LET THE BUYER BEWARE If You Want to Know the Real Story, Follow the Money. It seems the money trail leads to a ring of hell even Dante wasn't aware of. I expect Bush or Cheney tomorrow to discount this story. These unfortunate people who were sold by bounty hunters to U.S. forces will be discounted as people who hate freedom and hate America. Our leaders will say that with a straight face, without irony. Cheney and Bush will be right in one sense. If these unfortunate souls didn't hate America before, they will have plenty of reason to hate us now.
AP May 31, 2005: . . .a wide variety of detainees at the U.S. lockup at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, alleged they were sold into capture. Their names and other
identifying information were blacked out in the transcripts from the
tribunals, which were held to determine whether prisoners were
correctly classified as enemy combatants.
One detainee who said
he was an Afghan refugee in Pakistan accused the country's intelligence
service of trumping up evidence against him to get bounty money from
"When I was in jail, they said I needed to pay them
money and if I didn't pay them, they'd make up wrong accusations about
me and sell me to the Americans and I'd definitely go to Cuba," he told
the tribunal. "After that I was held for two months and 20 days in
their detention, so they could make wrong accusations about me and my
(censored), so they could sell us to you."
If anyone pays attention to this story, its details will only get uglier. It combines the worst of what the rest of the world thinks of America, a sad and sordid synergy of war and commerce, commerce in bodies, in a war obliterating the spirit of not just the conquered but the conquerors as well.
AP There have been reports of Arabs being sold to the Americans after
the U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan, but the testimonies offer the
most detail from prisoners themselves.
In March 2002, the AP
reported that Afghan intelligence offered rewards for the capture of
al-Qaida fighters _ the day after a five-hour meeting with U.S. Special
Forces. Intelligence officers refused to say if the two events were
linked and if the United States was paying the offered reward of 150
million Afghanis, then equivalent to $4,000 a head.
That day, leaflets and loudspeaker announcements promised "the big prize" to those who turned in al-Qaida fighters.
one leaflet: "You can receive millions of dollars. ... This is enough
to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of
your life _ pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing
for all your people."
Helicopters broadcast similar announcements
over the Afghan mountains, enticing people to "Hand over the Arabs and
feed your families for a lifetime," said Najeeb al-Nauimi, a former
Qatar justice minister and leader of a group of Arab lawyers
representing nearly 100 detainees.
Al-Nauimi said a consortium of
wealthy Arabs, including Saudis, told him they also bought back fellow
citizens who had been captured by Pakistanis.
This is where are country has been. We have dealt in cruelty to prisoners who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now we are masters of a heinous slave trade, a degradation of our ideals in service to questionable and ignoble ends. We stand in dubious battle on the American plains of heaven. We have entered the Bazaar of the Bizarre
THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE Or in the Case of Dick Cheney, Take Offense. Dick Cheney, pick up the phone. Reality is calling. Reality is not speaking in the voice of Larry King who interviewed you recently on CNN.
AP May 30, 2005:"Frankly, I was offended by it," Cheney said in the videotaped interview. "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously."
Cheney is the latest Bush administration official to object to the report. On Sunday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers called the Amnesty International report "absolutely irresponsible."
Cheney said detainees at Guantanamo "have been well treated, treated humanely and decently."
"Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment," Cheney said. "But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and released to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."
Sombody should clue Cheney in on what the FBI and the Department of Defense itself say. The pattern of abuse in Guantanamo and elsewhere is so egregious and extensive only someone willingly blind or deliberately looking away could not see it. That is terrible comment on a government official. But Cheney descends to an entirely new and low level with his denials of simple truths in government files.
When a government officials like Cheney tells us the government needs to hide documents from our view, the security they are seeking to defend is not national security. It is their own security from scrutiny. Here are a few things they have tried to hide.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE REPORTS
New documents released by the Department of Defense
reveal more cases of abuse including mock executions and use of a
religious symbol to taunt detainees, the American Civil Liberties Union
said today. --snip--
in a set of documents released by
the FBI in response to the ACLU's FOIA in December, a Guantánamo
detainee alleged that a guard told him he beat him because the guard
was a Christian and the detainee was a Muslim.
government's own documents describe literally hundreds of instances in
which prisoners have been abused by U.S. military and intelligence
personnel," said ACLU Staff Attorney Jameel Jaffer. "In light of what
the documents show, it is simply astounding that senior military and
civilian officials still have not been held accountable."
