Saturday, October 08, 2005

US intelligence officer brags about torturing in call to talk show

Way back, in what seems like a long time ago, I remember my grade school teachers telling my class with pride that we as a nation “didn’t do” torture. This was during the Vietnam War, this is what the commies did, not us.

We were above this. We were a civilized nation, besides any information gathered under torture is dubious at best. This is what happened in far flung places like Turkey (Billy Hayes), the USSR, or Uganda. Or closer to home like Chile, Haiti, Guatemala and Argentina. We were the beacon of hope, the island of light in all this darkness. This was NOT what “WE” did.

I was told this by conservative, Bible believing, Republican, red white and blue, support the President and the war in Vietnam, teachers.

Of course there was torture in America, places such as Arkansas State Prisons. But that, we were told, was aberrant and something to be removed from the American landscape. Dr. King was in, the KKK was bad, freedom was strong and the commies would not be allowed to take another country.

Then we had 9-11 and our moral compass changed. Some of us reasoned that torture would be okay, they forgot or chose to ignore that when you do this, you loose something vital from yourself, or from your nation as a whole. This is especially true of a nation of high ideals, that the forefathers articulated in several documents.

We used the excuse, or "reason" that if you caught a person who had kidnapped many people and they would all die if you didn’t find out where they were, torture should be an option. What if they were children?! Wouldn’t you use torture to compel the answer? But we had faced exactly that scenario in Chowchilla, CA. The people, children no less, were rescued before they died. Interestingly enough a year before I had checked out a book from my school library which had this very same plot. The crime followed the book in almost every detail. (I guess we should have had the Patriot Act back then so the government would have known about everyone who had read it. Someone may have gotten the idea from this book).

But now we are through the looking glass when it comes to torture. We do it (Abu Graib) or we “out source” it to other countries (rendition). And we even have intelligence officers calling into talk shows bragging about what they do and what they’ve done And talk show hosts applauding and supporting it. (don’t listen to this if you’ve just eaten or get sick easily).

While we have no way of knowing if this person actually did these things or is even with the government, what was once hard to believe about us, is now not so hard to believe. What if the people in question are innocent or really know nothing? Impossible you say? And no innocent person has been sent to prison here for a crime they didn’t commit. We have already "renderd" some proven to be innocent to be tortured.

We then we wonder why the rest of the world feels they way they do about us and does not trust us. "What?" we say, "even with this we are no where near as bad as those we replaced." But when you go in under the banner of "moral imperative" or reframe the reasons that you invaded a country under that banner, then you have an obligation to be hold yourself, your government, your officers and your troops strictly to that standard.

We have not and what we’ve lost to our collective American soul, and in our standing in the world as a whole is immeasurable. We fell down the slippery slope, and it may well be impossible for us to climb back up.

See also:
Bush Administration Trying to Act Like USSR

Friday, October 07, 2005

Quote of the Week: "Random acts of cruelty to powerless people.”

Yesterday I listened to NPR's "Fresh Air." The discussion topic is about economic policy and how we pay for Katrina, between host Terry Gross, Paul Krugman, columnist for The New York Times and professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton (liberal) and Stuart Butler, vice president of the Heritage Foundation, focusing on domestic and economic policy (conservative).

Both agree that the highway bill should be cancelled, and even Bulter says that we should talk about raising taxes. They agree on a lot of areas, but say that these conversations and debates are not going on in congress. It's an interesting and very good listen.

Interesting questions were raised, such as:
When, are we going to reach that "very ugly moment" when the bond market says that it doesn't make sense to continue to float our debt? Are we headed for an "Argentina scenario?" Are we setting ourselves up to be dictated to by China, who even now, owns massive amounts of our debt?

The best quote of the week IMHO came from Paul Krugman about the president proposing cutting food stamps he called it, “random acts of cruelty to powerless people.”

He also said that it takes chutzpa of a political opposition, after saying for 25 years that government doesn't work and is part of the problem, to then once in power take a highly praised and fully functioning agency, dismantle and gut it and then when the agency is needed then say "see I told you government doesn't work."

I think I've said similarly the same thing.

Dentene what's your take?

See also the AP article:
The bill by (Sen. Saxby) Chambliss (R-Ga) would cut food programs for the poor by $574 million and conservation programs and farm payments by more than $1 billion each.

The budget-cutting plan faces opposition from Democrats and others.

