by Mentarch | 7/19/2008 05:20:00 PM
The increasing erosion of our constitutions, civil rights and democracies as they are being gradually subjugated by Authoritarian Security Surveillance States. The bloating no-fly lists and terrorist watch-lists. The continuing inhumane and barbaric renditions, "enhanced interrogations" and indefinite detentions - of children, teenagers and adults alike. The continuing standing of Military Commissions, which are nothing more than politically-driven, rigged, kangaroo courts. The seemingly unending wars of choice and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq - both based on lies to justify a vengeance operation for 9/11 and the securing of foreign oil resources. The ever mounting toll of civilian deaths, displaced refugees and soldier casualties.

This is the overall state of things today with regards to our so-called "Western civilization" - especially with regards to the U.S.A., the U.K. and Canada.

Through it all, much of the currently occurring discourse and debating on these above-mentioned, self-evident evils deal largely with semantics and quaint legalese gymnastics in order to defend and justify not only their perceived necessity, but to actually establish, maintain, or cement, their legality as well.

The following exchange cristallizes the sheer insanity which is now prevailing over what passes as reason these days (h/t):
American News Project notes that in yesterday’s House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on torture, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked Doug Feith if a 20-hour interrogation involving “hooding” and “removal of clothing” was “humane.” Feith hedged, curiously claiming that “removal of clothes is different from naked”:
NADLER: : Let me ask you. How could you force someone to be naked -

FEITH: It doesn’t say naked. It doesn’t say naked.

NADLER: Removal of clothing. Removal of clothing doesn’t mean naked?

FEITH: Removal of clothing is different from naked.
This, coming from that same Douglas Feith who has claimed to have championed a policy of respect for the Geneva conventions during his tenure in the White House (ri-ight).

Let's have another example (h/t):
The controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding has served a “valuable” purpose and does not constitute torture, former Attorney General John Ashcroft told a House committee Thursday.

I believe a report of waterboarding would be serious, but I do not believe it would define torture,” Ashcroft said, responding to questions from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California.

He added, “the Department of Justice has on a consistent basis over the last half-dozen years or so, over and over again in its evaluations, come to the conclusion that under the law in existence during my time as attorney general, waterboarding did not constitute torture.”

Waters asked Ashcroft whether such techniques would be regarded as “totally unacceptable and even criminal” if they were used on American soldiers. “Well, my subscription to these memos, and my belief that the law provides the basis for these memos persisted even in the presence of my son serving two tours of duty overseas in the Gulf area as a member of our armed forces,” Ashcroft said …
Let's have more (h/t):
During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, former Attorney General John Ashcroft falsely claimed that waterboarding has “consistently” been defined as “not torture” and refused to agree that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques — including waterboarding — on captured U.S. soldiers is “unacceptable” or “criminal.”
REP. MAXINE WATERS: Do you think that if these techniques were used on American soldiers that they would be totally unacceptable and even criminal? (…)

ASHCROFT: My job, as Attorney General, was to try and elicit from the experts and the best people in the Department definitions that comported with the statues enacted by the Congress and the Constitution of the United States. And those statutes have consistently been interpreted so as to say, by the definitions that, waterboarding, as described in the CIA’s request, is not torture.
Which in turn must be followed by this (h/t):
Today, during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) dismissed the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo and other U.S. detention facilities. According to Issa, “we treated our hospital patients worse” than we treat al Qaeda detainees. Former attorney general John Ashcroft chimed in, joking that doctors “were poking needles into me”:
ISSA: It is sort of amazing that as a member of the permanent Select Intelligence Committee, I’ve never heard any allegation of any detainee being denied food or water for a week. It’s clear that we treated our hospital patients at times worse than al Qaeda.

ASCHROFT: What’s more, they were poking needles into me all the time time.
Now comes the logical outcome (h/t):

Appearing on Shepard Smith’s Fox News show yesterday, O’Reilly explained that he “held (the released footage of Rev. Jesse Jackson criticizing Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) before an interview) back” because “it was not relevant to the general subject — one civil rights leader disparaging another, over policy.” Towards the end of the interview, Smith asked O’Reilly, “do we know who leaked it?” “No,” replied O’Reilly, adding that he would find out because he had “the waterboard over here”:

O’REILLY: So, we held it back, and then, some weasel got the whole thing, leaked it out to the internet, and here we are.

