Sunday October 1 ,
History teaches that grave threats to liberty
often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant
-Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice
Another lazy Sunday...
Breakfast at Cathy's Cafe, Tiger Woods, Seahawks Football... (Damn Chicago Bears
are as good as their 4-0 record implies they are, poor Seahawks looked tired and
confused... not a good precursor for the rest of the season.
Monday October 2 , 2006
expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can
show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now… as I
shall not pass this way again.”
went to Spohane with Christy because she had an appointment with the
cardiologist... Grandma is in for some big time stuff. In order of ascending
Mitral Valve Replacement Surgery
Tuesday October 3 , 2006
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby
become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also
Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)
Off to Spokane again...
Autumn's finger is swollen
again, we took her to the Clinic... no break, no displacement, no infection...
Wednesday October 4 , 2006
Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in
secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous.
William Proxmire, US senator, reformer (1915-2005)
Spokane again... Radiation,
Lunch, Therapy and Home... Bed
Thursday October 5 , 2006
When you think of the long and gloomy history
of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of
obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
C. P. Snow, scientist and
Spokane, Radiation, , Lunch at Tomato
Street... Christy likes it but today is the first time I have enjoyed the food
there... there was nothing wrong with the other meals, they were just not to my
taste. We went over to CCN (Cancer Care Northwest) and moved time for her
appointment on the 17th.
They will start something called the
'follow up boost' where they focus the radiation on the scar area (about 10 1/2
inches long)... the treatment will start next Thursday and end 7 treatments
later... Friday the 20th... 2 days shorter than we had expected.
Friday October 6 , 2006
awfully hard to get a hog to butcher itself.
Senator Strom Thurmond (Explaining why Congress doesn't decrease spending.)
Monica has another shot at getting her tonsillectomy today... she
almost blew it by drinking a glass of OJ at 0600... they postponed the surgery
to 1300... that worked out well with Christy's radiation schedule.
All went well, it took four attempts
by three people to get an IV in her but the deed is Done, she was remarkably
stoic through the ordeal, ... The Doc came out and said, "Her tonsil's were
HUGE!" but all is well... she slept most of the way home, she puked up her
medicine but seems none the worse for wear.
I've been listening to the Page
Scandal... damn. I have never heard so much tap dancing in my life... Deny Deny
Deny... it's a Democratic plot! (Though ABC, who released the bombshell is
Republican owned, and a Republican leaked the e-mails to the news) everyone is
pointing fingers but no one is bothering to mention that Senators have too much
power. The fact that that sleaze-ball can be prancing around Washington
fulfilling his fantasies for over three years at taxpayer expense and everyone
in the Senate has been either covering for the degenerate SOB or afraid to say
or do anything. It's just disgusting... I wonder if ole Dennis Hassert regrets
filing that report detailing Foley's exploits from Foley's aide three years ago
... I also wonder how many more of those slimy bastards are feeding at the
Saturday October 7 , 2006
"Bob Woodward's book State of Denial says the
situation in Iraq is bad and it's going to get worse. Let's put it this way. The
Bush summer home in Kennebunkport is standing today because George and Barbara
never bought their son a chemistry set."
Sick yesterday... sicker today...
damn. I did get out a little, I went up to the power line and sighted in my 22,
The rifle still shoots straight, I can empty a clip into a space
the size of a quarter at 30 paces so I'm happy. My neighbors have been having
some skunk problems and I want to be ready... The internet says there are lots
of ways to get rid of them from coyote piss to mothballs but none of them work,
one site recommends hiring a trapper to catch them but the only sure fire way I
know of to get rid of skunks is to shoot 'em in the head.
Sunday October 8 , 2006
No truth can make another truth untrue.
All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge.
