CIA Torture

January 6, 2015

Torture.

One of the excuses to go to war in Iraq was that Saddam tortured his own people. Remember?

Then, in response to 9/11, America began to detain human beings and torturing them to get “information.”

The Bush-Cheney administration approved methods of “interrogating,” including: waterboarding, rectal re-hydration, shock treatment, sleep deprivation, confined movement, beatings, threats, forced nudity, and the list goes on. This is torture, no matter how you spin it.

The Bushies referred to these methods of torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Mr. Cheney recently said he would do them again “in a minute.”

What has happened to our country?

I understand that September 11th 2001 will never be forgotten and that it will never be right – but to engage in torture in response does nothing to honor the lives lost on that terrible day, or protect us.

In fact, many detainees were only being held in Guantanamo because people in the Bush administration “thought” that they had intelligence. It turned out, they didn’t. And now, we don’t know what to do with these people.

And let’s not forget the fact that this truly was George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s doing. The only thing that stopped the torture was Obama signing an executive order upon taking office, banning it.

Although the recent senate report says that the Bush Administration was “misled” about the extent of the torture, Darth Cheney actually admits that he and George knew about the torture and approved it.

One person who did have something to do with Al-Qaeda was captured in Pakistan in 2002, and before ever being tortured, he confessed through legal interrogation techniques. After he confessed, he was tortured: waterboarded 83 times.

Waterboarding, for those that don’t know, is when someone is placed on a board nearly upside down. A cloth is put over there face and water gets poured down there throat, simulating drowning. It makes people think they are dying and induces panic. “Torturers” would continue pouring water for up to 45 seconds, give the detainee a break, and then, start again.

When U.S. soldiers were waterboarded by the Japanese during World War II, the Japanese were tried and executed as war criminals – by the U.S.

Like I said, what this country endured, what the people in the twin towers went through –is unforgivable, it’s sickening and wrong. But this country is supposed to be a paragon of enlightenment when it comes to human rights. When we torture people, what moral ground can we possibly stand on now?

In my America, this would have never happened. But in Bush and Cheney’s America (and in the Republican Party’s America) this is what America should be.

God help us.

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Snowden and Snow Jobs

January 9, 2014

People have very diverse opinions on Eric Snowden, ranging from hero to traitor. However it is undeniable that he revealed extensive abuses by the NSA and those revelations are causing us to look hard at the kind of country we want to live in. A cascade of Congressional hearings, an Executive Review and even more revelations of abuses by our security agencies has created some momentum to challenge what we have been told since 9/11: we need to forfeit freedom for security.

The NSA has reported that no terrorist operation has ever been disrupted as the result of the widespread monitoring of every American citizen and their electronic and phone contacts. In other words, the massive amount of personal data that the NSA collected from secretly (and probably illegally) spying on you and me has proven irrelevant to the so-called “War on Terror.”

Meanwhile the Snowden incident has proven how easily anyone with access to the data can use it for whatever purpose they want.  Even though the massive, multi-billion dollar spying on us has not prevented one terrorist attack, Senators such as Diane Feinstein and Carl Levin defend the illegal spying as necessary to protect us (proving that there is really no degree of difference from Bush/Cheney).

The CIA is also being rocked by revelations of employees contracting with freelance spies without authorization and lying to Congress about those operations. Another report on an internal review of the CIA reveals that no meaningful information was ever gathered by their torturing (i.e. harsh interrogations) of captured human beings. Torture was another violation of our laws and values that was justified by the need to stop terrorism.

I have been talking with you all for years now about the use of fear to erode our liberties. I guess the other foot has dropped insofar as it looks like we sold our freedom for a false security.

 


Ain’t that America

January 29, 2009

Here are a few post-Inauguration Day thoughts…

Is anyone really surprised that Bush’s reactionary appointee to the Supreme Court could not read the U.S. Constitution correctly?

Some pundits were criticizing the people who were disrespectful to Bush and Cheney as they were leaving. Maybe if they had respected us and our rights they would get some respect back. I am one of many who believe that they should be investigated for the apparent way they broke many laws while in office. If we truly want to break with the past, we should hold office-holders who break the law accountable. Maybe it would be a disincentive for future office-holders. The problem is that so many in Congress, including many powerful Democrats, were complicit in breaking laws such as warrant-less spying and torture. As much as I hate to say it, maybe Obama is right to leave it as he did in the Inaugural speech – reject what they did as ineffective and wrong.

Whenever I see people like Congressman Boehner talk about how “Conservatives” want to lessen the role of government and restore fiscal responsibility, I can’t decide between laughing my rear off or strangling them. Do they have any idea what a joke they have become after the last 8 years?

If anyone doubts what the true nature of American “Conservatives” are, listen to the hate spewing from people like Rush Limbaugh. He made news the other day by expressing his hope that Obama will fail as President. Cultural “Conservatives” like Rush have a thinly disguised hatred of our Country. They are no different than the Taliban, who justify destroying everything to create a society based on their religious delusions. People who are religious like them can barely contain the hatred they defend against psychologically with their religions. We should confront people who listen to Rush about why they hate our Country so much.

So many Americans of so many races, religions and ages celebrating together on the National Mall and not one arrest. To quote Mellencamp “Ain’t that America? Something to see…Ain’t that America? Home of the free…” Freedom is not a narrow road. It is a broad highway.

It’s good to be American again.