Friday, June 30, 2006

Going down memory lane: Happy Canada Day!

check site
Indulge me, which ever country you live in, to boast a bit about Canada. Not only is July 1st, Canada's the only day when Canadians go out full force to celebrate their independence, and their uniqueness, and are "proud to be Canadian/fiere d'ettre Canadienne". The national bragging day for otherwise modest Canadians who can safely come out of their closets to show that they are close to being patriotic as their American cousins, but not too much eh?

I moved to Ottawa, Canada in the mid '80s. Inexperienced and, as the saying goes, green as grass. When winter arrived, I thought I was properly dressed in my Dutch winter clothes and boots. Well, waiting for the bus more than once I escaped freezing my toes off more than once until I figured out what kind of boots ()would keep me dry and warm. And then of course the head gear followed. I had to make sure that basically everything save my eyes were kept under wraps, because the inside of my nose and my lungs not to mention had to endure this cold attack like I had never experienced. Phooey! But..adjusting I did.

Even though the cultural differences were at times difficult, coming from a country where people are literally closer in distance and in visiting..I had come to love the physical and geographical space. Even after the break up of the USSR..Canada is still the second largest country in the world.

Canada's scenery is breath taking. Canadians' national identity is strong in the face of a very (appearing) confident neighbour that is more vocal in politics (hence the NAFTA got strong armed through, c'est dommage Pro-Canada Network). Canadians I think are more confident though than Americans because they in general, have a better understanding of the bigger world around them. As in, the rest of the world. During the coverage shortly after 9/11, my husband (American) and I would watch CBC news via C-Span that would cover the situation on the streets of New York just a bit better. While I went to Carleton University (in Ottawa), I heard more students going on a trip to Europe or around the world after graduation before settling down, than here in the US. It seemed to be the thing to do.

So, just so you are some Canadian inventions;
Anti-gravity suit-invented by Wilbur Rounding Franks in 1941, a suit for high altitude jet pilots
Automatic Postal Sorter-1957, Maurice Levy invented a postal sorter that could handle 200,000 letters an hour
Basketball (yes!)-invented by James Naismith in 1891
Electric Light Bulb-Henry Woodward invented the electric light bulb in 1874 and sold the patent to Thomas Edison
IMAX Movie System-co-invented in 1968 by Grahame Ferguson, Roman Kroitor and Robert Kerr
JAVA- a programming language invented by James Gosling in 1994
Some Famous Canadians
Famous Canadian Actors
Famous Canadian Actresses
And what would we be without Famous Canadian Athletes
I AM CANADIAN!!click to see the Joe rant commercial claiming his identity!
If you want to see the LIVE fireworks on Parliament on the HILL CAM!
Happy Canada Day and don't drink and drive!
love and hugs to Christy and day I'll be back for a good long visit...sniff!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Give me your poor, you economic disadvantaged the military recruit

This morning, a scroll (is that what you call it) below the news caught my eye; several elderly members from grannies for peace arrested. My first thought was,"Oh George, not the grannies!! But I can't say they were innocent after I investigated. However, don't mess with grannies. They've been around longer than we have and they have no fear, afterall, they've made it that long. Apparently, some grannies were arrested as they were not willing to leave a military recruitment office. Read the full story as to how and why!!
Interestingly enough, after going to their website,, I found out a little piece of information that parents of graduating or soon to be graduating children ought to know;
Federal public law 107110, section 9528 of the ESEA, “No Child Left Behind Act” requires school districts to release student names, addresses, and phone numbers to military recruiters upon their request. The military uses this information to recruit students. The law also requires the school district to notify you of your right to opt-out from this by requesting that the district not release your information to military recruiters.

Although schools provide this information as required by law, it is frequently buried within the pages of student or parent handbooks and no form is provided to facilitate opting-out. Please read and redistribute our booklet containing information about military recruitment in our schools; an opt-out form is included:

Click on the quote to find out in the information in English and Spanish. So Sothis, you were on to something. Even though this in and of itself does not constitute an 'economic draft' as you alluded to in one of your comments here (I believe in the 'War is a racket post), how many kids who won't have much of a future will get contacted by the military for recruitment? After all, it will provide them guidance, a 'future', pension plan, and if you're lucky, they'll pay for you to go to college. The latter part I have read years ago was one of the used angles to get people to recruit; don't have money to go to school? No problem, we can send you to school. Yes, they'll get the info that they're required to serve for x amount of years, but would the person who doesn't have much money feel that they have a choice to opt out? In a society where all kinds of assistance is seen as a 'hand-out', don't you think that he'd feel good about having something to look forward to in order to stay afloat? For the next couple of years anyway.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No Flag burning, but what does desecrating a symbol really mean?

It is probably all over the blogosphere that the Senate rejected the attempt to ban the desecration as it is called of the American flag. The parties who tried to get the constitutional amendment on that were one vote short of a two-third majority that is required before it would have gone to the states for final approval. This is not really the news though. Even though, I have to agree with my blogger friend Cyberotter (Donkeyphant) that it was a ridiculous subject to tackle, aside from the free speech notion. I recommend his passionate post for reading.

The thing that I have been thinking about is, why would anyone want to burn the flag? I understand it's symbolic act; 'attacking', 'desecrating' someone else's symbol. All over the world have any of us seen angry mobs burning a flag of the object of their anger.

First off, I cannot understand the emotion that so many Americans attach to 'a flag'. It's an inanimate object and one that usually is deemed in high esteem by people who tend to be very(overly)patriotic. I have one in my (in law) family. When I lived in Holland, and someone did something to the flag, I would shrug my shoulders and say, sticks and stones buddy, get a life. Not so with many Americans. Perhaps there are other countries where people get very riled up over flag burning, do let me know if you know of any. Cyberotter pointed out in his post(june16) that the only
two countries in the world that ban burning the flag are Iran and China. Countries known for their control on public and freedom of expression.

