Silence Is The Enabler Of Hate; Inaction Is The Mother Of Blood Letting; Resistance, Rebellion And Revolt Are The Tools Of Restoration.
Fox News Pollutes Our Democracy With Them
Written by Will Moredock
Thursday, 03 September 2009
“I wouldn't call it fascism exactly, but a political system nominally controlled by an irresponsible, dumbed down electorate who are manipulated by dishonest, cynical, controlled mass media that dispense the propaganda of a corrupt political establishment can hardly be described as democracy either.”
-- Columnist Edward Zehr--
Whatever else we have learned from the national healthcare debate, it is resoundingly clear that America's education system is at least as bad as its healthcare.
By one recent poll, nearly 70 percent of white southerners do not believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States. In another poll of North Carolina voters, only 54 percent said that Obama was native born. Among Republicans, 47 percent said he was born in the America; 29 percent were not sure. (In the same poll, respondents were asked if they “consider Hawaii to be part of the United States.” Among Republicans, 88 percent said yes, seven percent said no and four percent were unsure. Numbers were only slightly better among the general public.)
Such a proliferation of ignorance and misinformation is a veritable Eden of mischief for politicians and Sen. Jim DeMint was in full frolic when he spoke to more than 300 white people at the Daniel Island Club last week. The white folks were gracious and mannerly. They laughed at all the Obama jokes. They applauded DeMint's jabs at Democrats and federal bureaucrats. There was no one packing heat here. No swastika signs. Nobody standing up to scream, “You will stand before god to answer for this some day.” No, these white people were a model of decorum. And why not? They were hearing exactly what they wanted from their hero.
Unfortunately, DeMint did not return the favor. In fact, he was downright contemptuous of his audience's intelligence, telling them that he favored controlling healthcare costs through tort reform and and more competition among insurance companies. Of course, anybody who was familiar with the healthcare debate would know that DeMint was lying through his teeth. First, DeMint and the Republicans are doing everything humanly possible to kill the public option plank of the Democratic reform plan, which would be the most effective competition for insurance companies. The last thing Republicans want is honest competition in the insurance industry.
Alan Colmes' Liberaland » Gun Toter At Obama Event Supports Hate ...
This is so damn sick! Send in the Secret Service to send this man straight to hell. I actually did not have a strong liking to Bush, but never wanted him dead. Impeached along with Cheney, but dead no… We are better than that. ...
Alan Colmes' Liberaland - http://www.alan.com/
by Floyd and Mary Beth Brown
Leftist elites are up in arms about Americans up in arms. At two recent Obama town hall meetings, men exercising their Second Amendment rights were spotted carrying firearms. While we do not condone threatening the president or anyone else for that matter, these citizens are well within their rights. It is legal to carry a firearm while demonstrating to protect your liberties.
In New Hampshire, William Kostric showed up near a town hall meeting carrying a pistol, and a placard proclaiming, “It is time to water the tree of liberty!” in reference to the famous Thomas Jefferson quotation, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” Kostric had no intention of hurting the president; he was exercising his rights and making a political statement using the pistol as a visual reminder. When interviewed by Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Kostric said he went to the town hall because he “wanted people to remember the rights that we have, and how quickly we are losing them.” After making this statement, Chris Matthews verbally accosted him and compared him to John Wilkes Booth and other fanatics. Kostric clearly explained that he was not advocating violence, but was practicing his constitutional right to bear arms.
The second incident prompted the media to erroneously pronounce the opponents of Obamacare as racist rednecks. A young man named Chris wore an AR-15 slung over his shoulder with a 9 mm pistol strapped on his hip. Roughly a dozen others were also carrying firearms with Chris outside an Obama appearance in Arizona. Earlier, these individuals coordinated their right to openly carry firearms with the Phoenix Police Department. They deliberately did this to show the country that the Phoenix police are very supportive of their rights to keep and bear arms. The elitist media missed the whole point and went ballistic.
Chris Matthews fretted about assassination attempts, while Contessa Brewer stammered, “there are questions about whether this has racial overtones… I mean here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns.” MSNBC’s pop culture analyst Touré anxiously said, “I’m not going to be surprised if we see somebody get a chance and take a chance and really try to hurt him.” However, these talking heads glossed over a crucial detail: the man carrying the AR-15 was black. They were dishonestly trying to portray the group of gun toting citizens in Arizona as racists. MSNBC cleverly edited the video footage to show only the semi-automatic rifle, hiding the face of its bearer, Chris, an African American.
