A Little Something on the topic of Torture

fructose_boostI had lunch with my Dad the other day.  I like having lunch with him because he gives me an insight as to what the “Joe Turnip” Republican conservative is talking about politically these days, and he’s able to maintain his cool even when I’m telling him things that he doesn’t want to hear.  Well, most of the time he keeps his cool.  It’s all part of a healthy dialog between differences of opinion!  Face it, if you can’t have an intelligent and rational conversation with someone of your political-opposite – you’re probably the “crazy political” person that nobody wants to be around.

Calm, rational and intelligent political conversation is challenging!  Keeping your cool is difficult!

Of course, my Dad repeats Republican “talking points”; Rush Limbaugh’s (ridiculous) ideas and whatever Fox News is currently pushing out on their noise-maker, which is helpful to know what the “average Joe Turnip” from their camp is thinking.  It’s partly why I love Keith Olbermann so much: He’s running stories that clarifies the GOP/Fox Noise Talking Points and throws their views under the proverbial bus by explaining the history of the subject, the back-drop surrounding the subject with a wrap-up on why the GOP is wrong in every aspect of the subject.

At one point in time, between finishing our chips and salsa and our fish tacos arriving, Dad’s kinda stressing out on the topic of Republicans’ views towards this whole Turture thing – thanks to Team Obama.  My Dad’s pretty ticked off: Obama smeared Bush and was enacting revenge by releasing these torture memos – blah blah blah. After years of these “political power-lunches”, it’s more like meditation with an organic “ohmmmmmmmmm” and holding it as long as necessary.  You just let them scream – while you hum: “ohmmmmmmmm”

But then my Dad obliquely said this:

“And you know… This waterboarding was not torture!  It wasn’t!  Look, no soft-body tissue was damaged and they were not killed.  In fact, they had a doctor standing by to make sure that the prisoner was safe!  If no soft-body tissue damage occured, and there’s a doctor standing-by – then it wasn’t torture!!”

Easy point to argue?

Here’s me:

“Dad;  Dr. Mengele was standing by while Jews were turtured in Germany.  It was still torture! I highly doubt that since a doctor was on-hand while these people were waterboarding poses a credible smell-test.”

My Dad was NOT pleased with the analogy.  But, that’s his problem, not mine.  Chalk two gold stars for me.

Last Friday Olbermann discussed the issue of “water boarding” in a historical sense

  • During the 1898 Spanish-American war: US soldiers were using a technique called “water cure” on POW’s in the Philippines and they were courts marshalled.
  • In 1968, the Washington Post published a photo of a US Troop waterboarding a North Vietnamese POW.  Following an Army Investigation, that soldier was courts marshalled.

Huh?!  Huh?!  You see what I mean?  I like Olbermann because he educates me instead of telling me what my opnion should be.

I repeated these points to my Dad, and by noting that torture via waterboarding isn’t something new!

It’s gone on a long time, and the information collected from torture is completely useless:  Just ask John McCain!

Dad didn’t agree – He wanted to get technical by pointing back at the face that “soft tissue” of the body wasn’t harmed – so it doesn’t equate to the technicality of “torture”.  (In other words – we didn’t cut, pierce or gouge skin, limbs or flesh.  Since we didn’t cut off their ears, for example, this couldn’t be considered, techincally “torture”.)  Again, he’s stuck on the issue of “soft-tissue damage” as if it’s something…anything…that prevents his beloved Republican President from being accused of War Crimes.

He lost the argument, again. Two more gold stars for me.

Me:

“Dad: You don’t get to the priviledge all-of-a-sudden to simply redefine what constitutes “torture” because it’s politically convenient!  US Law, International Law, the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention has clearly defined what constitutes “torture”, and the subject of “soft-tissue damage” isn’t included!  If you want to re-define what constitutes “torture”, based on a technicalities – you’re going to have a lot more work ahead of you than simply dismissing the topic because it’s politically convenient!”

