Chapter 113C

I’m copying this entire article from ABC News. It’s too important not to.

Bush Aware of Advisers’ Interrogation Talks
President Says He Knew His Senior Advisers Discussed Tough Interrogation Methods
April 11, 2008

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

“Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. “And yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”

As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA.

The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.

Does America torture? Yes.

It’s a first step.

Bob Geiger, reporting on a Q&A at the TBA conference (hat-tip Lindsay Beyerstein):

Audience Member: “In 2006, when you were still a member of the House of Representatives you voted for the Military Commissions Act, which had as one of its elements, the suspension of Habeas Corpus. Given your recent efforts to restore Habeas Corpus, would you still cast that same vote today.”

[US Senator Sherrod] Brown: “No, I was wrong.”


Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Related post:

It’s agreed, then


The U.S. and Russia have agreed to dismantle the U.N. agency that searched Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and affirm that Saddam Hussein’s government had no such arms at the time of the American invasion in March 2003.

Hat-tip Doug Stych.

Somehow we were lied to, weren’t we?

Apologize to John Conyers

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI):

“Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced. This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network’s complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology.”

Hat-tip Josh Marshall.

Related post:

Update: Take 2.

Much better.

It didn’t harm Bob Dylan’s performance


New York, NY: Experienced marijuana users perform tasks as accurately after having smoked cannabis as they do sober, according to clinical trial data published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

Related post:

“I now understand I was involved in a conversation with the president.”

Hat-tip Ellroon for the quote.

Well, you know, I would find it kind of surprising if he showed up here in the comments, which would be fine, but still surprising and worth noting, especially if he had been using some pseudonym and I’d been conversing with him for awhile and then, all of a sudden he goes, hey I’m the president, I’d be like, yeah, I now Understand I was involved in a conversation with the president, or maybe it was just a troll.

Jon Swift: “I had another point to make but it slipped my mind.”

Related post:

Right fucking now.

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Hat-tip Nicole Belle.

Eurocentric, but good.

My generation remembers, and we do not forget the terrible price inflicted. We need a time to heal.

The times in which this was made and broadcast, we were children, they could say no more than this much. We can say more now. We need to learn to live in peace with one another and to respect our different traditions, while allowing our children to go outside our old traditions. We need to acknowledge that the sins of our forefathers are visited upon their victims, and make our own apologies for having the fruits of injustice. Yet the good that our fathers did may outweigh any incidental harm if we can all find a way to share the fruits of joy and love with one another.

I ask forgiveness of all who may think I have done them a harm by existing, or by accepting any gift which helps to sustain my life, if it ever occurred at your expense and without permission. I do not wish to be led astray from the truth by hopes of wealth, but I wish to preserve and protect that which is valuable to all of humankind.

If you feel I have done a greater harm, or if I have done one that could not be avoided that requires more explanation, I will ask that I be told. This is not the place for putting personal grievances which require knowledge of who I am, but to what you see before you. If you feel I am unjust or wrong, tell me so.

Everything is OK

Recommended listening:

Ron Paul for president

I will not support this nomination for reasons that I can set forth at length, but I suggest to the remnant Republicans who want to save your party in some form: support his candidacy. He has earned trust and respect for his own integrity.

House Democrats: White House liaison has no right to plead Fifth

Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) suggest that White House liaison Monica Goodling doesn’t have a basis to invoke that right and, therefore, shouldn’t be exempted from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.

read more | digg story

Related post:

Update: Here is the full letter. Hat-tip Paul Kiel.

Dear Mr. Dowd:

We are in receipt of your letter of March 30, 2007, requesting that we communicate with you, rather than the Department of Justice, regarding the House Judiciary Committee’s interest in questioning your client, Monica Goodling, Esq.

On behalf of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, we write to request that your client, Ms. Goodling, voluntarily appear to be interviewed by our staff in the next week and to discuss the justification for her apparent decision to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege to questions relating to her role in the termination of several United States Attorneys and the Department’s response to requests by the Congress for information relating to the terminations.

We have reviewed Ms. Goodling’s declaration and the letters you sent to us and Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and we are concerned that several of the asserted grounds for refusing to testify do not satisfy the well-established bases for a proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment against self- incrimination. In addition, of course, the Fifth Amendment privilege, under long-standing Supreme Court precedents, does not provide a reason to fail to appear to testify; the privilege must be invoked by the witness on a question-by-question basis.

