Obama Admits 'We Tortured Some Folks' But Doesn't Seem Too Concerned

from the because-making-it-folks-makes-it-okay dept

Last May, in President Obama's big speech at the National Defense University -- where he tried to establish his legacy as being the president to "end" the US's role in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- he did admit to the fact that the US "compromised our basic values -- by using torture to interrogate our enemies." That admission got somewhat lost in the wider scope of what he was saying, and thus, to this day, many government officials still refuse to call the CIA's torture program "torture."

However, at a press conference today, President Obama appeared to more breezily admit to it by noting "we tortured some folks." That seems like a... rather informal way to talk about war crimes, committed by the US government, which Obama himself refused to do anything about. Again, we feel the need to remind people that the only person in jail concerning the CIA's torture program... is the guy who blew the whistle on the program, John Kiriakou.

And, of course, the obedient White House press corps that Obama was speaking to didn't seem to probe. As Conor Friedersdorf points out, a good question a reporter might have asked in response would have been: How many people who were involved in torturing "folks" are still employed at the CIA?

Meanwhile, the president also said that he completely stands behind CIA director John Brennan, even following the revelations of the spying scandal (and, more importantly, Brennan's lies about the scandal).
“I have full confidence in John Brennan,” Obama said in a White House press conference. “I think he has acknowledged — and directly apologized to [Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman] Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein — that CIA personnel did not properly handle an investigation into how certain documents that were not authorized to be release to the Senate staff got somehow into the hands of the Senate staff.

“It’s clear from the [inspector general] report that some very poor judgment was shown in terms of how that was handled," Obama added. "Keep in mind, though, that John Brennan was the person who called for the IG report, and he’s already stood up a task force to make sure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved."
Yes, but John Brennan also angrily insisted that no spying was done (multiple times) and claimed that it was the Senate staffers his CIA employees were spying on who had broken the law, and even referred them to the DOJ for possible criminal prosecution -- all without any basis at all. Brennan hasn't shown that he's interested in "learning lessons" or "resolving mistakes." He took a reflexively bogus position, lying to defend the CIA. And this isn't the beginning. Much of this came about because of Brennan's earlier attempts to shred the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on how "we tortured some folks" by insisting it was inaccurate. It was only when the Senate Intelligence Committee was given (apparently by accident) an internal CIA report that confirmed their own findings, that Brennan was questioned about this, leading the CIA to start spying on the staffers.

This isn't the kind of thing you just wave away. All of this -- the torture, the coverup, the lying and the spying -- are pretty big deals. And it's immensely troubling that the insider DC response seems to be "eh, a few mistakes were made, but it's okay."

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  1.  
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    AricTheRed (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    So for that Nobel I guess...

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Wait...Mr. 2008 Campaign To Close Gitmo...just waved away that a high ranking US government official lied, in fact, didn't even care, and didn't care about the torture his government has done?
    Color me surprised.

     

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  3.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    Speaking of the Nobel Prize...is there any method to strip it off of someone, if it's been shown that they never actually deserved it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    'Some folks'

    Home-spun talkin' about torture? I had to read the referenced article.

    That's a disgusting remark to a despicable act.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:27pm

    So which laws are actually still valid?

    If our top leaders are openly defying not only the law, but all legal authority to lead, why are we letting them still act in our name?

     

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    Philip Zack (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    'learning lessons'

    Beware when public officials use intentionally empty phrases like 'learning lessons'. The ploy is calculated to induce people to fill in the meaning with what they want to believe. What did they learn? Was it not to commit war crimes, or not to get caught doing it?

    It's far too easy to get caught up in someone's trick narrative. That's why I sow my own in the form of subversive short stories about politics and business issues. Consider it a vaccination, but first you have to read some of them.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    Gotta wonder

    You have to wonder what the CIA and NSA have on Obama for him to be such a foot stool for them... His actions regarding national security have been abominable, unconscionable, and in many cases unconstitutional. If he were running for office again, I think I'd rather vote for Jack the Ripper. At least we knew where he stood!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Re: 'Some folks'

    It gets worse. Listen to last 20 seconds of the video - Obama cautions us to not "feel too sanctimonious in retrospect" toward the torturers. It sounds like he's saying we're just being too self-righteous and judgmental.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    (To be fair, we outsource our torture so we can claim that "we" don't torture.)

