Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pretty Animals

Here are some weird looking animals. See if you can guess what they all have in common...

Tarsier

Highland Cow

Fathead

Pangolin

Answer: All of them have renounced torture! Now if only today was Highland Cow inauguration day....

For a strong analysis of Alberto Gonzales current position on torture, extracted (painlessly!) from his Senate confirmation hearing transcripts, check this out.

And while we're on the topic of Senate confirmation hearings, nothing is more pathetic to me than Condi Rice's crybaby antics when she was called out for lying to congressional committees in the past. Look, if there's a written record of you telling lies, (anybody remember her saying "There was nothing about the threat of attack in the U.S." in the presidential briefing of August 6th, when in fact the title of that briefing was Bin Laden Determined To Attack In United States?), then don't act like a pouty five-year-old when you got called on it.

3 Comments:

Blogger Juniper Flesco said...

Yeah, they confirmed both Gonzalez and Rice. Why? Why did they do it? Is it because they want to "pick their battles" and they know they would probably lose even if they opposed them? Or is it because they don't want to have to look bad to certain constituents by opposing a Hispanic and an African American?

I don't understand why they spent so much time questioning Rice about her WMD lies, and then following those questions with, "I'm still going to confirm you, I am just concerned about your misleading statemetns." The only thing I can figure is that this was designed as theater so that the Democrats could go on the record as being somewhat against the war, in order to play into the (slowly) shifting perception of the war and drum up financial support.

The war is a fiasco, and the torture scandal is a tainted mark on all Americans. We should be screaming bloody murder that the torture was allowed to continue, and was even encouraged, by our leaders. All the legal hair-splitting over what constitutes "torture" makes for a sad spectacle in civilized society. When questioned, Condoleeza Rice declined to discuss what she considered the definition of torture. Is this somebody we want in charge of our foreign policy?

Throw the whole lot of them out. There is a cult of neo-conservatives running the country, and they have no principles. They don't care about being honest or even-handed. The Plan rules above all other considerations. We Have a Plan and We're Gonna Stick to It!

Anybody remember when the United States was a shining example of possibility for a better civilization?

3:26 PM  
Blogger luke said...

The thing that scares the shit outta me is what the torture does to the rest of our soldiers. I don't really blame the gov't for it, but i do blame those psycho soldiers who did it. Yah the gov't shoulda figgered it out and stopped it and they didn't.

Now, if any of our boys ever get captured by whatever world power, which WILL happen, what kind of treatment can they expect? Certainly no better than we now have a reputation for giving. And that is scary.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Juniper Flesco said...

To Luke --

Why do you blame only the "psycho soldiers" and not the government? Didn't you read the articles that were linked to? The government created the entire atmosphere in which the torture took place. In some cases, the government explicitly encouraged the torture. At Guantanamo Bay, Rumsfeld asked for it to take place, and in a memo Bush condoned it. It wasn't "torture" in terms of causing irreparable physical harm, but it was everything as far as they could go without fitting the legalistic definition.

At Abu Ghraib, the U.S.'s highest level politicians knew well in advance what was going on. Rumsfeld, though he denied it at first, knew about the Abu Ghraib situation as of January 2004. That scandal did not erupt until May 2004. Guess what actions Rumsfeld took to stem the abuse during those four months? None. They only tried to hush it up -- they didn't try to make effective changes that would stop the abuse.

This is not a case of some random "psycho soldiers" who did a few bad things. Everything points to it being the opposite of that. It was an entire military culture that was promoted from the top down, and which got progressively worse as Rumsfeld and Gonzalez (who wrote legal papers encouraging softer limits on abusive interrogation techniques) chipped away at the military and intelligence communities' standards for treatment of prisoners. It wasn't isolated incidents, which is why abuse happened at Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan, in very separate locations, around the same time period.

To date, there are something like 22 *documented* cases of prisoners dying during or after interrogation. Often these deaths are listed as "cardiac arrest" and made to sound like they just happened out of nowhere. Usually, what really has happened is that somebody was beating up the prisoner until he died, and then, because the heart stopped beating, it got listed as "cardiac arrest" by a military medic who was told to produce that finding.

What makes matters worse is that by far the majority of the prisoners ("enemy combatants") at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib have turned out to be innocent of all charges. Some of them in Gitmo have been detained for three years, and even when they are cleared of any and all wrongding (making them "non-enemy combatants," in their Orwellian language), they are still detained indefinitely while awaiting for the CIA to appeal. At this point, many of the prisoners are being held just to keep them from talking and confirming the stories about the shitty conditions there.

Is it any wonder much of the world hates America?

In conclusion, this is not about "psycho soldiers." In fact, I think the soldiers were probably just ignorant but potentially decent-hearted people when they started. But they were "in loco parentis," that is, they were influenced by their leaders and conditions in the military. With no solid leadership to guide them, it was a "Lord of the Flies" type of environment, where the culture starts to reward your aggression, and where people who question authority are seen as disloyal, and people who suggest more civilized approaches are seen as wusses. In that environment, OF COURSE young soldiers are going to turn bad. That doesn't make them a handful of "psycho" bad apples, that makes the entire set-up psycho.

4:01 PM  

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