Tag: crimes against humanity

Torture: Can they walk away unchanged?

Reading through opinion about “enhanced interrogation”, you will find that there is a pervasive assumption that if there is no physical evidence of torture after the fact, the victim of torture remains unharmed. In fact, the Bush administration defined this as one of the axioms that justified their legal opinions that supported their methods — and it is one that softens public opinion toward torture, as well. The fact is that if this assumption is wrong, the W administration’s torture policy falls like a house of cards.

The crucial issue at hand is that, in the memos, torture was defined as something different than it was in practice. To understand the fundamental flaw in a way that is more than superficial, though, we have to think about what happens to a prisoner that undergoes “enhanced interrogation.” We have to consider why these tactics cause long term harm. We also have to understand why a subject in a “cracked” state of mind will always provide dubious information.

So, what happens when Rambo cracks? Will he walk away unchanged by the experience? Even if he has no pre-existing psychological conditions?

Prosecuting Those Responsible.


(After quantifying US casualties on September 11, 2001.)

These measurements obviously did not capture the full meaning of September 11. A familiar terrorist threat announced itself that day with frightening new proximity and ambition. But decision made in the White House, in response, had incomparably greater impact on American interests as a society.

Barton Gellman in Angler – The Cheney Vice Presidency, page 132.

It is entirely by design that bringing abusers of power to justice will be riddled with setbacks. The Bush 43 leaders and high level advisors used deliberate sleight of hand to insure their prosecution was improbable. They are counting on the fact that the decision to prosecute them is entirely political, and that willingness to to spend political capital for crimes gone by will be small. But they’ve also fortified their steps with subtleties that make it harder to figure what went wrong.

It will take a lot more than just energizing the left wing behind the cause and supporting Senator Leahy to bring lawbreakers to justice. We have to convince the American mainstream if we are going to make prosecution happen. A mainstream that has demonstrated time and again that they are certain to miss the subtlety.

Torturing and The Rambo Myth. A case against waterboarding.

My goal in writing this essay is to convince you that using torture — techniques that use hypoxia particularly — cannot be tolerated as a method to gain intelligence. You are already convinced? Good. Let me suggest that you are probably convinced for the wrong reasons. But I want your ear, even if you’re convinced for the right reasons — because, to my way of thinking, many of the people who advise our lawmakers about torture policy in the United States overlook critical information about the effects of waterboarding. Even many of the well-meaning ones suffer from a critical lack of understanding when they make their policy decisions.

My problem is with what I’ll call The Rambo Myth: Subjects of torture will grant a true confession in order to avoid the pain of more torture, and The Rambo Corollary: Any method that is not painful enough to make Rambo crack will not extract a true confession.  

Victims of bush’s “War on Terror”: Children

On January 12th 2009 President bush gave his final Press Conference to the Nation.

In it he made a number of statements that have been analyzed by many, my take on his answers and spin was his showing how little a man, who is in total denial and lacking any compassion or moral feelings, of how big a failure as a person, and especially as the President, he has been!

In one of his answers he said this:

Truth and Shaming Commission

When looking around for something on Truth Commissions I found that for the most part they were called Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Like I said in the essay I posted on that, I was still gagging on the “R” word. I still gag on it today.

You’ll find Josh Marshall of TPM fame listed at the bottom of the Wiki entry on TRCs as having proposed one for BushCo. He also has an interesting TPMtv interview with Burt Neuborne of the Brennan Center for Justice, NYU. Burt calls for a “shaming” commission. Basically he says let’s out the torturers and those who ordered the torturing so that the whole world will know them for who and what they are. This is the part of a Truth Commission that is the heart of what I would like to see.

You can see Burt make his case at the 4:30 mark in this TPM clip: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c…

It sounds good to me. Personally, I’m not far enough along to go for the Reconciliation part even though I know that Mandela did it and Ghandi would do it. I do believe firmly in the Truth part. I’d like to see at least the top three tiers exposed to the public in all their lies and crimes against humanity. They need to stand naked before the Truth for all the world to see.