    We are now a country that spies sweepingly upon its own people.

    We are now a country that executes, that suspends rights, that detains indefinitely without due process.

    We are now a country where crimes against humanity are ignored, but daring to expose those crimes is jailed.

    We're now a country where "terrorism" = dissident, where "national security" and "classified" = "because I said so".

    We're now a country with a different justice system for civilians, for law enforcement and for those with money.

    We're now a country where homes are commonly raided (and dogs shot) on a rumor, and people are disappeared for having a similar name to a person-of-interest.

    We're now a country where money given to representatives decide what causes get representation and action. (No, your taxes don't count.)

    To paraphrase Falling Down, We're the bad guy now?...How did that happen?

     

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:57pm


    This isn't the kind of thing you just wave away.


    Sure it is, it's the direction our culture has been heading for a long time now, and any sort of Power just continues to do so, and push perception (or lack thereof) further in that direction. Enough people either buy it, or are so conditioned to helplessness, all we do in small numbers is write about it and sign petitions. And there may be enough institutional inertia here that we will never swing back towards non-police-state government and more than a handful of the elected acting like statesmen more than politicians.

    As far as Obama goes, hey, it works for the other party so well, why not? They can say the most blatantly absurd things, and they fly.

    *(Not that I consider Obama (or many Dems) appreciably different from the Republicans, excepting he's their target as a Democrat, and therefore a nominal left/liberal/progressive. Despite that he's mostly farther right than Reagan, and a lot of his policies are those of former Republican presidents.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    Obama to America: What're you going to do about it?

     

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    Whoever, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Statute of limitations just expired?

    Has the statute of limitations expired on John Yoo's memo defining black as white [I mean, what is clearly torture as not torture]?

     

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    rapnel, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 3:16pm

    Re: So which laws are actually still valid?

    Life preservers. The nature of things leads me to believe that until someone can no longer hang onto the vestiges of a free life (or the purpose built construct thereof) or until they get swept up with someone willing to speak truth to power that they will not fight until the final hour.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 3:43pm

    why do I have a feeling the "mistake" made that Obama is referring to, is "getting caught"

     

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    KRA, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    Aaron Swartz

    So Clapper lies under oath to congress, the CIA spies on the senate, the NSA wipes its ass with the Constitution and the CIA tortures people.

    Obama says that not only are those responsible not going to be prosecuted--they're not even losing their jobs. Because, hey, they apologized. And terrorism.

    This is the same administration that sought to send Aaron Swartz to prison on federal charges. I am so goddamned disgusted.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:07pm

    questions questions

    I guess what gets me is how nonchalant people in the media, country, and politics seem about clear abuses of power.

    Is it because of who is the current president?

    Is it because of the political party in power of the executive branch?

    The fact that people don't want to believe those in power of this country are capable of what they did?

    Are people just too accustomed with politicians and other high officials abusing their power that media/common people have ceased to care?

    Is the dissemination of information being controlled too well that people just don't feel it is important enough to make a big deal about government entities breaking the law?

    Do people feel like they can't change anything so they don't act, or think someone else will do it?

    I know that I tend to fall into the last category myself too often.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:12pm

    I wonder how the same comment would go down if it was said during kkk rally or similar , I'm ashamed of our country we the people have let our politicians destroy everything , no the US isn't perfect but redemption was still in sight , now with everything that has happened over the last 15 yrs we are no different than the Saddam Hussein portrayal made by our media.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    If the higher-ups keep protecting the torturers and those who abuse spying powers, the abuses will not just continue, they'll get WORSE - See cops murdering people, because they know they can get away with it, for reference.

    Of course, the reason Obama keeps "standing behind" these guys is that he gave some of those orders, too.

    I don't care about Obama getting impeached over Obamacare, but why the hell isn't anyone raising the question of impeaching him for the mass surveillance and torture issues? I mean, is US Russia or China now? By not prosecuting the "bad guys" inside the government, US is no better now.

     

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:27pm

    Torture

    The torture that needs to be addressed is the 'tortured' explanations about how all this is OK cause security.

    Then we can address the torturers.

     

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    Padpaw (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:41pm

    The evil American Empire with its ignorant masses. Sounds like a dictator's wet dream, absolute control, apathetic citizens, and full propaganda over the main stream media.

    We all know how those stories end. With the other countries rising up to overthrow the evil one, when they refuse to take it from them anymore.

