The Dark Side


Now can we have war crimes prosecutions?

The American Civil Liberties Union has released previously classified excerpts of a government report on harsh interrogation techniques used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. These previously unreported pages detail repeated use of “abusive” behavior, even to the point of prisoner deaths.

The documents, obtained by the ACLU under a Freedom of Information Act request, contain a report by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, who was tapped to conduct a comprehensive review of Defense Department interrogation operations. Church specifically calls out interrogations at Bagram Air base in Afghanistan as “clearly abusive, and clearly not in keeping with any approved interrogation policy or guidance.”

I know this is what we all surmised, but to see it in print ….

“In both cases, for example, [prisoners] were handcuffed to fixed objects above their heads in order to keep them awake,” reads the document. “Additionally, interrogations in both incidents involved the use of physical violence, including kicking, beating, and the use of “compliance blows” which involved striking the [prisoners’] legs with the [interrogators’] knees. In both cases, blunt force trauma to the legs was implicated in the deaths. In one case, a pulmonary embolism developed as a consequence of the blunt force trauma, and in the other case pre-existing coronary artery disease was complicated by the blunt force trauma.”

In a press release, the ACLU summarized the documents as detailing, “[An] investigation of two deaths at Bagram. Both detainees were determined to have been killed by pulmonary embolism caused as a result of standing chained in place, sleep depravation and dozens of beatings by guards and possibly interrogators. (Also reveals the use of torture at Gitmo and American-Afghani prisons in Kabul).

And the wingnuts will start clutching their pearls and swooning about the ACLU releasing this in 3, 2, 1 ….

Unredacted Documents Reveal Prisoners Tortured to Death [Raw Story]

Ugh. It’s like living through a nightmare, only you know you can’t wake up from this one.

This pisses me off and leaves me worried at the same time. Pissed enough to want to see kleig light tribunals and Fredo Gonzalez turning state’s witness to put Cheney in the gallows. On the other hand, the dems are so fucking inept that they’d very well bungle the first batch of investigations, Limbaugh would become the RW’s Murrow and it all would just be another huge weight dragging down the first year of Black Eagle’s presidency.

Stress positions; you know, like, hanging someone on a cross. Thats a stress position.

Hey, they wouldn’t be suspects if they weren’t guilty, right?

DEVELOPING HARD: Judd Gregg wants to spend more time being flinty New Hampshaah type with his family. Stays in Senate, which is a nice fall-back position. God damn.

Commerce Secretary Nominee No. 3? How about the Video Professor? Our industrial machines are so great, we’ll even throw in the shipping and handling! What have you got to lose, South Africa? Try our product.

What no Ghouliani Time?

Note to Bushtards, Winning Hearts and Minds doesn’t involve electroshock to the ‘nads or beating to death suspects. It’s not like the “terrorists” don’t get this at home from their gubbomants who, as to my understanding, are pretty good at the whole torture thing.

Team US Amurikha! Fuck yeah!

As to the main subject here: you know, there’s a tipping point beyond which Black Eagle can do nothing to reverse the tide — not Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, not even war crimes trials (which of course should never ever ever be considered because some right wing politicians might be offended). The militants will always point to this and say, “you know, the Americans — they’re just no good.” And that will be the next fifty years, no matter what good we do.

This is one of those events I’m waiting for to get the line on Barry: He would prefer to look the other way for past abuses, but what if somebody waves them in his face? Is Holder going to pursue what’s now in the public record: documented war crimes? And is he going to pursue them up the chain of command, or resort to “bad apple” prosecutions?

I fear I know the answer, but I want to hear it first.

@chicago bureau: Move Turbo Tax to Commerce, put Paul Krugman in at Treasury. Black Eagle: “OK, smart guy, go for it.”

@chicago bureau: Honestly, teh crazies, the al queada, they would think us weak for not torturing, they have no problem with it. Its the rest of the civilized world we were losing b y doing it, and they will come back if they see we have stopped.

@chicago bureau: Billy Mays for Commerce. That fucker could sell you your own pants.

@Prommie: Thanks for making me think of tacos al carbon.

TJ/Gregg withdraws Commerce Secretary Nomination

ADD: Thank God!

ADD: As always, the overlords beat me to it.

ADD: Still, Thank God!

