Meh Culpa

Color Me Disgusted

Josh Gerstein and Craig Gordon’s article in Politico yesterday, “Should America Torture?,” begs the question by assuming it’s a reasonable question to ask based on the specious notion that maybe, just maybe, if torture works, it might be all right to use. Not only that, they insert a rationale for “outlawing torture”–as if it were never illegal in the first place–that neglects what Obama has said on the subject. Say Gerstein and Gordon:

Obama took water-boarding and other tactics out of use — not because experts said they never work, but because they offer a recruiting tool for al-Qaida that on balance made America less safe, not more, the White House said Thursday.

Uh, hellllllo?! During his inaugural speech, Obama said:


As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

….Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

There is nothing in that speech about stopping torture because it doesn’t work.  In fact, Obama repudiated the “false choice” between allegedly defending our nation in ways that he considered expedient because we somehow thought it would make us safe. In essence, he was arguing that we should act with courage rather than from fear.

Fear brought the Bush administration to its moral knees and left it cowering. Obama has tasked us with the obligation to stand on our feet once more.  I am not certain what the President’s up to now.   I think his political machinations may be such that he can say,”Oh, I’d rather just move forward,” while at the same time delegating authority to his Attorney General, who will decide what to do with those in the last administration that formulated torture as a policy and saw to it that war crimes were carried out by CIA operatives, medical personnel and psychologists. Obama may not approve the idea that Congress should investigate,  partly because some members of Congress approved torture themselves, but he may say something else,  such as, “I think we need to concentrate on the economy, health care and other government business.” That might be the best way for him to proceed, actually. And it would be strategically brilliant because how then could anyone blame him for legal proceedings?

This morning I brushed by an article on HuffPo entitled “Never Again.” How many times have we heard that mantra, and yet how many times, equally mantra-like,  does the same sort of thing happen over and over and over again? The Turks perpetrated genocide upon the Armenians, and still won’t admit to the crimes. The Nazis tried to exterminate all Jews, gypsies,  disabled, mentally ill, and homosexuals.  Serbians conducted ethnic cleansing on ethnic Albanians, Croats and Muslims.  They raped the women as a  tactic of war. The Tutsis massacred Hutus. The National Islamic Government of Sudan has taken Southern Sudanese women and children into slavery; the government-sponsored Janajaweed have murdered “upwards of at [least] 250,000 black Africans” in Darfur. The Israelis and the Palestinians have both perpetrated war crimes against each other.

Never again: those are just words now, a worn out refrain.

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April 24, 2009 Posted by | Afghanistan, Arab world, Bush administration, Cabinet, Cheney, Congress, Defense, Executive branch, Gaza, Geneva Conventions, Guantanamo, human rights, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Obama, politics, torture, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Navy’s “Covert” Ops in the Gulf of Aden

Israel National News reported today that the US Navy aboard the USS San Antonio has  stopped a ship in the Gulf of Aden and set it on a course for Egypt for further inspection.  The  ship,  possibly flying a false Cypriot flag, was allegedly packed with Iranian munitions headed for Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post’s* source, Professor Raymond Tanter, was quoted as saying that the operation was probably “covert” because stopping a ship flying under the flag of a sovereign nation might provoke legal action against the perpetrator.  INN also claimed concerns in the intelligence community that Iran was using the boat to ship a so-called dirty bomb to Gaza, but which intelligence community the publication was talking about remains unclear.  (I’m betting on the Israelis, but what do I know from intelligence?)

If the Iranian  ship was indeed flying under a false flag, such an act could be considered not only ironic, but a rather tardy payback for the same strategy the CIA used in 1953  to stage a coup  against Iran’s then-democratically elected leader,  Mohammed Mosaddegh, who wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.  (Blood for oil on a smaller scale, perhaps?)   In any event, the Shah returned from exile days later.  He was eventually overthrown in the 1979 Revolution which gave us Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the predecessor of our current beloved,  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Unhappily–unless they’ve gotten a grip as I type–the US media remains mum.  But why?  This is a big H U G E story.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know whether there really are dirty bombs swimming up the Bab el Mandeb (anywhere near Somalia!) through the Red Sea before hitting the Suez Canal.  Is it just that the US media is too consumed with studying its collective navel, or does someone not want us to know?  Even if the intelligence were false–there have been rumors swirling ’round the Internet about a Yom Kippur plot–I’d like to know, thanks.

* Which news org I didn’t bother to check because I’m hackin’ up a lung here.  Pulled back muscles doin’ it, too. (Either that, or the  remaining lung is tunneling out below my left scapula.)

January 25, 2009 Posted by | Defense, Foreign policy, Gaza, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama administration, Palestinians, politics, US Navy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment