Thursday, April 23, 2009

Musings: Tis Sad

“Earth honored,” read a headline in The Garden Island today.

Yes, yesterday was Earth Day, the annual reminder of just how out of whack modern society has gotten.

Tis very sad to think that we actually need to designate a day to remind us to honor the earth, source of all that is and all that allows us to be — and worse, that so many even then fail to give our marvelous planet with all its remarkable ecosystems a thought, much less do anything to show their appreciation.

Considering how much the earth does for us, and the fact that Earth Day doesn’t cost us any money because no one is paid to take it off, doncha think we could celebrate it a little more often than just one measly day each year?

Tis also sad that another little piece of Kauai’s charm has been destroyed. The weekly “garbage dump kanikapila” at the Hanalei transfer station has been eliminated by the county, in what is seen as direct retribution for Uncle Bernard’s candid comments in last week’s Kauai People.

No more kupuna showing up to strum ukulele and share a little kaukau, some of it cooked on a grill donated by actor Beau Bridges, who has a home on the North Shore. No more laughter, no more community building, no more nuttin’.

The county could have come out smelling like a rose on this one by honoring Uncle Bernard for his obvious dedication and hard work. Instead, unable to handle any criticism, even when it’s warranted, it clamped down. And as the news spread through the coconut wireless, it was invariably followed by the refrain, “fucking county.”

As one friend noted: “Yup, ya gotta pound down all those fucking nails.”

Meanwhile, even though a few who left comments on yesterday’s post tried to skirt the issue of holding Bush officials accountable for torture by focusing on whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is, indeed, a political prisoner, evidence continues to mount that top Administration officials approved those evil acts. As Democracy Now! reports today:

More details have been revealed on high-level Bush administration involvement in authorizing torture. According to a timeline in the newly declassified Senate Intelligence Committee report, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top White House officials approved torture methods, including waterboarding, as early as 2002. Attorney General Eric Holder has described waterboarding as illegal, while President Obama now says he won’t rule out prosecuting top Bush officials who approved illegal acts. Rice’s backing came in July 2002, when she gave a green light for the interrogation of suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. One year later, the list of officials voicing approval grew to Vice President Dick Cheney, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and National Security Council legal adviser John Bellinger.

Let’s just hope that Obama and Congress have the guts to move ahead on this, instead of just pretending the past is the past and leave it at that.

Tis sad to think of Cheney and his ilk getting off scot-free — and setting a precedent for this to happen again.


Anonymous said...

Sigh...none of the comments tried to 'skirt the issue' of whether the techniques were in fact torture (a fact you seem to assume brooks no debate)--the issue was your comment about how they shouldn't be allowed to 'literally get away with murder' (again, your conclusory words) while 'political prisoners like MAJ' are imprisoned. If the interrogation techniques are found to have crossed the line (which they haven't determined yet, despite your apparent certainty regarding this issue), then you can argue for appropriate redress. I will watch with interest how you handle the fact that many of the most vocal calling for these investigations and possible prosecutions were in fact briefed (with records kept of what was disclosed) re what was going on when we ultimately find out what was disclosed to those now giving soundbites re their outrage. Comparing a government-sanctioned approach to interrogation that may in fact be torture to a repeat felon murderer who has used up (read, 'lost') all his appeals notwithstanding the fact that his cause was furthered and kept alive over these many years largely because it was 'chic' makes it very easy to dismiss your writing as purely partisan, and does a disservice to the legitimate concerns now at issue.....

Anonymous said...

"The weekly “garbage dump kanikapila” at the Hanalei transfer station has been eliminated by the county, in what is seen as direct retribution for Uncle Bernard’s candid comments in last week’s Kauai People."

-- wow thats messed up

"tried to skirt the issue of holding Bush officials accountable"

-- gosh well i first brought up that death row guy b/ i know enough (more than most) about the bush torture thing, relative to the death row man. just sayin

anyways, for those worked up about the memo writers for bush, if you really want to push for some measurable progress -- and really want to help look out after such detainees -- you should lobby for rules preventing US agents giving suspects over to, say, the pakistanis or egyptians (b/ now those guys know how to torture...a-la saddam style)

ps - the US "torture" is about the same as thousands of college kids endure in fraternities every year. no biggie really (and sorry if this upsets your world view)

Anonymous said...

