Thursday, September 28, 2006

We have met the enemy ...

I realize that only a few (okay, probably two) people are likely to read this, but...

I found this information here (scroll down to This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like). An excerpt:

...Is waterboarding torture? Anybody who considers this practice to be "torture lite" or merely a "tough technique" might want to take a trip to Phnom Penh. The Khymer Rouge were adept at torture, and there was nothing "lite" about their methods. Incidentally, the waterboard in these photo wasn't merely one among many torture devices highlighted at the prison museum. It was one of only two devices singled out for highlighting...

...The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge and those currently being debated by Congress isn't a coincidence. As has been amply documented ("The New Yorker" had an excellent piece, and there have been others), many of the "enhanced techniques" came to the CIA and military interrogators via the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools, where US military personnel are trained to resist torture if they are captured by the enemy...

There you have it. Bush and Cheney have taken their "alternative" interrogation techniques from our enemies, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam and North Korea. The old saw about becoming your enemy always seemed exagerated until now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Not scared yet?

For those who think that worries of an American Fourth Reich are alarmists, consider this report from the Washington Post concerning the new anti-terrorist legislation:

As a result, human rights experts expressed concern yesterday that the language in the new provision would be a precedent-setting congressional endorsement for the indefinite detention of anyone who, as the bill states, "has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States" or its military allies.

The definition applies to foreigners living inside or outside the United States and does not rule out the possibility of designating a U.S. citizen as an unlawful combatant. It is broader than that in last week's version of the bill, which resulted from lengthy, closed-door negotiations between senior administration officials and dissident Republican senators. That version incorporated a definition backed by the Senate dissidents: those "engaged in hostilities against the United States." [emphasis added]

So here we have a bill which would grant the President the ability to designate a US citizen an enemy combatant. Remember this administration is pushing for no Habeas Corpus protection for enemy combatants - no court review. The government would be able to swoop down on you at night, take you off to a remote facility without access to a lawyer and hold you indefinitely. As I recall, locking up people without charges or review was one of the Founding Fathers' complaints against George III. Ironic.

Thank goodness they only do this to brown people.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I was reading Keith Olberman's blog about the President's apparent fury at Colin Powell's letter opposing any narrowing of the Geneva Conventions. That's when I got a little scared. One can argue (not very convincingly IMHO) that "alternative" interrogation techniques are necessary when faced with an Islamofascist menace. Then, arguing that the President should be granted expansive power to spy on anyone at anytime - temporarilly, of course - is necessary to protect America. All the W-stickered folks driving down Interstate 65 (the majority in Red Alabama) would feel that this is reasonable.

What scared me was the realization that the greatest danger is not to the Constitution. It may yet be rendered moot, but that is not it. This grave threat is not to our servicemen and -women, although they will face greater risks if ever they are captured. This calamitous eventuality is not that we might lose our moral authority and hence the hearts and minds of potential allies- it may be too late, there. The danger that most scares me at this moment is that, by letting our guard down, by attempting to trade freedom for security, we will walk blindly down the path to tyranny.

Sounds melodramatic, I know, but there was nothing inherent in the German psyche that caused so many to tolerate or even support the Nazi party. There was nothing insane about the French who turned their neighbors over to Madame Guillotine. There was nothing depraved about the great mass of Southerners and other Americans who tolerated slavery. By and large these were fairly normal people dealing with the conditions of their times, the insecurities and deprivations. They were people just like you and me who, preyed on by demagogues of fear and hate, felt they had no other choice.

So there is the terror that has been kindled in my heart tonight. I fear that America, my country, will allow itself to ruled by obedience to authority, intolerance of dissent, suspicion of difference, and blind reaction to fear.

1984? Perhaps not, but history teaches us to be wary. I just don't know that we have the strength and wisdom to keep the watch.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


The nephew of a friend of mine has died of alcohol poisoning. He was a 19 year old college student.How long are we going to wink at college drinking? "I know it increases highway deaths, accidental injury and unwise sex but let them have a little fun. They're just college students!" What a load of crap! Put aside for the moment the fact that this was illegal drinking. If we expect 19 and 20 year olds who do not have the good fortune to be be born rich and/or academically inclined to go out and get real jobs, pay rent, die in Iraq, etc, why do frat boys get a free pass to be stupid? Other young men do some pretty stupid things too but they don't get a I'm-in-college-so-I get-to-be-stupid card.

My wife's comment was that she had been warned of the longterm dangers of drinking but never the real risk of alcohol poisoning.

(Originally posted on myspace)