’ve been able to discern is to maintain “fear of terrorist attacks” in the American public.

    Rob G

  17. Revenant

    Revenant, right. Guantanamo doesn’t register with Arabs or Muslims.

    You missed the point. Guantanamo obviously registers with Muslims, but Gore wasn’t talking about Guantanamo. He referred to Muslims in the USA being “indiscriminately rounded up” and held in “unforgivable conditions”. Now, maybe he wanted his audience to *think* that Muslims in the USA were being herded into Guantanamo en masse, but the prisoners at Guantanamo weren’t rounded up in the United States. If Gore was indeed trying to conflate our treatment of immigration violations with our treatment of war prisoners then that would simply be further rhetorical dishonesty on his part.

    The Bush administration loves rich Arabs. Much as it loves rich Americans. The only people it holds in more contempt than poor Americans are poor Arabs.

    It may be that you honestly believe that nonsense. But Gore is a highly intelligent and educated man, and I doubt he does.

  18. Anonymous

    My goodness. “If Gore was indeed trying to conflate…”. Disturbing, if true. I wonder if he’s stopped beating his wife?

    Yes, Gore was talking about Muslims in America. My point was that he was talking to foreign Muslims, and Guantanamo is a subtext (praise be to Bush for that!) in any such interaction. I won’t even mention Abu Ghraib. Ooops.

    “that nonsense”. Where do you get your information from? Seriously. I swear I don’t get mine from Daily Kos.

    Rob G

  19. Cathy Young

    Sorry, Rob, but I do think that Gore was coflating the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib with domestic roundups and profiling of immigrants (and illegal aliens) from Arab and Muslim countries. Which, IMO, was quite irresponsible.

  20. W.B. Reeves

    I imagine that most white supremacists already know that blacks commit more crimes and do worse in school than white people do.

    Actually, this depends on which White people and which Black people you are talking about. Certainly poor, ill educated and unskilled black folks commit a large proportion of crime, as do similarly situated white folks. As we all know, a higher proportion of African Americans find themselves in such circumstances. The significance of such data is the subject of much debate.

    Hearing a once-prominent politician saying those things, however, would give them a new level of meaning. It is one thing to be convinced that Arabs are treated badly in the United States, but quite another to hear the ex-VP make the same claim.

    Indeed it might. However, I understood your argument to be that Gore’s statements would produce a particular response, not only from his audience but from Arabs at large. Isn’t your point that Gore’s comments lead inevitably to increased hatred of the U.S. in general? As I illustrated, it ain’t necessarily so.

    To use your hypothetical once again, if white supremacists heard a former Vice President echoing their prejudices, it might lead them to reconsider their theory that all such politicians are stooges of the Zionist Occupied Government. That, in turn, might lead them abandon the belief that the only solution is a violent “white revolution.”

    All beside the point though, since for your hypothetical comparison to have validity you would have to posit that the speaker was arguing for racial reconciliation rather than animosity, as Gore was arguing for reconciliation between the Arab world and the U.S. It is the message and not the audience which is the determining factor. To argue otherwise would not only disallow Gore’s criticism but all public criticism of U.S. policy, since one could never know who might be listening.

    I know that the majority of the audience was Saudi, and that Saudi Arabian culture is viciously misgynistic, homophobic, and religiously bigoted, not to mention disrespectful of all basic human rights. I further know that bin Laden’s goals — retaking Muslim land, destroying the United States, etc — enjoy the support of between 30 and 50% of Saudis, depending on how the questions are posed.

    This is about as reasonable as arguing that you can intuit the character of the Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family from the popular mores of U.S. Society.

    So yes, I’m comfortable with comparing Saudis to white supremacists — although since the former are much better-connected well-financed, and numerous then the latter, the comparison might downplay the threat they pose.

    I see. So all Saudis are the moral equivilant of Klansmen? Or only those of a certain age and sex?

    When you get up in front of an audience that hates X and proceed to badmouth X, you don’t need to explicitly say “so of course you’re justified in hating X”. It is a given that the result will be that the people you’re speaking to will feel more secure in their hatred. Gore’s a politician; he knows that.

    Pardon but you don’t really know what the audience was thinking, you only presume that you do. Instead of treating the audience as a collection of individuals, you treat them as an undifferentiated mass labeled “Saudi/Arab” and on that basis ascribed a particular mindset to the lot. Never mind the fact that Gore was explicitly calling for a reapproachment between the U.S. and Arabs rather than the opposite. Do you believe that the audience couldn’t tell the difference?

    So far as I’m aware. The Bahamas are a drug smuggler’s paradise, the Dominican Republic is poor and has significant problems with government corruption, Haiti’s a basket case… which nation were you thinking of that goes against the trend?

    Unlike yourself, I’m not at all confident that I know what conditions are in every black majority state. I’m not even certain I could identify every country with a majority Black population. I am well enough informed to know that your Caribean examples neglect Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevins, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica and Grenada. Other than their names and dominant ethnicity, I know little about these places, certainly not enough to judge whether or not they are riddled with corruption, poverty, violence, crime and drugs. More so than any major urban center in the developed world I mean.