The interview we seek could obviate the need to subpoena Ms. Goodling and require her to appear at a public hearing and require her to invoke the privilege to specific questions. We believe that such a proceeding, consistent with the Constitution and Supreme Court precedents, would permit the public to see and hear the specific questions to which Ms. Goodling is asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and to permit the Congress and the public to draw appropriate inferences from her invocation of the privilege and the Department of Justice’s failure to insist that she waive the privilege. See Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308 (1976); Brinks, Inc. v. City of New York, 71 7 F.3d 700 (2d Cir. 1983); United States v. District Council of New York City, 832 F. Supp. 644 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) [where the court upheld the position of the Department of Justice that adverse inferences should be drawn in a civil case against an employer for the invocation by its employee of his Fifth Amendment privilege].

Most of the assertions in your letters to Sen. Leahy and in Ms. Goodling’s declaration do not constitute a valid basis for invoking the privilege against self-incrimination. The fact that a few Senators and Members of the House have expressed publicly their doubts about the credibility of the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General in their representations to Congress about the U.S. Attorneys’ termination does not in any way excuse your client from answering questions honestly and to the best of her ability. Of course, we expect (as we are sure you do) your client to tell the truth in any interview or testimony. The alleged concern that she may be prosecuted for perjury by the Department of Justice for fully truthful testimony is not only an unjustified basis for invoking the privilege and without reasonable foundation in this case but also so far as we know an unwarranted aspersion against her employer.

Even with full Court-ordered immunity, a witness is required, under penalty of perjury, to tell the full truth. As we are sure the Department of Justice, in particular, would agree, it would be extremely poor public policy if a witness were permitted to be excused from testifying simply on the basis of her concern that truthful testimony would not be credited by responsible prosecutors and that she could be subject to an unwarranted perjury prosecution. Neither the Department nor the Congress could operate properly if witnesses were free to disregard their duty to provide truthful testimony on this basis. In any event, it is particularly inappropriate in this situation, where the Congress makes no prosecutorial decisions and any decision to prosecute would have to be made by the Department of Justice, which employs your client.

The references in your letters to Mr. Libby and Mr. Safavian are particularly unwarranted and inappropriate. Both of those individuals, former high-ranking officials in the Bush Administration, were found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by juries of their peers, in cases brought by Presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys, of knowingly and intentionally lying or providing false information primarily to Executive branch agents or officials. Neither matter involved truthful testimony by the defendants. Both of them were found to have deliberately misrepresented facts, which we are confident you do not expect Ms. Goodling to do. If her testimony is truthful, she will have nothing to worry about in terms of a perjury prosecution, which, of course, rests in the exclusive control of the Department.

Based in part on what we believe are inappropriate considerations for the invocation of the Fifth Amendment, we seek an opportunity to have the staff question Ms. Goodling, in your presence, in order to make a determination of whether there is any valid basis for her to invoke the privilege in response to specific questions. We note that Mr. Kyle Sampson, the Attorney General’s former chief of staff who worked closely with Ms. Goodling on these matters, advised the Senate recently under oath that he knew of no valid basis for her assertion. If there is no valid basis, we will want to afford her an opportunity (as several other Department employees have agreed to take) to answer in a straight-forward fashion in a private, confidential setting all questions relating to her knowledge about the firings of the U.S. Attorneys, the role in these terminations of the White House with which she served as liaison and the Department’s explanation about these matters to the Congress.

We look forward to your prompt reply so that we can make the necessary arrangements for the early interview we request, or if there is no agreed interview, to consider the follow-up steps the Committee should take. Thank you for your consideration.


Chairman Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law

Montel, today

Montel Williams From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today. Hat-tip Cannabis News.

Medical use of marijuana should be legalized
By Montel Williams

You probably know me as a talk show host and, perhaps, as someone who for several years has spoken out about my use of medical marijuana for the pain caused by multiple sclerosis. That surprised a few people, but recent research has proved that I was right: right about marijuana’s medical benefits and right about how urgent it is for states to change their laws so that sick people aren’t treated as criminals. The Illinois General Assembly is considering such a change right now.