     

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  21.  
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    Padpaw (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:42pm

    Re:

    Dissent is terrorism, if your not behind your evil criminal government your the enemy

     

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  22.  
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    Padpaw (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 4:43pm

    Re: questions questions

    long as stupid people have their bread and circuses they don't care about what directly happens to other people, or indirectly to them.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 5:05pm

    Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    I didn't torture anyone.

    I am not the country.

    Please correct the royal WE with the US Federal Government.


    I prefer consensual relationships and exchange.

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: So which laws are actually still valid?

    c'mon, you need to take those blinkers off, seabiscuit...
    HERE is the common thread in all these issues:

    you either believe:

    A. the 'best and brightest' in the positions of power are simply fucking up, not knowing what they are doing, stupid beyond belief, ill-informed, and unable to discern just what in tarnation the 99% want...

    or,

    B. these guys and dolls know EXACTLY what they are doing, which is FEIGN concern, talk the talk, lead without followers, and bend EVERY law, fund, tax-break, and advantage to the 1% puppetmasters...

    no doubt, there *are* some idiots, fools, and tools who are used by the puppetmasters of Empire, but the ones making the rules and running the show know EXACTLY what they are doing to fuck over the 1% EVERY FUCKING DAY...

    do you understand the depths of their perfidy and corruption ? ? ?

    a lying scumbag like brennan is a FUCKING HERO to Empire ! ! ! he will be REWARDED, just like all the torturers and legal whores who ignored law and morality to torture and kill for Empire: REWARDED, not prosecuted...

    HOW MANY TIMES do you have to see that pattern repeated before you get what's going on ? ? ?

    the sleeper must awaken...

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: So which laws are actually still valid?

    heh, that was supposed to be a response to the anon cow, not rapnel...
    grrr

     

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  26.  
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    Kal Zekdor (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Torture? Not too concerning. Lying about it? Very concerning.

    To be honest, the treatment of enemy combatants doesn't concern me too much, either. I don't condone it, but not based on moral or ethical reasons. In my opinion, there are two main reasons not to torture captives.

    Reason 1: The Geneva Conventions. Torture and other mistreatment of prisoners of war are expressly forbidden by international treaty. The Geneva Conventions outline acceptable acts during war, which we abide by in the hope that others will as well. Basically, if we wouldn't want our prisoners treated in that manner, we shouldn't treat their prisoners in such a manner. One could make the argument that, since the enemy in this particular conflict doesn't abide by the Geneva Conventions, neither should we, but I disagree with that view. They are just as important to follow in that situation (international goodwill, make supporting the enemy harder to morally justify, etc.). (One of the arguments made about this whole fiasco was that since the prisoners were "terrorists" they were not "enemy combatants" and thus not protected under the Geneva Convention, but that's just bullshit semantics.)

    Reason 2: Torture. Doesn't. Frakking. Work. Time and time and time again, it's been shown that torture is not a reliable means of extracting information. The waterboarding done at Gitmo is no exception. No actionable intelligence (that could not have been, or in some cases had already been, otherwise obtained) resulted from the torture of those prisoners. (And, again, cut the bullshit "enhanced interrogation" semantics, it was torture.) Torture is useless for two big reasons. You're either dealing with someone who has been trained to resist interrogation, in which case torture won't get any better information, or they haven't been trained to resist interrogation, in which case there are plenty of other interrogation methods available with which to get the information.

    My main concerns on the whole issue were the incessant lies, cover-ups, and fabrications made by both the current administration and the previous one. That people haven't gone to jail for lying to Congress and the American Citizenry is morally offensive, in my opinion.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 6:08pm

    Hey World, HELP!

    When will the rest of the world finally come to our aid and do something about our criminal leaders?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 6:59pm

    Can anyone think of there even being a better time in history for third party or independent candidates to run for office? I can't.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    As US Citizens we will likely be held responsible for sitting idly by while our nation tortures. Even if we were personally helpless to do something about it.

    To be fair, I don't remember my history very well. Once the Soviet forced moved into Berlin, and Germany surrendered to the allies, were the civilians of Germany treated well by the allies, or were they held accountable (or at least shown contempt) for the actions of their government.

