Dan Gillmor: Torture and the Blogosphere

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc.: Torture and the Blogosphere

It’s not as if this matter is closed. The show trials of people — who are plainly guilty — low on the command chain look as much like a coverup as an attempt to get to the truth. And the Bush administration is doing everything it can to keep its options wide open. In confirmation hearings, attorney general designate Alberto Gonzales disclaimed torture but remained infinitely vague about what kinds of interrogation are beyond the pale — and, of course, most of the spineless Democrats and who-cares Republicans refused to pin him down. This was in keeping with the administration’s ongoing strategy on this issue: Use methods that amount to torture, rationalize it with Orwellian language that calls it something else and then insist that torture is wrong.

The boldfaced bit (my boldfacing) is the best summary of the situation in a single sentence I’ve ever seen.

Rights, Dignity, Matchless Value Do Not Preclude Torture At Our Hands

From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth . . . So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

George W. Bush
Second Inaugural Speech
January 20, 2005

Officers of the Central Intelligence Agency and other nonmilitary personnel fall outside the bounds of a 2002 directive issued by President George W. Bush that pledged the humane treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel, said in a document.

In written responses to questions posed by senators as part of their consideration of his nomination to be attorney general, Gonzales also said a separate congressional ban on cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment had “a limited reach” and did not aply in all cases to “aliens overseas.”

Gonzales excludes CIA from rules on prisoners
January 20, 2005

thanks to billmon with a hat tip to PuddingTime

Christian right against ‘pro-gay’ sea sponge – World – www.theage.com.au

See, this isn’t even a little bit out of character for James Dobson. He really is that batshit crazy.

Christian right against ‘pro-gay’ sea sponge – World – www.theage.com.au

Christian right against ‘pro-gay’ sea sponge

By Tom Leonard
New York
January 22, 2005

Conservative Christian groups in the US have found a new sinner to rage against: SpongeBob SquarePants, a children’s cartoon character.

To his young fans and Nickelodeon, the television channel that broadcasts his escapades, SpongeBob is a sea sponge who lives with his pet snail, Gary, at the bottom of the sea. According to Nickelodeon, his “enthusiasm about just about everything makes him downright irresistible”.

Not to organisations such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, which insist that the character is spearheading an insidious campaign to spread homosexuality among children.

“Does anybody here know SpongeBob?” Dr James Dobson, Focus on the Family’s founder, asked guests this week at a dinner in Washington for Republican congressmen.

Dr Dobson accused SpongeBob’s creators of enlisting him in a “pro-homosexual video” in which he appeared alongside fellow children’s television characters such as Barney the purple dinosaur and Jimmy Neutron. The makers of the video planned to send it to thousands of primary schools to promote a “tolerance pledge” that includes tolerance for differences of “sexual identity”.

But, as far as his critics are concerned, SpongeBob’s complicity in the spreading of sin is proved by the knowledge that he is already a well-established gay icon – supposedly because he holds hands with his sidekick, Patrick, and they like to watch an imaginary television show called The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.

Nile Rodgers, the video’s creator, argues that objections to the program are based on a misunderstanding.

He insists that the video, which has been shown on network television, carries no reference to sexual identity and the tolerance pledge is mentioned only on his group’s website.

SpongeBob was “outed” by the US media in 2002 after reports that the TV show and its merchandise were popular with gays. His creator, Stephen Hillenburg, said at the time that he thought of all the characters as asexual.

It is not the first time that children’s TV favourites have come under the critical spotlight of the US Christian right. Tinky Winky, the purse-toting purple Teletubbie, was in 1999 declared a homosexual role model by the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

The Brits’ Own Abu Ghraib

Really messed up images here, story here.

This all happened back in May 2003. Trial going on now.

Wonder if Blair has a “torture czar” whom he’s planning to appoint to high office?

Wonder if the Brits currently have a haven of illegal imprisonment and torture in full swing right now, like Guantanamo, even as they claim to deplore it all and put the people who get themselves caught on film on trial?

The Torture President Tells Congress: “Keep Your Hands Off Our Torture.”

Reuters News Article

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Bush administration urged Congress to drop a legislative proposal that would have curbed the ability of U.S. intelligence to use extreme interrogation tactics, the White House acknowledged on Thursday.

But White House spokesman Scott McClellan insisted President Bush has made clear that his administration opposes the use of torture under any circumstances.

“We’ve made it very clear that we do not condone torture. The president would never authorize torture and that applies to everyone,” he said at a news briefing.

Has anyone compiled a list of all the separate pieces of evidence that the White House knowingly approved of and encouraged torture? They mainly just don’t like using the word. “Extreme interrogation tactics” seems to be the preferred nomenclature, which makes it sound like something out of a Mountain Dew commercial.

I read this stuff, about how the Administration is completely opposed to torture, and also completely opposed to anyone saying they’re not allowed to torture people… and I can’t help thinking of Monty Python and the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Wallabaloo… “Rule Two: No member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abos in any way at all…. if there’s anybody watching.”

Rules One and Three, of course, are “No Poofters!” which I guess would apply to the nationwide “get out the bigot vote” efforts for the 2004 elections, with the anti-gay-marriage proposals on the ballot in all the battleground states.