Once you have seen the larger pattern,
You cannot go back to seeing the part as the whole
Ursula Le Guin
Very profound observation, and a
Still feeling punky... a headache
even insinuated itself into my expanding list of symptoms... I watched some
football... Depending on your affiliation, there were two good games... I always
root for the teams playing the Cowboys and the Steelers... and
How Pakistan became an ally
Six Questions on the American “Gulag” for Historian Kate Brown
1. In 2005, Amnesty International charged that the
treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo makes the prison “the Gulag of our
times.” After public outcry and a media attack, Amnesty retracted the
charge. Is the metaphor appropriate?
Soviet arrests were designed to inspire terror. Some
people were taken off the street. Others were surprised in their beds in
late night roundups. In Soviet prisons, detainees were stripped,
searched, and led into special rooms where they were told to face the
wall and assume stress positions. Most people were rounded up with no
real evidence and without prior investigation. Interrogators withheld
food, water, medical assistance, communication with relatives, and sleep
until detainees agreed to talk. The most resistant detainees were beaten
while handcuffed or tied.
Granted such liberty in dealing with prisoners, some
Soviet officers started to enjoy themselves. They made up games, forcing
prisoners to dance, smearing glue on their heads, stripping them naked,
pouring frigid water over them. Sometimes guards had too much fun and a
prisoner died. Then prison-appointed doctors, who often participated in
the interrogations, wrote up fictive autopsy reports. Declassified FBI
and U.S. Army detailing abuses detainees in U.S. detention centers
uncannily echo Soviet NKVD reports. They recount late-night roundups of
civilians and describe prisoners held in chambers of extreme heat or
cold, chained naked to the floor without food and water for days on end,
defecating on themselves, beaten (some to death), forced to dance, to
lick their shoes and body parts, to crawl around, and to bark like dogs.
American doctors and psychiatrists helped devise methods of inflicting
pain and fear to elicit confessions, and they signed false reports when
detainees died in custody.
2. Didn't the Soviets lock up far greater numbers
of people than are now being detained by the United States?
Indeed, American editorialists grounded their
rejection of the Gulag metaphor in numbers. Soviet officials routed
millions through the Gulag over several decades (3.7 million according
to archival records). In the American case, we are talking about a mere
500 prisoners in Guantanamo, and roughly 30,000 in U.S. detention
centers in Iraq. Human Rights Watch estimates that 50,000 people are
currently held in domestic prisons without charges. It is undoubtedly
true that the torture of tens of thousands is better than the torture of
millions. But this defense becomes rather weak, not only if one believes
in universal civil liberties and human rights, but also if one considers
history. The methods of detention and interrogation used by
investigators in Iraq and Cuba derive from CIA manuals issued in 1963
that assumed that the detainee would not be a Muslim extremist but a
Soviet agent. The methods practiced and propagated during the Cold War
have migrated to the “war on terror” so seamlessly that American
soldiers photographed their human-rights violations and shared the
photos with no idea they were incriminating themselves.
3. How does the American system compare with the
Soviet in respect for due process and legal norms, and in terms of
punishment and the treatment of prisoners?
Both Soviet and American laws banned torture of
prisoners, guaranteed habeas corpus, and limited the range of
punishments a prisoner could receive. In both countries, abuses occurred
nonetheless—not in isolated instances, but in the “migration” of
practices across great distances, which suggests systemic violations of
We know, in fact, about Soviet and American abuses in
astonishing detail because government investigators went to prisons with
notebook and camera and emerged appalled at what they saw. The purpose
of those investigations, one would imagine, would be to expose illegal
detention and torture in order to stop it. But despite the nearly annual
Soviet investigations into abuses, the Gulag continued unhindered for
nearly three decades. Despite FBI and Army investigations in Iraq and
Cuba, the White House persists in justifying the use of secret CIA
prisons in undisclosed foreign locations to sequester terrorist suspects
without charge. Rather than exposing abuses in order to end them,
official Soviet and American investigations served the purpose of
placing the blame for institutionalized abuse on individuals—U.S. Army
privates, Soviet prison guards, and NKVD security officers. Finding
individuals to blame absolved the governments which had set up the
conditions for torture. Scapegoating individuals also enabled Soviet and
American ideologues to reiterate yet again their societies' commitment
to justice and civil rights, despite all evidence to the contrary.