    So I suppose I’m not competent to judge whether every majority black country in the world is some sort of social, political and economic basket case. I’m afraid my knowlege of such things is not as complete and detailed as your own obviously is.

    I do know that corruption, poverty and violence are endemic around the globe, particularly in that portion that used to be described as the “developing world”. We’re not completely unfamiliar with such things in our own country and Europe as well. In fact, my section of the country had a reputation for corruption, violence and poverty for the better part of the last century. Some people say we still do.

    However, seeing as it’s you that have chosen to defend the accuracy of the reputed fact, it is really up to you to present the evidence that proves your case, not to demand that others present evidence that it is not so. Of course, if you were aware of even a single stabile, black majority society, it would mean that your fact wasn’t a fact at all.

  21. Anonymous

    Cathy, just how did he conflate them? It’s odd that the first reference to Guantanamo in this thread was by me.

    Much more common have been references to Gore’s “wackiness”. Can anybody give us something substantive (that is not just media spin) to back this up? Using a fabricated image of someone to denigrate everything they say is profoundly dishonest.

    Rob G

  22. Daran

    (2) Gore was speaking in Saudi Arabia, whose human rights record speaks for itself (particularly with regard to the rights of religious minorities). To go before a Saudi audience and complain about human rights violations in the United States is like talking to a known serial rapist and expressing outrage at the actions of an occasional sexual harasser.

    You appear to be equating the Saudi Regime, which indeed has a poor record of violating human rights, with a Saudi audience, which may include some of the victims of those violations.

  23. Cathy Young

    I think that after all the publicity about Guantanamo in the Muslim/Arab world, it is quite likely that Gore’s audience took his comments to refer precisely to that. If Gore was not referring to Guantanamo but only to arrests of Muslims/Arabs on immigration violations past 9/11, I will reiterate that he depicted the problem as far more widespread than it was.

    I don’t buy the notion that he was addressing Saudi dissidents either; most likely it was a handpicked, pro-government audience.

  24. Anonymous

    Cathy, Gore was speaking at the Jiddah Economic Forum, and a large number of the audience were U.S.-educated Saudis (pro-government? I don’t know). Other speakers included Cherie Blair and the Irish President. Oh, and this guy;

    “Also at the forum, the vice chairman of Chevron Corp., Peter Robertson, said President Bush’s desire to cut U.S. dependence on Mideast oil shows a “misunderstanding” of global energy supply and the critical role of Saudi Arabia.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060213/ap_on_re_mi_ea/saudi_gore

    Should he apologize too? IMO, his statement really is nuts (not that Bush meant it, mind you).

    Rob G

  25. William R. Barker

    Fascinating!

    Rev… you’re doing such a good job that there’s no need for me to jump in again. (*WINK*)

    What really interests me is how FEW of our regular posters have bothered to take part in this discussion. My guess… even those on the “moderate” left don’t want to have to defend Gore on this one. As for those on the “moderate” right… they probably feel as I do – you have the situation well in hand.

    (*GRIN*)

    BILL

  26. Brad

    What really interests me is how FEW of our regular posters have bothered to take part in this discussion.

    Is that a gauntlet? A dare? :-)

    I think Reeves’ point that the remarks seem to be conciliatory rather than incendiary is a valid one.

    I DO think that he has conflated Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib with domestic activities, which is perplexing, b/c the former do represent an instance where our public really is divided, for good reason. Why invent offenses when good ones are right in front of you?

    Even if you believe certain activities are necessary, I doubt anyone can look at the photos from Abu Ghraib and feel any kind of pride.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that Gore’s comments will be used by terrorists and other enemies of America to “justify” further attacks on America, American interests… and that Gore’s incenderary rhetoric will ultimately result in the further taking of innocent American lives.

    Do you really think that there are terrorists, that were about to say “Heck with all this, I give up” until they heard Gore talk? Or people that were not particularly upset with us before that are now taking up arms, because of this?

    The truth is, those that would commit terror acts can find the provocation, real or imagined, that they need without looking to this speech.

    Of course, I believe people to be responsible for their own actions. McDonalds isn’t responsible for my weight, no matter how much they advertise. Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t make kids commit suicide. And the Danes aren’t responsible for burnt buildings that they ’caused’ by publishing cartoons. The rioters are.

    More generally, the whole dissent as treason meme really bothers me.

    I’ll add an additional point, which I think has been entirely missed: Gore was speaking to an audience not accustomed to true freedom of dissent. The very act demonstrates the value and viability of democracy. How on earth can we preach the virtues of free speech or a politically protected minority if we cannot demonstrate them.

    Is this what he meant to do? Probably not. But no, I don’t think he was trying to whip the audience into a froth either.

  27. Anonymous

    “I don’t buy the notion that he was addressing Saudi dissidents either;”

    Did someone say there were dissidents?

    “…most likely it was a handpicked, pro-government audience.”

    Isn’t that kinda speculation?

    More and more this looks like interpreting (“I suspect”, “most likely”, etc) what Gore said to make it look as negative as possible.

    I’d still like to hear what you think of Peter Robinson’s critique of Bush’s SOU energy “policy” statement. Isn’t he attacking American policy in front of foreigners? He is a high-level executive in the Energy Industry, and as such helps frame American policy. Just ask Dick.

