Posts Tagged ‘torture’

Pfc. Bradley Manning is believed to be the man responsible for leaking most of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Thanks to an entrapping series of online chats with ex-hacker and likely government agent Adrian Lamo, Manning was arrested last spring. Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement  for seven months. Mind you, Manning has never been charged with a crime and likely will not be in the near future.

Glenn Greenwald was the first person I saw really address this topic. He hit all of the most horrifying points: that Manning is kept in his cell for 23 hours a day, that he is denied even sheets and a pillow, that he may not exercise in his cell, that he is forbidden from any access to the news, etc. Most importantly, Greenwald pointed out that solitary confinement, especially for this length of time, has a demonstrable effect on mental health and could likely be considered torture.

More details were added by Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs (H/T: Lew Rockwell). Coombs revealed that Manning is kept awake from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. by guards walking past his cell and asking him to verify his status every five minutes. Can you imagine how horrible this must be? To be kept awake in a cell with nothing to do for 15 hours straight? It is amazing that Manning is not already insane, though if Manning visitor David House’s report that Manning wants to some day use the GI Bill to get a B.A. in PoliSci and a grad degree in Physics is true, maybe insanity has already arrived. There are draconian restrictions on his access to reading materials. His clothes are taken away from him each night.

And yet somehow the U.S. government that treats a man, let alone a man convicted of no charges, in this manner has the gall to criticize other countries for torture. There was a time when those criticisms might have rung true. That time is long since past with this country’s shameful collapse into a police state.

The good news, if there is any, is that the efforts of people like Greenwald and Coombs have led the UN to investigate Manning’s treatment. There is little reason to expect any sort of fast action from such a bureaucratic organization, and even less reason to suspect any sort of satisfactory action from an organization run by imperialists, but at least maybe it will shame the U.S. government into doing something to ameliorate Manning’s condition.

We must not forget Bradley Manning, as I am afraid some of us, myself included, did in the excitement of the diplomatic cables being released. That this man remains imprisoned without charge in such shameful conditions is a moral outrage. Together maybe we can do something to rescue him.

In the meantime, I love what Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society wrote: “If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.”


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It’s been a while. Last week got a bit nutty with election coverage. But I’ve done a ton of reading and now you get a super sized-order of links.

