Just 3 Trillion Little Lies Later: Iraq

Not just three trillion dollars spent – in fact, I suspect the figure is more than four times that – but three trillion lies!

Today, as we mark that dark mid-March day in 2003 when President Bush, complete with a raised fist pumping air like he was about to go into the final playoffs to give “‘em one more for the Gipper…” gesture and dispatched the first soldiers off to war, the cold, harsh light of day makes it a heluva lot easier to see all the lies.

After all, it was not just one single lie that Bush used to get us into Iraq but a multitude of them, including:

  • weapons of mass destruction everywhere>
  • doctored intelligence reports that led to the outing of CIA covert operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, because Bushies did not like that Wilson’s husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, would not pretend Niger “yellow cake” uranium story was true
  • Saddam was about to launch a campaign to make kittens and puppies in perfect little American suburbia all sick
  • the war would take a few days to a few weeks, completely pay for itself, and there is “absolutely no way” to lose it
  • the entire world sees the war as right which is why we had to pay them and bully them into joining the “coalition of the willing”
  • actions in Iraq certainly won’t distract us from catching Osama bin Laden, regroup al Qaeda, or exhaust our resources for the global war on terror

Need I list more?

A *Should Be* Embarrassing Headline

President Bush has vetoed the law banning the CIA from using the waterboard and other torture methods. The headline the N.Y. Times slaps on this story reads: Bush Uses Veto on C.I.A. Tactics to Affirm Legacy.

That headline should be a source of tremendous embarrassment for any American. The President’s legacy is affirmed by allowing the CIA to torture people? For the quadzillionth time we are left pondering the question: “what has happened to America”? Continue reading

McCain Double Talks Torture

John McCain is urging the President to veto a bill which would outlaw the practice of waterboarding by the CIA.  McCain protests that he is being entirely consistent with his past opposition to waterboarding because he has always thought that the CIA ought to be allowed to torture people.  I think it’s patently ridiculous that the Congress would pass a law outlawing torture, when it is clearly illegal anyway… but I digress.

Frankly, McCain’s straight talk on this issue has veered sharply to the right.  Let us look at some past statements from McCain which seem to diverge from his most recent position: 

When I was in Vietnam, one of the things that sustained us, as we went — underwent torture ourselves, is the knowledge that if we had our positions reversed and we were the captors, we would not impose that kind of treatment on them.

Presuming of course that the “them” he talks about were not being held by the CIA…  I wonder if McCain really would have considered the circumstances of his torture in a more understanding way if he had just been led to believe that the people torturing him were from N. Vietnam’s intelligence service, not the N.V. Army.  Of course not!  McCain just knew that he was being tortured by the enemy, and now it appears to be just fine for us to act in kind, as long as it’s the CIA doing the torturing.  Continue reading

Speaking Of Torture, We Can “Do” It, But We Cannot Watch a Film Depicting It

As a sad and sick followup to my previous post re: torture, the Discovery Channel, which previously purchased the rights to broadcast an independent documentary – “Taxi to the Dark Side” that details the torture and death by American troops of an innocent young Muslim cabdriver, has dropped the broadcast, claiming the subject is too controversial.

Now, if you know anything about TV and ratings, controversy is a good thing. So one must wonder WHY they did it, and hope to hell SOME network can obtain the rights from Discovery and its corporate whores to show this film.

If is not just our “right” but our OBLIGATION to understand what is being done, like torture, in our names, by our government, funded by our tax dollars. We may hate to hell what we see and it may make us sick, but we HAVE to know.

Bush & Torture: Do It, Brag About Results, But Damn You If You Question It

Eight years ago, almost all Americans would have been sickened by the very concept of “good and great America” employing the same kind of torture techniques made infamous during the Spanish Inquisition and for which we prosecuted countless Germans, Japanese, and others. Indeed, Saddam Hussein’s “terrible torture chambers” were one of the 417 justifications Bush gave for going to war in Iraq yet now that we’re in Iraq (and elsewhere around the globe) doing the torturing, torture is somehow a “good thing”.

