The phony war on terror just got phonier


We are now in the middle of a campaign season where President Obama is seeking a second term and the horror of George Bush’s war on terror is quickly becoming a distant memory.  Unfortunately, the illegal legacy of that war and what it has done to the fabric of America is still being revealed and this latest revelation casts a negative light on how terror suspects were interrogated and the nature of the information gained from their interrogation.

Reports have been circulating for years that US officials, and because of the very nature of these allegations accountability will be difficult if not impossible to pinpoint who they are, have been using drugs during the interrogation of people captured on various military theaters where American forces have been engaged. The very use of drugs during questioning is considered torture according to laws and conventions that we, America, used to subscribe.  Torture under these circumstances is defined as

the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.

Detainees captured by or sold to US forces and their allies were given drugs against their will, not told what the drugs were or what their effects would be and then questioned and the legal system put in place under these circumstances presumed that any information obtained from such an interrogation was accurate.  It didn’t matter to those in charge that powerful antipsychotic drugs’  side effects included lethargy, tremors, anxiety, mood changes and an inability to remain motionless, the idea that any information gathered as a result of this type of medical intervention was acceptable as a legitimate source of intelligence. This then became another rung on the torture ladder that the government hung their treatment and handling of people during the war on terror.  What happened to our country is it engaged in illegal torture, saying it was necessary to protect America and during the course of that illegal behaviour further exacerbated it by employing drugs meant to alter a captive’s perception of reality, and skew the information passed on to officials, who then trumpeted that before we the people to justify continuing  illegal activity.  The war on terror and the information we supposedly gathered fighting that war, and even the enemy itself was all a sham a ruse, made up to justify invading countries with an expanded, bloated military.    In other words, we cooked the books…we made things up, we frightened ourselves with lies obtained through drugs from people  who were sold to us in most cases or who had nothing to do with the attacks on our country .  This is the legacy Bush’s war on terror has left us.

The Excesses of Big Government


I’ve tweeted and blogged about the racist anger and angst of Obama’s opposition which has formed around the tea bagger movement.  They’ve talked about how they are opposed to government spending and other excesses, as well they should be but it seems their anger is selective as well as counter productive and inconsistent.  Many among the progressive movement can correctly point to the fact that progressives have far more integrity about their opposition to government than the newly arrived carpet….er…make that tea baggers and two stories in this week’s news bear that out.

The first story is about the very meaning of government, and the belief that the smaller it is the more efficient it is at meeting the needs of the people; that big, burdensome bureaucracy in and of itself  only serves to enrich the pockets of those who are employed by it, offering them a comfortable lifestyle, longevity working within it while demanding very little in return for their employment is a truth embraced by progressives during the last decade but only recently by the opponents of the present administration.  Government by its very nature, becomes an instrument of regulation that limits the productivity of citizens in minutiae at their, the population’s  expense.  One would think that during times of an economic downturn the fortunes of government would also be in decline, but government never stops taxation nor does it retreat from its growth. Federal government is a very lucrative business and nowhere is that more evident than in the areas surrounding the seat of the federal government, Washington, DC where lies 6 out of the 25 wealthiest counties in all of America!  An area brimming with lobbyists who lobby government for companies looking for an edge over their competition through government favoritism and regulation, bureaucrats, employees of think tanks, who also lobby government, various and sundry cottage industry security types who’ve convinced others that  their existence is essential to the existence of this country, and media types who cover all of the machinations that go around the seat of power, the greater Washington, DC area has become a bonanza for economic growth in the country, without producing anything more than voluminous reams of paper and regulation.  This is not a recent phenomenon, but rather a steady, growing one that has taken years and many stories of fear and intimidation to produce.  During the interim we have willingly coughed up the required sums of tax dollars through cajoling or  acquiescence to officials who told us it was necessary for our survival.  These six counties have become the praetorian guard for a bloated government that has increasingly become isolated from its electorate because of  its own existence and by those who encircle government’s throne.