    Your notions of consent have been forsaken. After all is not the our government heralded to all as "by the people"? We are those people, and if history serves, we'll be tarred and feathered regardless of our actual guilt.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    I seem to have forgotten how to use question marks.

    ugh.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Hey World, HELP!

    Probably once it is safe, namely after the US government collapses completely. Best I can see in direct action against the United States that wouldn't be utterly insane for them is to issue economic sanctions and even that isn't too likely as it would hurt them more. That isn't an insurmountable obstacle however. An outraged Europe has sanctioned Russia over the downed plane.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 7:23pm

    Re: questions questions

    Here's the deal:

    Revolutionaries are not those of us who still have something to live for outside of the change of the nation. Revolutionaries are not those who are willing to risk getting caught, tortured, disappeared and killed, but those who have nothing left to lose. Revolutionaries are those who, when caught, regret only that they had one life to give.

    I suspect that's where Snowden is. I expect that is how he's come to peace with the possibility that he will fall into the hands of the US Government and ultimately Room 101. He's come to terms with losing everything.

    Revolutionaries are generally young and able-bodied, and mostly emerge from having everything ripped from them. The US creates such people all the time when they strike civilian targets and lay waste to familes. Those that remain are new recruits.

    I would guess that you and I are the philosphers. Our role is to speak about what will happen due to consequence, being very careful not to endorse any particular front, partisan activity or army, lest we become persons of interest. Our role if we wanted to play dangerously, would be to highlight those targets where the system is particularly vulnerable. But most of the time I'm too uneducatated to know such things.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    You are correct in that you lack historical knowledge.

    In answer to your question, many German soldiers were employed in the rebuilding and governance of West Germany and members of the general population were not accused of war crimes simply because they were powerless to do anything about it. That is simply ridiculous and your assertion relative to US citizens being held responsible for sitting idly by is equally ridiculous.

    Your case does not have a leg to stand upon, history does not serve, and we will not be tarred and feathered regardless of guilt. In summary, I think you're full of shit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 8:39pm

    I find it amazing that many people think this shit has not been happening all along, like it is some new shit goin down.

    The only thing different today is the (forced) acknowledgement of these activities, you know - the ones that have been going on like forever ... in most all societies across the entire globe. Get a grip people.

     

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    Easily Amused (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 9:07pm

    Re:

    impeachment requires that laws are proven to have been broken. The insidious part of all this is they keep finding ways to make all the repugnant behaviour legal.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 10:42pm

    Man, I liked it better when dictators tried to keep up appearances. These new guys are just so blasé about their atrocities.

     

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    Pixelation, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 10:45pm

    War Crimes

    "Although torture was sanctioned by some states historically, torture in the 21st century is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries. It is considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "

    It is a war crime. Obama says We are at war with the terrorists. Since we are at war with the terrorists, it stands to reason we committed war crimes against suspected terrorists.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 10:49pm

    It's already been mentioned that the NSA uses blackmail against it's enemies. Remember using porn viewing habits to discredit?

    But then there's this other thing. What good is all this personal info at the fingertips if it isn't used for something? Surely you are not naive enough to believe useful stuff is just thrown out because they say it is? Isn't that what that new NSA facility capable of storing a yatabyte for?

    So how about this link?

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-07-23/exclusive-high-level-nsa-whistleblower-says-blackmail-huge- %E2%80%93-unreported-%E2%80%93-part-mass-

    Maybe that explains Obama's sudden turn-a-bout as well as the staunch defenders the NSA has in congress?

     

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    techflaws (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 11:12pm

    Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    To paraphrase Falling Down, We're the bad guy now?...How did that happen?

    It might also have happened a little bit earlier.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 11:20pm

    ...and if it was OK to torture, how would the torturers feel about receiving the same treatment, not knowing how far it would go?

     

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    zem, Aug 1st, 2014 @ 11:37pm

    For a country that engaged in civil war because "we enslaved a few folks", this is kinda sad.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 11:37pm

    Were the torturers captured...

    ...and if it was OK to torture, how would the torturers feel about receiving the same treatment, not knowing how far it would go?

    I would assume that those who authorized torture would assume that, were they captured, they would be subject to the same treatment that they authorized.