    Rob G

  28. Anonymous

    Oops. I meant Peter Robertson.

    Rob G

  29. Brad

    I’ll add an additional point, which I think has been entirely missed…

    Actually, Reeves did make this point. Oops.

  30. Anonymous

    Well William, I didn’t post because I don’t really care. If Gore were straight up hate mongering ala Moore, Ward Churchill, Pat Buchanan, or Anne (your favorite) Coulter, I would certainly be up in arms. But this? Please. Eight years ago, Gore was relevant. He isn’t now.

    As for the abuse issue, sure their have been abuses. I’ve heard an interview with a Canadian Muslim a couple of years after 9/11 who was detained, with no warning, no lawyer, and no ability to even call his family for 3 months. Both of his businesses went under by the time he was released, and he was so scared and freaked out he didn’t even bother to seek reparations. He just wanted to pick up the pieces of his life, and to never set foot in the US again.

    I also know how crazy the whole student visa situation became. Most of the students I went to graduate school with were from China. Admissions of new students were delayed a year or more. And current students couldn’t go home and visit their families, because they weren’t being let back in the US. These weren’t even middle eastern students. It was worse for those guys. Graduate admissions in math and engineering fields dropped drastically.

    Sure, all this is annecdotal. That’s because there ISN’T reliable information on how often abuses have occurred, because we have an administration that won’t release any information that might make them look bad. If you are more anti-Bush, you think Gore minimized. If you are more pro-Bush, you think Gore exaggerated. Truth is, we have no clue how often abuses have occurred, and we won’t know until they are out of office. So endlessly going back and forth about whether he was wrong or right in what he said is pretty frickin’ pointless.

    Z

  31. Anonymous

    OK, oops. I meant to say ‘..they weren’t being let back into the country for several months.’

    Z

  32. Brad

    I’ll add one more bit: anyone that thinks that Al Gore is capable of stirring passions has obviously never heard him actually speak.

    Yes, it’s a joke. Mostly.

  33. Anonymous

    Z, I would only dispute one point you made. If Gore were irrelevant, the right wouldn’t continue attacking him.

    I’m still looking for a transcript of his latest speech, but he has made some real scorchers in the last few years. The press hasn’t paid much attention, but then they don’t like him. I honestly think he makes the right nervous, because he makes a lot of sense.

    I think the major lesson of this thread is how many people on both sides continue to diss Gore – on the right because they either bought the press hatchet job on him, or they can’t stand to compare the real Gore to the real Bush – on the left, because they can’t forgive a loser. A rather sad American trait.

    Rob G

  34. Anonymous

    Brad, you obviously haven’t heard him speak lately.

    It’s really fascinating; in 2000 he was boring, boring Al. Now that he speaks with some passion, he’s crazy Al. Krauthammer says “he’s off his meds”. Ad hominem, ya think?

    Sometimes comments say more about the commentor than the commentee.

    Rob G

  35. Brad

    Sometimes comments say more about the commentor than the commentee.

    Yeesh. It was a joke. Recognizing someone’s foibles, even if outdated, isn’t the same as being unforgiving. Don’tcha ever tease your friends?

    And yes, in 2000, he was boring, boring Al. It’s my dominant impression of him, although I also was in the audience for a snoozer of a speech in ’92. Back in those days, he was painfully boring Al.

  36. Anonymous

    Rob,

    The right attacks anyone they can get their hands on because that is all some of them know how to do anymore. After their leaders threw the dream of a smaller, more honest, and more accountable government into the waste bin, they are stuck in the awkward position of ranting about how the alternative would be much worse. Really. You should lurk in neo-neocon’s comment area sometime. At times it is so depressing, I just want to give these poor people prozac. To be fair, the left has plenty of that, too, ala Kos. I am frankly sick of it all.

    Z

  37. Anonymous

    Brad, I know it was a joke, and yes I do tease my friends, sometimes mercilessly. But sometimes a joke gets a bit lame. Like when it’s been a standard line for 6 years running. And when it’s accompanied by a slagging unheard of since, ooh I dunno, Clinton maybe? If the press put Bush to the same standards as they did Gore, he’d be clearing brush for a living.

    BTW, have you ever sat through a Bush speech? Yikes.

    Oh, and I didn’t mean you as the “commentor”. I meant Krauthammer and his ilk.

    Rob G

  38. Anonymous

    Z, I’ve risked my sanity a few times at some righty sites.

    It’s true many sites, left and right, serve as huge echo chambers. There are notable exceptions (John Cole on the right, Digby on the left e.g.) and I tend to stick with them.

    Rob G

  39. Cathy Young

    Rob, my “dissidents” reference is in response to this:

    You appear to be equating the Saudi Regime, which indeed has a poor record of violating human rights, with a Saudi audience, which may include some of the victims of those violations.

    That many of those in attendance were Western-educated is probably true. Victims of human rights violations? I doubt it.

    I also think that there is a big difference between a critical reference to US energy policy and a statement that the US government has engaged in indiscriminate and egregious persecution of Muslims and Arabs domestically.

    (Though, for the record, I don’t for the moment think that Gore’s statement will inspire any terrorists.)

