Tag Archives: War on Terror

Torture Only Hurts America

14 Dec

Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge waterboards a prisoner, gets no information

Well, America, at long last the news reveals that torture – Washington preferred the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” – don’t work. Didn’t work. Were counterproductive

The report is the most detailed independent examination to date of the agency’s efforts to “break” dozens of detainees through physical and psychological duress, a period of CIA history that has become a source of renewed controversy because of torture scenes in a forthcoming Hollywood film, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Officials familiar with the report said it makes a detailed case that subjecting prisoners to ­“enhanced” interrogation techniques did not help the CIA find Osama bin Laden and often were counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda.

The committee chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein ­(D-Calif.), declined to discuss specific findings but released a written statement describing decisions to allow the CIA to build a network of secret prisons and employ harsh interrogation measures as “terrible mistakes.”

“I also believe this report will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques,” Feinstein said.

While Republicans are unhappy with the report, one who actually suffered torture when captured in Hanoi had this to say, 

the committee’s work shows that “cruel” treatment of prisoners “is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence.”

We didn’t find bin Laden because we waterboarded someone. We found him because of excellent detective / intelligence work. Torture would be the anti-intellectual replacement for that. If it worked. 

The Morning Grumpy – December 15th

15 Dec

All the news and views fit to consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1. Yesterday was “UB2020” day in Western New York. Dozens of local politicians lined up to take partial credit for or share in the glow of the UB2020 milk and honey festival. It’s always humorous to see self-described anti-government spending pols like Pat Gallivan and Jane Corwin show up in a gaggle to applaud the signing of massive public spending initiatives. I digress. Unfortunately, we’re the only ones still calling it UB2020, it’s actually NY SUNY2020 and this program is a  watered-down stepchild of the original $4BN proposal.

The long-planned UB2020 bill that was defeated multiple times in Albany, provided for over $4BN in construction and investment in Buffalo, most of which would have come from state coffers and tuition increases. The plan called for massive investments in academic facilities, additional faculty, research facilities and huge swaths of new students as UB staked out new territory as an international research university. Now? We’re getting $35MM to assist in the cost to move the medical school a few miles down Main Street. We can also ask for more money for other projects on a piecemeal basis at a later date.  Hooray! History!

The funding announced in a visit to Buffalo by the governor on Tuesday, accounts for about 10 percent of the current price tag of the new medical school, leading some to wonder if 2020 is no longer a date by which to measure progress – but rather a brand name the school is struck with.

“The move of the medical school will definitely happen before 2020,” Brown says. “You can count on that.”

UB will still need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for many of UB 2020’s projects, the biggest of which is the new $400 million medical school. That addition to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has not been designed yet. In fact, the blueprints for the structure will not be ready for another year and a half.

Certainly, consolidation of the UB Medical School into a $375MM facility on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is good news. But, let’s disabuse ourselves of any remaining notion that this is the UB2020 plan that was originally proposed as a “gamechanger” for the region.

2. Excerpt from a men’s magazine or a quote from a rapist?

The University of Surrey reports on the study (conducted jointly with researchers at Middlesex University), to be published in the British Journal of Psychology. Researchers gave a group of men and women quotes from the British lad mags FHM, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo, as well as excerpts from interviews with actual convicted rapists originally published in the book The Rapist Files. The participants couldn’t reliably identify which statements came from magazines and which from rapists — what’s more, they rated the magazine quotes as slightly more derogatory than the statements made by men serving time for raping women.

It’s a British survey but also valid in America.

Here’s an example, did this quote come from a convicted rapist or the pages of a men’s magazine?

You’ll find most girls will be reluctant about going to bed with somebody or crawling in the back seat of a car . . . But you can usually seduce them, and they’ll do it willingly.

Troubling and upsetting.

3. That crazy pinko, Barack Obama is at it again! Fighting to prevent our government from fighting the war on terror due to his muslim sens…wait, what? Oh, this just in, Obama reverses his position and intends to sign the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act once it passes both houses of Congress.

The Obama administration Tuesday reversed itself and said it would not veto a major 2012 defense bill that expands the American military’s authority to arrest anyone, including U.S. citizens, anywhere in the world and hold them indefinitely without charge or the right to a civilian trial.

Are you cool with that? Me neither. Here’s how “indefinite detention” is defined.

Section 1032 of the bill has garnered the most outrage because it requires the military to indefinitely jail any and all accused terrorists — the keyword being “accused,” not convicted. Hence, this mandate could potentially land someone in a military brig for life absent of any charges or convictions from an impartial judge, based solely on unproven accusations.

Anders points out, “The legislation is trying to work off the standards being applied to the Guantanamo cases.” Long before the NDAA of 2012, indefinite military detention was a hallmark of the Bush years with the creation of Guantanamo Bay in 2002, a legal black hole where “enemy combatants” — not only those caputured on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan — were sent for extrajudicial detainment, interrogation, and notoriously, torture.

What is an enemy combatant? Good question, evidently everyone has the potential to be one and the military will know them when they see them.

So much for that whole 6th amendment thing. We didn’t need that anymore. For the record, Reps. Hochul and Higgins voted for “Aye” on indefinite detention while Rep. Slaughter voted “No”. Thank you, Louise.

4. In other news, Congress is poised to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act. You’ll probably want to read up on this and call your Representative and Senators. Absolute bullshit law that will destroy innovation and internet freedom.  Don’t believe me? Well, perhaps you’ll believe the founders of Google, Craigslist, Netscape, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, Wikipedia, PayPal, YouTube, and hundreds of other massive Internet companies.

5. Well, that was a miserable stream of news, eh? Let’s lighten it up a bit with the latest video from the awesome team at “Bad Lip Reading” featuring Ron Paul.

Fact Of The Day: Step 1.) Be handsome. According to the author of “Beauty Pays“, Daniel Hamermes,  people with above-average looks will earn $230,000 more in a lifetime than their below-average peers. The economist calculates that a good-looking man will earn 4% more over a lifetime than an average-looking man, and that an average-looking woman will earn 4% more than a below-average-looking woman. There are outliers (Gates, Bill), but being handsome does help.

Quote Of The Day: “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.” – Andrew Jackson

Song Of The Day: “Underwater Moonlight” by The Soft Boys

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

Global War on Terror

25 Mar

Terrorism has existed since Bible times, so it’s pretty fecking unlikely that we’re ever going to “win” a “war on terror”. War on al Qaeda? Sure. War in Iraq or Afghanistan? Okee dokee. But a “war on terror”?

One of Buffalo Bean’s 2,934 other blogs today mocked Obama for ending the “GWOT” – something that is, evidently, patently untrue.

But every time I hear “war on terror”, I think of this David Cross routine, key bits start around 5:13: