Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter 2

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Johann Sebastian Bach - "Christ lag in Todes Banden" (BWV 4):

1. Sinfonia.

2. Choral.

Christ lag in Todesbanden
Für unsre Sünd gegeben,
Er ist wieder erstanden
Und hat uns bracht das Leben;
Des wir sollen fröhlich sein,
Gott loben und ihm dankbar sein
Und singen halleluja,

Christ lay in death's bonds
given over for our sins,
He has risen again
and brought us life;
therefore we should be joyful,
praise God and be thankful to Him
and sing Hallelujah,

3. Duett.

Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt
Bei allen Menschenkindern,
Das macht' alles unsre Sünd,
Kein Unschuld war zu finden.
Davon kam der Tod so bald
Und nahm über uns Gewalt,
Hielt uns in seinem Reich gefangen.

No one could defeat death
among all humanity,
this was all because of our sins,
no innocence was to be found.
Therefore death came so soon
and took power over us,
held us captive in his kingdom.

4. Choral.

Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn,
An unser Statt ist kommen
Und hat die Sünde weggetan,
Damit dem Tod genommen
All sein Recht und sein Gewalt,
Da bleibet nichts denn Tods Gestalt,
Den Stach'l hat er verloren.

Jesus Christ, God's son,
has come in our place,
and has done away with sin,
thereby taking from death
all his rights and power,
nothing remains but death's form;
he has lost his sting.

Cantus Cölln.
Dir. Konrad Junghänel.

--the BB

Quasimodo 2009

I have emerged somewhat from creating background to writing again. Time to explore the courts of the prince and one of his cousins.

Staying home, with only two brief outings in four days, has paid off. I have just a touch of sinus congestion and my lungs are doing well so far. I look forward to going back to work. Cabin fever has definitely set in.

So I will be preaching and presiding tomorrow while Mother Rhonda does the baptism of young Keira and Mother Sandra does the chrismation. The first baptism in our little mission! Very exciting.

How many sermons have you heard on doubting Thomas? I am not going to preach on that tomorrow. I am going to preach on the sacred wounds of Jesus and some mystical theology instead, drawing on the Anima Christi prayer and Dame Julian of Norwich. I do have a good sermon on Thomas but I preached it to this gang last year on Easter 2.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
If you wonder about the "Quasimodo" that is the name of this Sunday from the incipit of its traditional introit: Quasimodo geniti infantes ... (from 1 Peter 2:2-3 "Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.") With the baptismal themes of 1 Peter it's perfect for tomorrow!

Here is a chap singing it rather well in a cold room last February.

--the BB

Do the math

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003"

Ponder the forced experience of drowning six times a day for a month.

This is from the Inspector General's CIA report, not from some left-wing bleeding heart.

I believe KSM is a very evil man, who should have been tried in a legitimate court of law. I have no good thing to say about him or on his behalf. The problem is, once you have tortured someone you have almost no chance of trying and convicting someone. All your evidence is tainted.

As emptywheel puts it, it cannot have been very effective if they had to do it that often.

According to the OLC guidelines....
...where authorized, it may be used for two "sessions" per day of up to two hours. During a session, water may be applied up to six times for ten seconds or longer (but never more than 40 seconds). In a 24-hour period, a detainee may be subjected to up to twelve minutes of water appliaction. See id. at 42. Additionally, the waterboard may be used on as many as five days during a 30-day approval period.

So if they could only do it five days a month, it would have been thirty times a day. Hmmm. The math is just not working for me.

Read more here.
--the BB

A meet-up in Albuquerque

In this case it's not a blog chum but a high school classmate. Norma Smith is in town this weekend and we got to have lunch together with her friend Mandy, who publishes the Albuquerque Almanac.

Norma and I were in Mr. Amend's humanities class at Fresno High School. We met one other time since high school days, when she was visiting in Berkeley in the 80s. At that time she had been working at a newspaper in Managua, Nicaragua. Currently she lives in Oakland and works with The Edge of Each Other's Battles Project ("bringing together social justice academics with grassroots community-based projects to work collaboratively toward social change").

It was nice to do a bit of catching up. I wonder if anyone could begin to predict their life's journey. We have certainly had interesting times.