And here we are today, where:

  • we are told to believe that torture is fine and dandy as long as WE exclusively use it,
  • you have the Justice Department’s Mucasey claiming something like waterboarding is really no worse than getting a little water up your nose while swimming,
  • we hear one of the senior Supreme Court associate justices, the rotten-to-the-core Antonin Scalia, insist that it would be wrong to “prohibit torture” as a tool to advance our goals – “Fuck the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment” is what Scalia means – scary
  • sane Congress members who question torture are labeled terrorist sympathizers
  • reports that conflict ALL known studies saying that torture actually produces useful intelligence information when the exact opposite has been proven
  • AND – worst of all – that we should not DISCUSS the torture being done in our names, implying that to do so is anti-patriotic, even anti-American (as if patriotism has never meant anything more than being a blind, deaf sheep to the crown)

In fact, listen to the Bushies, the Pentagon, the neocons and others, and the only thing wrong with torture is if even a single American citizen deigns to question whether torture produces any truths, is not simply legally wrong but morally abominable AND is a terrible statement about what the United States has become, such Americans want their tax dollars and their names attached to such practices that drives hate toward us the world over.

By making excuses why WE must torture others, we give the entire world an excuse for why they should do it, too. Up until Bush rode into office on the back of fraudulent voting machines, there was the general perception that civilization and humanity as we know it is constantly advancing. Sadly, this seems no longer to be the case, not in whole and not even in part.

Mike Mukasey and the Justice Department: GonzoGate’s Gonzales Clone?

Helen Thomas seems to think that the latest Bush fruit does not fall too far from the Tree of Ignorance from which all Bush-Cheney seedlings grow. God help us with all these attorneys general in Bushdom.

At this rate, by the end of next week, we’ll learn that waterboarding is not only NOT torture, but a fun game the whole family can play. Just like snowboarding, but with more people – who don’t like you – involved AND you risk doing more than breaking a limb.

War Crimes From The Podium

The White House has announced that the waterboard is not currently being used on detainees, but holds open the possibility that the technique may be employed again given the right circumstances. This ambiguity follows a pattern by this administration of having their cake and eating it too: proclaiming that America does not torture, while sending signals to the Arab world that people who fall into our hands may be tortured.

In fact administration figures are very open about wanting to have detainees believe that they may be tortured. One of the most blatant examples of this double message was provided by Mike McConnel during an appearance on Meet The Press. After protesting repeatedly that America does not torture, by way of explaining why he would not discuss what techniques we used,  McConnel dropped this little gem into the mix.

[T]his is a program where we capture someone known to be a terrorist, we need information that they possess, and it has saved countless lives. Because, because they believe these techniques might involve torture  and they don€™t understand them, they tend to speak to us, talk to us in very€”a very candid way.

Continue reading

Those Pesky Canadians Keep Calling Torture Torture

The Government of Canada has disclosed that the Canadian military in Afghanistan have stopped handing prisoners over to the government of Afghanistan after monitors found evidence that those prisoners were being abused and tortured.   Notably, this decision was made by the commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, and that person deserves another star… or whatever it is that signifies advancement in the Canadian Armed Forces.  Another maple leaf maybe?  Well another honorific insignia anyway!  But, as is my wont, I digress!

The prisoner transfers were stopped after Canadian monitors visited a prisoner who showed injuries from being beaten and given electric shocks. The monitors were actually able to find the instruments used to torture the prisoner after he told them to look under a chair in his cell, where they located an electric cord and a rubber hose. Continue reading

Guess Who Is On A Torture List By Canada

Canadian diplomats reading a training pamphlet on how to determine if prisoners have been tortured are given a list of nations which are known to torture. The list includes names like Syria, China, Iran and, sadly… this year America has been added to that horrible assemblage.

The document cites the use of sleep deprivation, extended isolation and forced nudity as torturous techniques currently used against prisoners. These techniques were once recognized by America as torture, particularly when used by the Soviet Bloc against dissenters and American POW’s. Yet the debate in America now is focused on whether or not the use of feigned execution by drowning is actually torture. You can almost hear the guffawing of the right wing torture apologista’s over the notion that sleep deprivation would be considered torture.  After all it was Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who once justified the use of painfull stress techniques by noting he stood at his desk all day.

