The Three Christs of Ypsilanti and some Torture

It sure would have been a lot more fun to be a psych doctor back in the day.  Sure, your work would largely be thrown out at immoral and tainted under current standards, but at least they got to have some fun….

In the late 1950s, psychologist Milton Rokeach was gripped by an eccentric plan. He gathered three psychiatric patients, each with the delusion that they were Jesus Christ, to live together for two years in Ypsilanti State Hospital to see if their beliefs would change. The early meetings were stormy. “You oughta worship me, I’ll tell you that!” one of the Christs yelled. “I will not worship you! You’re a creature! You better live your own life and wake up to the facts!” another snapped back. “No two men are Jesus Christs. … I am the Good Lord!” the third interjected, barely concealing his anger.

[full story]

Interesting reading there, although it leaves a lot to be desired (like putting all three on Jeopardy or something).

Luckily, there are still people out there hoping to learn from the suffering of others, and many of then get paid by taxes to do so.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today released evidence it says indicates that the Bush administration conducted “illegal and unethical human experimentation and research” on detainees’ response to torture while in CIA custody after 9/11. The group says such illegal activity would violate the Nuremburg Code, and could open the door to prosecutions. Their report is based on publicly available documents, and explores the participation of medical professionals in the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program.” Download the full report at phrtorturepapers.org.

You can read an interview with the lead medical author of the report , here.

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Nance Offers to Waterboard Thiessen

I’m all for this.  For those that don’t know Marc Thiessen, and his defence of torture as public policy, you can see him here on the Daily Show (getting taken to the woodshed and whining about it).

Malcolm Nance comes from a slightly different background.

Here’s his view on Thiessen’s stance…

I spent twenty years in intelligence and four years in the SERE program waterboarding people before I ever opened my mouth on the subject. Marc Thiessen is a fool of the highest magnitude if he thinks he knows anything about waterboarding. His claims are based not on first-hand experience but on a classified briefing from people with an agenda of justifying what was done. That makes Thiessen into a court stenographer for war criminals rather than a person with any real claim of expertise.

Thiessen’s central purpose is apparently to glorify the most extreme practices used by the CIA in the Bush era and to argue that each of these practices, including waterboarding, is vitally necessary to our national security-even though no president used them before, and it seems that President Bush himself halted many of these practices over Cheney’s objection. We have prosecuted and convicted men for using these techniques in the past, and we were right to do so.

Thousands of American POWs died and suffered resisting torture practices that we have always called the tools of the enemy. The SERE program was designed to help them grapple with this inhumanity and retain their dignity in the face of it. Now Thiessen and his boss want us to embrace the tactics we used in that program-taken from the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge-as our own.

 challenge him to put up or shut up. I offer to put him through just one hour of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized in the Bush Administration’s OLC memos-including the CIA-approved variant of waterboarding. If at the end he still believes this is not torture, I’ll respect his viewpoint. But not until then. By the way, I can assure you that, within that hour, I’ll secure Thiessen’s written admission that waterboarding is torture and that his book is a pack of falsehoods. He’ll give me any statement I want in order to end the torture.

The full interview is here.

And Nance is right.  Thiessen would be squealing like a pig in a couple minutes.  Then he would say whatever Nance wanted him to.  That’s why “the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge” all used this technique, to get confessions.  Confessions to anything.  That’s the point of SERE, so you know what horrible things you’ll face if captured by the evil empires that use the technique, and have some defense against them (knowing is half the battle, go joe).

That someone would defend torture as useful (but only when we do it, it’s still evil for others to do so) is beyond the pale of moral reasoning, but seems to be the basis of Thiessen’s position.

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Wow, where to start with this one.  I’ve been reading a lot, as per, regarding what used to be a debate about much needed health care reform in this country.  That debate has since devolved into mad, crazy fear-mongering and nutjobbery about the creeping tide of communism/fascism/LOUD NOISES coming to our country.

A quick stat for you: here’s a nice graph of all the companies that Obama has nationalized…

OMG! The Horror!

It should also be noted that of the nationalized business assets, the leaders of each corporation went to Washington D.C. and *begged* to be nationalized.  In no case that anyone has seen has Obama, nor anyone in his administration been aggressive in this regard.  We’ve even begun to see a profit on some of the money we invested.

To compare and contrast, take a look at Hugo Chavez. You’ll also note that in the case of Chavez, and every other historical power monger, they have had no fear of loudly declaring their intentions.

Sadly, to those of the crazed and dazed right of this country, it is in fact Obama’s lack of saying he wants pull any of this crap that means he really wants to.  I know, I know, that doesn’t make any sense to sane and rational people, but that’s where we are at nowadays.

One of the major fears that opponents of health care reform (and more the point, foes of Democrats in general, as that who is really driving the “debate”) is the generalized fear of government that all Americans now seem to hold near and dear.

