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Author Topic: Benghazi - Just the Facts, Ma'am
Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
How long are you going to sit around and tolerate dishonesty and corruption with the lame excuse of past politicians have used them so we should expect it for all time? Even if it were true that every politician in the history of the country were all guilty, which it may or may not be, that itself is argument enough to punish such behavior as strongly as possible when it surfaces to ward off worse recidivism.
I applaud you gentlemen's ethics and idealism. And I agree that it would great if we held our politicians to the highest standards.
Lol, and by so saying your absolve yourself of any intent or obligation to do so.
quote:
But let's be practical. Do you really believe that this will be the new norm to what we hold our politicans to? Do you seriously believe that we are going to verify every utterance from our leaders in the future?
Don't we now? At least if they have a Republican after their name? Why has Ted Cruz, for example, been asked at least 100 times about his stance on gay marriage? Is it likely that he's undergoing an evolution, or is it just to get a sound bite?

Why is it that during every general election, the media trolls through local elections across the country to find the small fry politician that gave them a sound bite (often retracted) that they can use to tar and feather a whole side?

We're already in a world where virtually everything is recorded, and where you can say the correct thing 99 times out of 100 and the 1 still gets air time for years.

What basis are you proferring for how we should elect our leaders? Is it literally just party?
quote:
I brought up Iraq and the WMD because it is obvious that when Colin Powell uttered the immortal words, "We know they have them and we know where they are," that somebody was lying through his teeth, because we never found them and they almost certainly never had them.
Maybe, maybe not. Definitely evidence that someone was wrong (by intent, negligence or accident).

I tend to think Powell was put out there to make the strongest case possible. That he was probably briefed to believe things were rock solid. I've said before though that its very unlikely the admin didn't believe the case themselves. They wouldn't have cared about overstating what they could prove, because that's how intelligence ALWAYS works, because they thought they'd be able to prove it after the fact.

Again, starkly different from what this Administration did, where they thought it wouldn't be disprovable.
quote:
But how long did the hearings about the Bush Administration's lie that led us into a war go on?
The lie claim is false. Can you guys make a good faith argument or not?
quote:
You're right, Seriati, what it's all about is why they lied and how they are held accountable. But not the way you think.
I've cut a bunch of your claims. Frankly, I think its a waste of time to keep arguing against claims that have been the next thing to refuted.

It's become a tenant of faith on the left that Bush lied, no questioning it, no proving it needed.

And in cases like this pretending actually lies should be excused because of the "worse" lies in the past.

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TomDavidson
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Seriati, I'm fascinated by your stubborn refusal to acknowledge that the Bush Administration has openly lied, despite the fact that several administration officials have since admitted this was the case. Why are you so emotionally invested in that issue?
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Seriati
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Show me the specific claims to which you are referring. I've yet to follow up on such a claim and find anything like what you are asserting.

For it to be a lie of Bush or his administration, they are the ones who have to know its a lie. After the fact flunky's selling books by claiming they never believed it are hardly persuasive (unless you already wanted to believe their self serving claims).

Be specific Tom. I'm tired of you're hand-waving at the concept of evidence for your claims.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
For it to be a lie of Bush or his administration, they are the ones who have to know its a lie.
That's a rather remarkable claim on its face, isn't it? Because if that's the standard, no one lied about Benghazi; one can simply assert that they were mistaken, or misinterpreted what they were told, etc. Are you really going to hold out for some kind of explicitly smoking gun -- like an email from Cheney to Bush saying something like, "Look, we're all lying about this, so just shut up and say what we tell you?" Or are you going to demand a different standard of proof for your team?
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Greg Davidson
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Can I try one more time to ask a few questions that I am sincerely interested in?

(1) Can we define the moral code of behavior regarding truth-telling that we would find respectable?
(2) Is someone okay merely if they never speak words that are literally false?
(3) Is someone acting appropriately if they mislead through a statement that is literally true, but structured to convey a point that is false?
(4)Is someone obligated to make a correction if they learn something that they said turns out to be false?
(5) And does our answer change if we ourselves would also be judged against the same moral code that we use for political figures?

