Friday, April 24, 2009

The Fires are Still Raging

In a previous post I expressed my elation with President Obama's decision to open the door for Attorney General Holder to prosecute members of the Bush administration for authorizing torture...it spurred an interesting debate in the comment section and my mind has really been preoccupied with the matter ever since.

I would clarify that I do not support the prosecution of the men/women in the CIA and military who followed orders (I'm actually ambivalent about this, but I err on the side of caution).

I do, however, strongly believe that the men who authorized torture in the first place, must be prosecuted for their decisions. I think it is absolutely vital to the integrity of the country that this issue is debated in the public arena. We broke our word when we, as a country, tortured these men....if we are going to make a conscious decision to torture then we need to formally announce that we are rejecting the Geneva Convention treaties to the rest of the world. We need to let the world know where we stand and our true intent. As of right now....we have lost a tremendous amount of integrity on the world stage and I believe the handful of men who destroyed that integrity need to be brought to trial. I actually think they need to be strung up by their balls for many, many reasons, but on the matter at hand....I will settle for a very public trial, tribunal, or even senate hearings.

Admittedly, I have no military training, experience and very little understanding of military operations. But I believe this is an issue of human rights....and on that matter I am an unapologetic ideologue.

While I was driving down River Road today, my thoughts were consumed with the issue. I was listening to REM and I suddenly had one of those synergistic, weird moments where the universe seems to be speaking to you. I never really listen to REM lyrics that much, because they never seem to make too much sense. But a lyric in this song caught my ear so I hit the back button and I'll be damned if it doesn't seem to speak exactly to the issue at hand.

Just thought I'd share it:

REM - Mr. Richards



Mr. Richards your position is a messenger pigeon
Left behind you when the camp moved on
We thought that you would listen
But the words they never crystallized
Into a truth that you might own, hey hey

Mr. Richards, your decision
Pay attention, pay attention

Mr. Richards you're forgiven
For a narrow lack of vision
But the fires are still raging on
The public's got opinions
And these consequences border on
The compound that you razed where zealots sang, hey hey

Mr.Richards, your decision
Pay attention, pay attention

So listen, your intention
Sign the papers, stamp the ribbon
You're mistaken if you think we'll just forget

You can thump your chest and rattle
Stand in front of your piano
But we know what's going on
Yes we know what's going on
We're the children of the choir, hey
And we know what's going on

Mr. Richards you're conviction
Had us cheering in the kitchen
Now the jury's eating pigeon pie
So tell me how is prison
Have they taught you how to listen
We've begun to bridge the schism
Pay attention, pay attention

Mr. Richards, your decision
Pay attention, pay attention

You can thump your chest and rattle
Stand in front of your piano
But we know what's going on
Yes we know what's going on
We're the children of the choir, hey
From the compound fire, hey
And we know what's going on
Yes we know what's going on

13 comments:

Foxwood said...

A little torture is good for the soul. :)

Dambala said...

touche'

Gary Carroll said...

Don't get too excited. President Obama has waffled back and forth several times in just the last few days. Prosecution will be a mistake. What you call torture, the U.S. military has done for years to officers and enlisted men in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) School.

Some reporters have volunteered to be waterboarded as research for stories. So really, how bad can it be if a bunch of candy-ass reporters can take it?

sparky - anon w/ a mouth said...

Dangit, I missed all the fun after I submitted my long winded rant.

Zombie, we need to work on your website, hit me up and I'll see what I can do probono. You put up too much good information and I get distracted by the new content, it's probably a conspiracy between you and Nagin, hehehe.

Seriously, back to the discussion at hand and Zombie I really appreciate you taking this matter on and treat it with the weight it deserves.

I will let the ambivalent comment about the military slide due to your lack of experience with the military, it would be like me having ambivalence towards real estate brokers getting prosecuted for the mortgage crisis. I know a couple brokers but have never been one so whatever...it's a very basic metaphor please don't read alot into it, I'm creating this on the fly while watching my new DirectTV just installed yesterday.

I am not going to defend the fact that Bush had attorneys craft a memo justifying torture, thank God I don't have to call it advanced interrogation techniques, PC isn't overwhelming on this site. Lawyers do what they are paid to do. Look how long it took to put OJ in jail.

I agree we should debate the torture issue in public, however going after the Bush admin that might end in potential prosecution could be starting down a slippery slope we didn't intend to venture down.

If any White House administration (present included) cannot seek out legal opinion and request formal written opinion regarding touchy matters it could hamstring future administrations. How many lawyers are going to put their future in the hands of politicians by providing formal written counsel when it could be picked apart and they could be dragged in front of a public committee humiliated and potentially lose millions of dollars in legal fees in a kangaroo court such as this?

