Saturday, March 31, 2007
Contrast his clarity with Sen. Clinton's unwillingness to admit that she made a mistake in her vote to give the President a blank check in Iraq. Her surrogate keeps using her technique in the interview with CNN: it's not her fault she voted for war.
Leaders cannot avoid responsibility this way. As the CNN interview makes clear, others saw through the smoke and mirrors. She didn't. Furthermore, even if one believed the President's smoke and mirrors, the war was the wrong choice for America.
She got it wrong. She needs to demonstrate she can be a leader different from our current President by showing that she can own up to a mistake.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent, said he made up stories that tied him to the Cole attack, which killed 17 U.S. sailors and nearly succeeded in sinking the $1 billion destroyer in Aden harbor, Yemen.
"From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me. It happened during interviews. One time they tortured me one way, and another time they tortured me in a different way," al-Nashiri said, according to the transcript.
Why isn't he more specific about how he was tortured? Well, in another item from the "not a surprise category"...
Portions of the 36-page hearing transcript were edited out, and it does not include any details of the torture al-Nashiri said took place over five years. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said that any allegations of torture would be investigated. He said sections were blacked out of the transcript because of national security reasons.Apparently US torture techniques are national security secrets.
That was how he was described in an e-mail promoting a panel discussion, "24: Torture Televised," hosted by the Center on Law and Security of the New York University School of Law on March 21. He doesn't shy away from the description.
As a specialist in a military intelligence battalion, Lagouranis interrogated prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Al Asad Airfield and other places in Iraq from January through December 2004.
Coercive techniques, including the use of dogs, waterboarding and prolonged stress positions were employed on the detainees, he says. Prisoners held at Al Asad Airfield, about 110 miles northwest of Baghdad, were shackled and hung from an upright bed frame welded to the wall in a room in an airplane hanger, he told me in a phone interview.
When he was having problems getting information from a detainee, he recalls, other interrogators said, "Chain him up on the bed frame and then he'll talk to you." Lagouranis says he didn't participate directly in hangings from the frames.
The results of the hangings, shacklings and prolonged stress positions - sometimes for hours - were devastating. "You take a healthy guy and you turn him into a cripple, at least for a period of time," Lagouranis told me. "I don't care what Alberto Gonzales says. That's torture."
Lagouranis reported the detainee abuses that he witnessed in Iraq and is not a suspect in detainee-related abuses. As he says, he followed military guidelines during interrogations. "The things I participated in were technically legal," he explains.
Yet there have been repercussions. He suffered from panic attacks after his return to the United States and was placed under army psychiatric care. He received an honorable discharge from the army in July 2005.
He and other soldiers discussed the Geneva Conventions during military training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, in 2003, before being deployed to Iraq. But it became clear they were not always expected to abide by them, he says.
Some of the soldiers and officers had been influenced by Mark Bowden's October 2003 article in the Atlantic Monthly, "The Dark Art of Interrogation," which described techniques that, in the author's words, are "excruciating for the victim" yet "leave no permanent marks and do no lasting physical harm."
Things seemed different in Iraq. "I started realizing that most of the prisoners were innocent," Lagouranis told me. "We were torturing people for no reason. I started getting really angry and really remorseful and by the time I got back I completely broke down."
At the NYU event, Lagouranis said, "I'm from New York City. I'm college-educated. But you put me in Iraq and told me to torture, and I did it and I regretted it later."
That is something Lagouranis and others like him will be dealing with for a long time. "I didn't know I would discover and indulge in my own evil," he writes in his forthcoming book. "And now that it has surfaced, I fear that it will be my constant companion for the rest of my life."
"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."
In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."
I do not question Mr. Dobson's membership in the Christian community. I do, however question him, and others such as those quoted in this post, as to their definition of what a Christian should say and do. I also question which is greater- his commitment to the path of Christ, or his commitment to the electoral prospects of the Republican party.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Why the time away? I can't say really. I've been busy... but everyone is busy.
I guess I just need to recharge my batteries and let my brain rest from thinking about some of the affairs of state that seem to dominate my commentary on the blog.
I'm not fully recharged, but I'm back.
Gunmen, at least some of whom survivors charged wore police uniforms, went on a bloody rampage through the town's Sunni district of Al-Wahada after a presumed Sunni suicide bomber blew up a truck in a crowded Shiite district.
We have not taken democracy to Iraq. We have brought them civil war and the tyranny of chaos.
This is our legacy to Iraq. And our shame.
- "Satellite observations show that both the grounded ice sheet and the floating ice shelves of the Amundsen Sea Embayment have thinned over the last decades.
- "Ongoing thinning in the grounded ice sheet is already contributing to sea-level rise.
- "The thinning of the ice has occurred because melting beneath the ice shelves has increased, reducing the friction holding back the grounded ice sheet and causing faster flow."
Can we allow truth to become an afterthought? Can we allow our government to use Stalinist interrogation practices?
The government lacks dominance in every province, he added. One result is that "no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO [nongovernmental organization], nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi, without heavily armed protection."
McCaffrey is gloomy about the continuing strength of the insurgency. At this point, he said, about 27,000 fighters are being held, and at least 20,000 others have been killed, yet enemy combatants continue to produce new leaders and foot soldiers. The result, five years into the war, he said, is that "their sophistication, numbers and lethality go up -- not down -- as they incur these staggering battle losses."This is the opinion of someone with expertise, and with no vested interest. His views run directly contrary to the recent statements by the White House and Sen. McCain (who appears to have given up on his 'Straight Talk Express' method of campaigning) that the 'Surge' is yielding positive results.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Satan, Islamic terrorists, and the Democrats are out and about like roaring lions, ready to devour any one they can.