  40. Brad

    But sometimes a joke gets a bit lame.

    Fair enough, but it seemed funny to me in context. I mean, here’s this guy that may be the most boring person I’ve ever seen speak being accused of being so incendiary as to cause American deaths.

    BTW, have you ever sat through a Bush speech?

    It’s a challenge. I usually read them the next day.

  41. Revenant

    Truth is, we have no clue how often abuses have occurred, and we won’t know until they are out of office. So endlessly going back and forth about whether he was wrong or right in what he said is pretty frickin’ pointless.

    But if what you say is true — if nobody outside of the Bush administration can know yet if Gore’s statements were true — then it logically follows that Gore himself couldn’t have known if his statements were true.

    Which would mean that Gore was, at best, presenting a claim he had no way of knowing the veracity of, as if it was objectively true. Given the inflamatory nature of the claim, wouldn’t you have to say that was irresponsible?

  42. Anonymous

    Abuses have occurred. Should no-one comment on them until they are all known?

    http://www.masnet.org/views.asp?id=852

    Rob G

  43. Revenant

    Abuses have occurred. Should no-one comment on them until they are all known?

    Gore didn’t say “some Arabs have been abused”. He claimed that there had been widespread, indiscriminate abuse of Arabs. The former claim would be objectively true, the latter isn’t.

    It is also ridiculous to stand in front of a group of people whose society inflicts more frequent and grievous abuses on Arabs than the United States does, and badmouth the USA for its treatment of Arabs. That’s like going to 1980s South Africa to complain about the treatment of blacks in America.

  44. Anonymous

    Revenant,

    presenting a claim he had no way of knowing the veracity of, as if it was objectively true… wouldn’t you have to say that was irresponsible?

    I hate to be snarky here (maybe it is crankiness due to post-holiday season dieting- aka acute french fry withdrawal), but isn’t that a little like the pot calling the kettle black?

    Abuses HAVE occurred. What is unknown is HOW MANY have occurred. Obviously, the guy has the strong opinion that LOTS have occurred. I am quite certain he has his reasons for believing that. If he were to have claimed that abuses had occurred, without a single documented incident, THAT would, without question, be irresponsible. Stating that LOTS of abuses had occurred when you KNEW that only one or two isolated incidents had occurred would be irresponsible. Stating a strongly held opinion based on things you believe are true, even though you based it on incomplete information, is just politics and human nature. Find me one politician who never does that and I will fall over with shock. Back to my snarkiness, Revenant, YOU’VE done that.

    Z

  45. Revenant

    isn’t that a little like the pot calling the kettle black?

    No, because I’m not claiming that it is impossible to know the extent of the abuses. I don’t buy into the whole paranoid “OMFG teh Bushies are so secretive” mentality at all; the idea that they could be abusing and/or disappearing large numbers of US residents without anyone knowing about it is riduclous. They couldn’t even keep a lid on Plamegate, for Christ’s sake.

    My point was simply that if you really do buy that whole “the Bush administration is so secretive that we can’t prove widespread abuses occurred” argument, then Gore was by definition saying things he couldn’t have known were true.

    Abuses HAVE occurred.

    Irrelevant. When you can prove that indiscriminate, widespread abuses occurred, let me know.

  46. William R. Barker

    Cathy writes…

    (Though, for the record, I don’t for the moment think that Gore’s statement will inspire any terrorists.)

    ================================

    HA! HA! HA! Oh, Cath… I LOVE ya, kiddo! You just crack me up sometimes! (*HUGE FRIGG’N GRIN*)

    “I don’t for the moment…”

    HA! HA! HA! Come on… you were teasing me with that one – right?

    Ahh…ha…ha…!!! Oh… I needed that! Thank you so much!!!

    O.K., o.k., enough fun…

    Brad: Ya got me! (*GRIN*) Whether we agree or disagree I’m glad you decided to join in.

    Anonymous Z: To cop a line from Rob G., “Dude… PLEASE!” What’s the deal with the Ann Coulter crack? (*SMIRK*) Anyone who regularly reads my posts knows Coulter certainly isn’t a favorite of mine. Not that I need to defend myself from you and not that you need to read or pay attention to any of my posts, but when you start off spreading false accusations how do you expect anyone to take you seriously?

    W.B. Reeves: Just some advice… friendly advice… when the topic is Al Gore and the appropriateness of a former high U.S. government official slandering the United States in a speech on foreign territory and instead of addressing the thrust of Cathy’s initial post or someone else’s reply to that initial post you use your opening paragraph to attack… GEORGE W. BUSH… it tends to distract from any reasonable points you may subsequently make. (*SMILE*) Also… where do you get this alleged “hysterical imputation of treason” stuff from? Come on… tell Uncle Bill… have you and Anonymous Z been exchanging made up notes again? (*SMIRK*) Listen… seriously… there’s plenty of actual quotes you two can use to make your points… no need to go off the deep end exaggerating or making stuff up.

    Anyway… (*GRIN*)… nothing anyone has written so far tends to change my mind. I stick by my initial post.

    BILL

  47. Revenant

    Let me put it this way: suppose I said “thousands of women claim to have been raped or molested by Bill Clinton”.