Later that night, Keith Olbermann had Maj Gen John Batiste on his show and he had a rather lengthy conversation on the subject of Torture.  Batiste noted that we should examine the Geneva Convention’s “Common Article 3” and look at the photos of Abu Ghraib to decide for ourselves about the topic of Torture.

At the 5:48 time-stamp, Batiste says:

Batiste: Morally, I think most Americans would agree now, that what had happened was torture, pure and simple.  If you don’t believe it, Google “common article three of  the Geneva Conventions”, read about it and reconcile that with the pictures you’ve seen of Abu Ghraib, and make your own decision.”

An interesting idea, No?!!

From the NY Times and Anti-War.com, let’s look at the Geneva Convention’s “Common Article 3” and align it along with photos taken directly from Abu Gharaib:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds, detention, .or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavor to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

The GOP is furious with President Barack Obama for releasing the Bush Administration’s memos related to torture.  And yet, Maj Gen. Janet Karpinsky makes a great point: Where were these Bushies when these photos being released to the public sector years ago?  They should have been proud of themselves by noting all of the “good information” they obtained from this torture!

But they’re not saying that now.  Today, they’re saying that since there wasn’t any “soft-tissue damage”, then it doesn’t equate to the technical word — the clinical word that defines: “Torture”.

Years ago, I heard a story about the Germans who lived during the World War II Nazi Germany Days.  Long after the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals had finished, Germans who were alive and active in supporting the Nazi’s never understood exactly what made the rest of the world so horrified by what they had done. For decades, Hitler’s Youth grew up, had children – eventually grandchildren and all the while, they never really grasped exactly what made everybody around the world view their actions as being so heinous, so vile.

They became an oddity from within their own society and they never fully understood why all the attention.

Perhaps that’s the lesson I have to learn when I have lunch with my Dad the next time.  He’s never going to understand anyway.  Along with what remains of the GOP, he’ll never understand exactly why it was wrong what we did, and all of the miscellaneous details that identified these men to be tortured this way under our watch, will be a legacy that will be left to the rest of us.

We tortured these people.  And for once, instead of adding to a long history of indigenous peoples quarrantined on Native American reservations,  POW’s given blankets infested with tuberculosis and small-pox,  Japanese-Americans being thrown into prisons, and another President Bill Clinton deciding to ignoring the Iran-Contra crimes…We need to stop this train-wreck once and for all.  We should bite the bullet, and let the Bush Administration face the War Crimes Tribunals and let the Republican Party find a way to work around the situation on their own.  They stood-by and did nothing when they had the chance when those photos first appeared back then — so their inaction has to have consequences.

A Day At The Beach

Buzzflash has just noted that the DNC has released a YouTube entitled:

John McCain: “The Double Talk Express: A Day At the Beach”

FruitFly I’m looking forward to more “Howard Dean Productions”. Could someone please pass me the SPF-38?!

Even The Canadians Will Cave When Bush Demands It

Cass Lake, MNThe Canadian training manual used by diplomats in their Foreign Service have a section that lists all of the countries where torture is used. I’ll give you three guesses on which countries are on the list.

Give up?!?

United States, Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Syria

Isn’t it nice to be in the company with the likes of Mexico and Egypt? Makes ya feel like you need a flea-dip, doesn’t it?

Al Jazeera is reporting the story that the Canadians caught a rash from the US Ambassador and demanded that the US be removed from the list.

“We find it to be offensive for us to be on the same list with countries like Iran and China. Quite frankly it’s absurd,” David Wilkins, the US Ambassador told The Associated Press on Friday.

“For us to be on a list like that is just ridiculous.”

He said the US does not authorise or condone torture. “We think it should be removed and we’ve made that request. We have voiced our opinion very forcefully,” Wilkins said.

