Saturday, October 7, 2006

The latest on another scandal: Guantánamo Bay torture continues

While mís amigos have been keeping us up to date with fresh revelations of torture at Gitmo, as well as reminding us of CIA's tortured history (wanna know who inspired Pol Pot's use of waterboarding?), even more is coming out in this weekend's news cycle:
WASHINGTON: The illegal abuse of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba still continues, according disclosures in a sworn affidavit made by a U.S. marine, who visited the facility on a temporary assignment.

It said the guards at the base abused the detainees physically and mentally, including slamming one's head into a cell door and denying them privileges in order to instigate them. The document was made public Friday.

The Marine Corps sergeant stated in the affidavit the examples of such abuse included hitting detainees, denying them water, and removal of privileges for no reason. The affidavit was filed with the Pentagon's inspector general's office by Marine Lt Col Colby C. Vokey, one of the defense lawyers for an "enemy combatant" at the Guantanamo prison, who is facing trial by a military commission.

The affidavit, signed on Wednesday, is the latest in a series of revelations of abuse of detainees at the camp run by U.S. personnel.

The name of the sergeant, supposedly a female, has been blacked out. She has described an hour-long conversation with guards at a bar at the base on 23 September. The affidavit mentions the first names of those involved in the abuses. She specifically talks about a 19-year-old sailor, called Bo, who told her about beating different detainees in the prison. One such episode involved him taking a detainee by the head and hitting the detainee's head into the cell door. Bo had also told her such actions are known to other guards in the prison and that he had had no punishment.

Lt Col Vokey wrote in his note to Pentagon that the abuse explained in the affidavit is offensive and violates the U.S. and international law.

[snip]

The affidavit said at least five guards admitted to hitting detainees. "From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice. Everyone in the group laughed at the others' stories of beating detainees," she wrote.
Most Americans, I would imagine, have an attitude akin to that expressed in an old Oingo Boingo song ("why should I care?" cuz after all "nothing bad ever happens to me"). Unable or unwilling to relate to the real harm done to the victims and their families in situations where the state can torture anyone at its leaders' whim with impunity - which is now the law of the land here in the Good Ol' U S of A - most of us go about our usual business of being good consumers without giving it a second thought. After all, torture "wouldn't happen to me or my loved ones", right?

Let's make this a bit more concrete and try what for the time being is a gedänken experiment - albeit one that could become a concrete reality now that none of us has habeas corpus to protect us:

Let's imagine that your son or daughter - still legally a minor - has been taken into custody by US authorities as an alleged terrorist suspect. This strikes you as odd, as about all your child ever seems to do is hang out with friends, perhaps goes to church, etc. Yeah perhaps the pastor at the church had a sermon a few weeks ago that, using Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as a starting off point, seemed critical of the current war; and yeah a couple of your child's friends seem to blog about how war sucks on their Myspace pages - but that never really seemed to interest your child. But now your child is in custody, and somehow you find out that your child will be transferred to a Gitmo-type facility for "questioning".

Got that scenario? Good. Now, ask yourself would you be okay with your child's being punched in the face as part of the questioning? Could you as a parent have a "good laugh" over that? How about if your child was being waterboarded? That okay with you? How about if your child (a minor as we mentioned before) is coerced into masturbating in front of senior military personnel, or perhaps is coerced into positions and behaviors that could at best be described as nonconsensual sadomasochistic sex - in other words, your child has just been raped or molested as part of the "questioning." Would you feel better if your government told you that you could "watch"? How about electrical current being run through your child's genitals? That cool with you? Could you as a parent trust the government to know what it was doing in taking your child and torturing her (or him) as after all this was a "different kind of war"? If you complained - even meekly - could you accept the Liebermanesque retort that you were merely following the whims of fashion? Would you finally begin to question the morality of your own government and the society in which that government is based?

I have said fairly little about the Mark Foley sexual predator scandal this past week or so, but in a way I see a connection. In both the case of Foley and his enablers, and in the case of recent Congressional legislation that makes torture the law of the land, we have a distinctly predatory mindset at work. There is for all practical purposes no difference between the mindset of a sexual predator and that of a torturer (or those elected leaders that willingly sign off on a torturer's bill of wrongs) - these people get off on having absolute power over others. In the process of harming the victim, they achieve at least temporarily a Nietzsche-esque Übermenschen status - that of man-god, omnipotent for the moment and perhaps the delusions of omniscience.

