Quote of the Day – George W. Bush

February 19, 2007 at 11:45 am | Posted in Bush Administration, George W Bush, Osama Bin Laden | Leave a comment

Speaking of George Bush, with whom Sharon developed a very close relationship, Uri Dan recalls that Sharon’s delicacy made him reluctant to repeat what the president had told him when they discussed Osama bin Laden. Finally he relented. And here is what the leader of the Western world, valiant warrior in the battle of cultures, promised to do to bin Laden if he caught him: “I will screw him in the ass!”

According to Ariel Sharon

Finally Some American Realism!

February 18, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military, neo-conservatives, North Korea, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Vietnam, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

This is the second time I recommend an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show, but he’s getting people on there who are unafraid to tell it how it is. This time, he has Retired General William Odom who said it like it is and smacks Mr. Hewitt’s attempts to smear him back to the stone age. I’m glad to see some smart talk finding its way again on the conservative side. It’s been a while. Perhaps someday soon conservatives will realize the poison they’ve been drinking at the well of neo-conservatism.

After the bump, I’ve got some of the better sections of the interview. Upon reading these quotes, note that you are reading the words of a man who is not afraid. Note the use of fearmongering in Mr. Hewitt’s questions. Instead of following the bait, General Odom paints the clear picture of reality. Continue Reading Finally Some American Realism!…

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

February 17, 2007 at 12:28 am | Posted in freedom, War | 3 Comments

While reading David McCullogh’s most excellent biography of John Adams, I became unimpressed with Thomas Jefferson, because a more realistic picture was portrayed of the man. However, Thomas Jefferson said some of the most profound things, things of import today. Here are his words on habeas corpus and the power of the executive.

“The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume.” –Thomas Jefferson to A. H. Rowan, 1798. ME 10:61

“Freedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus I deem [one of the] essential principles of our government.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. ME 3:322

“Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions? The parties who may be arrested may be charged instantly with a well defined crime; of course, the judge will remand them. If the public safety requires that the government should have a man imprisoned on less probable testimony in those than in other emergencies, let him be taken and tried, retaken and retried, while the necessity continues, only giving him redress against the government for damages. Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. They have been either real treasons, wherein the parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788. ME 7:97

“[The] bill of rights [should provide] clearly and without the aid of sophisms for… the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.

“The following [addition to the Bill of Rights] would have pleased me:…No person shall be held in confinement more than __ days after he shall have demanded and been refused a writ of habeas corpus by the judge appointed by law, nor more than __ days after such a writ shall have been served on the person holding him in confinement, and no order given on due examination for his remandment or discharge, nor more than __ hours in any place of a greater distance than __ miles from the usual residence of some judge authorized to issue the writ of habeas corpus; nor shall that writ be suspended for any term exceeding one year, nor in any place more than __ miles distant from the station or encampment of enemies or of insurgents.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. ME 7:450, Papers 15:367

On the power of the executive and loss of freedom:

Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.

Compare those inspired words to those of our current Attorney General Gonzales:

“The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas,” Gonzales told Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Jan. 17.

Gonzales acknowledged that the Constitution declares “habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless … in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” But he insisted that “there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.”

As John Dean concludes in his remarks about the history of habeas corpus:

Of course, following ratification of the Constitution, a Bill of Rights was added – protecting freedom of the press and religion and other rights. Under Gonzales’s reading of the Constitution, however, the fact that several of these amendments are stated in the negative means the Constitution failed to expressly grant these rights as well.

Consider, for example, the First Amendment’s prohibitions that “Congress shall make no law respecting…” the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press. Following Gonzales’s view, these provisions only say what Congress cannot do – they are silent on whether any rights to free exercise, free speech, or a free press ever existed in the first place.

So, presumably, if Gonzales is correct, the President could do away with any or all of these rights; since they were not expressly granted by the Constitution, he is free to do so. After all, if Gonzales’ view were correct, the right of habeas corpus has not been expressly granted, suggesting it does not really exist. Why would not the same result occur for other rights referred to, but not established in so many words, in the Constitution? Fortunately, the Attorney General’s approach is wrong.

With all due respect, Attorney General Gonzales needs to read an American history book – to avoid relying on arguments rejected in the 18th Century when offered by those who opposed the adoption of our nation’s founding charter. Every time Gonzales testifies, he leaves the Constitution a bit more battered by his right-wing gobbledygook and revisionist dogma. We are fortunate he seldom appears before Congress.

A Republican Calls for the Murder of American Congressmen

February 16, 2007 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Congress, Republicans | Leave a comment

That quote comes from a Washington Times reporter who erroneously and falsely claimed it was Abraham Lincoln who said it when it wasn’t.

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged. — J. Michael Waller

As Glenn Greenwald has clarified:

But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This “quote” was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits,the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to FactCheck.org (h/t William Wolfrum):

The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.

It was Waller, in The Washington Times’ Insight Magazine, urging that anti-war Congressmen be hanged — not Abraham Lincoln. But to justify their plainly un-American assault on our most basic constitutional liberties, neoconservatives like Gaffney simply invent quotes, attribute them to Abraham Lincoln, and continue to use them long after they have been debunked.

So Republican Congressmen who use this quote ought to ask themselves why they use a false quotation which basically calls for the murder of their fellow Congressmen…how far has the Party of Lincoln fallen….

Quote of the Day – Abraham Lincoln

February 16, 2007 at 6:01 pm | Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Congress, War | 3 Comments

When the war began, it was my opinion that all those who, because of knowing too little, or because of knowing too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the President, in the beginning of it, should, nevertheless, as good citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till the war should be ended. Some leading democrats, including Ex President Van Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand them; and I adhered to it, and acted upon it, until since I took my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it, were it not that the President and his friends will not allow it to be so.

On his opposition to the war in Mexico of 1848.

As Maha states: “Good think nobody hanged Mr. Lincoln back in 1848, huh?”

So as war proponents now tell Americans to sit down, shut up and get back in line, or be labeled traitors and criminals, remember the words of Abraham Lincoln himself, who, upon disliking the way the war was run, turned against President Polk. And guess what Representative Lincoln even went as far as to introduce legislation to hold President Polk accountable!

Huh, how ’bout that?

Quote of the Day – John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra

February 15, 2007 at 8:50 am | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Iraq, Media | Leave a comment

“Thanks to the liberal mainstream media, Americans fully understand the consequences of continuing our efforts in Iraq — both in American lives and dollars.”

heh, yeah, that dastardly liberal mainstream media! How dare they fully inform the American public about the consequences of our continuing efforts in Iraq! Thanks to Horse’s Mouth for the link

America, Are You Ready For A War Against Iran?

February 14, 2007 at 5:59 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iran, Military, War | 5 Comments

Because it is coming. Joshua Marshall shows us exactly how the rhetoric will bamboozle Americans into backing yet another war for the Bush administration. There will be no peace possible on this earth as long as the Bush administration continues to rule the White House. So be ready America. You’re about to go into a third war in the Middle East. Be ready to send more of your sons and daughters into the battle to die for….well, we don’t quite know exactly what, because the rhetoric keeps changing. But be ready. Put on your patriotic face. Fly your American flag. Show the world how much you trust in the arms of your flesh for “protection.” But just know now, America, before it begins, you’re being bamboozled. You’re being tricked. Your worst fears are being tugged, being taken advantage of.

Effective Interrogation Without Torture

February 14, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Posted in conservatives, Iraq, Military, Torture | Leave a comment

Hugh Hewitt is a conservative I don’t read nor pay attention to. However, through Andrew Sullivan’s blog, I came across this:

Effective Interrogation Without Torture 101

HH: All right. And you’ve trained a lot of the current American military interrogators who are deployed around the world as well. From the time you began in this human and counterintelligence business to today, how much of the techniques changed as to effective interrogation?

SH: Well, we thought we had it pretty well on track, and that there was a consensus in the discipline that interrogation is a very professionally demanding discipline that requires an understanding of human nature, and essentially how to outsmart and outfox a source who has information that he really doesn’t want to tell you, but it’s your job to get it. And I’d thought for some time that we had a good consensus on that until the Iraq thing came along, and something happened, and people took a wrong turn at the intersection, if you will.

HH: And how did they do that?

SH: Well, there became a notion of what, and I think part of it was because of official policy emanating from the Department of Defense, and then part of it was just that plus osmosis plus the influence of television and the overall pop culture, that interrogators are inquisitors, and that the best way to get information out of people is to “take off the gloves.” And that’s the wrong turn that we took, and it’s a very serious wrong turn, because for a whole variety of reasons, torture and brutality in interrogations is counterproductive.

HH: Does the United States military torture people?