So why this hullabaloo over burning the American flag? I'd think, that no American on American soil would want to do that for one. It does not make sense to even do so in protest by the most left wing of left wingers. It's 'everybody's' flag here. And for a foreigner to burn the American flag...who cares?? (whatcha gonna do, swoop 'm up and rendition his ass right out of his country? helloow..scuse the language)

I think burning any flag is the most useless way to protest anyway. If you want to burn your own flag that is. Because that's what this attempt was for; homegrown unpatriotic miscreants who had the nerve to desecrate our beautiful flag. Many people will attack any symbol or ridicule anything held dear by 'the opposition'. I think if you truly want to accomplish something and want to be heard and listened to, you always always need to keep your cool and make the other person want to listen to you. No matter how dumb or immature that symbol, or the attachment thereof is. So don't be stupid and burn the flag. Take a mediation course instead. It'll make you smarter.

The Big Picture

I have been thinking lately about 'the big picture'. As I've been reading many great posts on many a blog, I cannot help but think that most of us, including myself, focus on all the stories in between the significant changes. All the stories, the many 'nudges' into a particular direction for change by government, or individuals (not just in the US) become a major deal. One of the nudges we're dealing with is the independence of media. It seems like a given, to anyone of any particular political persuasion, that media ought to be independent and yet, so many media outlets (radio, tv, newspapers) are owned by a general few. Hence the fact that so many people have turned to blogs in order to find an alternative view, and an alternative analysis. If you're like me, you start taking for granted that the info that becomes common knowledge shared online by bloggers and commenters alike, is common knowledge with the rest of your little world. It's not.
Check 'Who Owns What' to see how concentrated the media is in your neck of the woods.

In order to snuff out critical coverage of the Trans Texas Corridor, TXDOT decided to disallow a free lance reporter from Corridor Watch to attend information meetings. Read the full story here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Get on your FEET!

This post is more 'local' than usual. For those Texas voters who want to have more say in Texas politics, check out the new 'FEET', Fair Elections for Every Texan, campaign.

For learning more about how to tackle the redistricting in Texas, check out

Another issue for independents, and third parties trying to participate in Texas politics is the ballot access. Excerpt:
Texas is among the most difficult states for statewide independent candidates and non-recognized third parties to gain access to the ballot for the general election. Several factors combine to make access uniquely difficult
Sadly, fair access in the United States is not a given. For further detailed information, check out

People who have endorsed the FEET campaign;
Texas Governor's Race

Kinky Friedman, Independent for Governor, Carole Keeton Stayhorn, Independent for Governor,

State Senate Races

Rock Howard, Libertarian for State Senate, District 14 (Travis County), (founding member of Independent Texans)

State Representative Races

Lenard Nelson, Libertarian Party candidate for State Rep. District 32.

Matthew Moseley, Libertarian for State Rep. District 112 (northwest Dallas), (member of Independent Texans)

Kirk England, Republican, the current State Representative (he just won the special election this February), District 106, (Grand Prairie), Gene Freeman, Libertarian candidate for State House District 106, Grand Prairie,

Congressional Races

Grant Rostig, candidate for US House of Rep., 25th District,

Rockwall County Races

Thom Bouis, Democrat for Rockwall County Judge

Monday, June 26, 2006

Community Radio

image from the National Library of Australia.
Last night, I had a GREAT time watching Lewis Black, live here in Austin, doing his Red White and Screwed show.(Kel from the Uk The Osterly, click on 'Lewis' and you'll find out how to book 'm) One of the things about seeing comedy live is the vibe of the audience and you could tell there were quite a few who'd seen him before. It got me thinking about the big picture as Lewis Black, in true form, came 'unraveled' over all the various idiotic things that the Bush administration have done, or said.

The big picture to me is that more and more, individual voices and yes, how cliche, 'alternative voices' are being drowned out in the sea of commercialism and big media being owned by just a few.

Thank God for community radio.
They certainly are the voice of their communities and Austin is priviliged to have one as well. One that I have linked to as sometimes they have awesome interviews, such as last week with Robert Jensen. So tonight, I went for a broadcast programmer volunteer orientation session to check out what Austin's KOOP, 91.7FM was looking for. There were at least 30 people so that was a great turn out.
If you feel that figuratively, you do not have a 'voice' in todays politics, or any other local or state (whatever it is in your country) political environment, check and see if you can hit the airways, on the air or behind the scene, or in a supporting role. If you live in Australia, India, Uk, India, Ireland, the US and Sweden..check out this link to familiarize yourself.
Hopefully they'll pick me for training, it would really be great to be involved and put my own little rubber stamp on the world..just a little.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Diagnosing the U.S. ‘national character’: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I am still thinking about the Democrats' notion of having to find the right 'idea' to counter the Republican's dominance in politics, and apparent tapping into the voter's self identification with the Republican's 'idea'. The 'idea' of what it means to be American in the States itself, and who and what America is on the global scene. You can think of it yourself what that exactly means, we've had plenty of examples what their 'big idea' is and plenty of people have been paying the price for it with their lives, literally and figuratively. Those who awakened to this dream illusion have become disheartened and even stauncher opponents of the Iraq war than some of the original anti-Iraq war protesters.

I like to present another Robert Jensen article, titled "Diagnosing the U.S. ‘national character’: Narcissistic Personality Disorder". It originally was published in the Alternative Press ReviewApril 18, 2006.

Some excerpts to entice you to read the whole article;
Can a nation have a coherent character? If we take the question seriously -- investigating reality rather than merely asserting nobility -- we see in the U.S. national character signs of pathology and decay as well as health and vigor. What if, for purposes of analysis, we treated the nation as a person? Scan the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (the bible of mental-health professionals, now in its fourth edition) and one category jumps out: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

DSM-IV describes the disorder as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy” that can be diagnosed when any five of these nine criteria are met:

1. a grandiose sense of self-importance.

2. preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. believes he or she is special and unique.

4. requires excessive admiration.

5. sense of entitlement.

6. interpersonally exploitative, taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

7. lacks empathy.

8. often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Narcissistic tendencies to self-aggrandize are not unique to the United States, of course. But given the predominance of U.S. power in the world, we should worry most about the consequences of such narcissism here.
While it’s easy to point at the narcissism of soulless and self-indulgent leaders, this diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder applies to the country as a whole. The belief that the United States is unique -- a shining “city upon a hill” -- is deeply rooted, and for many has divine origins; 48 percent of Americans believe the United States has “special protection from God,” according to a 2002 survey

Having said that..I have to say that living in the US it is easier to see the nuances in people and as much as there is this attitude or mentality that I have witnessed myself throughout American culture, I also have to stress that (thank God!) there are many many individuals who look outward and inward in self reflection in order to understand, grow and mature. There are many many organizations that do good work domestically and abroad, with no ulterior political motive(s) attached. Those who've been helped, here and abroad know and have seen the difference. So there is hope that with all of these good individuals and organizations, 'we' can counter this 'bubble frame of reference' and steer it towards one that is more inclusive, reflective not reactive. One that desires to learn and face real truths, and then has the courage to change it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Compassion Gap in American Poverty Policy, implications home and abroad.