SMITH: Do we know who leaked it and what’s happened to that person?

O’REILLY: No, but I have the waterboard over here, and we have a couple of people that, you know, we’ll dunk. We’ll find out.
When Smith said, “we don’t allow torture here,” O’Reilly replied, “well, you talk to some of my guests.”
All of the above reminds me again of this:
(...) whether you call it "frathouse pranks", "enhanced interrogation techniques", "water treatment" or "waterboarding", torture has been going on, and is still going on - even after the revelations of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. In fact, many detainees have actually been tortured to death. Even children and teenagers ("child soldiers" and civilians) have been likewise tortured. Why, torture has become so mainstream that the U.S. is now in the business of torturing for, or helping in doing so ... other countries like China! Thanks to another of Bush's signing statements, the new motto is: "torture - it's not only legal, it's all good".
Indeed - Gitmo is really more like a boy scout camp than it is a prison camp. Why, it is practically Disney Land!

Not. At. All.

Nevertheless, there you have it. From first denying any torture, we've come to redefining torture as not torture, to trivializing it and, now, to make it a subject of asinine jokes.

Never mind the dirty little secrets that torture by the military is not really new, and that torture of detainees of the Global War on Terror(TM) began well before Bush and Co. decided to undertake the necessary legalese gymnastics in order to justify it "legally" after-the-fact,

And never mind that torture techniques currently being used (yes - torture is still going on) came from China, and that privatizing torture can be good business.

No, never mind all that because the new truthiness of the day is: torture is A-OK.

No wonder, then, that there are politicians who still think that torture techniques, such as those used in Gitmo or those revealed in Abu Ghraib, are nothing more than hazing pranks from some Fraternity.

No wonder, then, that U.S. politicians are doing their best to close down hearings on torture.

No wonder, then, that radio loudmouths can proudly say - and without any backlash whatsoever - that they would hang any lawyer doing their job in defending Gitmo detainees.

No wonder, then, that the President can claim with a straight face that critics of Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and renditions are slandering America.

And it is no wonder, then, that Bush allies/emulators (like my Prime Douchebag of Canada) actually support implicitly the use of torture, by either mendacious denial or by using the same types of euphemisms, obfuscations and sleight-of-hand double-talking in doing so.

Once again, as I previously wrote:
There is no going deeper into the pit of savagery and perversion here, folks. This is the very bottom, the lowest of the lowest, level of inhumanity.

No civilization allowed here - when the debate is about the efficiency and validity of torture in getting solid intelligence and confessions, as things are now, instead of being about the inherent immoral nature of torture, then you know you have lost any semblance of human rationality and grace.

Case in point.
All the while, we keep on ignoring the following simple, self-evident verity:
I also think of those dozens (hundreds?) who have been tortured over the years, thanks to the Bush administration's policy which has ever been supported - if not encouraged and staunchly defended - by pundits, lawyers, justices, politicians, warhawks, chickenhawks and all assorted fear- and hate-driven neocon enablers, supporters and apologists - including all those ostriches who would rather bury their heads in the sand rather than face the awful, ugly truth:

The U.S.A. has become a rogue state which practices indefinite detention and torture.

And who cares if some of those "evil Muslims" die in the process, right? After all, indefinite detentions, secret tribunals and enhanced interrogation techniques torture are valuable means and tools for the defense of freedom, liberty and democracy ...

(...) I humbly assume that I will be forgiven if I do not appreciate the "courageous" work done over the last seven years by the Bush administration and its cheerleading supporters - because from where I stand, they have spat upon and irreversibly sullied every precept of human dignity, of human respect, of Humanity, which used to be held as unassailable and uncompromising, sacrosaint values.

And it doesn't matter however much they try to justify/legalize/spin their actions - for indeed, nothing justifies indefinite detention, secret tribunals and torture.



Every single one of these fear- and hate-driven incompetents have pushed us from the moral high ground of justice, freedom and human rights into the bottomless precipice of barbarous and savage injustice.
And this other one:
That. Is. Justice. For. You.

All in the sacro-sanct name of Security.

Doesn't it make you feel so proud and patriotic?

God bless America and God bless Canada, f***ing indeed.

