• American Torturers

    July 22, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    If only the people who ordered torture as a policy of the once magnificent United States had the stones to actually get their own hands dirty, maybe– maybe– things would be different? Good God, what have we become?

    (The image above floated to me from the internet. Anyone with Photoshop skills who wants to redo this with Obama and his torturous henchmen, because the use of torture by the Government of the United States continues, and because Obama has refused to investigate the horrific actions of his predecessor, is welcome to do so and send it to me to run in this space. I do not in any way let Obama off the hook. There is plenty of blood on the hands of those now in power.)

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    Posted in Democracy

    Very Sexy Videos from State Department

    November 21, 2011 // Comments Off on Very Sexy Videos from State Department

    Did you know your government has a propaganda arm? No, no, not Fox News, they’re independent, I’m talking actual Federal employees. They live and work inside the State Department (New motto once someone can figure out the Latin translation: “We’re Almost as Good as the Military”) and they make cartoon videos like this one:

    (Follow this link if the video embed does not work)

    The video cartoon has an Arabic title, which Google Translate (New motto once someone can figure out the Latin translation: “We’re Better than the State Department”) says is What did not know about the Arab spring – very sexy. To be fair, the “very sexy” part likely means “very interesting” though even the possibility of a misquote is for laffs.

    Anyway, even without understanding Arabic, watching the cartoons you can get State’s propaganda point, that Terror = Bad, Peace = Sexytime.

    Um, State, I know you’re all Hollywood on this and all, but if you’re looking for notes, here’s one: al Qaeda recruits are created by our drone attacks, collateral damage massacres at weddings and funerals, support for “friendly” dictators in Bahrain and Saudi, invasions and bombings of Muslim countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, etc.), not by cartoons. Memories of Abu Graidh tortures, Nissoor Square, the Black Hearts rape/murder and the like loom much larger in Muslim minds than cartoon images.

    Bottom Line: work on your Latin, this propaganda sucks.

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    Posted in Democracy

    Let’s Watch Qaddafi Get Beaten and (Maybe) Sodomized

    October 26, 2011 // Comments Off on Let’s Watch Qaddafi Get Beaten and (Maybe) Sodomized

    Though apparently my posting of a video of your Secretary of State gleeful at the death of Qaddafi may not have been to everyone’s taste, NOW we know why everyone was so happy.

    More complete video of Qaddafi’s death shows that he was captured very much alive, beaten, and according to one interpretation of the video, sodomized with a knife. To be clear, this means that while being held by others, one of Libya’s liberators supported by the US tried to force a combat knife into Qaddafi’s anus. This is unclear from the video, at least to an old sodomite like myself, so judge for yourself below.

    Question for Discussion:
    Qaddafi was not the nicest guy. He had people tortured under his order and almost certainly had opponents killed. He was a dictator.

    The common wisdom on the Internet, and inside the State Department, is that while “unfortunate,” a guy like Qaddafi had it coming. The same logic applied to the US’ murder of bin Laden and our drone killings of any number of terrorist celebs, including several American Citizens.

    Here’s the question: In 100 words or less, indicate how bad one has to be to justify a) knife sodomy; b) pistol shot to the head and c) death by Hellfire missile from a drone.

    Extra Credit:
    How bad does one have to be to justify being tortured by US supporters? Just being a dictator? Calling the SecState a bad name? Not returning library books? Sharing NetFlix with your non-subscribing friends?

    Thanks for waiting, and here’s your war porn video:

    No video? Click here.

    And here’s the link to see still frames that purport to document the sodomy.

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    Posted in Democracy

    Never Again? Gitmo Medical Records Chilling

    August 8, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    A recent study of medical records kept at Guantanamo Bay is chilling in its simplicity. The study concludes:

    The findings in these nine cases from GTMO indicate that medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the DoD neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm.

    The doctors who conducted the study reviewed GTMO medical records and relevant case files (client affidavits, attorney–client notes and summaries, and legal affidavits of medical experts) of nine individuals for evidence of torture and ill treatment and documentation by medical personnel. In each of the nine cases, GTMO detainees alleged abusive interrogation methods that were consistent with torture.

    However, US Government medical personnel who treated the detainees at GTMO failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms they observed. Psychological symptoms were commonly attributed to “personality disorders” and “routine stressors of confinement.” Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment. Psychological assessments conducted by non-governmental medical experts revealed diagnostic criteria for current major depression and/or PTSD in all nine cases.

    Doctors and other medical personnel employed by the United States violated their oaths, as well as their common decency, to ignore clear signs of torture and abuse. The doctors chose to be complicit in hurting other human beings, instead of helping them when they could, for political goals.

    The study found that detainees reported being exposed to an average of eight different forms of “authorized” abuse including sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, serious threats, forced positions, beating, and forced nudity.

    In addition to the use of authorized abuse used as an interrogation tool, each of the nine detainees reported being subjected to “unauthorized” acts of severe beatings, often associated with loss of consciousness and/or bone fractures, sexual assault and/or the threat of rape, mock execution, mock disappearance, and near asphyxiation from water (i.e., hose forced into the detainee’s mouth) or being choked.