Yes, you read it correctly, reader lurker from Singapore or Australia or anywhere outside the US. American poverty policy would have implications on an international scale. Let me start with what caught my eye.
Today in the American Statesman, the newspaper here in Texas reported in a short column on the findings of the American Sociological Association that fewer people connect with one another, then back in the 1980s. Here's an excerpt from the ASA website;
“The evidence shows that Americans have fewer confidants and those ties are also more family-based than they used to be,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, Robert L. Wilson Professor of Sociology at Duke University and one of the study’s authors.
“This change indicates something that’s not good for our society. Ties with a close network of people create a safety net. These ties also lead to civic engagement and local political action,” she said.
(emphasis added)
Please read the article in full to do it justice.
Coupled with that is another article from the ASA journal of June 2006 about the compassion gap in American poverty policy.
The article notes that poverty has been present all along, and that there have been cycles of exposing the poverty (e.g. How the other half lives, and The other America), action to improve the situation (reforms in the Progressive Era, FDR's response to the Great Depression, Lyndon Johnson's 'War on Poverty'), followed by the reaction that somehow, those in poverty caused their own situation. The authors talk about the backlash which results in decreasing assistance and the 'immorality' factor which critics say causes poverty. (these days would probably see an argument re. drugs being a factor in a 'what comes first, the chicken or the egg)
The authors claim that their data shows that in 2004 alone, 37 (!!) million Americans, 13 of which are children, live in poverty. In other words, lived below the Government's own official poverty line which is "$15,219 for a family of three". (that is probably the number of 2004 as well)
I cannot in this short time period do this article justice, so I would strongly encourage you to read the whole article and ponder over it. After you've read it (and I print things out so I can sit back and read 'cause I hate reading things online that are more than two pages long), think about this and see if you can make connections to;
#poverty and increase of military recruitment,
#the 'ideas' that the Democrats are trying to come up with (see previous post),
and #the fight against fundamentalism in this country.

I cannot stress enough how Davidson Loehr's book is a very enlightened book on America, Fascism and God. He talks at length about the kind of fundamentalism that is attempting to control everyone and everything in the name of, while falling short on anything truly spiritual which is to be all inclusive and loving towards people within the 'in groups' as well as the 'out groups'. If you don't feel like reading anything else in this post, do read this! The Fundamentalist Agenda.
So I mentioned the implications home and abroad. Poverty, like anywhere else, breeds discontent. In a highly propagandized country such as the US, that means effectively channeling that discontent away from the real causes and sources and towards an outside 'enemy', or cause. Now, we have the war on terror.

More people to recruit in the American military and more people indoctrinated in the mind set of 'us vs them'. That is what I have been thinking about.
Another implications is that to me, this lack of caring by the powers that be here in the US is a model to what ever they have and will be touching. People abroad will follow suit in disenfranchisement, loss of jobs, loss of security, fiscally and literally.

If people in other countries hope that Americans will start making sound and wise choices for their leadership, which would be leaders, politicians not beholden to the monied corporate interests that finance their political careers, then the rest of the world can start breathing a little easier, start feeling more safe. That has been the complaint and conclusion of late hasn't it?
The Democrats are looking for ideas. I think they do not have to look far. They just need to look back to the time when their forebearers had a moral compass and felt strong moral imperatives towards their own citizens, and fellow human beings.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Democrats looking for new ideas..anyone?

The Washington Post reports that in the past week (the) Democrats have been working on finding out new ideas in order to win back their/a constituency.
Monday started out with the launching of the website
Yesterday, the journal Democracy was launched.
Even as an Independent, I intend to check them out. I do not feel that the Democrats 'deserve' their way back into glory though. They have done enough damage and pulled dirty rotten tricks to undermine anyone else's attempt at the ballot box as if they are the only answer to the conservative agenda in this country. Their arrogance was incredible during the last presidential election, especially since they had John Kerry offering no counter proposals or arguments to Bush's. Even Ralph Nader had gone to Kerry's office and literally handed him all the issues on a plate that could ensure his presidential win. No show. Did not even bother with a recount in Ohio.
Personally, with too many people towing the party line, thinking that centrists and the leftists in the party ought to be together on issues, I think it's time that the U.S. learns about multi party systems and figure out a way to work together. Compromise sometimes instead of the zero sum game. It is possible, it takes political will and I guess in this country, a bit of re-educating. And educating of attitudes and , lord forbid..changes in the electoral system?
It would definitely reflect the diversity of opinions, problem solving and philosophies that in all places, in this country should be able to work because of its size and because it has a federal political system. I believe that a multi party system could make this country a whole lot more interesting and show its true diversity that under the two party rule is totally negated having to be a 'two sizes fit all'. Or make it fit already!
That is my idea.

Fight Club Politics; surprise surprise!

Juliet Eilperin discusses the high incumbency factor (she claims 98% tonight on the Daily Show) and the redistricting in the U.S. which both the Democrats and the Republicans are guilty off. Redistricting allows an encumbent who was voted in by a highly Republican or Democrat voter's base, to be voted back in. It's one of the big issues here in Texas as well. Hence, Austin is kind of like a little Democrat/Independent haven in the midst of the great Republican sea. However, like I said, both parties have been guilty of doing so even though it's worse now than it was in the '90s, according Juliet during her interview with Jon Stewart.

Listen for an interview with Juliet Eilperin on NPR
Here is a short bio of Juliet..she's one smart cookie.

Monday, June 19, 2006

War is a Racket, and You thought you were free!

I highly recommend either buying these books or lending it from your library. It sets the tone of what is happening today as what has been happening since the last few centuries in the U.S. Next is this book by
Milton Mayer; Here is an excerpt, courtesy of
What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . .

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined

I leave you with this to ponder, as I will post on the 14 characteristics of fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt this week.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Iran, what's good for the goose is good for the gander

The Bush administration has seen fit to demonize the current Iran regime and has deemed them unfit to have any nuclear ability. Well, considering that there are a few countries who have nuclear abilities (India, Russia, Pakistan, Israel) and I cannot say that in this political and military climate in the US (military meaning the pro-military mentality in the general public with the abnormally strong nationalistic sentiments of the 'us vs them' kind), I feel particularly safe. I am very concerned for the future of not only this country, but the rest of the world, truly. Here are excerpts from a Noam Chomsky article in the Guardian.
A near-meltdown seems to be imminent over Iran and its nuclear programmes. Before 1979, when the Shah was in power, Washington strongly supported these programmes. Today the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power, and therefore must be pursuing a secret weapons programme. "For a major oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources," Henry Kissinger wrote in the Washington Post last year

Thirty years ago, however, when Kissinger was secretary of state for President Gerald Ford, he held that "introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals".
Last year Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post asked Kissinger about his reversal of opinion. Kissinger responded with his usual engaging frankness: "They were an allied country."

Iranians are surely not as willing as the west to discard history to the rubbish heap. They know that the United States, along with its allies, has been tormenting Iranians for more than 50 years, ever since a US-UK military coup overthrew the parliamentary government and installed the Shah, who ruled with an iron hand until a popular uprising expelled him in 1979.
The Reagan administration then supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, providing him with military and other aid that helped him slaughter hundreds of thousands of Iranians (along with Iraqi Kurds). Then came President Clinton's harsh sanctions, followed by Bush's threats to attack Iran - themselves a serious breach of the UN charter.

Read the full article called: A Negotiated Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis is within Reach
photo by John Soares

Friday, June 16, 2006

Torture approved since the 1950s

UW-Madison professor, Alfred McCoy authored a book about CIA interrogation and torture after the pictures of Abu Ghraib prisoners surfaced, picture by Christopher Guess.
His recent book

Read Alfred McCoy's piece on the long shadow of the CIA Torture Research
At home and abroad, the United States has been, for over 50 years a strong voice in the fight against torture. Simultaneously, however, the CIA's method has become so widely accepted that US interrogators seem unaware that they are, in fact, engaged in systematic torture. From 1970 to 1988, Congress held hearings four times to expose the CIA's use of torture. But each time, the public did not demand reform and the practice persisted.

McCoys'latest Q & A on torture and US ethics.How can we effect any change? Here is a Ralph Nader quote from last saturday, June 10th 2006 at a Washington D.C. political rally for Kevin Reese.
Moral courage is what is needed to address the problems of our neighborhoods, our community, our city, our state, our country, our world. It is a rare commodity
self-government isn’t just a slogan. People need to be in charge, but in order to do that, they need to show up!
(bold added by me)

David Hicks documentary; The President Versus David Hicks

June is torture awareness month, but naturally, once aware, you cannot limit yourself to one designated time to raise awareness as becoming aware is like peeling an onion; people need constant exposure, here and there to warm up to the idea that torture is actually occurring. Americans in general are so removed from the day to day military activities, in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the facilities such as Guantanamo Bay, that, news goes in one ear, and out the next.

Yes, 'torture' is not exactly water cooler talk, small talk when at the park with the kids and having a conversation with another parent..dinner conversation, anyone? I do believe that people who function at a higher level of morality, e.g., seek to place the whole wild world in a greater context than the narrow confines of their own little existence, will naturally gravitate towards wanting to learn about this. The majority of people, having to eak out a living or just having other things on their minds, are the ones that need to become more aware of their political and social environment. The world is bigger than their own cosmos. And outside their cosmos..ugly things have occurred in the name of... .

Take David Hicks, sold by the Northern Alliance to the US. Read about him on the site fairgofordavid.
David was captured in Afghanistan in January 2002. Since then, David has been a prisoner at the American naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. No charges have been laid against him, no date has been set for a trial
Read David Hicks facts here.

Terry Hicks, David's father has always said the following, which is what most people want for all the prisoners taking by the US;
Since he learned his son was in the military jail, Terry has maintained that all he wants is for the Americans to charge David, if they have any evidence, and give him a fair trial..

Terry and others, including David's laywers argue that the Guantanamo Bay trial will not be fair because it will be a military tribunal in which the normal civil rules of law do not apply. For example, evidence obtained under interrogation will be admissible. The Pentagon has also recently stated that prisoners may be kept at the jail indefinitely if they are believed to be a threat to the US.

He's been campaigning for this ever since. Terry Hicks protesting his son's indefinite imprisonment, replicating the space his son David was in for solitary confinement, here seen in New York City.

Please read one of the very few interviews Terry Hicks has given.This one dates the year 2002.

I like the point that Terry Hicks has taken. If my son is guilty, put him on trial where there is accountability. However, the Bush administration has gone about from day one in pursuing war, pursuing legal changes, trying to undermine everything that could possibly hold them to the high standard that elected officials are supposed to be held to. The reason this is not a real democracy is that the majority of people have abdicated taking part in it. It's the only way to keep government officials (including any President), honest.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Der Spiegel Interviews Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, Hamas was elected democratically. However, staying the zero-sum course will not accomplish anything but continued suffering of the ordinary Palestinians. One cannot be democratically elected and then continue to engage in attacks at the same time. That would constitute war to me, not terrorism. It just continues the cycle..retaliating the retaliation and ..who started again?

Check out the interview and tell me what you think.

Then, read Aljazeera's piece "Hamas ready to restore truce with Israel"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Congrats Ahmed, 'ya' famous!

Congrats Ahmed, 'ya' famous buddy! Well, maybe not 'famous famous'...but you're definitely 'out there' a good way.