Note to Mr. Wilkins:

The Bush Administration, after the United States Supreme Court told him he wasn’t allowed, decided to redefine what constituted “torture”. compromise TortureAnd if I’m not mistaken, it was Republican presidential candidate John McCain who decided to com- promise with the Bush Admin- istration by not only him to redefine what is and what is not “Torture”. But McCain’s “compromised” included “Sodomy” and “Rape” as methods Bush would be allowed and still not be considered torture. (Leave it to those dirty-minded Republicans. Honest to God…How many perverted little pigs can the Republican Party produce?! It’s fascinating that since they’re so pron to sexually deviant behavior (Larry Craig, David Vitter, Bob Allen, etc) that deciding “rape” and “sodomy” should be allowed for prisoners as a means of compromise really couldn’t be that big of a surprise, should it?) I wonder how many times John McCain was raped and sodomized when he was a POW?

The Canadian response was just as bad. The Canucks sounded a bit like a trapped rat:

“I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department’s torture awareness training,” Bernier said.

It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten. The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government’s views or positions,” the statement added.

All of this came about via a certain Syrian-born Canadian engineer, Maher Arar. Arar was detained and tortured for over a year in Syria by the United States. The Canadian justice working on his behalf, eventually cleared him of the allegations. That same justice inquiry produced a manual about the case which was used to develop and train future Canadian diplomats. The training manual explained what appropriate actions should be taken when they’re handing captives to these countries on the list and it eventually become the gold standard for the Canadian Foreign Service.

Amnesty International got the final word:

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International, said: “It was commendable to see that manual, which seemed to include an important section that was an objective assessment of humanFruitFly 6 rights concerns around the world.

“To see that now be undermined by concerns about embarrassing allies is very disappointing.”

Only 365 Days Left

Bush on the BeachI don’t know how we’re going to make it. After seeing Bush groveling and begging at King Abdullah’s feet last week, and now we have a very terrifying economy

We have one very dim spotlight: Starting tomorrow I can start saying…

 

Bush has less than a year.

The world’s biggest terrorist will finally be on his airplane disappearing into the Paraguayan sunset where he’ll spend the rest of his life in exile. …And we can finally begin the staggering reconstructing on everything that he has destroyed.

Where can one start? There’s been so many things, too!

Confucious said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So, I’ll start the list:

  1. Restoring Habeas Corpus to the US Constitution
  2. Reinstating the Posse comatatus act
  3. Eliminating torture
  4. Eliminating black-ops prison camps
  5. Begin pulling troops out of Iraq
  6. Restoring competitive bidding for military contractsFruitFly 6

…I could go on forever. This guy, Bush… Only less than a year – Only less than a year – Only less than a year…

Letters to the Editor: Gulf News (UAE)…One person’s thoughts on GWB

Bush LegacyAhh…. Those fabulous days when they laughed about Bill Clinton’s “foreign policies” when he became President. They laughed at our (DNC) stupidity with some dumb hick from Arkansas off to visit the foreign heads of state. The laughter! How they joked and riddled each of us…Clinton was our guy and we elected some dumb hick. …How well I remember those days…<sigh>

Well, the sunset hours of our current Texas-sized trailer-park trash and the fruits of his own “foreign policies” have begun to ripen. Ever wonder how people from foreign lands feel about our current “foreign relations genius? Of course we’ll overlook that that disaster of a trip Bush and his wife took to Argentina in Nov. 2005 . The one when Hugo Chavez made Bush looked like an idiot and the local press was reporting that the country had never seen such a mass-riots. The same Argentinian Summit where Bush retured home stumbling drunk and showed up to endorse Jerry Kilgore for Governor who ended up loosing in landslide…but I digress.

Today, Bush is visiting the Middle East. He’s hoping to cinch up the final days of his “legacy” over there. Rachel Maddow lead me to a Letter to the Editor in the United Arab Emirate’s Gulf News and I thought it was worth blogging.