The second story that resembles a not too distant era is the bill proposed by John McCain and Joe Lieberman, “The Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010,” which lays bare government’s attempt to strip the US Constitution of habeas corpus and allow the U.S. military to detain U.S. citizens without trial indefinitely in the U.S. based on suspected activity. In essence anyone who threatens the cocoon that government has built around itself, and including the six counties previously mentioned, can expect to be imprisoned without access to the judicial system of the United States, and thus, unable to prove or defend themselves against any suspicion or charge levied against them by the government.  But wait, such draconian measures have been in place since the Military Commissions Act passed in 2006 which in vague enough language to assuage the conscience of today’s tea baggers then, called for the removal of US citizens from civilian courts and placed them, if at all, at the mercy of military tribunals.  At the moment this bill has not been passed.  Let’s hope it never sees the light of day.  That John McCain has co-sponsored it means it’s in response to the opposition he faces in the Arizona senate primary from an opponent further to the right than he is, and so he wants to establish his credentials on the back of the US Constitution.  The tea baggers are not new to this political landscape and their faux pas opposition to this Administration is clearly transparently racist, but the direction it drives the Nation in is something for all to be concerned.

Sage Advice


In light of all the controversy surrounding the Henry L. Gates arrest, I offer this advice to him and anyone else who may have to deal with the police.  Don’t say a word, unless you are in the presence of your lawyer.

We were wrong!


Once again we are told our conduct during the war on terror was criminal in nature, and this time it comes from almost the top!  General David Petraeus went on live television, thank God it was live and not something that could be later edited out of an interview, and said the United States of America violated the Geneva Conventions, read that broke the law. Petraeus was appointed by the Bush administration to lead the war effort in Iraq and I think it’s significant he would come out so publicly and disavow the direction his boss took in carrying out the war on terror.  However, most of us knew that  long before Petraeus joined in this fracas, and indeed many have been saying so since the  inception of the war on terror; it  was a diversionary one meant to mask or cover up the real agenda of the people in power during the Bush years.

The whole issue of torture is also an indication of where America is as a Nation.  Sixty years ago, post World War II,  there would be no discussion of whether waterboarding was torture, and what the consequences are for those who participate in such illegal activity, let alone whether such tactics are effective.  Now however, a lot of time and effort has been put into describing this technique as ‘enhanced interrogation’ to make it as benign as possible and allow some a chance to escape from the penalty of law.  I’m glad to see someone on the front line of war and terror, Petraeus,  saying that it is a violation of international law, as opposed to the arm chair quarterbacks and political pundits who seem to make their punditry akin to the life and death of fighting in real wars proclaiming the opposite.

Now comes word that sugar free cookies went further to produce actionable intelligence than waterboarding.

The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or “walling” and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies.

Abu Jandal had been in a Yemeni prison for nearly a year when Ali Soufan of the FBI and Robert McFadden of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived to interrogate him in the week after 9/11…..

While Abu Jandal was venting his spleen, Soufan noticed that he didn’t touch any of the cookies that had been served with tea: “He was a diabetic and couldn’t eat anything with sugar in it.” At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal’s angry demeanor. “We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him,” Soufan recalls. “So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures.”It took more questioning, and some interrogators’ sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. “After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans,” Soufan says. “Now he was thinking of us as human beings.”

What does that say about a country far more interested in torture and sadism to get information than cookies and respect?  This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that interrogation methods that stressed identifying with the prisoner, affording him his rights and treating him with respect got more information out of him than banging his head against a wall or waterboarding him.  Post 911 we were an angry country and some people in government took advantage of that rage to settle age old scores of tribes and jealousy which have had a devastating impact on the psyche of the country.  We have worsened this problem by refusing to admit it exists and/or addressing it and the ultimate abuse of the country is to allow the perpetrators of this criminal activity to go free.  Forgetting about the criminality and who did it does not spare the collective from our mental anguish.  American military personnel  felt perfectly justified posing and smiling next to dead bodies, or smearing human feces on people to take their pictures and laugh or as has been more recently asserted, raping and sodomizing women and children all under the guise of authorities of the United States.  We should not give any one that kind of power to abuse what the country has fought for and sustained for so many years until now.  Nothing will do more to drive that point home than for the citizenry to rise up and demand all people who participated in illegal activity in our name be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I hope you will join me in making that proclamation!