An Army document dated December 30, 2003 stating
that three Army personnel received administrative punishments -- rather
than criminal sanctions -- for abuse of Iraqi detainees.
Sergeant was found guilty of knocking an Iraqi detainee to the ground,
repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen and head, and encouraging
her subordinates to do the same.
A Staff Sergeant was found guilty of
holding a detainee's legs apart while other soldiers kicked him in the
groin, abdomen and head.
A third soldier was found guilty of violently
twisting a detainee's previously injured arm and causing him to scream
August 23, 2002, a detainee told an interviewer of being "kicked in the
stomach and back by several individuals" after being turned over to
U.S. authorities. On one occasion during prayer time, a soldier placed
his foot on [his] head and sat on his head." Another interviewer was
told on August 28, 2002 of a detainee being "kicked violently in the
jaw" after he tripped and fell while handcuffed.
Several detainees spoke of suicidal thoughts while in custody. In
December 2002, one reported that "40-50 detainees intended to commit
suicide after Ramadan ended because they were tired of being detained
with no prospect of being released and they were tired of being
mistreated by guards."
An interviewer noted that the "mental condition of the detainees is to
the point where the detainees are participating in a hunger strike.
[They] are upset with the way they are treated by the guards." One man
had not eaten in six days or changed his clothes and "insisted on being
charged with a crime or released."
In April 2003, a detainee told interviewers that a female guard fondled
his genitals while male guards held him down. She told him that she was
having her menstrual period and "she wiped blood from her body on his
face and head." (A similar incident is described in a recently released
book by former Guantánamo interrogator Erik Saar.)
Dick Cheney should be glad Larry King is such a soft touch. Cheney should be glad he is not in court under oath when he tells his lies. Then he would go to jail, a jail he should hope is not so dark as Guantanoamo.
WE AMERICANS MAY DISAGREE ON MUCH But All Americans Share a Need for Truth to Light Our Way into a Bright Future. To realize the possibilities of our future, we must honestly confront the questions of our past. It is the duty of Americans to support the President when our nation is in danger. It is the duty of a patriot to ask if our reasons for going to war are good and wise ones.
The dead quietly demand that we always do our best, that their sacrifice not be in vain. The dead deserve truth. After Downing Street and The Big Brass Alliance seek truth: when did our president decide to go to war and why? The dead once served for his decisions, the dead died for those decisions as well. The dead deserve the dignity of an answer for those decisions. And we the living do as well. Here are some links with thoughts to ponder today:
WATCH WHAT YOU DO, WATCH WHAT YOU SAY Bush Administration Would Again Be Voyuer on Your Habits Whether you like the porn of politics or elect to watch wicked wantons, the Bush Administration wants to know your preferences on the Internet and has appealed a judge's ruling so it can see what you see.
AP May 27, 2005: The legal filing with the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New
York comes amid a debate in Congress over renewal of the Patriot Act
and whether to expand the FBI's power to seek records without the approval of a judge or grand jury.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero of New York last year blocked the
government from conducting secret searches of communications records,
saying the law that authorized them wrongly barred legal challenges and
imposed a gag order on affected businesses.
The government wants to know what you do in secret, in the privacy of your own home. However, it does not want you to know what it is doing to find out what you are doing. That information must remain SECRET.
The bone of contention that the government would prefer buried out of sight is the National Security Letter, a document to be presented to a judge to allow access to your private affairs.
AP:The ruling came in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and an Internet access firm that received a national security letter
from the FBI demanding records. The identity of the firm remains secret.
The government was authorized to pursue communications records as
part of a 1986 law. Its powers were enhanced by the Patriot Act in 2001.
The administration said the judge's ruling was off the mark because
the company did mount a legal challenge to the demand for records. "Yet
in this very case, the recipient of the NSL did precisely what the NSLs
supposedly prevent recipients from doing," the filing said.
The law's ban on disclosing that such a letter has been received
also is appropriate because of legitimate security concerns, the
So what is a National Security Letter?
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security offers the following definition: National Security Letter (NSL) – an administrative subpoena that can be used only ininternational counterterrorism or foreign counterintelligence investigations. An administrative subpoena allows the FBI to request documents or testimony without priorapproval from a grand jury, court, or other judicial entity. NSLs cannot be used in criminal investigations unrelated to international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. source
The first security concern of our government should be that we are free to exercise out liberty. The most disquieting aspect of the government's argument is that everything needs to be done as it deems appropriate and what it deems appropriate must be done in secret. History is replete with abuse done in secret. True safe guards for liberty have no need for secrecy of the sort the government wants.
