Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 7th, 2009

Egg noodles in soy broth

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I have to make this. Just check out the ingredients:

Salt
1/3 cup soy sauce, more to taste
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, more to taste
A few drops dark sesame oil
A squirt of sriracha or other Asian chile-garlic sauce
1 pound egg noodles, preferably fresh (I used 9 ounces of fresh angel hair pasta)

The recipe post also has photos.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 12:04 pm

Value of this blog

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$344.00

Don’t believe it? Run your own computation at $timator.

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7 April 2009 at 11:51 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Why it’s very difficult to respect the GOP

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Just read this.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 11:47 am

Posted in Congress, GOP

Why are Army recruiters killing themselves?

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Usually the soldiers selected as recruiters are the very best available. Yet… Mark Thompson reports in TIME:

When Army Staff Sergeant Amanda Henderson ran into Staff Sergeant Larry Flores in their Texas recruiting station last August, she was shocked by the dark circles under his eyes and his ragged appearance. "Are you O.K.?" she asked the normally squared-away soldier. "Sergeant Henderson, I am just really tired," he replied. "I had such a bad, long week, it was ridiculous." The previous Saturday, Flores’ commanders had berated him for poor performance. He had worked every day since from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., trying to persuade the youth of Nacogdoches to wear Army green. "But I’m O.K.," he told her.

No, he wasn’t. Later that night, Flores hanged himself in his garage with an extension cord. Henderson and her husband Patrick, both Army recruiters, were stunned. "I’ll never forget sitting there at Sergeant Flores’ memorial service with my husband and seeing his wife crying," Amanda recalls. "I remember looking over at Patrick and going, ‘Why did he do this to her? Why did he do this to his children?’ " Patrick didn’t say anything, and Amanda now says Flores’ suicide "triggered" something in her husband. Six weeks later, Patrick hanged himself with a dog chain in their backyard shed. (See pictures of suicide in recruiters’ ranks.)

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now the longest waged by an all-volunteer force in U.S. history. Even as soldiers rotate back into the field for multiple and extended tours, the Army requires a constant supply of new recruits. But the patriotic fervor that led so many to sign up after 9/11 is now eight years past. That leaves recruiters with perhaps the toughest, if not the most dangerous, job in the Army. Last year alone, the number of recruiters who killed themselves was triple the overall Army rate…

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7 April 2009 at 11:37 am

Can US courts free Guantánamo prisoners?

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Interesting article in the Washington Independent by Daphne Eviatar. It begins:

In what’s being called the first major challenge of the Obama administration’s detention policy, lawyers on Monday filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of Kiyemba v. Obama, in which a Court of Appeals ruled that federal courts do not have the power to order innocent Guantánamo detainees released into the United States.

The significance of that ruling goes far beyond the now-notorious case of the 17 Chinese Muslim Uighurs directly involved. At its core, the petition asks the Supreme Court more broadly: does a federal court have any power at all over innocent prisoners of the “war on terror”?

In the Kiyemba case, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that even though the government had no grounds to continue to hold the Uighurs, imprisoned for more than seven years, the federal courts had no authority to order them released into the United States, either. Their lawyers say that makes their right to habeas corpus — confirmed by the Supreme Court last June in Boumediene v. Bush — meaningless.

“What happens in a habeas case is the judge orders the jailer to release the prisoner,” explained Sabin Willett, the lead lawyer representing the Uighurs. “But there’s no sovereign [government] the court can order except our own. Now the DC circuit is saying the court can’t even do that.”

The result is that not only are these Chinese Muslim dissidents still stuck at Guantánamo Bay, but the Obama administration has used the Kiyemba ruling broadly to argue that all habeas corpus proceedings brought by prisoners approved for release should be halted because the courts have no power to release the men from prison anyway. In other words, when it comes to innocent men imprisoned indefinitely at Guantanamo, the judiciary has no role to play at all.

