The United States of Torture

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sun, 12 Dec 2004 13:00:00 GMT
# From kaba:
"An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." -- Col. Jeff Cooper

# My flame of last night in response to a clairefiles post concerning companies that forbid weapons at the workplace or in the parking lot:

Though I'm a firm believer in property rights, the primary property right is the right to life. Any man who would deny me the means to defend myself would in so doing give up his own right to life. It would no longer be my duty to consider him as human. None of his human rights would any more be valid. This doesn''t change if the man is part of a company or a government, nor does it matter how large a majority votes for it. There are certainly practical considerations when this gross evil has the upper hand, but the moral issue is clear. The right to self defense is absolute. Which part of "shall not be infringed" do they not understand?

# Chris Floyd at The Moscow Times - Home Cooking - Americans fiddle while Bush tortures. When the Busheviks get theirs, I hope it's very slow. [saltypig]

Last week, the minions of George W. Bush announced, in open court, that he has the power to seize anyone on earth -- even "little old ladies in Switzerland" -- and imprison them forever if he so chooses, The New York Times reports. The minions said that anyone Bush declared "an enemy combatant" -- even if they never took up arms against America, even if they didn't know their actions were related to terrorism in any way -- could be abducted from any nation, friend or foe, or in the Homeland itself, and held indefinitely, "at the president's discretion," stripped of all rights under the U.S. Constitution or the Geneva Conventions.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Boyle said Bush's captives were entitled only to a single hearing, alone before a military tribunal, without legal counsel or access to the evidence against them -- evidence which Boyle cheerfully admitted could be obtained by torture in foreign countries, The Associated Press reports. Overturning centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence, Boyle said there were no restrictions whatsoever on using torture evidence, as long as the president or his military agents arbitrarily decide it is "credible."

Days earlier, The Sunday Times tracked down the "private" planes of CIA front companies that Bush uses to carry victims of his lawless abductions to torture chambers in Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Uzbekistan, where "credible" evidence can be obtained with fists, cattle prods, rape, drugs and starvation. For example, witnesses told of hooded American agents grabbing captives in Sweden, stripping them, jamming drugs up their rectums, putting them in diapers and chains, and bundling them off to Egypt's hellhole prisons -- whose tortures have already produced generations of violent extremists.

But outsourcing is only one aspect of Bush's Torture, Incorporated; he has plenty of domestic production as well. Last week, the Pentagon released a report -- completed long before the election -- confessing that the "aberrations" of Abu Ghraib were in fact part of a broad system of state terror spread throughout Iraq, the Washington Post reports. Elite squads of "Special Operations" officers and CIA agents beat and abused prisoners across the country, the Pentagon said, while regular troops committed "technically illegal acts" by rounding up thousands of innocent people at random and holding them for months in crowded prisons, where they were often turned over to those same "elite" squads for "special handling." Some of this blood-soaked "intelligence" was "sent directly to the White House," interrogators noted. The report also admitted that American forces had taken innocent people hostage -- especially "female family members" -- in an effort to pressure wanted men to surrender: a clear war crime, as if such things mattered anymore.

# Charles Shaw of Newtopia via Alternet - Unembedded in Iraq - an interview with Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who has been working in Iraq. The war is much uglier than American mainstream news would have you believe. Mr. Jamail's images area contains 37 albums. Click on a photo to go to the album, or the link in the text to read more details about it. Some are very graphic. [root]

We rarely see any substantial imagery coming out of Iraq in the US corporate media. What does Iraq look like now? What aren't the people in the United States seeing, and what do you feel they should be seeing?
The devastation. The massive suffering and devastation of the people and their country. Baghdad remains in shambles 19 months into this illegal occupation. Bombed buildings sit as insulting reminders of unbroken promises of reconstruction.

Bullet ridden mosques with blood stained carpets inside where worshippers, unarmed, have been slaughtered by soldiers.

Entire families living on the street. 70% unemployment with no hope of this changing. Chaotic, clogged streets of Baghdad and 5 mile long petrol lines in this oil rich country.

Engineers and doctors, unemployed, driving their cars as a taxi to try to feed their families.

The seething anger in the eyes of people on the streets as US patrols rumble past.

Iraqis now cheering when another US patrol or base is attacked. Dancing on the burning US military hardware.

Dead and maimed US soldiers. The wounded screaming and writhing in agony. Their shattered families.

The mass graves of innocent Fallujans after the utter destruction of their city.

Children deformed by Depleted Uranium exposure lying in shattered hospitals, suffering from lack of treatment, or even pain medications.

Dead, rotting bodies in the streets of Fallujah of women and children being eaten by dogs and cats because the military did not allow relief teams into the city for nearly two weeks.


The US Corporate media consistently characterizes the Iraqi resistance as "foreign terrorists and former Ba'athist insurgents". In your experience, is this an accurate portrayal? If not, why?

