April 22, 2009 archive

We need a new reality show: Waterboarding with the Stars!


Waterboarding is TORTURE.

It’s certainly not an “advanced interrogation technique” – it was used in the Spanish Inquisition.

Please don’t call it “enhanced interrogation” – the Nazis already coined that phrase.

And, “harsh interrogation”? Please – “harsh” is what that detergent you switched from was to your delicate washables.

No – please call it what it is; it’s torture, plain and simple.

Hmmm – but I see you remain unconvinced. In that case, follow me below the fold . . .

Good Job Docudharma!

Just a quick note to thank everyone here, and in the larger blogosphere, for all the hard work we have done on bringing the Bush Torture Program into the national spotlight.


Of course we can never say for sure how much all of our hard work contributed to this success. (Personally….I give us FULL credit!!!) But watching the media today, it is the number one issue.

It is Front Page news around the country, it is leading the news casts.

Matthews is destroying John Ensign (R-Denial) right now. Who is STILL insisting that “the US did not torture.”

Nancy F’in Pelosi has called for a Committee.

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz  says we should absolutely prosecute Bush and Cheney if the evidence is there.

And the list goes on and on.

Of course there is still much work to be done, but we have made it over the hump. This is no longer a “fringe” issue. It is, for now, lol, THE issue. We will have much work to do to pushback on the pushback and keep the pressure on. But for now, we can take a deep breath and gather our energy for that fight. We worked hard and our hard work…worked.

I know how much effort YOU have put into this. I know how hard it is to live with this issue day in and day out. I am immensely proud of ALL of us, from the occasional commenter, who sustained us with their interest and energy, to our Loudest Yellers!

Thank you.

Give yourself a pat on the back. You DID make a difference in this crazy world.


Four at Four

  1. ProPublica reports Dozens of prisoners held by the CIA are still missing, their fates unknown. “At least three dozen others who were held in the CIA’s secret prisons overseas appear to be missing as well. Efforts by human rights organizations to track their whereabouts have been unsuccessful, and no foreign governments have acknowledged holding them.”

    The newly released Bush administration torture memos “inadvertently confirmed that the CIA held an al-Qaeda suspect named Hassan Ghul in a secret prison” and tortured.

    “Former officials in the Bush administration, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified information, said that the CIA spent weeks during the summer of 2006 — shortly before Bush acknowledged the CIA prisons and suspended the program — transferring prisoners to Pakistani, Egyptian and Jordanian custody.” ProPublica has a full list of the disappeared.

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports European nations may investigate Bush officials over prisoner treatment. “European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers.”

    “Torture is an international crime irrespective of the place where it is committed. Other countries have an obligation to investigate,” [Martin Scheinin, the U.N. special investigator for human rights and counterterrorism] said in a telephone interview from Cairo. “This may be something that will be haunting CIA officials, or Justice Department officials, or the vice president, for the rest of their lives.”

    In a related story, the NY Times claims the Bush administration did not look at past use when adopting torture. In addition to partially documenting the complicty of Congress, the article also notes:

    Government studies in the 1950s found that Chinese Communist interrogators had produced false confessions from captured American pilots not with some kind of sinister “brainwashing” but with crude tactics: shackling the Americans to force them to stand for hours, keeping them in cold cells, disrupting their sleep and limiting access to food and hygiene.

    “The Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture,’ ” one 1956 study concluded. “But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.”

    Worse, the study found that under such abusive treatment, a prisoner became “malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate.”

Four at Four continues with a look at the U.S. economy, Brazilian style economic stimulus, wind power off the Atlantic coast, and nuclear talks with Iran.

‘Obtaining’ A New Torture Poll

Does anyone here know anything about the polling process?

The last poll we have on the general subject is this one…

Poll: Most want inquiry into anti-terror tactics

From February 12, 09. Which was well before all of the most damning evidence was revealed. We need new polling, good polling, specific polling.

The press, lol, has now started asking questions, which eliminates the need to pressure them in the campaign we had just gotten started on. So until their short attention span fades and we need to prod them again….

I propose we center our action based efforts on getting a new poll.

I see three ways to ‘obtain’ a new poll.

1) A pressure campaign on polling companies.

2) Fundraising to commission a poll.

3) LOL, pressuring Daily Kos to use their polling service to do it.