  • NYT: Sane people in NYC have run the stats on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk campaign and they aren’t pretty. Of course minorities were stopped more frequently. It turns out that more than 30% of the 2.8 million stops between 2004-2009 probably weren’t justified. Thank God activists are filing a lawsuit. The cop-bullies need to be punched in the nose for this one.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, IT World: Demands a clickthrough, just to see the heartbreaking photo of a 23-year-old North Korean girl who could easily be mistaken for a malnourished preteen. Enjoy your cognac, Kim Jong-Il. If there’s a hell, you’re going to be roasting in it. If there’s not, hopefully your people manage to Ceausescu you first.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: Johannes Mehserle, the Oakland cop who murdered Oscar Grant, received a two-year sentence. With time served, he could be out in just over six months. It’s their country, we just live in it.
  • Via Radley Balko at Reason, poker player Terrence Chan: U.S. customs thugs turn the tourist Chan away twice at the border, even after he gave them personal documents with the insulting level of private information they wanted from him. These people are out of control. Let’s not even get into the right of free people to cross borders. Let’s just leave it at the sheer idiocy of customs bullies keeping people from spending money in our economy during a recession. How smart, you scumbags.
  • Justin Raimondo: Running down a murderer’s row of happy little accomplices to state-sanctioned murder who are about to find themselves holding leadership positions in the House. Yuck. But as Raimondo points out, at least the utterly vile war criminal Ilario Pantano lost his campaign. Thank God.
  • IMPORTANT — English-language PDF of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s final remarks at his showtrial in the gulags. I don’t agree with every word, but I know that we must not forget this man. He abused a corrupt system, he probably did some extremely shady things in Russia’s early capitalist era, and he would have never become as rich as he did if not for state power. But that doesn’t mean he deserves to end up serving a life sentence in prison whilst men who did worse roam free.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Having a field day with the slavish U.S. media’s attempts to blame the letter bomb campaign on al-Awlaki. This is Greenwald at his best, pointing out the near-total lack of evidence for any involvement by al-Awlaki…except for the very convenient fact that he is a U.S. citizen Obama wants to murder targeted-kill.
  • The Economist: They’re getting bolder–after the FBI provoked a man into supporting one of their little agent-provocateur fake terrorist attacks on the Washington Metro, transit police wanted to start searching bags the next day. You didn’t keep us safe from anything, you losers. This guy would have never done anything if he wasn’t put up to it. Don’t you dare try to take away more of our rights.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus: Pitching “instant recall” voting with “None of the above” as an option. If “None of the above” wins, Mickey wants a fresh election with all new candidates. This is how sick democracy is. Even when you don’t want anyone, they make you pick someone, just to make the system look legitimate. Here’s an idea: “None of the above” as an option and the office ceases to exist if it wins.
  • NYT: “Well wouldn’t you know it, most politicians didn’t want to talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in their election campaigns.” Is this surprising to anyone? Both parties support our imperialist agenda of death. Of course they aren’t going to remind people of the two evil wars we are fighting.
  • National Post: Columnist says “Embrace the hypocrisy,” regarding the U.S. and Canada’s positions on torture. We condemn other countries for it and condone it ourselves. It’s disgusting to see things have come to this. It’s even more disgusting to watch the supposedly anti-torture left roll over and play dead now that Obama is president.
  • MacLean’s: Using the absurd Randy Quaid refugee case to say Canada shouldn’t accept refugee claims from the U.S. Boo! If I thought I could go to Canada and win a refugee hearing on the grounds of my opposition to the warfare state that operates in my name and with my tax dollars, I would. Americans need Canada to be our safety valve of last resort.