I have a wee connection with Saudi Arabia as I lived there for a few years post Gulf War (1 as some call it). I could not have imagined for one that there would be such animal as 'bloggers', but also that there would be such special breed as Saudi bloggers. For those in the Gulf in general, where politically, religiously and societally (is that a word??) one still walks a fine line with what one can say/write or not, it feels very good to me to see that people have come a long way to be able to do so. Inspite of censorship,(which the technical savvy know how to circumvent anyway) and the possibility of arrest or just being accused of something which in some cases would be considered enough reason for arrest, the spirit of the bloggers representing their particular culture and nation is very well alive and kicking. I check out Ahmed's blog everyday (Saudi Jeans) and sometimes find others by way of checking the commenters. It is always interesting to leave one's computer room and venture abroad.
Through his blogging and his writing style, Ahmed found himself offered the position as regional contributor for Global Voices Online. That's when he decided to venture out of anonymity and post his picture. And his full name. Do not underestimate the fact that that is a big deal. If something that he might write will not sit well with whomever in KSA, he could get into serious trouble. I worry for him and so do some other people. But..I have faith; he's smart and he's not a trouble maker. He also has his finger on the pulse of what many young people in Saudi think (oh man, that makes me sound old..errr) and I think it would behoove the Saudi royals (for who else would be in government?) to listen and take note. As someone originally from the Netherlands,I know you can have royalty AND a healthy functioning democracy. Although that said, it might still be a long ways away for the people in Saudi Arabia. But with blogging being's a start. (accentuate the positive)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Lewis Black: Red White and Screwed

Lewis Black cracks me up. He has a new comedy special that will be airing this month and the next on HBO. Too bad we don't have that. But..for those who do..check it out. I'm sure it'll air somewhere else at some later point. Comedy channel anyone?

Here is an excerpt from his show. I can just 'hear him'. For those who want to, check out this video.

Dick Cheney. And that's all I got to say. Isn't it great that we've reached that point? You don't even have to say Dick Cheney, the vice president who shot his friend in the face. ... Going quail hunting is like saying I'm going fishing and going to a gold fish pool and going, 'Got it.'"

"The last year and a half has by far been the toughest time to be a comedian. It's just become more and more difficult. I just can't keep up. ... It used to be easy. There used to be one or two things that happened in a week. ... I don't even have a ports of Dubai joke and we're on to immigration. You tell me how we're going to catch 11 million people. ... And build a fence that's 700 miles long? A fence that would basically be the distance from Washington to Chicago. We're going to build that fence and then it's going to take Congress five years to decide what color to paint it. We're going to build a fence that's 700 miles long and we couldn't build levees in New Orleans?"

"If I've learned anything from the last year and a half, it's simply that we don't know what we're doing anymore. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi all hit by this huge storm and the U.S. Government watched it as if it were a made-for-TV movie."

"The job that prepared Michael Brown for FEMA was he was the head of the Arabian Horse Association. You can see the connection there. Not even a great fiction writer could come up with that. He ran horse shows and he was fired from that job. ... You could be drunk and be vomiting for three days and still run a horse show."

"About six months ago, I was home alone watching the president speak on television and ... realized that one of us was nuts. And for the first time in my life, it wasn't me."

"It's not like I'm saying Kerry would have been any better. Let's face it. When you when into that voting booth, you had a choice between two bowls of s***. The only difference was the smell. How did you Democrats find Kerry? What's the matter with you people? ... The first time I heard him speak, I thought ... 'I don't have enough bread crumbs to get me home.' The fact of the matter is the Democrats not being able to find somebody to defeat George Bush is beyond belief. It's stunning. It would be like finding a normal person who would lose in the Special Olympics."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The four fundamentalisms and the threat to sustainable democracy

Austin Texas is home to some very smart, passionate, and politically active people. And some quite famous too.

Jim Hightower, Molly Ivins, and Alex Jones just to name a few. I live in a pretty interesting city, politically, environmentally, socially. The place to raise a family in a, generally very aware and politically active place.

Another 'thirdcoast activist' is Robert Jensen.

Read his very interesting article, the four fundamentalisms and the threat to sustainable democracy.

Yearly Kos convention; count them in, or out?

This weekend, the Yearly Kos held a convention in Las Vegas which did not go unnoticed by Democratic politicians.Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean , Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), and several politicians gearing up to run against Hillary for the 2008 election; former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark
" all hope they can generate support among an activist constituency that has already expressed its hostility toward Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as a cautious and consummate insider"

The Washington Post article reminded us of the "potential" and the "limitations" of the net;
"I think it's evolving," he said of the net-roots community. "I think these guys and gals are potentially creating a new public square for democracy. And they are an unorganized, unorthodox jumble. What started as occasional voices venting is now turning into what could be a major force in American politics."

From a standing start, this community first demonstrated its power by supporting Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, helping him raise tens of millions of dollars and propelling him into front-runner status for the Democratic nomination until his candidacy imploded.

That experience showed the promise and the limitations of the net-based political movement. As the bloggers gathered here, many of the same questions remained unanswered about what is now a larger and more assertive voice in American politics.

My friend Mash (Docstrangelove) predicts that bloggers will become a force. I also think that it will be one that will not only be listened to, but will provide an alternative communication source for the general public who wants to know more. Communication going both ways where people do ask the hard questions, bloggers and readers alike.

I do not think that catering to either party will really happen via blogger 'courting'. I do believe that the more and more bloggers read, think, comment (their own opinion-eds), that they will see how both parties are beholden to special interests. I think one should follow the money. The blogosphere is a start, but the majority of voters who are needed to effect a change, and a true change of heart in terms of immoral issues and 'control' issues (gay marriage, abortion), whether they are public or private, are still a long ways away.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Tell me...

Do you believe that individuals in the Bush administration, including President Bush, should be charged with war crimes?
Free polls from

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Thanks to my blogger friend Robbie, who posted on this a few days ago. I am encouraged to think that there are some 'religious'/spiritual people here in the U.S. after all who will stick their collective necks out for fighting true moral issues..such as campaigning against torture.

Tuesday, June 13th, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture will run an ad on the op-ed page of The New York Times, that will be "calling for the elimination of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as part of U.S. policy". 27 Religious leaders, including Elie Wiesel and Nobel laureates President Jimmy Carter are included. Here is a list of those supporting this campaign;

Rev. William J. Byron, SJ
Research Professor, Loyola College in Maryland

President Jimmy Carter
Nobel laureate

Archbishop Demetrios
Primate, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar
General Secretary, National Council of Churches

Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein
Executive Vice President, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Dr. David P. Gushee
Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University in Tennessee

Rev. Ted Haggard
President, National Association of Evangelicals

Dr. Maher Hathout
Muslim Public Affairs Council

Dr. Stanley Hauerwas
Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University

Dr. Roberta Hestenes
Minister-at-Large, World Vision

Dr. George Hunsinger
McCord Professor of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

Rev. Kermit D. Johnson
Chaplain (Major General), U.S. Army (ret.)

