Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Nuremburg Trials.

How ironic that on the 60th anniversary of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, the Senate should pass their torture bill with provisions that attempt to protect interrogators working for the CIA and the Department of Defense from any repercussions for using illegal methods or to find ways to keep the 1996 War Crimes Act from applying to post-Sept. 11 actions.

By a 65-34 vote, the Senate approved legislation establishing military tribunals and empowering Bush to set guidelines for aggressively interrogating suspects without violating international prohibitions on prisoner abuse.

Even more ironic, last night I was watching a production of the play And Then They Came For Me. I was very impressed with the talk after the show, that included the presence of Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss--who is one of the characters in the play. One of the things she spoke about was never feeling that these things were dealt with in the past, they exist now, all around us. She spoke about Darfur, and the turmoil in the Middle East.

Frequently you hear the Republicans shout about the hysterical desperation of the Democrats who attempt to liken their efforts at governing and President Bush to the events that led to the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler.

You must have your blind eye buried in the sand like an ostritch if you can not see the relevant comparisons. Secret camps, secret arrests, secret police, domestic spying, encouraging the public to inform on each other, torture, limitations on dissent, erosions of freedom, increased nationalism tied to a single political party, linking domestic opposition to a nebulous enemy which does not have a state, and a leader who is the sole arbiter of what is and is not legal.

Just as with Hitler's exploitation of the Reichstag fire, we in America have been whipped into a frenzy with the September 11th attacks. We are constantly encouraged in our fear, and that fear is expertly manipulated to justify any measure, any act, to the point where it is now un-American not to support un-American actions we would never tolerate in our leaders otherwise. Where Hitler exploited the national fear of communists and Jews, we are warned by Republicans and talk radio pundits of the efforts of liberals and Muslims who seek to destroy this country from within.

That fear is used to eliminate opposition to the President, close our borders, push for national photo ID cards, support for secret prisons, placing interrogators above repercussion for illegal methods of interrogation, and to make advocacy for the rule of law and proper criminal procedures be perceived as weak and giving aid to the "enemy."

The defendants at Nuremburg said in their defense that they had changed the laws and acted according to the new laws.

They claimed that what they did was legal. Technically, it was.

We, and the rest of the world rejected that defense. In 1946, everyone knew exactly what torture was. No one was confused about what outrages against human dignity meant. The world stood up and took action to prevent any nation from perpetrating, even by technically legal national policy, outrages against human dignity for any reason, including guarding against presumed threats against national security.

We are constantly told by this administration that nothing is more dangerous to the nation than not "staying the course."

Staying the course means increasing instability in the Middle East, decreasing the respect and admiration of the rest of the world, further undermining the rule of law, 800 to 900 attacks a week against our forces in Iraq, increasing the number and desire of jihadists who are plotting against us, decreasing the safety of our people at home and abroad, deepening our national debt, further eroding the very freedoms we claim to be defending, and continuing to weaken our ability to respond to future threats. Staying the course means continuing to accept the increasing power of an imperial presidency and the erosion of the relevance of the other two branches of government designed to provide the necessary checks and balances for a successful democracy. Staying the course means less certainty about the election process and verified results. Staying the course means greater influence of corporations and diminishing influence of what is called the "mythical little guy" by this administration. Staying the course means continued deception, misrepresentation, secrecy, and lies rather than the oversight Congress is mandated by the constitution to provide. Staying the course means continued reliance on "body language" and "instinct" by this President in making decisions rather than thoughtful examination of factual evidence and honest consideration of opposing viewpoints prior to taking action.

I believe that nothing is more dangerous to this nation than not taking a new direction. Even Osama bin Laden said that his fundamental plan was "...Continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." Just like Reagan wanted to spend the Soviet Union into Oblivion. You'd think that when bin Laden is taking a page from the Reagan playbook that Republicans might be able to recognize it. But...This is not an administration founded on either perception or congitive ability.

I don't hate America, I miss it.

I don't hate George Bush, I hate what he has done to destroy the country I once was so proud to call my homeland.

Please, for the love of both God and country, think deeply about what you vote for this November. Vote for wisdom, debate, honesty, open government, freedom from corruption. Vote for democracy. Vote for checks and balances. Vote for a return to the governmental system designed by our forefathers. Vote for sanity. Vote for oversight. Vote for accountability. Vote for a return to consequences and a departure from impunity.

You can't have that in a one party system. Vote for the Democratic candidate in your election. Only by doing that will we get the responsibility and accountability that George Bush promised in the 2000 campaign.