    Other allegations included forcing the detainee’s head into the toilet, being used as a human sponge to wipe the floor, and desecration of the Quran (e.g., writing profane words in the Quran, stepping on the Quran, and placing it on the floor near the trash). Five of the detainees reported loss of consciousness during interrogation. Seven of the nine detainees reported participating in one or more hunger strikes to protest conditions of detention, and two detainees reported being restrained and forced to receive intravenous fluids and nasogastric tube feedings.

    In addition to the physical abuse, the report documents the extreme forms of psychosis experienced by the detainees. One man with suicidal thoughts was told by a health care professional “[You]…need to relax when guards are being more aggressive.”

    In short, the conditions the US Government subjected them to quite simply drove the men insane.

    Read the report yourself, as well as some commentary on it.

    Like the Nazis before us, we will all claim not to have known, not to be a part of this, that at worst we were only following orders. Shame on us, because this was all done by Americans fully prepared to claim their actions were legal, moral and justified. Shame on us, for letting these things be done in our name.

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    Posted in Democracy

    Contractors in Iraq Never Held Responsible

    July 8, 2011 // 2 Comments »

    If my child does something wrong, as a parent I’m responsible for interceding. If an employee does something wrong, the employer steps in to fix things. If a US Government contractor in Iraq does something wrong, anything from torture to sexual harassment to murder, nobody is held responsible. By law, it seems.


    The latest get out of jail free card was issued by the Supreme Court last week, when they let stand the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that employees of two defense contractors took part in the torture and abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. The justices rejected an appeal by a group of 250 Iraqis seeking to reinstate their lawsuit against CACI International Inc, which provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc’s Titan unit, which provided interpreters to the U.S. military.

    The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of the Iraqis who said they or their relatives had been tortured or mistreated while detained by the US military at Abu Ghraib. They said contractor employees participated in the abuse. The justices declined to review a federal appeals court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit because the companies had immunity as government contractors. The Obama administration supported the companies and said the appeal should be denied. Free at last, I guess.


    Another case to make the news concerns the alleged rape in Iraq of KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones by another KBR employee (Ms. Jones’ name and picture have been prominently featured around the web, so we are not “outing” anyone here). The criminal case got lost in immunities, and KBR’s insistence that the allegations be dealt with through the employee arbitration proceedings spelled out in Jones’ employment contract.

    After six years of legal fussing and fighting, the courts eventually sided with Jones, who is pursuing the matter as a civil complaint. Details are complex, and what really happened seems unclear—a good break down of the evidence is on Mother Jones. The claimed attack took place in 2005; ultimate source of all contractor legal matters Ms. Sparky has pages of details on the legal events since then.

    Sexual Harassment

    The problem of contractor liability is not new, nor is it going away. As a reminder, we’ve written previously about the problem women interpreters claiming sexual harassment at the hands of their contractor employment face– it is almost impossible to successfully sue any of America’s finest contractors for things that may have happened in Iraq.


    We also wrote about KBR, the contractor who runs the backstage portion of our wars, setting up the chow halls, building the offices, running the power lines and maintaining the plumbing. It is the latter task that resulted in a slip and fall lawsuit just settled after a federal judge ruled that KBR cannot be sued by someone who slipped in a toilet it maintained at Camp Shield. KBR argued against their having any liability for anything they ever did, citing cases as significant as the Supremes’ 1803 hit Marbury v. Freaking Madison in their defense.

    Ironic Comparison to the UK

    No blog post here is complete without an ironic comparison, this time to the way the UK has treated human rights abuses by its soldiers (Ok, yeah, not exactly the same as contractors, but…).

    The European court of human rights on July 7 issued two landmark rulings on UK abuses in Iraq. In the first (al-Skeini and others) it found that Britain had violated the rights of the families of four Iraqis killed by British forces (and one other case in which responsibility for the killing is disputed) by failing to ensure independent investigations into their deaths. In the second (al-Jedda) it ruled the UK had violated the rights of a man it had interned for three years without trial or any real opportunity to challenge his detention, on vague grounds of security.

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    Posted in Democracy

    Rock the Look that Shook Guantanamo!

    April 26, 2011 // Comments Off on Rock the Look that Shook Guantanamo!

    watch of deathYou too can rock the terrorist look!

    According to horse whisperers quoted in the New Yorker referencing information absolutely not from Wiki-something, one of the signs of a terrorist was that he wore a Casio F91W watch. As much as it seems like a stupid joke, in fact persons were captured and sent to Guantanamo on mere fragments of nothing, including what type of wristwatch they wore.

    While in US custody, here are signs, according to the files, that a prisoner is dangerous: attitude toward the Star Spangled Banner; having been caught wearing a Casio F91W watch; perceived support for fellow inmates who committed suicide (there have been five).

    It is almost too shameful to believe, but it seems to be true. The information is confirmed by the good Wiki, Wikipedia, here.

    The advantages of this model watch to a terrorist are detailed in statements given at Guantanamo, to include: it has a compass for aiming prayers toward Mecca and is waterproof, handy when performing ablutions before prayer. US intel claimed the watch was often used as a timer in bombs, as among other things, the watch told time.

    Now you too can rock the look that shook Guantanamo! Radical Muslim organization Amazon.com offers the very chic evil Casio Men’s F91W-1 Classic Black Digital Resin Strap Watch for about $11, and it qualifies for free super saver shipping.

    Jeez, I thought only dorks and nerds wore watches like this. Who knew?

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    Posted in Democracy