This fear tends to be illustrated by the mantra, “what has government ever done right?”

When I hear this, I’m always reminded of a wonderful scene from a movie about a guy who wasn’t quite Jesus.

The argument here, however, isn’t that government is the end-all, be-all solution to all problems.  No one, outside of the Hugo Chavez’s of the world is making such an argument.  The point here is simply that while often inefficient and frustrating, it’s nice to have clean water, and go the store and buy clean meat, and turn on the TV and have clean signals, and the list go on for a while.

Back to the greater point, what about totalitarianism?  This is the actual fear that many Americans have, that an all powerful government will watch their every move, torture them, re-educate them, and the destroy their economy.

The really funny thing about contemporary Republicans (not to be confused with conservatives, who have largely been left out in the cold by the extremists) is that when this was actually happening, and the government was conducting warrantless wiretaps, torturing people, and destroying the economy by borrowing a trillion dollars to conduct a war sold on lies, there come from the right a defeanening silence, if not outright cheers.

Indeed, many decided that torture was all right for their safety, and warrantless wiretaps were needed for their safety, and invading countries that didn’t attack us was necessary for their safety.   Back then (all the way back in 2008) the President needed to have all these powers and this vast leeway in order to protect the United States of America.

It was terribly frustrating to make the argument at that point that no, we really shouldn’t be starting a two-front war when the first front is stalled, and no, we really shouldn’t be torturing people, and no, borrowing money to blow stuff up was a bad idea, as anyone who stood up to this trend was quickly branded a Godless Treasonous Anti-American.   I would politely (well, relatively politely) point out that whatever powers were handed or conceded to Bush, would by proxy be handed to the next President, which at the time looked to be another Clinton.

This would generally generate a moment of pause, and then the nationalistic ferver would again take over and the “Love it or Leave it” chants would come louder.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and finally many can see how poorly it fits their conception of our nation.

So rather than deal with it, and work to get these policies revoked, they’ve instead decided that NOW it is UnAmerican to pay their taxes, and NOW it is UnAmerican to have their kids in school.   I will give Dick Cheney a bit of credit though for consistency though, he still thinks torture is awesome.  His only problem is that the Obama Administration isn’t learning the tactic and is, gasp, actually looking to prosecute some of the folks that did it.

Where can we go from here is the question that probably bugs me most.  We have an entrenched class of  nattering nabobs who have convinced nearly half of the Republican party that our President isn’t even really an American.

What can you say to the deluded that brings them back down to reality?   What can you do when evidence placed directly in front of their faces in ignored?  How can you convince those convinced they are fighting the next Hitler/Mao/Stalin to take a deep breath, relax, and use their right to vote in the next election, and actually trust in the very fiber of our Democracy and trust in the Constitution they profess to love so much?

I certainly don’t know the best answer to these questions, but luckily I can accept comments and suggestions as to the right path.  I know there is one, somewhere.

Perhaps I believe so because somewhere along the way, as I was protesting against the war, and the torture, and listened to those absolutely sure Bush would stage an attack to secure a third term, and then found them to be horribly mistaken, somewhere along that way I learned to breathe, and I learned to relax,.  And I remembered to vote for what I thought was right.

I learned that change can come.  Now that change is here, and the fear it brings came right along with it.

A Bit or Twenty About My Political Views

[this is an excerpt from a private conversation with a friend, who wish to remail anonymous, I think]

This is a much more civilzed conversation, but I really do prefer to have these conversations in public, as, you know…I’m a struggling writer. Really struggling.

To summarize…I’m not a Democrat and don’t follow their agenda. I saw Obama admitted a mistake with Dashle, which is why I like Obama. Bush couldn’t think of a mistake he made after four years…which was a sad joke.

I think both Cavuto and Olbermann are loud mouthed windbags who treat politics like college football. Cavuto is damn near retarded and Olbermann is a pompous windbag.

I enjoy watching and responding to, the Sunday morning talkers. NPR is one of the better sources of info. I usually scan Google News, which is run by an AI and then research from there to do my writing.

I don’t think News and Opinion should be mixed, which is why I think Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc. are a joke. Cronkite could say more with the raise of an eyebrow than most of these modern schlubs can say with a ten minute rant. All of them are first and foremost a BUSINESS and in the media game to make money. They are not after Truth, at all, they go after ratings, which is why they suck.

I blame Bush and Cheney for making a series of huge strategic blunders that pushed our country to bankruptcy. That was the goal of AQ, BTW, to bankrupt the country. It worked. Bush is an anti-intellectual fool who picked party over principle again and again and again. He picked image over substance and should be in jail for endorsing and pushing torture.

Morals are still important. 9/11 didn’t change that. We’ve killed tens, if not hundred of thousands of innocent people in response. That, I feel, is very immoral.