The "national security letter" provision of the Patriot Act goes too far in letting the government secretly gather confidential records and gagging those ordered to turn them over, the American Civil Liberties Union said in testimony before a key panel of lawmakers Thursday.
"This provision lets the government force businesses to turn over confidential records in ‘national security investigations,’ even if the investigation isn’t linked to criminal activity," said Gregory T. Nojeim, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, who appeared before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. "Those served with these secret order are gagged from telling anyone about it. Lawmakers need to make sure these letters aren’t used to gather information about lawful political or religious activities that are protected under the Constitution."
Justice Department and the administration have argued that this
national security letter power was on the books long before the Patriot
Act. But that’s not the whole truth, the ACLU noted. While the statute
struck down was enacted in 1986, the Patriot Act dramatically expanded
original statute allowed the FBI to issue national security letters
only where it had reason to believe that the subject of the letter was
a "foreign agent," like a spy or a terrorist. Section 505 of the
Patriot Act removes the individualized suspicion requirement and
authorizes the FBI to use national security letters to obtain
information about anyone at all if the FBI says the records are relevant to an intelligence investigation.
A key failing of the government's argument is that everyone be open to indiscriminate investigation. The government's own methods of inquiry, however, cannot be open to any inquiry. Watch what we say, not what we do.
WHEN THE BIG ONE BLOWS The Filibuster Battles thus Far Have Been Pops from a Peashooter Compared to the Bomb to Blow Up When Rhenquist Retires. The Supreme Court’s power is embodied in its Chief Justice. While some claim the Court is the weakest of the three branches of government, others see it as the branch that offers shade to liberty or oppression, as the branch that breaks in political winds. Today blows more than most realize. Tomorrow could blow even worse.
AP May 30, 2005:''The vacancy could come anytime after this Memorial Day weekend, we
think," said Sean Rushton, director of the conservative Committee for
Justice, which has close ties to the White House counsel's office.
John O. McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University and former
deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's office of
legal counsel, said he thinks Bush might have made up his mind.
''This White House -- I congratulate it on its ability to be secret,"
McGinnis said. ''It's entirely possible that Rehnquist has already
communicated his intention to step down and the White House has a plan
McGinnis is most likely right. That Rhenquist would communicate his intentions to the White House is not surprising given his strongly rooted Republican past in Arizona or his role in the judicial election coup of Florida 2000. Democrats with memory of elephants rather than donkeys will remember Rhenquist was Nixon's hit man in the Watergate's Saturday Night Massacre. What is surprising is that people continue to think Supreme Court Justices are any less partisan than the more rabid nutjobs in Congress and the White House.
CONNECT THE DOTS . . . today soldiers . . . end up in coffins . . . in the ground . . . when a people . . . blindly follow leaders . . . leaders with their heads . . . . in the clouds . . . or somewhere . . . far below heaven . . . what we have . . . seen before . . . we must not. . . allow to happen . . . again . . . History repeats itself, a stutter of stupidity unstopped, unless we give voice to our better mind, a conscience to conquer brutality dressed in deception.
FOR THE GOOD AND THE TRUE War Must Be Fought Only for the Good and the True. Or soldiers die for falsehoods. War must be fought only for the good and true. Or civilization fades. War must be fought only for the good and true. Or we lose our soldiers and our souls. Lies must be fought for the good and the true to have any meaning. Lies must be contested for the good and the true to find some solace in the sacrifice of soldiers.
The lies our leaders have told have been documented. We must respond with strength now or find ourselves later weaker. George Bush has lied repeatedly about how we ended up in war in Iraq. The lives of our soldiers, the soul of our nation are by his actions dishonored.
Let us not say now, as others did then, that we didn’t know and that we did nothing. George Bush must be held accountable for his lies, his high crimes, and his many misdemeanors. An alliance against this evil is forming. You are invited to join, to stand now and be counted.
HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH And Hell Holds Open a Special Place for writers like John Tierney. Our better angels have come to defeat forever what has bedeviled mankind. John Tierney is the happy herald of this happy talk. Tierney cites Greg Easterbrook in The End of War?
At least Easterbrook offers The End the question mark it deserves. John Tierney is more of an exclamation point kind of guy!!! War is so yesterday!!! The future is for we who see war is diminishing!!!! If the war in Iraq teaches us anything, just because someone says something does not make it so. But let's just wish it so!!!!!!!!!