The liberal media conveniently ignore that in 2000 at one of George W. Bush’s events, Black Panthers demonstrated while carrying firearms. The Black Panthers actually have a history of murder and violence in contrast to the Phoenix demonstrators. The Panthers, just as newsworthy, generated no buzz at the time. They should have been referenced in light of recent events by these talking heads.
These liberal media elites outraged by gun-bearing citizens showing up at Obama events have probably never used a gun in real life. Chris Matthews, Rick Sanchez, Contessa Brewer and the rest who assume guns represent violence don’t likely own a firearm. Most Americans don’t see firearms as a symbol of violence, like our founding fathers, they see them as a tool for personal protection.
William Kostric and Chris have it right, if we don’t stand and demonstrate peacefully for all of our freedoms, they will quickly slip away and vanish. Remember, it’s much easier to hold onto something, than try and get it back after you’ve lost it.
©2009 Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. Together they write a national weekly column distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. This column is copyrighted and licensed to run on TMV in full.
Guest Voice posts do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of TMV or its many writers.
Written by Ted Rall | Thursday, 03 September 2009
NEW YORK--Nazis. Americans are Nazis. We are Nazis.
Godwin's Law be damned--it's impossible to read the newly-released CIA report on the torture of Muslim prisoners without thinking of the Third Reich.
Sadism exists in every culture. A century ago, for example, Western adventurers who visited Tibet reported that the authorities in Lhasa, that supposed capital of pacifism, publicly gouged out criminals' eyes and yanked out their tongues. But Nazi atrocities were stylistically distinct from, say, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians or the Rwandan massacres of the early 1990s. German war crimes were characterized by methodical precision, the application of "rational" technology to increase efficiency, the veneer of legality and the perversion of medical science.
Nazi crimes were also marked by public indifference, which amounted to tacit support. Here and now, only 25 percent of Americans told the latest Pew Research poll that they believe torture is always wrong.
"The CIA's secret interrogation program operated under strict rules, and the rules were dictated from Washington with the painstaking, eye-glazing detail beloved by any bureaucracy," observed The New York Times. We have much in common with the Germans.
"In July 2002," the declassified report reveals, a CIA officer "reportedly used a 'pressure point' technique: with both of his hands on the detainee's neck, [he] manipulated his fingers to restrict the detainee's carotid artery." Another agent "watched his eyes to the point that the detainee would nod and start to pass out; then…shook the detainee to wake him. This process was repeated for a total of three applications on the detainee."
The CIA's rinse-lather-repeat approach to torture is reminiscent of Dr. Sigmund Rascher's experiments at Dachau and a parallel project conducted by the Japanese Imperial Army's infamous Unit 731 in occupied Manchuria in 1942-43. Rascher, who was tried for war crimes after World War II, froze or lashed detainees nearly to death, then revived them over and over. German and Japanese doctors developed detailed protocols governing the severity of exposure to which inmates could be subjected--protocols seized by U.S. occupation forces and turned over to the OSS, predecessor of the CIA.
So it was in the CIA's prisons at Guantánamo, Bagram, Diego Garcia, eastern Europe, Thailand and elsewhere.
(Or, to be more accurate, so it is. Bush publicly banned torture in 2006, but we know it was still going on as of 2007. Obama supposedly banned it again earlier this year, but then his CIA director Leon Panetta told Congress the agency reserves the right to keep doing it. Until the entire secret prison network is dismantled and every single prisoner released, it would be absurd to assume that torture is not continuing.)
Among the verbal treasures in the CIA papers is the "Water Dousing" section of the "Guidelines on Medical and Psychological Support to Detainee Rendition, Interrogation and Detention," which "allow for water to be applied using either a hose connected to tap water, or a bottle or similar container as the water source." Ah, the glorious war on terror. Detainees may be soaked in water as cold as 41 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as 20 minutes--no longer, no colder.
For the record, the CIA's medical expertise is about as reliable as its legal and moral sense. Forty-one degrees is bracingly cold; 41 was the temperature of the Hudson River was when US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into it earlier this year. (Remember the ice floes?) "Generally, a person can survive in 41-degree water for 10, 15 or 20 minutes," Dr. Christopher McStay, an emergency room physician at New York City's Bellevue Hospital told Scientific American magazine.
Like its Gestapo and SS antecedents, the CIA is highly bureaucratic. CIA employees were informed that "Advance Headquarters approval is required to use any physical pressures [against prisoners]." And those permissions came from the very top of the chain of command: the White House, which ordered the Office of Legal Counsel and other legal branches of the federal government to draft "CYA" memoranda. The memos, wrote Joshua L. Dratel in his introduction to "The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib," a compilation of memos authorizing torture of Muslim detainees reflect "a wholly result-oriented system in which policy makers start with an objective and work backward."
