Author: BooMan

Pork Leads to Insanity

Cathy Lanier had to think like a terrorist and come up with a way to kill a few thousand people at a picnic in San Luis Rey. The virtual town in California, repeatedly cursed with smallpox epidemics, explosions and attacks on its nuclear power plant, is part of her new education: The commander of special operations for D.C. police is earning a master’s degree in the fast-growing field of homeland security.

Schools across the country are catering to such students as Lanier by revamping curricula and research as they try to keep pace with the changes brought on by the 2001 terrorist attacks and take advantage of a large pool of homeland security money. At hundreds of schools, Sept. 11 is influencing how many topics are taught — from medicine to firefighting to politics to computer networking…

“Homeland security is probably going to be the government’s biggest employer in the next decade,” said Steven R. David, who directs the homeland security certificate program at Johns Hopkins University…

“There is a larger, compelling calling here,” said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at GWU. “This is our generation’s war — it’s not going away.”

Wash Post: Free Reg

Let me clear something up for the brain-dead. You can save all our money that you are using to educate people about homeland security by adopting a foreign policy more akin to Canada, Germany, Norway, Japan, or New Zealand. In other words, stop pissing people off, and work within the context of international consensus about human rights, representative government, and the organizations set up to lobby for these worthy causes.

If you would rather continue to blow off those organizations and you would rather torture innocent people (directly) in Cuba, or (indirectly) in Tashkent, then you can expect to pay an exorbitant price in both taxpayer treasure and moral credibility.

I am speaking to both parties here. Wake up. Homeland security is best secured by changing policies, not by distracting co-eds from their legitimate studies.

Strange Justice

OSHKOSH, Wis. – It’s a choice that could give pause to some Green Bay Packers fans.

A judge ordered an Appleton woman convicted of theft to decide whether to spend 90 days in jail or donate her family’s Packers tickets next season to charity.

Sharon E. Rosenthal, 59, took more than $3,000 from labor union accounts before she left the organization, using the money to help pay household bills, according to a criminal complaint.

Judge Scott Woldt offered her the decision to either serve the jail time or donate her family’s four seats in the Packers’ three-game season package to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The jail time or the ticket donation will occur as part of Rosenthal’s overall two-year period of probation.
CBS News

Sharon wisely chose to give up her Packers tickets. Is this cruel and unusual punishment? What would Scalia say? What about aspiring NFL Commissioner, Condi Rice?

Since it is Frivolous Friday, what crazy/odd stories do you have to share? Any Darwin Award nominees? Bizarre judicial decisions? Things so weird, no one could have made them up?

U.S. Military Staged the Interrogations

The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to make it appear the government was obtaining valuable intelligence, a former Army translator who worked there claims in a new book scheduled for release Monday.

Former Army Sgt. Erik Saar said the military chose detainees for the mock interrogations who previously had been cooperative and instructed them to repeat what they had told interrogators in earlier sessions, according to an interview with the CBS television program “60 Minutes,” which is slated to air Sunday night.

“They would find a detainee that they knew to have been cooperative,” Saar told CBS. “They would ask the interrogator to go back over the same information,” he said, calling it “a fictitious world” created for the visitors.

Saar worked as a translator at Guantanamo from December 2002 to June 2003. During that time, several members of Congress reported visiting the base, but military officials said they do not know precisely how many toured it.

Saar also told CBS, and claims in his upcoming book, “Inside the Wire,” that a few dozen of the more than 750 men who have been held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay were terrorists, and that little valuable information has been obtained from them.

A spokesman for the U.S. military’s Southern Command, which oversees Guantanamo Bay operations, dismissed the allegation of mock interrogations.

“I can say that we do not stage interrogations for VIP visits at Guantanamo,” said Col. David McWilliams. “I don’t want to characterize or comment on what Sergeant Saar believes. He’s written his book.” [snip]

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said she was “initially impressed” by interrogations she saw on a tour of Guantanamo Bay in February 2004 with members of the Homeland Security Committee. The delegation watched through mirrored glass as interrogators spoke in conversational tones and rewarded cooperative detainees with ice cream. Now, she believes, “we were duped.”

“The amount and depth of the torture that’s been alleged and corroborated leaves no doubt in my mind that what we saw was a staged interrogation,” Norton said.

Wash Post

Drip…drip…drip…

Newbies and Lurkers Open Thread

We have seventy-four new users that have joined BooTrib in the last week. I’ve been meaning to update the FAQ, but I haven’t gotten around to it. So, if anyone has any questions, post them here. The old timers might be able to lend a hand.

And all you lurkers out there (you know who you are) drop in and introduce yourself.