JOHN TIERNEY/ NEW YORK TIMES: You would never guess it from the news, but we're living in a
peculiarly tranquil world. The new edition of "Peace and Conflict," a
biennial global survey being published next week by the University of
Maryland, shows that the number and intensity of wars and armed
conflicts have fallen once again, continuing a steady 15-year decline
that has halved the amount of organized violence around the world.
Those statistics are no solace for mourners in Iraq and Darfur. But
so many other people are now living in peace that you don't have be a
dreamer like John Lennon to take seriously the question raised by Gregg
Easterbrook in this week's New Republic cover story, "The End of War?"
I posed that question nearly a decade ago to my favorite prophet,
Julian Simon, the economist who spent his career refuting doomsayers'
predictions. He was convinced that three horsemen of the apocalypse -
famine, pestilence, death - were in rapid retreat, and he suspected
that the fourth was in trouble, too.
"I predict that the incidence of war will decline," he told me in
1996, two years before his death. He based his prediction on the
principle that there is less and less to be gained economically from
war. As people get richer and smarter, their lives and their knowledge
become far more valuable than the land, minerals and natural resources
they used to fight over.
The Iraq war is sometimes described, by both foes and supporters,
as a pragmatic venture to keep oil flowing, but not even the most
ruthless accountant can justify the expense. Even before the war,
America's military costs in the Persian Gulf were much greater than the
value of all the oil it was getting from the region, and now it's
spending at least four times what the oil's worth.
Of course, wars are also fought for noneconomic reasons, but those, too, seem to be diminishing.
These benign trends may be hard to believe, especially if you've been watching pictures from Iraq or listening to warnings about terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. One explosion could indeed change everything.
But before you dismiss the optimists as hopeless naifs, you might ask yourself if you're suffering from the malaise described in a book by Mr. Easterbrook called "The Progress Paradox": the better life gets, the worse people feel. The more peaceful and wealthy the world becomes, the more time we all have to watch wars and warnings on television.
So now war makes us feel bad because we have the time to watch the explosions, when instead we should just pack up the SUV and hit the road? Forget those explosions. Life really is better for people, people who don’t care about explosions that happen to other people
Yes, an explosion would change everything, particularly for the people getting blown up. As people get richer and smarter, they may have no true rational economic incentive to go to war. As if people went to war for rational reasons . . . The rational is a veneer over an unholy wood of passion, the deceiving and benevolent green leaf that hides the venomous snake beneath it.
I have a competing theory about war and about intelligence. Perhaps war, like intelligence, is a virus. A virus replicates, but only takes life from its host. The virus changes form, its manifestations and infestations mutate, but the disease and war remain constant visitors dark at our door.
Mister Tierney, as his employer The New York Times would call him, is not an idiot. He merely sounds like one.
What do you think? Is it possible to end all war? Or can we only diminish the circumstances that create the unhealthy water in which war spawns? Should we congratulate ourselves now and pack up the SUV? Or should people like this pack up their arguments and take off somewhere?
Those who glorify war have probably never seen its horrors. Those who have seen those horrors will never forget them. May we remember those who can never forget. May we never forget those who never had a chance to remember.
These fought, in any case, and some believing, pro domo, in any case ..
Some quick to arm, some for adventure, some from fear of weakness, some from fear of censure, some for love of slaughter, in imagination, learning later ...
some in fear, learning love of slaughter; Died some pro patria, non dulce non et decor" ..
walked eye-deep in hell believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving came home, home to a lie, home to many deceits, home to old lies and new infamy;
usury age-old and age-thick and liars in public places.
Daring as never before, wastage as never before. Young blood and high blood, Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;
fortitude as never before
frankness as never before, disillusions as never told in the old days, hysterias, trench confessions, laughter out of dead bellies.
from “Hugh Selwyn Mauberly” Ezra Pound
*** I will take the beating, I will take the beating Drums of war, the beating Anger in men’s hearts. I will take the beating Drum skins. I will hear The beating in their reverb, In the prison dark and the desert raid. I will stretch drum skins To make a talking tent.
Come the English And the Irish, Give us but a part Of the heat of your anger. Come the Arab and the Jew, The uniform and the insurgent. Sacrifice some of the heat of your anger To make a first fire, Both heat and light. And feel the beating One heart in us all.