What’s more, the Obama administration has been using the latest Kiyemba ruling to seek a ban on all lawsuits brought by former Guantánamo prisoners claiming constitutional violations by U.S. military officials, claiming that the D.C. court ruled that prisoners a Guantánamo Bay have no due process rights…

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7 April 2009 at 11:32 am

Gates is on top of the "jobs" argument

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Very good report by Spencer Ackerman in the Washington Independent, which begins:

Defense reporters these days have a number of anecdotes that they believe reveals Pentagon chief Bob Gates’ true colors. Some like his April 2007 press conference, where he anguished in public about ordering 15-month tours for soldiers in Iraq; between the lines it was clear he really, really didn’t want to do it. Others look to his firing decisions: axing Gen. Peter Pace as Joint Chiefs chairman in June 2007; Adm. Fox Fallon as Central Command chief in March 2008; the Air Force leadership in June 2008. I think mine might have come yesterday in one very tiny section of Gates’ defense budget press conference.

Recall that Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of the F-22 Raptor jet, began portraying the plane as a jobs engine earlier this year. It set up a Website, PreserveRaptorJobs.com, to serve as a public entrance-point for that campaign — Lockheed Martin representative Rob Fuller said it was for providing information to the F-22’s supplier base — complete with a claim that axing the Raptor meant the loss of 95,000 jobs. Not everyone found the claim plausible.

Yesterday, Gates very subtly signaled that he didn’t either. In response to a question from, I think, Yochi Dreazen of The Wall Street Journal, about the economic impact of his program cuts, Gates gave a far different jobs total than Lockheed provided, and was ready with a counterargument:

One of the concerns is particularly with respect to the F-22. Well, employment — direct employment, according to the numbers that are available to us on the F-22, is about 24,000 this year. It’ll decline to 19,000 in ‘10 and about 13,000 in FY ‘11. The last F-22 rolls off the line toward the end of 2011.

But the joint strike fighter, the F-35, in ‘09, already has 38,000 people working in direct employment. It will go to 64,000 in FY ‘10 and 82,000 in FY ‘11. So — and these decisions on shipbuilding, I think, do a pretty good job — I think — of taking care of the industrial base there and trying to even out things in terms of employment and the workforce.

Why’s this important? It shows that …

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7 April 2009 at 11:29 am

Gay marriage legal now in Vermont

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Good news from Andy Birkey at the Washington Independent:

The Vermont Legislature voted Tuesday to allow same-sex couples to wed in that state, overriding Republican Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto. Vermont is the first state to allow same-sex marriage by legislative approval and the fourth in the nation overall — after Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. The law will take effect Sept. 1.

“This historic vote in the Vermont Legislature reminds us of the incredible progress being made toward equality. Less than five years ago, lesbian and gay couples began marrying in Massachusetts. Now, with the Iowa court decision last Friday and today’s vote in Vermont, there will be four states recognizing the right to marry for loving, committed lesbian and gay couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“The struggle for equal rights is never easy. I was proud to be president of the Senate nine years ago when Vermont created civil unions,” said Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin in a statement. “Today we have overridden the governor’s veto. I have never felt more proud of Vermont as we become the first state in the country to enact marriage equality not as the result of a court order, but because it is the right thing to do.”

Now let’s watch the divorce rate in Vermont. According to the religious right, which opposes gay marriage, the divorce rate should now climb, since gay marriage destroys traditional (man-woman) marriage.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 11:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Breaking: prosecution lawyers in Stevens case face criminal contempt

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From The Hill:

The judge in the corruption trial against Ted Stevens dismissed the conviction and initiated a criminal contempt investigation of the team of government lawyers who prosecuted the former senator.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan scolded the prosecution when he dismiss the charges against Stevens (R-Alaska).

"In nearly 25 years on the bench I have never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct in this case," Sullivan said.

He also called the prosecutor’s actions “shocking and disturbing.”

Attorney General Eric Holder last week announced that the Justice Department would ask for the conviction and the indictment to be overturned because of new evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. A new team of government lawyers uncovered notes from defense lawyers that contradicted testimony by a key witness…

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7 April 2009 at 11:21 am

Men in film

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Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Errol Flynn, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Tyrone Power, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck, Richard Burton, Jack Lemmon, Sean Connery, Sidney Poitier, Charlton Heston, Steve McQueen, Peter O’Toole, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider, Warren Beatty, Dennis Hopper, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Harrison Ford, Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Christopher Walken, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, John Travolta, Antonio Banderas, Tim Robbins, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, George Clooney

Music: Bach’s Allemande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 performed by Antonio Meneses

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7 April 2009 at 11:05 am

Posted in Movies & TV, Video

White House helping banks get around pay caps?