If you see me on television [10 a.m. weekdays on Channel 4 in St. Louis], I look healthy. What you don’t see is the mind-numbing pain searing through my legs like hot pokers.

My doctors wrote me prescriptions for some of the strongest painkillers available. I took Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin on a regular basis, knowingly risking overdose just trying to make the pain bearable. But these powerful, expensive drugs brought me no relief. I couldn’t sleep, I was agitated, my legs kicked involuntarily in bed and the pain was so bad I found myself crying in the middle of the night.

All these heavy-duty narcotics made me nearly incoherent. I couldn’t take them when I had to work, because they turned me into a zombie. Worse, these drugs are highly addictive, and one thing I knew was that I didn’t want to become a junkie.

When someone suggested I try marijuana, I was skeptical. But I also was desperate. To my amazement, it worked after the legal drugs had failed. Three puffs and within minutes the excruciating pain in my legs subsided. I had my first restful sleep in months.

I am not alone. A new study from the University of California, published in February in the highly regarded medical journal Neurology, leaves no doubt about that.

You see, people with MS suffer from a particular type of pain called neuropathic pain: pain caused by damage to the nerves. It’s common in MS but also in many other illnesses, including diabetes and HIV/AIDS. It’s typically a burning or stabbing sensation, and conventional pain drugs don’t help much, whatever the specific illness.

The new study, conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams, looked at neuropathic pain in HIV/AIDS patients. About one-third of people with HIV eventually suffer this kind of pain, and there are no FDA-approved treatments. For some it gets so bad that they can’t walk.

This was what is known as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the “gold standard” of medical research. And marijuana worked. The very first marijuana cigarette reduced the pain by an average of 72 percent, without serious side effects.

What makes this even more impressive is that U.S. researchers studying marijuana are required to use marijuana supplied by the federal government, marijuana that is famous for its poor quality and weakness. So there is every reason to believe that studies such as this one underestimate the potential relief that high-quality marijuana could provide.

In my case, medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country — less well-known than me but whose stories are just as real — have experienced the same thing.

Here’s what’s shocking: The U.S. government knows marijuana works as a medicine. Our government actually provides medical marijuana each month to five patients in a program that started about 25 years ago but was closed to new patients in 1992. One of the patients in that program, Florida stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, was a guest on my show two years ago. If federal officials come to town to tell you there’s no evidence marijuana is a safe, effective medicine, know this: They’re lying, and they know it.

Still, 39 states subject patients with illnesses like MS, cancer or HIV/AIDS to arrest and jail for using medical marijuana, even if their doctor has recommended it. It’s long past time for that to change.

Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has introduced a bill — SB 650 — to protect patients like me from arrest and jail for using medical marijuana when it’s recommended by a physician. Similar laws are working well in 11 states right now.

The General Assembly should pass the medical marijuana bill without delay. Sick people shouldn’t be treated as criminals.

Television talk show host Montel Williams is the author, with Lawrence Grobel, of “Climbing Higher” and other books.

Special to the Post-Dispatch

Copyright be damned, and torturers go to hell real quick

Terry Jones Here is Terry Jones. Via Why Now?

Call that humiliation?

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

Terry Jones
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this – allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world – have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God’s sake, what’s wrong with putting a bag over her head? That’s what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it’s hard to breathe. Then it’s perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can’t be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn’t be able to talk at all. Of course they’d probably find it even harder to breathe – especially with a bag over their head – but at least they wouldn’t be humiliated.And what’s all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It’s time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That’s one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn’t rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it’s just invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What’s more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting “stress positions”, which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It’s all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is “unhappy and stressed”.

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her “unhappy and stressed”. She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer – whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python

Please help

I need some advice on how to continue to blog as I have been and still make a little bit more than nothing with two clients across the country one of whom may soon cease to be able to afford me due to the financial condition of his main client. I am in no risk of starving, between my wife’s graduate stipend and a bit we got for our condo when we moved we are okay, but we’re thinking we might want to have kids sometime and it can’t happen if we’re already running a small deficit every month.

George Bush apologizes

It’s a start.

On Friday, President Bush tried to make amends by telling medical workers and patients at Walter Reed that the system had failed but things would be made right.

I apologise for what they went through and we’re going to fix the problem,” he said.