I decided to avoid in my post pointing out all the BS of the politcians and try to keep this on the merits.

Torture was required due to complete and utter lack of intelligence because our intelligence community had been neutered at the time of 9/11, thanks to the former administration. I will avoid pointing out the failures in this arena by that administration in which investigations should have been conducted but weren't.

I have a good question no one has been able to answer satisfactorily at this point....when did we have this great amount of integrity and respect people keep saying we lost?

Bear with me because I'm really not sure when we weren't raked over the coals for something….
- WW2, oh yeah, we humiliated the Japanese-americans in american POW camps and then we took a bunch of the really smart nazis to make scientific advancement for the upcoming cold war.
- Vietnam, oh yeah that was a shining moment that Americans just jumped on the patriotic bandwagon and stayed on without question - no?
- Iran kidnapped our passengers and it took Carter how long to get them out. BTW Carter did negotiate their release, Regan got credit but realistically he didn't do a darn thing. Carter came out of that looking like a wimp and a domestic policy sloth because of the state he left our country in.
- Iran-Contra or in Afghanistan (against the Russians) which started this crap
- Cuba and the Bay of Pigs, good times, we looked good then
- Colombia or Nicaragua which amounted to our govts assistance in the making of a drug cartel monopoly.
- Somalia where we just sent troops in to get killed.
- Having a president that was a laughing stock of the world because he couldn't keep his dick in his pants or his wife having a joke of a health care policy and her own legal troubles, let's not get into the dead bodies around those two. Yeah, tons of integrity then.
- Desert Storm, oh never mind we shouldn't have been there the first time either and all those civilians that were bombed and pollution we caused because of the burning of oil fields.

So PLEASE someone tell me when and where this integrity that we lost had been earned in the world communities eyes.

We are the big kid on the block, it's a fact and I am proud to be an American. It's the reason everyone wants to be like us and it's the reason everyone hates us.

This doesn't give us the right to pick fights but as my Dad used to say "you don't have to stand tall but you do have to stand up."

Back to your investigation...where does it stop, just in the Bush administration, why not push it back into the Clinton era, then Bush sr, then Reagan, then Carter, etc. Does it stop when Obama leaves in 4 or 8 years? Do we get to analyze the joke of the response to the Tarp plans and how the Feds bullied the banks to take their money and violate shareholder confidence and SEC regulations, what about his ties to MoveOn.org or Pelosi and Franks neck deep involvement in this economic train wreck of an economy? At some point, you gotta move on. You drive the car and get us to where we need to be if you keep looking in the rearview mirror.

Not to mention, there is a legal precedent for state of mind when decisions are made. How can we possibly replicate the mindset and attitude of post 9/11 that prompted and laid seed to where we are today? We can't. You can watch footage of 9/11 and try to remember everyone staying home watching television as the foreign nations danced in the street like their team just won the Playoffs. Because it did on that day. We hadn't even tortured anyone at that point. Everyone has forgotten those feelings.

Remember those feelings, its similar to those after Katrina but worse, because every American had been stricken to the core that day - not just those in New Orleans. People wouldn't fly even if the planes were flying the next day. People wouldn't go to work not knowing if something was coming next. Who went to the shopping malls, who went to an amusement park, who went anywhere - no one did anything but pray and hope their loved ones were ok, they weren't next and those SOB's paid.

That is the terror they try to inflict on a nation, emotional, spiritual, and financial terror. Then come the after effects of terror like ripples across a pond. How peoples perceptions and filters change and then change again after they forget, reason away or minimize what has happened.

Has everyone forgotten that our enemy had no problems BEHEADING American citizens, multiple times on TV and bragging about it to the world? I'm sorry but getting sent to Gitmo, forcing them to be naked in front of their jailers, getting bounced off some flexible walls, sleep deprivation while listening to babies cry does NOT make us even or put us in the same league as our enemy.

Our integrity comes from the fact that we could have been more violent but didn't, we had rules and followed them 99% of the time, we showed restraint when they showed none, we rebuilt a country with infrastructure/schools/medicine/a more democratic government instead of just leaving again or completely taking it over lock stock and barrel, we didn't make it a glass factory with a nuke even though the enemy would have happily used it on us, we didn't ask for them to convert to Christianity which is there one and only option for us, we allow their mosques to continue fund raising and training home grown enemy combatants and recruiting potential soldiers within our borders which they would never allow.....I could go on, but I think you get my point.

We did not go blow for blow, we did not stoop to their level. Heck, we didn't even take immediate and reckless action post 9/11 when the world would have said "well you kind of had that coming."