As for the photo, she says she brings out the halo in others. That must surely be the case because I know I wasn't dragging along any halo of my own today.

--the BB

The beginning of springtime

Charles Baudelaire

La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L’homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l’observent avec des regards familiers.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d’enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
—Et d’autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l’expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l’ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l’encens
Qui chantent les transports de l’esprit et des sens.

Just for different (I know we're tired of reading about torture).

So here are some photos I took in the yard this morning.

Our Lady's Mantle is in bloom (yes, that's another name for rosemary).

The Thompson seedless grapevine is flourishing.

Lady Banks has reached over to embrace the trumpet vine and is now in bloom.

And - hooray! - lilacs by the dooryard now bloom.

--the BB

"The United States ... is committed to conducting criminal investigations.... - UPDATED

VIENNA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA interrogators who used waterboarding on terrorism suspects amounts to a breach of international law, the U.N. rapporteur on torture said.

"The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court," U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard.

Just saying. Read it all here.

MADDOW: Can't a president actually decide who gets prosecuted for breaking a law and who doesn't?

TURLEY: Well, he's not supposed to.

h/t to Susie Madrak at C&L
--the BB

"the prisoner had already told them all he knew"

How many times must we be reminded that torture is not effective?
The first use of waterboarding and other rough treatment against a prisoner from Al Qaeda was ordered by senior Central Intelligence Agency officials despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum.

The escalation to especially brutal interrogation tactics against the prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, including confining him in boxes and slamming him against the wall, was ordered by officials at C.I.A. headquarters based on a highly inflated assessment of his importance, interviews and a review of newly released documents show.

Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said.
--New York Times

[Emphasis mine]

One really should read the entire article.

--the BB

"What have we become?"

OPOL (One Pissed Off Liberal) has a post up today titled "Just Following Orders." I commend it to your attention.

It includes a pertinent reminder for us all:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

United Nations Convention Against Torture
OPOL has some comments (with which I concur):
Damn them! Damn them all - every last one of them who ordered, excused or participated at any level in torture. There is no excusing it. They should be investigated, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. There should be no exceptions. Period.

The very thought that we would let them get away with this is repugnant. What have we become? We executed Germans and Japanese for acts such as these. ‘Just following orders’ was deemed to be no excuse at all. Now we’re just going to look the other way because it’s our guys doing the torture? How can anybody be okay with this? How can we let this stand?


If these crimes go unpunished, no one will ever again be safe from the possibility of torture - not our soldiers and not our citizens. The USA no longer has a moral leg to stand on when it comes to opposing anyone’s torture by foreign governments or from any other party. And if our government can torture foreign nationals with impunity, who’s to say that they cannot do the same to American citizens? No one, that’s who.
It is up to the American People to insist that investigations take place and action taken. We must make the White House and Congress do what is right.

--the BB

Friday, April 17, 2009

But we need to know

A gallant woman by the name of Heather is sharing stories that explain her opposition to torture. Her husband was tortured in Vietnam and she ultimately lost him to the consequences of that. She has emerged with an implacable stance against torture and she wants to do all she can to prevent it happening.

Yesterday she told her husband's story.
My husband, Dan, was a Vietnam Vet who survived torture. He came home with injuries that lasted for the rest of his life. Dan had scars all over his body, where they had cut him, and a trench in the back of his neck, where they had beaten him. His toenails had to be taken off three times when he got back to the US, because the bamboo poisoning was so bad where they had inflicted pain to get him to give them the answers they wanted. Even after the third removal of all of his toenails, the infection was so insidious that it came back and stayed for the rest of his life..

Today she tells the story of a German of Turkish ethnicity who wound up in Guantánamo.Blockquote We owe it to ourselves to know this story.
Mr. Kurnaz was born in Bremen, Germany, had always lived in Germany, and was of Turkish descent. In Germany, those of Turkish descent having a much more difficult time becoming German citizens even those born in Germany. In 2001, he decided to learn more about his religion, Islam, in preparation for his Turkish wife joining him, so he traveled to Pakistan to learn from peaceful Imams. Enroute back to Germany, on December 1, 2001, he was taken off a bus in Pakistan, and taken to a prison in Peshawar, Pakistan, then to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and, finally to Guantanamo Bay, where he remained until August 4th, 2006.