SH: Well, I think if you ask the question has it happened, or have things taken place that are wrong, and that went well over the line, I think the answer is yes, regrettably. Was it a controlled policy, i.e. that what they were doing was something that was sanctioned from on high, my own personal opinion is that some of it was, especially the things that the task force was doing in Iraq with respect to the top fifty of Saddam’s henchmen that they caught, and al Qaeda types. And in some cases, it was just stupid young people with bad leadership and bad skills essentially behaving in an extremely counterproductive and undisciplined fashion, and that’s more what applies to Abu Ghraib.

So Eric, if you are reading this post, here you’ve got an answer to the question of whether or not torture was approved at the highest levels of the American government.

HH: Now specificity matters a lot when we’re talking about terms like this, so I’d like to run down some of the “interrogation techniques” that people have debated, people who don’t know what they’re talking about, and get your opinions on them.

SH: Okay.

HH: Prolonged periods of standing.

SH: Generally speaking, stupid, as are virtually all techniques that involve making a person, you know, trying to get information from a person by making the person physically in a hurt.

HH: Do you consider that, as a professional, torture?

SH: No, I don’t think that’s torture. I don’t think that’s torture, but I think it’s stupid.

HH: How about sleep deprivation?

SH: I never did it, never had to do it. I realize that it’s in the “repertoire” of a lot of people who fancy themselves interrogators in that it breaks down the defenses, the physical and they hope the psychological defenses of a subject. But again, I never had to resort to that stuff in Vietnam, Panama or the Desert.

HH: Is it torture?

SH: I don’t think it’s torture, not in the sense of torture as commonly understood, i.e. water boarding, pulling out fingernails, electric shock, and stuff like that. I just think it’s counterproductive and stupid.

HH: How about the playing of music, either loudly or repeatedly?

SH: I think that’s stupid as well.

HH: Torture?

SH: Depends on how loud, I guess. I mean, I could conceive of a level of decibels in a speaker right next to someone’s ear which is causing…

HH: Physical pain, yeah.

SH: …physical pain, and possibly irreversible damage, and I certainly wouldn’t go there. A lot of these techniques that are on various lists, some of which, you know, have to be approved at a certain level in order to be carried out, I don’t sign up to, even if someone else has.

HH: What about temperature deprivation, you know, extremes of hot and cold, though not of course the sort of extremes that kill people?

SH: Cruel and stupid.

HH: Torture?

SH: Could be, depending on how cold, depending on how hot.

HH: So how do you define torture, Colonel?

SH: Well, everybody’s got their own definition, I guess, but to me, torture is brutal, possibly physically and or psychologically extremely damaging treatment, demeaning, but demeaning to the extreme. And it’s one of those things that as the pundit once said, for me, anyway, I know it when I see it.

HH: Yeah, Justice Stewart in being asked to define pornography said that, I know it when I see it.

SH: Exactly. That’s the famous quote.

Heh, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying, except that I consider sleep deprivation torture, but at least the good colonel thinks at least that it is stupid. But note that even he and Mr. Hewitt both agree Justice Stewart was talking about the definition of pornography with the famous quote “I know it when I see it.”

Now the good colonel highlights how to effectively get information from a detainee. Note as you read this that nothing in his comments relies on any questionable tactic:

SH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically, when a guy is captured, he’s stressed, he is frightened, and he’s probably expecting to be mistreated, because in most societies in the world, that’s the way it works. Disarming him psychologically, by treating him in a manner the opposite of what he expects, extending decent, humane treatment to him, showing concern for himself, his needs, being nimble in assessing and evaluating the person, and recognizing that getting information from someone is developmental, i.e. you won’t get information from someone, generally speaking, just by saying okay, I’m the captor, you’re the prisoner, tell me what you know. You earn it. I like to say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed probably didn’t give up a lot of the information that he gave up because somebody started water boarding him and beating him up. Instead, they used a very clever approach, and played to his ego and his psychological need to be recognized as the architect of 9/11, and the guy talked. In all of the successful interrogation projects that I’ve ever had anything to do with, extending fundamentally decent treatment to the detainees, we even used to call them guests. And you know, the guards would salute a prisoner if he was an officer, and we give them good food, and we would tell them it was unconditional, regardless of whether they chose to talk with us or not. And that type of an approach has a very high batting average.

On waterboarding:

HH: Col., I’m getting a couple of standard questions. Number one, from pilots who have gone through water boarding training in their survival courses, why do you consider it torture?