  • Der Spiegel: Reporting on child labor in the Uzbek cotton harvest. I know a lot of Uzbeks. Almost everyone of them had a story about being part of cotton-picking student labor gangs. No, people aren’t dying as under military conscription, but sending 11-year-old girls to cotton fields and paying them nine cents for a day’s labor is SICK.
  • The Globe & Mail: Looking back on liberal interventionism, seven years after we invaded Iraq. It’s not looking too good. Of course, this isn’t stopping Michael Ignatieff from trying to run to the interventionist right of Stephen Harper on foreign policy. For Americans, you can think of Ignatieff’s foreign policy as basically identical to Clinton’s, or you could just read this article about it.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Destroying the Four-Loko witchhunters on the basis of their own stats. Four-Loko, the new caffeinated beer tallboy, actually has less caffeine than coffee, but this isn’t stopping news hacks from claiming it causes heart attacks. I bought 24 of them for our newsroom last week and drank part of one myself. It’s vile sludge, but we’re all still alive. Of course, this didn’t stop Michigan from banning it last Thursday.
  • The Moscow Times: When two governments suck at once. Canada institutes a new visa questionnaire that could require some Russians to reveal national security info they are prohibited from revealing by law. Canada—get rid of your visas. Russia–stop telling your citizens what they are allowed to say.
  • Tyler Cowen, in the NYT: Immigrants create jobs. Suck it, Lou Dobbs.
  • National Post: Reporting on blatant lying used by nanny state health tyrants. I think our food system is messed up. I hate to see people drink soda. Obesity is out of control here. But trying to assert control over people’s right to ingest things into their own bodies is repugnant, especially when it is hatched on the basis of lies.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: Covering Montana, the latest state to cap payday loan interest rates. “Capping interest rates” is just a polite way of saying “Drives out of business.” Payday loan rates are so high because they are for at-risk clients. In addition, no one makes anyone take one out. Damn these politicians and their populist demagoguery.
  • National Post: A math professor at U of Manitoba sues the school over their decision to award a PhD to a guy who failed his comprehensive exams twice, only to have the requirement waived because of his “extreme examination anxiety.” It gets better–he didn’t even take the required courseload. Rock on, Gabor Lukacs, you principled academe!
  • The Globe & Mail: Requesting Canada get rid of its dairy and poultry protectionism. Amen.
  • NYT: The ugly side of Thailand–censorship. If you haven’t already heard of Thailand’s horrifying lese majeste laws, read up now.
  • NYT: How about some good news? Russia’s brave opposition has absorbed the blows and continued their fight and now they have won a bit of breathing room for their protests. Things are still horribly restricted, but these opposition activists are heroes, people who really put their lives on the line for freedom. Wonderful news. Поздравляю вас, Стратегия-31!
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, LA Times: The specifics of San Francisco’s health-fascist Happy Meal ban. Nice job respecting our right to choose, you fascist guttersnipes.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Cops will charge a 72-year-old man who fired his gun at suspected robbers entering his house during a poker game. Turns out it was a SWAT team. What would have happened if a SWAT thug shot an unarmed person inside? Paid administrative leave? A commendation?
  • Via LewRockwell.com blog, WaPo: Federal judge rules to limit the liability of the Washington Metro in a lawsuit over an accident that killed nine people. And people really think a court system in which the referee plays for one of the teams only could ever be a fair court system.
  • The Globe & Mail: Discussing the Harper’s government sick hypocrisy in blocking the foreign takeover of Saskatchewan’s Potash Corp. Harper the guy who wrote his Master’s about free market economics blocked the deal to win some votes in Saskatchewan. This columnist seems to feel bad for him. No. This was unprincipled opportunism of the lowest order.
  • Ross Kenyon at Center for a Stateless Society: Attacking the proposed “Robin Hood tax” on the financial sector from both the left and the right. Great piece.