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Very interesting report (including video) by Moe Tkacik. Well worth reading. It begins:

On Saturday the Washington Post reported that the administration was doling out federal bailout money via "special purpose vehicles" to help banks skirt restrictions on the funds imposed by Congress — including, naturally, limitations on executive pay. In a move a former Justice Department attorney equated to "money laundering," the story further specified that the White House had concluded that the conditions ought not to apply in "at least three out of five initiatives funded by the rescue package."

The story quoted Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams defending the strategy, and on Sunday senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, despite his reported distaste for Treasury’s lenience on the banks, went on Fox News Sunday and towed the Treasury line when Chris Wallace brought up the report.

But a bit later the same morning on Face the Nation the policy seemed to have changed — if you believed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s unequivocal denial to CBS’s Bob Schieffer that any such plan compensation-restriction avoidance plan existed: …

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7 April 2009 at 11:03 am

From the NY Times story

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I blogged about this report earlier, but wanted to point out the conclusion:

Another critic of medical involvement in harsh interrogation, Dr. Steven H. Miles, a physician at the Center for Bioethics of the University of Minnesota, said he had counted about 70 cases worldwide after World War II in which physicians were punished for participating in torture or related crimes. Most were in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, he said. None have been in the United States.

Dr. Miles said that in recent decades, torture had almost always involved medical professionals, and that to deter future misconduct, the medical role in the C.I.A. program should be fully disclosed.

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7 April 2009 at 11:00 am

Free eBook on surviving uncertainty

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Not only a free eBook, but an interesting post and cool blog. Take a look. And then click the blog title to see the home page.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 10:56 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Got an iPod or iPhone?

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If yes, read this post.

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7 April 2009 at 10:53 am

Judge in Stevens trial wants documents

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Interesting report by Richard Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News:

The judge who presided over former Sen. Ted Stevens’ trial last fall issued two orders Sunday indicating he may not be ready to give up jurisdiction of the case even as the government is asking for all charges to be dismissed.

In the first of the unusual weekend orders, filed at 5:22 p.m. Eastern time (1:22 p.m. Alaska time) in Washington, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan directed federal prosecutors to provide him copies of everything they had gathered in the post-trial reviews and investigations and which they had provided to Stevens’ defense attorneys. He also directed them to provide everything they had uncovered and produced related to the complaint by Anchorage FBI agent Chad Joy into the conduct of the Alaska corruption investigation and the prosecution of Stevens’ case.

Sullivan also demanded the notes of prosecutors from an April 15, 2008, interview of former Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen.

It was the discovery of those notes two weeks ago by a new prosecution team that led Attorney General Eric Holder to seek dismissal of all charges against Stevens "in the interest of justice." The notes directly contradicted a key piece of Allen’s testimony six months later at Stevens’ trial and should have been turned over to the defense, Holder said.

Sullivan directed prosecutors to produce the information no later than 10 a.m. Eastern time today.

At 8:42 p.m., 3½ hours after filing his first order, Sullivan issued another order directing the Justice Department, the FBI, the IRS "and any and all other government agencies" that investigated or prosecuted Stevens to not destroy any evidence or documents connected to the case. His order demanded preservation of e-mails, notes, memos, investigative files, audio recordings and "any and all electronically stored information."

The orders were …

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7 April 2009 at 10:51 am

Curious inaction by the Fed

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Good article by Greg Gordon and Kevin Hall of McClatchy, which begins:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York in November chose not to pursue tough negotiations with large foreign and domestic banks and instead allowed them to receive 100 cents on the dollar in government funds to settle tens of billions of dollars of exotic financial bets guaranteed by American International Group.

At the time, Timothy Geithner, now Treasury Secretary, headed the powerful New York Fed. On his watch, the decision was made to forgo a reduced payout — called a "haircut" in industry parlance — to creditors of AIG to prevent financial chaos around the world, the officials told McClatchy.