The Nation’s Image Lays in Ashes

People can talk all they want about ‘framing’ and appealing to churchgoers, and representing people who drive pick-up trucks with confederate flag bumperstickers. That’s all bullshit. We, as a country, one and all, have been utterly humiliated by the use of torture. We have been exposed as a nation with zero moral seriousness. None. We were condemned two days ago by the Council of Europe. Yesterday, it was Human Rights Watch’s turn. Tony Blair ignored warnings that the invasion of Iraq might be illegal under international law. Bush said international law was irrelevent.

The case for war has been eviscerated. The handling of the war has been incompetent. The use of torture has turned our nation into a pariah among nations. And rightly so.

If we do not impeach this adminstration, we will never recover our national influence, credibility, and moral standing to be a leader among nations. It’s as simple as that:

The crimes at Abu Ghraib are part of a larger pattern of abuses against Muslim detainees around the world, Human Rights Watch said on the eve of the April 28 anniversary of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers brutalizing prisoners at the Iraqi jail.

“Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg,” said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch. “It’s now clear that abuse of detainees has happened all over—from Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay to a lot of third-country dungeons where the United States has sent prisoners. And probably quite a few other places we don’t even know about.”

Human Rights Watch called this week for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the culpability of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and ex-CIA Director George Tenet, as well as Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba in cases of crimes against detainees. It rejected last week’s report by the Army Inspector General which was said to absolve Gen. Sanchez of responsibility.

“General Sanchez gave the troops at Abu Ghraib the green light to use dogs to terrorize detainees, and they did, and we know what happened, said Brody. “And while mayhem went on under his nose for three months, Sanchez didn’t step in to halt it.”

Human Rights Watch also expressed concern that, despite all the damage that had been done by the detainee abuse scandal, the United States had not stopped the use of illegal coercive interrogation.
Human Rights Watch

We know they are all guilty. They have tarnished all our names, they have used our tax dollars to violate every human rights treaty devised in the post-World War Two era. And they have promoted, or awarded medals to, most of the worst criminals.

U.S. Abuse of Detainees around the World

Afghanistan:

Nine detainees are now known to have died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan—including four cases already determined by Army investigators to be murder or manslaughter. Former detainees have made scores of other claims of torture and other mistreatment. In a March 2004 report, Human Rights Watch documented cases of U.S. personnel arbitrarily detaining Afghan civilians, using excessive force during arrests of non-combatants, and mistreating detainees. Detainees held at military bases in 2002 and 2003 described to Human Rights Watch being beaten severely by both guards and interrogators, deprived of sleep for extended periods, and intentionally exposed to extreme cold, as well as other inhumane and degrading treatment. In December 2004, Human Rights Watch raised additional concerns about detainee deaths, including one alleged to have occurred as late as September 2004. In March 2005, The Washington Post uncovered another death in CIA custody, noting that the case was under investigation but that the CIA officer implicated had been promoted.

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba:

There is growing evidence that detainees at Guantánamo have suffered torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Reports by FBI agents who witnessed detainee abuse—including chained detainees forced to sit in their own excrement—have recently emerged, adding to the statements of former detainees describing the use of painful stress positions, use of military dogs to threaten detainees, threats of torture and death, and prolonged exposure to extremes of heat, cold and noise. Ex-detainees also said they had been subjected to weeks and even months in solitary confinement—at times either suffocatingly hot or cold from excessive air conditioning—as punishment for failure to cooperate. Videotapes of riot squads subduing suspects reportedly show the guards punching some detainees, tying one to a gurney for questioning and forcing a dozen to strip from the waist down. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has told the U.S. government in confidential reports that its treatment of detainees has involved psychological and physical coercion that is “tantamount to torture.”

Iraq:

Harsh and coercive interrogation techniques such as subjecting detainees to painful stress positions and extended sleep deprivation have been routinely used in detention centers throughout Iraq. The Schlesinger panel appointed by Secretary Rumsfeld noted 55 substantiated cases of detainee abuse in Iraq, plus 20 instances of detainee deaths still under investigation. The earlier report of Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba found “numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” constituting “systematic and illegal abuse of detainees” at Abu Ghraib. Another Pentagon report documented 44 allegations of such war crimes at Abu Ghraib. An ICRC report concluded that in military intelligence sections of Abu Ghraib, “methods of physical and psychological coercion used by the interrogators appeared to be part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel to obtain confessions and extract information.”

CIA “Disappearances” and Torture:

At least 11 al-Qaeda suspects, and most likely many more, have “disappeared” in U.S. custody. The Central Intelligence Agency is holding the detainees in undisclosed locations, with no notification to their families, no access to the International Committee of the Red Cross or oversight of any sort of their treatment, and in some cases, no acknowledgement that they are even being held, effectively placing them beyond the protection of the law. One detainee, Khalid Shaikh Muhammed, was reportedly subjected to “water boarding” in which a person is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water, and made to believe he might drown. It was also reported that U.S. officials initially withheld painkillers from Abu Zubayda, who was shot during his capture, as an interrogation device.