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WikiLeaks has done it again, this time releasing over 400,000 pages of classified documents on the Iraq War. God bless you, Bradley Manning! Before I get into the new information, let me just say that I loved the Yahoo News headline today wondering why the Sunday morning talk shows essentially ignored the WikiLeaks documents. Is it really a mystery? Those spineless “journalists” are all tools of the American imperialist-security complex. Of course they are going to ignore these documents, they’ve got two wars to perpetuate!

The NYT and Der Spiegel both had preferential access to the documents. I liked the presentation employed by the Times more, sort of bundling big clumps of documents together into related portfolios. The two most interesting bundles were about the treatment of detainees and civilian casualty figures.

The documents on detainees are, unfortunately, almost all about their treatment by other Iraqis. The information is horrifying: torture, death, abuse, etc. The U.S. seems to have done a little wink-wink, nod-nod show most of the time and let the Iraqis “investigate” abuses for themselves. Oh, and the U.S. used the threat of Iraqi detention to intimidate detainees in our custody. This stuffy is horrifying, but it’s not surprising at all. It’s basically a carbon copy of the model the CIA has been employing around the world since whenever extraordinary rendition started. We don’t need to torture people ourselves when we can find all manner of thugs from failed authoritarian states who are unemployable in any career except for violence and who would love to torture fellow humans in places beyond U.S. jurisdiction. If the slaves back home get wind of it and try to do anything, just invoke state secrecy against them and let the courts take over!

The civilian casualties in the report add up to an additional 15,000 deaths. That pushes the Iraq Body Count to somewhere between 98-106,000 civilian deaths. That’s blood on our hands, guys. We didn’t have to fight this war. Saddam was no saint, but even his infamous gassing of the Kurds at Halabja amounted to something like 3000-5000 deaths. Keep our crimes in perspective.

Der Spiegel‘s best reporting was on unfair attacks conducted by Apache helicopters, of which the infamous Collateral Murder video was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems. It’s easy to point your joystick at people trying to surrender and click a button that will eliminate them. It feels just like a video game. Maybe you can even compare your kill stats with your buddies back at the base!

Don’t let the war-loving mainstream media fool you: the WikiLeaks Iraq documents reveal new and damning evidence about our awful war in Iraq. Don’t let the government fool you, either: these documents don’t put anyone in any more danger than our continued ignorance would. The Surge is unraveling. Chaos is returning. We broke Iraq, but sticking around indefinitely isn’t going to help anything. Don’t let the military fool you into thinking our conduct there is justified. End the war now, bring the troops home, and don’t forget to Free Bradley Manning and donate to WikiLeaks.