Related post:

What do you call a guilty plea made under conditions of likely torture and with denial of prepared counsel?

David Hicks (pictured here) pled guilty to a charge today. It was the only way he was going to be allowed to make any kind of deal to go home. Ever.

I have no idea if the charges are based on anything but speculation. I’ll never believe justice was done under these conditions.

The plea to a late night specially convened military commission came after an apparent deal was reached between his defence attorney and the prosecution.

They couldn’t even stand the light of day in Guantanamo Bay.

Do his pants seem to be on fire?

IHT (emphasis added):

Gonzales said last week he was not involved in any discussions about the impending dismissals of federal prosecutors. On Friday night, however, the department disclosed Gonzales’ participation in a Nov. 27 meeting where such plans were discussed.

Hat-tip Watertiger.

Related post:

Update: Phoenix Woman channels Freddie Mercury.

Former Deputy Secretary of Interior J. Steven Griles

Paul Kiel at TPMmuckraker:

The AP has reported that “federal prosecutors will seek no more than a 10-month prison sentence for Griles – the minimum they could seek under sentencing guidelines – but they will agree to let him serve half that in home confinement.”

He will squeal like a stuck pig, once he knows he’s stuck

digby, on Karl Rove:

Getting the truth from this disabled fellow in simple interviews has already proven to be a big waste of time. Better to just put him under penalty of perjury from the beginning. Recent history shows that he can barely remember his name unless he’s facing jail time.

So easy even a caveman could understand it

Glenn Greenwald:

First, the President began his Press Conference by admitting that the administration’s explanations as to what happened here have been — to use his own words — “confusing” and “incomplete.” Why, then, would Congress possibly trust Bush officials to provide more explanations in an off-the-record, no-transcript setting where there are no legal consequences from failing to tell the truth?

Related posts:

Social Anxiety- A common thread?

Hypothesis: Anxiety disorders play a key role behind the immense popularity of internet interactions.

Disclaimer: This observation isn’t backed by Harvard studies (as far as I know), I didn’t read up on it or seek supporting statistics; Im working from simple observation.

Basis: First a reference here or there: A favorite blogger will mention a bout of agoraphobia, a reader comments on ‘being shy’. A friend links to a friend who has just endured a terrible panic attack.

Skip to a thread forum where one person admits to crippling anxiety disorder. First one, then three, then nine people come out of the woodwork with words of encouragement and similar confessions.

Overthink: Doesn’t it make sense that the internet would provide the best socializing alternative for those with acute shyness, agoraphobia or crippling anxiety? We all need to socialize. Trends in westernized cultures actually exacerbate feelings of isolation, both through social stigmas toward people with mental health hang-ups, and a general movement toward solitary activities, independent pursuits, and families that are supposed to be ‘self-sufficient’ rather than integral members of cohesive societies that rely upon, and provide for others in their community.

Solutions: Hm. Do you approach the individual or the society? I don’t know how to cure societal ailments, but on the individual anxiety issue, maybe ask whig.

A real problem for somebody

First denial, then anger. Next up?


As the meeting was breaking up, Gonzales suddenly switched tacks and seemed to want to be cooperative. “How can we make this better?” he asked. “What can we do?” According to this source, the attorney general seemed to some in the room to be genuinely befuddled.

Source: Newsweek via David Kurtz.

Depression is next, and with it, resignation. This will not go away.

Related post:

Impeachment testimony

Is that a “Known Unknown?”

Click chart for more from BradBlog.

What did the president know and when did he know it? Who would have known before Rove and Cheney?

Related post:

You have your own voice. Use it.

What could make Helen Thomas smile?

Helen Thomas

Click her picture. Hat-tip Think Progress.

A song of seeds, the food of love

“She’s trying to stop me from helping you!” Click the video to watch it elsewhere, it won’t embed.


If you take responsibility, you must resign.

Hat-tip Shakes for the video. Now John Edwards has called for Gonzales’ resignation as well. One more point for John Edwards. I wish I could make a stronger recommendation but I won’t be able to do so until I know where he stands on medical cannabis.

Related post:

Update: Even more, and the hits will keep on coming.

Update 2: The next installment, like I said.

Contempt of congress

Alberto Gonzales and DOJ officials materially misled congress with intent to evade oversight.