What think thee, Dharmaniacs?

Afghanistan from the Past

On this day of green awareness and torture diatribes (not meant pejoratively), I wanted to focus on a subject that has seemingly fallen off the blogospheric radar screen recently — the dangerous, futile attempt by the Obama administration to introduce the failed military tactic — but eminently successful PR strategy — of “the Surge” into Afghanistan.  I will not try to document all the political, military, and foreign policy mistakes embedded in this decision; others are much more adept at such analysis than I.  I’ll offer a more personal side.  Perhaps it will provide insight, perhaps not.

Back in 1988, I was part of a delegation of Vietnam veterans who went to the Soviet Union to meet with Soviet Afghanistan veterans — the Afghantsi.  I wrote an article about the experience that appeared in New York Times Magazine in 1989.  How strange that in those days, the Afghantsi were seen as the Vietnam veterans of the Soviet Union; now, the sons and daughters of Vietnam veterans are about to become the new Afghantsi.

There was a part of my article that the Times chose not to publish.  The following is that exerpt:

Short Diary – Senate Committee Torture Report Released

From TPM:

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody” has now been posted on the Committee’s website.

Warning, the link is a pdf of over 250 pages.

Just one excerpt:

Military Lawyers Raise Red Flags and Joint Staff Review Quashed (U)

(U) In early November 2002, in a series of memos responding to the Joint Staff’s call for

comments on GTMO’s request, the military services identified serious legal concerns about the techniques and called for additional analysis.

(U) The Air Force cited “serious concerns regarding the legality of many of the proposed techniques” and stated that “techniques described may be subject to challenge as failing to meet the requirements outlined in the military order to treat detainees humanely…” The Air Force also called for an in depth legal review ofthe request.

(U) CITF’s Chief Legal Advisor wrote that certain techniques in GTMO’s October 11, 2002 request “may subject service members to punitive articles ofthe [Uniform Code of Military Justice],” called “the utility and legality of applying certain techniques” in the request “questionable,” and stated that he could not “advocate any action, interrogation or otherwise, that is predicated upon the principle that all is well ifthe ends justify the means and others are not aware ofhow we conduct our business.”

(U) The Chief of the Army’s International and Operational Law Division wrote that techniques like stress positions, deprivation of light and auditory stimuli, and use of phobias to induce stress “crosses the line of ‘humane’ treatment,” would “likely be considered maltreatment” under the UCMJ, and “may violate the torture statute.” The Army labeled GTMO’s request “legally insufficient” and called for additional review.

(U) The Navy recommended a “more detailed interagency legal and policy review” of the

request. And the Marine Corps expressed strong reservations, stating that several techniques in the request “arguably violate federal law, and would expose our service members to possible prosecution.” The Marine Corps also said the request was not “legally sufficient,” and like the other services, called for “a more thorough legal and policy review.”

(U) Then-Captain (now Rear Admiral) Jane Dalton, Legal Counsel to the Chairman of

the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that her staff discussed the military services’ concerns with the DoD General Counsel’s Office at the time and that the DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes was aware of the services’ concerns. Mr. Haynes, on the other hand, testified that he did not know that the memos from the military services existed (a statement he later qualified by stating that he was not sure he knew they existed). Eliana Davidson, the DoD Associate Deputy General Counsel for International Affairs, said that she told the General Counsel that the GTMO request needed further assessment. Mr. Haynes did not recall Ms. Davidson telling him that.

(U) Captain Dalton, who was the Chairman’s Legal Counsel, said that she had her own

concerns with the GTMO request and directed her staff to initiate a thorough legal and policy review ofthe techniques. That review, however, was cut short. Captain Dalton said that General Myers returned from a meeting and advised her that Mr. Haynes wanted her to stop her review, in part because of concerns that people were going to see the GTMO request and the military services’ analysis of it. Neither General Myers nor Mr. Haynes recalled cutting short the Dalton review, though neither has challenged Captain Dalton’s recollection. Captain Dalton testified that this occasion marked the only time she had ever been told to stop analyzing a request that came to her for review.