Does the torture need to be stopped, if it still continues, yes - we have far more intelligence in place now than we did and are not in as grave danger as we once were. Does torture need to be used if we are faced with imminent threat, without blinking I say yes. There is a reason we haven't been hit again in 8 years, anyone stopped to ask why or silently thank God and be a touch grateful?

How many people screaming "No torture" with hatred and vileness towards the right wing conservatives today would rescind that order if they knew an attack was imminent in the city or state of their family and the only thing to do to get the information was to torture an enemy combatant (terrorist)? How many of those people were horrified when they questioned Bush and were denounced to be unpatriotic or even treasonous are practically doing the same now to those people that disagree about our stance on torture? This is the same reason I stay out of churches, I have little ability not to call out a hypocrite.

The hypocrites medicine is jagged and sharp when forced to swallow without a cocktail of self awareness and humility to wash it down with (still working on that one).

Thanks for the forum Ashe, give Ray Ray a dap 4 me when your rollin in his Slade to Houston this weekend - couldn't resist man. Keep up the good work.

Dambala said...

Gary,

I was under the impression that the torture methods were much more extreme than just waterboarding. Am I wrong there?

Dambala said...

Sparky,

- however going after the Bush admin that might end in potential prosecution could be starting down a slippery slope we didn't intend to venture down.

Duly noted and understood. The last thing this country needs right now is to further lose faith in it's government. I'm in complete agreement with you there, but I think we agree that the torture debate has to be addressed...now.

- How many lawyers are going to put their future in the hands of politicians by providing formal written counsel when it could be picked apart and they could be dragged in front of a public committee humiliated and potentially lose millions of dollars in legal fees in a kangaroo court such as this?

I don't think I have a problem with that. honestly. it will make the next round of attorneys think twice before they slap a rubber stamp on acts which defile the constitution. And attorneys are a dime a dozen...you will always find an attorney willing to do anything...just a personal observation. Point being that the attorney's were marching to the orders of senior level of the administration...I don't think for one second that Yoo actually bought the bullshit he was pushing...I think he was just another sycophantic bitch who heeded his master's call. But I think he needs to pay a price for that and the next asshole will think twice. just the way I see it.

- So PLEASE someone tell me when and where this integrity that we lost had been earned in the world communities eyes.

Ok...let me take shot at it. Because I agree with almost every damn point you made...especially the bodies surrounding the Clintons (jesus christ is that not a fucking shakespearean epic tale).

So..from an ideological stance this country is based on a premise which is completely radical to any civilization in the history of mankind...all men are created equal. Doesn't say all men are equal...it says that all men (and should say women) are created in the same manner and deserve the same level of dignity and respect that any human being should be afforded....until they fuck up and don't show that respect to other human beings. You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as long as you don't infringe on another human being's right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (and as long as agree to live in debt to the Federal Reserve for the rest of your life...but i digress). This premise is the shining light of mankind...everyone...every nation....looks to us to live up to those standards. Unfortunately we fail to do that consistently. But...BUT....our system is set up to correct itself. We are at a crucial moment in history where we really, really need to fucking correct ourselves.

- Back to your investigation...where does it stop, just in the Bush administration, why not push it back into the Clinton era, then Bush sr, then Reagan, then Carter, etc. Does it stop when Obama leaves in 4 or 8 years?

yes you're absolutely right and Obama is not going to reinvent the wheel. But you we have the opportunity here to have the fucking debate....let's fucking have it....no? This system of government is designed to adapt to it's surroundings....maybe we do need to take another look at torture ( I don't believe that of course, but for the sake of argument...) and decide if it's needed in the 21st century.

- Not to mention, there is a legal precedent for state of mind when decisions are made. How can we possibly replicate the mindset and attitude of post 9/11 that prompted and laid seed to where we are today? We can't. You can watch footage of 9/11 and try to remember everyone staying home watching television as the foreign nations danced in the street like their team just won the Playoffs. Because it did on that day. We hadn't even tortured anyone at that point. Everyone has forgotten those feelings.

Fucking 'eh. I totally agree. Where is your blog so I can read it?

But wise men don't act on emotion. Wise men act on knowledge. Sun Tzu tells us to know thy enemy...we RE-acted without any rhyme or reason. Stupid move.

- I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Yes I do...but we chose the wrong country. And we're about to find that out the hard way with Pakistan. Yes or no?

- Does torture need to be used if we are faced with imminent threat, without blinking I say yes.

Ok...I'm not sold but I absolutely appreciate....no love.... the dialogue.