“Extraordinary Renditions”:

The CIA has transferred some 100 to 150 detainees to countries in the Middle East known to practice torture routinely. In one case, Maher Arar, a Canadian in transit in New York, was detained by U.S. authorities and sent to Syria. He was released without charge from Syrian custody ten months later and has described repeated torture, often with cables and electrical cords. In another case, a U.S. government-leased airplane transported two Egyptian suspects who were blindfolded, hooded, drugged, and diapered by hooded operatives, from Sweden to Egypt. There the two men were held incommunicado for five weeks and have given detailed accounts torture, including electric shocks. In a third case, Mamdouh Habib, an Australian in American custody, was transported from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Egypt to Guantánamo Bay. Now back home in Australia, Habib alleges that he was tortured in Egypt with beatings and electric shocks, and hung from the walls by hooks.

“Reverse Renditions”:

Detainees arrested by foreign authorities in non-combat and non-battlefield situations have been transferred to the United States without basic protections afforded to criminal suspects. `Abd al-Salam `Ali al-Hila, a Yemeni businessman captured in Egypt, for instance, was handed over to U.S. authorities and “disappeared” for more than a year and a half before being sent to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Six Algerians held in Bosnia were transferred to U.S. officials in January 2002 (despite a Bosnian high court order to release them) and were sent to Guantánamo.

Can we really allow this administration to continue to represent our values? Can we look the world in the face? I don’t hate America. I hate what the Bush administration has done to America. They must go.

And explaining to the American public why the GOP is no longer fit to represent us should not be complicated. They have ruined us. They have taken the beacon of hope that America once was, and they have turned out the light. They have shamed us, they have let us all down. They have no moral leg to stand on.

The time for outrage is now.

Contra Creationist Open Thread

“… rarity by itself shouldn’t necessarily be evidence of anything. When one is dealt a bridge hand of thirteen cards, the probability of being dealt that particular hand is less than one in 600 billion. Still, it would be absurd for someone to be dealt a hand, examine it carefully, calculate that the probability of getting it is less than one in 600 billion, and then conclude that he must not have been dealt that very hand because it is so very improbable.” —

John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences

That Half-Written Book that Iraq Derailed

Below, I present the outline of the half-written book I started to write after 9/11.  It was the gradual realization that Bush was taking us to war in Iraq, and that the biggest problem facing our country was not understanding our enemy, but understanding ourselves, that led me to drop the book, and take to the streets….and to start this blog when we failed to defeat Bush.

OUTLINE OF THE DEATH OF DOGMA

Introduction

·    Recounting of September 11th tragedy and the official al-Qaeda justification for it
·    Jerry Falwell’s response and doctrine
·    A synthesis of these two views into one  (definition of dogma/salvation)
·    An assertion that their views do not differ from the views of our recent forbears in important respects
·    An assertion that we have rejected the worldviews of our forebears just as we reject the worldviews of al-Qaeda and Falwell
·    An assertion that we are justified for doing so
·    An assertion that the vast majority of violent disputes on Earth are among people that either share the bin-Laden/Falwell worldview or have failed to reject their allegiance to figures that shared their views.
·    The positive possibilities of a post-dogmatic/salvation orientated world

Chapter One: The History of Religion and the Emergence of the Religions of Salvation

The brutish nature of existence until recent times
Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and the negative appraisal of existence
Gnosticism and The Gospel of Paradise
Christianity as a Salvation religion and a portrait of the Mediterranean at the time of its origin
Gnosticism, St. Paul, and Dogma, Dogma as the key to salvation

Chapter Two: Unnaturalistic attempts to explain phenomenon

Pantheism and anthropomorphism
Paganism
Monotheism
Science and secularism, ancient and modern, relation to Zoroastrianism
The abortion of progress under Christian rule

Chapter Three: Dogma, Salvation, and Theology to the Peace of Westphalia

The Trinity
The Virgin Mary
Angels Dancing on a Pin
Islam, Dante: Purgatory and Indulgences
Martin Luther
Wars of Religion
Democratic consequences: Revolutions in England, America and France

Chapter Four: Manifest Destiny or Mission Civilisatrice

The Enlightenment and the Conjoining of Religion and Ideology
Colonialism and the Religious and Ideological Justifications for it
Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud: the Break with the Past

Chapter Five: The Exhaustion of the West and the Coming of Multiculturalism

World War and Colonial War
Non-European immigration
Separation of Church and State
Comparative Religion
Social Revolution and the Emergence of Political Correctness