But the ugly truth is that all of us are guilty for our silence and absence of outrage. All of us have been irremediably stained for such a sociopathic lack of basic human decency, empathy, compassion and contrition.
In the meantime, the apparent majority of our fellow citizens either approve, remain complicit with their silence, just don't want to know, or simply don't care - as they are being conveniently distracted on a daily basis by the whims and vagaries of vapid and insipid (if not asinine) traditional media outlet accomplices (yet one more example here).

Thus I ask again:
(...) what does it say about a society where those who are the most pro-war and pro-torture can only change their minds after undergoing waterboarding?
I think it is now safe to say that the answer to that question is the following: simply read again the very first paragraph of this essay.

That is what "it says" about our societies.

Not entirely convinced? Then glance over these few headlines:

8 million Americans are now listed as potentially suspect;

FBI might use profiling in terror investigations (h/t);

Terrorist Watch List Hits One Million Names (h/t);

Court Backs Bush on Military Detentions (h/t);

CNN reporter criticizes TSA, finds self on terror watch list;

Prosecutor turned up on US terror watch list;

Torture and the rule of law;

RCMP slammed for storing secret files on Canadians
(see also here);

CSIS keeping tabs on Olympic protesters (see also here);

U.K.: What do we do now? (see also here);

Homeland Security blocks voter drive (h/t)

Council used terror law to spy on fishermen;

Congressman still faces airport screening problem.
And I could go on and on and on and on.

If we can accept something so inhuman and barbaric as torture, and if furthermore we become so accepting/used of it that we can trivialize and even joke about it, then we can accept anything.

And so we have.

And frankly, I've used up all my outrage and my contempt on these matters. I wrote letters (newpapers, elected representatives), I've written blogs, I've been discussing this over and over in the public place (in RL) ...

Still, most people seem too self-absorbed, or too fearful of them "terrorists", or actually approve, or remain simply in denial, to be outraged or even give a damn about the slow destruction of our democratic principles, as well as our values of civil rights, human rights, human dignity and human respect.

And I - at least on this day - just don't know what to do about this anymore.

We have been losing ourselves since the day after 9/11.

Looks like we have crossed the threshold of ever being able to find ourselves again.

So we keep on riding fast and hard onto that road to perdition ... well beyond redemption.

(Cross-posted from APOV)

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Blogger Mentarch on 7/20/2008 11:10 PM:

Persistent little bugger, eh? ;-)


Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/21/2008 12:20 AM:

Heh. :) I can actually delete the comments entirely so they don't appear at all, but it's my policy to leave a stub when I delete a comment to provide a record of the deletion. I'm done arguing with the fellow, so you may see more of these on your posts.


Blogger Mentarch on 7/21/2008 2:29 PM:

You know - is it just me or does this 9/11 conspiracy fanatic has decided to dog mostly me?



Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/22/2008 1:39 AM:

Yep, for some strange reason, he only wants to stalk you! Particularly weird given that you're easily the most left-wing writer on this site.


Anonymous Anonymous on 7/23/2008 1:45 PM:

"you're easily the most left-wing writer on this site."

Makes it especially egregious. Right-wingers are expected to ignore inconvenient truths, but you are proof that anyone can be so inclined.


Blogger Mentarch on 7/23/2008 3:42 PM:

What a fool you are ...

Sad and pathetic.



Blogger Mentarch on 7/23/2008 3:43 PM:

JY: Heh ;-)

Blame my "Canuckleness" ;-)


Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/23/2008 4:25 PM:

Anonymous, as I don't like to see my contributors harassed, this is your final warning. Please restrict your 9/11-related comments to the Open Threads or to posts that specifically reference the validity of the 9/11 story. Further violations from you will result in your being banned from this site.


Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/23/2008 10:03 PM:

Actually, I take it back about the banning -- apparently it's a hit-or-miss procedure, and I don't want to accidentally ban someone who's a legitimate reader.

So, Mentarch, here's what we're going to do: I'm going to delete this individual's comments when he puts them on your posts, and I'll ask you to ignore him so as not to set him off more than necessary. I'm also going to begin forever-deleting them, so they don't show up as blank comments. This should keep his ability to disrupt the site to a minimum.


Blogger Mentarch on 7/24/2008 12:19 AM:

JY: deal, boss ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous on 7/24/2008 6:04 PM:

Great idea. Let freedom (of speech)