Had the Fed negotiated a reduction of just 10 cents to 15 cents on the dollar, it could’ve saved between $2 billion and $3 billion.

The revelation sheds new light on last month’s disclosure by AIG that it used loans from the New York Fed to pay more than $17 billion to foreign creditors such as France’s Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, and Germany’s Deutsche Bank. U.S. investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, also were paid $10 billion in what amounted to a back-door bailout of the troubled institutions that had financed the insurer’s risky investments.

The real reasons behind these decisions weren’t revealed at the time. And like the Obama administration’s decision last month to allow more than $165 million in controversial bonuses to AIG executives, their disclosure is fueling new criticism.

Geithner’s office declined requests to comment.

At issue is the Fed’s handling of nearly $30 billion …

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7 April 2009 at 10:48 am

Obama on the US torture program

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Glenn Greenwald:

Following up on the latest extremist Cheney/Addington/Yoo arguments advanced by the Obama DOJ in order to shield Bush lawbreaking from disclosure and judicial review — an episode I wrote about in detail yesterday, here — it’s worthwhile to underscore the implications of Barack Obama’s conduct.  When Obama sought to placate his angry supporters after he voted for the Bush/Cheney FISA-telecom immunity bill last June (after vowing the prior December to support a filibuster of any such legislation), this is what he said (h/t notavailable):

[The FISA bill] also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

So candidate Obama unambiguously vowed to his supporters that he would work to ensure "full accountability" for "past offenses" in surveillance lawbreaking.  President Obama, however, has now become the prime impediment to precisely that accountability, repeatedly engaging in extraordinary legal maneuvers to ensure that "past offenses" — both in the surveillance and torture/rendition realm — remain secret and forever immunized from judicial review.  Put another way, Obama has repeatedly done the exact opposite of what he vowed he would do:  rather than "seek full accountability for past offenses," he has been working feverishly to block such accountability, by embracing the same radical Bush/Cheney views and rhetoric regarding presidential secrecy powers that caused so much controversy and anger for the last several years.

And note the pure deceit on the part of Senate Democrats who justified telecom immunity by continuously assuring the public that the Bush officials who ordered the illegal surveillance (as opposed to the telecoms who broke the law by enabling it) would still be subject to legal accountability even once the Congress immunized telecoms.  It was obvious at the time (as was often pointed out) that they were outright lying when they said this — because all sorts of legal instruments had been invoked by the Bush DOJ (such as "state secrets" and "standing" arguments) to protect those government officials from that accountability (legal instruments Democrats knowingly left in place).  And now it is Barack Obama, by employing those very same instruments, who is leading the way in making a mockery of the assurances given by Senate Democrats — don’t worry that we immunized the phone companies because Bush officials, who were the truly guilty parties in the illegal spying, will still be subject to legal accountability.

On a very related note:  last night, The New York Review of Books published the full report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (.pdf), which documented in detail the brutal torture to which the 14 "high-value" detainees whom we disappeared into our CIA "black sites" were subjected and demanded "that the US authorities investigate all allegations of ill-treatment and take steps to punish the perpetrators, where appropriate."  As Scott Horton notes, the ICRC does not call for investigations and prosecutions easily, but rather, "only where the evidence of criminal conduct is manifest."   Yet Obama’s handpicked CIA Director, Leon Panetta, continues to demand that there be no investigations of any kind, let alone prosecutions.  As a CIA spokesperson told the New York Times yesterday in response to the ICRC report: 

Mr. Panetta "has stated repeatedly that no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished."  The C.I.A.’s interrogation methods were declared legal by the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.

[It should be noted, however, that many of the torture techniques authorized by the White House Principals Group — chaired by Condoleezza Rice — were explicitly declared legal by the DOJ only after they were authorized; at the time, "the Principals also approved interrogations that combined different methods, pushing the limits of international law and even the Justice Department’s own legal approval in the 2002 memo"]…

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7 April 2009 at 10:44 am

Irrationality vs. naïveté

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Very interesting post by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com. It begins:

Robert Shiller’s Irrational Exuberance is probably one of the best and most important works of the past quarter-century — in economics or in any other field. In contrast I found his new book Animal Spirits (written with George Akerlof) to be somewhat hastily put-together and certainly less persuasive. Nevertheless, Richard Posner’s critique of the latter work — and by extension, the discipline of behavioral economics — strikes me as rather shallow.

