Monday, June 25, 2007

politics and anger

It's usually not the most productive choice to give into anger. However, some of the things that come across my line of sight just provoke full-throated rage in me. Don't want to paint myself to be some sort of Billy Jack or anything, but things like what has been going on in American military prisons do make - me - go - berserk: that torture has been redefined as allowable 'cruelty;' that our intelligence agencies divert prisoners via 'extraordinary rendition' to certain foreign prisons which have even fewer restrictions on what types of interrogation are permissible and encouraged.

Guys, I know you know this, but this situation is no kind of joke - it is huge and horrid national shame.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have tremendous respect and gratitude for our soldiers, who do some fantastic work, put themselves in harm's way and have a kind of courage I'll never know. It is not the typical soldier I indict. In fact it's utterly boggling that simple soldiers have taken the heat for what's gone on in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

And you know what's gone on, right?

So, ok, I wrote some stuff that shows a side of me very few ever get to see. And there's a good reason for that. (That whole thing about rage not being productive.)

I've been working to discipline my thoughts lately. Not to suppress or ignore impulses that are uncomfortable, but to get into the habit of turning my mind to things that are useful, positive and somehow geared toward growth. As a character said in a book I read (and deeply appreciated) recently, "you have to choose your thoughts the way you choose the clothes you put on in the morning."

There's something to that.

So, instead of giving in to the vitriol, I refer you to Seymour Hersh's article in this week's New Yorker, which details the events at Abu Ghraib, and more importantly, the systematic hiding and diversion that went on around them; the conscious plotting on the part of people very high in the military establishment and Department of Defense (yes, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) and White House (right up to the top, y'all) to encourage these methods of extracting information that are not only repulsive on a primal level and ethically abhorrent, but notoriously ineffective (which everyone knows - don't they? I mean, do these guys really believe the shit they see on TV?!)

See, it's hard to be measured about this stuff!

The article follows Major General Antonio Taguba, who comes off as a true hero - the kind of guy who inspires people to become career soldiers in the first place - given the job of investigating the abuses at Abu Ghraib, but really expected by the higher-ups to bury them. Nonetheless, he pursued his investigation with great energy, integrity, and what could be described as patriotic fervor. And then he was ostracized roundly for doing so.

And it also shows us the work of this guy:

Major General Geoffrey Miller, a former Gitmo commander who was given the job of making information-gathering more efficient at Abu Ghraib by encouraging the 'loosening up' of prisoners. And then was given the job of 'restoring order' when abuse allegations became known.

Just think it's good to have a face to go with the names of our war criminals.

Please permit me a moment to pause here to acknowledge Genarlow Wilson, the guy given a 10-year sentence for engaging at the age of 17 in consensual oral sex with a 15-year old in Georgia. Even though the Georgia legislature changed the sentencing guidelines of the law after he was sentenced, he wasn't permitted to benefit retroactively. And while a judge did recently order him released, citing the obvious miscarriage of justice (well done!), the Attorney General prosecuting the case is appealing in hopes of returning Wilson to prison for the remainder of his sentence, followed by a lifetime as a registered sex offender.

Guess my point here is that this kid who got a blow job from someone who evidently wanted to give it to him is staring down a LONG prison sentence and ruined life, while the real bad guys have their freedom securely intact.

But rather than give in to the temptation of nastiness, perhaps your time would be better spent signing this petition, brought to us by the folks at MoveOn.

Oh, and if that's not enough, you may as well check out this editorial in, which has links to the big Washington Post series on Dick Cheney which has got so much attention in the last few days.

And let's not forget that our Supreme Court has been pretty busy the last couple days too...


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