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  • Via Strike the Root, Wired: the NSA gets a new set of cartoon snow leopard mascots to recruit kids. Of course, the CIA, National Counterterrorism Center and FBI all already have games aimed at kids. So you can’t market cigarettes to kids, but you can try to get them to become human-hating tool-drones of the American imperialist security apparatus? What a sick country.
  • National Post: An “internationally acclaimed psychiatrist” says there is no evidence Omar Khadr, the boy-turned-man locked up at 15 in Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and held there ever since, is a ‘good kid.’ I. DON’T. CARE. Good kid or not, he has human rights, you bag of pus. And hey, guess what…maybe he would be a much nicer kid if he hadn’t been held without trial and maybe tortured for going on ten years. Burn in hell.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: Regulations are Horrible, pt. 500,000–stiffer testing regulations passed on toymakers in the aftermath of a few Mattel recalls were quickly altered to exempt Mattel. Now those same onerous regulations are driving smaller toymakers to grovel before Leviathan and probably go out of business. My God, this is especially sick. Corporations write regulations, guys. Stop thinking they protect you, they only protect their share of the marketplace.
  • Via Liberale et Libertaire, CBS: Alaskan Senate nominee and Sarah Palin buddy Joe Miller makes a mistake and accidentally speaks the truth in saying he wants America’s border to look like East Germany‘s. An estimated 1,100 innocent people died at the Inner German Border, you freak. I hope you lay in bed tortured by their death groans.
  • NYT: From the department of Do You Really Think We are That Stupid, “Coalition Forces Routing Taliban in Key Afghan Region.” If you’re the NYT reporter doing this story, how do you even finish it? How do you keep a straight face listening to the military hacks feeding you this tripe? You’re driving the Taliban out of their caves in one region, whoopee! Guess what, guys…Afghanistan has three things in abundance, AK-47s, poppy seeds, and caves. “We” are not winning this game of whack-a-mole.
  • NYT: An American guard killed an Afghan detainee in a prison near Kandahar. Oh, wouldn’t you know it, he was trying to escape! If you believe that story, I have some primo real estate in Las Vegas to sell you, too.
  • Glenn Greenwald: This is such a classic Greenwald post, haha. Glenn wants us to remember the cruel and unusual prison policies of the Iranians…which happen to look an awful lot like our own at Guantanamo and the black sites worldwide. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
  • Via Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason, Crispy on the Outside: Did you know Kokomo, Ind. was “saved” by the stimulus? A stimulus that made it possible for Our Father the State to unselfishly charge only $1,000 for a liquor license that normally costs $100,000? Oh Father, what would we do without you to make us lick your boots and pay exorbitant costs to exercise our fundamental rights?
  • Via Brian Doherty at Reason, NYT: Antonio “bile” Musumeci, the producer of the awesome podcast Thinking Liberty, won a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security thugs who arrested him and confiscated his memory card for videotaping a protest outside of a federal courthouse. This is great news for everyone who recognizes the newest front in the war against the state, photography and videotaping.
  • Via the New Humanist, WaPo: a Ugandan tabloid publishes photos of 100 suspected homosexuals and tells readers in their deeply homophobic country to “hang them.” Ideas have consequences, you American evangelicals who went to Uganda and helped draft their anti-gay bill. Four people on the list have already been attacked. All Western countries should offer these people immediate asylum.
  • Der Spiegel: We talk about the rhetorical awfulness of Godwin’s Law a lot, but you can’t understand how ridiculous and hurtful the argumentum ad Hitlerum is until you hear a German discuss it. Dear Glenn Beck, kids singing Obama praise songs and warnings about global warming might be annoying and gross, but they are not on par with the Hitler Youth and death camps. Stop embarrassing yourself.
  • Free Keene: Keene PD shut down (video included) Cub Scouts and homeless shelter volunteers for putting up tables at a festival without licenses. Even though the tables were on private property. If you are a cop who does stuff like this, who are you helping? What are you thinking? Are you thinking?
  • NYT: Know how the GOP keeps talking about deficits? Guess what, they have few specifics on how they want to cut the deficit. It’s hard to have much of a plan when you are running to the left of the Democrats on Medicare and have no intentions of cutting defense. If you vote for these clowns, you have your head on backwards.
  • NYT: So the military is allowing some gays to reenlist now. I hate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I’m all about equality. My only question is, why do these guys even want to be in the military?
  • National Post: Pointing out the fallacy of people who don’t like Muhammad cartoons saying Islam should be treated “equally.” Hey guys, guess what? This is the West. We have the right to express ourselves. If it hurts your feelings, go back to a Muslim country. Oh, and please stop trying to kill cartoonists.
  • NYT: Headline–“Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing.” But hey, the Department of Justice tried really hard! Just like they tried really hard to prosecute torturers.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: Yet another reason to support Prop 19–blacks are incarcerated for drug crimes at a rate up to twelve times that of whites, even though white use rates are the same or higher. And yet somehow Prop 19 looks less and less likely to pass. Come on, people!
  • Center for a Stateless Society: Lede–“Mexican authorities recently burned 134 tons of marijuana in a display of Drug War success. The flames of the burning goods were a visible statist spectacle casting marijuana and the people who use it as villains, while the smoke from state propaganda conceals the real villain, which is authority.” Amen!
  • NYT: Oh hey, nothing to see here, but Fannie and Freddie might need another $19 billion from taxpayers. $135 billion wasn’t quite enough. But hey, go watch your American Idol and we’ll get back to subsidizing some more mortgages for people who can’t afford them!
  • NYT: This is one of the dumbest pieces I’ve read in a long time–a morbidly obese man whines about the insults and difficulties of traveling whilst fat. He’s been doing it for over twenty years. Here’s an idea, bucko: if you find it so dehumanizing and sad, lose a few pounds. And no, you do not get to be 5’7 285 by being big-boned.
  • Brian Doherty at Reason: Thuggish celebucop Sheriff Lee Baca of L.A. County says he will continue to enforce marijuana laws even if Prop 19 passes. Of course, the L.A. Times is already using this as another reason to vote no on Prop 19 and “avoid controversy.”
  • Lew Rockwell: Engaging in a favorite Misesian past-time, tweaking the nose of the Mont Pelerin Society. I feel bad for the college kids who watch documentaries like Commanding Heights and come away thinking the MPS Friedmanite shills for conventional conservatism are really free marketers. Join Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Property and Freedom Society instead, kids.
  • Kevin Williamson at Exchequer: Profiling a favorite statist tactic, campaigning against budget cuts by putting only the best and most essential programs on the chopping block. But what about the firefighters and the police? Think of the children! Meanwhile, we will think of our pensions, mua ha ha.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Great article on the State’s cute little asset seizure programs that like to take all sorts of property from suspected criminals and then make it incredibly difficult to get back, even when you end up being innocent. We need it for the common good, slave! Now lick my boots!