I’m against torture because I have friends in the military. I also believe in the Golden Rule, as it has been “discovered” by every major religion on the planet. If one endorses torture for others, they endorse it for their friends. I don’t want anyone tortured and think there are much better ways to get information. Study how we “interrogated” German and Japanese Generals during WWII for some good examples.

I can, and have, sat down with people, been honest with them, and have had them telling me their secrets in under 20 minutes. Torture only makes people tell their torturers what the tortoree thinks their torturers want to hear. It’s not a good avenue to get at the truth. It’s torture, and it’s wrong. No matter who does it. Jack Bauer is a fictional character and a number of lecturers at the U.S. War College had to make a public statement about it, because of bunch of keyboard commandos think we should torture more people.

It won’t work, and you also might want to read up on the Japanese we executed for war crimes after they water-boarded Americans. It’s just not right. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

As Martin Luther King said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” He got assassinated for that view.

I’m not a big fan of Clinton. He sold his soul to be President. Watch, or read “Primary Colors” to see how that worked.

I’m currently reading McClellen’s book on Bush, and consider it to be one of the more accurate readings on what went on in that White House.

I’ve also read two of Obama’s books, and consider him to be a very intelligent, very well read, and very good leader. I don’t agree with the Limbaughian traitorous stance that seems to be dominating the GOP. I also think “Joe the Plumber” is a tard and have written extensively about him.

I’m curious about your view of Islam, which I have a great deal of respect for, and am also critical of in my book.

BTW, would you like to buy a book? I hate to give my writings aways for free to people, as I believe them to have real value. I am an independent thinker, and wish to stay that way.

Regardless, I hope this finds you well. And I VERY MUCH appreciate the more respectful tone this conversation now has.

Peace,
-Roy

U.S. Attorney General Struck Down By God for Advocating Torture

Here’s the account…

According to this trusted eyewitness, events transpired roughly as follows.

Attorney General Mukasey was roughly twenty minutes into a speech defending the administration’s torture policies and particularly arguing against prosecutions of people who made decisions in the aftermath of 9/11 (essentially arguing against what he believed amounted to the criminalization of policy differences).

Some seven or eight minutes prior to the incident a heckler start shouting, calling Mukasey a “tyrant.” But the AG seemed unfazed by this; and members of the audience shouted the heckler down.

The eyewitness tells me that Mukasey seemed particularly in earnest about the argument he was making. And when he first began to falter it appeared he was merely choking up. Soon, though, what first appeared to be choking up blended into slurred words. Twenty to thirty seconds later he collapsed, his fall broken by a nearby FBI agent.

[full post]

Oh, and for those of you wondering about the title…this is exacly how this story would have been passed around during the time ye Olde Bible was written.

What’s funny about this is the “Department of Justice” (put in quotes because after Gonzales…I think it might be misnamed) then lied to the American People about what had happened.

“At the conclusion of his remarks before the Federalist Society Annual Dinner in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey collapsed.“Upon his collapse, emergency first aid was rendered by the Attorney General’s security detail and a doctor who was on the scene.

“The Attorney General arrived at George Washington University Hospital shortly thereafter.

“The Attorney General is conscious, conversant and alert. His vital statistics are strong and he is in good spirits. He is receiving excellent care and appreciates all of the good wishes and prayers he has received. The doctors will keep him overnight for further observations.

“We will update the public when we have additional information.”

That bolded part is a lie.  It was during his speech, not at the conclusion.  Yes, he stopped after collapsing, so I guess you could call it a conclusion, but the way they phrase it…it’s a lie.

Which is where we find ourselves, a Department of Justice that first spends it’s time defending the use of torture, and then lies about God taking offense.

UPDATE:  Here’s the video of him having the….stroke?

And if you too, want to push your mind to collapse.  Try to justify waterbaording….like this…

The World This Week By Wah : September 21, 2008

Videos should be coming shortly…like tonight.

UPDATE: Or maybe tomorrow.  Got everything updated (XP, Vista with Service Packs and video editing software, new version, and other patches, and a new monitor) and now we’re done with last week’s program.  I am hoping to get these done and uploaded by Sunday night, Monday at the latest, so far I haven’t made it.  My plan right now calls for 10 weeks of this stuff, which takes us right through the election.  Feel free to offer feedback.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

 

Here’s the outline (for all three parts):