4. The Bush Administration is targeting
non-citizens it accuses of being terrorists. Didn't the Soviets mostly
imprison and abuse their own citizens? So isn't it true that, in the
American case, the “gulag” is a response to a real or perceived national
security threat, while the Soviets were simply seeking to crush dissent?
During the Cold War the idea arose that the Gulag was
primarily an instrument of terror to crush dissent. But declassified
Soviet documents do not bear this out. By far, most of the people who
landed in the Gulag were there for garden-variety offenses: theft of
property, assault, hooliganism, and white-collar crime. They were not
influential intellectuals who posed a threat to the regime, but poor,
uneducated, and culturally marginalized peasants who broke draconian
laws in order to make a living. The search for terrorists in Iraq and
Afghanistan has also targeted the weak and vulnerable. United States
Army officials admit that 90 percent of the civilians detained in Iraq
were later released without charges. The dragnet in Afghanistan also
seems to have netted civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong
time. The detention of people who turn out to be innocent bystanders
gives a new definition to the phrase “non-combatants.”
5. Have American government officials been more
willing to take responsibility for abuses than their Soviet
Long after the abuses were made public, Vice President
Dick Cheney denied any mistreatment of detainees at Guantánamo. He said
that the detainees “have been well treated, treated humanely and
decently,” adding, “Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment,
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.” With his bald-faced
denial of torture, Cheney illustrated how Guantánamo shares aspects of
the Gulag. His performance mimicked that of the famed Soviet writer
Maxim Gorky, who several months after smiling broadly for a photo in
front of the notorious Solovetsky Labor Camp, lied with sanctimony when
refuting reports of Soviet camp abuses. In an article published in
Pravda on March 5, 1931, Gorky wrote that “convict labor” was “a
petty, foul slander” aimed at economically isolating and weakening the
USSR. “The Soviet regime,” Gorky said, “does not employ convict labor
even in prisons.”
When a state goes to the trouble of sanctioning the
torture of civilians for purposes of political control, government
officials do not willingly own up to these practices. And those who
expose abuse are discredited as slanderers, and accused of “peddling
lies” and ultimately of abetting the enemy.
6. Does the tolerance for abuses committed during
the “war on terrorism” have any implications for the health of democracy
The President's broad new powers in the signing
statements that enable him to override Congress have corroded the
American system of checks and balances. American law enforcement
agencies can now wiretap American civilians and detain citizens and
permanent residents without charges, and consequently without evidence.
Last week the House passed legislation to build a 700-mile Israeli-style
fence on the U.S.–Mexico border and to deploy there many of the
surveillance technologies tested in Iraq. Perhaps the domestic
installation of wartime technologies and military surveillance in
civilian settings has become acceptable to us because we have become
accustomed, as Soviet citizens did during the endless Stalinist purges,
to open-ended wars—wars with no opening salvo and no concluding treaty.
Whether or not one agrees that American detention centers and secret
prisons are the “Gulag of our time,” the comparison deserves serious
consideration. It might help us shine a torch into the dark corners of
repression, where the totalitarian qualities of our own society lurk,
before the scale of violence ascends to Gulag dimensions.
* * *
[More Washington Babylon]
[Contact Ken Silverstein]
[About Washington Babylon]
Welcome to Fascist
My fellow Americans,
it’s official now: We live in a fascist nation.
Now, the term
"fascist" has been thrown around over the last fifty years in a loose
way that has drained it of much of its meaning. If someone wanted to cut
5% off of a leftist professor's favourite welfare programme, the
professor would call his opponent a "fascist." I’m not using the word
like that. I mean honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, 1930s style
fascism, featuring such old favourites as:
prisons – they’re back! |
we’re doing it. |
all citizens. |
indefinite imprisonment without trial.
restriction of habeas corpus.
incommunicado detention. |
(This list was
compiled partially based on the work of Amnesty International, available
mind-numbing response to complaints that our traditional legal system is
being torn apart is the question, "So, you want to protect the rights of
Um, no, I want to
protect the rights of non-terrorists who might be falsely accused
of terrorism! That was sort of, you know, the whole idea of our
legal system. I’m sure there was some neo-con around in the 1700s saying
to Jefferson or Madison, "So, you want to protect the rights of
murderers and robbers?" but luckily they ignored him.