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  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Radley Balko: Tupelo, Miss. judge Talmadge Littlejohn sends an attorney to jail for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in court. Oh my God. This is our country. Leaving alone the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance is a sickening little exercise in nationalist-slave conditioning, this judge should be locked up for contempt of his own court. Contact him here.
  • Via Lew Rockwell, Atlanta tv: TSA thugs launch a counterterrorism raid against an Atlanta bus station. The reason? “Officials told Channel 2’s Eric Philips there is no particular threat sparking the surge in activity, just their desire to ward off any potential attacks.” Translated, that says “preemptive fear-mongering.” The only criminals  in that bus station were these sick freaks with the badges and the guns. Leave our country alone!
  • Glenn Greenwald: highlighting the sad case of Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, a Syrian man we tortured and knowingly detained as innocent for over seven years. He is suing the U.S. government, but Glenn’s right–we know this will end with another invocation of state secrets. If you are one of the bureaucrats who helped keep this man in jail, you weren’t just doing your job. You don’t get that excuse. You were complicit in ruining a man’s life. If there is a hell, you will rot in it.
  • Maclean’s: Canadian municipalities start banning longboards. Border town White Rock, B.C. sounds to be the most repugnant. An art student was killed riding such a board in July, and now senior citizens have been complaining to the mayor about how frightened they are of the boards. Oh, we wouldn’t want you to be scared! Oh, we wouldn’t want you to risk your life as you see fit! Instead we will take away your rights. It’s for your own good, children! Now kneel down and thank your master!
  • The Globe & Mail: covering the Burmese “election” process. It’s a fixed “election” that will just make the awful junta feel more legitimate. But unlike Venezuela, the Burmese opposition is being smart and boycotting it. Never, ever let the devils ruining your lives think they do it with your consent or any shred of moral legitimacy. Some day they will pay for what they have done.
  • NYT: profiling an English village that has become a mecca for swingers and public sex fans. This is just such an English story. There’s the woman who found a sex toy in the bushes and asked the police to book it into the lost and found. And then, from a 71-year-old woman: “I think we should just let them get on with it.” Wait, you mean you don’t want to stop consenting adults from doing something that poses no harm to you? Crazy! I don’t like the creepy Big Brother stuff the UK has done lately, but you have to admire this old-school British spirit of tolerance.
  • Daniel Larison in The Week: calling for the end of NATO. Awesome. It can’t stop expanding. The Warsaw Pact is long gone. It gives irresponsible American foreign policy and military hacks an automatic team of allies to help back up our disastrous policies abroad. Get rid of this beast before they go and do something really stupid like invite Georgia to join.
  • Pat Buchanan: outlining the poisonous effects of welfare on families. According to Buchanan, one in five New Yorkers receives food stamps. And we wonder why people are so irresponsible.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: celebrating the Nobel Lit Prize victory of the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who actually has quite a libertarian pedigree. He even wrote two essays for Reason: #1, #2. I’m a bit wary because most South American neoliberals tend to end up being quite statist, but it’s automatically better than the late, nasty Portuguese commie Jose Saramago having won.
  • Katerine Mangu-Ward at Reason: highlighting a piece on Canada’s exercise in fiscal discipline under the Liberal governments of the late 1990s. Worth clicking through just for the graph that shows real cuts of nearly 20% across the board in just a two year span. Again, cutting government inefficiency is nice, but it’s not even close to the total elimination of the state that we need.
  • Moscow Times:  Moscow gossip columnist Bozhena Rynska might face up to seven years in jail for hooliganism charges after she tased a vile abuser who put his hand down her pants in a nightclub. If she had taken revenge with a chair on the scene instead of walking to her car for her taser, she would have been justified, says a lawyer. So because a woman tried to equalize her level of force against a man stronger than her, she becomes the bad guy? Violence is not the outcome I would support, but there’s no doubt in my mind she was justified.
  • National Post: more info on the Canadian parliamentary bill that would make salaries and expenses for top First Nations (Native American) authorities public. Take a look at the Enoch Cree Nation, where councilmembers earn $175,000 compared to an average resident’s income of $15,000. Of course you don’t want your salaries made public, you fatcats. You should be ashamed to live like that as the people you “represent” exist in squalor.
  • Glenn Greenwald: reminding us all of the very real nature of blowback in analyzing the Faisal Shahzad ruling. The longer we occupy Muslim lands, the more innocent Muslims we put to the sword, the more the violent minority will come here and attack us. The war on terror is a self-perpetuating exercise, but then that’s the best sort of exercise if you are a defense contractor or security state hack.

