Oct 23 2007
On October 17, Louis Vitale and Stephen Kelly, two priests arrested for trespassing as they sought to deliver a letter protesting U.S. violations of the Geneva Convention in relation to torture, were sentenced to five months in prison. Fr. Vitale is 75 years old.
On November 19, 2006, Vitale and Kelly had tried to give their protest letter to Major General Barbara Fast, then-commandant of Fort Huachuca Army Base, and previously intelligence chief for the U.S. command in Baghdad during the period the worst abuses took place at Abu Ghraib. Fort Huachuca itself is the site for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School. It is alleged that torture techniques are taught at the school. See my article “Torture on Trial in Arizona Desert” for more on the trial and on Ft. Huachuca. Most notable was the judge’s refusal in the case to allow any evidence about U.S. use of torture or “the morality or immorality of the government’s use of interrogation techniques…”
Oct 22 2007
Aus des Rheines Gold ist der Reif geglüht.
Watching a DVD of the New York Metropolitan’s version of Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (or Twilight of the Gods [TOG]) the other day, I was struck at how prescient the otherwise reactionary composer was in anticipating the destruction of the voracious classes. (One should not find it odd that in Wagner one finds mixed the most progressive and the most reactionary of views and trends, as in this he is the exemplar of the age, which mixes reason and progress with vile reaction, destruction, and mass murder.)
Dick Cheney, who is Alberich in my analogy with Wagner’s opera, was on the stump beating war tom-toms against Iran during a 35-minute talk at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which The New York Times calls “a research organization”. In reality, WINEP is a well-known right-wing pro-Israel lobby. While praised by liberal dreamboat Al Gore as “Washington’s most respected center for studies on the Middle East”, according to Right Web:
Oct 18 2007
The New York Times continues to cover the Senate confirmation hearings for Bush Attorney General nominee Michael B. Mukasey. As the general consensus built for a Mukasey confirmation, doubts have crept in through the cracks, as it became obvious Mukasey was as adept at parsing his language regarding torture as former Justice Department head, the despised Alberto Gonzales.
This came out more clearly today, when Mukasey told a dubious Senate panel that he didn’t even know what waterboarding, a well-publicized CIA torture technique, was. Really. Would I make this stuff up?
“Is waterboarding constitutional?” he was asked by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, in one of today’s sharpest exchanges.
“I don’t know what is involved in the technique,” Mr. Mukasey replied. “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.”
Oct 18 2007
Crossposted at Invictus
So Federal Judge Michael B. Mukasey said he was against torture in his confirmation hearing, and the liberals are ready to fall all over him. His confirmation as Bush’s new attorney general is presumably a given. Never mind that he refused to comment on the secret 2005 Bush Administration memorandums authorizing harsh, “enhanced” interrogation techniques by the CIA. Listen to Mukasey get all huffy at his nomination hearing today:
When Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, suggested in his questioning that the 2005 opinions might authorize torture, Mr. Mukasey stopped him. “You characterize it as torture,” he said. “I do not know of such a policy and I hope not to find them.”
Nor would he comment in detail on the legality of the so-called warrantless wiretap program that was authorized by President Bush shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been harshly criticized by civil liberties groups and lawmakers from both parties as possibly unconstitutional.
“I am not familiar with that program,” said Mr. Mukasey, who knew enough about the program to refer to it as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the name preferred by the White House.
Oct 10 2007
The New York Times had a front page article on the legal peregrinations of the Bush Administrations as it seeks safe harbor for its ship of torturers. The next day, the scandal spills out into official Washington, and the stubborn evil denizens at 1600 Pennsylvania trot out for a desultory press conference. There’s the snarling, contemptuous Bush, explaining, “This government does not torture people.”
Away, in countless rooms in millions of houses, the populace reads the stories and sighs and does nothing. Politicians screech, and pundits blather, and the war their generation shouldered with both protest and calm continued its carnage. Slowly, the news media formed a tight narrative around the new scandal: Bush’s Justice Department had found a way to legally, and yet secretly (and only in 2007 America can this occur without oxymoron), legitimate forms of torture too bestial to contemplate — beatings, simulated drownings, freezing men half to death… you know, Bush had growled, interrogation techniques that were “tough, safe, necessary and lawful.”
But no one knew, no one could know, that in the bowels of CIA headquarters at Langley, a group of men and women were safeguarding a group of techniques that were already exposed, and already forgotten, that were carefully cozened, that men were trained in, that were meant to outlast the worst New York Times editorial or Congressional investigation. And if they were referred to, if anyone should have to whisper them, they could use the awful acronym that had referenced them for over fifty years now: DDD.
Oct 09 2007
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A German citizen who alleges the CIA mistakenly kidnapped, detained and interrogated him was denied a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices rejected his appeal for review Tuesday.
The German citizen is Khaled el-Masri, who was kidnapped in Macedonia on New Year’s Eve, 2003 by U.S. government agents and taken via secret “extraordinary rendition” to a prison in Afghanistan. El-Masri was beaten, humjiliated and drugged. When the U.S. could get nothing out of him, or recognized it was a case of mistaken identity — we don’t know because it’s a “state secret” — he was unceremoniously flown and dumped in a forest in Albania.