    Well, it is a fact that SOME women came to have been raped or molested by Bill Clinton. And Bill Clinton is secretive about his private life, and had a lot of people employed to keep a lid on what they termed “bimbo eruptions”. So I can’t really know for sure, I guess, that there aren’t really thousands of women who claim to have been raped by Clinton.

    For that matter, in light of these new standards, what was wrong about what McCarthy did? He knew for a fact that there were SOME spies in the US government, and didn’t know for certain that the Army *wasn’t* riddled with Soviet spies. So what was wrong with him loudly proclaiming that the Army was filled with Soviet spies?

  48. Brad

    Also… where do you get this alleged “hysterical imputation of treason” stuff from? Come on… tell Uncle Bill…

    I know you asked Reeves, but this is where I got it from:

    I would even go so far as to say Gore’s comments gave aid and comfort to the enemy

    and

    …Gore’s incenderary rhetoric will ultimately result in the further taking of innocent American lives.

    The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort.

    An imputation of treason seems like a pretty fair reading to me, Uncle Bill.

  49. Cathy Young

    Bill: could you be a little less condescending in your remarks, please?

    “for the moment” was actually a typo.

    What I meant to say was:

    For the record, I don’t for a moment think that Gore’s statement will inspire any terrorists.

    I think the suggestion is absurd.

  50. Anonymous

    William,

    Admittedly, I was being snarky, but I based that dig on the fact that I have read your posts, and you have, on more than one occasion, said that you find Coulter’s statements humorous and that you question Cathy’s need to criticize her.

    Revenant-

    Go back to my original post and key in on the fact that I said there isn’t any ‘reliable’ information. As in, there are ample reports of abuse. US Muslim groups certainly have been tracking it and documenting it, but I don’t know of any reports containing an independent investigation of this.

    Look at the link that Rob G provided. Look at this one:

    http://www.mcrcnet.org/Reports/
    2004/052004/arrests052004.htm

    These guys are US citizens. If you take them at their word, what Gore said doesn’t sound so unreasonable. If you think they are pushing their own agenda and are full of it, then you think Gore is an idiot. If you are like me, you want more information, particularly from the agencies that are being accused of stepping over the line. Given how well documented it has been that the Bush administration has been reluctant to share information with any investigating authority (ie 9/11 commission, congress, etc) regarding their handling of US security concerns, I don’t see that information being made available while they are still in office.

    Z

  51. Anonymous

    “…you use your opening paragraph to attack… GEORGE W. BUSH… it tends to distract from any reasonable points you may subsequently make.”

    Right Bill. Bush had nothing to do with what Gore was talking about. Well, except pretty much everything.

    A tangential point regarding Ann Coulter. Her comment about “ragheads” got loud applause at CPAC recently. Whether you guys take her seriously or not, many in your big tent do.

    Rob G

  52. Revenant

    Go back to my original post and key in on the fact that I said there isn’t any ‘reliable’ information. As in, there are ample reports of abuse.

    Which are, by definition, all unreliable, as you yourself admit when you concede that there isn’t any reliable information. I hate to break this to you, but no number of unreliable accusations of wrongdoing can amount to actual evidence of wrongdoing. You can’t arrive at conclusions by basing your deductions on a bunch of unverifiable data.

    There were countless reports of criminal activity by the Clinton administration, up to and including murder and treason. Its just that none of them were reliable. Is it fair to go around saying “Clinton raped, stole and murdered the whole time he was in office” and, by way of defense, say “well you can’t prove I’m wrong”? I’m getting 90s flashbacks.

    These guys are US citizens. If you take them at their word, what Gore said doesn’t sound so unreasonable.

    I love your reasoning here — “lots of people arrested on felony charges said they’re innocent, so the government must be in the wrong”.

    I read through the URL you posted, which covered the month of May for the last year and a half. A dozen cases of people being arrested for terrorism-related felonies (ranging from buying explosives to money laundering), three cases of Muslims being arrested on ordinary felony charges, two cases of Muslims being harassed by local law enforcement, one guy who wrongly wound up on a terrorist list (and whom law enforcement apologized to), and three people being deported on immgration charges after ties to terrorism came to light.

    No indiscrimiate roundups of Arabs. No allegations of detention under unforgivable conditions. In other words, no support for Gore’s claim whatsoever, even if we accept every claim at face value.

    I think you should admit that the standard of evidence you’re using here is “any claim of Bush administration wrongdoing should be treated as presumptively true until proven otherwise”, and that if the accused weren’t a person you personally happen to despise you’d adopt a more rational standard of evidence.

  53. W.B. Reeves

    W.B. Reeves: Just some advice… friendly advice… when the topic is Al Gore and the appropriateness of a former high U.S. government official slandering the United States in a speech on foreign territory and instead of addressing the thrust of Cathy’s initial post or someone else’s reply to that initial post you use your opening paragraph to attack… GEORGE W. BUSH… it tends to distract from any reasonable points you may subsequently make.

    This is either a problem with comprehension or veracity, I don’t presume to know which. For the record:

    The man has basically crossed the line of acceptable partisan policy differences by misusing his position as a former Vice President of the United States to dishonor the United States he once swore an oath to defend.