Saving the Earth is Not An Ego Trip

Saving the Earth is not an ego trip.  Saving the Earth is not something you do so that you can say you planted more trees or created more hybrids or wrote more academic papers or bombed more SUVs or fed more hungry people or arranged more peace deals or wrote more grants or have a purer method or better ethics than the next guy.  Saving the Earth is not something you do so that you can stand in judgment of the human race and ask it, “so what have YOU done?”  

No, saving the Earth is actually saving the Earth, and understanding it requires a degree of humility that seems at some point to be beyond the current reach of mainstream environmentalism, which wishes to simplify the act of saving the Earth to that which is politically and economically expedient.  Saving the Earth, however, must be something that actually saves the Earth, not something which makes us feel like we’re doing it when we’re not.

(crossposted at Big Orange)  

American Torture: “A Bipartisan Skill”

Crossposted from Antemedius

The release of some of the Bush administration torture memos now presents the Obama administration with a crucial dilemma. President Obama at first exonerated CIA officials responsible for the euphemistic “enhanced interrogation” techniques. The White House has even expunged the word “torture” from its vocabulary. The bulk of corporate media favors a whitewash.

Pepe Escobar argues the question is not that the memos should have been kept secret – as the CIA and former Vice-President Dick Cheney wanted. The question is that those who broke the rule of law must be held accountable. Responding to growing public outrage, the White House shifted gears and is now leaving the door open for the work of a Special Prosecutor.

Real News – April 22, 2009

American torture

There can be no “exceptionalism” when the rule of law is broken

What if only the Stupid Survive?

It is Earth Day.


Another strange confluence of random events, generated by random people on this planet has me vibrating with unsettled energy. Even my use of the word “random” is incomplete to my meaning, for my circle is proof positive that kindreds usually connect one way or another.

I spent the better part of the week thinking about Class War, humans degenerating to our basest natures and what it would take to awaken us to how to be in this world as part of the whole of it.

My mind buzzes around trying to work the layers of the personal/ego expectations with the geopolitical/economic and the humanity/morality aspects of everything that is going on. All at once. The intuitive flashes that are the knowing/unknowing swirl through my soul at unpredictable intervals.

I say things like “the center cannot hold” in my admittedly cryptic way. For someone who talks a lot, writes a lot, I apparently am very cryptic. Heh. To those who know me, or perhaps just know more, I always assume they dig the deeper part of this.

The big, bad scary isn’t just the shadow government, human abuses or economic failure.

Its simple, really. Human existence itself is no longer sustainable on a planetary level.

The rest is just mental masturbation trying to either make ourselves as comfortable as possible during these end times, or delude ourselves into thinking we can reverse the irreversible. More, it may be only the attempt to lie to ourselves and think we, as the enlightened will somehow survive this and create a better world.

Mathematically, scientifically, the odds are greatly against that.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XXI

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

– Helen Keller


Performance Art

A life is a play in many acts

each day a new scene

Sometimes one is the actor

and sometimes the script

but a life only attains

full measure or meaning

when one assumes

the role of director

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–November 30, 2005

Pirates of the Somalian

This is not the story of Robin Hood. This is not a clinical case study, nor a predictive model.

It does however seem to be a History Repeats story. A story of many Nations who never got to grow unto themselves. A story written for them, not by them, just as their very lives were by conquerers and outsiders bent on controlling and exploiting them.

It is a tragedy. It is what humans, even ones perhaps trying to do the right thing at first, do when collapse of modern*society happens. We turn into something else.

(*I say modern, because peoples untainted by Western culture rarely devolve into this: a philosophical discussion for another day)

So, people, do you ever wonder how a mostly English or Italian speaking country, that at one time was the envy of the ancient trading world; and one of the only Muslim African Countries that allowed women equal vote when they gained their independence, came to War Lords, Pirates, and poverty in a lawless International Toxic Waste Dump?


I sure did. I am still trying to figure it out.

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Science

1 New York touts climate-saving plan to lock away CO2

by Sebastian Smith, AFP

Tue Apr 21, 10:19 pm ET

NEW YORK (AFP) – Scientists in New York have touted an experimental plan to lock carbon dioxide gasses underground and prevent big polluters like China and the United States from wrecking the world’s climate.

The idea, called carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, is at the cutting edge of attempts to dramatically reduce CO2 spewed by industrial plants into the atmosphere.

The technology exists, but is little tested and a group of energy companies, academics and state officials hope to make New York one of the field’s trail blazers.

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