Here’s Posner:

People buy common stock when stock prices are rising. They (notoriously) bought houses during the early 2000s when house prices were rising. Since almost no one can predict the ups and downs of the stock market or the housing market, these purchases must have been motivated, Akerlof and Shiller argue, by something other than a rational investment strategy. But this is not at all obvious, or implied by Keynes’s usage. Stocks have generally been a good investment, at least when held for a considerable period. And since no one is able to time market turns, no one knows when the market is overpriced and therefore when one should sell rather than buy. Indeed, the idea of selling at the “top” of the market is incoherent, because if it were known that stock prices had peaked, no one would buy. Buying stock, or buying a house, is at any time a guess about the future, a venture into the unknown. Yet that does not imply irrationality.

Stop there. First of all, the notion that “no one is able to time market turns” is not really true. It is notoriously difficult to predict whether the market will go up or down tomorrow. But it is not necessarily all that difficult to predict whether an above-average or below-average return can be anticipated from the market over the medium-to-long term. As Shiller demonstrated in Irrational Exuberance, there has in fact been a fairly strong predictive relationship between the price-to-earnings ratio exhibited by the market at any given time and its long-term average return: …

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Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 10:40 am

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

Lengthy article on the ICRC report on the US torture program

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Mark Danner has an excellent article on the ICRC report in the New York Review of Books. It begins:

ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody

by the International Committee of the Red Cross

43 pp., February 2007

Download the text of the ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody by The International Committee of the Red Cross, along with the cover letter that accompanied it when it was transmitted to the US government in February 2007. This version, reset by The New York Review, exactly reproduces the original including typographical errors and some omitted words.

When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry…. These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.

If it hadn’t been for what we did—with respect to the…enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees…—then we would have been attacked again. Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the US….

—Former Vice President Dick Cheney, February 4, 2009[1]

1. When it comes to torture, it is not what we did but what we are doing. It is not what happened but what is happening and what will happen. In our politics, torture is not about whether or not our polity can “let the past be past”—whether or not we can “get beyond it and look forward.” Torture, for Dick Cheney and for President Bush and a significant portion of the American people, is more than a repugnant series of “procedures” applied to a few hundred prisoners in American custody during the last half-dozen or so years—procedures that are described with chilling and patient particularity in this authoritative report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.[2] Torture is more than the specific techniques—the forced nudity, sleep deprivation, long-term standing, and suffocation by water,” among others—that were applied to those fourteen “high-value detainees” and likely many more at the “black site” prisons secretly maintained by the CIA on three continents.

Torture, as the former vice-president’s words suggest, is a critical issue in the present of our politics—and not only because of ongoing investigations by Senate committees, or because of calls for an independent inquiry by congressional leaders, or for a “truth commission” by a leading Senate Democrat, or because of demands for a criminal investigation by the ACLU and other human rights organizations, and now undertaken in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Poland.[3] For many in the United States, torture still stands as a marker of political commitment—of a willingness to “do anything to protect the American people,” a manly readiness to know when to abstain from “coddling terrorists” and do what needs to be done. Torture’s powerful symbolic role, like many ugly, shameful facts, is left unacknowledged and undiscussed. But that doesn’t make it any less real. On the contrary.

Torture is at the heart of the deadly politics of national security. The former vice-president, as able and ruthless a politician as the country has yet produced, appears convinced of this. For if torture really was a necessary evil in what Mr. Cheney calls the “tough, mean, dirty, nasty business” of “keeping the country safe,” then it follows that its abolition at the hands of the Obama administration will put the country once more at risk. It was Barack Obama, after all, who on his first full day as president issued a series of historic executive orders that closed the “black site” secret prisons and halted the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that had been practiced there, and that provided that the offshore prison at Guantánamo would be closed within a year.

