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Whitewashing CIA torture

“We are [not so] awesome” after all

The logic that torture is a “stain” on US history is the heart of the problem, since it blocks an honest reading of whatever “values” Washington actually stands for.

“This is not who we are. This is not how we operate,” were the words of President Barack Obama commenting on the grisly findings of a long-awaited congressional report on the use of torture by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

But what if this is exactly who we are?

The report is difficult to read, not just because it is awfully long – hundreds of pages of a summary …

The Unspeakable in Afghanistan

2014 marks the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, fighters, and foreigners. The situation has reached a new low as the myth of the Afghan state continues. Thirteen years into America’s longest war, the international community argues that Afghanistan is growing stronger, despite nearly all indicators suggesting otherwise. Most recently, the central government failed (again) to conduct fair and organized elections or demonstrate their sovereignty. Instead, John Kerry flew into the country and arranged new national leadership. The cameras rolled and a unity government was declared.  Foreign leaders meeting in London decided on new aid packages and financing for the …

Solar Desalination: Surviving Water’s Coming Armageddon

At the speed global water conversion from foul-to-fresh is spreading around the globe—via inexpensive household solar ‘desal’ units—a few hundred billion ordinary people will NOT go thirsty.

The average human adult can survive for only two or three days without potable water, depending on the region, altitude, temperature, and humidity levels. Yet world population—7,164,000,000—has outstripped potable water supplies. At least a sixth of that population …

Variations of Racism and Bigotry Devaluing Human Rights and Life Itself

A vicious cycle feeding off its own crimes inducing greater abuses

Only those who chose their natural skin color are allowed to be racists, and only then if they also chose their natural physique and the innate qualities of their own mind. Concerning natural given characteristics where no one ever had any choice, it’s completely irrational to hold those things against anyone else. Life is like the lottery – when your numbers come up, or almost come up, you’re given no choices – you’re simply destined to be born with certain characteristics at a time and place, none of which come at your own choosing. No one made themselves, and no …

A Neoliberal Spring?

Neoliberalism may be the most domineering socio-politico-economic influence in the history of humankind, far and away.

Moreover, when left unregulated, neoliberalism goes bonkers by concentrating wealth into fewer and fewer and fewer and fewer hands. The evidence is everywhere, same as the late 18th century when too much wealth concentrated in too few hands finally became too much, depicted by the rich golden splendor of Versailles (Fr).

Back then, in the 18th century, peasants starved on the streets of Paris, and as a result, conspicuous consumption became the formula for the French Revolution, one after another, aristocrats lost their …

Statement on the Rule of Law in Timor-Leste

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) is concerned that recent events in Timor-Leste weaken the country’s hard-won constitutional democracy and endanger the right of Timor-Leste’s citizens to live in a society governed under the rule of law.

On October 24, Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister persuaded Parliament and the Council of Ministers to fire seven international judges and prosecutors and an adviser to the Anti-Corruption Commission. When the Chief Judge explained that this was an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers, the Government revoked their visas and ordered them out of the country within 48 hours, and they complied. ((These resolutions …

Israeli Role in Syrian Fighting Brought into the Open

Overtly, the Israeli superpower of the Middle East has been keen to posture as having no role whatsoever in the four-year old devastating conflict in Syria, where all major regional and international powers are politically and militarily deeply involved and settling scores by Syrian blood.

In his geopolitical weekly analysis, entitled “The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East,” on November 25 Stratfor’s George Friedman raised eyebrows when he reviewed the effects which the terrorist group had on all regional powers, but seemed unaware of the existence of the Israeli regional superpower.

It was an instructive omission that says a lot …

Free Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera!

It is time to get Oscar Lopez Rivera out of prison.  He has been unjustly locked in prison for 33 years and is the subject of my most recent collaboration.

About Oscar López Rivera

Bronze star awarded Vietnam veteran; Chicago community activist and institution builder; advocate for the independence of Puerto Rico; U.S. government-held political prisoner for over thirty years. These are the most common cited facts given about Oscar López Rivera, and they are reasons many, including Nobel Prize laureates, elected officials, scholars, and community leaders, are compelled to join in …

Architects of Atrocity Remain at Large, and Unrepentant

By analogy, blaming it all on Eichmann while giving Hitler a pass

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been taking bows for being the guardian of American law, decency, and character. It’s not. It’s not even close. American law, decency, and character have yet to be redeemed. Worse, only a small percentage of Americans in or out of power seems to care enough to act against the pall of moral failure still spreading through the culture.

The intelligence committee has done a good, small thing in its effort to make some partial truth somewhat better known, but its report is fundamentally short on meaningful intelligence. This is a committee divided against itself …

Paul Wolfowitz and the Senate Torture Report

Concerns about Insufficient Intelligence Production

[GTMO Interrogation and Control Element Chief] Mr. [David] Becker also told the Committee that, on several occasions, MG [Major General] Dunlavey had advised him that the office of Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz had called to express concerns to him about the insufficient intelligence production at GTMO. Mr. Becker recalledMG Dunlavey telling him after one of these calls, that the Deputy Secretary himself said that GTMO should use more aggressive interrogation techniques.