Also reminiscent of Nazism is the utter absence of firewalls that has come to characterize the behavior of top government officials. Totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany corrupt the judiciary by using the courts to carry out political policy. Beginning under Bush and now under Obama, judicial independence has been eradicated.
On August 28th The New York Times reported: "In July, Leon E. Panetta, the CIA director, tried to head off the investigation [of the CIA's torture program], administration officials said. He sent the CIA's top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston, to [the Department of] Justice to persuade aides to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to abandon any plans for an inquiry." There's a term for this: Obstruction of Justice. You're not supposed to try to influence the outcome of an investigation. It was count six of the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.
To Holder's credit, he has appointed a special prosecutor. To his discredit, the focus of the investigation is narrow: he will only go after officials who went beyond the Bush Administration's over-the-top torture directives (which allow, as seen above, freezing people to death). He does not plan to go after the worst criminals, who are the Bush Administration lawyers and officials, including Bush and Cheney themselves, who ordered the war crimes--much less those like Obama who are currently covering them up.
He should change his mind. While he's at it, he should throw Leon Panetta in jail.
Holder's brief currently involves just 20 cases, which include detainees who were murdered by the CIA. But even those will be tough to prosecute, reports The New York Times: "Evidence, witnesses and even the bodies of the victims of alleged abuses have not been found in all cases."
Because, you see, the bodies were burned and dumped.
They--the CIA--are Nazis for committing the crimes.
And we are Nazis for not giving a damn. Only a third of Americans told the April 27th CBS News/New York Times poll that there ought to be an investigation of Bush-era war crimes--and they don't care enough to march in the streets, much less break a few windows. So few of my columns on torture have been reprinted by American newspapers or websites that I seriously contemplated not bothering to write this one.
We have met the Nazis, and they are us.
(Ted Rall, President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, is author of the books "To Afghanistan and Back" and "Silk Road to Ruin.")
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
History's demands can seem inconvenient, unfair or unreasonable. But they can't be ignored. The Obama administration has a legal and moral duty to determine whether crimes were committed in the Bush-era detention and interrogation of "war on terror" prisoners -- and, if so, to prosecute those responsible.
President Obama has made clear that "he thinks that we should be looking forward, not backward," as spokesman Bill Burton said Monday. Obama has taken admirable steps toward assuring the nation and the world that the worst abuses -- waterboarding, indefinite detention, Abu Ghraib -- will not happen again.
Obama's latest move, lodging responsibility for interrogating "high-value" suspects in anew unit that will report to the White House, seeks to offer further guarantees against torture and abuse. I'm not quite sure what it accomplishes -- it takes control of these interrogations away from the CIA and ensures that they will be conducted under the strict rules of the Army Field Manual, but it seems to me that the president should be able to simply order the CIA to follow whatever rules he specifies. Maybe the new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group will ensure additional safeguards and greater accountability, but at first glance its likely impact seems more bureaucratic than operational.
More to the point is a report that Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to reopen nearly a dozen cases of alleged prisoner abuse by CIA employees and contractors with an eye toward possible prosecutions. Such action would reverse the decision by the Justice Department under the Bush administration to drop these cases. According to The Post, Holder has decided on career federal prosecutor John Durham to lead the inquiry.
This would put the attorney general in a tough position. That's okay; Holder is a tough guy, and when he took the job he knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park. But Obama has decided not only to take a hands-off position on the matter, which is a proper acknowledgement of prosecutorial independence, but to reinforce his "looking forward" message at every opportunity. Without taking a position on whether there should be prosecutions, the president certainly seems to be telegraphing one.
Obama has consistently opposed even a comprehensive investigation into human rights abuses and possible crimes committed by the Bush administration. His reluctance is understandable -- but it's wrong.
Given Obama's ambitious domestic agenda, he could hardly be eager to have to spend time and political capital in pursuing transgressions that took place years ago on another administration's watch. Inconveniently, however, torture and cruel treatment are clearly against the law. Holder is said to have been appalled upon reading the classified version of a voluminous report on CIA abuses. If there is credible evidence that crimes were indeed committed, I don't see how the nation's chief law enforcement officer -- or its commander in chief -- could just look the other way.
There are those who argue that such prosecutions would destroy the CIA's morale. But giving interrogators and jailers a "just following orders" free pass is unfair to those in the chain of command who knew these alleged practices were wrong and tried to prevent or halt them. Waterboarding, to cite perhaps the most flagrant abuse, has been prosecuted by the U.S. government as a war crime. This history cannot have been unknown to all CIA employees and contractors.