I resign myself to the reality that they’ll never see jail time even though they deserve it more than 95% of those incarcerated now. A good world-wide shunning and shaming will be sufficient. We can’t let the history of what happened these last eight years be lost, hidden or manipulated. The cost of letting this slide even a little will mean that our descendants will see this and worse happen in their lives. It has to stop somewhere. The conditions are right to do it now.

The Republicans will be a problem. The complicit Establishment Democrats will be an even worse problem. We need to not just keep their feet to the fire, we need to turn it up until they can’t ignore it anymore. We’ve got the Executive branch back. It’s time to steamroll the Legislative denizens.

Truth Now!

Truth and Reconciliation My Ass! America’s Accountability Moment

I believe in compassion, mercy and forgiveness…but when great and grievous wrong has been done, you don’t skip straight to forgiveness.  No, the first stop on the path to redemption is called justice.

When former governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state of Alabama, Don Siegleman gets thrown in federal prison for 9 months for being a progressive democrat and has to go around the country begging for justice once they finally let him out on appeal bond (fruitlessly I might add – they never did vote contempt for Karl Rove) then something is desperately wrong in this country.

siegelman-in-prison

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

[ed note: I’m still gagging on the R-word but here goes]

From Wiki:

A truth commission or truth and reconciliation commission is a commission tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government, in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. They are, under various names, occasionally set up by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil war, or dictatorship. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established by President Nelson Mandela after apartheid, is generally considered a model of Truth Commissions, rarely if ever achieved in other parts. As government reports, they can provide proof against historical revisionism of state terrorism and other crimes and human rights abuses. Truth commissions are sometimes criticised for allowing crimes to go unpunished, and creating impunity for serious human rights abusers.

The bolds are from the Wiki entry, the italics are mine.

I’m not sure where to begin on this. My revenge fantasies leading up to the election were starting to get out of hand. I felt like Photoshopping middle-of-the-forehead entry wounds with trails of blood down the faces of our war criminals – traitors to not just the Constitution but to all that’s decent in humanity. And then pasting the posters on public walls. I may get rendered just for sharing this thought dream. They still have ten weeks to go. Fuck it.

My big problem with revenge is people like Ghandi and Mandela and MLK, Jr. They all took the personal beatings, torture and imprisonments in stride. They all brought about tremendous positive change for all of humanity. They are powerful role models for doing what is right morally. If I ask myself what would they do then I have to confront my very reasonable desire for some exotic revenge for the members of the Bush regime and all their enablers. It would please me no end to have each of them waterboarded, humiliated, debased and thrown into Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and the Black Prison in Afghanistan for very long amounts of time. But that would just make me like them. I refuse to be one of their kind.

War on Terror? Criminal Terrorism!! The Rand Report

On the 29th of July an extremely important think tank report, paid for by the government, came forth from the Rand Corporation, a favorite of the Pentagon on National Security matters.

I heard the report early that morning on a news blip on NPR and went over to the Rand Site and found the report. I than posted about it on a number of sites as well as sent it out, all with back links.

There was also a link for a Congressional Briefing to be held on that day on the report.

At first I was shocked that very few picked up on the importance of this report, that day and the next, as well as the hearing. Than thinking about it later maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that few political boards saw the need to report and most certainly fewer MSM outlets as well. There’s an Awful Lot of sheepish guilty consciouses that supported this criminal administration, and criminal it is, in the direction it started selling this ‘War on Terrorism’, and the MSM, purely for commercial profit, would love to see what their advertisers were paying for ads than, happily went along, War Sells Big Time! Hell these political people, the boards, the MSM, the majority of the voters even fear bringing charges and accountability, fear of what that may mean on the political front, to hell with the Constitution the Politics are more important!