You can read the entire letter for yourself, while I’ll just plagiarize the first sixty-five sentences. Now when you read it.. Read it allowed. …That way you’ll get the full effect of what the author is trying to say.

Ready? Okay..! Ehem..! “A Letter to the Editor! …One person’s viewpoint on our President of the United States: George W. Bush” …read out loud:

Dear Mr. President;

Lest you forget. Invasion of Iraq. Thousands of dead. Looting the National Museum. Disbanding the Iraqi army. Donald Rumsfeld. Shock and Awe. Jay Garner. Paul Bremer. Inciting sectarianism. Abu Ghraib. Thousands of detainees without charges. Torture. Oil. Ghost WMDs. The Niger connection. Halliburton. Blackwater. Deadly security contractors. Mercenaries. Fallujah. Haditha massacre. Blind support of Israel. Instigating the suffering of Gaza. Ignoring the expansion of illegal colonies. Defying United Nations resolutions. Securing “a Jewish State”. Allowing Israelis to extend the destruction of Lebanon in the 2oo6 war. Providing Israel with new Bunker Buster bombs to attack Lebanese towns. The War on Terror. “The Crusade”. Clash of civilisations. Where is Osama Bin Laden? Afghanistan. Bagram massacre. Bombing media offices. Guantanamo Bay. Kangaroo courts. Indefinite detention. Presidential orders to ignore Geneva Conventions. “Unlawful enemy combatants”. Illegal National Security Agency wiretapping. Fingerprinting visitors. Black prisons. Kidnapping foreign citizens on foreign lands. Khalid Al Masri. Abu Omar. Maher Arar. Central Intelligence Agency. “Aggressive interrogation techniques”. Destroying the torture tapes. Iran tension. Isolating Syria. Embracing Syrian opposition Iraq style. The Chavez coup. Denial of global warming. Rejecting Kyoto Protocol. Marginalisation of the United Nations. John Bolton. Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank. Carl Rove. Alberto Gonzales. Firing attorneys. Nepotism. False democracy promises. Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney and Dick Cheney.

FruitFlyAhhh… How I miss the days when we had a real President in office… tsk tsk tsk… Instead, we have Texas’ finest in ‘Cowboy Diplomacy’.

What’s that you say?! Oh yes, I remember that saying too: “He who laughs last, laughs best.”

Problem is; nobody’s laughing.

The Huckabees: Crimes of the Son, Cover-ups of the Father

mexican fruit fliesThe story of Mike Huckabee’s youngest is snowballing into a collision course faster than the “No Smoking” sign was extinguished on the Hindenburg. As we learn more and more details about the incident, the story has become so grotesque, that the attempts to cover it all up appears like a pair of headlights for a horrible embarrassment.

Michael Isikoff and Holly Bailey of Newsweek magazine have a detailed story in the upcoming Christmas Eve issue and it doesn’t look good for anybody involved, especially for a Presidential Candidate like Republican Governor Mike Huckabee.

Once the camp had discovered what the boys had done, an anonymous was faxed to Animal Legal Defense Fund. (Kinky Friedman’s Utopia Rescue has the original Action Alert bulletin here.) The Director of the Anti-Cruelty division of the Animal Legal Defense Fund fired a letter of to the Chief Scout Executive, Jere Radcliff complaining about the boy’s behavior and pleaded for justice on behalf of the tortured and eventual murder of the animal. Pamela Frasch, an attorney wrote:

It has come to my attention that David Huckabee and Clayton Friday, two scout counselors, have admitted to the brutal killing of a stray dog at Camp Pioeneer on 7/11/98 and have been protected by the Caddo Area Council as well as Camp Pioneer authorities. The two boys allegedly hung a dog by his/her neck, throwing the body over a railing to a twenty foot drop. After realizing that this did not kill the dog, they slit his/her throat and stoned the dog to death. These disturbing events should have been reported immediately to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, where a complete investigation of this horrific crime should have taken place. It is my understanding that the boys lost their jobs, which is hardly acceptable punishment for the committing of a violent crime. And it is especially unbelievable that this could happen at a Boys Scout Camp, where young men are supposed to be taught respect and kindness towards the natural world an all its inhabitants. That dog suffered an enormous amount of pain and suffering, and eventual death at the hands of these two youths. This unspeakable, and legal act can not be dismissed with a “boys will be boys’ adage or as anything less than the malicious crime tha ti so understandibly is.

