April 1, 2009 archive

Torture:Justice :: Are We There Yet? new weekly Action series

UPDATE: now up at the orange.


Are we there yet? No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. In fact, it’s gonna be a long haul. So. What can we do? What can we get going … ya know, now-ish…?

Well. We begin here, and other inner circles. We read, learn, watch, listen. And talk with one another. And we do that with the same respect and care that we like to believe is at the core of the values that we hold so dear, that have been so brutally violated and betrayed. We start with each other. Then, ripple out.


I’m creating this place, this series, to be something of a landing zone for us, any of us in the progressive community who feel the grief, who wish to contribute in some way to this growing call for justice, and/or who want to stay tuned in to any ACTION activities that emerge around this cause. I will publish every week, on Thursday’s. I invite you to join me around the bend.

Four at Four

  1. The LA Times reports the U.S. and Russia reopen talks on nuclear arms. “The United States and Russia have agreed to reopen talks about curtailing their arsenals of nuclear warheads, marking the first major arms discussions since 1997, with President Obama saying today that he has accepted an invitation to travel to Moscow in July.”

    In Moscow, “the leaders plan to discuss a possible replacement for an expiring 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which limited the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 nuclear warheads. That agreement, known as START, expires on Dec. 5.”

    The NY Times adds Obama and Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev “sought to warm what had become an icy post-cold war relationship, agreeing to cooperate on issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. A four-page statement released after the hourlong meeting promised a ‘fresh start in relations between our two countries'”.

    “We, the leaders of Russia and the United States, are ready to move beyond cold war mentalities,” the two men said in the joint statement. “In just a few months we have worked hard to establish a new tone in our relations. Now it is time to get down to business and translate our warm words into actual achievements of benefit to Russia, the United States, and all those around the world interested in peace and prosperity.”

  2. The AP reports the FBI finds No forensic match to Blackwater for ammo in Baghdad massacre. FBI researchers were unable to match bullets fired in the 2007 Nisoor Square massacre to guns allegedly fired by Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries. The FBI laboratory report leaves “open the possibility that insurgents also fired in the crowded intersection.”

    “Five Blackwater guards face manslaughter and weapons charges for their role in the shooting, which left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-U.S. sentiment abroad. Prosecutors say the contractors launched an unprovoked attack on civilians using machine guns and grenade launchers. The guards maintain their convoy was ambushed by insurgents.”

  3. The NY Times reports Five suicide bombers attack Afghan provincial council.

    Five suicide bombers stormed a government office here Wednesday morning during a seminar hosted by an American democracy promotion organization, killing 13 people, including two provincial government officials, and wounding 14 others.

    One militant detonated a car bomb at the entrance gate of the provincial council office, as others stormed the compound in the center of Kandahar city with assault rifles and hand grenades, shooting at officials and guards inside. Seven civilians and six police were killed in the 20-minute gun battle, which ended when two of the militants blew themselves up inside the main hall, the provincial police chief, Matiullah Qati, said.

  4. The Republicans offer a more detailed budget plan, according to the Washington Post. The House Republicans want to “cut taxes for business and the wealthy, freeze most government spending for five years, halt spending approved in the economic stimulus package and slash federal health programs for the poor and elderly.” Their plan still requires $3.1 trillion in new borrowing.

    According to The Hill, the Republican budget makes permanent Bush tax cuts set to expire next year. Their plan would further reduce taxes on the wealthy so they would pay less than the highest rate under Bush. In addition, the Republicans “would repeal most of President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus. And it would reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits for wealthy Americans age 55 and under.”

Sympathy for the Devil: Torture Remix….. Part two

Part One

When last we left our hero George, the towers had fallen and he was fleeing in panic on Air Force One. Meanwhile Cheney was in the bunker (his natural habitat) directing the defense of the country from 19 guys with box cutters.

According to reports, the Bushies were already trying to spin this into an attack on Iraq. Within a short time, Ashcroft and others were gathering all of the years of republican Think Tank proposals on how to make America into a Police State to Protect ze Homeland. We know and live under the fruits of their totalitarian labor as The Patriot Act, passed on October 26, 2001. Less than two months after 9/11. Which apparently, no one who voted it into law actually even read, the national panic was so high.

In our panic, we rounded up any stray Arab looking folks, imprisoned them without charges and according to some reports beat them up ….or even tortured them…while they were in custody. The stage was set, the panic had kicked in, and in what was absolutely hysterically seen as an existential threat to ze Homeland…the Rule of Law was thrown out with the bathwater. The came the anthrax attacks…After 9/11, White House Told FBI To Blame Anthrax Attacks On Al Qaeda. Game on.

On 9/17, 2001, Bush says he wants Bin Laden “dead or alive.” Years later he stated he should not have used such harsh words.

On October 7, 2001, less than a month after 9/11, the United States invades Afghanistan. And starts taking prisoners…er, starts “detaining illegal enemy combatants.” With the rush to war, there is no clear plan on what to do with them.

Panic strikes again.

(CBS/AP)  A former State Department lawyer tells The Associated Press that the Bush administration panicked after 9/11 and tortured prisoners.