    I found this humorous and said so. I also gave the reason why I found it humorous. One may agree or disagree with my reaction and the reason for it but I was clearly addressing “someone else’s reply to that initial post”

  54. Anonymous

    Bill, I’ll try to use short words. First, I did say that the Coulter reference was tangential (oops). But the response to her (and Limbaugh, Savage, Malkin and others too), says a lot about many Americans’ attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims. As does the obscene indifference to tens of thousands of dead Iraqis from Rumsfeld et al. Message to Muslims loud and clear; we don’t give a f*ck about you.

    It doesn’t matter a damn what you (or I) think of these rightwing loonies. Millions of Americans do, and they give an implicit message to the administration that “the gloves are off” is good policy. They are off in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. In the States? Well, first we have to parse “widespread” and “indiscriminate”. ‘Cos, you know, we have to give the benefit of the doubt (what there is) to the administration.

    Oh, and bring up ridiculous comparisons to Clinton and McCarthy. Jesus wept.

    Rob G

  55. Anonymous

    Millions of Americans do…listen to them. Duh.

    Rob G

  56. Anonymous

    Revenant-

    To recap:

    1. I think this whole thing is a typical hysterical non-issue, and that, as a private citizen, he has the right to say what he wants to.

    2. I don’t think what he said meets my criteria for irresponsible. I can’t call him up and say, ‘Hey Al, I need citations for where you got your information’. However, there are a number of possible sources of that information:

    a. Interviews conducted by members of the MSM with people alleging abuse.
    b. University staff and faculty, particularly in the math and science departments, who have had to deal with the student visa issue.
    c. US Muslim groups who have been tracking reports of abuse and civil liberties violations. Two links were provided. And it should be noted that most abuses I heard about occurred in the 2-3 year period immediately following 9/11.

    From Rob G’s link:
    Immediately after the attacks, more than 5,000 people were rounded up based on collective suspicion and subjected to criminal proceedings without any evidence. As many as 1,100 were detained – and some still are – on the basis of secret evidence, which no one could question or verify, and denied access to their lawyers. In addition, many Islamic centers were raided without due cause.

    ..

    In November, the INS asked persons with visas from the Middle East and South Asia to report to its offices for registration. Thousands of those who did so were arrested on arrival. No attempts were made to verify their legal status, and they were let go only after being interviewed and fingerprinted. Thousands of others were imprisoned on frivolous charges or subjected to deportation proceedings. As a result, thousands of Muslims fled to Canada. Observing this situation, the UN High Commission on Refugees called on the Bush administration to stop such detentions of men, especially when the families would be left stranded.

    From the link I provided, December 2002 newsletter:

    Muslims Mass Arrests in California

    Hundreds of Middle Eastern and North African men, some just 16, have been hauled into custody across southern California, enraging civil liberties groups and drawing comparisons with the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII.

    As many as a quarter of those appeared, estimates vary between 500 and 1,000 were arrested on the basis of apparently minor visa violations and herded into jail cells under threat of deportation. Some detainees were forced to stand up all night for lack of room, some were placed in shackles, and others were hosed down with cold water before being thrown into unheated cells.

    Both lawyers and southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union denounced the round-up as an outrage that did not advance the fight against terrorism one inch and very possibly hindered it.

    It is also worth noting that the news report said the audience was mostly US educated individuals. Which means that some of them are very likely to know other students who were in US universities post 9/11. I think it is fair to speculate that they have stories about abuse and harrassment, and that this is a subject that may have been on their minds prior to Gore’s speech.

    3. Just because I think he wasn’t irresponsible doesn’t mean that I think he is accurate in his assessment. I don’t know. I would like any abuse allegations looked into and reported on, regardless of the nationality of the person alleging it.

    4. I do not think that the Bush administration is always wrong.

    5. I do not think that every allegation of wrongdoing is automatically the truth if it is directed toward this administration.

    6. As for your McCarthy and Clinton comments, that line or argumentation reminds me of a joke:

    A guy says he’s going to stop by a department store on the way home from work, and his wife asks him to pick up a bra for him. When he gets to the store, he realizes he doesn’t know a thing about bras and asks the sales lady for help. She asks, ‘Do you need a Catholic bra, a Salvation Army bra, or a Baptist bra?’ He looks perplexed and asks her to explain. She says, ‘The Catholic bra holds the masses, the Salvation Army bra uplifts the fallen, and the Baptist bra makes mountains out of molehills.’

    You were making a Baptist bra argument. You will get the last word, though. I have spent too much time this week commenting, and not enough time doing my actual job. So, I am banning myself from this site for a week or so, to catch up.

    Enjoy,

    Z

  57. Revenant

    I think this whole thing is a typical hysterical non-issue, and that, as a private citizen, he has the right to say what he wants to.

    But Cathy and I don’t, apparently. If we criticize him for what he said, we’re bring “hysterical” over a “non-issue”.

    If you want to say will barker is being hysterical by implying that Gore is committing quasi-treason, well, by all means, be my guest. But all I’ve accused him of is making irresponsible and unsupported allegations, and all parties here seem to be in agreement that at least the second half of my accusation is objectively true. So I’m not sure why you’re so vociferously defending Gore on this issue.