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Seneca
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1. Yes.
2. No.
3. No.
4. Yes.
5. No.

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Fenring
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(1) is the hardest to answer because it depends entirely on what we see as the function and purpose of government. If we see it as entirely representing the people and serving the wishes of the populace then truth-telling is not enough. The government would have an obligation not only to tell the truth when it speaks but also to provide maximal transparency in what it chooses to disclose and to disclose a maximal amount of information to public scrutiny, in both cases only so long as it doesn't directly compromise national security. This latter clause is also hard to define, since a government of this sort would have to decline to include the political careers of its personnel in 'national security', i.e. protecting us from foreign nations would be a good reason to avoid disclosing information, while avoiding political scandals and serving needs of the two parties and of various bureaucrats would not be a good reason.

On the other hand, if someone views government as "the people we elect to be our parents and take care of us for four years" then there would be far less of reason to require transparency and disclosure. "We'll tell you only what you need to know" would be a probable policy of such a type of government with regards to the public.

Then, of course, there's what we have now, which is a bureaucracy that serves itself frequently at the expense of the nation, and so not only is disclosure declined for private reasons, but it is also to distance the populace from the process of governing. Instead of only telling the public what it needs to know, this type of establishment goes further and frequently does not tell the populace what it needs to know, and in addition often tells the populace what it doesn't need to know (or what is untrue) in order to further its objectives or divert focus.

So Greg, which of these scenarios should we be addressing with regards to your (1)? I think not everyone believes my first option is even desirable, and so this would greatly affect what they think the moral code of truth-telling (and disclosure) for the government should be. I don't think you'll find consensus on this point.

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Greg Davidson
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I was first and foremost interested in the set of rules that we would hold ourselves to as we participate in Ornery. I really appreciate Seneca's five answers, and I agree with him on every one - that should be our moral ideal. I'd like to hear from anyone who disagrees with the answers that Seneca gave.

I believe that we should hold ourselves at least to the same standard that we wish to hold government officials to.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I believe that we should hold ourselves at least to the same standard that we wish to hold government officials to.

I was preemptively addressing this point. What I was trying to say is that your standards for Ornery discussion are almost certainly higher than many people would suggest should be required for politicians. It depends on how they define what a politician's job is. I know your intent was the avoid a double standard whereby people micro-criticize elected officials but use all kinds of rhetorical devices here. Seneca's answers (which are in theory obvious even though in practice many people would have a hard time following them) actually way overshoot what we would ever expect from politicians, and in this sense I would say if we accept them for here then it isn't us adopting the same standard we would hold elected officials to; it would just be a new high standard that was as of yet not in place anywhere.
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Greg Davidson
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There are many ways that public officials should not be held to those strict standards - not just national security, but any issue in which confidentiality is important (would you want the FBI or even the Social Security Administration to publish all of their information?)

In political speech, particularly if you track anyone who makes thousands of speeches, there are bound to be some mis-statements. There are also simplifications - as an audience for political speech, most people tend to prefer simple declarative statements over convoluted and nuanced discussion of detail even if that is considerably more accurate to the complex truth.

And then there is political gamesmanship where the opposition will take a phrase, in or out of context, and use it to send an adverse message about a candidate - protecting against this can lead to a certain defensive style of political speech.

I guess my preferred standard would be a little less about specific wording, and more about the major actions taken and whether they were consistent with the meaning and intent of their speech. All of which is subject to human interpretation, and ultimately our decisions on politicians are based on a vote that attempts to identify their merit in the aggregate (not just on the accuracy of their speech). But politicians have multiple influences on our lives - on a discussion forum such as Ornery the only influence we have on each other is through discussion, and that elevates the relative premium on accuracy in our writing.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
For it to be a lie of Bush or his administration, they are the ones who have to know its a lie.
That's a rather remarkable claim on its face, isn't it?
No, just the definition of what a lie is.
quote:
Because if that's the standard, no one lied about Benghazi; one can simply assert that they were mistaken, or misinterpreted what they were told, etc.
Lol. What evidence was there that the video caused the situation? They knew same day it wasn't the cause. There is no grounds for your false equivalence, when they went out and claimed a cause they knew was discredited.