We’ve now gotten
to the point where Nazi Germany was, say, in 1934. Remember, at that
time, if you had told a typical German what his government would do over
the next ten years, he would have looked at you as a madman. After all,
his land had been civilized for over a thousand years. His was the
nation of Albertus Magnus, Gutenberg, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Bach,
Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Fichte, Heisenberg, Reimann, Mann, Lessing,
Herder, Handel, Dürer, Leibniz, Gauss, Helmholtz – he could have gone
on, but you get the point. His nation could not possibly descend
into barbarism! If you tried to tell him he was living in a police
state, he would have pointed out that his government had used its vast
new powers very judiciously, and only against a few trouble-makers. So
interesting, in gauging the direction we are heading, to look at the
proclamations of "respectable" opinion writers who support this
administration. For instance, we have people at a "libertarian" think
proclaiming that Moslems are not entitled to full civil rights in the US.
(Perhaps we need to make them wear something special on their clothing
like, say, a yellow star, so we know just who they are, hey?) But
"conservatives" provide even more stunning examples of purely fascist
reasoning. For example, conservative demagogue Ann Coulter has called
for the editor of The NY Times to face the firing squad for his
part in publicizing this administration's abuses of power. Let’s look at
recent column by Douglas MacKinnon at TownHall.com.
considers all of those involved in revealing the sordid collection of
secret programmes that have been launched by the Bush administration as
"traitors" who have publicized these schemes "purely because they don’t
like the policies of the new president." Well, he’s right in that "they
don’t like the policies" that they consider unconstitutional violations
of our rights. Far from "aiding the enemy," these revelations aided us,
the American people, by letting us know what our government has in store
Consider what the
point of classifying these programmes was in the first place, and who
they were being kept secret from. The jihadists no doubt already knew
about the secret prisons – their friends are in them! They surely knew
that the war in Iraq has been helping their recruiting – it’s their
recruiting! ("Praise be to Allah, Abdul, I read in The NY Times
that it is the Iraq War that is sending us these thousands of new
recruits – who knew?") They no doubt suspect they may be wiretapped –
what they didn’t know was that all the rest of us are, as well. No, not
one of these leaks helps terrorists, nor was one of them classified to
stop terrorists from finding them out. We were the ones who
weren’t supposed to find out about them.
continues: "And if even one American lost his or her life because of a
leak, then I would want that person to be executed for treason."
So anyone who
reveals our fascist government policies is a traitor who can be
executed! This is obviously an attempt to intimidate the opposition so
that our police state can be expanded without the annoying work
stoppages caused by public outcry when the latest bit of construction is
revealed. And just how does MacKinnon propose to show that some American
lost his life because a journalist revealed that the US government
tortures people across the globe, rather than, say, because the policies
he supports have inspired a million new jihadists? Secret trial,
perhaps? Or why even bother with trials for filthy traitors?
Herr Goebbels –
oops, I mean MacKinnon – writes, "Until we severely punish those who
leak classified information, then the traitors among us will not only
continue to flourish, but will grow more brazen with the secrets they
Yes, what we
ought to be able to do, you know, is simply seize anyone who even
mentions our government’s "secret" prisons, and, without a trial, throw
them in a secret prison! This is the logical conclusion of this
fascist’s article, after all, since those who talk about the American
Gulag are pretty much terrorists themselves.
Folks, this is
coming real soon, and, once it does, domestic opposition is pretty much
over. One journalist – that will be about all it takes – will be seized
as a "terrorist" and thrown in the Gulag. The government may release
him, but then another will simply disappear in the night in Iraq or
Afghanistan, and rumors will circulate that he is being kept in a cage
somewhere and waterboarded. No journalist lacking heroic courage will
any longer be willing to seriously protest government policy.