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  • Glenn Greenwald: doing vital reporting on an issue entirely neglected by the U.S. media–the release of findings from the UN’s inquiry into Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara. Included in the findings: 19-year-old U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan was shot execution-style as he lay on the deck in a semi-conscious state. The only UN Human Rights Council member to vote against endorsing the report was the U.S. American-Israeli relations: where you execute an innocent citizen of ours and we help you cover it up!
  • NYT: Norway says that three terrorist plotters arrested in July were planning an attack on the Danish hero-newspaper Jyllands-Posten–the paper that published the Muhammad cartoons. The best part is that all three plotters were permanent residents who arrived as asylum seekers. You came to the West seeking so asylum…so that you could violate the rights of others and make them seek asylum? Here’s hoping these three rot for a very, very long time.
  • New Humanist: around 20 U.S. newspaper spike a cartoon for a perceived slight to Muhammad. This is when they’ve won, when we start self-censoring. Ugh.
  • Carlos Miller: Michigan authorities bully a man and threaten to refer him to the Department of Homeland Security…for taking pictures of the town water tower. Similar photos are displayed on the town’s own website. Snap those shutters, people. We have to keep shaming these jerks into respecting our rights.
  • Reason: their entire October issue is available for free online now!
  • Free Keene: video of Pete and Adam from Liberty on Tour having a very well-handled, funny encounter with U.S. Border Patrol. Best part: the checkpoint is comfortably inside U.S. territory. And I used to think it was odd that Russians had to carry their papers everywhere.
  • National Post: updating information on the conscientious objector safehaven bill being walked through the Canadian parliament by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy. It’s too bad they are trying to make him limit it to U.S. objectors only, but at least this would be an improvement over the current system.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: updating a police brutality case. The DEA gave a big, fat settlement to the innocent man who was brutalized. But now the only disciplinary action taken has been against the Kansas City (KS)  cop who blew the whistle. It’s their country, we just live in it.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: LA teachers union sickos blame the suicide of an LA teacher on the LA Times teacher effectiveness rankings. Vile. What other profession gets away with this sort of evidence-averse bullying yet still gets sympathy from the public?
  • Armin Rosen at Reason: highlighting the stomach-churning hypocrisy of Obama on DC schools. First Obama listened to the evidence-averse, child-hating crazies teachers there and helped kill the popular voucher program. Now he stood by and let the pro-school reform mayor lose his reelection race. In the meantime, his kids attend the super-elite Sidwell Friends. Do you think of the lives you’ve ruined before you go to bed at night, Barack? What are a few schoolkids condemned to failing schools when you run Guantanamo Bay and oversee two bloody wars, I guess.
  • The Globe & Mail: U.S. prepares to lock up a Canadian pot smuggler. 8 months for harming no one, for initiating no force, for respecting consent. Proud to be an American!
  • Pat Buchanan: making the case that China overplayed its hand in the recent fishing boat face-off with Japan. By Buchanan’s logic, China has now proven itself a ruthless foe willing to use economic warfare to achieve its goals. I don’t see this as a revelation.
  • The Globe & Mail: British Columbia’s political-administrative classes gang up on anti-harmonized sales tax (HST) leader Bill Vander Zalm because there happen to be some crazy people in his movement. What a load of spew. This is like that insane Google v. Viacom lawsuit, where Viacom tried to hold Google liable for individual users uploading licensed content, even if Google removed it. Vander Zalm is not responsible for the actions of individuals who support his cause. You’re getting desperate, guys.
  • The Globe & Mail: French prosecutors were nice and helpful, gladly turning over information on 1,800 secret Swiss accounts held by Canadians to the Canadian Revenue Agency. How dare you hide your wealth from Leviathan! Leviathan is hungry!
  • NYT: an Israeli publishes the country’s first pork cookbook. It doesn’t sound like a big deal until you read this part: “Pork sellers routinely face protesters, and in recent years, arsonists have attacked shops in cities like Netanya and Safed, where Orthodox Jews live near secular immigrant communities.” Yes, burn down a store because someone inside is selling a product you don’t have to use.
  • Glenn Greenwald: ridiculing Obama for his hypocrisy in talking tough on Iranian torturers whilst filing state secrecy claims to dismiss investigation of torture at home. It feels so refreshing to lose our moral credibility, doesn’t it?
  • The Globe & Mail: Vancouver politicos can’t understand why food carts aren’t taking off there like they have in Portland. Well, they have some inkling that it was because they limited the number of licenses. But hey, let’s just set a new, arbitrarily-low number of licenses and tell people to put their carts in clusters and it will be ok! You’re doing it wrong, you imbeciles. Get rid of the licenses. Let people do what they want. Then the trucks will come.