This is propaganda of the worst kind. Most Iraqis refer to the Iraqi Resistance as "patriots." Which of course most of them are-they are, especially in Fallujah, primarily composed of people who simply are resisting the occupation of their country by a foreign power. They are people who have had family members killed, detained, tortured and humiliated by the illegal occupiers of their shattered country.

Calling them "foreign terrorists" and "Ba'athist insurgents" is simply a lie. While there are small elements of these, they are distinctly different from the Iraqi Resistance, who are now supported by, very conservatively at least 80% of the population here.

There are terrorist elements here, but that is because the borders of Iraq have been left wide open since the invasion. These did not exist in Iraq before.

The Bush regime like to refer to anyone who does not support their ideology and plans for global domination as a "terrorist."

Here, these fighters in the Iraqi Resistance are referred to as freedom fighters, holy warriors and patriots.

# L. Neil Smith at The Libertarian Enterprise - The Libertarian Enterprise At Three Hundred - this week's is issue number 300 of TLE. Some remembrances of articles and editors past, plus a couple projects for the coming year. [tle]

Second, after reading about a middle-aged mother-to-be getting probed and groped by airport thugs in public, while her husband and children were forced to watch, I've decided that something has to be done. The police state we live in today was born--precisely as I predicted it would be in the 1970s--at the nation's airports, and that's where it must be ended, if it is to end everywhere else in America.

We'll be doing at least one article a week on this barbarism, two if we have the material. John will also be ramrodding this effort. At the end of the year, we should have enough columns for a book on the subject.

We'll keep up whatever pressure we're capable of generating, and encourage other publications and organizations to do so, until things change significantly for the better--that is, until you can walk, unsearched, aboard a commercial airliner with your gun openly on your hip.

# Kathryn A. Graham at The Libertarian Enterprise - Bill of Rights Day - this coming Wednesday, December 15, is the 215th anniversary of the 1789 incorporation into the U.S. Constitution of the Bill of Rights. Ms. Graham reminds us of its history, outlines the ominous Intelligence Reform Bill (which contains 666, not 3000 pages) and asks whether it's time to once again declare our independence from tyrants. [tle]

I know I do not need to tell you that the outlook is bleak, particularly with the recent passage of the new Intelligence Reform bill. Even more frightening is the fact that the bill was 3,000 pages long, more than twice as long as the Patriot Act, and provided at the last minute to legislators in almost exactly the same way. 96 Senators voted for the bill, with two abstentions (Kerry, Edwards), and two nays (Byrd, Hollings).

We already know this much. You may now be declared a terrorist and subject to horrifically increased surveillance and police powers as an individual and without being identified with a terrorist group. In other words, if your government does not like the fact that you oppose it, you are now a terrorist. Worse, state drivers' licenses have now been standardized, amounting to a national ID, whether they ever choose to call it one or not. With recent Supreme Court rulings stating that you are required to produce ID when asked by a peace officer, even in the absence of a crime, we now live in a "Papers, please" society. There is little point in saying you will die first. This situation is already a fact. You have been betrayed.

# James J Odle at The Libertarian Enterprise - Toward a 'practical, real-world, hard-nosed, get-your-hands-dirty' political education: Part 2 - a screed on how gummint has dumbed us down while calling it "education".

# John Taylor Gatto at Reliable Answers - Bootie Zimmer's Choice - one of a large number of copies of this essay, recommended by Mr. Odle.

You and I are confronted with a great mystery: we had a perfectly literate country before 1852 when, for the first time, we got government schooling shoved down our throats. How we achieved this amazing literacy is wrapped up in the secret that reading, writing and numbers are very easy to learn -- in spite of what you hear from the reading, writing and number establishments. We aren't in the mess we're in today because we don't know how to do things right, but because "we" don't want to do them right. The incredibly profitable school enterprise has deliberately selected a procedure of literacy acquisition, which is pedagogically bankrupt; thousands of years ago Socrates predicted this would happen if men were paid for teaching. He said they would make what is easy to learn seem difficult, and what is mastered rapidly they would stretch out over a long time.


Place number two is 20 miles West of Boston, a few miles from Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous Wayside Inn on the outskirts of Framingham. It's the beautiful Sudbury Valley School, in the old Nathaniel Bowditch cottage, which looks suspiciously like a mansion to 20th century eyes. A place ringed about with handsome outbuildings, private lake, woods, and acres and acres of magnificent grounds. This place is a private school, of course, with a tuition of $3,500 a year -- about 63% cheaper than a New York city public school seat costs.

Sudbury teaches a lot of things, but two things it does not teach anybody is reading and numbers -- and its kids range in age from 4 to 18!

Kids learn reading and calculation at Sudbury at many different ages (but never as babies), but when they are ready to learn they teach themselves. Every kid who has stayed for long, at the school over the past 25 years, has learned to read and compute, about 2/3rds of them go on to college without ever taking a standardized test or getting a report card, and the school has never seen a case of dyslexia. The don't even believe such a condition exists outside of a few physically damaged kids and the fevered imaginations of compulsion school reading specialists.

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