“How Terrorist Groups End”

The title above comes from a new Rand Corporation Report

After 7 years of conflict and occupations, with 893 coalition deaths — 556 Americans, in Afghanistan and increasing, and 4,438 coalition deaths — 4,124 Americans in Iraq and increasing, with tens of thousands of injured and maimed, physically and mentally, and millions of innocents in both countries killed, maimed, living as refugee’s, fighting each other in sectarian civil wars, living in ethnically cleansed neighborhoods and area’s in Iraq behind huge concrete blast walls, this “Think Tank?” comes out and says:

U.S. Should Rethink “War On Terrorism” Strategy to Deal with Resurgent Al Qaida

Current U.S. strategy against terrorist organization al Qaida has not been successful at limiting the group’s capabilities. Since Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaida has been involved in more terrorist attacks than ever before and over an increasingly broader range of targets.

EENR for Progress: The International Criminal Court and Human Survival

Cross-posted from EENR Blog



The Kyoto Treaty is not the only treating affecting human survival that Bush prefers let languish without the participation of the United States.  He also unsigned us from the Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

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ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT


PREAMBLE

The States Parties to this Statute,

Conscious that all peoples are united by common bonds, their cultures pieced together in a

shared heritage, and concerned that this delicate mosaic may be shattered at any time,

Mindful that during this century millions of children, women and men have been victims of

unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity,

Recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world,

Affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole

must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at

the national level and by enhancing international cooperation,

Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to

contribute to the prevention of such crimes,

. . .

http://www.icc-cpi.int/library…

LOCK THEM UP!

I haven’t put together a video to song in awhile, than I came across “Lock Them Up”

The song in video is by ‘Nam Veteran Pat Scanlon brother member of Vietnam Veterans Against The War and Veterans For Peace.

Making Torture Acceptable

As anyone paying attention knows, torture is nothing new to American security agencies. It was meticulously studied and practiced, and its techniques were then taught to our puppets and allies abroad. And never mind that, besides being a moral outrage and a crime against humanity, torture simply doesn’t work. Our nation has engaged in it. A brief glint of sunshine may have temporarily tempered its usage, but it’s never gone away.

That the Bush Administration engages in torture should come as no surprise. What it really means may be.

Hina Shamsi is a human rights observer at the U.S. military tribunal hearing of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, in Guantánamo Bay. Hamdan was supposedly Osama bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard. Shamsi writes, in Salon:

At issue in Hamdan’s hearing was whether under the Military Commissions Act the government had the authority to try Hamdan as an “unlawful enemy combatant.” Congress passed the law in October 2006, under pressure from the Bush administration, on the eve of the midterm elections. The law circumvents due process safeguards that are a hallmark of American justice, in both the military’s own court-martial system and in the federal courts. For the more than 300 men held in Guantánamo for over six years, the Military Commissions Act stripped their right to challenge detention without charge through the ancient writ mechanism of habeas corpus. (The prisoners’ challenge to this provision was before the Supreme Court last Wednesday.

Hamdan’s defense wants to call three witnesses who are considered “high-value” detainees, whom they claim can refute the charge that Hamdan was part of a conspiracy to murder civilians. The judge refused to allow the three to testify, because the request was not timely. This is where it gets fun.

Government lawyers argued that the three were part of a highly classified special access program — a situation of the government’s own making, of course — and that only those with top secret clearance had access to them, which took time.

In other words, there was only one catch.

Furthermore, even though Hamdan’s military defense attorney has top secret clearance, the government says treatment of the three witnesses is highly classified, and cannot be revealed, as it would undermine national security. All three, of course, have been reported by the media to have been abused, if not tortured. So, Hamdan cannot get a fair trial because the government doesn’t want it known that witnesses for his defense may have been tortured. This dynamic will play out again, in the trials of “high-value detainees.”

But this is where Bush administration policies will come back to haunt us with a vengeance: Unlike the majority of Guantánamo detainees who appear to be low-level players or even innocent, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others did likely engage in serious and heinous crimes. If so, they should be prosecuted and sentenced — but based on lawfully obtained evidence in full and fair proceedings that comport with the best traditions of American justice.

But they won’t be. To Bush, they can’t be. People have been tortured, and for it, justice will continue to be tortured.

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