When they hung me up backwards, it felt as though my shoulders were going to break. They bound my hands behind my back and hoisted me up. I could remember seeing something like that in a movie once - only in the film, it was Americans being strung up by the Vietnamese with their hands behind their backs until they died.


I didn't recognize the man. He was hanging as I was from the ceiling. I couldn't tell whether he was dead or alive. His body was mostly swollen and blue, although in some places it was pale and white. I could see a lot of blood in his face, dark streams of it. His head lolled to one side. I couldn't see his eyes.

Anne Applebaum explored the concept that torture can be effective in The Washington Post on January 12, 2005.
By contrast, it is easy to find experienced U.S. officers who argue precisely the opposite. Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

Or listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the "batting average" might be lower: "perhaps six out of ten." And if you beat up the remaining four? "They'll just tell you anything to get you to stop."
Jeannine Bell of the Indiana University-Bloomington, Maurer School of Law, published a scholarly paper on the issue. Here is the abstract:
This Essay attempts to add a bit of realism to the theoretical debate on torture by urging that we take a shrewd look at the quality of information brutal interrogations produce. Looking at popular discourse about torture, this Essay recognizes widespread belief in what it calls the torture myth - the idea that torture is the most effective interrogation practice. In reality, this Essay argues, in addition to moral and legal problems, the use of torture carries with it a host of practical problems which seriously blunt its effectiveness. This Essay maintains that contrary to the myth, torture doesn't always produce the desired information and, in the cases in which it does, it may not produce it in a timely fashion. In the end the Essay concludes, that any marginal benefit of torture is low because traditional techniques of interrogation may be as good, and possibly even better at producing valuable intelligence without torture's tremendous costs.
Let us also recall the article by Peter Finn and Joby Warrick in The WaPo on March 29, 2009:
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida -- chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates -- was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.


Since 2006, Senate intelligence committee members have pressed the CIA, in classified briefings, to provide examples of specific leads that were obtained from Abu Zubaida through the use of waterboarding and other methods, according to officials familiar with the requests.

The agency provided none, the officials said.

If you would like to petition Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor, FireDogLake has a place where you can add your name. I did.

I also joined the ACLU today as a way to thank them for getting the memos released.

--the BB

Eastertide calls for trumpets, no?

Tine Thing Helseth: Haydn Trumpet Concerto, 3rd mvt

A little gratuitous Haydn for a gray Friday (where I am anyway).

--the BB

At long last, have they no shame? (Obviously not.) - UPDATED

Digby has a good article posted today on the torture memos released yesterday and the whole phenomenon of torture as planned, implemented, and "justified" in the Bush administration. She provides some history and context.
They are all war criminals, from the nice looking Mormon sadists who call themselves doctors, to the twisted bureaucrats in the Justice Department who call themselves lawyers, to the top leadership of the Bush administration who sat there and watched choreographed torture sessions in the White House and have the utter gall to call themselves human. They all knew that what they were doing was repulsive and immoral. That's why went to such lengths to ensure that all of it was approved with all the is dotted and all the ts crossed all the way to the very top and back down again. They all implicated each other.

Apparently, they assumed that nobody would ever prosecute even one of these very important, upstanding members of their professions for horrific crimes such as these because if [one] went down they would all go down. And apparently they were right.


And no reflection or retribution is not the answer. Prosecution is the answer. If these aren't criminal acts, nothing is. It's the stuff of nightmares.
She also makes the point that while we replicated KGB techniques of an earlier era, those techniques were designed to provoke false confessions, not useful information.

Andrew Sullivan writes at length about "The Bigger Picture" in all this.
Looked at from a distance, the Bush administration wanted to do two things at once: to declare to the world that freedom is on the march, and human rights are coming to the world with American help, while simultaneously declaring to captives that the US has no interest in the law, human rights, accountability, transparency or humanity. They wanted to give hope to all the oppressed of the planet, while surgically banishing all hope from the prisoners they captured and tortured. And the only way they could pull this off is by the total secrecy they constructed and defended. So we had a public government respectful of the rule of law, and a secret government whose main goal was persuading terror suspects that there was no rule of law at all. It is hard to convey just how dangerous this was and is.

--the BB

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India

This is tragic news:
Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.


"Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well."