4:20 of Woodstock ’99

Various items

1. I began this post intending to write about broadcast reform, but got sidetracked. The public airwaves belong to the public, they are not the private property of licensees to spectrum. We the public own the spectrum in common and for our benefit, not for private profit unless that is consistent with our own public interest. I will come back to this in a future post but welcome general discussion in the comments.

2. It happens that America has come to believe in an economic theory of competition, a capitalist Darwinian survival of the fittest. Shamefully, we treat people as human capital, as resources to be exploited and consumers to be sold, and not as independent members of the public whose object the government is meant to serve. But we do not have a government of, for and by the people today. We have a government of, for and by the rich and powerful.

3. We do not need to compete in everything, we can cooperate instead. We can help one another with our ideas and our efforts to achieve a common purpose. This is not communism, this is just community.

Free software has taught me to be generous with my own talents, and to be able to use the commons at will means we are assured of our freedom and independence, because we cannot be held hostage to the proprietary limitations of the rent seekers.

4. I’m going to be posting another version of the Chromosphere in a day or so, maybe later tonight if I’m inspired enough. This project is really a life’s work for me, even though it is only a bare skeleton of the idea currently sketched out and on display. This is a new way of communicating, a living language. It is an old way of communicating, too. Perhaps we are all having conversations around one another and not understanding.

In the meantime, please do check it out if you can spare ten minutes, and if you feel like tossing me a dime or buying me lunch sometime you can use Paypal from there. I prefer not to ask donations here at Cannablog, because I don’t ever want to have my politics or my religion or any of my beliefs a matter of monetary gain. But if you like my work and want to support free software, art and music, I sure appreciate it.

Update: version1 has been released.


Chromosphere now playing

At this new website.

No warranty, this has been tested to work only on Firefox on Mac OS X, and might not even so in your case.

To reduce the chance of difficulties, install the JSyn plug-in before proceeding.

Related post:

Whip smart and sexy too

For GenX, this is Woodstock.

I just cried, listening.

Cannabis treats attention deficit disorder, according to physicians

Keith Olbermann has the story,

Hat-tip Tanya.

You’ll do, the movement you need is on your shoulder

Spice for the recipe

Habeus corpus ad testificandum

Louie C.K. demonstrates that Bill Donohue is not credible

This is the same guy who is bashing my friend Melissa McEwan, without basis.

Hat-tip Lindsay, who has much more.

Confession of an interrogator

Copied from the Washington Post. The writer is Eric Fair, he served as a contract interrogator in Iraq in 2004. Hat-tip Scott Horton of Stress.

A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I’m afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.

That dream, along with a host of other nightmares, has plagued me since my return from Iraq in the summer of 2004. Though the man in this particular nightmare has no face, I know who he is. I assisted in his interrogation at a detention facility in Fallujah. I was one of two civilian interrogators assigned to the division interrogation facility (DIF) of the 82nd Airborne Division. The man, whose name I’ve long since forgotten, was a suspected associate of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, the Baath Party leader in Anbar province who had been captured two months earlier.

The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him.

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.

American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

While I was appalled by the conduct of my friends and colleagues, I lacked the courage to challenge the status quo. That was a failure of character and in many ways made me complicit in what went on. I’m ashamed of that failure, but as time passes, and as the memories of what I saw in Iraq continue to infect my every thought, I’m becoming more ashamed of my silence.

Some may suggest there is no reason to revive the story of abuse in Iraq. Rehashing such mistakes will only harm our country, they will say. But history suggests we should examine such missteps carefully. Oppressive prison environments have created some of the most determined opponents. The British learned that lesson from Napoleon, the French from Ho Chi Minh, Europe from Hitler. The world is learning that lesson again from Ayman al-Zawahiri. What will be the legacy of abusive prisons in Iraq?

We have failed to properly address the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Men like me have refused to tell our stories, and our leaders have refused to own up to the myriad mistakes that have been made. But if we fail to address this problem, there can be no hope of success in Iraq. Regardless of how many young Americans we send to war, or how many militia members we kill, or how many Iraqis we train, or how much money we spend on reconstruction, we will not escape the damage we have done to the people of Iraq in our prisons.