The Isikoff/Bailey story notes that the Arkansas State Police headquarters was bombarded by animal rights groups everywhere demanding an immediate investigation. (Animal Cruelty at best, is a misdemeanor in Arkansas. In a state where marrying your sister will get you a gallon of moonshine and a pair of shoes, it’s no surprise.) The investigation was never launched by state police. However, the director of the state police told Newsweek that:

Governor Huckabee’s chief of staff and personal lawyer both leaned on him to write a letter officially denying the local prosecutor’s request. Bailey, a career officer who had been appointed chief by Huckabee’s Democratic predecessor, said he viewed the lawyer’s intervention as improper and terminated the conversation.

Huckabee and his chief of staff obviously disagree with this part of the story. Especially when:

Seven months later, he was called into Huckabee’s office and fired. “I’ve lost confidence in your ability to do your job,” Bailey says Huckabee told him. One reason Huckabee cited was “I couldn’t get you to help me with my son when I had that problem,” according to Bailey.

The FBI steps up to the plate in defense of Bailey:

“Without question, [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son,” says I. C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock, who worked closely with Bailey and called him a “courageous” and “very solid” professional.

Huckabee thinks this is all bullshit by saying:Opening the closet

Huckabee called Bailey’s account “totally untrue” and described him as a “bitter” exemployee. “I asked him to resign because he had so alienated the entire state police,” he said. “It had nothing to do with my son.”

Yeah right. Baily was appointed by the Huckabee’s Democratic predecessor, so it’s because he was a Democrat that made him “bitter”?! But if the FBI is agreeing with the State Police director, Huckabee is the one with the credibility problem of the story. It gets worse for Huckabee’s account when his own staff jump into the story with:

Brenda Turner, Huckabee’s then chief of staff, and Kevin Crass, the Huckabee family lawyer, also disputed Bailey’s account, although both acknowledged talking to him about the dog killing. “I asked him, ‘Is it normal for the state police to … investigate something that happened at a Boy Scout camp?’ ” Turner says. “We wanted the same treatment that anybody else would get.”

And the treatment David Huckabee received?! He was later promoted to Eagle Scout! This story stinks to high heaven and makes a body just want to weep.

Dogs are pack animals. And they identify with their pack-mates solely for survivability. All dogs identify with their human counter-parts as being part of their own pack. This dog’s innocence in hoping to find a pack ended up in hanging, torture and eventual death. All so a Governor’s son could find a few minutes of “entertainment”.

Typical for the Republican Party, nothing is leveled against this boy’s horrific behavior and his high-profile Republican father dismisses it with:

…that his son did not engage in “intentional torture.” “There was a dog that apparently had mange and was absolutely, I guess, emaciated.”

Excellent excuse for a man who’s completely out of touch. If he’s out of touch with his son’s behavior and the brutality of his actions, then he’s out of touch with what’s going on in the world.

Let’s not forget that David Huckabee was 17 years old at the time. Four years later, David Huckabee ends up bullying his way around Jonesboro, AR in front of city employees for paying a required fine for two businesses on campus. This brutal behavior is more than a deep psychological problemFruitFly that needs to be addressed. Let’s also remember that in 2007, Huckabee once again shows his apathy for others by showing up with a loaded Glock at the Little Rock airport attempting to casually walk through the screening metal detectors. This young man is a disaster waiting to happen. And while Daddy makes up excuses for his behavior, the rest of us should be very scared of both of them.