  58. Cathy Young

    Z and Rob:

    Not trying to discount these concerns, but the report seems very vague and with a lot of hard-to-verify generalizations.

    Immediately after the attacks, more than 5,000 people were rounded up based on collective suspicion and subjected to criminal proceedings without any evidence. As many as 1,100 were detained – and some still are – on the basis of secret evidence, which no one could question or verify, and denied access to their lawyers. In addition, many Islamic centers were raided without due cause.

    How do we know that it was “without any evidence” or “without due cause”?

    How many of the 1,100 are still detained and how many were released within a few days?

    Mind you, I personally believe that no one should be held without access to a lawyer and on the basis of evidence that is not given to a court for review. But I’d like to have at least a ballpark figure of how many such cases there are.

    In November, the INS asked persons with visas from the Middle East and South Asia to report to its offices for registration. Thousands of those who did so were arrested on arrival. No attempts were made to verify their legal status, and they were let go only after being interviewed and fingerprinted. Thousands of others were imprisoned on frivolous charges or subjected to deportation proceedings.

    Here again, we have several different things being conflated: being briefly detained, fingerprinted, interviewed, and released; and being imprisoned or subjected to deportation charges. I’d also like to see some examples of actual “frivolous charges” on which people were imprisoned.

    As many as a quarter of those appeared, estimates vary between 500 and 1,000 were arrested on the basis of apparently minor visa violations and herded into jail cells under threat of deportation.

    This is very badly worded. Did 500 to 1,000 people appear and then a quarter of them were arrested? Or were 500 to 1,000 people arrested?

    Were all of them arrested on minor visa violations or were some detained on more serious charges?

    Some detainees were forced to stand up all night for lack of room, some were placed in shackles, and others were hosed down with cold water before being thrown into unheated cells.

    How many is “some”? What %, approximately, were forced to stand all night or shackled? How many people were hosed down with cold water?

    By the way, I think there has been some outrageous treatment of immigrants in this country, even pre-9/11, as part of anti-immigrant backlash in the past 15 years or so. But I don’t think this is limited to Muslims or Arabs. I remember a case a few years ago in which a Russian woman — the mother of a small child — was held in detention for months because, while traveling to Russia, she overstayed her travel permit (which non-citizen aliens have to get when leaving the US) by maybe 4 or 5 days due to serious illness.

  59. Brad

    Ok, I finally made myself do a little Google searching on the actual content of the allegations.

    Cathy:

    Here again, we have several different things being conflated: being briefly detained, fingerprinted, interviewed, and released; and being imprisoned or subjected to deportation charges.

    From the BBC:
    Officials told the New York Times that more than 600 Arab and Muslim illegal immigrants were deported during the first wave of expulsions after 11 September.

    But the Department of Justice stopped releasing figures after the number of arrests reached 1,200, says the paper, and no complete statistics are now available.

    Last year authorities launched a drive to track down those already served with deportation orders, in which more than 3,000 arrests were made.

    But this third sweep for illegal immigrants seems set to produce the largest wave of deportations: 13,354 at the last count, compiled by American newspapers.

    “There’s been a major shift in our priorities,” Jim Chaparro told the New York Times. He is acting director for interior enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security – which has now absorbed the old immigration service.

    It is difficult to find how many actually were deported, but at least the rounding up happened.

    As to conditions, from the NYCLU:
    On June 2, 2003, the Inspector General’s Office of the Justice Department released a report on 762 of the September 11 detainees. …
    according to the Inspector General’s report, detainees held at the Brooklyn facilities were subjected to “a pattern of physical and verbal abuse.” Complaints of physical abuse ranged from painfully tight handcuffs to allegations that they were slammed against the wall by prison staff. Verbal abuse included taunts such as “you’re going to die here,” and “you will be here for 20-25 years like the Cuban people.”

    It is unclear whether the report itself cites these particular examples, but at the least, it does say there was verbal and physical abuse.

    Rev:
    But all I’ve accused him of is making irresponsible and unsupported allegations, and all parties here seem to be in agreement that at least the second half of my accusation is objectively true.

    I think “unsupported” pushes it too far. I think we are really debating:
    a) how many stones makes a pile and
    b) what counts as “evidence”

    When he says:
    “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order”

    I think 13,000+ is a number that can support that. As to the conditions, it’s more difficult t get a good view, but the DoJ seems to provide support. (Unless, you think they made it up. The links to the DoJ on their site are defunct.)

  60. Revenant

    I think 13,000+ is a number that can support that

    But he said they were rounded up and imprisoned in unforgivable conditions. In reality they were rounded up and kicked out of the country for immigration violations. Furthermore, he said that the people were rounded up “indiscriminately”, which also does not appear to have been the case.

    Gore’s claim made it sound like the US government had used trumped-up charges to herd Arabs into prisons based purely on their ethnicity. Which is, quite simply, bullshit.

  61. Anonymous

    My last word.

    Gore’s claims were questionable? Okay. I have a limited capacity for outrage, and frankly ONE case like Maher Arar’s makes this pale by comparison. Heck, it even makes Ann Coulter’s vile spewings pale by comparison.