What's been going on at taxpayer expense to our Congressional pages is fairly concrete to those of us who are parents - if for no other reason than we know just how easy it is for some pervert to make advances on our kids via instant messaging, etc., and perhaps lure them in to meeting them in person. What Foley (with the help of his enablers in Congress) did was very concrete to us. What I want y'all to realize is just how concrete that same predatory reality is to those parents of torture victims, and to realize that it isn't some mysterious "other" that is tortured, but rather real human beings - many of whom have done absolutely nothing to warrant formal legal questioning in the first place (and none of whom would deserve to be tortured). Given that the reality of the torture victim is a concrete one, you as the reader have the opportunity - indeed the obligation - to empathize. With empathy comes the one faint hope we have of fighting the evil that is being done in our names by our government.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Here's something the US and UK have in common

Both of our countries have white right-wing extremists caught in the act of making explosives & plotting attacks. It is also the case that in both of our countries, such news fails to make so much as a dent in the daily news cycle. I suppose such information is not quite as "sexy" as whipping up fear of Muslims.

Columbia University Students Protest MinuteKlan

Check out the video (mad props to The Unapologetic Mexican).

The spirit of these protesters is reminiscent of a few of my comrades from back in the day at Cal State Fullerton, when Tom Metzger (of White Aryan Resistance and KKK notoriety) was using campus facilities to broadcast his brand of hatred. The back story:
In the spring of 1986, Titan reporter Dollie Ryan learned that Tom Metzger, a television repairman who had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a group called White Aryan Resistance, was taping a public access cable show on campus. The show, "Race and Reason," held white supremacist views. After the Titan broke the story, student protests forced him to take his show elsewhere.
As a CSUF alum who remembers quite well life behind the "Orange Curtain" (as the O.C. was known back then), it was a pleasant surprise that a relatively small but very persistent crew of people representing the Coalition Against Apartheid, Young Democrats, etc. could sustain a sufficient level of noise to chase the bastard out. The more the university administration tried to ignore the issue, the louder - and eventually larger - those protests became. It took sizeable posse of human rights student activists paying a visit to the office of then-President Jewel Plummer Cobb to seal the deal. As much as I tended to bag on the Daily Titan back in those days, the newspaper actually did a fair job of covering the controversy and telling our side of the story fairly, and of course I will never forget the lampooning of Metzger's show by the comic strip Terry The Mighty Iguana (the "Wheel of Bigotry" strip was a classic).

The MinuteKlan's Gilchrist is just spreading the same BS as old Tom Metzger - and it's good to know that there are some students who not only recognize white supremacists when they see 'em but are willing to stand and be counted by any means necessary.

We've touched on the MinuteKlan's white supramacist roots before: here, here, and here for example. Some other bloggers have provided excellent coverage of the Minutemen and their particular brand of racist hatred: Man Eegee, XicanoPwr, The Unapologetic Mexican, & David Neiwert come readily to mind. If you aren't reading them, you should be. And of course it goes without saying that if you aren't outraged, you ain't paying attention.

Your Friday Moment of Zen

Zen Comix, that is.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

While no one was looking

I know, the fallout from the Mark Foley "Predatorgate" scandal has been immensely entertaining; and although I enjoy a bit of schadenfreude as much as the next person it's useful to remember that the rest of the world does not revolve around Foley's misdeeds or who in the GOP knew what and when, ad nauseum.

Case in point - look what's going on in Iraq:

84 Dead, 85 Injured Tuesday in Iraq

Wednesday: 58 Killed, 187 Injured Across Iraq

Somehow I seriously doubt those killed and injured (let alone their loved ones) care too much about the shenanigans going on in Capitol Hill. And although a Congressman trying to solicit sexual favors from 16 year old boys is indeed worthy of outrage, we must wonder where was the outrage over the rape and murder of Abir al-Janabi?

While we're at it, there was a recent march on behalf of the Cuban Five.

Midweek jazz: Soil & Pimp Sessions


From a live gig in France. These cats appear to be a relatively new combo straight outta Japan.

More Predatorgate

Via The Blotter:

ABC News now has obtained 52 separate instant message exchanges, which former pages say were sent by Foley, using the screen name Maf54, to two different boys under the age of 18.

This message was dated April 2003, at approximately 7 p.m., according to the message time stamp.

Maf54: I miss you

Teen: ya me too
Maf54: we are still voting
Maf54: you miss me too

The exchange continues in which Foley and the teen both appear to describe having sexual orgasms.

Maf54: ok..i better go vote..did you know you would have this effect on me
Teen: lol I guessed
Teen: ya go vote…I don't want to keep you from doing our job
Maf54: can I have a good kiss goodnight
Teen: :-*
Teen:

The House voted that evening on HR 1559, Emergency War Time supplemental appropriations.

According to another message, Foley also invites the teen and a friend to come to his house near Capitol Hill so they can drink alcohol.

