Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lawless impulses and the question of why

Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston report at the New York Times today:
WASHINGTON — Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.


The Fourth Amendment bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity.


Still, at least one high-level meeting was convened to debate the issue, at which several top Bush aides argued firmly against the proposal to use the military, advanced by Mr. Cheney, his legal adviser David S. Addington and some senior Defense Department officials.

The usual suspects: Dick Cheney, David Addington, and the Oct. 23, 2001, memorandum written by John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty.

Jay Elias, whose diary today at Daily Kos drew my attention to this, asks the really interesting questions:
The lawless impulses of Dick Cheney have been well-documented, and of course this comes as no surprise. But what always shocks me, and what is of course absent from the NYT article, is any explanation as to the why. Why do this? What was the virtue, beyond a naked grasp for executive power, in doing this? What threat did the so-called Lackawanna Six pose that could not be handled by the FBI? What is the benefit to the American people if we choose to use our armed forces this way?

I have no idea. Years after the abuses instigated by Cheney first came to light, I still haven't the slightest understanding of what his motives were. And I don't suppose I'll ever know.

Updated to add: Many of you have made excellent points about the will to power, the fetish for nationalism, and the codification of executive power.

They are all plausible explanations of his immediate motives. But ultimately, I think they fail to satisfy.
The striking conclusion: "But he's a human, and there must be a more human explanation out there."

I frequently use the language and imagery of the demonic when speaking of Cheney but I also believe Elias is right. Richard Bruce Cheney was, after all, born to human parents and "his mother was a softball star in the 1930s." I even have something in common with him: he started but did not finish a doctoral program. I've done that twice. [Wikipedia]

This does not mean I am going to abandon demonic language. I do not believe in it literally but I do believe that as we give ourselves over to "the dark side" it grows in power over us. By our human choices we yield our thinking and our wills to evil. We feed it and we allow it to dominate us. Eventually it can become almost impossible to think or act otherwise. This is why language of possession or demons perdures in many cultures; it expresses something of how we understand those who appear taken over by astonishing wickedness.

One should note that it is also a way to exercise social control and personal vendettas (charges of witchcraft, etc.). We objectify our anxieties and resentments then attack the identified "other." Just think of all the sexual insecurity dealt with by trying to cast a demon of homosexuality out of someone else! No end of abuse and tragic scapegoating can result from this.

So, is Dick Cheney my convenient scapegoat, my excuse for almost everything that was wrong with the Bush years? I have no doubt there is a lot of truth to this. He can be my target for the guilt I feel over years of political inaction, my focal point for resentment over the American populace buying into all manner of irresponsible bullshit over decades and electing people with easy - and false - answers.

Cheney also pushes some of my most primal buttons and those are constellated around the accumulation and abuse of power. The abuse of power by clergy, for instance, is perhaps one of my hottest of hot buttons. It makes me incandescent with rage. Bosses who treat employees like scum. Domestic abusers. Child abusers. Corporate abusers - and isn't that what the economic crisis and our desperate attempts to rectify health care in this country have brought into focus? And politicians who accumulate power for their own ends to the great detriment of the people they should be serving.

Accumulation and abuse of power, or the desire to do so, is a central theme in my fiction. Let's face it, I am writing a whole series of novels to denounce this. Readers here will be familiar with my ongoing attacks on this in our current political and social realities.

Dick Cheney and David Addington are a matched set, dedicated to the maximum accumulation of executive power and ruthless in their disregard of law and tradition in their pursuit of that power. Torture, signing statements, expanded powers of a commander-in-chief: the horrors of recent years that have threatened our constitutional democracy are all linked to Addington (who I suspect is the real brains behind it all) and Cheney (the will behind it all). If I did believe literally in the demonic I would say they had both sold their souls and were now inhabited by demons. Figuratively, not literally, that is sadly where I am with respect to these two.

But I am not a dualist and I do believe that even they are God's creations and objects of God's love. Here is where I truly venture into faith and the "evidence of things not seen." So what shaped these two and what choices have they made, and why, over the course of their life would that eventuate into their actions in recent years and into the present?

I can only speculate that there must be some primal anxieties at work. I have no idea what those are or have been.