@Prommie: Maybe, coming in the door. The work I remember best on this was about how US armed services personnel came to deal with the Japanese in the Pacific. These characters would make Al Qaeda look like the Rotary Club auxiliary. They’d decided early on there wasn’t much they could do to get them to talk or help in the effort to get these poor jokers to surrender by using force. They wanted to die for the Emperor. Torture just added to their glory. So, they didn’t. (This puts aside the random atrocities of war.) They produced leaflet propaganda that was based on verifiable fact – your guys didn’t win at Dono Atol; your base is in US control now; go look. And the guys they took in got food, cigarettes and medical care and all the freedom they could be allowed as POWs. It worked, in large part, because they were told over and over again the yankee devils would torture and eat them. A group of WWII interrogators went to Congress, what two years ago now, to tell essentially the same story. They got captured Nazis of all ranks and files to talk without laying a hand on them.

Tommmcatt Yet Again: Oh God help us: the GOP is falling over themselves trying to pat Judd Gregg on the back first. Larry Kudlow over at the Corner has pinned the word “courage” on him and all but endorsed him for 2012. Next: 30 second spot about how the Census is being run by ACORN volunteers. It’s coming. You know it is.

C’mon, Rahm. You’re Mr. Get This Shit Done Motherfucker. Time to get on the ball, good sir.

@chicago bureau: I’m beginning to think that Ream left one of his balls in Blago’s desk drawer.

@chicago bureau: Yadda yadda yadda.

Meaning the wingers, not you.

The GOP has nothing to gain with bipartisanship. If the stimulus works, Barry gets the credit. If it fails, they don’t want to share the blame.

Barry’s game is the appearance of bipartisanship — he’s always keeping his eye on the Center, forcing the GOP to creep ever further to the Right. The progressive Left he can take for granted, just like the GOP has been leading on the Christian Right all these decades. (Palin was the long-coming and inevitable moment that strategy blew up in their face.)

This much has been clear since last summer: When it comes to triangulation, the Clintons don’t hold a candle to the master. When Barry does it, you don’t hear the gears spinning.

But that leaves all the details about how the stimulus plays out, whether he keeps attempting to ignore war crimes, how healthcare gets pitched, DADT, civil unions, and so on. Everybody knew LBJ was a swindler, but until he got bogged down in Vietnam, he was regarded as a swindler for Good. (Source: Jules Feiffer.) Let’s see what does or doesn’t get done.

@Dodgerblue: I want to hear it. I want to hear how he waves off documented evidence — documented by the government, not some NGO. I want to hear him say it. I want to hear him throw our values down the toilet and flush.

Then I’ll be satisfied.

@nojo: I could write it right now. “Let us not be torn apart by past errors and distracted from the critical task now at hand. Let us instead work together, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to get this great country moving again.” Meaning, you fuckers get to walk cuz I’m too busy cleaning up the other messes you made.

@Dodgerblue: I fully agree that’s likely how it’ll play out — I was on the verge of writing such a statement myself.

But I don’t want to second-guess Barry’s evasions. I want to hear them.

After which I’ll propose that we enact a statute of limitation for murder, since that’s the logic we’re approaching.

I hope this story will prompt all of you who are not already members but are able to support the ACLU to become card-carrying members. And if you do, maybe they’ll be able to afford to hire me. Don’t get me wrong; I love being a volunteer, but to be an ACLU employee would just be the best thing ever!

@JNOV: I dropped them after the Skokie thing. Maybe I should reconsider.

@nojo: Patience, fellow Stinquers. I guess the campaign and the transition lasted so long we feel like Obama has been in office for six months. He’s only been President for 24 days and between the inflated egos in both Congress and in his own Cabinet nominees he’s been more than a little preoccupied.

Given the choice right this minute between trying to get people back earning paychecks or going after the previous administration’s war crimes I think he’s made the correct call. If the economy and by extension the government of the US actually collapse then what difference will a rush to prosecute today make?

I figure if he can get the economy moving he’s going to have eight years to go after the good ol’ boys who tried to turn the US into a totalitarian empire. Remember the proverb that revenge is a dish best served cold.

@Dodgerblue: Maybe you bide your time and wait for the right time? Hey, do you start prosecuting them now, end any hope for anything but absolute republican opposition to everything, or do you make wishy washy noises, wait till you have scored some kind of significant national security coup, anything, you wait until you have established some kind of national-security, international affairs credibility, and then announce that the facts that have emerged have made it plain we need to purge the evil and send a message that the US does not tolerate these things?

Remember, thats often his strategy, be quiet until you have the opportune time. His big knock is no foreign policy-national security experience. Start prosecuting the prior admin for their judgments in the very area you are still without any significant accomplishments, thats not wise. Patience, I think, is worth a thought.