If Holder's reported decision to reopen the CIA cases does lead to prosecutions, there is one possible outcome that everyone should find unacceptable: that only the hands-on abusers are charged and tried. Proper investigations must work their way up the chain. In some instances, it may be a mid-level employee who overstepped clear boundaries and ordered subordinates to perform acts that might have taken place in a medieval dungeon. In other cases, illegal acts apparently were approved at the highest levels. Investigators need to be allowed to follow the evidence all the way to the top -- into the White House, if that is where the trail leads.
I'm under no illusion that George W. Bush or Dick Cheney is actually going to be prosecuted by the Justice Department. But I want to know -- and I believe the nation needs to know -- the full, unvarnished truth of what they and others did in our name. It's probable that painful scrutiny and lasting disgrace will be the only sanctions that Bush and Cheney ever face. But history demands at least that much.
Rep. John Conyers | Congressman from Michigan | Posted: September 3, 2009 04:39 PM
In today's Washington Post, David Broder argues that the Attorney General should not have authorized special US Attorney John Durham to investigate the Bush interrogation program. While Mr. Broder apparently believes that public officials should generally be held to account for violations of law or breaches of the public trust, in this case he thinks the cost would be too great.
Mr. Broder argues that the Attorney General should have weighed the various political and practical consequences of an investigation against the abstract principle of accountability and decided to stand down. I reject this idea completely.
I understand the Washington habit of reducing all difficult questions to political calculations -- I am a politician myself, after all. But the decision whether to investigate possible crimes connected to our interrogation programs is simply not a political one.
Our nation is obligated by treaty to investigate credible allegations of torture and similar breaches of law. The materials available to the Attorney General manifestly state such credible allegations of such violations -- he really had no choice to go forward, unless we were to breach our legal commitments. Does Mr. Broder have so little respect for the rule of law that he cannot simply commend the strength and dignity of a public servant like Mr. Holder carrying out an unpleasant duty?
Beyond that basic point, Mr. Broder's column remains deeply flawed. As I read the piece, there are two asserted reasons we should shirk our duty to investigate. First, investigations will harm CIA morale, and second, if trials ensue, a "major, bitter partisan battle" would erupt and "the cost to the country would simply be too great."
On the issue of CIA morale, even the limited public record makes clear that, within the CIA itself, there were individuals who resisted the interrogation program or particular applications of it. So it is simply not fair to ascribe a single view to the vast CIA community that serves our nation so bravely.
Furthermore, if it is correct that CIA morale will be harmed by investigations, we must ask why that is so. In my view, the most likely source of morale problems is the rumored scope of the investigation. The record makes plain that this program was concocted, approved, and directed from the highest levels of our government. If reports that only frontline officers will be investigated are true, I can understand why agency personnel would feel hung out to dry.
Artificially limiting the investigation to interrogators working in extremely difficult circumstances while immunizing the officials who directed and approved these acts could quite reasonably be viewed as unfair and unjust. (I note that such a limitation has been suggested in press reports but never confirmed by the Justice Department, and I urge the Attorney General to simply let the prosecution team investigate the matter and follow the facts where they lead.)
Mr. Broder seems to agree when he argues that "if accountability is the standard, then it should apply to the policymakers and not just to the underlings." Yet, he rejects the logical implications of his point, asking "do we want to see Cheney, who backed these actions and still does, standing in the dock?"
Without knowing all the facts, that question is impossible to answer. But for Mr. Broder the idea seems to be unthinkable. Why does he believe that? Is it not a basic principle of this country that no person is above the law? I do not know if Mr. Cheney broke the law, but I do know that, in my America, the law applies to him as it does to everyone else.
Remarkably, Mr. Broder reports with pride that he called for Bill Clinton to resign after lies to his cabinet and the country about the Lewinsky affair. But where was his call for George Bush to resign after telling the country "We do not torture"? I have a difficult time understanding why Bill Clinton's misdeeds were more worthy of accountability than those of Mr. Cheney or Mr. Bush.
Mr. Broder's second point is that torture trials would cause a partisan maelstrom and impede our ability to meet the challenges of the day. I do not dispute that the right would treat such trials as partisan, political fodder best used to paint Democrats as weak on national security (indeed, this is why I have proposed an independent bipartisan commission to investigate these matters).
But in a world where "conservatives" argue that the President's speech to schoolchildren amounts to brainwashing and that government reimbursement for voluntary end-of-life consultations are "death panels," I question whether it is realistically possible to avoid such partisan conflagrations regardless of the steps we take. It is not as if the right was working shoulder to shoulder with the Administration or Democrats in Congress on the great policy issues confronting us before Attorney General Holder announced the expanded Durham probe.