SH: Well, water boarding is very much like another technique that was used during the Vietnam War by the Vietnamese, where they put a poncho over the head of the person, and then poured water through the poncho into the mouth, simulating drowning. It’s an inhumane…it’s inhumane treatment, it’s the kind of treatment that is essentially trying to extract information from someone by creating a fear of imminent death, not unlike and analogous to mock executions. We will have made progress in this arena when people realize that the way you get information from someone is to outsmart them, and use guile and stealth and chicanery to trick them into information, or secondarily, and the best way, is to persuade the person that it’s the right thing to do to talk.

HH: Is it effective? Is water boarding effective?

SH: Boy, you know what? I can’t tell you that. I’ve never practiced it. I consider it to be abhorrent, a practice that shouldn’t be practiced by any professional interrogator, and you’re going to have to ask someone other than me. But I, generally speaking, know from experience that when you levy brutality against a person in order to get that person to talk, even if the person hasn’t got anything to say, or doesn’t know what it is that you want, they’ll come up with something to say just to get you to quit doing it.

It is abhorent and evil and counterproductive and not something any righteous individual would either endorse or use.

On taking the gloves off:

even though it feels good to say let’s take the gloves off, and some of your listeners have alluded to that…

HH: Oh, I’m getting lots of that, yup.

SH: Yeah, you get a lot of that. The reality is that number one, we condemn everyone else when they do that, and why should we do it and lower ourselves to that level. And number two, apart from the fact that it’s illegal and immoral, it’s a lousy way to get good information.

A lousy way to get good information. Halleluiah! May all conservatives hear these words and have them seared into their blinded minds!

On Zawahiri and a ticking time bomb scenario:

Jim: Thank you. Colonel Herrington, I’m largely persuaded by what you said. I still need a little more persuading in one little area. Let’s say you have somebody like Osama or al-Zawahiri, and you knew he knew where some really big terrorist hits were going to be. Would you then…plus, they’re fanatics, and they’re much less likely to talk. Would you then use some coercion, or even a lot? Or could you?

SH: Like you, Jim, I’m no fan of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s. But when you get a guy who’s at fanatical as he is, and let’s suppose that he, let’s grant the hypothetical that he has this information between his ears. Rather than try and brutalize it out of him, I’d try every other approach that I could think of, including in his case, ego. That said, no I wouldn’t brutalize him. And my sense of it is that in most cases like that, people who are fanatical jihadists, if you start to really, really apply torture and that sort of stuff to them, if it’s a ticking time bomb scenario, they’re just going to give you false information, send you down a wild goose chase to use up the time that you might have to get where you want to go. So no, I’m not, I won’t cave on that, even though I share your sentiments about this guy.

Note that even having the worst of the worst in his possession, this good colonel does not give in to his passions. He’s a smart man. Would that conservatives learn from him.

Colonel Herrington’s concluding remarks:

I would only say to all of your listeners that there is a very, very sophisticated way of exploiting human sources that’s time tested as being the most effective, and it is not brutalizing people. And when we go the wrong road and we brutalize people, we take an episode, or a series of episodes at a very low level like that stupid Abu Ghraib prison, and we escalate the impact of that conduct to the detriment of our country. And look what has happened to our country and to the support for the war effort simply because of the stupidity of Abu Ghraib. So it’s right to do it the way I’ve proposed, it’s worked, it’s time tested. Almost all professional interrogators know that. And we should go that way.

Tentative Agreement With North Korea

February 13, 2007 at 3:09 pm | Posted in North Korea | 5 Comments

Well well, how about that, North Korea has signed on to a tentative agreement wherein North Korea would dismantle their nuclear program in exchange for oil and food. Huh, wasn’t that what Clinton did in 1994?

On “24″, Torture, and the Bush administration: Improvisations in sadism

February 13, 2007 at 11:52 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Torture | 6 Comments

Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker about the show “24″ and its strong support within the Bush administration and the military. I will be quoting and commenting extensively on her article. Read more if you wish to read my comments, or just read her article for her own very well written article. Continue Reading On “24″, Torture, and the Bush administration: Improvisations in sadism…

Quote of the Day – Mokhtar Trifi of Tunisia

February 13, 2007 at 9:59 am | Posted in Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Military, War | 4 Comments

“If you wanted to support democracy in the Arab world, why did you begin with your enemies instead of your friends? Why Iraq and Iran? Why not us?”

quoted by Anne Applebaum who writes further:

So why didn’t the West interest itself in Tunisian democracy 15 years ago, back before “democracy” became a negative term, back before the not-quite-free economy went sour, back before radical Islam became chic among the blue-jeaned teenagers? The answers, as Trifi knows well, are clear: Because democracy promotion was an afterthought, never an important American goal in the Middle East. Because France, which has far more influence in Tunisia than we do, has never been remotely interested. And because no one in the West has ever been very good at thinking through what the longer-term results of the authoritarian status quo might really be.