Mr Sahu lives in a district that recorded 206 farmer suicides last year. Police records for the district add that many deaths occur due to debt and economic distress.

--The Independent

--the BB

Let sunlight do its healing work - UPDATED

After a tense internal debate, the Obama administration this afternoon will make public a number of detailed memos describing the harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency against al Qaeda suspects in secret overseas prisons.
--Mark Mazzetti at The New York Times

There has been some hot debate on this issue.
But the most immediate concern of C.I.A. officials is that the revelations could give new momentum to a full-blown congressional investigation into covert activities under the Bush Administration.

Other Obama administration officials, including Gregory B. Craig, the White House counsel, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder, argued that releasing the documents not only would satisfy the government’s obligation in the lawsuit, but would also put distance between President Obama and some of his predecessor’s most controversial policies.
As mcjoan, who has done so much superb work on the torture issue, puts it:
This is excellent news from the Obama administration.
Needless to say, I am all in favor of "a full-blown congressional investigation into covert activities under the Bush Administration."

The memos have been released with minor redactions. Mcjoan comments and cites statements by the President and AG Holder. You may read her post here.

Glenn Greenwald shares some of the contents and comments here. One tidbit:
One can certainly criticize Obama for vowing that no CIA officials will be prosecuted if they followed DOJ memos (though that vow, notably, does not extend to Bush officials), but -- assuming the reports about redactions are correct -- there is no grounds for criticizing Obama here and substantial grounds for praising him.
Marcy has links to the four memos at the ACLU site.

--the BB

When I was young and poor (but rich at heart)

Glendale Galleria mall owner General Growth files record bankruptcy
Los Angeles Times - ‎36 minutes ago‎
By Sandra M. Jones General Growth Properties Inc., owner of some of the nation's most prominent malls, including the Glendale Galleria, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors Thursday, marking the biggest real estate bankruptcy in US history.

Why, you may be asking, would I note this particular bankruptcy? Well, it is part of reminiscing. I used to ride the bus to work, from West Hollywood to Eagle Rock and back each day. It took me three buses in each direction to do it. All that bus time allowed me to read Morning and Evening Prayer according to the breviary of the Order of the Holy Cross, to read approximately two books a week (usually tomes of theology), and to take naps. The route was so familiar I could open my eyes a crack and know exactly where I was. In a few years of riding buses I only overslept my stop twice.

On the way home from work I changed buses right next to the Glendale Galleria. That is where I would buy fresh flowers on Friday when I could barely afford to eat. It was a symbol that I worked for more than mere survival. I don't think I ever cherished a cheap flower arrangement as much before or since then. Once in a while I would go into the Galleria and browse or shop.

That is where I acquired two of my "kids" in a post-Christmas adoption special. Selena Seal and Carlo Verro came to live with us. Selena now lives in San Diego, having been seduced by Taylor the Walrus, but Carlo, my adorably scruffy boar, is still with me.

Those are the memories I associate with the Glendale Galleria: not any intrinsic fondness for the place, just a couple of pleasant associations.

Home again today nursing my man cold. Mercifully my throat is no longer sore and tissue use has declined considerably since yesterday. Those who know me will realize I am not feeling well when I confess that I am drinking lots of water. I normally drink Diet Pepsi all day long and avoid water, which I find boring. (Don't even think of a health lecture on this; I choose my vices and am a stubborn Taurus.)

My civil war research (for my fantasy novel, not US history) is eventuating in some tentative dialogue as I return from laying groundwork to developing text. All these cousins eying the throne. Nasty business. I suspect this portion of the story will be hardest to write as it is so complex. I know how it ends but still have no idea how it will unfold.

