Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Again and Again

I never know what to say when something like this happens.

It doesn’t matter if it is in Pakistan or in Connecticut; if it is in the name of religion or tribalism, or if it is just in answer to the voices in the head of someone who is desperately ill.

Because we don’t know what to say, we search blindly for answers or we lash out and vow revenge.  But more often than not there are no answers and vengeance does not renew or restore.  So we just go on, putting it out of our mind until it happens again.  And again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top Ten

The Washington Post has the list of the ten worst things the C.I.A. did in our name.

1. Of the 119 CIA detainees, 26 should not have been apprehended.

2. President Bush received his first briefing on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2006, about four years after the program started.

3. The CIA used rectal feeding and rectal rehydration on at least five detainees.

4. CIA interrogators threatened to harm the family members of at least three detainees.

5. The CIA apprehended two foreigners working for a “partner government” allied with the agency.

6. Abu Zubaida, the CIA’s first detainee, spent 266 hours in a coffin-size confinement box.

7. When Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times, tried to breathe during the procedure, interrogators held his lips and poured water over his mouth.

8. The Senate committee found a photo of what looked like a well-used waterboarding station at a site where there was no reported use of the technique. The CIA could not explain the presence of the waterboard.

9. Of the at least 26 detainees who were wrongfully held, one was “intellectually challenged.”

10. CIA officers would “strip a detainee naked, shackle him in the standing position for up to 72 hours, and douse [him] repeatedly with cold water.”

Read them and weep.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

They All Look Alike

Freshman Tea Party Congressman Curt Clawson of Florida mistook two senior State Department officials as being representatives from India.

In an intensely awkward congressional hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, freshman Rep. Curt Clawson misidentified two senior U.S. government officials as representatives of the Indian government.

The two officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are Americans who hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively. Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about “your country” and “your government,” in reference to the state of India.

Apparently confused by their Indian surnames and skin color, Clawson also asked if “their” government could loosen restrictions on U.S. capital investments in India.

“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there,” he said. “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

The question prompted a lengthy pause and looks of confusion from State Department and congressional staff attending the hearing.

[…]

It’s extremely uncommon for foreign officials to testify before Congress under oath. Even so, it’s unclear if at any point Clawson realized his mistake, despite the existence of a witness list distributed to the various members detailing Biswal and Kumar’s positions. Clawson’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

During the hearing, he repeatedly touted his deep knowledge of the Indian subcontinent and his favorite Bollywood movies. None of his fellow colleagues publicly called him out on the oversight — perhaps going easy on him because he’s the new guy.

Actually, I hope his fellow colleagues didn’t call him out on it because they were having too much fun letting this idiot make a fool of himself on live TV.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Annals of Asshattery

Bush-administration CIA director Michael Hayden said Sunday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was getting “emotional” about the Senate Intelligence Committee report that details the tactics they used to try to wring intelligence out of prisoners.

Citing specifically Feinstein’s line about not using such techniques again, Hayden told Fox News Sunday host Chis [sic] Wallace, “Now that sentence that, motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the Senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

Wallace — who is far from a sympathizer for Senator Feinstein and her party — responded incredulously to the Director’s assertion that Sen. Feinstein’s emotions drove her to want a public report on the U.S.’s potential use of torture. “Forgive me because you and I both know Senator Feinstein,” Wallace said. “I have the highest regard for her. You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?”

Hayden did not respond specifically to Wallace’s question, but rather said simply that only portions of the report had been leaked but it did not tell the whole story.

What a steaming pile.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Aftershocks

I can’t put it any better than this.

All I can think right now is how many moms have Christmas present hidden all over their house and were told this morning that their child is dead. How many of them will now look at a Christmas tree, knowing their child will not be there on Christmas morning to open the presents lovingly purchased and wrapped and hidden? How many of these parents struggled for years to get pregnant, and now their kid, because of some lunatic with an easily accessible gun, is dead? How many grandparents who waited for 30 years to have a grandchild, have plane tickets booked for the Holidays, and now need to change those plans and come up earlier to bury their grandchild.

I grew up in a small town where for about 25 months from 1969-1970, every month another couple had a child. These were my friends- Judd, Brad, Micah, Thad, Brian, Ryan, Kelly, Toni, Jodi, Kim, Cole, Ponch, Bert, Erik, Mark, Vicki, Stacy, Dee Dee, and so on. Sandy Hook was a small town, and an entire kindergarten class was wiped out. It would be like everyone who was born in that period in my home town never existed- killed in one horrific act of gun violence. My town would never, ever recover. Ever.

And then the residual trauma. How many of these families will survive? How many of them will be driven to divorce by the trauma. How many of the siblings will never, ever be the same? I talked to my mom on the phone, and she is just inconsolable and simply can not watch the coverage. She’s worried the parents will kill themselves.

This shooter and his easily accessed guns did not just kill 27 people. He ruined thousands of lives. And let’s not forget about the first responders. I don’t care how tough of a cop or a fireman you are, you will never be the same. We’ll have dozens of people with PTSD, leading to alcoholism and drug abuse and family problems.

I hold these people — and all of us — in the Light.

Friday, December 14, 2012

School Shooting in Connecticut

Via NBC:

Twenty-six people were killed, including 18 children, when a gunman opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning, a law enforcement official said.

The gunman, who is dead, was a 20-year-old from Connecticut, an official said. He was wearing all black and was carrying two 9mm handguns.

The incident — the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history after Virginia Tech in 2007 — sent crying children spilling into the school parking lot as frightened parents waited for word on their loved ones.

“I was in the gym and I heard a loud, like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled,” one student at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown told NBC Connecticut during its live broadcast. “And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.

“All the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us,” she added. “So then a police officer came in and told us to run outside. So we did and we came in the firehouse and waited for our parents.”

Two 9mm handguns were recovered from the scene, an official told WNBC’s Jonathan Dienst.

Three people were taken to nearby Danbury Hospital, a spokeswoman told NBC Connecticut. She would not elaborate on the ages of the victims or their conditions.

One of those taken to the hospital was a teacher who had been shot in the foot, the Associated Press reported, citing a dispatcher at the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

The Newtown Bee reported that one child, apparently wounded, was carried from the scene by a police officer.

I hope that the first NRA defender who says that this could have been prevented if the kids and teachers at the school were armed rots for eternity in the lowest circle of Hell, even if I don’t believe there is such a place.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Afghanistan Massacre

Horrific.

Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

Following the attacks, the Taliban threatened vengeance, as the insurgents often do after Western actions they depict as atrocities. A Taliban statement posted online on Monday denounced the killings, saying they were the latest in a series of humiliations against the Afghan people and denying that any Taliban fighters had been in the area.

Coming after a period of deepening public outrage, spurred by the Koran burning by American personnel last month and an earlier video showing American Marines urinating on dead militants, the possibility of a violent reaction to the killings added to a sense of siege here among Western personnel. Officials described growing concern over a cascade of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission and has left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge.

What are we doing there?

Afghanistan Massacre

Horrific.

Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

Following the attacks, the Taliban threatened vengeance, as the insurgents often do after Western actions they depict as atrocities. A Taliban statement posted online on Monday denounced the killings, saying they were the latest in a series of humiliations against the Afghan people and denying that any Taliban fighters had been in the area.

Coming after a period of deepening public outrage, spurred by the Koran burning by American personnel last month and an earlier video showing American Marines urinating on dead militants, the possibility of a violent reaction to the killings added to a sense of siege here among Western personnel. Officials described growing concern over a cascade of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission and has left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge.

What are we doing there?