Former President George W. Bush denied anyone was tortured. But Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second insider to publicly describe as torture the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the U.S.

Padmanabhan was the department’s chief counsel on Guantanamo litigation. He says it was “foolish” for the Bush administration to declare that detainees were beyond the reach of U.S. and international laws and the Geneva Conventions.

He told the AP Friday that “Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration.”

Let’s go to the timeline:   (courtesy of emptywheel)

January 20, 2002: Bybee to Abu Gonzales memo specifying that common article 3 of the Geneva Convention does not apply to “an armed conflict between a nation-state and a transnational terrorist organization.”

Late 2001 to early 2002: Ibn Sheikh al-Libi captured. After being tortured, al-Libi made up stories about Al Qaeda ties to Iraq.

January 2002: Supplemental Public Affairs Guidance on Detainees affirms Geneva Convention wrt media photographs.

March 28, 2002: Abu Zubaydah taken into custody.

March 31, 2002: Abu Zubaydah flown to Thailand.

May 2, 2002: The US “un-signs” the International Criminal Court treaty.

May 8, 2002: Jose Padilla taken into custody based on material warrant signed by Michael Mukasey and based on testimony from Abu Zubaydah.

June 25, 2002: Moussaoui arraigned.

(Editor’s note: July 23, 2002, the Downing Street Memo, evidence that the decision had already been made to invade Iraq, is written.

August 1, 2002: “Bybee Memo” (written by John Yoo) describes torture as that which is equivalent to :the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

August 2002: CIA begins to use torture on Abu Zubaydah (including waterboarding).

August 12, 2002: CIA cable reporting water-boarding of Abu Zubaydah.

September 11, 2002: Ramzi bin al-Shibh captured, purportedly as a result of intelligence gained through torturing Abu Zubaydah.

November 10, 2002 (approximately): Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri captured.

November, 2002: Afghan detained in Kabul freezes to death in CIA custody.

America was terrorized, terrified, and confused in the year after 9/11. In the days following 9/11 the entire world reached out a hand to America. Americas responded with bloodlust, revenge and panic.


Because the leaders of America were consumed by bloodlust, revenge and panic.

We began rounding people up and then began paying bounties on other human beings in order to round up more people. We suspended the Geneva Conventions and Habeas Corpus. We made America into something with a striking resemblance to a police state with the Patriot Act. We began an organized program illegal detention and torture. In the case of Jose Padilla, even on American Citizens. All based on legal opinions written to ‘fix the facts around the intent.’ Based on what amount to legal lies.

And on March 20, 2003 we invaded a sovereign nation based on lies. Lies and evidence manufactured by the same panicked leaders.

In the face of an actual crisis, George Bush and Dick Cheney panicked.

They overreacted, used the the same lying tactics they had used to “win” the election in the Supreme Court to shred the Constitution, begin torturing and lead us into two wars. In their panic, they committed us to a course of action that we are still mired in to this day, seven and a half years later. These panicked decisions have cost trillions of dollars, the lives of nearly 5000 American soldiers and up to a million Iraqis and Afghanis. All while the presidents cronies and friends in the MIC, Halliburton and Blackwater etc. have made billions and billions of dollars. And continue to do so.

But we have still not come to terms, not even begun to meaningfully address these panicked acts that have cost our country and the world so much. The politicians in Congress that enabled all of this are mostly still in power. Excuses are still being made, asses are still being covered.

No one has been held accountable for any of it.

Our media, “The Fourth Estate,” has moved on. Our President is urging us to “move forward.”

We are pretending, instead that none of it really happened, or that these were merely “policy differences.”

We are in effect, exhibiting sympathy for the devils who, when entrusted with the safety and well being of our nation, turned us as a nation into monsters.

With each passing day, the Memory Hole grows larger and we are sucked further into the abyss.

When will America come out of denial and deal with what has been done in our names? Or is this who we are now?


Member of the Ruling Class Brought to Justice!!!




The Justice Department on Wednesday asked a federal judge to drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. However, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

“After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial,” Holder said in a statement Wednesday. “In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”


Obama’s Afghanistan Surge: What’s Going On?

Crossposted from Antemedius

Today in “The secrets of Obama’s surge” Pepe Escobar says that “the President is not exactly telling all that’s going on in AfPak”, and argues there are many more strategic issues at play than meets the eye – and the President and his team’s spin:

President Obama’s highly anticipated new strategy for what the Pentagon now calls AfPak – Afghanistan and Pakistan – is full of grey areas.

Most extra troops will be deployed to poppy-growing areas, not to fight al-Qaeda, the President’s stated number one objective.

The President talks about building trust – but as the US cannot trust the Pakistani ISI, the Pakistani people don’t trust the US or even their own government.

Joe Stiglitz: The Only Way The Geithner Plan Works is if Taxpayers Lose

Joseph E. Stiglitz is a professor of economics at Columbia who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1995 to 1997 under President Clinton.  He was awarded the Nobel prize in economics in 2001.  He has been crtical of globalization and his willingness to stand up to Larry Summers during the Clinton adminsitration likely led to him being forced our of the World Bank.  