In any case, Jay Elias has raised an interesting issue: "Years after the abuses instigated by Cheney first came to light, I still haven't the slightest understanding of what his motives were."

--the BB

Friday, July 24, 2009

Never mess with my wimmins!

Their helms removed the two men glared at the princess. Praying to her mother’s spirit for strength, she stared back at them. It may have been her other parent’s soul that touched her, however, as she realized it might be to her advantage that she was the daughter of Bulčar the Butcher. Č. allowed her face to take on an expression she had seen many times on her father when prepared to interrogate or judge. Or worse.

Everyone wondered if this eighteen-year-old mother of an infant had what it takes to rule a principality. Today, on the battlefield, they learn she has deeper reserves than even she ever guessed. I would not want to be either of the prisoners that day.

Sweet dreams, my lecherous lizards!

--the BB

"Crash" redux - check it out

Mark, aka Марко Фризия, takes a very civil, compassionate, even-handed look at the unfortunate incident at the home of Professor Gates. Amid all the passionate rhetoric around this, I heartily commend Mark's comments to you.

"Can we ever reach a point of seeing our common humanity as the factor of greatest importance?" he wonders.

Can we?

--the BB

Behind Iowa?

Equality and the Australian Government (very cute):

My friend Rob, who lives in Australia with his partner, posted this on FB. Let's remember our siblings in Australia on 1 August!

--the BB


07/23/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Spc. Randy L.J. Neff, Jr., 22, of Blackfoot, Idaho...died July 22 in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. They were assigned to the 4th Engineer Battalion...

07/23/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Sgt. Joshua J. Rimer, 24, of Rochester, Pa...died July 22 in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. They were assigned to the 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.

07/22/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Raymundo P. Morales, 34, of Dalton, Ga., died July 21 in Methar Lam, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 148th Brigade Support Battalion, Cedartown, Ga.

07/22/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)
Sgt. Gregory Owens Jr., 24, of Garland, Texas...died July 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle followed by an attack from enemy forces using small arms...

07/22/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)
Spc. Anthony M. Lightfoot, 20, of Riverdale, Ga...died July 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle followed by an attack from enemy forces using small arms...

07/22/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)
Spc. Andrew J. Roughton, 21, of Houston, Texas...died July 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle followed by an attack from enemy forces using small arms...

07/22/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4)
Pfc. Dennis J. Pratt, 34, of Duncan, Okla...died July 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle followed by an attack from enemy forces using small arms...

May they rest in peace....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heart thread - 07/23/2009

A thanksgiving on behalf of my nephew. His cousin wrote to me tonight:
Jay had a followup appt with his doc on his leg fracture and all is good and he can go up to the cabin. Looking forward to spending some time up there with them.
Thanks for your prayers.

Please pray for my grandniece.
They are once again getting divorced after [grandniece] discovered [husband] using cocaine again a couple of weeks ago. [She] is under so much stress these days it’s brought back her migraine headaches.
For those who are looking for work, those recently laid off, the chronically unemployed, the overworked, those whose funds are running out, those who have no idea where to turn, those whose dreams this day will die.

--the BB

One of Smokey's own

Tom Marovich, Jr. from the Modoc National Forest, working with the Chester Helicopter Crew from the Lassen National Forest was killed Tuesday while performing a proficiency training exercise. The incident occurred at the Backbone Fire Helibase in Willow Creek, California.

Please keep Tom's family, loved ones, friends, and fellow Forest Service employees in your thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow.

In Honor of Tom Marovich, Jr., Secretary Vilsak has ordered flags at all USDA facilities to be flown at half staff.

I work for Smokey and pause to remember Mr. Marovich and his family at this time. Every now and again I pause to thank our fire fighters when talking with them on the phone. I suppose it is very unprofessional to interject it into a business conversation but I want them to know they are my heroes.

All my summers growing up were spent in the midst of Sequoia National Forest. The first sixty years of my life were spent in California where wildfires are a major annual threat. I recall watching flames on distant hills when I was at Mount Calvary above Santa Barbara and the Santa Ana winds scoured the landscape. I remember the Oakland-Berkeley hills fire. It's personal.

May Mr. Marovich and all who lose their lives serving others rest in peace and rise in glory.