Teen: are you going to be in town over the veterans day weekend
Maf54: I may be now that your coming
Maf54: who you coming to visit
Teen: haha good stuff
Teen: umm no one really

Maf54: we will be adjourned ny then
Teen: oh good
Maf54: by
Maf54: then we can have a few drinks
Maf54: lol
Teen: yes yes ;-)
Maf54: your not old enough to drink
Teen: shhh…
Maf54: ok
Teen: that's not what my ID says
Teen: lol
Maf54: ok
Teen: I probably shouldn't be telling you that huh
Maf54: we may need to drink at my house so we don't get busted

Some useful video from Larry King:

Via Americablog. Among other things, we learn that the FBI had been sitting on this info since July.

America's Greatest Failure


Sez it all. Click the pic to see it full-size.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Fun with compare and contrast

Mark Foley on Bill Clinton, regarding his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky:
It's vile. It's more sad than anything else -- to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain.
Mark Foley's IM to a teenage boy who at the time was a Congressional Page:
Maf54: I miss you lots since san diego.
Teen: ya I cant wait til dc
Maf54: :)
Teen: did you pick a night for dinner
Maf54: not yet...but likely Friday
Teen: ok...ill plan for Friday then
Maf54: that will be fun
Maf54: I want to see you
Teen: Like I said not til feb...then we will go to dinner
Maf54: and then what happens
Teen: we eat...we drink...who knows...hang out...late into the night
Maf54: and
Teen: I dunno
Maf54: dunno what
Teen: hmmm I have the feeling that you are fishing here...im not sure what I would be comfortable with...well see
Gotta love the hypocrisy.

Grand Old Perverts



Video found via Americablog.

The GOP leadership has known about Foley's, um., "interests" for at least five years. The mere revelation of a consensual sexual relationship between President Clinton and an adult intern was sufficient to send a GOP-controlled Congress into an impeachment frenzy back in the late 1990s. Appears that the very same GOP leaders were more than willing to sweep the misdeeds of a potential sexual predator (whose prey were underaged congressional pages) under the proverbial rug, and even after the fact enable further predatory behavior by Foley.

Foley's reputation certainly didn't get in the way of fellow GOPers cashing in on campaign contributions. So much for "family values" eh?

Granted, Hastert et al are trying to weasel their way out of the scandal. Don't be fooled, though. This is some serious shit with some serious criminal repercussions.

Politics in the Zeros has quite a dossier on the Mark Foley scandal. The aforementioned Americablog is also all over the story.

As the old saying goes, developing...

GOP: The Party of Rape, Pillage, and Plunder

Argh! Avast, ye matees! These scallawags be real pirates!

Enough of my attempt at pirate-speak. Let's see how the GOP ship and its captain Blind Beard Bush have raped, pillaged, and plundered at every available opportunity:

Rape:

We see evidence of Republican "fulfillment" in the first definition through several areas, most notably the recent torture bill which allows for the rape and sodomization of suspects are part of their interrogation.

[snip]

on the international scene, the ongoing controversy regarding CNMI, an offshore sweatshop/forced abortion/ unholy mess that ties Jack Abramoff to over 65 GOP leaders, not to mention directly to the White House itself.

[snip]

The Bush Administration's expanded policy of abduction as part of the "Global War Of On Terror" fits uncomfortably well into the definition of rape regarding "abduction" and carrying off by force. According to some numbers, there are 13,076 known detainees in US custody.

[snip]

The third and final variant on the definition of rape pertains to abuse or improper treatment, or violation, such as a "rape of justice." This one's a biggie. We've got several areas covered here -- the Republicans have been working overtime on this one. Ranging from Constitutional abuses (signing statements, habeas corpus, fudging reports & budget numbers) to environmental (global warming, Pombo) and on to raping the military (undercutting the generals, poor planning, short-sighted equipment, inadequate supplies and armor, underfunding and cutting veteran's benefits), the Republican party has shown itself to be a truly phenomenal "can-do" force when it comes to the rape of a nation and her ideals.

Pillage and Plunder

Well, the essential gist of this is the act of stealing money or goods through open violence. This could be merely a coincidence, but I suspect that the preplanned invasion of Iraq and the surplus of no-bid contracts as well as the use of mercenary forces with inadequate oversight I'm adding in the ravaging of the treasury and plundering of Social Security, as well, since much of the financial voodoo that Mr. Bush and his fellow pirates have engaged in has used the GWOT as the over-arching justification.
Adapted from The Pirates Aboard Our Ship of State. All quoted text and pictures should be credited to that diary's author GreyHawk.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Say hello to

Brown Pride. Looks fairly newish - and I've seen stories up there from the Eegeehood's own ManEegee & The Unapologetic Mexican!