by Cindy Sheehan
Hat tip: Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox Blog
I was on an airplane flying to Orange County from Sacramento to attend the al-Awda Conference; which is a Palestinian Right’s Conference. Al-Awda translates to “The Returning, “ when the Pilot voice filled the cabin to make an announcement that I think went unnoticed by most of my fellow passengers, but I heard it.
As the plane was on the approach to John Wayne airport, the Captain came on the intercom to remind us all to “remember our brave troops who have died for our freedom.” Even in this post 9-11 paranoid paradigm, if I wasn’t belted in for landing, I would have popped out of my seat at 13D and charged up to the cockpit to let the pilot know that my son was killed in Iraq and not one person anywhere in this world is one iota more free because he is dead.
As a matter of fact, the people of Iraq, the foreign country thousands of miles away where my oldest child’s brains, blood, and life seeped into the soil, are not freer, unless one counts being liberated from life, liberty and property being free. If you consider torture and indefinite detention freedom, then the Pilot may have been right, but then again, even if you do consider those crimes freedom, it does not make it so.
Here in America we are definitely not freer because my son died, as a matter of fact, our nation can spy on us and our communications without a warrant or just cause and we can’t even bring a 3.6 ounce bottle of hand cream into an airport or walk through a METAL detector with our shoes on. Even if we do want to exercise our Bill of Rights, we are shoved into pre-designated “free speech” (NewSpeak for; STFU, unless you are well out of the way of what you want to protest and shoved into pens like cattle being led to slaughter) zones and oftentimes brutally treated if you decide you are entitled to “free speech” on every inch of American soil.
If you watch any one of the cable news networks this weekend between doing holiday weekend things, you will be subjected to images of row upon row of white headstones of dead US military lined up in perfect formation in the afterlife as they were in life. Patriotic music will swell and we will be reminded in script font to “Remember our heroes,” or some such BS as that.
I’m sick of torture. And the fact that we’re one of the countries way up there on the J.D. Powers annual “torture reliability” list makes me unwell as well. As does talking AROUND torture. What this country needs is an up-front national referendum on whether we should or shouldn’t be torturing people. Oh wait. That’s right, we did have one. Last November 4th.
These aren’t your normal, ordinary everyday forms of torture we’re talking about either: like twelfth in line at a understaffed Starbucks or shuffling through life a Golden State Warriors fan or being forced to watch NBC’s prime-time lineup against your will, I’m referring to real, state-sponsored, “talk or we do something crazy” Jack Bauer-on-steroids kind of stuff.
The big difference being, Kiefer Sutherland’s rascally television torturer gets most of his best results simply by raising his voice. “Are you going to talk?” “Never.” Compelling him to move in real close and yell in the dastardly scoundrel’s face: “ARE YOU GOING TO TALK NOW?” “Okay. Okay. I’ll talk. Just lower your voice. The kids are trying to sleep.”
Now we got Nancy Pelosi and the CIA exchanging torture lying charges. Don’t you hate it when lovers’ spats go public? The Republicans are gleefully sliding into the House Speaker cleats up because she has little of the President’s Teflon coating. To many Americans she’s that great aunt who smiles too much at Thanksgiving and always uses your full name when scolding you for poor quality table manners. “William, only cows chew with their mouths open.”
Even Dick Cheney has gotten into the act with a recent talk-show offensive defending his administration’s torture policies. And as far as everybody in the nation who sees his face being mightily offended, he’s been successful. This is not a partisan thing. A National Journal poll of Republican insiders shows 57 percent of them think he’s hurting the party. So pretty much everybody agrees, Dick Cheney speaking on torture is redundant.
A red herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is used to divert attention from the original issue. The furor over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s knowledge of the Bush/Cheney administration’s use of torture is the latest Washington noise that conveniently diverts attention from the illegitimate “war on terrorism” that continues to serve as the justification for torture, murder and war.
Nancy’s clumsy tap dance
In a series of bumbling statements, Pelosi has denied her knowledge of the extent of the Bush/Cheney administration’s use of torture and other “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
Pelosi admits that she was aware, as early as September 2002, that “enhanced interrogation” techniques were being explored by the Bush/Cheney’s Office of Legal Counsel as legal options, but that she was not told that they were being used. A timeline from the CIA and statements from well-placed (but unnamed) Democratic Party sources refute Pelosi’s claim.
In response, Pelosi accused the CIA of lying about the degree of her knowledge, and covering up the fact that torture was already being used without congressional input. She admitted that, as House Speaker, she learned in February 2003 that “certain techniques,” including waterboarding, were being used, and that Congresswoman Jane Harman, Pelosi’s replacement as senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the CIA’s general counsel with her support.