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One of the biggest stories I kept track on these past few weeks was America’s continuing descent into torture, secrecy and runaway authoritarianism. It breaks my heart that this is very clearly not a Bush problem anymore. If this had been about Bush and Cheney, fine, they were horrible human beings, but we got rid of them two years ago. Instead, what we have is a systemic failure. Our country is off its common law, due process, human rights, civil liberties, stuff-that-makes-America-America rails.

Just this month, HuffPo reported (H/T: Andrew Sullivan) on how one of the CIA torturers worked as a contractor and trainer for the intelligence community after leaving the CIA. Der Spiegel reported that the torture accusations laid against this same man, alleged to have taken place at a black site in Poland, have now been confirmed for the first time.

But worst of all, in a shockingly disappointing, cowardly, immoral, unethical, stomach-churning decision, a federal court of appeals ruled that victims of CIA torture could not sue the U.S. because it might lead to secrets being aired. The ACLU will appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but can we really expect a different outcome there, with friends of power like John Roberts and Elena Kagan coming up with new feats of casuistry? And the thing is, this case shouldn’t have needed to go as far as the Supreme Court. If the court system was really fulfilling its constitutional role as a check on the excesses of the other branches of government, the case would have been over as soon as the words “state torture” were uttered in court. I hope this 6-judge majority never sleeps a peaceful night again. Let their dreams be haunted forever by the screams of men tortured and killed and held without charges in secret prisons most Americans will never hear of above the din of American Idol.

Andrew Sullivan did some inspired reporting on the topic. My favorite was this essay (money quote: “And this means almost certainly that torture will return. The GOP base loves it, as long as it is done against people with dark skin and funny names in places they can look away from. And they know now something they didn’t know in 2008. They will always get away with it.”) He turned up this Washington Times story right after the court decision, featuring a little bit of horror from former CIA director Michael Hayden:

“You’ve got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram [in Afghanistan],” Mr. Hayden said, listing the continuities. “And although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action.”

My God, people–he said those things approvingly! It is a heart-breaking day for our country when “respected” officials can praise this sort of inhumane, unconstitutional, evil behavior in public and not be burned in effigy for it.

Of course Glenn Greenwald was fighting this battle on a daily basis, most nobly in this post. Long-quote:

So, to recap:  the U.S. creates a worldwide regime of torture, disappearances and lawless imprisonment.  Then, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the American federal judiciary all collaborate to shield the guilty parties from all accountability (Look Forward, Not Backward!), and worse, to ensure that not a single victim can even access American courts to obtain a ruling as to the legality of what was done to them, let alone receive compensation for their suffering, even while recognizing that many of the victims were completely innocent and even though other countries have provided the victims with compensation for their much more minor role in what happened.  Our courts even ensure that Blackwater guards are shielded from prosecution for the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi citizens.

But we invade, occupy and destroy Iraq — while severely abusing, torturing and killing their citizens — and then demand, as a condition for our allowing the end of crippling sanctions, that they fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to American torture victims, even though it all happened 20 years ago, under an Iraqi regime that no longer even exists.  They hate us for our Freedoms.

Maybe there’s a way back for us, but I’m not optimistic. The roots of this problem reach far back in our history, probably to the Alien & Sedition Acts under Adams, certainly to the suspension of habeas corpus under Lincoln and then right on down through WWI, the Palmer Raids, the FBI, Japanese internment, HUAC and up to the present. Andrew says the only way to get back to our ideals is by an “enraged citizenry.” It’s taken 30 years for maybe close to half of the people to get mildly uncomfortable about a drug war that is being waged in their own backyards. And yet we place our hopes in this same citizenry getting more enraged about abuses being committed against people they hear smeared as enemies half a world away, when they hear of them at all. I won’t be holding my breath on it.

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