FRIDAY MARCH 16
3,500 Christian Leaders from 48 States to Protest War at National Cathedral, Mass Arrests Expected at White House
(Washington, DC) – Christian Peace Witness for Iraq will begin with a worship service on Friday, March 16 at Washington National Cathedral to be attended by more than 3,500 people of faith from 48 states, followed by a candlelight procession through the center of our nation's capital, where thousands will surround the White House bearing the light of peace, and 700 will risk arrest by remaining in prayer in front of the White House. The service begins at 7 p.m., and the White House vigil will begin at 10:30 p.m. It will be the largest Christian peace demonstration, as well as the largest single civil disobedience action at the White House, since the beginning of the Iraq war four years ago.
More than 190 Christian and interfaith peace vigils and actions will also be held around the country in conjunction with Christian Peace Witness for Iraq-- including large-scale acts of moral civil disobedience organized by Christian Peace Witness coalition member group the Declaration of Peace .
WHAT : Christian Peace Witness National Cathedral Worship Service, Procession and Action at White House
WHEN: March 16, 2007 at 7pm
WHERE: The National Cathedral
Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016-5098
WHO: Features speakers include:
Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal and author of God's Politics
Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of America in the King Years and a Presbyterian Elder
Rev. Raphael Warnock, Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.
Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, President of the North American Conference of the World Council of Churches.
Rick Ufford Chase, convener of Christian Peace Witness for Iraq's steering committee and former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.
Celeste Zappala, a United Methodist and founding member of Gold Start Families Speak Out, whose son was killed in Iraq in April 2004
SPONSOR ORGANIZATIONS : Adventist Peace Fellowship, American Friends Service Committee, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Brethren Witness, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Christian Alliance for Progress, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Declaration of Peace, Disciples Justice Action Network, Disciples Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Every Church a Peace Church, Faith in Public Life; Kairos: A Time to Speak, A Time to Act; Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA, National Council of Churches, No2Torture, On Earth Peace, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, Pax Christi USA, Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Protestants for the Common Good, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, Sojourners/Call to Renewal.
Hat tip: Imitatio Christi
Mr. Mohammed indicated in the transcript that some of his earlier statements to C.I.A.interrogators were the result of torture.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Incredibly reckless with the lives of soldiers and the future of our nation.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Excerpt from Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.
The latest identifications reported by the military:
• Army Pvt. Wesley J. Williams, 23, Philadelphia, Pa.; died Friday, in Baghdad, of a non-combat related injury; assigned to the 163d Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.
• Army Staff Sgt. Karl O. Soto-Pinedo, 22, San Juan, Puerto Rico; died Tuesday in Baghdad from small arms fire; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.
Global warming is human rights issue: Nobel nominee
[G]lobal climate change, according to Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Inuit born inside the Canadian Arctic ... constitutes a violation of human rights for indigenous people in low-lying areas throughout the world.
The impacts of global warming will not be felt equally. A technologically advanced nation like the US, which has through these advances greatly contributed to the problem, will be able to use technology to, at least in some ways, mitigate against the ramnifications of global warming. Farming technology, to use just one example, will likely keep food on our tables.
What about the peoples of much poorer nations? How will they withstand the effects of global warming?
From a religious perspective, consider the following verse:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the Lord your God. - Leviticus 23:22-22."
It is part of God's plan for us that we take into consideration those further down the ladder of economic well-being than ourselves.
From an economic perspective, this is a classic example of a market failure- in this case a global market failure. Those who have derived the benefits of high rates of economic development (and environmental impact) will pass those costs on to people who either did not benefit at all, or benefitted only marginally.
In a market system, those who derive the benefits should pay the costs.
The time is coming when the US must pay up.
By 2020, the United States will emit almost one-fifth more gases that lead to global warming than it did in 2000, increasing the risks of drought and scarce water supplies.
That projection comes from an internal draft report from the Bush administration that is more than a year overdue at the United Nations. The Associated Press obtained a copy Saturday.
The draft report, which is still being completed, projects that the current administration’s climate policy would result in the emission of 9.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, a 19 percent increase from 7.7 billion tons in 2000.
Our nation needs to act more quickly to stem the tide of global warming. Some actions need to be purely individual- such as finding a way to drive less often and reducing our heating and cooling demands. Some actions will need the support of the federal and state governments, such as providing federal funding to greater amounts of research to develope and implement environmental friendly technologies, and using the tax code to encourage reductions in emissions and to make hybrid vehicles more affordable in the short run (eventually the market will increase supply of these vehicles and reduce prices).
The stakes are high and we've delayed too long. Our moral responsibility is great as the nation the uses greater amounts of energy per capita than any other.
I encourage you to vote your conscience with the environment in mind in all upcoming elections.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
All in good time.
Andrew Sullivan writes, "Republicans, if they are serious about reaching the people they lost in 2006, need to start distancing themselves from her. She's their Michael Moore."
Absolutely right. But one step further- Americans need to distance themselves from her. It is a national embarrasment that her books reach the best seller list and that young people wait in line to hear her speak and shake her hand. We have so much better to offer. See earlier posts here and here to see that not only is this typical behavior for Coulter, but also that she seems to have some sort of homosexual fixation.