    It was an interesting side-note during McCain's presidential campaign that he could no longer consider himself a war hero who was tortured by the enemy, since he suffered no greater a degree of interrogation than we were giving terrorist suspects and unlawful combatants. War hero, sure. Captured, absolutely, but not tortured, since suggesting that would be admitting that his political allies torture in the present tense.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    Then I just need to point to examples further back in history. The United States army was famously cruel to civilians of the Confederate States, even when Lincoln commanded leniency. Even when "Reconstruction" was not an ironic expression.

    Similarly, the Treaty of Versailles was written without consideration of its impact on the people of Germany and Prussia. To the end, the German homefront was advised that the was was both righteous and going well. It was rather a surprise when Bismark surrendered.

    I may have chosen a bad example with WWII, but it doesn't mean necessarily that we can expect fair treatment. Only that we should hope that, should we be left to the mercy of forces from abroad that they will recognize that we did indeed have little power, more importantly we should hope that they will have compassion, something for which the human species has shown to lack for anyone outside their personal circle of friends.

    But whatever. You seem more easily swayed by a bad example than a good one. On the premise "If A then B" one cannot assume that because not A, ergo not B.

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:08am

    Comparison With the My Lai Investigation.

    This is a representative page from the eighth chapter of the Peers Commission report on the My Lai massacre, back during the Vietnam War. The eighth chapter deals with acts of particular individuals. The linked page refers to Colonel Oran K. Henderson, and specifically charges him with twelve different crimes, mostly variations of Obstruction of Justice and Perjury.

    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mylai/Henderson.html

    There are similar enumerations of offenses for twenty-eight different officers, from Major General Samuel W. Koster down to a bunch of second lieutenants. Each man was charged with the specific offenses he committed. Then, as now, there were serious difficulties in actually prosecuting the perpetrators of war crimes, but they could at least be publicly named and specifically charged. This is the standard to which we must hold the torture report.

    (Unfortunately, this version of the Peers Commission report is incomplete (You can download a full version in acrobat from the Library of Congress, of course). It would be a good thing if the Army's Center For Military History were to produce a proper HTML version of the Peers Commission report, with neatly organized chapters for easy reading and citation.)

     

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    David, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re:

    Give him a Kissinger award?

    Anyway, Aachen awards a yearly "Karlspreis" in tradition of Charles the Great for efforts uniting Europe.

    What tradition are we looking at here? Charles the Great basically united Europe by being the "Saxon Slaughterer", destroying their religious identity by sawing down their holy oak and executing thousands of Saxons unwilling to convert to Christianity on its stump.

    You just need to take these prizes with a doze of cynicism.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 1:19am

    You're doing a heck of a job, Brennan.

     

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    Jhonnie Walker, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 3:03am

    We can never tell when and where danger will strike, who would that be and what would they look like. We could also never know how will they hurt us. So all we need to do is to be prepare because everyone could be their victim. Good thing I heard about this application while surfing in the net, I subscribed myself right away after reading the features. Here, check it out. http://safekidzone.com/?a_aid=52f12fafd5de8

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    In the treaty of Versailles, the US was against an overly harsh treatment of Germany but was unable to convince the other allies which were bent on punishing Germany. The situation created it lead to the desperation of the German people which allowed Hitler to rise to power and was greatly responsible for World War II.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: Re: So which laws are actually still valid?

    You think the 1% are getting a bad deal?

    Also, why are there not more than two possibilities. It is either A or B, but nothing else - no way.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    Yes, it was a bad example. Comparing the holocaust to current events is definitely way off mark.

    My response was not about being swayed by bad example, it was correcting said bad example and the ridiculous predictions.

    False dichotomy is common and usually a fallacy.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 6:01am

    Re:

    A few?
    How many is too many?
    You think the civil war was all about slavery?

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: questions questions

    No one listens to the poor homeless guy on the corner informing us that our government is corrupt , Americans only listen to those in their made up class bracket.

     

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  53.  
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    Tweak (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 9:25am

    Declaration

    Over the last year or so, after reading things here, I find myself turning more and more often to the Declaration of Independence for guidance.

    "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    Let's rekindle that fire.

     

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  54.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re: Declaration

    Bread and circuses, my friend. So long as we as individuals have something to lose, we're not going to be able to commit to a cause that may even cost us that. For those of us for whom there's food on the table and something on television -- even if it's poor food and worse programming -- we're going to resist taking up arms against the establishment.