And unfortunately, the madness will not end. Just pay attention to what’s going on regarding Iran. Note that today the arguments are all about the weapons, the security issues, the threats of destruction. But I bet that when (not if) we do invade Iran, and we find their weapons capabilities not being anywhere close to what we’ve hyped them up to be (note also that we have to have secret, off the record briefings to show our supposed evidence of Iranian involvement in Iraq), suddenly we’ll talk about democratizing Iran.

Where have the realists, the pragmatists, the practical-minded Americans gone to? What is this strange virus, this alien disease that has so badly infected Americans that they so easily fall for the bamboozling act of this administration and its supporters?

Douglas Feith Reinvents History

February 11, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Military, Republicans | 6 Comments

because he can’t face the fact that he purposefully lied. But the evidence is all there. His office ran reports that were bogus that were to sell a war against Iraq. Now that Iraq is a failure, well, he doesn’t want to own up that he failed. How like Republicans!

On Pre-Iraq War Intelligence

February 10, 2007 at 8:23 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, Rumsfeld, War | Leave a comment

Watch the video. See the fact that there is only one Republican Congressman present. Note how badly they abrogated their Constitutional responsibility to hold the Executive branch in check, and how badly they let the White House and Rumsfeld’s Pentagon (and then the media through the Weekly Standard) bamboozle the American public with intentional false information.

Republicans, you guys gotta realize, this is going to haunt your party for a long time to come.

It Takes A Russian To Tell the Truth About American Foreign Policy

February 10, 2007 at 8:03 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Military, War | Leave a comment

Vladimir Putin, Bush’s “best buddy” finally tells the world what the world needs to know about American foreign policy under George W. Bush:

With the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, and a Congressional delegation sitting stone-faced, Mr. Putin warned that the power amassed by any nation that assumes this ultimate global role “destroys it from within.

“It has nothing in common with democracy, of course,” he added. “Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations — military force.”

“Primarily the United States has overstepped its national borders, and in every area,” said Mr. Putin, who increasingly has tried to re-establish Russia’s once broad Soviet-era influence, using Russia’s natural resources as leverage and defending nations at odds with the United States, including Iran.

American military actions, which he termed “unilateral” and “illegitimate,” also “have not been able to resolve any matters at all,” and, he said, have created only more instability and danger.

“They bring us to the abyss of one conflict after another,” he said. “Political solutions are becoming impossible.”

The Negative Effects of Torture on the Interrogator

February 9, 2007 at 11:35 am | Posted in American politics, Torture | Leave a comment

Torture not only severely effects the detainee, but as shown in this account it also adversely affects the interrogator, at least if he still has a heart and humanity in him.

A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I’m afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.

That dream, along with a host of other nightmares, has plagued me since my return from Iraq in the summer of 2004. Though the man in this particular nightmare has no face, I know who he is. I assisted in his interrogation at a detention facility in Fallujah. I was one of two civilian interrogators assigned to the division interrogation facility (DIF) of the 82nd Airborne Division. The man, whose name I’ve long since forgotten, was a suspected associate of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, the Baath Party leader in Anbar province who had been captured two months earlier.

The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him/

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.

American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

Vladimir Bukovsky talked about this guilty conscience that bedevils interrogators who use these tactics:

I know from my own experience that interrogation is an intensely personal confrontation, a duel of wills. It is not about revealing some secrets or making confessions, it is about self-respect and human dignity. If I break, I will not be able to look into a mirror. But if I don’t, my interrogator will suffer equally. Just try to control your emotions in the heat of that battle. This is precisely why torture occurs even when it is explicitly forbidden. Now, who is going to guarantee that even the most exact definition of CID is observed under such circumstances?

But if we cannot guarantee this, then how can you force your officers and your young people in the CIA to commit acts that will scar them forever? For scarred they will be, take my word for it.