If I can make a summary thesis....I would say let's have this fucking debate now...nationally....and make this fucking decision. Then tell the world what we decided. The misrepresentation is going to kill us...that's what i think.

wow...if we were drinking and discussing this at a bar, we would be piss ass drunk and it would be 4 am, huh? This is great stuff.... thanks for this.

sparky - anon w/ a mouth said...

Just got done watching one helluva movie - Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel Washington, if you haven't seen it, its a must see.

Then I logon and see a very thoughtful rebuttal, I feel I have almost won you over - hehehe.

"I don't think I have a problem with that. honestly. it will make the next round of attorneys think twice before they slap a rubber stamp on acts which defile the constitution. And attorneys are a dime a dozen...you will always find an attorney willing to do anything...just a personal observation. Point being that the attorney's were marching to the orders of senior level of the administration...I don't think for one second that Yoo actually bought the bullshit he was pushing...I think he was just another sycophantic bitch who heeded his master's call. But I think he needs to pay a price for that and the next asshole will think twice. just the way I see it."

I can't disagree with the emotion but it won't work within the real world. I have no problem with cupcake losing his position as a federal judge for "personal reasons" but a prolonged committe will be a circus and not a debate as you and I desire.

"So..from an ideological stance this country is based on a premise which is completely radical to any civilization in the history of mankind...all men are created equal."

My friend, if you can pull that out of your wazoo at 4am piss drunk, then remind me not to drink with you. It was beautiful and reminds me of what I swore to protect.

However, to select a phrase in your own words..."until they fuck up and don't show that respect to other human beings." Torture is/was/won't be a first response to get reliable information. Torture is a last ditch effort, when the interrogations have failed, the tricks don't surprise the captive and their will is not even close to being broken - then and only then do you resort to these tactics.

These men knew what they were a part of, they perceive every non-Muslim as an enemy so non-combatants do not exist. That is a very basic tenet of "civilized warfare" that all nations "recognize."

Sun Tzu also said "We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors." Our neighbors have made themselves clear, we convert or die, preferably the later or they really just don't want any part of this (France, Germany, etc). We stand on our own, which makes doing the tough things that much more difficult.

I ask you again to listen to your own words..."But wise men don't act on emotion. Wise men act on knowledge." When I was first being shown on a submarine the escape trunk for divers to exit out if submerged or sailors to leave in the case of emergency they told me, these are for congressman and mothers - it makes them feel good, but not very practical.

Knowledge and experience, cause and effect have shown us that this enemy is a formidable opposition and our nation has not faced a foe with such strong religious beliefs and willing to sacrifice themselves since the time Franklin took the marines to stop the MUSLIM pirates that was fleecing us for ransom (strange how history repeats itself).

In regards to Pakistan, that's been a cluster since day one. They have a distinct advantage to us and could cut off our supply in a flash, as in boom! We are technically already there in small tactical units, hop n pop type scenarios. Frankly a large unit will fail as Alexander experienced due to the terrain and climate, not to mention they uh don't like outsiders for some reason.

Lastly, I leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes:
- "If the enemy is to be coerced, you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of the situation must not be merely transient - at least not in appearance. Otherwise, the enemy would not give in, but would wait for things to improve."
* Karl Von Clausewitz, major strategic theorist, aka Prince of War

- You must be willing to do what is necessary to impose your will on him with great speed and aggression. The first to break the other mans spirit wins the battle.
* My high school wrestling coach.

I fear our enemy has far more patience then we will ever have. I hate to predict this, but in the next 4 years we will be struck again. I pray that I am wrong.

I had to add this, my word verification is "do war" - come on did you set that up? I think it's a sign...

Dambala said...

funny how that shit works.

Clay said...

All of the Abu Gharib prosecutions were of enlisted soldiers. Not a single officer was prosecuted. Not a single CIA officer was prosecuted. Not a single private "interrogation" consultant was prosecuted. Only the poor schmucks at the bottom.

The officers were responsible for the actions of their soldiers. They should have known. At least 1 colonel-level officer should have been taken down. As it was, the prosecutions were a farce.

Gary Carroll said...

Check the memos; Waterboarding was the most extreme practice. Each time the practice was used there were physicians present and every effort was made to avoid tissue damage. I don't have a link right now, but the primary sources are accessible.

Gary Carroll said...

A more reasoned position:
http://thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2009/04/reasonable_torture_response.html

Dambala said...

S,

was there a question mark behind do war?

sparky said...

no question mark behind do war...if you will allow me to read between the lines it's because humans by nature are always in competition and at war with someone, over something. Heck even buddhists are at war with themselves, well and China.

OMG, you're gonna laugh. I did a search on the key word. It's a variant of a butterfly.

So if you allow I think the duality of see war and butterflies is a metaphor for the good and evil within all of us.