My old Methodist minister used to say that Laws without Punishment are just good advice. Why would you vote for the party that is going to allow George Bush to claim he isn't doing anything illegal, but just in case he is going to push for legislation to make anything he might have done that was considered illegal, retroactively legal?

Why would you support a party who believes it is OK to go even further in their defense than those in the dock at Nuremburg? At least they bothered to change the laws they wanted to break BEFORE they broke them.

It is time to ask yourself, what kind of government do you deserve, America? Because that is the government you are going to get.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Archie,
I've been holding back.I understand you are scared that they will be coming for you soon but you are magnifying your fear. Why would you want to give rights to people that would gladly strap on a bomb or fly a plane into a building. This has nothing o do with ordinary citizens. The holocaust was not about the same thing. I know you must realize this. I think we should leave military matters to the appropriate authorities and not to political viewpoints.
Darfur is terrible and I believe they need our help,but why was this not a concern before? Why didn't we rally after Somolia? Why didn't we rally for Rowanda? We were capable then were we not?
But we must be careful regarding Darfur because we will be fighting Muslims and you know what happens whe we fight Muslims. It increases terror. And let us not forget that we do not want to make them mad no do we? We don't want any more planes crashing into buildings. See how mad we made them before that?
vet

11:43 AM  
Blogger Archie Levine said...

I don't want to give rights to anyone, including terrorists. I want to preserve the rights that everyone already has, including people you and this President think might be terrorists even in the absence of any evidence or a trial.

The wording of the bill does not preclude its use against American citizens and in fact, could be construed to mean that any one who becomes a detainee defense attorney are themselves guilty of being an enemy combatant.

If this is signed into law, only the Supreme Court could deem it unconstitutional and that can't happen unless a case is brought to them, and if the law strips anyone of access to the courts, that can't happen. Sound like the America you put on a uniform to protect? It doesn't to me.

I don't think it is possible to magnify the importance of what Congress did yesterday.

As to your advice to leave military matters to the military, you might want to mention that to George, who has ignored the advice of "the proper authorities" from the beginning--because he thinks that he is, in fact, the only authority that matters.

And that, in a nutshell, is the whole problem.

And, my friend, as to asking why we didn't act to prevent genocide in other instances, I assure you I was asking the same questions then as I am now.

And fighting Muslims isn't what increases terror. It is carelessly killing them, torturing them, detaining them, depriving them of due process, and committing outrages against humanity against them that increases terror, in particular if the primary reason for committing these acts is simply that they are Muslim.

I think a self professed Born Again Christian President would have done much better if he had asked himself that hackneyed question, "What Would Jesus Do?" and then done that.

Jesus had the most powerful weapons of mass destruction in the universe and was never even tempted to use them in the heat of vengeful anger.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that we detain them,torture as you say but we all know what torture really is,isn't as much the problem as publicizing it so carelessly and it's passed throught the media and into the Al-Jazera propagand machine to insight more violence. That's wher it needs to stop and yes overseen but not by you and not by the public making people that would otherwise know better that we are going around randomly picking up innocent people with the sole intention of torturing them.
War is bad no matter what you are fighting for. You are sent to do a job and it's not easy fighting a political war. It's about survival man.
World War II yes people didn't want it but it wasn't printed all over to piss off our enemies.
vet

5:48 PM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

Waterboarding is torture, Vet, whether you like it or not, and a violation of the Geneva Convention.

there's a difference between intense interrogation and torture. Torture gets people to confess to things they didn't do, just to get it to stop. Torture is not effective. Torture makes more enemies than it stops.

There are loads of studies to support this, if you cared to look, and a lot of other "Vets" who are brave enough state it doesn't work, vets who are both liberal and conservative, vets who aren't afraid to put their names to what they think or believe.

You're afraid, is all. You're afraid and so you let these people destroy the constitution this democracy was built around, the constitution a lot of veterans fought to preserve and died for. You're so afraid, of what I don't know, because you don't live in New York, like I do, which was hit by terrorists, you don't face the same thing New Yorkers do but you evidently fear it enough you'll hand over everything this country was built on just on simple, false assurances made by men already proven to be accomplished liars.

You should really be ashamed of yourself.

And though I'm not a Christian, it's hardly a Christian thing to torture people - it's not self defense, it's not proven to give safe information, it doesn't do anything than make insecure people feel better about themselves, like you, and humiliate those who are different (I'm assuming you've seen the pictures from Abu Grab). So anyone who does call themselves Christian and doesn support torture is a damned hypocrite, and though I don't believe in the bible, I'd be happy if Jesus did come back just so he could but a boot up your butt for all the nasty, horrible things you've done and supported in his name.

