Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 :: 12:25 PM
The American Myth of Redemptive Violence

"Whereas before, torture was the 'tool of the enemy,' now torture is the tool of Jack Bauer. Its use is a heroic act of defiance, often of petty bureaucratic limitations, or of conceited liberals whose personal conscience means more to them than the safety of their fellow citizens. While Bauer is presented as an ultimate heroic figure (and also a figure with some heroic flaws), those who challenge use of the rough stuff are naïve, and their presence and involvement in the national security process is threatening.

"The myth of the ticking bomb is the core of the program. Torture always works. Torture always saves the day. Torture is the ultimate act of heroism, of defiance of pointy-headed liberal morality in favor of service to the greater good, to society.

"[Camus said,] 'We must fight for the truth and we must take care not to kill it with the very weapons we use in its defense…' This is the fundamental dilemma that '24' dodges. What are the values for which Jack Bauer is fighting? Is he not abdicating them by his conduct?" (>>)

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 :: 11:50 AM

" 'no one is above the law' " (>>)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 :: 10:25 AM

"In a January 2006 debate, Yoo was asked if any law could stop the president, if he 'deems that he's got to torture somebody,' from, say, 'crushing the testicles of the person's child.' Yoo's response: 'I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.'

"In 2006, for instance, U.S. District Judge David Trager dismissed a suit by a thirty-five-year-old Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, who in 2002 was seized by U.S. government agents at John F. Kennedy Airport and delivered to Syria, where he was tortured for ten months before being released. No charges were filed against Arar, and his torturers eventually admitted he had no links to any crime. In explaining his dismissal, Trager noted with approval an earlier Supreme Court finding that such judgment would 'threaten "our customary policy of deference to the President in matters of foreign affairs." '

"It appears for the moment, however, that the people of the United States prefer the Roman approach and so will abet their government in maintaining a facade of constitutional democracy until the nation drifts into bankruptcy. … The American people will be forced to learn what it means to be a far poorer nation and the attitudes and manners that go with it." (>>)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 :: 1:02 PM

"[T]he great privilege of habeas corpus, and of trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the State… -The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers-is, in the highest degree, odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments… Extraordinary powers assumed by the Executive with the consent of Parliament in emergencies should be yielded up, when and as, the emergency declines… This is really the test of civilization. (>>)

Monday, October 15th, 2007 :: 3:16 PM

"You can make your own definition of human rights and say, 'We don't violate them' and you can make you own definition of torture and say, 'We don't…' "

"So, is the President lying?"

"[…] Yes." (>>)

Friday, November 3rd, 2006 :: 2:31 PM
Republican Propaganda is Disgusting

I got this in the mail yesterday.

And it royally pissed me off.

It's like one of those juvenile liberal satires of conservatism, only it's actually coming from the conservatives. So, the party of illegal wiretapping, torture and secret trials wants to inform me that our freedom is at stake? Well no fucking shit, Sherlock. Oh my, terrorists are "plotting their next step," "the liberal left is attacking the foundation of family" and "the tax-and-spend Democrats are coming for more of our paychecks." Yeah, it's 1775 and the Republicans are our revolutionary heroes, riding through the night to warn us of impending attack.

And even more sleazy and base than the melodramatic demonizing of liberals is the way they're cynically exploiting religion to serve their lust for power. For fuck's sake, you can't claim to be supporting religious values while you lie and manipulate.

(And please, before you go off about how the Democrats are just as bad (or, almost just as bad), I know that. But they aren't the ones who sent this to me; the Republicans are and I wanted to hold them specifically responsible for it.)

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 :: 1:53 PM

"torture porn" (>>)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005 :: 10:55 AM

"Indeed, the very concept of Western liberty sprung in part from an understanding that, if the state has the power to reach that deep into a person's soul and can do that much damage to a human being's person, then the state has extinguished all oxygen necessary for freedom to survive. That is why, in George Orwell's totalitarian nightmare, the final ordeal is, of course, torture. Any polity that endorses torture has incorporated into its own DNA a totalitarian mutation. If the point of the U.S. Constitution is the preservation of liberty, the formal incorporation into U.S. law of the state's right to torture–by legally codifying physical coercion, abuse, and even, in Krauthammer's case, full-fledged torture of detainees by the CIA–would effectively end the American experiment of a political society based on inalienable human freedom protected not by the good graces of the executive, but by the rule of law. […]

"Let me state for the record that I am second to none in decrying, loathing, and desiring to defeat those who wish to replace freedom with religious tyranny of the most brutal kind–and who have murdered countless innocent civilians in cold blood. Their acts are monstrous and barbaric. But I differ from Krauthammer by believing that monsters remain human beings. In fact, to reduce them to a subhuman level is to exonerate them of their acts of terrorism and mass murder–just as animals are not deemed morally responsible for killing. Insisting on the humanity of terrorists is, in fact, critical to maintaining their profound responsibility for the evil they commit. […]

"What our practical endorsement of torture has done is to remove that clear boundary between the Islamists and the West and make the two equivalent in the Muslim mind. Saddam Hussein used Abu Ghraib to torture innocents; so did the Americans. Yes, what Saddam did was exponentially worse. But, in doing what we did, we blurred the critical, bright line between the Arab past and what we are proposing as the Arab future. We gave Al Qaeda an enormous propaganda coup, as we have done with Guantanamo and Bagram, the 'Salt Pit' torture chambers in Afghanistan, and the secret torture sites in Eastern Europe. In World War II, American soldiers were often tortured by the Japanese when captured. But FDR refused to reciprocate. Why? Because he knew that the goal of the war was not just Japan's defeat but Japan's transformation into a democracy. He knew that, if the beacon of democracy–the United States of America–had succumbed to the hallmark of totalitarianism, then the chance for democratization would be deeply compromised in the wake of victory." (>>)

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 :: 8:58 AM

"It is the very nature of a democracy that it not only does, but should, fight with one hand tied behind its back. It is also in the nature of democracy that it prevails against its enemies precisely because it does." (>>)

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