--the BB see his crooked nose once more....

New transitional paragraphs added this evening. This speaks of the woman slain in an earlier post. The entire civil war was triggered by the assassination of her husband, who had, in his time, been a torturer and thorough villain. At this point y'all know that she too was assassinated. Perversely, his death with its immense political consequences, was a purely individual vendetta while hers, which does not change all that much except for adding more chaos, was a pointedly political act.
She missed him, even as she knew many ... rejoiced to see him gone. A widow’s life is lonely. There was Š., her joy and delight, but no prince to hold her in his arms at night, to kiss her neck or stroke her hair. She longed to see his crooked nose once more or look into his troubled green eyes but he was with [the Queen of the Dead] now and there was no coming back.


In the long summer afternoons P. stitched with ladies in waiting or strolled, with guards nearby, in the garden—never by herself yet always solitary.
I feel terribly sorry for her. If only she had lived at some other time (or been married to some other man). In the category of recurring themes that I write unconsciously, she manages to save her daughter even as she perishes. Her mother-in-law had done the same before her. I had not thought about that until just now. (Of course, there are only so many relationships and events for a storyteller to choose from. There will be items that recur, even if the subconscious is not busy. Had I planned this I would feel very clever, but instead of planning it I noticed it after the fact.)

Well, I learned today at jury duty orientation that I can take my laptop with me to jury duty. I will have to pay attention if being impaneled or during a trial, of course, but if I am just waiting around I can work on the novel. Tempting.

It's Friday Eve!

Sweet dreams, my frizzy little frittilaries!

--the BB

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

La guerre, ce n'est pas un jeu

No, yesterday's rains were not the genesis of this scene. I had already set the weather that day to constant rain. But last night's storm surely influenced the writing.

They allowed themselves extra wine as they camped that night, listening to the rain’s rhythm against the skin of their tent. P’s husband L. wished he felt as content as his wife and brother-in-law appeared. All he could feel was wet, tired, bruised, and anxious. Dreams of glory shattered against the heaps of bodies he had witnessed day after day, all sent to the stars, largely untended by those who loved them. Each drop of [the weeping goddess’] tears was like the impact of sword, club, pike, arrow, lance, stone, or fist upon flesh—the tent enclosing them like the frail matter encasing human hearts, battered, battered, battered until the heart could take no more. Exhausted, he sank into troubled sleep as T. and P. discussed their plans.
The armies begin to collide. It is no longer scattered skirmishes or sieges here and there. Now the three distant cousins truly go at it for the throne.

There is, in the long term, a happy ending. Most of my tales, though certainly not all, end on notes of happiness or hope. But this is not a pretty tale.

I suppose the usual formula would be for things to get darker and darker in a series only to end in a burst of light. In my case, book 8 ends in disaster and book 10 in heartbreak. Final curtain. You need to find the light and hope along the way. Bittersweet is my preferred aesthetic.

(The love of my life is a Celt; what do you expect if not bittersweet?)

Bonne nuit, mes amis.

--le BB

A milestone, I guess

Y'all know what an endlessly wordy guy I am.

Today I noticed that the final post last evening was my 3000th post on this blog since I began in 2004. It seems like just a little while ago I was somewhere around 1500. Time flies and so do my words.

Thanks for being part of the journey, gang!

--the BB

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I wish we had more of this

By which I mean calling pundits to account for facts. One may have opinions but one must be held to facts. When someone bloviates and pollutes the media with things that are not true, that person's statements should be corrected. They may be sincerely held but incorrect beliefs, as opposed to intentional deceptions, but they should be debunked.

Rachel Maddow shows us all how it is done as she corrects the steaming pile of nonsense that Pat Buchanan dumped on her show the other day.

Maddow: It's not cool to talk about guests after their segment is over. It's also not fair to re-litigate these arguments in the absence of one of the parties who participated in the argument, and I will not try to do that now. But what I do feel obliged to do is to correct some of the things that were said in the course of my argument with Pat that were stated as fact, that were not true. I feel an obligation just to correct the factual record as we would with anything else that was stated as fact on this show that was not true.

I lifted the video and the quote by Dr. Maddow from Heather's post at Crooks and Liars. If you are not familiar with Crooks and Liars, check it out here.