Nations which once looked to America to provide international leadership in the cause of human rights are now including us on their lists of nations which torture. This is real time evidence of the complete degradation of this nations image on the world stage, from the foremost international champion of human rights to making a listing of an international rogues gallery of torturers. Shame on this administration for promoting policies which have led us to this pass, and shame on the people who silently sat by and let them add this stain to our national honor.

A Great Example OF Why Feds Can’t Investigate Themselves: The 9/11 Commission Search For Truth “Obstructed”

Soon after I posted my piece about the rather ridiculous situation where the Justice Department will investigate its own CIA in the destruction of two videotapes depicting the feds’ torture techniques used on anyone they feel like hurting in the so-called “War on Terror”, Glenn Greenwald ably proved by point with this post on his Salon blog about how the 9-11 Commission’s investigation was blocked by the feds (with Bush and Cheney at the top of the mammoth dung pile).

Once Again, The Fox Is Appointed To Investigate The Theft Of Chickens From The Hen House

While some seem ready to applaud that the Justice Department announced this evening it WILL investigate the destruction of the two known CIA torture tapes a judge ordered those under the Bush Administration involved in the matter NOT conveniently destroy, to me it’s just another sad, piss poor example of the fox being allowed to investigate the case of chickens murdered in the hen house when it was one of the Fox’s minions (in this case, the CIA with marching orders from the fox) who arranged not just the initial crime but the destruction of the evidence.

We see this again and again – hardly new to the Bushies yet they have taken it to ridiculously extremes as they have everything else – as when the Pentagon investigates its own.

This, my friends, is beyond criminal. And, as Bush would smirk and smug-it-up as he tells you, there’s not one damned thing we can do to stop it while, at the same time, we know exactly what the results will be: nada, zap, ZERO. At best, they’ll point to some very insignificant, powerless peon, throw the book at him while they feed him to the wolves, and then pretend it never happened.

Some democracy. And the new Attorney General Michael Mukasey can control everything this special prosecutor does and, as we’ve seen with his strange ignorance regarding torture and the American Constitution, he’ll prove himself a loyal Bushie regardless of his distinctly token status as an alleged Democrat.

American Society And Torture.

I recall as a boy reading about the treatment received by American POW’s in Vietnam. I had a book on the war, and one of the pictures in that book was a drawing of an American man on his knees, his arms draped over a pole which ran across his upper back. He was leaned forward, and the position looked very uncomfortable. At the time, I knew full well that this was an illustration of torture. But in modern day society that very same picture would be termed a “stress technique”, and there are many who would hotly defend the use of such methods against detainees in the war on terror.

You may be asking yourself, “self… why has friky started waxing philosophical about the attitude of society as a whole on what is or isn’t torture”. The answer may be found in this story on MSNBC titled ‘Staff fired over prank-call shock treatments’. Continue reading

We’ve Already Had This Debate!

I’ve been watching Morning Joe on MSNBC a bit recently, and Joe Scarbororough has come out full bore defending waterboarding against his guest host, Mika Brzezinski and roving reporter David Shuster. 

I have yet to locate video or the transcript from this mornings show, but in watching it live I found myself a bit flustered at one of the mutually agreed upon determinations by the protagonists.  It seems that everyone agrees that it is a good thing that we as a nation are having this debate about whether or not we should employ torture in order to gain intelligence.  To which I say poppycock!

The thought that we as a nation have been brought to the point of parsing what is or is not torture, and debating whether or not our national policy should allow for this or that technique is disturbing from my point of view for several reasons. Continue reading

Kit Bond: Waterboarding Isn’t Torture; It’s Like Swimming

If Missouri is still the “show me” state, then its elected idiot, Kit Bond, is apparently determined to show HE is something less than human with his pronouncement today that waterboarding isn’t torture, that it’s more like “swimming”. This is like the ex CIA agent this week who said the practice was “a little uncomfortable”, even after he admitted that he could withstand it for less than a minute.