  1. The Economy
    Welcome to the REALLY United States of America!!
    One Thing To Say About the Collapse of Wall Street
    The World’s Biggest Bailouts
    Sorry about that whole “U.S. economic collapse” thing (Straw and A Camel’s Back)
  2. McCain vs. Obama Tax Plan
    Biden’s Response to McCain Tax Lie Gets More Coverage Than the Lie
    Arguing About Obama’s Tax Policy
  3. Text Messages and the Tececom Scam
    Lookin at the Text Message Scam
  4. Russia, Georgia, Bush Doctrine and Palin
    Let’s Play: “Fun With Russia: Arms Deal Version”
    Straight From the Energy Expert’s Mouth To Your Ears
    [On] Palin Progaganda on Fox
    Palin Lying and Covering It Up (Email Hacked)
    Charles Krauthammer’s Lie (and read up on the “Bush Doctrine”)
    New Yorker : Funny : Two Things That Rarely Go Together
    Q: re: Rape Kits :: Can You Save Money If You Buy in Bulk
  5. NSA Lawsuit
    Fighting the NSA
  6. Science / General Interest
    Scientists Expose Mystery Behind Aurora Borealis Spectacle Of Light
    Now That’s Quality Construction
    Ninja Cat : Lessons in Stalking
  7. Sports / Culture
    How Do I Turn Off Tony Kornheiser?
    Jesus “Jack Bauer” Christ
    Kottke on Wallace
  8. Quick President 08 Update
    McCain: No Science For You!!!
    Obama’s 50 State Project Complete
  • Conclusion
  • Jesus “Jack Bauer” Christ

    A new poll released Thursday Sept. 11 finds that nearly six in 10 white Southern evangelicals believe torture is justified, but their views can shift when they consider the Christian principle of the golden rule.

    The poll, commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Mercer University, found that 57 percent of respondents said torture can be often or sometimes justified to gain important information from suspected terrorists. Thirty-eight percent said it was never or rarely justified.

    The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

    Sully goes on a bit to point out…

    Southern evangelicals are therefore the mainstay of the torture regime in this country. The only point at which they even balk at torturing people who haven’t been subject to minimal due process is when they are reminded that this could come back to hurt Americans. The idea that torture is immoral in itself seems alien to a majority of the millions who lined up to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ.

    i don’t really agree with Sully’s Southern bashing after that, being an anti-torture Texan my own dumb racist self, but the poll is telling.

    It normally does take a bit of a conversation to correct someone’s thinking to realize Jack Bauer situations normally look like John McCain’s formative years.

    The Old Rich White Curmudgeon Agrees, It’s Torture

    Believe Me, It’s Torture: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com

    The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it. Also, in case it’s of interest, I have since woken up trying to push the bedcovers off my face, and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. No doubt this will pass. As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

    Master of the Bbvious (and with 20/100 hindsight) Chris Hitchens has officially weighed in on the waterboarding/torture thing.

    This paragraph points out the fundamental problem..you can get anyone to confess to anything with the right pressure.

    The other bad points get covered here.  This is from an expert in the technique, or at least training men to resist it.

    1. Waterboarding is a deliberate torture technique and has been prosecuted as such by our judicial arm when perpetrated by others.

    2. If we allow it and justify it, we cannot complain if it is employed in the future by other regimes on captive U.S. citizens. It is a method of putting American prisoners in harm’s way.

    3. It may be a means of extracting information, but it is also a means of extracting junk information. (Mr. Nance told me that he had heard of someone’s being compelled to confess that he was a hermaphrodite. I later had an awful twinge while wondering if I myself could have been “dunked” this far.) To put it briefly, even the C.I.A. sources for the Washington Post story on waterboarding conceded that the information they got out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was “not all of it reliable.” Just put a pencil line under that last phrase, or commit it to memory.

    4. It opens a door that cannot be closed. Once you have posed the notorious “ticking bomb” question, and once you assume that you are in the right, what will you not do? Waterboarding not getting results fast enough? The terrorist’s clock still ticking? Well, then, bring on the thumbscrews and the pincers and the electrodes and the rack.

    And that’s it.

    Waterboarding is torture.  Torture is wrong. Bush and Cheney should be impeached.  Why is this so difficult to make happen?

    Yet Another Impeachable Offense

    US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships | World news | The Guardian

    The United States is operating “floating prisons” to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

    Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained.

    Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

    The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped.

    As a pirate I can certainly understand the need, and use, of prison ships during pirate raids.  However, I don’t really see their use being moral for city-state.  They are great for pirates because they are tricky and untraceable, the exact opposite of what you want your government to be.

    Unless, of course, you are governed by pirates, in which case the use of prison ships is perfectly normal.

    NewsFlash: Torture is Actually Self-Defense

    Memo: Laws Didn’t Apply to Interrogators

    Sent to the Pentagon’s general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president’s inherent wartime powers.

    “If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Yoo wrote. “In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.”

    Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a “national and international version of the right to self-defense,” Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations — that it must “shock the conscience” — that the Bush administration advocated for years.

    I used to use this argument to calm my conscience as a pirate.  It really didn’t matter what I did when I could argue that I was above any and all law and all my actions were blessed by my own desires.   Yea, didn’t work out so well for me, but that was the argument.