Way to go, Rachel!

Newscasters and TV hosts, take note. This is how it's done. Now get off your lazy, dishonest asses and do it.

--the BB

The frail woman drew the great curtains

My Baptist roots (or is it my Scandinavian ones) cry out that one should not have this much fun. Hah! Hah! I say. So long as God sends fun I will enjoy it.

This afternoon I wrote the scene of the assassination attempt (the one with the snake and the chalice). Dramatic as all get out and such fun to write! Woohoo.

This evening I picked up the thread of the civil war at another venue, then moved into another assassination attempt, this one successful. And utterly vile. But the princess' niece, the little princess, gets spirited to safety. Still, quite creepalicious. Chapter fifty-two is now done.
Some boatmen while away the time with idle chatter and some are taciturn. The one who carried the princess to the east bank of the [river] was given to gab. It may have been a merciful gift of the stars that he was not the one to carry the killer across the next morning. The handsome man in black, now displaying the closely trimmed beard and soulless eyes earlier hidden by the goddess’ veil, crossed in another vessel, reclaimed his horse with a silver coin, and rode north toward G. He wanted to send word to T. but knew he could not pass through the army of F. to do so. He would send word by coded message through a peasant willing to cross the river and bring good news to the Silver Stallion. He only needed someone willing to risk his life for a silver coin and the promise of another. Fools were plentiful in the world and one would surely be found.
Sigh, crafting good literature is an awesome calling and hard work. Telling a tale is much easier and I am so grateful I am pursuing the latter.

Sweet dreams, my mellifluous mergansers.

--the BB

Glad I got home from work when I did

As I drove home from work this evening, just before descending the mesa toward my house, I heard the squawks announcing an emergency alert. What you will read below is what they announced on the radio.

Right now it is pouring in my neighborhood. Lighting strikes and thunder booms periodically. A little while ago there was a very near, very bright flash that got my attention. It had to be very close. After that I opened the blinds so I can watch. Glad I have a very heavy-duty bunch of surge protectors in this house.

Here is the scoop from the national weather service:
626 PM MDT TUE JUL 21 2009







In our safety message of the week at last Friday's staff meeting the branch chief discussed flash floods. Good timing.

I just looked out my bedroom window. Rooster tails as cars zip along the street bordering my back yard. The swales in our yards are designed to channel water away from our houses, down between them and out to the street in front. Right now all our swales look like standing ponds.

Will I work on the novel or crawl under some covers on the couch and watch a movie tonight? Either will be nice.

KOAT.COM has this right now:
Weather Alerts
11 counties are now under advisories, watches, or severe weather warnings.
The rain where the guy's hand is in the photo up top has moved west to pass over me. Obviously I missed some earlier today. And it's still coming, though we just had a break.

Friends, I am warm, dry, and safe. Also risk-averse. The earth rejoices to be watered. (And we ain't got no hurricanes!)

--the BB

Heart thread - 07/21/2009

From my friend Karen:
I visited with Sandra today. She seems to be ready to move from this plane of existence to another. She is such a dear, sweet and generous woman. It's painful for me to say but it's time to pray for her peaceful and dignified passing. Her husband, Ed, is having a very difficult time--knowing it's the best thing for Sandra but not ready to let go. Please include him and other loved ones in your prayers, too.

Many thanks for all you have done on Sandra's behalf. She told me today she is most grateful and reminded me that she needs all the prayers she can get! I love her so much and I miss her already.
For sisters struggling with bad news.

Bob's mother and father

Ruth and Michael


Don (RIP) and Stella
And please see the heart thread below.

Let us pray for health care for ALL people everywhere.

Litany to the God of Fire
O flaming Spirit of love,
we cry to you in the midst of the struggles of our lives!
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our anger and our rage.
Transform them into the power of your compassion.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our fears.
Transform them into courage.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our despair.
Transform it into hope.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our doubts.
Transform them into wisdom.
O sacred fire, empower us!
We offer you our broken sisterhood.
We offer you our broken brotherhood.
Help us remember the wholeness that you intended.
O God of fire, burn within us, heal us, strengthen us, remake us, empower us with your passion for justice! Amen.
—Victoria Walton

[Photo vie Telling Secrets]
--the BB

Monday, July 20, 2009

Speaking of wiggly worms....