This evil is still going on, America. This administration (and supporters like Mitt Romney) will continue these evil acts, well, as long as the “war on terror” goes on. To this point, this administration and its supporters sees no end to this war. Will we then see an end to such madness and evil? Not as long as we stay silent.

All the Evidence You Need that Bush Wants War With Iran

February 9, 2007 at 9:42 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iran, Military, War | 9 Comments

Take it away Tom Engelhart. Mr. Engelhart reviews all the evidence, providing links to all sorts of reports over the past three years that indicate a war with Iran is fast approaching. He also quotes Defense Secretary Robert Gates who says:

“It’s always awkward to talk about hypotheticals in this case. But I think that while Iran cannot attack us directly militarily, I think that their capacity to potentially close off the Persian Gulf to all exports of oil, their potential to unleash a significant wave of terror both in the — well, in the Middle East and in Europe and even here in this country is very real… Their ability to get Hezbollah to further destabilize Lebanon I think is very real. So I think that while their ability to retaliate against us in a conventional military way is quite limited, they have the capacity to do all of the things, and perhaps more, that I just described.”

Is this really what America wants?

How To Achieve Peace from a Civil War

February 8, 2007 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Civil War, Peace, War | 6 Comments

You want peace in the Middle East? You want two factions that are at war with each other to come together and work together? What do you think will solve that problem? Well, perhaps you ought to look at what Hamas and Fatah just accomplished in Palestine. A political agreement. THIS is how to achieve peace. Military action will not bring you peace. It never does. It only brings destruction. Some might say, “well yes, if we destroy the enemy, there will be peace because the enemy won’t exist anymore.” Well, that is true, except there’s one small problem. Name me one example in history where anyone was successful in completely wiping out “the enemy.” You might have one or two examples. Now, name me examples where some have tried this, but ended up with both sides nearly dying out, or even completely dying out. You’ll find a few more examples of this. Now, name me examples where, in the end, both sides had to at some point reach some sore of agreement to live in peace. What do you know? About 95% of all the wars in history end this way. Huh, there’s something to a political resolution that ends wars. There’s something for attempting to find peace that is far more successful than attempts to further inflict physical damage upon an enemy.

UPDATED:

Iraqis are telling Americans to avoid conflict:

Iraqi and U.S. forces should not launch a military offensive against the militias — most of them Shiite — that are a major source of turmoil in Iraq, but should instead rely on nonviolent steps to bring militiamen into the political fold, according to an Iraqi report that draws largely on the views of prominent Shiite politicians.

“In the short-term at least, there can be no military offensive against the militias. Military confrontation, in the current climate, will only strengthen their appeal and swell their ranks,” the Baghdad Institute for Public Policy Research concludes.

So many deaths could have been avoided if America would have begun this two or three years ago…..

How the Washington Media Failed the American People

February 8, 2007 at 9:48 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Media | 2 Comments

UPDATED
Republican-led Congress couldn’t do it. The only ones left to even come close to keeping the Bush administration in check was the Washington Media. They failed utterly. Eric Boehlert writes on how and why the media failed.

Let’s face it, as special counsel in charge of investigating the Valerie Plame CIA leak, and now the lead prosecutor in D.C. federal court methodically laying out the damning evidence of perjury, obstruction, and lying against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Fitzgerald has consistently shown more interest — and determination — in uncovering the facts of the Plame scandal than most Beltway journalists, including the often somnambulant D.C. newsroom of The New York Times.

Indeed, for long stretches, the special counsel easily supplanted the timid D.C. press corps and become the fact-finder of record for the Plame story. It was Fitzgerald and his team of G-men — not journalists — who were running down leads, asking tough questions and, in the end, helping inform the American people about possible criminal activity inside the White House.

It’s true that Fitzgerald’s team had subpoena power that no journalist could match. But reporters in this case had a trump card of their own: inside information. Sadly, most journalists remained mum about the coveted and often damning facts, dutifully keeping their heads down and doing their best to make sure the details never got out about the White House’s obsession with discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV by outing his undercover CIA wife, Valerie Plame.

So as the facts of the White House cover-up now tumble out into open court, it’s important to remember that if it hadn’t been for Fitzgerald’s work, there’s little doubt the Plame story would have simply faded into oblivion like so many other disturbing suggestions of Bush administration misdeeds. And it would have faded away because lots of high-profile journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NBC wanted it to.

