The Age of Torture...
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Editor, The Konformist
Watching Obama morph into Dick Cheney
By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Contributing Writer
May 22, 2009
America has lost her soul, and so has her president.
A despairing country elected a president who promised change. Americans arrived from every state to witness in bitter cold Barack Obama's swearing in ceremony. The mall was packed in a way that it has never been for any other president.
The people's good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the special interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.
The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.
Obama has not been in office four months and already a book could be written about his broken promises.
Obama said he would close the torture prison, Guantanamo, and abolish the kangaroo courts known as military tribunals. But now he says he is going to reform the tribunals and continue the process, but without confessions obtained with torture. Getting behind Obama's validation of the Bush/Cheney policy, House Democrats pulled the budget funding that was to be used for closing Guantanamo.
The policy of kidnapping people (usually on the basis of disinformation supplied by their enemies) and whisking them off to Third World prisons to be interrogated is to be continued. Again, Obama has substituted a "reform" for his promise to abolish an illegal policy. Rendition, Obama says, has also been reformed and will no longer involve torture. How would anyone know? Is Obama going to assign a US government agent to watch over the treatment given to disappeared people by Third World thugs? Given the proclivity of American police to brutalize US citizens, nothing can save the victims of rendition from torture.
Obama has defended the Bush/Cheney warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency and broadened the government's legal argument that "sovereign immunity" protects government officials from prosecution and civil suits when they violate US law and constitutional protections of citizens. Obama's Justice Department has taken up the defense of Donald Rumsfeld against a case brought by detainees whose rights Rumsfeld violated.
In a signing statement this month, Obama abandoned his promise to protect whistleblowers who give information of executive branch illegality to Congress.
Obama is making even more expansive claims of executive power than Bush. As Bruce Fine puts it: "In principle, President Obama is maintaining that victims of constitutional wrongdoing by the U.S. government should be denied a remedy in order to prevent the American people and the world at large from learning of the lawlessness perpetrated in the name of national security and exacting political and legal accountability."
Obama, in other words, is committed to covering up the Bush regime's crimes and to ensuring that his own regime can continue to operate in the same illegal and unconstitutional ways.
Obama is fighting the release of the latest batch of horrific torture photos that have come to light. Obama claims that release of the photos would anger insurgents and cause them to kill our troops. That, of course, is nonsense. Those resisting occupation of their land by US troops and NATO mercenaries are already dedicated to killing our troops, and they know that Americans torture whomever they capture. Obama is fighting the release of the photos, because he knows the barbaric image that the photos present of the US military will undermine the public's support for the wars that enrich the military/security complex, appease the Israel Lobby, and repay the campaign contributions that elect the US government.
As for bringing the troops home from Iraq, this promise, too, has been reformed. To the consternation of his supporters, Obama is leaving 50,000 US soldiers in Iraq. The others are being sent to Afghanistan and to Pakistan, where on Obama's watch war has broken out big time with already one million refugees from the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
Meanwhile, war with Iran remains a possibility, and at Washington's insistence, NATO is conducting war games on former Soviet territory, thus laying the groundwork for future enrichment of the US military/security complex. The steeply rising US unemployment rate will provide the needed troops for Obama's expanding wars.
Obama can give a great speech without mangling the language. He can smile and make people believe his rhetoric. The world, or much of it, seems to be content with the soft words, which now drape Dick Cheney's policies in pursuit of executive supremacy and US hegemony.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.
Media Ignores Real Controversy Behind Torture Photos; They Show Prison Guards Raping Children
Former Governor Jesse Ventura: Let Me Judge Torture Photos On Behalf Of The American People
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The real reason behind Obama's reversal of a decision to release the torture photos has been almost completely ignored by the corporate media - the fact that the photos show both US and Iraqi soldiers raping teenage boys in front of their mothers.
The Obama administration originally intended to release photos depicting torture and abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of May, following a court order arising out of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit first filed by the ACLU in 2004.
However, a reversal of Obama's decision was announced this week, after he "changed his mind after viewing some of the images and hearing warnings from his generals in Iraq and in Afghanistan that such a move would endanger US troops deployed there," according to a Washington Post report.
In response, the ACLU charged that Obama "has essentially become complicit with the torture that was rampant during the Bush years by being complicit in its coverup." The Obama administration has also sought to protect intelligence officials involved in torture from prosecution at every turn.
The primary reason why Obama is now blocking the release of the photos is that some of the pictures, as well as video recordings, show prison guards sodomizing young boys in front of their mothers, both with objects as well as physical rape.
This horrific detail has been almost completely ignored by the establishment media in their coverage of the story this week, despite the fact that it's been in the public domain for nearly five years, after it was first revealed by investigative Seymour Hersh during an ACLU conference in July 2004.
"Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay?" said Hersh. "Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib The women were passing messages out saying `Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."
Hersh's contention that minors were raped by prison guards while others filmed the vulgar spectacle is backed up by a leaked Abu Ghraib memorandum highlighted in a 2004 London Guardian report, in which detainees Kasim Hilas describes "the rape of an Iraqi boy by a man in uniform". The testimony was also part of the military's official Taguba Report into the torture at Abu Ghraib.