How does commenting about mumia add up to "trying to skirt" anything? That's downright Andy P logic.

Anonymous said...

He's got a point. Our version of "torture" is nothing compared to what other countries do.

What are we supposed to do? Ask them nice? Deny them TV in prison?

There is NOTHING in our "genteel" interrogation methods that would sway a raghead terrorist.

Pain is good. Lots of it, but not the kind leading to death or permanent injury.

I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

Check out the perspective of a Special Intelligence Officer who led an interrogations team in Iraq and wrote a book...
"How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq."

Wrote an op ed in the WA POST...

Interviewed w/Amy Goodman...

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Anon. April 24, 2009 12:53 AM

Interesting links, and always refreshing to get the perspective of someone who has actually been in the situation.

Anonymous said...

nice one April 24, 2009 12:53 AM, i saw that too a while back. the only problem is (and i am guessing of course) that guy was really smart (ie rare)...but that would be great if there were (many) others of his insight and ability. his approach seemed intelligent, nuanced, and often pretty effective (and without the baggage of more heavy-handed tactics)

April 23, 2009 1:36 PM

Anonymous said...

that guy was really smart (ie rare)Smart people are actually a dime a dozen.

Anonymous said...

April 24, 2009 11:30 AM

fair comment

by "smart," in this context, i am referring to the guy:

1 - knowing some things as to the history of the diff groups in the area

2 - recognizing it is worthwhile to take the time to get to know the subject on a personal level, ie what their particular "story" and situation is

3 - having some ability to read a person psychologically

4 - being patient

5 - knowing well what the "situation on the ground is"

6 - and, i guess, being able to extrapolate and abstract from items 1-5 above (and from other factors) and incorporate that in "real time" while speaking with the detainee in order to get information

so, i bet that kind of "smart" is not too common over there. just my impression of things

Anonymous said...

"He's got a point. Our version of "torture" is nothing compared to what other countries do."

Yeah, we just engage in preemptive invasions that ya know, kill and maim a few thousand civilians (for starters) because, hey, we're not barbarians.

Anonymous said...

"we just engage in preemptive invasions that ya know, kill and maim a few thousand civilians"

Right. Saddam was his towlheads' problem. We should not be in the business of ridding local populations of their own versions of Hitler. You get the government you deserve. If a country has a guy who tortures his political enemies' babies in front of them, and who executes people by dropping them into plastic shredders, and whose sons rape the female populace at will and murders half their olympic soccer team , that's their fault and their problem. Screw them. His mass murders were doing us a favor by slowly ridding the world of them. And we went a screwed up a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Stalin had it right: the murder of one person is a tragedy. The murder of thousands is a statistic.

Anonymous said...

"who tortures his political enemies' babies.."

Here it goes again, the same ol drumbeat. When will you bubbas ʻlearnʻ to research and pay attention? That episode was a staged sham. The woman who ʻwitnessedʻ it later confessed to perjury. And Saddam executed traitors - which he had every right to do. In the U.S., traitors are promoted.

Anyway, the middle east invasion never should have occurred and we wouldnʻt be having this moronic conversation amongst morons.

4 observations I have:
1) If you have to ask if itʻs torture, thereʻs something wrong.
2) If you have to ʻdecideʻ whether or not to prosecute for crimes against humanity, somethingʻs very wrong.
3) None of this existed in the somewhat civil society pre Bush.
4) The flabby pasty faced pigs that call people ʻtowlheadsʻ (spelling, moron) need to endure exactly the same treatment the tortured received before moving your lips and saying it is not torture. You also seem to forget, many of the tortured were INNOCENT. So what kind of info would you get from them? Itʻs just OK because they are ʻtowlheadsʻ?

Get over it losers, Jack Bauers youʻre not and neither are any of the U.S. military.

Anonymous said...

"[...] ʻlearnʻ to research and pay attention? "

-- easy now..

"And Saddam executed traitors - which he had every right to do"

-- eh, ya ok, he would kill plotters. yet few are the states were you get zapped (figuratively, and literally, in this case anyways) for such "crimes" as questioning authority, being a particular minority, and/or starting an unsanctioned newspaper or political party. i would imagine you would agree with this

"None of this existed in the somewhat civil society pre Bush."

