Saturday, April 19, 2008

Torture Team

Sounds like the Nuremberg defense team are already at work prepping: "We never authorised torture, we just didn't, not what we would do," Myers said. Sands comments: "He really had taken his eye off the ball ... he didn't ask too many questions ... and kept his distance from the decision-making process."
Sing to the tune of Cake's 'Building a religion':

...We are bulding a defense case. We are making a brand
We're the only ones to turn to when your castles turn to sand
Take a bit of this apple, Mr. Corporate Events
Take a walk through the jungle of cardboard shedies and tents
Some people drink pepsi. Some people drink coke. (coke)
The wacky morning d.j. says democracy's a joke...

From: Top Bush aides pushed for Guantánamo torture

America's most senior general was "hoodwinked" by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques of terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, leading to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the Guardian reveals today.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture.

The way he was duped by senior officials in Washington, who believed the Geneva conventions and other traditional safeguards were out of date, is disclosed in a devastating account of their role, extracts of which appear in today's Guardian.

In his new book, Torture Team, Philippe Sands QC, professor of law at University College London, reveals that:

· Senior Bush administration figures pushed through previously outlawed measures with the aid of inexperienced military officials at Guantánamo.

· Myers believes he was a victim of "intrigue" by top lawyers at the department of justice, the office of vice-president Dick Cheney, and at Donald Rumsfeld's defence department.

· The Guantánamo lawyers charged with devising interrogation techniques were inspired by the exploits of Jack Bauer in the American TV series 24.

· Myers wrongly believed interrogation techniques had been taken from the army's field manual.

[ ... ]

"The secretary did this by cutting [Myers] out of important communications, meetings, deliberations and plans.

"At the end of the day, however, Dick Myers was not a very powerful chairman in the first place, one reason Rumsfeld recommended him for the job".

He added: "Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzalez and - at the apex - Addington, should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court."

More on this story
Stress, hooding, noise, nudity, dogs
Q&A: Torture and 'enhanced interrogation'
In pictures: Guantánamo torture trail
Audio: Philippe Sands' new book on torture

A 'Critical Path' primer

From the great Anxiety Culture webzine:
Buckminster Fuller's acclaimed book, Critical Path, hasn't reached the mass audience it deserves, possibly because people see it as "difficult". With the following excerpts, we hope to show Fuller's easy-to-follow ideas – the subversive (socially and economically) utopian ideas, scathing of politicians, bureaucrats and power elites, but realistic and essential.

[On money, work & idleness]

Those who make money with money deliberately keep it scarce. Money is not wealth. Wealth is the accomplished technological ability to protect, nurture, support, and accommodate all growful needs of life. […]

History's political and economic power structures have always fearfully abhorred "idle people" as potential troublemakers. Yet nature never abhors seemingly idle trees, grass, snails, coral reefs, and clouds in the sky. […]

In 1953 my friend the late Walter Reuther, then president of the United Auto Workers, was about to meet with the board of directors of General Motors. [...] Walter had all his fine-tuning machinists put the following problem into their computers: "In view of the fact that most of General Motors' workers are also its customers, if I demand of General Motors that they grant an unheard-of wage advance plus unprecedented vacation, health, and all conceivable lifetime benefits for all of its workers, amounting sum-totally to so many dollars, which way will General Motors make the most money: by granting or refusing?" All the computers said, "General Motors will make the most profit by granting."

Thus fortified, Walter Reuther made his unprecedented demands on General Motors' directors, who were elected to their position of authority only by the stockholders and who were naturally concerned only with the welfare of those stockholders. Reuther said to the assembled General Motors board of directors: "You are going to grant these demands, not because you now favor labor (which, in fact, you consider to be your enemy), but because by so granting, General Motors will make vastly greater profits. If you will put the problem into your new computers, you will learn that I am right."

The directors said, "Hah-hah! You obviously have used the wrong computers or have misstated the problem to the computers." Soon, however, all their own computers told the directors that Walter was right. They granted his demands. Within three years General Motors was the first corporation in history to net a billion-dollar profit […]

The computer will show that 70 percent of all jobs in America and probably an equivalently high percentage of the jobs in other Western private-enterprise countries are preoccupied with work that is not producing any wealth or life support – inspectors of inspectors, reunderwriters of insurance reinsurers, Obnoxico* promoters, spies and counterspies, military personnel, gunmakers, etc. […]

We find all the no-life-support-wealth-producing people going to their 1980 jobs in their cars or buses, spending trillions of dollars' worth of petroleum daily** to get to their no-wealth-producing jobs. It doesn't take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home.

One would hope the at-home-staying humans will start thinking – "What was it I was thinking about when they told me I had to 'earn my living' – doing what someone else had decided needed to be done? What do I see that needs to be done that nobody else is attending to? What do I need to learn to be effective in attending to it in a highly efficient and inoffensive-to-others manner?"

~ more... ~

Remembering the great Albanian weapons heist

 
Apparently, Albania has insane amounts of ammo left over from the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, who also built 700,000 bunkers across the countryside to repel attack. These pillboxes used three times as much concrete as the Maginot Line. Hoxha started out as a Stalinist, then broke with the Soviets over-deStalinification, allied with Red China, then broke with them as insufficiently Marxist, and went it alone, ready to fight the world if necessary.

Interestingly, at least until quite recently, the American company that had a contract to help Albanians dispose of their munitions was Science Applications International Corporation, which is sort of the military-industrial complex personified. SAIC is the anti-AEY, in that it has 44,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue, most of it from the federal government. And, yet, I'd never heard of it until this week. In contrast, AEY had only two employees, but both of them had MySpace pages.

(SAIC can be viewed more as a consultant's co-op than as a giant corporate powerhouse. Of course, that's how they want you to view it.)

Update: This is really confusing, but the shadowy American supercompany SAIC had the contract to dispose of Albanian naval munitions back in January, 2008. The American company that was working at the Gerdec ammunition dump when it turned into Nagasaki West was not SAIC, it was SACI -- Southern Ammunition Co., Inc. Got it?

Google
 

image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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