In a sense, it was Watergate in reverse. Instead of digging for the truth, lots of journalists tried to bury it. The sad fact remains the press was deeply involved in the cover-up, as journalists reported White House denials regarding the Plame leak despite the fact scores of them received the leak and knew the White House was spreading rampant misinformation about an unfolding criminal case.

And that’s why the Plame investigation then, and the Libby perjury trial now, so perfectly capture what went wrong with the timorous press corps during the Bush years as it routinely walked away from its responsibility of holding people in power accountable and ferreting out the facts.

Read the whole thing. A damning account. Everyone should breathe a sigh of relief and thank God in their prayers that someone like Fitzgerald exists. Imagine how much would still lie uncovered, how many crimes committed yet never acted upon because too many were afraid to speak out…..

Glen Greenwald writes the following:

For the last 15 years or so — since the early years of the Clinton administration — our public political discourse has been centrally driven by an ever-growing network of scandal-mongers and filth-peddling purveyors of baseless, petty innuendo churned out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, various right-wing operatives and, more recently, the right-wing press led by Fox News. Every issue of significance is either shaped and wildly distorted by that process, or the public is distracted from important issues by contrived and unbelievably vapid, petty scandals. Our political discourse has long been infected by this potent toxin, one which has grown in strength and degraded most of our political and media institutions.

For anyone who thinks that that is overstated, the definitive refutation is provided by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin and The Washington Post’s former National Politics Editor John Harris, who provided this description in their recent book about how their national media world operates:

Matt Drudge is the gatekeeper… he is the Walter Cronkite of his era.

In the fragmented, remote-control, click-on-this, did you hear? political media world in which we live, revered Uncle Walter has been replaced by odd nephew Matt. . . .

Matt Drudge rules our world . . . With the exception of the Associated Press, there is no outlet other than the Drudge Report whose dispatches instantly can command the attention and energies of the most established newspapers and television newscasts.

So many media elites check the Drudge Report consistently that a reporter is aware his bosses, his competitors, his sources, his friends on Wall Street, lobbyists, White House officials, congressional aides, cousins, and everyone who is anyone has seen it, too.

This is why our political process has been so broken and corrupt. The worst elements of what has become the pro-Bush right wing have been shaping and driving how national journalists view events, the stories they cover, and the narratives they disseminate.

What kind of government and political system — what kind of country — is going to arise from a political landscape shaped by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, Fox News, Michelle Malkin, and their similar right-wing appendages in talk radio, print and the blogosphere? Allowing those elements to dominate our political debates and drive media coverage guarantees a decrepit, rotted, and deeply corrupt country. That is just a basic matter of cause and effect.

Peter Daou wrote what I think is one of the definitive articles detailing the mechanics of that process (Tom Tomorrow provided the illustration), but whatever the details, its dominance simply cannot be reasonably doubted. The last two presidential elections were overwhelmed by the pettiest and most fictitious “controversies” (things like Al Gore’s invention of the Internet and Love Story claims, John Kerry’s windsurfing and war wounds, John Edwards’ hair brushing and Howard Dean’s scream), and our discussions of the most critical issues are continuously clouded by distortive sideshows concocted by this filth-peddling network. Their endless lynch mob crusades supplant rational and substantive political debates, and the most wild fictions are passively conveyed by a lazy and co-opted national media.

Well said. I wrote long ago about how things changed so quickly from 1995 to 1997 while I was out of the country:

I knew something was wrong in America ever since I came home from my mission, ten years ago. America got mean. America turned nasty and divisive. People turned on members of their own religion, calling them names and judging their spiritual worth unrighteously.

Quote of the Day – George W. Bush

February 8, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, George W Bush | Leave a comment

If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us; if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.

Presidential Debate – 2000

Shoddy Investigation of Abuse at Gitmo

February 7, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Posted in American politics, Gitmo, Military, Torture | 3 Comments

The United States military sent a army officer to investigate accusations of guards bragging about beating detainees, and supposedly found no evidence of abuse. But, well, read the report yourself:

n Army officer who investigated possible abuse at Guantanamo Bay after some guards purportedly bragged about beating detainees found no evidence they mistreated the prisoners _ although he did not interview any of the alleged victims, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

That’s like going to a situation where someone brags about raping a woman and only questioning the man and his friends he bragged to! Hello! Way to sweep this under the rug guys. It’s alright, it’s gonna come back to haunt you some day. All bad things do.

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