"I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid's ass," Mr Hilas told military investigators. "I couldn't see the face of the kid because his face wasn't in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures."
Another inmate, Thaar Dawod, described more abuse of teenage boys.
"They came with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Grainer [Corporal Charles Graner, one of the military policemen facing court martial] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners," he said.
A 2004 London Telegraph report also described photos which showed "US soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death and having sex with a female PoW," as well as a videotape, apparently made by US personnel, which shows "Iraqi guards raping young boys".
Former Governor Jesse Ventura today offered a solution to the controversy surrounding President Obama's decision to reverse an earlier promise to release the torture photos - let Ventura see the photos on behalf of the American people and then decide if they should be released.
Ventura told the Alex Jones Show today, "How about if I step forward on behalf of the taxpayers and the citizens of the great United States of America - and I wanna go public with this - I will represent us, let me go where these photos are, let me go inside and see them and let me come out and report back as to what these photos are."
"I think I have the right to do that, I think they have no right to keep me from doing that, you know why? I pay their salaries and I'm a governor, I'm a mayor, I'm a former Navy SEAL, I had a top secret security clearance - I think I'm fully qualified to walk in and view these photos," said Ventura, adding, "I'll report to the public, what it is why we shouldn't be able to see them because I understand it could infuriate the enemy, but I'm not the enemy and therefore I think I have every right to see these photos in private."
Conservative radio hosts gets waterboarded, and lasts six seconds before saying its torture
Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Chicago radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided he'd get himself waterboarded to prove the technique wasn't torture.
It didn't turn out that way. "Mancow," in fact, lasted just six or seven seconds before crying foul. Apparently, the experience went pretty badly -- "Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop," according to NBC Chicago.
"The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South told his audience before he was waterboarded on air. "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this."
Mancow was set on a 7-foot long table with his legs elevated and his feet tied.
"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face...I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "
The upshot? "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow told listeners. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
"Absolutely. I mean that's drowning," he added later. "It is the feeling of drowning."
"If I knew it was gonna be this bad, I would not have done it," he said.
The 42-year-old radio host is no stranger to controversy. In 2005, he was maligned for saying that then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean was "vile," "bloodthirsty," "evil" and "should be kicked out of America."
Ventura: I'll waterboard Hannity into saying Obama best president ever
By Mike Sheehan
May 22, 2009
After ripping George W. Bush and expressing his desire to waterboard Dick Cheney, former governor Jesse Ventura continues his media storm, this time in a sitdown with Huffington Post.
The ex-pro wrestler minced no words, as usual.
Americans have changed "in that we have a paranoia that there's a crazy Arab around every tree," Ventura told Marcus Baram. "We're walking on eggshells now, when in reality you have as much chance of running into a terrorist as winning the Powerball."
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He ripped into conservative talkers, such as Bill O'Reilly: "I always want to go on [his show], I've got something, I'm going to blast him for something. I don't want to reveal what it is so he can't prepare. But he doesn't have the courage to have me on."
On Sean Hannity, whose show Ventura guested on this week: "He's scared to death of me. It was over in a few minutes and that was it."
The former Navy SEAL said he'd relish an opportunity to waterboard Hannity, a procedure he endured himself during military training: "I'll bet him a thousand bucks that I can get him to say `Barack Obama is the greatest president' if I get him to say it, he'll give the thousand to charity and if I can't, I'll give the money to charity."
Ventura didn't spare Democrats either, on torture: "They condoned it. Nobody stepped forward and said this is torture. Democrats are so spineless, so afraid to go against the tide."
The always quotable Ventura has made memorable appearances on Fox News and The View in recent days, blasting the use of torture and questioning the official story of 9/11, which caused co-host Brian Kilmeade to walk off the set of Fox & Friends.
Right-wing military writer: We may have to kill war journalists
Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Former soldier Ralph Peters has carved out quite a niche for himself in the world of publishing. His work regularly lands on the pages of The New York Post and has cropped up in USA Today. He's even a special contributor to Fox News.
But after today's showing, in his latest column for the Journal of International Security Affairs, Mr. Peters seemingly treads very close to finding himself at odds with his journalistic colleagues.
After all, reporters don't really like it when the editorial page calls for consideration of grinding them into bloody chunks as a matter of war policy.
In his latest essay, in a segment titled "The killers without guns," Peters suggests that the media is responsible for "saving" Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, but that media had "failed to defeat" the U.S. government's charge toward Iraq.
"Rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists' bloody altar," he gallingly charges.
Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow's conventional wisdom.
Because, of course, in Peters' mind America can do no wrong:
The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity's interests, while our failures nourish monsters.
Jason Linkins over at Huffington Post evicerates this stunning outpouring of hatred.
I must say, considering the line-up of Neoconservative half-stars that is the Journal of International Security Affairs editorial board, this tripe is not surprising.
This reporter, in a rare editorial capacity, can only personally hope the emergence of such breathtaking savagery disguised as intelligent discourse will serve as an example to other rational thinkers as to how dangerous hyper-militarism and hawkish Neoconservatism really is.