I am desperate to get on with my life and erase my memories of my experiences in Iraq. But those memories and experiences do not belong to me. They belong to history. If we’re doomed to repeat the history we forget, what will be the consequences of the history we never knew? The citizens and the leadership of this country have an obligation to revisit what took place in the interrogation booths of Iraq, unpleasant as it may be. The story of Abu Ghraib isn’t over. In many ways, we have yet to open the book.

Just something to keep in mind

On the matter of the presidential pardon being used at any time to halt the investigation of this administration and its co-conspirators, such a pardon does not protect a person from giving future testimony to a grand jury, petit jury or the congress under the penalty of perjury for false statements. Moreover, a pardoned individual cannot raise a legitimate fifth amendment defense against self-incrimination with respect to the pardoned acts, but must testify truthfully to all that is known as one under a grant of prosecutorial immunity.

Related post:

I’m not linking to the hate

If you’ve been following the news, you might know that my friend Melissa McEwan, also known as Shakespeare’s Sister, was caught up in a manufactured scandal by a hateful man who claims to speak for the Romans, and who called her anti-Catholic.

This story was covered on many of the major news programs, including on CNN and MSNBC.

Melissa replied,

I’m not going to say a lot about this right now, but suffice it to say that the fact I cast a vote, without hesitation, for a Catholic during the last presidential election might suggest I’m not anti-Catholic.

My degree from Loyola University might also suggest the same.

John Edwards has done the right thing in keeping her on.

Related post:

How war profits are made

Glenn Greenwald has more.

Global warming a reality

We might as well make the best of it, and this will probably be good for Finland’s tourism and immigration, if they wanted such things. The downside to tourism (and for that matter, the general warming trend) is that we lose our traditional winter cultures. We need to preserve them, however, for future generations to survive a time when the world might again return to the past or present day temperatures. We as a human species need to be prepared to live in changing environments and teach our descendents how we have fashioned ways of surviving.

That, you see, is the purpose of religion.

It is a survival trait of the human race, and of all species of animal and plant. We alter ourselves by our choices of what we value and pass along to the next generation. In our choices of how and who we conceive with, on a physical plane but also on an intellectual or emotional plane, because these teach others and ourselves to make good or bad choices as we and others have made.

Here’s some pictures of Finland.

I pass along my understanding of the world as I gain it, and sometimes my understanding changes. I am willing to admit that I make mistakes. We all do, but not everyone will say so.

All of the mythologies are history. None of them are false, in the sense that they aren’t talking about real things, but they are metaphors to some extent, due to the limitations of human language. When and as we overcome our communication barriers, our language becomes stronger and our stories become better.

Not every story is a good example to follow. You need to be discerning. Consider whether the source is trustworthy. Test for yourself. What do you want to be when you evolve?

Whose example do you follow? Do you evolve beyond that?

What will humanity be like in the future? What do you think we can do right now?

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

— Mohandas Gandhi

Is it A.D. yet?

“Please don’t sue me. I’m just a fan.”


Russell Feingold is not running for president.

Unlike Joseph Lieberman, he is a mensch.

I want to take this morning’s post for a moment to discuss what we expect the senate to do. What do the members stand for and what will they stand for?

Will the Republicans follow their own base instincts? Yes, and not one of them now in the senate voted against the military commissions act of 20072006 — the act of abominations.

Why do I bring up Joe Lieberman? Because he is emblematic of what we face, a then-democrat he also voted for this monstrous war crime.

Why did Joe vote for torture? People have a lot of reasons they do things, but they come back to a fundamental question of whose interests they serve. Joe is accused of being the senator from Israel. It’s an unfair accusation, and assumes as well that Israel speaks with one voice. If America were held to the same standard it would be the tyrant’s voice the world would hear.

We have many voices, every country and nation. We have those within our number who pervert our desires for peace and turn it to warfare. Why do they do this?

Of course, as soon as I begin to explore the landscape of what motivates others, it becomes self-analysis very quickly, as it should. So I can only really speak to what thoughts are imaginable, conceivable to me.

Hubris is a possibility. Maybe Joe Lieberman sees this as his ticket to the presidency somehow?

At least for now, we know that Russ Feingold is not seeking the presidency. He is trying to preserve what is left of our nation before the tyrant destroys it and turns us into a banana republic.

Russ Feingold is the conscience of the senate.