Time to go downstairs and see if that loaf I took out of the freezer is rising.
--the BB

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The rule of law in Spain and in the United States - DiFi, Jello Jay, the CIA, and Obama

Glenn Greenwald has a good article at Salon in which he discusses one of the likely senior CIA folks who would be displeased if memos currently under consideration were to be made public, a certain Stephen Kappes.
Take Stephen Kappes. At the time of the worst torture sessions outlined in the ICRC report, Kappes served as a senior official in the Directorate of Operations—the operational part of the CIA that oversees paramilitary operations as well as the high-value detention program. (The directorate of operations is now known as the National Clandestine Service.) Panetta has kept Kappes as deputy director of the CIA—the number two official in the agency.
--John Sifton at The Daily Beast

And why is it that Stephen Kappes was made the number 2 officials at the CIA despite his being in a key CIA position during the implementation of America's torture regime? Because the two most important Senate Democrats on intelligence matters -- Jay Rockefeller and Dianne Feinstein -- insisted that he be so empowered as a condition for their supporting Panetta's nomination, after both of them first demanded that Kappes actually be made CIA Director.
--Glenn Greenwald at Salon (immediately following the preceding paragraph)

Ah, Dianne Feinstein, the gift that keeps on giving.

If any patriotic Americans feel like getting in a huff over the Spaniards it might be a good idea to review the fact that, according to our own laws and treaties, we are positively obligated to pursue possible war criminals. The Spaniards are willing to back off their legal pursuit if the U.S. undertakes its own investigations.

Right. Anyone here think we have the political will to do the right thing?

I am counting on Spain because when it comes to holding high officials accountable I, sad to say, have almost no confidence in our legal system. Our system is capable of handling this, but our Department of Justice and Congress simply don't have the teabags to do the right thing.

Greenwald notes:
Put another way, Obama has been far from neutral. At least thus far, he has been the prime agent working overtime to keep these illegal Bush policies as secret as possible and to shield them from any and all accountability.
One thing I love about blogs and the internet is access to information the traditional (read: corporate) media ignore. We can check facts, do research, disseminate news and updates, and organize to make our voices heard.

If anyone thought that progressives who complained about virtually everything Bush did are now going to roll over and agree with Obama on everything, guess again. We intend to hold him accountable to the People too.

Issues of torture, government secrecy, and evasion of the law are some of the areas where I am far from happy, no matter how good it is to have W and the Dick out of DC.

¡Viva España!
--the BB


04/15/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Cpl. Francisco X. Aguila, 35, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, died April 14 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 82nd Sustainment Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.

04/11/09 :
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

Airman 1st Class Jacob I. Ramsey, 20, of Hesperia, Calif., died April 10 of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Kabul Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 712th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Hood, Texas.

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Raul Moncada, 29, of Madera, Calif., died April 13 near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 563rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion...

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Michael J. Anaya, 23, of Crestview, Fla., died April 12 in Bayji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 10th when their military vehicle was struck by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Mosul, Iraq. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Gary L. Woods Jr., 24, of Lebanon Junction, Ky.

Sgt. 1st Class Bryan E. Hall, 32, of Elk Grove, Calif.

Sgt. Edward W. Forrest Jr., 25, of St. Louis, Mo.

Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch, 20, of Davenport, Iowa.

Pfc. Bryce E. Gautier, 22, of Cypress, Calif.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Undermining credibility

Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman write in the Murdoch Street Journal about debates over the release or withholding of certain memos:
Among the details in the still-classified memos is approval for a technique in which a prisoner's head could be struck against a wall as long as the head was being held and the force of the blow was controlled by the interrogator, according to people familiar with the memos. Another approved tactic was waterboarding, or simulated drowning.

A decision to keep secret key parts of the three 2005 memos outlining legal guidance on CIA interrogations would anger some Obama supporters who have pushed him to unveil now-abandoned Bush-era tactics. It would also go against the views of Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Counsel Greg Craig, people familiar with the matter said.

Top CIA officials have spoken out strongly against a full release, saying it would undermine the agency's credibility with foreign intelligence services and hurt the agency's work force, people involved in the discussions said. However, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair favors releasing the information, current and former senior administration officials said.

Releasing the memos could cause serious bad feelings between the CIA and the White House. My own opinion is that if the CIA was doing this shit, and it seems evident that they did, they really deserve no protection. Neither, of course, do members of the Bush administration who authorized it. Letting them skate through with no accountability is really not acceptable.

Marcy Wheeler's discussion of this is headlined as follows: "It’s Not the Water-Boarding, It’s the Blows to the Head."


She notes confirmation of the technique in the ICRC report that was leaked and concludes:
What the intelligence officials want to hide is that--even after they did this damage to Abu Zubadaydah (though before the ICRC called it torture in 2007)--Steven Bradbury wrote an OLC memo declaring this treatment legal.
That's the sort of thing that would get Steven Bradbury noticed by, say, Spanish courts.