In moving instantly to do these things Obama identified himself as the “anti-torture president” no less than George W. Bush had become the “torture president”—as the former vice-president, a deeply unpopular politician who has seized the role of a kind of dark spokesman for the national id, was quick to point out. To a CNN interviewer who asked Mr. Cheney in March whether he believed that “by taking those steps…the president of the United States has made Americans less safe,” Cheney replied: …

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Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 10:31 am

The International Committee of the Red Cross

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The ICRC report (PDF) on the US practice of torture is available now, and there’s much discussion. Right-wingers are unfazed by the report—John Hinderaker, for example, refers to waterboarding as "getting your face wet." This deliberate misunderstanding and ignorance is typical of those who like torturing suspects but don’t want to call it "torture." I suspect that John Hinderaker has never experienced waterboarding. Those who have agree that it is torture.

The NY Times has an article on the medical professionals who assisted with torture. It begins:

Medical personnel were deeply involved in the abusive interrogation of terrorist suspects held overseas by the Central Intelligence Agency, including torture, and their participation was a “gross breach of medical ethics,” a long-secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded.

Based on statements by 14 prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda and were moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in late 2006, Red Cross investigators concluded that medical professionals working for the C.I.A. monitored prisoners undergoing weatherboarding, apparently to make sure they did not drown. Medical workers were also present when guards confined prisoners in small boxes, shackled their arms to the ceiling, kept them in frigid cells and slammed them repeatedly into walls, the report said.

Facilitating such practices, which the Red Cross described as torture, was a violation of medical ethics even if the medical workers’ intentions had been to prevent death or permanent injury, the report said. But it found that the medical professionals’ role was primarily to support the interrogators, not to protect the prisoners, and that the professionals had “condoned and participated in ill treatment.”

At times, according to the detainees’ accounts, medical workers “gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods.”

The Red Cross report was completed in 2007. It was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalist who has written extensively about torture, and posted Monday night with an article by Mr. Danner on the Web site of The New York Review of Books. Much of its contents were revealed in a March article by Mr. Danner and in a 2008 book, “The Dark Side,” by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, but the reporting of the Red Cross investigators’ conclusions on medical ethics and other issues are new.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, told investigators that when he was waterboarded, his pulse and oxygen level were monitored, and that a medical attendant stopped the procedure on several occasions.

Another prisoner, Walid bin Attash, who had previously had a leg amputated, said that when he was forced for days to stand with his arms shackled above his head, a health worker periodically measured the swelling in his intact leg and eventually ordered that he be allowed to sit.

Continue reading. Clearly the Hippocratic Oath is no longer taken seriously.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 10:26 am

Chasing the fool’s gold of national security

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Very interesting commentary by Leonard Pitts Jr. in McClatchy. It begins:

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, hundreds of men identified as members of al–Qaeda were captured and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There, they were subjected to sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, dehydration, extreme temperatures, waterboarding, being chained to the floor for hours in their own waste, and other so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques even as the president was assuring the world that we don’t torture because we are America and America doesn’t do that sort of thing.

The president was, of course, lying. And having thus sold our national honor, you might wonder what we received in exchange.

The answer: nothing.

At least, not if the case of one Abu Zubayda is in any way representative. According to a March 29 report in The Washington Post, U.S. officials were convinced they had themselves a real, live al–Qaeda leader in Zubayda, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002. Under pressure from the Bush White House to get something out of him, they resorted to waterboarding and other coercive measures.

Out came a flood of names and plots and details. Security was tightened, millions were spent chasing it all down, and all of it was for nothing. Every investigation launched as a result of Abu Zubayda’s revelations fizzled. It turned out that, far from being an al–Qaeda leader, he was a mid–level associate. The Post says most of the information he gave that proved in any way useful came during ordinary interrogation. The things he said while being tortured by the nation that does not torture were apparently just to make the pain stop.

The Post report is but the latest in a litany of revelations all suggesting the same thing: that in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles – the rule of law – for the fool’s gold of security.

We tortured and then rationalized with stark illogic. Indeed, it’s worth remembering that when this debate was at its zenith, proponents, including columnist Cal Thomas, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, defended torture by pointing out how well it seems to work for counterterrorism expert Jack Bauer. One wondered sometimes if they were aware that Jack Bauer is a character on a TV show, 24.

And it occurs to me that if we’re going to use TV characters to frame this debate, M*A*S*H might be a better choice…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2009 at 10:21 am

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