Essentially, Pelosi passed the buck to Harman, who was the “appropriate person to register a protest”, but did nothing else.
The Harman letter
But Harman’s letter to CIA General Counsel Scott Muller contains no language calling on Bush/Cheney/CIA to cease and desist torture. It is not a protest, but more of a fawning caress, that underscores the full support she and fellow Democrats have continuously lavished upon Bush/Cheney and the CIA.
Jeremy Scahill reports the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes and dousing them with chemicals. This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal.
Guest: Jeremy Scahill, award-winning investigative journalist and author of the bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at RebelReports.com. His latest article written for Alternet is titled ‘Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama’
AMY GOODMAN: A coalition of advocacy groups have launched a campaign to disbar twelve former Bush administration attorneys connected to the administration’s torture program. The coalition, called the Velvet Revolution, filed legal ethics complaints with state bar associations Monday, saying the twelve attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by approving interrogation methods, including waterboarding, that constituted torture.
While there’s been a lot of focus on torture under the Bush administration, what about under President Obama? In a new article, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill writes the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes, dousing them with chemicals.
This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal, Jeremy writes.
Jeremy Scahill is an award-winning investigative journalist, author of the bestselling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at RebelReports.com.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jeremy.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, describe what you call as this “little known military thug squad.”
JEREMY SCAHILL: When the Bush administration established the US prison camp at Guantanamo, of course, we know well that they set up a system where detainees were going to be systematically tortured. And, of course, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats were briefed on this program, despite what they’re saying right now.
And while much of the focus has been on the tactical use of torture at Guantanamo, almost no attention had been paid to a parallel force that was torturing prisoners in a variety of ways, including waterboarding them, and that is this riot squad of sorts that you referred to called the Immediate Reaction Force. The prisoners and their lawyers at Guantanamo call it the “Extreme Repression Force.”
By Noam Chomsky
Hat tip: Tomdispatch.com
Posted May 20, 2009
Historical amnesia is a dangerous social phenomenon because it lays the groundwork for crimes that still lie ahead.
The torture memos released by the White House elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable. The surprise, less so.
For one thing, even without inquiry, it was reasonable to suppose that Guantanamo was a torture chamber. Why else send prisoners where they would be beyond the reach of the law — a place, incidentally, that Washington is using in violation of a treaty forced on Cuba at the point of a gun? Security reasons were, of course, alleged, but they remain hard to take seriously. The same expectations held for the Bush administration’s “black sites,” or secret prisons, and for extraordinary rendition, and they were fulfilled.
More importantly, torture has been routinely practiced from the early days of the conquest of the national territory, and continued to be used as the imperial ventures of the “infant empire” — as George Washington called the new republic — extended to the Philippines, Haiti, and elsewhere. Keep in mind as well that torture was the least of the many crimes of aggression, terror, subversion, and economic strangulation that have darkened U.S. history, much as in the case of other great powers.
Accordingly, what’s surprising is to see the reactions to the release of those Justice Department memos, even by some of the most eloquent and forthright critics of Bush malfeasance: Paul Krugman, for example, writing that we used to be “a nation of moral ideals” and never before Bush “have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for.” To say the least, that common view reflects a rather slanted version of American history.
Occasionally the conflict between “what we stand for” and “what we do” has been forthrightly addressed. One distinguished scholar who undertook the task at hand was Hans Morgenthau, a founder of realist international relations theory. In a classic study published in 1964 in the glow of Camelot, Morgenthau developed the standard view that the U.S. has a “transcendent purpose”: establishing peace and freedom at home and indeed everywhere, since “the arena within which the United States must defend and promote its purpose has become world-wide.” But as a scrupulous scholar, he also recognized that the historical record was radically inconsistent with that “transcendent purpose.”
We should not be misled by that discrepancy, advised Morgenthau; we should not “confound the abuse of reality with reality itself.” Reality is the unachieved “national purpose” revealed by “the evidence of history as our minds reflect it.” What actually happened was merely the “abuse of reality.”
By Rose Aguilar
Hat tip: AlterNet
Posted May 20, 2009
Author Susan Galleymore shares her dramatic encounters with mothers who living in Mid-East war zones and American military moms.
In 2004, Susan Galleymore traveled 7,472 miles from Alameda, Calif., to deliver a message to her Army Ranger son stationed on a military base in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle.
“Don’t do anything you’ll regret or be ashamed of because it will haunt you for the rest of your life,” she told him.