    Rob G

  62. Brad

    Gore’s claim made it sound like the US government had used trumped-up charges to herd Arabs into prisons based purely on their ethnicity. Which is, quite simply, bullshit.

    Again, from the BBC:
    Friday is the cut-off for males over the age of 16, from 13, mainly Muslim countries, who are not permanent US residents, to have registered with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS).

    They may be detained or deported if their visas have expired or if they have otherwise violated US immigration law, or they may be arrested if they fail to register.

    The article also lists the countries that were specified in the INS special registration effort.

    So, yes, they were targeted based on country of origin (which is not the same as ethnicity).

    And they were rounded up to the tune of 82,000, with a large subset facing deportation charges.

    He never said trumped up, he spoke of charges like green card expirations. This also appears to be the case. It’s not that this isn’t the law, but it is fair to say that they were largely being singled out for enforcement.

    And yes, many clearly went to prison.

    As to whether this is indiscriminate (since we are parsing words here):

    Clearly, he didn’t mean indiscriminate in a literal sense, since he is arguing that we did in fact discriminate, on national origin. I suspect he meant without regard to the danger they may pose. Since the only qualifications to get “rounded up” in the first place were age, sex, and country of origin, this is pretty accurate.

    As for the unforgiveable conditions, Reeves is right: this wasn’t a paper with citations, it was a speech, so we can’t ask him where he’s getting it. But I think the NYCLU/DoJ citations are a pretty good start.

    And, if you want to start arguing about what it “sounded like” he meant, that’s just a whole different can of worms. It’s a game I already got tired of playing with Iraq/911.

  63. William R. Barker

    Rev wrote…

    “If you want to say will barker is being hysterical by implying that Gore is committing quasi-treason, well, by all means, be my guest. But all I’ve accused him [Gore] of is making irresponsible and unsupported allegations…”

    ===============================

    Tsk, tsk, tsk. A little scatter shot, huh, Rev? (*SMIRK*) Oouch! (*SMILE*)

    Let’s review what I actually wrote:

    Wed Feb 15, 11:10:54 AM EST -

    “Bottom line, we agree that Gore’s comments were disgraceful. I would even go so far as to say Gore’s comments gave aid and comfort to the enemy and unless Gore is even dumber than he’s demonstrated himself to be over the years, he had to know they would – which makes the comments even more deplorable.”

    * No “treason.” No “quasi-treason.” No “hysteria.”

    I continue…

    “Again, Cath… unless Gore is truly – clinically – off his rocker a simple apology simply wouldn’t cut it – at least not for me. Frankly, I don’t know what Gore can do to make amends.”

    * Note, Rev, if I had meant to accuse Gore of treason, instead of writing “I don’t know what Gore can do to make amends” I would have written “Gore should be put on trial for treason.” (*SMIRK*)

    And Rev… on Thu Feb 16, 08:28:50 PM EST I took the trouble to reiterate -

    “Brad – one thing you’ve got to understand: I say what I mean and I mean what I say. When I wrote that Gore’s comments gave aid and comfort to the enemy that’s EXACTLY what I meant. I did NOT use the word “treason” because that’s not what I meant. (*WINK*)

    (Seriously… I’m not trying to weasel… if I had meant “treason” in a technical or legal sense I would have brought in the whole “adhering to their enemies” business. Obviously Gore is not “in league” with our enemies – but that doesn’t mean his comments didn’t give them and their cause aid and comfort.)

    Ditto with “Gore’s incenderary rhetoric will ultimately result in the further taking of innocent American lives.” That’s my guess. I didn’t accuse Gore of “treason.” I try to be pretty deliberate in my use of language. (*SMILE*) What you read from me is what I think… I’m not into “imputation.” (*SMILE*) Fair enough?”

    * Again, Rev… why the gratuitous dig at me? I mean… you’re certainly under no obligation to “defend” my statements, but jeez… why would you throw out a statement seemingly supporting a false accusation against me?

    Finally… just to wrap this up:

    Quoting from *REV’s* own statement of Wed Feb 15, 03:37:55 PM EST -

    “He was engaging in hyperbolic mistatement. But even if he had been telling the truth, that doesn’t mean he would have been right to do so. Saudia Arabia is a profoundly bigoted society; feeding them information that encourages that bigotry is a bad idea, and “but I was telling the truth” is no excuse.

    I think you really need to ask yourself why Gore decided to go to the country that produced Osama bin Laden and all but two of the 9/11 hijackers and go out of his way to encourage them to be angry at the United States of America.”

    * Hmm… Gore was “encouraging bigotry” and “encourag[ing] them [Saudis? Arabs in general? Muslims in general?] to be angry at the United States of America?

    It seems to me that you’ve been making the same sorts of accusations and assumptions concerning possible effect as I have. Yet *I’m* “hysterical” and you’re not? (*SMIRK*)

    Tsk, tsk, tsk… could it be you simply resent another conservative sometimes not being totally in sync with you, Rev? No need to be a “team” player, Rev, but seriously… if you’re gonna take a slap at me, do it for something I wrote and not for something I didn’t write.

    BILL

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