--the BB

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

As for me and my house....

... we'd gladly give Texas back to Mexico.

--the BB

It's so hard to keep up with these trendy conservos

h/t to openthread at Daily Kos


--the BB

With one whole day to spare

I just e-filed the Federal, Louisiana, and New Mexico returns. I might do a victory dance except that I left work at midafternoon with a sore throat and, though I have pushed fluids and vitamin C and spent a few hours lying down, I still feel rotten. To bed.

Oh, and I had tea (green, with honey) but did not do any teabagging.

I believe MP has explained the dreaded man cold to y'all.

Sweet dreams, my little monkey flowers.
--the BB

There are threats, all right

The rabid Shih-tzu that goes by the name of Michelle Malkin is foaming at the mouth once again now that the DHS has released its internal intelligence report on right-wing extremism. La Malkin claims it is a hit job on conservatives. She evidently failed to notice that it does not mention conservatives. Now if she, as a proud conservative, wants to identify with right-wing extremists, that is a conclusion to which she may leap. She certainly is not doing anything to help distinguish between the two.

You can read about it here.

h/t to Dave Neiwert (and to the Rude Pundit who give us all the image of the rabid shih-tzu.

--the BB

I am blubbering like a girlie - Updated

Isn't that how MP usually puts it? Anyway, I hope you find this as moving as I did. Perhaps it helps to be 47 or more to appreciate it fully.

This came via our friend and broker. Embedding is disabled but you may watch and listen here. If you click "more info" on the right you can follow the lyrics.


Here are still shots of Susan showing her irrepressible spirit.

FranIAm has a great post on Susan and how she has affected us.
--the BB

I'm sorry, I can't resist

Rachel Maddow has had a tough time containing herself when she and Ana Marie Cox discuss the teabagging phenomenon so heavily promoted by the Fox Noise crowd and sundry conservative malcontents. Tonight they made numerous references to so folks could see why they are so amused without saying it explicitly on the air.

So, if you are invited to a teabagging party on April 15, in this grand and glorious protest against, well Obama and taxes (oh, that's right, he's lowered them for 95% of us!), consider this, from the aforementioned source:

Teabagging's in the news...
the insertion of one man's sack into another person's mouth. Used a practical joke or prank, when performed on someone who is asleep, or as a sexual act.
At the frat house last night, when Tim was wasted an down on the floor, he got teabagged by, like, ten guys!

Me and Jen were teabagging last night when her mom walked in. Awkward.

All right then. I heard on the radio that there would be a "tea party" in Albuquerque. I don't plan to attend but I wonder how many of these bozos know how much they all sound like dipsticks.

--the BB

El Quicko

Easter Mass was joyous. Of course.

Easter dinner was very nice. I enjoyed it even if I was pooped at the end. My BFF and I did a joint effort with ham, asparagus, beets ( glazed with honey, balsamic, and thyme), Easter pilaf, little sou boereg triangles, tsourekia (Greek Easter bread), and black bottom pie for dessert. There were chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies to take home. You don't want to know how much butter went into that meal. Very fine wines compliments of the guests, and I was not driving anywhere so I got more than usual. And slept very well last night.

I watched some TV this evening while knitting and have been working on taxes. A few more pieces to track down but it appears the net total is in my favor, so that is good. I will obviously be up tomorrow evening until it is done, but for now I'm off to bed, already way too late.

Sleep tight, my little salamanders.

Oh, my sister sent an update. Great grandniece Clara is almost big enough to return to Fresno (not to home but at least to facilities in the home town). Olivia is not there yet and they don't want to separate the girls, so they will still be at Stanford for a while. Thanks for all your prayers; I know the family appreciates the love that comes from so many directions.
--the BB

Sunday, April 12, 2009

At a significant distance

During my morning commute i often hear recruiting ads for the armed services with someone talking about how he guides drones from somewhere outside Las Vegas. It's pretty amazing to think of directing a flying object 7,000 miles away. It could certainly inspire some youngster to sign up.

Then I read something like this.
' Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides [killing] 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.'

h/t to Juan Cole

That realitiy is somewhat more dispiriting.

"Oopsie" does not quite cover it.
--the BB