MG Miller said that, while he was in Command at GTMO, he had direct discussions with the DoD’s [Department of Defense’s] General Counsel office and the Office of

Front and Center at the Oakland Protests

The Politics of a Police State

By the time the officer (pictured below) said “OK, everyone here is under arrest!” it was too late. Encircled on three sides by the police and on one side by a tall brick wall, there was seemingly no place to go and nowhere to hide. We were, as they say in protester argot, completely kettled-in. I had been at the protest for about an hour, had committed no crime, and yet there I was: trapped on the corner of 29th and Telegraph in Oakland.

All photos …

Malala and Nabeela

So Malaya Yousafzai recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, and everyone all around the world is singing her praises. Rightfully so.
In fact, Malala’s case is probably the only one wherein all media verticals seem to be in absolute agreement, be it Al Jazeera, or Press TV, or even Fox News. That girl deserves praise for her efforts.
However, whilst Ms Yousafzai was receiving her Nobel Prize, my attention was drawn towards the case of another young girl from Pakistan: Nabeela Rahman. Much like Malala, Nabeela too recently travelled to the Western part of the world, albeit the latter went to USA …

Imperialism and the Politics of Torture

The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.

CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force

The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope …

US Feels the Heat on Palestine Vote at UN

The floodgates have begun to open across Europe on recognition of Palestinian statehood. On Friday the Portuguese parliament became the latest European legislature to call on its government to back statehood, joining Sweden, Britain, Ireland, France and Spain.

In coming days similar moves are expected in Denmark and from the European Parliament. The Swiss government will join the fray too this week, inviting states that have signed the Fourth Geneva Convention to an extraordinary meeting to discuss human rights violations in the occupied territories. Israel has threatened retaliation.

But while Europe is tentatively finding a voice in the …

Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?

I will state flatly that the bulk of this country’s white population impresses me, and has so impressed me for a very long time, as being beyond any conceivable hope of moral rehabilitation. They have been white, if I may so put it, too long; they have been married to the lie of white supremacy too long; the effect in their personalities, their lives, their very grasp of realty, has been as devastating as the lava which so memorably immobilized the citizens of Pompeii. They are unable to conceive that their version of reality, which they want me to accept,

Another Great Performance by Elie Wiesel

On December 8, 2014 WXXI-TV’s Great Performances presented the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman and the renowned cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot in a musical exploration of liturgical and traditional works for both chamber orchestra and klezmer settings. To fortify its Jewish character the program included a short discussion between Itzhak Perlman and Elie Wiesel, arguably the foremost proponent of the current Holocaust narrative.

Wiesel told the incredulous Perlman that as a boy he too had studied violin. Moreover he claimed that he took his violin to Auschwitz in June 1944; his father suggested that since Elie was already there he …

Through the Eyes of the Dispossessed

An Indigenous People's History of the United States

Our nation was born in genocide…. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Somehow, even “genocide” seems an inadequate description for what happened, yet rather than viewing it with horror, most Americans have conceived of it as their country’s manifest destiny.

— Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Given …

Africa’s Forgotten (and Festering) Freedom Struggle in Western Africa

US sides with a colonizer

ALGIERS — The Western Sahara is not just a section of the famous desert that dominates North Africa.

The Western Sahara is a country on the Atlantic Ocean coast of North Africa with the dubious distinction of being the “Last Colony” on the vast continent of Africa. The current colonizer of this mineral-rich nation is the neighboring country of Morocco, which for decades has been conducting a viciously brutal occupation. A long history of human rights violations by Morocco in the Western Sahara have drawn wide condemnation from diverse entities including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United States, ironically …

What About Technology And Development?

Humanity indeed finds itself embedded in a technological world. This is a world where human beings consume technology, and where technology in turn incorporates human identities. It shapes human interaction, and it shapes the future. There have been many unforeseen byproducts from the advancement of technology and technologic science. The nonplussing lack of “miracles,” and astounding strides in progress, for example, reveal the deep-seated complexities that arise from the dynamic relationships inherent to science, technology and human society. James Smith writes in his book Science and Technology for Development: Development Matters, that, “Society and technology are mutually constitutive.” …

Disruption and Sacrifice

Moments of unusual unrest provide opportunities for those without money or influence to break through attitudes of indifference — and to highlight social and political injustices. ‘Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable,’ argued prominent civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin. ‘The only weapon we have is our bodies, and we need to tuck them in places, so wheels don’t turn.

— Mark and Paul Engler

Mark and Paul Engler’s well-reasoned piece published just a few days ago reminded me of what was, without question, the most personally impactful action I have ever taken …