Rev. Joseph Lowery
Co-Founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Frederica Mathewes-Green
Author and commentator

Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington

Dr. Brian McLaren
Founder, Cedar Ridge Community Church, Spencerville, Maryland

Dr. Richard Mouw
President, Fuller Theological Seminary

Prof. Mary Ellen O'Connell
Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dr. Glen Stassen
Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

Dr. Leonard Sweet
E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Drew University

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed
National Director, Islamic Society of North America

Dr. Frank A. Thomas
Editor of The African-American Pulpit; Pastor, Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, Memphis

Rev. Jim Wallis
Editor-in-Chief/Executive Director, Sojourners

Dr. Rick Warren
Founder and Pastor, Saddleback Church

Elie Wiesel
Nobel laureate

Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff
Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only

The ad will say:
Torture Is a Moral Issue

Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved ­ policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished values. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.

Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed?

Let America abolish torture now ­ without exceptions.

If you are involved in a church and think you could help in promoting awareness at your church, check out the NRCAT site for further info.

Join the over 5000 people
who have signed the statement
“Torture is a Moral Issue”
So far, the complete list of endorsers.

John Murtha's smart move

John Murtha, the outspoken critic of the Iraq War, announced yesterday that he was going to go for the seat of Majority leader if the Democrats would regain control of the House of U.S. Representatives.

Naturally, he got criticized by the Democrats but I say..good for you..don't follow and tow to the party line! The Democrats I feel have been wimpy from the beginning by not NOT fighting to stop the war on Iraq.

I think John Murtha is counting on the fact that the tides have turned and that people will respond to the anti-Iraq war message..finally. Since John Kerry waffled his way out of a Presidential job by not even using the biggest carrot on the stick one could hope to have as a presidential hopeful (being against as opposed to being for it like Bush)..I wonder if the Democrats are going to allow another 'waffle' job come the next election.

As an Independent, I feel there are just as many Democrats beholden to special interests and the military industrial complex than the Republicans. So unless the Democrats are unequivally against the war, AND jump (JUMP already!!) on issues given them on a silver platter by a bunch of bloggers and of course, many many human rights organizations, in terms of torture..than I for John Murtha. He's going to stand for something and I suspect, will walk to the beat of his own drum..not the party. Good for you Mr. Murta..remember, you represent the people..not the party!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

No Fiction

Man sits on the front steps of his house, cleaning his sword. His wife comes out and asks him;
“Who’s knife is this?”
“It’s a sword baby.”
"Who’s sword is this?”
"Who’s Zach’s?"
"Zaq’s dead baby, Zaq’s dead.”

Hope this eases your pain just a little Mr. Berg.

Robert Fisk interview

To me, this is what every journalist ought to be like. Or if I was one, this is what I (hope) like to think I would strife to be.

Read Justin Podur's interview with Robert Fisk.
Some quotes;
I'm not some cranky left wing or right wing nut. We are a newspaper, that's the point. That gives us an authority — most people are used to growing up with newspapers. The internet is a new thing, and it's also unreliable.

Look across daily newspapers in the United States and the coverage of the Middle East is lamentable and incomprehensible. There are semantics introduced to avoid controversy, mostly controversy from Israeli supporters. Colonies become “neighbourhoods,” occupied becomes “disputed,” a wall turns into a “fence” magically — I mean I hope my house isn't made of fences.

In the realm of warfare, which represents the total failure of the human spirit, you are morally bound as a journalist to show eloquent compassion to the victims, to be unafraid to name the murderers, and you're allowed to be angry. The waitress who's serving us coffee, the taxi driver who brought me here, they have feelings about atrocities. Why shouldn't we?

Latest news from Information Clearing House.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Many faces of war

Sgt. Robert W. Ehney
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.

Age: 26 years old

Died: April 23, 2006 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unit: Army, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Tex.

Incident: Died of injuries sustained when a makeshift bomb exploded near his Humvee during combat operations in Taji.

This is torture awareness month and the many many detainees snatched up from all over the world and shipped off to Guantanamo are the main focus. As much as I am against war, the pretexts of war and see no legitimacy in it as a (unorthodox, metaphysically oriented Christian) believer. I think many of the discerning bloggers and readers the world over understand that it is not all black and white and that there are many victims. I want to acknowledge these ones;

Spc. Ty J. Johnson
Hometown: Elk Grove, California, U.S.

Age: 28 years old

Died: April 4, 2006 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unit: Army, 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Incident: Killed when a makeshift bomb exploded near his Humvee during combat operations in Kirkuk

Cpl. Jason B. Daniel
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.

Age: 21 years old

Died: April 23, 2006 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unit: Army, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Tex.

Incident: Died of injuries sustained when a makeshift bomb exploded near his Humvee during combat operations in Taji.

See how young so many are. To me, they are victims. Yes, they choose to join the military. Yes, some might have even thought they were doing the right thing and swallowed the whole US government propaganda ("defending our nation nonsense")..still, no one wins. And another thing; just imagine and think what some of them were asked to do in the name of... .

So what are the faces of the torturers at Guantanamo Bay? Can you actually imagine there to be a real person behind it? If we would find out one person, would that not be kinda strange? It is easy to 'demonize' and be affronted with the perpetrators..but putting a face on them, making them real..that changes your perception of them. Makes me think of that CBS show 'The Unit'; the wives do not know that their husbands secretly defend their nation...a la the Incredibles...
weird. Really weird when you think of it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The European rendition circuit

This is the kind of reporting more MSM (aka, mainstream media) needs to do.
The Guardian reported on the finding of the Council of Europe;

The full extent of European collusion with the CIA during operations to abduct terrorism suspects and fly them to countries where they may be tortured is laid bare today by the continent's most authoritative human rights body.
Several states have allowed the agency to snatch their own residents, others have offered extensive logistical support, while many have turned a blind eye, according to the Council of Europe.


Mr Marty says that while Spain, Turkey, Germany and Cyprus have provided staging posts for rendition operations, Italy, Sweden, Bosnia, and Macedonia have all allowed the rendition of their residents from their soil. He accuses the latter of covering up its involvement in the CIA rendition of a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, to Afghanistan, after he arrived in Macedonia in January 2004. Britain - like Ireland, Portugal, and Greece - is described as providing stopovers for CIA planes, but the greatest criticisms levelled against London are about the handing over of information about its residents and former residents that has, says Mr Marty, led to renditions and torture

Please read the full article.