@Dave H: What Dave H says, I think Obama is a patient guy.

@nojo: Patience, grasshopper.

@Dodgerblue: The Skokie thing was when you should have doubled up. If nothing else, this plus the librarian lawsuit plus everything else should make you reconsider. Instead of donating to the ACLUs that are in blue states, I donate to the ACLU affiliates in places where it takes mongo courage to be part of the ACLU (i.e. Mississippi, Utah, Nebraska). I take the same approach to my Planned Parenthood donations, which is why I’m on the mailing list of PPFA affiliates in scary places.

I have been a proud card-carrying member of ACLU for 40+ years. There have been times when I have been so in debt and broke that I’ve been forced to sell stuff to make the rent, but I’ve never stopped sending money to ACLU. The only other bunch I can say the same about is Amnesty International. “Aunt Irene” and the ACLU are worth your dollars. There are a few other organizations worthy of your dollars, but those two are the ones I will never stop sending money to.

@SanFranLefty: As a follow-up to this point (the need to help protect civil liberties in places where they are most under attack), I would urge everyone to read this article and consider the author’s suggestion of a donation to the Indian branch of International Humanist and Ethical Union.

@Dodgerblue: Skokie, defending the Westboro *cough* church. A lot of our clients are despicable, but the ACLU is consistent in its position of defending civil liberties, even when the speech it protects is disgusting. There are limits to dissent, and the ACLU supports limits that don’t abridge people’s rights. And honestly, I’d rather have people ON TAPE calling Obama a nigger at Palin rallies because it shines a light on the dark underbelly of hate. Then we can take steps to address such hatred. We can counter protest and present better arguments and let it all shake out in the marketplace of ideas. I know it’s frustrating and sometimes it takes us a long time to get to a place where public opinion catches up with more enlightened souls, but it happens eventually. If you want to read something that made my blood boil, read Higginbotham’s In the Matter of Color. He details the codification of hatred and discrimination that began with the colonies. It doesn’t address Civil Liberties directly, but that book and a chunk of Con Law cases (Slaughterhouse, Plessey and so on), have shown me that it took us a long time to create this bigoted environment, hell, bigotry and hatred were even promoted by the govt beyond the acceptance of the African slave trade and discussions of Indians not taxed, we friggin sent a shipfull of Shoah refugees RIGHT BACK TO GERMANY when we KNEW they were getting slaughtered by the bushel-basketfull, and it’s going to take a while to get race/gender/GLBT issues addressed properly. In short: We live in a fucked up country. Top-down, bottom-top, we’ve got some serious issues.

But we also have some serious legal weapons. The Bill of Rights and the 13-15th Amendments are powerful things. It’s up to us to keep people honest in the interpretation of those Amendments and their application of the law, and we especially need to ensure that govt actors adhere to them. Now we need to get Equal Protection extended to GLBT folks. It is beyond ridiculous to me that they are not considered members of a suspect class and afforded EP.

Anyway, that’s why I went to law school, and that’s why I volunteer at the ACLU. Sadly, I can’t make a living at it, but maybe one day I will.

@SanFranLefty: I <3 you and thank you for encouraging me to go back to my volunteer work.

@Ewalda: Huzaah! And I, too, am a proud member of AI. Every xmas, my son gets an AI t-shirt that he sports proudly. I’ve been writing letters since undergrad, and it’s so much easier now that we can shoot off emails. AI is the best!

@mellbell: Great article! I forwarded it to my boss.

@JNOV: Member of Truchas Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Santa Public Schools Indian Education Committee secretary, ex-PTA president.

ex-PTA president
You’re a better man than I. I went to one PTA meeting, and found the participating parents so repulsive that I never went back.
I did, however, work many, many, bingo nights for the music program.

@Ewalda: Dude, I made the PTA into a non-profit corporation and got foundation money so kids wouldn’t have to sell crap to their families and neighbors for stuff the school needed. Lasted a year after we got it going until the principal shut us down. Now the kids are selling wrapping paper and candy again.

@redmanlaw: @redmanlaw: Most PTAs are the devil. Been there, done that, and withered under the judgey glares of the other moms. Bitches.

@redmanlaw: I wish I were born in a time when I could’ve been a member of AIM. Taking back Alcatraz would have been the highlight of my life. Getting framed like Peltier, not so much.