"This proposal is an unconscionable slap in the face at America's poor," said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, the senior Democrat on the committee.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

They'd be running through the town naked

So today I was driving home and flipping through the radio stations, when I came to WHJY and Charles. Now, often Charles makes a claims and reads "news" reports that I, once home, simply cannot find. I've learned to take him with a grain of salt, unlike some of my contemporaries who seem to view him as g-d.

Well tonight he and Laurenti (Charles' sidekick) were talking about the president's speech earlier today. Charles spoke about how the president said that they had stopped ten terrorist attacks. When asked to explain how and when, McClellan gave details about three and then replied that he couldn't give information on the other seven for national security reasons. (Baaaaahaaaahaaaa)

Well both Charles and Laurenti have, like many of us, figured out that the president beats us over the head with terrorism and 9-11 whenever his polls numbers or support for Iraq go down. C&L then made a point by saying that *if* the president and his administration had actually foiled ten attempts, they'd be running through the streets, possibly naked, letting us know about it and what a great job they were doing!

Point made.

It's also interesting for me to read that I wasn't the only one who picked up on how Bush' speech could also be applied to Bush himself (Huffington Post)

Will some one PLEASE ask the President

President Bush has been saying that Harriet Miers is qualified to be on the Supreme Court. But no one has asked him to define what, in his view, qualifies someone to be a Supreme Court judge.

"W" give us a list, something concrete, so that we may judge if she, indeed, is qualified by your definition.

After that then we can analyze your definition.

But give us a definition, we aren't going to just "trust you." Those days are over. For some of us they were over before they even began.

I guess if you are poor in NOLA you can't catch a break, even if you're dead

The exchange on Americablog went something like this:

I give Bill Clinton 48 hours to work within his role to get things done right. After that, I expect him to call out the racist neglect and get these 9th Ward properties properly searched.

I also give key Dems (Pelosi, Reid, Obama, etc.) 48 hours to make calls - then they need to step up to a microphone and call out the responsible parties - whether FEMA, Nagin, Blanco, or the contractors.

The clock starts NOW.

Roadmaster 10.05.05 - 3:15 pm #
Roadmaster -

and you've emailed them this.. or are you expecting them to amble over to americablog?

I emailed Reid, Kennedy and Kerry this morning...
Guess I'll get on again and email some more.

Clytemnestra Homepage 10.05.05 - 3:17 pm #

Thanks. I'll get the e-mails out this evening. You're right, bitching amongst ourselves is cathartic, but not necessarily productive.

Let justice ring through the Outlook Mailboxes of ALL of our leaders - elected or otherwise.

Roadmaster 10.05.05 - 4:34 pm #

It was in response to an October 4, 2005 report on CNN and picked up on Scout Prime Blog. It says basically that there are 100 -150 homes in NOLA that will not be searched for the dead, even though when you pass you can smell the bodies.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: (voice- over): In pulverized portions of New Orleans's Ninth Ward, where water flows, instead of traffic, most homes bear the signs that search teams have been in to look for the living and the dead, but not in one area that spans several blocks. Here, house after house after house is unmarked.

EDWARD MENDEL, SEARCH VOLUNTEER: From here back, I estimate 100 to 150 homes that are still unsearched. And I do expect we will probably find some bodies.

. . .

MESERVE (voice-over): Federal officials say search teams came through every house and ran out of paint to mark them. But volunteer Ed Mendel believes they were not able to go where he can on what he calls swamp thing, a vehicle designed for hunting pigs and deer in the Everglades and modified for rescue work.
What? They couldn't run down to an open Walmart somewhere in LA and pick up more cans of spray paint? I think the stores in Houma, LA and Hammond, LA are probably open. Maybe they couldn't make a call and pull some out of the military stores somewhere in the United States. Maybe these huge military stores were out of paint too?

This excuse, when you have the full resources of the federal government behind you is ludicrous.

Also I thought before Hurricane Rita, the 9th Ward had been pumped dry, weeks ahead of schedule. Are they saying that they will not be able to do that again? It's been almost 3 weeks since Rita, given the speed they exhibited in pumping NOLA out after Katrina, they should be done just about now.
MESERVE: If these homes have not been searched and these people found, Roz Kay perceives it as another slap at the Ninth Ward and the people who lived here.
Roz Kay is a former 9th Ward president.

Not only am I appalled that the poor seem to be additionally undeserving of a decent burial, but there are the health ramifications of leaving those bodies there, and the question of how the government plans to dispose of those bodies remain. Do they plan to take a bulldozer and scoop them up along with the debris and put it all in a landfill somewhere?