Read here and see how far the US tentacles studies of torture.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Question for my international readers...

With the kids out for a long summer holiday and this being our first official day off..I and 'we' haven't found our groove yet. I am working and HOPING towards a routine where the kids can do some work and I can do some research and posting. My Time line number two is not quite ready yet...I am working on it though.

So since I got the sitemeter which told me very nicely that, no..I was NOT talking to myself (always encouraging even though blogging has become a personal outlet for me in terms of 'spewing' out my thoughts)...I noticed that I do have people from all the continents (no, not South America though, scratch that) ... from a lot of continents visiting my site. Since I am always always curious as to how other people think, and since I have lived in Saudi Arabia, experiencing a shift in perception that was life changing..I would like to hear from you, what you think of all of it. What is your perspective on the changes that you have been reading in the blogosphere regarding the U.S., the UK with all the restrictions that are being placed on people more and more, losing their rights in the name of fighting terrorism etc. What has been your observation? You can always be anonymous but please do tell me what country you're from.

I lived in Alkhobar, the Eastern Region in Saudi Arabia, shortly after the Gulf war (or Gulf war number 1 as some call it). Since I had wanted to experience 'life' like anyone else and did not want to live, cooped up in a compound, we had rented an upstairs apartment on the corner of Prince Nayef and 23rd street. In front of us was a block of villas, then a wider street which I think was either 24th or 25th street and on the other side was a boys' school. For prayer, they'd come out and face Mecca, so I always knew my directions. Then, one balmy sunny day (of which there are many in KSA, but then, there are many here in Austin too, except it's greener), I was bored, standing in front of my window, looking out and just contemplating my experiences so far when all of the sudden, I experienced, literally a shift in thinking. I felt a shift in perception that was almost unnerving. An epithany and as epiphanies cannot really convey that 'aha'..and if you try, you are trying to convey to someone else, the impossibilty of trying to make them 'taste' what you tasted, hear what you heard, without being able to provide the actual food or the actual sound. I felt I understood how Saudis and my asian expat friends looked at the West. I had been on one side of the street for all my life, living in my little house looking at the other strange ones across of me. Then, before I knew it..I found myself in one of those strange houses and looked over at my little house and THAT how it looks like?

You get the picture. How does that house of Blues (because that's the state of this union right now) look like from where you are looking at it?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Counter Point

I go to a pretty liberal church, a Unity church. The people tend to be more inclusive, more open-minded and allowing people to ‘be’. However, last Sunday, the minister said something that irked me. He mentioned the start up of a ‘peace and justice’ team. It sounded kinda lame actually. The team is going to be some outreach type group facilitating peace and justice. Whatever that means. It was vague and as much as there will be plenty of opportunities to intervene on someone or some groups’ behalf, I could not help but think that that peace and justice group would not be at all political. And that is how I see the words, peace and justice. Maybe I am clouded because of the many horrible accounts I have been reading about torture and literally, injustices; militarily, politically and legally.

You see, this is the same church organization that stands behind Marianne Williamson’s campaign for starting up an U.S. department of Peace. The campaign website is made to look all government-y official lookin’. Well, my apologies to my ‘brothers and sisters’ but..I ain’t buying it. This is one of the things they tout on their site;

Participate in an historic citizen lobbying effort to create a U.S. Department of Peace. There is currently a bill before both Houses of Congress (House Resolution 3760 and Senate 1756). This historic measure will augment our current problem-solving modalities, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict.

Domestically, the Department of Peace will develop policies and allocate resources to effectively reduce the levels of domestic and gang violence, child abuse, and various other forms of societal discord. Internationally, the Department will advise the President and Congress on the most sophisticated ideas and techniques regarding peace-creation among nations.

When reading Jane Mayer’s article on the memo that Alberto J. Mora wrote, you know that there is no chance in hell, that even those supposed Christians in the Republican party will subscribe to a more advanced level of relating to other people(s). They cannot even muster the basics such as the rule of law, disallowing and disavowing torture. “Sophisticated ideas and techniques regarding peace-creation among nations”? I have been thinking of changing churches even though part of me enjoys the one we attend on various levels. I find though that especially people who profess to be spiritual need to speak up for truth and speak up for the underdogs..and there are plenty. It’s not all ‘abortion and oh no, those gay people who want to get married’. There are real, serious issues at stake that I feel the majority of people here in the US are totally oblivious to. Literally, the war is far removed, their self concept as the ‘good guys’ or the fact that there is supposed to be all those rights given in the Constitution, makes them unconscious of the evil and truly morally corrupted forces that are at work, overtly and covertly. Domestically, and internationally.

I am strongly leaning towards going to Austin’s First Unitarian Universalist Church where Davidson Loehr preaches. Hopefully there, I/we will find that common denominator between spiritual and political peace and justice.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Time line Part One -- Alberto J. Mora's Memo

Guilty Until Proven Innocent, aka, Birds of a Feather Flock Together

A couple of days ago, I mentioned having read an article that shook me up. Left me feeling dismayed, shocked, and totally unnerved. I was very upset. And now with this wonderful endorsement, I will ask you to read it if you haven’t already. Jane Mayer writing in the New Yorker about Alberto J. Mora’s memo gives an excellent account of how not only the memo came about, but how he (Mora) as the general counsel of the United States Navy attempted to prevent the (considered and circumvented ‘legal’) use of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

I printed the full 13 pages of the article and wanted to provide an uneditorialized chronology of accounts post 9/11. I have plenty, but the purpose is to give an as clear as possible visual of what occurred, in a way that will allow ‘you’ to come to your own conclusions, make you question and perhaps allow you to answer it for yourself.


January 2002 – Alberto Gonzales (White House counsel) sends memo to Bush, arguing for “new paradigm” of interrogation. He considers that the war on terror makes the “strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners” (required by Geneva conventions, ratified by US in 1955) “obsolete”.

August 2002 – The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel secretly issues the “Torture memo”, allowing the C.I.A. to “inflict pain and suffering on detainees during interrogations. The memo also considers that the President could supersede national and international laws prohibiting torture.”

October11, 2002 – J.T.F.-170 commander Major General Michael Dunlavey requests permission to interrogate more aggressively.