He is also the former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank. He is known for his critical view of the management of globalization, free-market economists (whom he calls “free market fundamentalists”) and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.


At the World Bank, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist (1997 – 2000), in the time when unprecedented protest against international economic organizations started, most prominently with the Seattle WTO meeting of 1999. He was fired by the World Bank for expressing dissent with its policies.


Stiglitz always had a poor relationship with Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. In 2000, Summers successfully petitioned for Stiglitz’s removal, supposedly in exchange for World Bank President James Wolfensohn’s re-appointment – an exchange that Wolfensohn denies took place.


And he has a Nobel Prize for his work:

Stiglitz’s most famous research was on screening, a technique used by one economic agent to extract otherwise private information from another. It was for this contribution to the theory of information asymmetry that he shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2001 “for laying the foundations for the theory of markets with asymmetric information” with George A. Akerlof and A. Michael Spence.


Open Thread


A fool and his thread are soon parted.


Weeping! Wailing! Gnashing of teeth!

I have lost everything! Employment opportunities! Friends! Pantyhose!

I suffer in an agony foisted upon me by enemy shamans! Scottish African German and American shamans have brought me to a level of woe that cannot even be addressed by Tilex! Indeed, the very POWAH of CHEESE is ineffective before their mighty wrath!

Not only this, but the Vengeance(tm) of psychotic stalker exes and their Brotherhood has once again been manifested in my life! I am out three hours and a pair of pantyhose and I have no idea how I will ever recover from this trauma!

Clearly I should never have been so fucking lazy as to keep getting out of bed with a ruptured L5 vertebrae to take my 2.5 hour ride into the city for the exalted honor of carrying forty pound system backplanes in high heels for sexist Wall Street fucktards. The mere nerve of me to expect reward and praise (not to mention equal pay) for doing the right thing, I mean, really! I should have been home baking cookies for my man. Obviously I just don’t have the right stuff and never did. My four page resume is mere cotton candy. Oh, and I’m fat and over forty in a world where eye candy MATTERS. Well, ok, it matters to someone, I guess.

See, my problem isn’t that I was sitting in the same room with the entire New York City Sun Microsystems office when, as part of our orientation meeting for the move into our new offices in the World Trade Center, they played this movie clip.

My problem is that when I was sitting in another room with the same people in October 2001 in a hotel in New Jersey, listening to them cry and vent about the stuff they experienced during the 9/11 attack, I remembered that they showed this clip when we moved into the World Trade Center, and I was very tempted to stand up and scream at the top of my lungs, “FUCK YOU! GO HOME AND PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS!” to see if any of them remembered too.

Yeah. I guess that’s my problem.

And even worse… domestic spying continues apace, and I am made to hear the taunts of those who are (*ahem*) “competent” in that strange, secretive and sticky-handed existence through LOLCATS messages and the SCA Livejournal community!

But here’s what’s worst of all: for all their comparative (*coughahem*) competence, respectability, political correctness, good looks and (*coughahem*) “clean” hands, it would seem that none of my… hmmm, what should I refer to them as – compatriots? Co-workers? Cow-orkers? None of those People Who Are So Much Fucking Better Than I Am At Everything In Life(tm) can seem to actually SOLVE the problems of the creeping fascism, warrantless wiretapping, accountability for the Bush administration, restoration of Constitutional values, the looting of the Treasury, the spazzing economy, global warming, world hunger, or AIDS.

Oh, and we’re out of beer.

Alas! My life is clearly over. I have no reason to exist. I must flee or kill myself. Probably both. I’m not sure in which order. At least I will be in good company, I am sure my ghost will have some excellent conversations with Alan Turing.

Goodbye, cruel world.

Health: PBS Frontline and Veterans – VA Updates

Below is a small collection of very recent reports of America’s Health Care and Veterans Issues and Care, coming out yesterday or within the last few days.

Once again the Frontline report is a must see!

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind VI

Art Link


Days Will Come

Days will come

when sanity will

regain supremacy,

when disease will

be battled without

political consideration,

when people’s deaths

will not be occasions

to seek out

personal advantage.

But not today.

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 1, 2005

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Science Supplement is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Science

1 CT scan reveals hidden face under Nefertiti bust

By PATRICK McGROARTY, Associated Press Writer

Tue Mar 31, 9:11 pm ET

BERLIN – Researchers in Germany have used a modern medical procedure to uncover a secret within one of ancient Egypt’s most treasured artworks – the bust of Nefertiti has two faces. A team led by Dr. Alexander Huppertz, director of the Imaging Science Institute at Berlin’s Charite hospital and medical school, discovered a detailed stone carving that differs from the external stucco face when they performed a computed tomography, or CT, scan on the bust.

The findings, published Tuesday in the monthly journal Radiology, are the first to show that the stone core of the statue is a highly detailed sculpture of the queen, Huppertz said.

“Until we did this scan, how deep the stucco was and whether a second face was underneath it was unknown,” he said. “The hypothesis was that the stone underneath was just a support.”

Late Night Karaoke

Never Always

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