Oct 04 2007
Crossposted from Invictus
Scott Shane, David Johnston, and James Risen of the New York Times have written a stinging article on U.S. Justice Department decisions that have — and still do — provide supposed legal justification for harsh interrogation techniques amounting to torture.
In the article, “Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations”, the Shane et al. describe the role of former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales in quashing an internal revolt at the Justice Department over the unprecedented spate of legal alibis for barbaric levels of torture. Some of the department’s “opinions” remain secret to this day.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Oct 02 2007
Assorted thoughts, links, musings…
I recommend the excerpt from the late David Halberstam’s book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, in this month’s Vanity Fair magazine (and online). Did anyone notice the resemblance between the delusional leader, General Douglas MacArthur, and another delusional leader who occupies the White House? Or between MacArthur’s principle intelligence chief, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who falsified intelligence reports to justify a war campaign, and others, more contemporary, who shall remain nameless.
The Korean War is a lost war to American consciousness, if you are under 50 years of age, or even 60. But the lessons of that “police action” run deep, if anyone wishes to mine them.
I can also recommend Stephen Soldz’s series on racism in the public schools, starting with this article, “School Discipline, the New “Racist” Frontier”:
Sep 30 2007
This essay is a reprint of a posting made a while back on my own blog, Invictus, and over at Daily Kos. Given the emphemeral nature of blog pieces, and the importance of this well-researched essay and the material herein, I am reposting it for the readers of Docudharma.
As an added bonus, I’d like to give a link to a site where for a small fee you can download the entire 1977 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Hearings on MKUltra in Adobe format. (Thanks to an anonymous commenter for this link.) For those interested in researching or studying the covert actions of this government, this is not only an important historical document, but a crucial resource for understanding what has happened to the U.S. government since World War II.
In the opinion of myself and others, the move to total war in the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan initiated a major shift in power within the United States to the Department of Defense, and increasingly, the intelligence apparatus of the government. Both became inextricably intertwined with the scientific, educational, and medical establishments, until today, it seems there is no severing the connection and control of the government over civil society.
When reading what follows, in essence you are studying an important case history — of much significance in and of itself, of course — of this overarching influence of military-government design covertly taking over an entire portion of the intellectual establishment, e.g. the fields of behavioral psychology and psychiatry/neurology.
I hope you will appreciate the reposting of this most significant presentation.
Sep 28 2007
Crossposted from Invictus
Thanks to tigana for the link to this online resource regarding the U.S. Army’s decades-long experimentation of biological and chemical agents on human subjects. The site has a number of documentary photographs from the testing at Edgewood itself. The photos include both animal and human exerimentation. They are shocking in their display of cold, clinical, Nazi-like science. I recommend following up by reading the link to the Senate hearings included below. I will have much more to say on this subject in the near future.
Sep 26 2007
Dr. Michael Wessells, one of ten members of the American Psychological Association’s 2006 Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS), has released a letter to APA strongly condemning the position taken by that organization regarding psychologist participation at national security interrogations at sites like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prison.
Dr. Wessells is Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University, and also Professor of Psychology at Randolph Macon College. He is the psychosocial advisor for the Children’s Christian Fund, and “regularly advises U. N. agencies, donors, and governments on policies regarding child protection and well-being”. Dr. Wessells is the author of Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection.
The PENS Task Force, of which Dr. Wessells was a member, was ostensibly organized to address the controversy over psychologists working in national security settings. As the APA/PENS June 2005 Report described it, PENS was to
[E]xamine whether our current Ethics Code adequately addresses [the ethical dimensions of psychologists’ involvement in national security-related activities], whether the APA provides adequate ethical guidance to psychologists involved in these endeavors, and whether APA should develop policy to address the role of psychologists and psychology in investigations related to national security.
Sep 20 2007
On September 5 of this year, I posted an article, Empire Strikes Back: APA Tops Lash Out at Anti-Torture Opponents, which discussed the efforts of former American Psychological Association president Gerald Koocher and former APA Presidential Task Force on National Security (PENS) Chair Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter to counter the charges of PENS member Jean Maria Arrigo that the PENS task force was heavily loaded by U.S. Department of Defense members and supporters. The latter was to assure that psychologists would still be available to staff the abusive settings and interrogations at Guantanamo, Abu Graib, CIA secret “black sites”, etc. Both Koocher and Moorehead-Slaughter gave biased and sometimes outright false accounts of the events leading up to the 2006 resolution against torture by the American Psychological Association.
The 2006 resolution is important, as it served as the basis for the 2007 APA resolution, labeled as a “reaffirmation” and extension of the earlier text. The 2007 resolution banned some coercive interrogation techniques, while allowing wiggle room for others to persist. It also allowed psychologists to participate at settings where human rights are being abridged, i.e., where there is no right to habeas corpus.
What follows is a long letter, with accompanying documentation, by Stephen Soldz, Steve Reisner and Brad Olson of Coalition for an Ethical APA, exposing the amalgam of lies and half-truths put forward by Koocher and Moorehead-Slaughter in their recent letters. While opponents could also call Soldz et al. biased, I think we can let readers study and decide for themselves.