October 11, 2002 – top legal advisor to J.T.F.-170 Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver writes legal analysis noting legal problems with some of the more brutal “counter-resistance techniques” (such as waterboarding) as the American personnel at Guantanamo Bay are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The code consider ”assault”, “maltreatment”, “cruelty”, and “threats” felonies. She argues for obtaining advance “permission, or immunity” from “higher authorities” so that (the) U.S. soldiers can violate those laws while interrogating.

December 2, 2002 – Rumsfeld’s memo approves methods of “hooding”, “exploitation of phobias”, “stress positions”, “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli” amongst others normally forbidden by the Army Field Manual.

December 17, 2002 – Mora learns about detainee abuse from David Brant, head of N.C.I.S. Brant details to Mora tactics of interrogations he considers “repugnant”.

December 18, 2002 – Mora meets again with Brant who shows him parts of a transcript of a saudi detainee Mohammed Al-Qatani’s interrogation. He hears from Brant this this is not a “rogue activity”, but one rumored to “have been authorized a a high level in Washington.”

After the second meeting, Mora calls the general counsel of the Army, Steven Morello, asking him of any knowledge of detainee abuse at Guantanamo.
Morello answers yes and invites him to come to his office.

Morello’s office – Mora reads “the package”; “ a collection of secret military documents that traced the origins of the coercive interrogation policy at Guantanamo.” Is visibly upset and considers Beaver’s brief to be “ a wholly inadequate analysis of the law”.

December 20, 2002, -- Mora meets with William Haynes, the Pentagon’s general counsel and confronts him with his knowledge of abuse. He (Mora) considers Rumsfeld’s memo to allow for torture. Haynes disagrees. Mora leaves the meeting thinking that after his legal and moral objections, that Haynes will relay them and have Rumsfeld revoke his December 2 memo.

Mora leaves for Christmas holiday.

January 6, 2003 -- Mora returns to work and finds out from Brant the abuse at Guantanamo hasn’t’ stopped. Suspecting a deliberate policy, Mora starts an internal campaign hoping to “build a constituency against it.”

January 9, 2003 – Mora meets Haynes for the second time. Stresses his concerns for criminal charges that could be filed against Administration officials, “damage the Presidency”. Haynes does not respond and mentions Mora’s concerns to Rumsfeld who dismisses them with a bad joke.

Mid-January -- Mora continues to push for reform, finding little response amongst collegues.

January 15, 2003 -- Mora delivers an unsigned draft memo to Haynes, stating he would “sign it out” that afternoon making it an official document unless “harsh interrogation techniques were suspended.”
January 15, 2003 – Haynes calls Mora telling him that Rumsfeld is suspending “his authorization of the disputed interrogation techniques”. Rumsfeld gives permission to form a working group of several dozen lawyers from all branches of the armed services (including Mora) to develop interrogation guidelines. Mora calls off making his memo public.

Some quotes from the article that I would like anyone to ponder over;

Brant thinks that the Army’s interrogation of Qahtani was unlawful. If an N.C.I.S. agent had engaged in such abuse, he said, “we would have relieved, removed, and taken internal disciplinary action against the individual—let alone whether outside charges would have been brought.” Brant said he feared that such methods would taint the cases his agents needed to make against the detainees, undermining any attempts to prosecute them in a court of law. He also doubted the reliability of forced confessions. Moreover, he told me, “it just ain’t right.”

Mora was less impressed. Beaver’s brief, his memo says, “was a wholly inadequate analysis of the law.” It held that “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment could be inflicted on the Guantánamo detainees with near impunity”; in his view, such acts were unlawful. Rumsfeld’s December 2nd memo approving these “counter-resistance” techniques, Mora wrote, “was fatally grounded on these serious failures of legal analysis.” Neither Beaver nor Rumsfeld drew any “bright line” prohibiting the combination of these techniques, or defining any limits for their use. He believed that such rhetorical laxity “could produce effects reaching the level of torture,” which was prohibited, without exception, under both U.S. and international law

(bold added by yours truly)

The authorization of harsh interrogation methods which Mora had seen was no aberration. Almost immediately after September 11th, the Administration had decided that protecting the country required extraordinary measures, including the exercise of executive powers exceeding domestic and international norms. In January, 2002, Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel (he is now the Attorney General), sent a memo to President Bush arguing for a “new paradigm” of interrogation, declaring that the war on terror “renders obsolete” the “strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners” required by the Geneva conventions, which were ratified by the United States in 1955. That August, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which acts as an in-house law firm for the executive branch, issued a memo secretly authorizing the C.I.A. to inflict pain and suffering on detainees during interrogations, up to the level caused by “organ failure.” This document, now widely known as the Torture Memo, which Addington helped to draft, also advised that, under the doctrine of “necessity,” the President could supersede national and international laws prohibiting torture. (The document was leaked to the press in 2004, after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.)

As much as Bush has become the focus for all of it..the time line shows that he's in 'good' company. However, if you read the full article, you will see that there are people within the Adminstration and the military who have spoken up against what they see as immoral and illegal. Let's hope it will take more of them, other than Alberto J. Mora, who will and can topple this whole nonsense to its deserved downfall. Voting for the Democrats (dare I say it as an Independent??) 'could' undo this, but as the existentialist cowboy says (pardon me for not linking to him but something else showed up when I tried the copy and paste, just add after his name), as long as the Democrats are not just replacing Bush, but also will reverse all the illegalities put in place by Bush and co. We'll see..I can't vote anyway.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

So what else is new?

This cartoon by Steve Bell from the Guardian says it all.

What galls me is the fact that, even though the marines need to be punished, I hate hearing this nonsense from Bush, punishing the marines , but he himself goes scott free with his duplicity in A) going to Iraq illegally, effectively becoming a war criminal, B) intentionally having allowed his cronies to set up shop in Guantanamo Bay in order to get away with the (il)legalities of torture.

Yes, anyone perpetrating murder and torture on any side, towards civilians, military personnel, 'enemy combatant' or not, should receive exacting punishments. Too bad that these men are made to pay solely for PR reasons.

Sorry boys (and girls)...morality and ethics training won't cut it for anyone (US troops, Iraqi civilians) living in a country that has a civil war raging. It's not that simple. Start at the top (here at home), that's how you can start cleaning up your act.