Manduca quinquemaculata (Haworth)
Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Texas A&M University

I have not seen any on my tomatoes in the past several days. The plants are quite devastated, having lost 1/3 to 2/3 of their leaves, depending on the plant, but I am hoping they all survive and produce. I have eaten two tomatoes, on red cherry tomato and one yellow tiny pear tomato. We shall see how many more the yard manages to produce.

Yes, that's what the critters look like and they get as big as my forefinger (and I have huge hands).
--the BB

A coincidence, really

Hans Memling (Memlinc), Netherlandish, c. 1430 – 1494
Oil on wood, 31,6 x 24,4 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington
[Image discovered here]

Early in the current tale a very wicked prince ("very wicked" = sadistic torturer) meets his end at the hands of a lone assassin, the brother of a prior victim. This creates the power vacuum leading to the civil war that is the context and primary story line of the current volume in the chronicles.

As the story has progressed, a very virtuous princess (the aforementioned prince's sister who takes after their beloved mother and not their reviled father) is nearing both her rivals for the throne. Tonight I thought it was time for an attempt on her life and came up with the scene in which it happens (not written yet, still in my imagination). And then it hit me: this happens in the same town where her brother was killed, though her would-be assassin has no link with the previous assassin. Both are lone wolves. I am assuming my subconscious knew it was the same town.

This coincidence also provided the solution to how a prop to this event came to be in place.

This also involves family ties in three groups: the princess and her late brother; the poisoner who is close to a son of the baronial house that is married to the sister of another claimant to the throne; and a daughter-in-law of the baronial house whose brother has been a hostage of the princess' husband for the past four years. Aside from the invention this evening of a poisoner, all the rest is there in the maps and genealogies, established long before I got to this scene.

I find things like this fascinating.

Oh, and yes: there will be a chalice, poison, and a serpent. Holy John the Evangelist, pray for us all! **

And now to bed. I am tired. (Plotting death can take the starch out of one, don't you know?)

Sweet dreams, my wiggly worms!

--the BB

** Early Christian art usually represents St. John with an eagle, symbolizing the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel. The chalice as symbolic of St. John, which, according to some authorities, was not adopted until the thirteenth century, is sometimes interpreted with reference to the Last Supper, again as connected with the legend according to which St. John was handed a cup of poisoned wine, from which, at his blessing, the poison rose in the shape of a serpent. Perhaps the most natural explanation is to be found in the words of Christ to John and James "My chalice indeed you shall drink" (Matthew 20:23). [New Advent: Catholic Encyclopedia]


DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Brandon T. Lara, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas, died July 19 while supporting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force...

May they rest in peace, each and every one.


07/20/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Cpl. Benjamin S. Kopp, 21, of Rosemount, Minn., died July 18 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington of wounds suffered July 10 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

07/19/09 :
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties (2 of 2)
Capt. Mark R. McDowell, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colo. He was assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C...died July 17 in a F-15E crash near Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

07/19/09 :
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties (1 of 2)
Capt. Thomas J. Gramith, 27, of Eagan, Minn. He was assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C...died July 17 in a F-15E crash near Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

Heart thread - 07/20/2009

Those who read Wounded Bird will have seen most of these already. This is for the readers Mimi and I do not share.

From David@Montreal:

This prayer call comes in response to two of your cherished number who in the last 24 hours have e-mailed requests for news on my dear cousin Frank, who as you might remember is under-going genetic therapy as a last-ditch attempt to beat his leukemia.

I've just spoken with Carol, Frank's wife and to quote her 'they're in the thick of G vs H' (Graft vs. Host) which is the grueling process which will see if Frank's body permanently accepts the new genetic material or not. Something which is complicated by the fact that only a 9/10 match was possible to begin with.

Frank's spirits are incredible, and he's convinced he's 'going to beat this' but the process has been remorseless.

In reaction to the prednisone his muscle tissue has been seriously diminished, so he's falling down unexpectedly on a regular basis. For someone formerly quite athletic, it was quite the experience the other day when two senior ladies tried getting him to his feet again at the bottom of his driveway.