America is full
of decent people, who could never believe their own government could
become fascist. So were Germany and Italy in the 1920s. But they became
fascist anyway. They passed laws suspending civil liberties, but the
government promised the frightened populace that those laws would only
be used against targets like "Communist terrorists." And, a little bit
at a time, the target kept getting bigger and bigger, slowly enough that
the people who weren’t paying close attention never detected it.
next thing you know, there were millions of people dead! So, it turns
out, it would have been worth paying attention after all.
Gene Callahan/Stu Morgenstern
U.S. gets ‘Sovietized’
By ERIC MARGOLIS
In the late 1980s, I was the first western journalist allowed into the
world’s most dreaded prison, Moscow’s sinister Lubyanka. Muscovites dared not
even utter the name of KGB’s headquarters, calling it instead after a nearby toy
store, “Detsky Mir.”
I still shudder recalling Lubyanka’s underground cells, grim interrogation
rooms, and execution cellars where tens of thousands were tortured and shot. I
sat at the desk from which the monsters who ran Cheka (Soviet secret police) —
Dzerzhinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria — ordered 30 million victims to their deaths.
Prisoners taken in the dead of night to Lubyanka were systematically beaten
for days with rubber hoses and clubs. There were special cold rooms where
prisoners could be frozen to near death. Sleep deprivation was a favourite and
most effective Cheka technique. So was near-drowning in water fouled with urine
I recall these past horrors because of what this column has long called the
gradual “Sovietization” of the United States. This shameful week, it became
clear Canada is also afflicted.
We have seen America’s president and vice president, sworn to uphold the
Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used
at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation
and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin.
The White House insisted that anyone — including Americans — could be
kidnapped and tried in camera using “evidence” obtained by torturing other
suspects. Bush & Co. deny the U.S. uses torture but reject the basic law of
habeaus corpus and U.S. laws against the evil practice. The UN says Bush’s plans
violate international law and the Geneva Conventions.
This week’s tentative agreement between Bush and Congress may somewhat limit
torture, but exempts U.S. officials from having to observe the Geneva
Canadians had a shocking view of similar creeping totalitarianism as the full
horror of Maher Arar’s persecution was revealed. Thanks to false information
from the RCMP, the U.S. arrested a Canadian citizen and sent him to Syria. Arab
states and Pakistan were being used by the Bush administration for outsourced
torture. Syria denies the charges.
Suspects were kidnapped by the U.S., often on the basis of faulty information
or lies, then sent to Arab states to be tortured until they confessed. The
apparent objective of this “rendition” program? To find a few kernels of useful
information. The Cheka and East Germany’s Stasi used the same practice.
I never thought I’d see the United States — champion of human rights and rule
of law — legislating torture and Soviet-style kangaroo tribunals. I never
thought I’d see Congress and a majority of Americans supporting such police
state measures. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln must be turning in their
To me, Canada has always been a haven of moderation, decency, and rule of law
— until the Maher Arar affair shockingly showed this country could also quickly
fall into police state behaviour.
Arar’s despicable treatment by Canada and the U.S. was the result of a U.S.
witch hunt, plus anti-Muslim racism, stupidity, bureaucratic cowardice and
We saw Ottawa aiding the outrageous persecution of its citizens, and the U.S.
shamefully refusing to aid the Arar inquiry.
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who authorized Arar’s arrest,
should face justice for this and many other malfeasances. The current U.S.
Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, who denied the Bush administration was
responsible for Arar’s abduction and torture, should be ashamed.
Canada must demand a thorough U.S. investigation, apology, and guarantee
Canadians will never again become victims of such state-run criminal activity.
It’s time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to advise his new best friends in
Washington that Canada is not a banana republic.
Officials directly involved in the most sordid, disgraceful case in Canada’s
modern history, must face justice. They are as much guilty as the torturers who
beat Maher Arar mercilessly for 10 months.