That is not the case in the Bush situation, where even in the Chris Matthews "gotcha" the CIA guy clearly said they told the administration that Saddam had chemical weapons, possibly biological and was trying to reconstitute his nuclear program. Remarkably similar to what the administration actually repeated back to us.
quote:
Are you really going to hold out for some kind of explicitly smoking gun -- like an email from Cheney to Bush saying something like, "Look, we're all lying about this, so just shut up and say what we tell you?"
So again, are you saying that you can not in fact back up your claim (as per usual)?

If so retract your rather strong claim.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Can I try one more time to ask a few questions that I am sincerely interested in?

(1) Can we define the moral code of behavior regarding truth-telling that we would find respectable?

If people are being honest, then for the left its acceptable if its a Democrat and not if its a Republican.

For the Right its acceptable if it's for claimed national security, and not if it relates to any claimed moral impropriety. They are also heavily persuaded by political affiliation.
quote:
(2) Is someone okay merely if they never speak words that are literally false?
In what world do people trust the Aes Sedai?

Why would it be okay to deceive through application of literal truth? Third question repeats.
quote:
(4)Is someone obligated to make a correction if they learn something that they said turns out to be false?
Depends on context now doesn't it?
quote:
(5) And does our answer change if we ourselves would also be judged against the same moral code that we use for political figures?
I think you need to think through why you're asking the question.

In my view, this whole debate is about how in a representative government we can actually be certain that the representatives will represent us. If you accept lieing - in one's self interest - as legitimate there's no way for a representative government to actually function.

There certainly are arguments that might require a government official to lie in service of the people or the government, but even that is a trade off in principals that could go either way.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
So again, are you saying that you can not in fact back up your claim (as per usual)?
That's sort of a stupid question, since it's a response to my question re: what sort of thing you'd consider proof. I think there's ample evidence out there. Obviously you don't. So obviously you're looking for some sort of criterion to be met that you don't believe has been met, and based on your statements seem to only be willing to accept either an outright admission of guilt from one of the chief architects of the administration or some publicly leaked memo -- other than the ones we already have -- to the same effect.

quote:
If people are being honest, then for the left its acceptable if its a Democrat and not if its a Republican.
Can I just say that I really sort of miss the old Seriati, the one that at least pretended to be a little intellectually honest? What happened to you, man?
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Seriati
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No Tom, I'm just referring to your repeated claims that this has been proven as, 'admitted by several administration officials.' If you can prove this claim please do so, otherwise, I'm reaching the conclusion that you're using the tactic of pretending that something has been proven in hopes that it won't be challenged because ideologically a number of people want it to be true, believe it to be true and won't actually want to see evidence that it isn't.

I doubt that you could provide adequate proof on the point. I think the read is crystal clear that intelligence agencies and governments all over the world believed Iraq had weapons and was seeking more. Like I said, I think the claim to the contrary is the next thing to refuted at this point.

On my intellectual honesty. I admit I get frustrated on this site. I'm tired of people making assertions on this site without proof. Heck, we have a whole thread now to "pretend" a war crime occurred and explain what we'd do about it. My current level of snarkiness will go away if we can revert to good faith discussions of facts.

On this, there is tons of reasonable grounds to disagree with 20/20 hindsight about whether the administration should have believed the Iraqi intel, or missed signs it was overstated, it's false history though to claim they intentionally lied. Same on Benghazi there was no reasonable basis for their claim about the video, and it has been shown that the claim was discredited internally on the same day. You're free to make a claim about why it was okay to lie about it, but you keep declining to do so.