@JNOV: My dad was a hostage when AIM took over the BIA in 1972. He was there on a year-long Ford Foundation internship in which he studied tribal and federal administrative systems across the country.

I remember him telling me one day around 1970 that the passage of the Indian Self-Determination Act (which permits tribal governments to assume federal trust duties such as reservation law enforcement or running clinics, road programs, schools, etc) was a big deal. Fast forward to today and and a large part of my work is for tribes and tribal organizations that have assumed federal responsibilities under ISDA, which Nixon promoted and signed into law.

@redmanlaw: Holy shit! I was not aware that AIM ever took hostages! I blame that fucktard Russell Means (although I’ve met some of his gazillion kids, and they’re cool). How long was your dad a hostage? Did they treat him well or was he considered a tool of The Man because he worked for the BIA? If I were a member of AIM back in the day, there would be no hostage taking. That’s just bullshit, and *poof* there goes my fantasy of being in AIM.

I have similar reservations about Angela Davis. I love her, but some of her actions give me pause — like buying beaucoup firearms for her buddies cum bodyguards who killed those people in court. Why do righteous indignation and protest often bring teh crazy and teh violent?

@JNOV: Angela Davis was tried and acquitted on the firearms charges. She was one of my philosophy profs at UCLA before she went on the lam.

Did you read Peter Matthiessen’s In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse?

@Dodgerblue: Oh, wow! Was she a good educator? I know she was acquitted, but I still question her decision to buy those people guns in the first place. As much as I love her, and I do love her greatly, I don’t buy that she bought those dudes guns because she needed armed bodyguards. Just seems a little sketchy.

No, I haven’t. I’ve only read one book about Crazy Horse, and the title escapes me. It was a present from a stranger who stalked me and my kid when we were camping at Yellowstone. It was written by a white woman who grew up near (on? some rezes are checkerboards and white people live amongst the Indians) a rez, and she collected oral histories from the old ones who were CH’s friends. Her book received some scorn from academics because it was based on oral histories, and often cultures with vibrant and accurate (!) oral traditions get short shrift. It was a good book nonetheless.

The last Indian book I read was Black Elk Speaks which touched me deeply and made me sorrowful, so I’ve taken an Indian history book hiatus, cuz there’s only so much sadness I can take. The same goes for Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. That book required some emotional recovery time as well. For fun I like to read Sherman Alexie. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a collection of short stories that will make you laugh out load at times, and sometimes it gets heavy, but it’s a great book. The movie “Smoke Signals” was loosely based on it.

Tell me more about In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Will it make me cry?

ADD: Didn’t UCLA fire Angela b/c she’s a Communist?

@JNOV: He was fine. He told us he was wandering the darkened halls of the BIA building wondering when he’d get out.

Denial is an amazing thing, ain’t it? Forget about the specifics of how it happened, look at the results. Spaniards colonized Mexico, central, and most of south america. The British anti-spanish and anti-catholic propaganda story is that the spaniards were cruel, horrible, oppressive slavemasters who abused the native population. Yet in all the ex-spanish colonies, the native americans are still the majority of the population, yes, oppressed, but still, fucking alive.

Now look at the US, the colony started by the humane, civilized Brits. Where is the native population? Mostly massacred, killed, gone, dead, the survivors still living in official ghettoes called “reservations.” They are concentration camps, or were, originally, weren’t they? We graciously granted them the worst land, the places we didn’t want. And patted ourselves on the back for our magnanimity.

Same with our ex-slave black population. Freed some 150 years ago, and still so languishing in poverty that is a direct result of racism, deep, deep ingrained racism. The civil rights movement of the 60s was a miraculous moment in which the progressive elements of our society saw wrong and moral white people joined with brave civil rights leaders like King and made a serious effort to change this. Pure-hearted good young people travelled to the south to work to change this evil in our society, and were murdered for it, and there was some good change, but what has been the biggest result of the civil rights movement?

I will tell you what it has been. It has been the modern republican party, which is nothing but a reaction to the civil rights movement. Every tenet of the modern republican pigfuckers is a coded response and attack on the civil rights movement. The racism is so thick throughout all of their agenda. The federalist society and “original intent” and the hatred of “activist judges,” its all based on “the federal government and its activist judges made our kids go to school with blacks.” The hatred of taxes and social programs, its all so obviously a resentment of tax money and social program money going to help black people. The hatred of “big government,” the worship of state’s rights, its the same as in 1860, states rights means “we don’t want the federal government telling us we can’t discriminate against blacks.”


