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Torture a Terrorist for Jesus December 5, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in About Torture, Torture.
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Roger Hollander, December 5, 2009

I remember from my studies in political science many years ago coming across a study with respect to the opinion of Americans about the provision of the Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments to the Constitution).  Although when asked if they support the Bill of Rights most answered in the positive, when asked about the views on the contents of the rights contained in the individual Amendments (without identifying them as rights contained in the Bill of Rights), most were not in favor.  And this was before the hijacking of the political discourse in the United Sates by the religious radical right.

Some shocking statistics have emerged recently in a study conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.  Two thousand adults 18 years of age or older living in the continental United States were asked between October 28 and November 8, 2009 their opinions about torture.  A majority, 54% opined that torture was often (19%) or sometimes (35%) justified.

I doubt if these figures would have been nearly as high prior to 9/11.  There is no doubt in my mind that they are to a large degree a product of the fear-mongering and misinformation that we have been subjected to from the extreme right, the majority of Republican and Democrat politicians, and the lapdog corporate mainstream media.

I would like to see the results of this survey if the respondents were fully informed of the overwhelming opinion of experts in the field that torture is counter-productive in eliciting reliable actionable information and reminded that the victims of torture are “suspects,” not convicted terrorists and that a policy of torture makes American prisoners of war more vulnerable to torture.

I would like to see the results of this survey if the respondents were shown these photos:

I would particularly like to see the results of this survey if the respondents were able to be present in the torture sessions depicted in these photos (of course I would not advocate such an experiment).

More than anything, I would like to see a revolution in thought and action in the United States that reflects a turn from racism, violence, intolerance and greed, away from religious bigotry and twoards truly human values.

Paying for Eight Years of Bush’s Delusions November 10, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in George W. Bush.
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posted on Nov 8, 2008

AP photo / Charles Dharapak

President Bush as he makes a statement about the economic bailout bill and financial crisis on Sept. 30 at the White House.

By Robert Fisk

Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in The Independent.

American lawyers defending six Algerians before a habeas corpus hearing in Washington this week learned some very odd things about U.S. intelligence after 9/11. From among the millions of “raw” reports from American spies and their “assets” around the world came a CIA Middle East warning about a possible kamikaze-style air attack on a U.S. navy base at a south Pacific island location. The only problem was that no such navy base existed on the island and no U.S. Seventh Fleet warship had ever been there. In all seriousness, a U.S. military investigation earlier reported that Osama bin Laden had been spotted shopping at a post office on a U.S. military base in east Asia.

That this nonsense was disseminated around the world by those tasked to defend the United States in the “war on terror” shows the fantasy environment in which the Bush regime has existed these past eight years. If you can believe that bin Laden drops by a shopping mall on an American military base, then you can believe that everyone you arrest is a “terrorist”, that Arabs are “terrorists”, that they can be executed, that living “terrorists” must be tortured, that everything a tortured man says can be believed, that it is legitimate to invade sovereign states, to grab the telephone records of everyone in America. As Bob Herbert put it in The New York Times a couple of years ago, the Bush administration wanted these records “which contain crucial documentation of calls for a Chinese takeout in Terre Haute, Indiana, and birthday greetings to Grandma in Talladega, Alabama, to help in the search for Osama bin Laden”. There was no stopping Bush when it came to trampling on the US Constitution. All that was new was that he was now applying the same disrespect for liberty in America that he had shown in the rest of the world.

But how is Barack Obama going to repair the titanic damage which his vicious, lying predecessor has perpetrated around the globe and within the U.S. itself? John F Kennedy once said that “the United States, as the world knows, will never start a war.” After Bush’s fear-mongering and Rumsfeld’s “shock and awe” and Abu Ghraib and Bagram and Guantanamo and secret renditions, how does Obama pedal his country all the way back to Camelot? Our own dear Gordon Brown’s enthusiasm to Hoover up the emails of the British people is another example of how Lord Blair’s sick relationship with Bush still infects our own body politic. Only days before the wretched president finally departs from us, new U.S. legislation will ensure that citizens of his lickspittle British ally will no longer be able to visit America without special security clearance. Does Bush have any more surprises for us before 20 January? Indeed, could anything surprise us any more?

Obama has got to close Guantanamo. He’s got to find a way of apologising to the world for the crimes of his predecessor, not an easy task for a man who must show pride in his country; but saying sorry is what – internationally – he will have to do if the “change” he has been promoting at home is to have any meaning outside America’s borders. He will have to re-think – and deconstruct – the whole “war on terror”. He will have to get out of Iraq. He will have to call a halt to America’s massive airbases in Iraq, its $600m embassy. He will have to end the blood-caked air strikes we are perpetrating in southern Afghanistan – why, oh, why do we keep slaughtering wedding parties? – and he will have to tell Israel a few home truths: that America can no longer remain uncritical in the face of Israeli army brutality and the colonisation for Jews and Jews only on Arab land. Obama will have to stand up at last to the Israeli lobby (it is, in fact, an Israeli Likud party lobby) and withdraw Bush’s 2004 acceptance of Israel’s claim to a significant portion of the West Bank. U.S. officials will have to talk to Iranian officials – and Hamas officials, for that matter. Obama will have to end U.S. strikes into Pakistan – and Syria.

Indeed, there’s a growing concern among America’s allies in the Middle East that the U.S. military has to be brought back under control – indeed, that the real reason for General David Petraeus’ original appointment in Iraq was less to organise the “surge” than it was to bring discipline back to the 150,000 soldiers and marines whose mission – and morals – had become so warped by Bush’s policies. There is some evidence, for example, that the four-helicopter strike into Syria last month, which killed eight people, was – if not a rogue operation – certainly not sanctioned by Washington or indeed by US commanders in Baghdad.

But Obama’s not going to be able to make the break. He wants to draw down in Iraq in order to concentrate more firepower in Afghanistan. He’s not going to take on the lobby in Washington and he’s not going to stop further Jewish colonisation of the occupied territories or talk to Israel’s enemies. With AIPAC supporter Rahm Emanuel as his new chief of staff – “our man in the White House,” as the Israeli daily Maariv called him this week – Obama will toe the line. And of course, there’s the terrible thought that bin Laden – when he’s not shopping at U.S. military post offices – may be planning another atrocity to welcome the Obama presidency.

There is just one little problem, though, and that’s the “missing” prisoners. Not the victims who have been (still are being?) tortured in Guantanamo, but the thousands who have simply disappeared into U.S. custody abroad or – with American help – into the prisons of U.S. allies. Some reports speak of 20,000 missing men, most of them Arabs, all of them Muslims. Where are they? Can they be freed now? Or are they dead? If Obama finds that he is inheriting mass graves from George W. Bush, there will be a lot of apologising to do.