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kmbboots
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Didn't take hindsight to disagree with what the Bush administration was claiming was intel.
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Fenring
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Seriati, if your real beef with my thread was the phrase "war crime" then you might have suggested that it might be some other kind of crime (you even invoked the word "treason" as a possible alternative, albeit in passing). But instead it sounded like you were waving away the entire idea that we have evidence the Bush admin lied. I myself didn't even believe in that 'evidence' until semi-recently, by the way. At the time of Iraq 2.0 I was in favor of it to a fair extent, assuming the truth was being told. I have recently come to conclude I don't think that's the case, but I don't think it's productive for you to write off anyone with a beef against one party as being partisan for the other party or lacking intellectual honesty. I am no fan of the Democratic Party, just so you know.
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Didn't take hindsight to disagree with what the Bush administration was claiming was intel.

There are people who disagreed real time. I tend to think they objected to war out of principal, though, and I doubt they would have deemed any evidence satisfactory.
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
Seriati, if your real beef with my thread...

Apologies Fenring, that was overly snarky of me. I'll take it back to your thread, rather than continue passive aggressively.
quote:
...was the phrase "war crime" then you might have suggested that it might be some other kind of crime (you even invoked the word "treason" as a possible alternative, albeit in passing).
Because, I'm struggling to construct an argument for you. You can't argue in the language of law (ie war crimes) and then demand we ignore the law and the facts. If you want to make a purely moral judgement then keep the language moral, right and wrong.
quote:
But instead it sounded like you were waving away the entire idea that we have evidence the Bush admin lied.
Present some evidence.
quote:
...but I don't think it's productive for you to write off anyone with a beef against one party as being partisan for the other party or lacking intellectual honesty.
And I don't. There are partisans, I'm one, and then there are PARTISANS, of which we have a couple. As long as you keep your logic sound I've got no beef. Generally I think you do, on this topic you seem to be surprisingly prone to sentimentalism.
quote:
I am no fan of the Democratic Party, just so you know.
I can read.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
In my view, this whole debate is about how in a representative government we can actually be certain that the representatives will represent us. If you accept lieing - in one's self interest - as legitimate there's no way for a representative government to actually function.
I don't think that you can be "certain" that your representatives truly represent you - our system is set up so that every 2, 4, or 6 years the voters would get to make a decision about their representatives, and which of several choices that they preferred going forward.

The political process is a market process of a sort, where politicians gain the maximum number of votes if they can craft a message that appeals to the widest number of people. The majority of voters a candidate needs may have substantial difference of opinions, and yet the Darwinian process of of elections will favor those who can pull in as large (and thus diverse) coalition as possible.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that it is far better for politicians to speak the truth than to lie. And there are differentials in the nature and extent of the lies that they will tell. On one end of the scale, they might say how Iowa or New Hampshire are their favorite states, or how they just love the peach cobbler at a State Fair even if they don't actually love it. At a middle level are lies like those of Bill Clinton with respect to having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky - clearly political, clearly self-serving, and harming another person (and yet at the same time in the context of a political game of political lies, hypocrisy and false other accusations that the Clintons faced, I certainly understand why they were evasive for so long on so many topics, particularly those regarding their personal lives). The most morally significant lies for a politician are those that relate to policies that affect many people, and that's what matters the most to those of us who do not know the politicians personally.

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NobleHunter
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There are also lies intended for a foreign audience. Usually, governments not in the habit of lying to their electorate try not to make public statements about things they don't want foreign powers to know, but it's not always possible.
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Wayward Son
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And just for the record: U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence reports from June 5, 2008.

quote:
The Committee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:

> Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

> Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

> Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

> Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

> The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

> The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.


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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Seriati:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Didn't take hindsight to disagree with what the Bush administration was claiming was intel.