I say this with complete sincerity after MUCH thought: anyone in our government promoting waterboarding and other torture techniques as something OTHER than torture must undergo the procedure and preferably in a format that – just like the Muslims and others we routinely subject to this practice – does not coddle and comfort the test subjects knowing that, unlike the Muslims, they’ll be rescued before they actually die.

Selling Our Heritage For Dross

The evidence that this administration officially sanctioned the torture of suspects affiliated with Al Qaeda is simply irrefutable. The latest confirmation comes from John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who interrogated Abu Zubaydah.

Kiriakou says that waterboarding Zubaydah broke him in 35 seconds, after which he freely admitted to scores of plots and provided reams of extremely valuable intelligence. Kiriakou says that waterboarding is torture, and he thinks torturing detainees may have been necessary after 9/11: “What happens if we don’t waterboard a person, and we don’t get that nugget of information, and there’s an attack,” Kiriakou said. “I would have trouble forgiving myself.” Continue reading

“Lined Up To Go To Jail”

Retired Colonel W. Patrick Lang, (click here for a brief bio) writes on his blog that the “jungle telegraph” in Washington is booming with surprising news on the Iran NIE. Evidently the NIE was released only after the White House was told that career intelligence seniors were prepared to go to jail if the findings were quashed, with someone from that group prepared to go to the media with the report.  I for one salute whichever group of intelligence officers were willing to put their necks on the line in the interst of truth and honesty in a debate about whether or not this nation should go to war.  Continue reading

Our Man Investigating Blackwater Has Brother On Blackwater Board

Only in Bushmerika – and something folks like Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf can admire – could the man the Bushies appoint to investigate claims the security firm Blackwater can get a little power- and gun-happy in Iraq just “happen” to have a brother who sits on Blackwater’s board of directors. When asked, the brother denied it. And then said, “Oops.”

And, of course, the Bushies do not seem eager to replace him with someone who does NOT have such a clear conflict of interest because… well, that’s what the Bush Administration is all about. Urp.

Out Of The Mouth of Boobs… er… Bush

With so much bad news – from the economy to the declaration that we’re having our deadliest years E-V-E-R in both Iraq and Afghanistan to a host of other awfuls, the Bushies have made a few really TELLING declarations in the past week that are worthy of note.

First, there was Bush’s insistence that anything Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf wanted to do to for his country was A-OK with Bush. But that’s not quite the NEWS. Bush, when asked if it was appropriate for Musharraf to claim the presidency when he came to power through a military coupe with Musharraf heading the military at the time, Bush comes out with:

Can a leader run both the military AND be president of his country at the same time? Of course not!

Uh…. Houston to the president: YOU ostensibly run the military as commander in cheat.. uh chief WHILE you are also supposedly president.

Then there’s White House spokesvermin Dana Perino, Tony Snow(job)’s even sorrier replacement who, when asked if it was appropriate for any country’s leadership to choose arbitrarily to end his/her nation’s democracy and civil liberties in the name of protecting its citizens from terrorism, said NO!

But all the Bushies have done, since even before Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, is spy upon us as its citizens without ANY proof any of us is jeopardizing national security, to wiretap and remove constitutionally protected liberties, all in the name of “homeland security.” In fact, in the same week Perino uttered this startling declaration (and removing our liberties have NOT made us any safer, I must add), the Bushies had several new initiatives underway to snoop upon us without due cause.

Stop the insanity, people!

DOD Pressure On Guantanamo Judge Is On The Record

There has been a steady stream of news flowing from the military officers who are playing their roles in the military tribunal system set up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today I saw a story by Reuters on the proceedings surrounding Omar Khadr which adds an entirely new twist to the plot from my perspective.

“The DOD people, they didn’t like what I wrote,” the judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, said at the hearing.

[snip]

Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, questioned Brownback about his impartiality to preside over the case. He asked the judge if he recalled telling lawyers during an October 24 conference call that he had “taken a lot of heat” for dismissing the charges, which were later reinstated.

“I may well have said something like that,” Brownback said.

Continue reading