-- typo?

"many of the tortured were INNOCENT"

-- yep. and the methods used on the (few) high ranking guys we got did reap good/needed info. just sayin

"Jack Bauers youʻre not and neither are any of the U.S. military"

-- ah. a citation to pop culture. so is he a crack shot? word is the navy seals are, among others

anyways, i think you were also about to cite the ~ "war crimes / torture" persecution and conviction of those japanese guys in WWII for water-boarding, but ill do it for ya (and footnote the french in algiers)

pls post again

April 24, 2009 12:15 PM

Anonymous said...

"Right. Saddam was his towlheads' problem."

And before he invaded Kuwait, one of our "allies". Odd that no one in America compared him to Hitler when he was at war with Iran.

Anonymous said...

Saddam apologists have no business calling anyone "moron." Moron.

Anonymous said...

Ah. If it werenʻt for the victims of your collective ignorance, I would feel very sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who would defend Saddam Hussein must be blinded by their own deep anti-American bias, because they sure aren't operating from a position of reason or knowledge.

In 1988, the Hussein regime began a campaign of extermination against the Kurdish people living in Northern Iraq. This is known as the Anfal campaign. The campaign was mostly directed at Shiite kurds who sided with Iranians during the Iraq-Iran War. The attacks resulted in the death of at least 50,000 (some reports estimate as many as 100,000 people), many of them women and children. A team of Human Rights Watch investigators determined, after analyzing eighteen tons of captured Iraqi documents, testing soil samples and carrying out interviews with more than 350 witnesses, that the attacks on the Kurdish people were characterized by gross violations of human rights, including mass executions and disappearances of many tens of thousands of noncombatants, widespread use of chemical weapons including Sarin, mustard gas and nerve agents that killed thousands, the arbitrary imprisoning of tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly people for months in conditions of extreme deprivation, forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers after the demolition of their homes, and the wholesale destruction of nearly two thousand villages along with their schools, mosques, farms, and power stations.

What a sweetheart.

Oh, and you are wrong about "the woman who witnessed" baby torturing. You are confusing it with the story of Iraqi soldiers "throwing babies from incubators" during the invasion of Kuwait in October 1990. This influential report was presented as the 'eye-witness testimony' of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, Nurse Nayirah; only years later did it emerge that she was the daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait's ambassador to the United States, and that the story itself was entirely the creation of the Hill & Knowlton public relations firm employed by the Kuwaitis.

Anonymous said...

So exactly WHAT is your point????

That Saddam, according to U.S. accounts committed all these atrocities and then the U.S. comes in and DOES IT BETTER? By genociding the Iraqi people and itching to do the same to Iran?
(and wasnʻt most of Saddamʻs activity Bush approved?)

Go away. Youʻre tired shit already.

ps. I can crawl into google too and pull up quoted material. But I donʻt. And yes, I know there was a distinction of the incubator incident but the way you people go off everything is posted like you went off your meds.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will clarify:

"Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management." - - Edward Kennedy

Anonymous said...

That Saddam was an evil, murderous dictator is beyond dispute and he wasn't any less so before he invaded Kuwait. We invaded Iraq for a lot of reasons, but Saddam being a bad guy wasn't near the top of the list.

Anonymous said...

"(and wasnʻt most of Saddamʻs activity Bush approved?)

Go away. Youʻre tired shit already."

-- charming. are you from kauai?

and what "activity" are you talking about?

if by "bush approved" you mean reagan and company OKing and supporting saddams fight against iran, then ya

if by "bush approved" you mean the bush sr admin not being clear to iraq what was ok or not ok in relation to kuwait, you can make a pretty good argument there too

ps - and sorry but you dont know enough, and you are not smart enough, to be disparaging anybody here (except nunya, b/ she is willfully stupid)

April 24, 2009 12:15 PM

April 25, 2009 5:08 PM

Anonymous said...

Wow attacking me isnʻt good enough you got to nail nunya and nunya not even on blog.

You some sick shit dude.

Like I said, go away, youʻre tired shit already.

Anonymous said...

April 26, 2009 12:46 PM is right. Nunya has the most inanely uninformed take on Saddam. Her posts are actually humorous.