There are people who disagreed real time. I tend to think they objected to war out of principal, though, and I doubt they would have deemed any evidence satisfactory.
That would be an incorrect generalization about lots of people against the war. If one wasn't just listening to the biased US news - or even just listened to NPR, there was plenty of information out there at the time that both indicated that Iraq wasn't a threat and that predicted the fallout. Heck, even a decent grasp of history would have been enough for the latter.
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Fenring
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I tried to read through much of the thread before asking, but has anyone is this thread or another brought up this point about Hillary?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shirin-sadeghi/hillary-clinton-wants-gad_b_1020705.html

In short, Hillary actively called for the death of Gaddafi, which was on the books as being illegal under U.S. law against assassination.

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DonaldD
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Wishing for someone's death ("We hope he can be captured or killed soon") is not the same as putting in place a policy or plan to kill someone ("No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.") It also isn't actually the much weaker, and not even illegal, 'calling for someone's death'.

What was the context of Clinton's remark?

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Seriati:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Didn't take hindsight to disagree with what the Bush administration was claiming was intel.

There are people who disagreed real time. I tend to think they objected to war out of principal, though, and I doubt they would have deemed any evidence satisfactory.
That would be an incorrect generalization about lots of people against the war. If one wasn't just listening to the biased US news - or even just listened to NPR, there was plenty of information out there at the time that both indicated that Iraq wasn't a threat and that predicted the fallout. Heck, even a decent grasp of history would have been enough for the latter.
But that's selection bias you're engaging in there. There is far more information presented by those that were opposed to the war (which by the "lots of people" is a stretch given the overwhelming support at the time), that did not correctly predict the fall out. It's trivially easy to go back and see claims that if we acted it would spark a regional uprising and consolidation of the entire middle east (which to use your own standards about history was never going to happen). I think Michael Moore even made a movie about it.

The fact is, the positions you are putting forward were not widely agreed, even among those opposed to the war initially. And nothing you said, is convincing to me that those opposed to the war at the outset would have changed their position and been pro-war if only there was a little more clarity.

And to be even more out there on my part, I don't agree that the fall out in Iraq was particularly bad. In any conflict there will be negative consequences, but at least until President Obama cleared the way for ISIS to move in unopposed, Iraq was going about as well as you could imagine a conquered Islamic based country will absolutely no history of democracy or even fair government to be going. I mean sure, if you held utopian aspirations (or even standard "American" attitudes that people should thank you and be fully participating western democracies no more than a year after you bomb and conquer them) you'd be disappointed, but if you're pragmatic and realistic the position of Iraq at Bush's exit had to be within the range of good results.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
Wishing for someone's death ("We hope he can be captured or killed soon") is not the same as putting in place a policy or plan to kill someone ("No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.") It also isn't actually the much weaker, and not even illegal, 'calling for someone's death'.

What was the context of Clinton's remark?

The beginning of this video seems to have an answer to that:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbtWhXeiK6Q

And I think you're being a bit loose with the English meaning of "calling for someone's death." If a guy in a wheelchair is mad at me and calls for my death I'll assume he's issuing an epithet or cursing me or something. If a gun standing in front of me with a gun pointed at my head calls for my death I'm going to interpret that as he means to kill me. 'Calls for' just means desires, and is incomplete without also inspecting what action or position to speaker is in at the time. Since the U.S. was in Libya at the time Hillary spoke and trying to capture or kill Gaddafi, her statement cannot be interpreted in any other way than "we intend to capture or kill Gaddafi". She wasn't just chiming in with some vague hope that 'someone' would achieve that end; her own administration was seeing to it. That's a direct threat, and therefore constitutes conspiracy to assassinate. Not that the U.S. hasn't done this many times before, but I was just asking whether this topic had been brought up here before about Hillary, since she's running. The video I just linked points out that the Obama administration might be thinking that Gaddafi is an ex-leader and is therefore in-bounds for killing, but then again the law against assassination isn't restricted to only the single highest-ranking person in a country.

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TomDavidson
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I have to give some props to Carter for pushing for a law that turned out to be so inconveniently good-hearted that every president since has completely ignored it.
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