There's also the first signs of some slight impact on the liver.

He's been hospitalized twice in the last three weeks with extraordinarily high temperatures, and there's more secondary complications than you really want to know about. Good news: the c-difficile is beaten for now.

So I'd ask for your prayers for both Frank and Carol please.

Thank-you my beloved Giants

Mimi adds (and I concur):
Many prayers for Frank that the side effects diminish and that his body accepts the new genetic material. Prayers for strength and peace for both Carol and Frank.
From JimB:
[Sue-z] is showing a little more kidney function. While it is still not adequate it is better and the trend is positive. Her breathing is still not great but with the O2 she can catch her breath. She is still getting lots of Heprin and Cumidem and the concentration in her blood is rising. It is not enough to actually dissolve the clots yet but we are closer.

So, she will be better -- but it will take a while. Our family doctor had the same problem. Getting home took him 10 days. On that schedule we are talking about a wee from now.

I will keep sending updates to Fr. Jon on OCICBW, facebook, and my own blog Jims Thoughts.

Sue-z says thanks to all for their prayers and thoughts.

From Roseann:
My arms are swelling again. I had a good day yesterday and today I am in a lot of pain. Mostly my heart is breaking for Gary. When will this suffering end?
Happy Birthday, TheMe!!!!!!!

From Bp. Robinson of New Hampshire:
I am back in my beloved New Hampshire where the clean air and my own bed have banished my fever and restored my health. A nasty bug, enabled by my near exhaustion, ruined the last couple of days of a great Convention, but it does not diminish in any way the good work we did.
For Margaret:
Yesterday, after a long nap--I should never take naps--I was awakened by the phone ringing. My beloved brings me the phone and it's my bishop. He's hopping angry. Says, --I will see you in my office tomorrow at 2. He's mad about my GC blog, LeftFrontCenter....
From Chris:
Don, for whom I asked your prayers recently, (THE PRAYER LIST 18th. July 2009) died today. Please pray for his wife Stella and his daughter, who was widowed two years ago.
Happy birthday to Kathy Starbird.

For the people of Honduras in this time of political turmoil.

For the people of Iran in this season of political oppression.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wistful words from "Uncle Walter"

Cf. Glenn Greenwald's article, "Celebrating Cronkite while ignoring what he did."

--the BB

"not a single significant plot"

Just go read today's article from the Washington Post. It has no gruesome details to churn your stomach though moral nausea is guaranteed. The link is to the print version, so you should have no photographs (beyond an advertisement).

These two paragraphs are nothing new but everyone really needs to be aware of them.
The officials who authorized or participated in harsh interrogations continue to dispute how effective such methods were and whether important information could have been obtained from Abu Zubaida and others without them. In March, The Washington Post reported that former senior government officials said that not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's coerced confessions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a 2007 report made public this year, said the application of harsh interrogation methods, "either singly or in combination, constituted torture."
[Emphasis mine]

The CIA loves them some torture until they have to witness it.
The two men threatened to quit if the waterboarding continued and insisted that officials from Langley come to Thailand to watch the procedure, the former official said.

After a CIA delegation arrived, Abu Zubaida was strapped down one more time. As water poured over his cloth-covered mouth, he gasped for breath. "They all watched, and then they all agreed to stop," the former official said.

A 2005 Justice Department memo released this year confirmed the visit. "These officials," the memo said, "reported that enhanced techniques were no longer needed."
The immediate engineers of torture were under pressure from Langley to come up with something. One cannot help wondering who was putting the pressure on Langley. My vote, of course, would be RBC but there may have been others. THAT is where the war crimes trials need to go.

--the BB


WaPo: U.S. Jet Crashes, 2 Die
A U.S. military F-15E fighter jet crashed in Afghanistan early Saturday, killing two crew members, a U.S. military spokesman said. Col. Greg Julian said a second fighter aircraft traveling with the jet that went down saw no evidence of enemy fire


DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove, Minn...assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard... died July16 in Basra of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using indirect fire.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Spc. James D. Wertish, 20, of Olivia, Minn...assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard... died July16 in Basra of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using indirect fire.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, Minn...assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard... died July16 in Basra of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using indirect fire.