Finally, there is another, far more insidious aspect to Mr. Broder's argument on this point. David Broder is a moderate, non-partisan journalist of enormous reach and authority in this country. As such, he has a very prominent voice in whether any prosecutions are seen as partisan.
If Mr. Broder stood up for the principle that no person is above the law and acknowledged that our laws obligate investigation of torture, the right's effort to make this issue seem purely political would be less likely to take hold of the national conversation.
On the other hand, when he argues that the decision to investigate is essentially political and presses the Attorney General to reconsider because the costs might be "too great," he validates the partisan voices that would breach our legal duties and sacrifice our national honor because they see torture as little more than a useful wedge issue.
As the acknowledged "dean" of the Washington Press corps, David Broder is no mere observer of these events. He is an actor in the national debate, whose pronouncements help define what views are considered "reasonable." If he believes, as he claims, that accountability "should apply to the policymakers and not just to the underlings," he should reject those who would turn a fundamental issue of law into a "major, bitter partisan battle," not validate them as a fixed and appropriate part of the political landscape.
Establishment journalists and pundits know they are culpable in war crimes; that's why they want to Look Forward. Glenn Greenwald [2009-09-03]
Georgetown Security Law Brief: Gonzales Defends Holder's Decision ...CNSL
08/25/09: Here is a round-up of reactions to Eric Holder's appointment of John Durham as special prosecutor to review cases of CIA abuse: The Washington Post has four short opinion pieces on Attorney General Eric Holder's appointment of ...
Georgetown Security Law Brief - http://www.securitylawbrief.
Gonzales defends Holder's decision on CIA
09/02/09: The Washington Times reports that former U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Tuesday defended the decision of his current successor, Eric H. Holder Jr., to investigate alleged prisoner abuse by CIA interrogators over President Obama's desire to look forward. Mr. Gonzales also said Bush administration lawyers clearly defined what interrogation techniques were legal and the few who went beyond the rules should be investigated, despite the so-called chilling effect it might have on future intelligence-gathering.
08/28/09: The Washington Post reports that CIA Director Leon Panetta decided Thursday that the agency will ensure legal representation for case officers who become caught up in investigations of alleged interrogation abuses of detainees at overseas locations, a senior intelligence official said.
08/28/09: The Toronto Star has an editorial arguing that the CIA abuse probe, as a "push to reaffirm America as a nation of laws is heartening. However painful, a full probe would serve the U.S. well. It would honour Obama's pledge to put the nation on a better course, and help restore its stature abroad."
08/28/09: The New York Times reports that with the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate detainee abuses, long-simmering conflicts between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department burst into plain view this week, threatening relations between two critical players on President Obama’s national security team.
08/28/09: The Washington Post reports that the back story to Monday's appointment of a career prosecutor to review CIA interrogation methods illustrates Attorney General Eric Holder's influence in the new administration and sheds light on the emerging and delicate relationship between the White House and the Justice Department. In this and other big battles, including the decision to release memos this year by Bush administration officials giving the green light to harsh interrogation tactics, Holder and his Justice Department have prevailed over strong objections from the CIA and the intelligence community.
08/25/09: Here is a round-up of reactions to Eric Holder's appointment of John Durham as special prosecutor to review cases of CIA abuse:
- The Washington Post has four short opinion pieces on Attorney General Eric Holder's appointment of a special prosecutor to examine past CIA abuses.
- The Wall Street Journal has an editorial arguing that "Mr. Holder had it right the first time [in deciding to move forward]. His about-face yesterday, compounded by his release of a 2004 internal CIA report on that agency's handling of terrorists, opens a political war that President Obama, the CIA and above all the country will live to regret."
- The Boston Globe has an editorial arguing that "Obama is right to give the Justice Department the option of prosecuting CIA abuse cases. A refusal to apply the law would have compounded one betrayal of American values with another."
- The San Francisco Chronicle has an editorial arguing that "the country needs a workable, tough-minded blueprint on questioning - not torturing - terrorists."
- The New York Times has a number of short opinion pieces on whether or not to prosecute CIA personnel for past abuses.
08/25/09: The Atlantic has posted the memo that Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta sent to members of the CIA's workforce prior to the release of the CIA OIG's report on past abuses.
08/25/09: The LA Times has a short biography of John Durham, who was recently nominated to investigate past CIA abuses.
08/25/09: The Washington Post reports that Justice Department leaders representing both political parties have turned to John H. Durham for most of his three-decade legal career to unravel their most vexing and sensational problems.
THREAD: INVESTIGATION PROBE INTO BUSH ERA CIA ABUSES