The legacy of slavery and institutionalized racism, the legacy of the civil war, is still so alive, the modern republican party is absolutely and in every respect the confederacy. The surviving ideals and goals of the fucking confederate traitors are the deep secret goals of the republican pigfucker party.

@JNOV: I hate to harsh your buzz, but check this guy out.

He had the nerve to wear his AI badge in public whilst he was locking up refugees fleeing a war he and his cohorts supported.

The jury is still out if he is undead….

@Promnight: I agree with you. Nixon and his California neoNazis created the GOP’s “Southern Strategy” in the 1960s and they’re still riding the tide of white supremacy all over this nation. All of which makes the election of President Obama an even bigger harbringer of change. This was the ultimate affront to the very core Republican ideals and they could not stop it.

Forty years ago interacial couples were shocking in much of this country. Today you can go into any WalMart and find grandmothers with multiracial grandkids and nobody gives them a second glance. That’s real change in the very biological core of this nation and the GOP is being left behind by it.

The times they are a changin…

“Cousin” John might find himself in some serious knee high legal Kimchee.

@ManchuCandidate: Huh-fucking-zah!

@CheapBoy: Seriously, you didn’t harsh my buzz. Just like some closeted gay folks have beards, some pols try to hide their BS through nominal affiliation with an org; I’m sure he wasn’t writing letters on behalf of political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. AI does good work, even if douchey assholes sport their badges.

Just on my way from sleeping on the couch to sleeping in the bed. See you in the morning.

@Promnight: Have you read American Apartheid by Doug Massey and (crap! I’ve forgotten her name). They are demographers who analyzed housing data going back I don’t remember how many years, but they talk about the ghettoization of blacks, how it was not an accident, how it was not by choice, how it didn’t even always exists but how through redlining and shady practices by the FHA, politicians and Realtor Boards effectively created these ghettos that are not only run down and dangerous but also very expensive to live in. The book is heavy on data and statistical analysis but it also contains a good dose of sociology and political science. Massey has since moved on, but I met him when he was at the Population Study Center at Penn, and I told him something very similar to the comment you made about how white people (and I must point out many, many Jews) banded together (and died!) with black activists to agitate for civil rights. I told Massey (who is white) how much I appreciated the work he’s done on behalf of blacks, because people think we’re just complaining for no reason, and we need white people with savvy and the acumen to get things done help us out. Too many people want to believe that after the Civil Rights Movement, the work was done, and the world was set right, and why oh why are black people still struggling? They must be lazy or stupid or both.

And w/r/t my Native brothers and sisters, I was driving through Indian Country on 40 through AZ and NM, and I lost my cell phone reception as I was driving along parts of the highway that transected a rez. I met up with my NuMuNu (Comanche) friend in ABQ, and I bitched to her about my cell phone woes. She was like, “Hold up, Skippy! Some of those rezs don’t even have electricity or running water let alone a cell phone tower.” I was properly shamed and reminded of the poverty that still exists while I’m driving around yapping on my phone.

And let’s make this rant all inclusive and talk about my white brothers and sisters who live in Appalachia and other depressed, rural areas. Many are living without basic resources or medical access, they have poor job prospects and shitty education. They might be RW nutjobs, but they’re suffering just the same.

You know how in Torts we place a lot of emphasis on when people have a duty toward others and what circumstances dictate what that duty is? I always wanted to ask the professor if he ever thought the law would recognize a duty we owe to others simply because we’re human. But I was self-conscious and didn’t want to expose myself my bleeding heart. (That didn’t prevent me from going on a Marxist rant in Con Law in Kathleen Sullivan’s (!) class once, though. Yikes!)

Oh, and please forgive me for not mentioning my Asian brothers and sisters and specifically the Chinese who built the railroads. When explosives needed to be detonated to create space in mountains for the rails to be laid, Chinese workers would be lowered in a basket to place the charges. All too often they were not pulled up to safety before the charges exploded, and, oh well, there went a couple of Chinese lives. But that’s okay, because we have tons and tons of Chinese coming over here to work, so we’ll just fix the basket and throw a few more Chinese men in it. We’ve got spares!

And, nojo: I was once working on a project where I had to read some state constitutions, and Oregon did not amend their constitution to allow “Chinamen” to own real property until the forties. It was written into the state constitution that these people could not own land or houses!

And of course we’ve got the INNA foolishness and the still quite common hate for the Italians. Then there’s the anti-Papist camp. This country is a mess.

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