What does this say to the rest of the world in how we treat the dead who are poor? What does it say that the richest nation in the world cannot or more appropriately, will not, take care of the dead properly without regard to race, class, social status and wealth? How did the world treat the dead after the tsunami in December '04?

And if I wanted to be conspiratorial, given that some Republicans have already spoken intentions of wanting to redo NOLA so that has the greatest possibility of becoming a "red" city, why ignore the 9th Ward? To make it the last place to be able to be re-inhabited?

Whatever the reason it should disgust every American that the dead have not been retrieved from the debris. But instead of complaining about it, go to the House of Represenatives website and the Senate website and find your Congressmen's website. Most have a form where you can alert them to your concerns, you don't even have to remember their email address.

No time in history have the people had greater and easier access to their Congresspeople. Instead of complaining, use what technology has provided you.

Hurricane Katrina made it's second landfall as a Cat. 4 hurricane, August 24, 2005. This second landfall hit New Orleans, LA. The levee system could not handle the storm and broke.

The whole of New Orleans is pumped out September 20, 2005.

Hurricane Rita made landfall as a Cat. 3 hurricane, west of NOLA on September 24, 2005. The winds and storm surges broke through the already weakened levees.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"A house divided;" many of our teens believe a civil war is coming

Last weekend my husband, my youngest two sons and I went out shopping. As we have always tried to do, because it conserves energy, we combined a bunch of stops into this trip. It may sound ridiculous to make the point about combining trips but years ago I stopped taking one of my sons friends with us when we would go shopping, they couldn’t stand the multiple trips, “their” parents didn’t do this. They considered it a waste. Now driving teenagers I wonder if they see the wisdom of it.

Anyway, one of our stops was the mall, to go through all their game stores looking for “the” game. Our first stop was at Game Stop and as I walked into the door my eye caught what looked like a news report. I came in on a scene of a man being arrested by MPs and the voice over saying “. . .in response the president invokes the Homeland Security Act and declares martial law on the west coast and other areas . . .”

After a momentary confusion over what I was seeing and hearing, I realized it was a game. And as I watched the trailer I began to realize that someone has tapped into the fear and foreboding of future I have heard many teens express, even my oldest son. I’ve heard many talk about their feelings of a civil war just around the corner, even those who enlisted are frightened about what will become of “home.”

Those that feel this way have grown up at a time where the country is very divided, where there’s a disconnect from the actual number in a popular vote and the ruling party declaring a “mandate from the people” (they grew up believing that a mandate means 2/3 majority). They’ve come of age at a time when the only thing a president and party offered to maintain power was fear, and where those that gain the most, risk the least. They watched the opposition party flounder putting up no opposition or plea for thoughtful process.

They’ve watched an administration mortgage their future, and press on with Iraq without finishing Afghanistan. They’ve asked “Where is Osama?” They’ve watched the rich get richer, and their friends bale out of school scared to death of high stakes testing. More left behind than ever before, just not reported.

Now they watch as the government makes attacks on student loans, and holds out the carrot of military service in it’s place, and they are scared for their future. Some of my son’s friends have not joined the military because they believe in the cause. They don’t, they just have sensed where everything is going and come to believe that this will be the only way they will have the money to go to college.

Katrina only increased their fear for home. With a government using weekend soldiers to fight a war instead of talking care of the needs at home, watching the government work to cut programs they believe they need for the future (college costs are high) instead of it’s costly and optional war, they fear for home. They certainly are not enlisting as they once did. Do they, our next generation, by in large, feel hopeless for the future?

So as I watched the trailer of this game, Shattered Union, I heard my son’s voice as he told me that he and his friends wonder if a civil war is on the horizon for this divided nation. I tried to think back and remember did we feel this way during Viet Nam. Were we a nation so divided, almost right down the middle, with so much hostility on both sides. Did we as teenagers feel this way? I mean we did have a military death toll that averaged out to 200 dead a day during Nam, but that was “over there.” We had anti war protesters, and pro war people, we had the draft, we had Kent State and Height Ashbury, our world did in some respects seem like it was coming apart at the seams.

We had the SLA and bombings, but these were home grown. There's something oddly comforting about it being home grown extremists. We had the red menace. What we didn't have was the image of two towers coming down burned forever into our psyches, or constant tick of impeding doom that the administration has used to keep us in fear and themselves in power.

But did we feel as our teenagers feel now? Is this worse, a possible collective depressive state, which will only perpetuate itself without treatment? Is this just a game an outward expression of what they truly feel inside?