Really, vet, you should be ashamed for what you say and support, you absolutely should.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

I made a typo in the previous post. I meant to write:

"So anyone who does call themselves Christian and DOES support torture is a damned hypocrite, "

But I was so upset and typing so fast, I made a typo. I should have proofed it and didn't. My fault.

Unlike the Bush adminstration, and those that support him, I do not fear admitting my errors and taking responsibility for them. I myself am accountable for what I say and do. I accept that.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joshua man you are so off on this. First of all where you do connect Christianity to me? I am not.
Second why do you say I don't live in NY-I do.
You want to see torture maybe you should look to different cultures.
Look at what the Muslims are doing to Christians in Darfur.Why is it I never hear or read condemantion about any of that or if I do it is never about who is doing the torturing or killing. Most of these people picked up were not randomly picked at will. Maybe when they are released you can have them over to dinner.
vet

10:36 AM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

"Most" of these people were not picked up randomly? So not all, right? So I guess it's all right that an innocent few get picked up and tortured for no reason other than the color of the skin or their religion.

If you are a new yorker, I'm deeply ashamed that we share the same city. I hope for both our sakes we don't run into each other.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you were there so you know they were picked up for their skin color and religion? Please show a link where this happened or are you just spewing the words of left leaners that hate Bush so much you will stop at nothing? Like I said before have them to dinner since you love them so much. But believe me they hate you n matter how much you try and protect them.
vet

11:50 AM  
Blogger Joshua James said...

You've seen the tapes from Gitmo and Abu Grab, haven't you? How many fucking white christians did you see, you double-talking hypocrite?

Please. You're hurting yourself, advertising your ignorance as you are - you really are. Just. Stop. Asshole.

If you do live in new york, which I am beginning to seriously doubt, you've no doubt seen how many mosques we have here, sometimes (like in Astoria) just down the street from a synogogue, and everyone gets along.

If you do live in NYC, you run into Muslim folk every day, in the deli, on the street, as doormen and lawyers, many of whom cursed and weeped as all of us did the day the towers went down. I know. I saw them. I was there.

You asshole. I'd much rather have a compassionate man or women over to dinner, regardless of their religion, than an ignorant, scared fucktard like yourself.

And don't wave the terrorist attack thing anymore. We had another terrorist attack in 95, in Oklahoma City, remember that? Masterminded by a white christian military veteran, not too different from yourself.

Should you be picked up and waterboarded because you're the same race and religion as Tim McVeigh, held for years without charges or access to family or counsel, without any evidence whatsoever, just because you're look and sound like McVeigh?

I don't like you, but I wouldn't wish that on you or anyone. That's the difference between you and I. I believe in the constitution. You don't seem to care about it at all.

Asshole.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to even bother but I will. I wasn't talking about having yor average Muslim to dinner. Nice spin though. Plus I wasn't lumping Muslim-Americans in the same group.
And yes I do live in NY as a matter of fact I know some very nice Muslim shop owners.
vet

12:37 PM  
Anonymous AF Veteran said...

"but we all know what torture really is,isn't as much the problem as publicizing it so carelessly and it's passed throught the media and into the Al-Jazera propagand machine to insight more violence."

Anything that starts with the crap line "we all know" and i't other variants "everybody knows", "it is known" should be examined with great suspicion, in fact the reaser should assume that what follows in in fact is a lie.
EVERYBODY does no know and what follows is usually set up to be taken without question or debate.

Try this on for size Torture does not work, it gets answers bu the answers do as much harm as good.
I can force you to say anything, if only apply the right pressure of the right type.
The point of interogation is to get information, the point of torture is torture.

"Vet" we don't need to harm our greater goodness with routine torture and that is what it has become, routine.

How's about we put someone close to you on a rack and then see if we can wing your heart or mind afterwards?
We won't and that's the point - when the deliverer of freedom turns to torture he becomes a greater enemy than the original enemy.

Archie - I want my right back... that or DECLARE WAR in the manner specified by the United States Constitution and put this country on a footing that justifies the actions, and enables the provisions for civil operation under legal conditions.
This administration is operating in a criminal manner and those who comply with illegal orders are criminals.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vet doesn't live in New York City

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Vet lives in Queens.
vet

3:27 PM  

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