The devastation and despair she witnessed, and the stories she heard in taxis and coffee shops along the way made her realize how disconnected Americans are from the realities of war and occupation — even those of us who like to think we are well-informed.
She decided that she couldn’t return to California and continue life as usual.
Over the next few years, she traveled to Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria to interview mostly mothers about their personal stories and everyday struggles.
She couldn’t go to Afghanistan because she ran out of money, so she interviewed Afghan women by phone and Afghan American women living in the Bay Area in person. She also interviewed a number of American military moms.
Galleymore compiled these first-person narratives, along with her observations and analysis, in a newly released book, Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak About War and Terror.
We meet Elham, a Lebanese mother whose home was bombed by the Israeli air force in July 2006. She says
“My message to Americans, especially American women, is, ‘Please try to feel how Arab women feel.’ Why do American mothers send their sons to die in Iraq? Is it for democracy? Shouldn’t democracy be built by the people? If it is imposed from those outside, isn’t that occupation?
“When Americans talk about terrorists, I look around, and I see people bombing our people, our land, and I wonder just who are the terrorists? The United States doesn’t call the Israeli attacks against us in our land terrorism, yet calls our defense of land and our people terrorism.
“America is learning now, in Iraq, what the Israelis have learned, what the British should have learned, what the French have learned, and what the Ottomans learned about Arab resistance. History will not change. Those who don’t have a history and who will not learn the lessons of history will not have a future.
“Americans haven’t yet understood that it is not only technology that wins in the long run. The spirit of the people to own their own land and their own culture will always win in the end. We have heroes and martyrs for our cause, and their young people are killed just for the material benefit of a few.”
The Federal Reserve Act was legislated in 1913 to end recessions, panics and depression. Over that almost 100-year period they have been eminently no more successful then their predecessors. The Fed is a private corporation, which guides US monetary policy. Its staff is from Wall Street, banking, and transnational conglomerates and occasionally from academia. Of the 12 Federal Reserve banks the New York bank is the most powerful. The staffing of the Fed at the least is incestuous, because the member banks take part in the staffing, as they filter to the Fed what actions they should take.
That is done by the FOMC, The Federal Open Market Committee. As a further example the recent stress test done by the Fed was done on many of their owners. Sadly the public is unaware of this and even business majors and those with business masters degrees do not know that the Fed is privately owned or what they actually do. For those of you who would like to get a better understanding read G. Edward Griffith’s, “Creature from Jekyll Island” and the “Secrets of the Federal Reserve” by Eustace Mullins.
Recently we discovered that $101.4 billion was originally secretly funneled through AIG to AIG counterparties – parties that were owed these sums by AIG, which had not collateralized derivative contracts. That is like writing insurance and having no collateral reserves set aside for losing events. The Federal Reserve in their wisdom paid off AIG’s debt with what eventually will be taxpayer debt. This is wrong and it should not have been done secretly. When demanded by a Federal Judge to reveal to whom these monies were paid and under what circumstances, the Fed said it would harm their reputations and it was a “state secret.”
The biggest gun in the Fed arsenal is the New York Fed. The recently appointed Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner was the NY Fed’s previous governor. Mr. Geithner had worked in government previously and was in part responsible for the Asian financial disaster in 1997-1998. He is also a Goldman Sachs alumnus. He is part of a never-ending exchange of the denizens of Wall Street and banking being appointed to government positions. In fact Wall Street and banking have been running our government for a long time. Many say for too long.
“Get Out of Iraq. Get Out Afghanistan”
By Dennis Kucinich
— WASHINGTON – May 14 – Speaking on a Supplemental Appropriations bill that would continue to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:
“America went to war against Iraq based on a lie. We were told back in 2002 that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The previous administration even pursued torture to try to extract false confessions in order to justify the war. It is time to tell the truth. The truth is we should not have prosecuted a war against the Iraqi people. The truth is the Democratic Senate could have stopped the Iraq war in 2002. The truth is we Democrats were given control of Congress in 2006 to end the war. The truth is this bill continues a disastrous war, which has cost the lives of thousands of our soldiers. The truth is the occupation has fueled the insurgency. The truth is the Iraq war will cost the American and the Iraqi people trillions of dollars and as many as a million innocent Iraqis have lost their lives as a result of this war.
“Don’t tell the American people that you are ending the war by continuing to fund the war. Don’t tell the American people that the war will end when their plans leave 50, 000 troops in Iraq. Don’t tell the American people that the way out of Afghanistan is to escalate our presence.
“Get out of Iraq. Get out Afghanistan. Come home America.”