Chapter Six: Where Multiculturalism has Thus Far Failed

Ireland
Yugoslavia
India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka/Tibet
Chechnya
Palestine

Chapter Seven: A Post Dogmatic/Salvation Oriented World

The Denial of Death and the Myth of Sisyphus
Dogma Cannot Save Us
Consequences of a Salvation Oriented World (Pessimism)
What Science Teaches Us and What it Cannot Teach
Survival, not Salvation
To the Stars

The Country Needs an Exorcism

Five years into the Bush administration, and four years into the ‘war on terror’, and three years into the war in Iraq, the country is broke, terrorism is on the rise, and the Mess o’ Potamia is worse than ever. Meanwhile, the country has become so overrun by religious nutjobs that NBC is airing exorcisms in primetime:

WASHINGTON – (KRT) – Under pressure from Congress, the Bush administration reversed gears Wednesday and released a report showing an upsurge in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2004 after first withholding the statistics from the public.

The number of “significant attacks” grew to about 651 last year, from 208 in 2003, according to statistics released by the National Counterterrorism Center. The 2004 total includes 201 attacks in Iraq.
Knight-Ridder

Washington, DC, Apr. 27 (UPI) — Is the United States winning in Iraq? Yes, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says.

“I think we’re definitely winning. I think we’ve been winning for some time,” said Gen. Richard Myers.

His civilian boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, took a more circumspect view of the situation. The outcome of the war is up to the Iraqis.

“Winning or losing is not the issue for ‘we,’ in my view, in the traditional conventional context of using the word winning and losing and of war,” Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a news conference. “The people that are going to defeat that insurgency are going to be the Iraqis.”
Moonie Wire Service

The country is indeed going to hell in a bucket. And I am not enjoying the ride. Maybe it’s time we had an exorcism to rid us of this evil administration.

Open Thread

I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself,
but for predecessors as well.”

— George ‘Shrubya’ Bush, Washington, D.C., January 29th, 2001

United States Condemned For Torturing Detainees

Yesterday, the Council of Europe condemned the United States for torturing terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Council of Europe is made up of three main institutions:

European Court of Human Rights
Commissioner for Human Rights
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

You can learn about their history, mission, and structure here.

The Council was set up to:

• defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law,
• develop continent-wide agreements to standardise member countries’ social and legal practices,
• promote awareness of a European identity based on shared values and cutting across different cultures.

Since 1989, its main job has become:

• acting as a political anchor and human rights watchdog for Europe’s post-communist democracies,
• assisting the countries of central and eastern Europe in carrying out and consolidating political, legal and constitutional reform in parallel with economic reform,

• providing know-how in areas such as human rights, local democracy, education, culture and the environment.

What America does in Cuba is not really a matter that comes under their purview. But their resolution also “calls on European countries to refuse to comply with U.S. requests for extradition of terrorist suspects to the camp and urges the United States to stop violating Guantanamo detainees’ rights relating to their status as prisoners of war.”

Here are extensive excerpts from the Associated Press piece:

STRASBOURG, France – Europe’s human rights body condemned the United States on Tuesday for using what it termed “torture” on terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and it called on European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States was running “a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terror.”

In a resolution, the Council of Europe also urged the United States to cease the practice of secret detentions and to investigate all instances of unlawful treatment of detainees at the naval base in eastern Cuba.

“The circumstances surrounding detentions by the USA at Guantanamo Bay show unlawfulness on grounds including the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees,” said the resolution, adopted by the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly.

While supporting the United States in its efforts to fight terrorism, the resolution said Washington had “betrayed its own highest principles in the zeal with which it has attempted to pursue the war on terror.”

The U.S. government has denied using torture at the base, but investigations into alleged abuse there are ongoing.

“U.S. policy condemns and prohibits torture,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico said. “U.S. personnel are required to follow this policy and applicable law.”

He said Guantanamo detainees receive adequate shelter and clothing, culturally appropriate meals, the Quran, prayer beads, access to mail and reading materials, and medical care…

…”What we see in Guantanamo has nothing to do with justice,” council member Boris Oliynik said. “The conditions there are medieval.”

The resolution also criticizes the practice of “rendition,” or removing suspects to other countries without judicial supervision for purposes of interrogation or detention.

It also calls on European countries to refuse to comply with U.S. requests for extradition of terrorist suspects to the camp and urges the United States to stop violating Guantanamo detainees’ rights relating to their status as prisoners of war.

“The situation of prisoners at Guantanamo is very far from acceptable international standards,” said Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee and member of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly…

Yahoo/AP

This is just one more humiliation for the American people. Godwin’s Law be damned…