    Certainly, the Department of Justice is making things difficult. Police abuse is on the rise. SWAT raids happen at the drop of a hat and children are being exposed to paramilitary attacks. In the meantime, our regulatory agencies ignore the will of the people and lie to each other continuously on the House floor. Those are perfect conditions to bake a revolutionary army until it's crispy golden brown.

    But we need to bake a lot of them before a revolution is viable. A proper revolution takes a lot of time and discontent. And it usually leads to a Reign of Terror before we get a viable constitution.

    I suspect the next step is for communities to stop calling the police.

     

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  55.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re:

    Not really. It's not like it's a governmental or popular award that we have any say in. Also, the statutes of the Nobel Foundation specifically disallows revoking any prizes that have been granted.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: questions questions

    Speak for yourself.

    More people than you think (some are even americans!) read a variety of sources looking for corroboration before giving credence to a story or event reported. So you might want to remove your blinders and take a good look around.

     

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  57.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Re: questions questions

    A little bit of everything, but mostly this:

    "Do people feel like they can't change anything so they don't act, or think someone else will do it?"

    ...which is an illusion (the people really are the most powerful force in US politics when they get their act together).

    It's also why I have a pet peeve about people proclaiming that there's nothing that can be done. It's pure self-fulfilling prophecy that needs to stop, and right now.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Re:

    Yes, all those stories end in the same manner. /s

    Didn't anyone listen in history class?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Yeah Right, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    Uriel, read about denazification and collective guilt here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denazification#Responsibility_and_collective_guilt

    A whole PR-campaign was orchestrated to literally tell the German citizens: "These atrocities were your fault. You stood by and did nothing, you let it happen". Posters were put up in German town and cities and films screened showing the horrible images of the atrocities and blaming the German population. The campaign also included forced tours of the concentration camps, even exhuming mass graves.
    A crowd is gathered around a series of photographs which though initially seeming to depict garbage instead reveal dead human bodies. Each photograph has a heading 'WHO IS GUILTY?'. The spectators are silent, appearing hypnotised and eventually retreat one by one. The placards are later replaced with clearer photographs and placards proclaiming 'THIS TOWN IS GUILTY! YOU ARE GUILTY!'

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Hey World, HELP!

    Because of honor among thieves?

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    "how would the torturers feel about receiving the same treatment"

    Ask Hannity - oh wait, he wants to forget about that.

     

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  62.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    The truly horrible thing about that is that most of the rest of the Allied nations were guilty to the same extent as the German people were. Remember that Hitler's "final solution" was his backup plan. His first plan was to deport all of the undesirable population (including Jews) and send them to other nations, with the clear threat that if nobody took them, he'd eliminate them a different way.

    Nearly everyone, including the US, turned them away.

     

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  63.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    My impression was that the Jews were an early target of what was essentially a plan to eradicate non-essential populations, largely by working them to death. Hitler's grand scheme was to create a German feudal monarchy out of the Soviet Union territory. If he were to succeed in capturing Eastern Eurasia that pretty much everyone outside of Germany and Prussia were going to be eradicated through forced labor and starvation.

    And yes, to give the Germans credit, or rather to discredit the rest of the western world, antisemitism was pandemic. Everyone hated the Jews.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Name, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 2:00pm

    White House press corps

    "the obedient White House press corps that Obama was speaking to didn't seem to probe."

    Anyone know who exactly was there so that I can write to their newpapers and /or tv stations and ask them WTF is wrong with them?

     

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  65.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    So yeah, there are examples from the post WWII history (as well as in the aftermath of prior wars).

    I've already seen instances from Europe where the American people are held personally responsible for capital punishment, particularly those who were posthumously exonerated. So it wouldn't surprise me if we are held personally responsible for other crimes, such as the use of torture against POWs and persons of intelligence interests, or for that matter, the employment of mercenaries (such as the Blackwater / Xe / Academi security company.

    I expect, were we to fall under the authority of the EU or the UN, they'd make an example of the people of the US to discourage future peoples from sitting idly by, not that that's going to change things. I, for one, certainly have resistance to the idea of getting SWATted or disappeared into a dark detainment site in the name of protesting my government.

    Not unless I could cause some spectacular and world-changing mischief first.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Comparison With the My Lai Investigation.

    lieutenant william calley jr was the only individual charged and instead of the life sentence he was given he only served something like 4 years house arrest.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: questions questions

    getting off the couch and from in front of the computer helps as well , not talking about you but most people will not they'd rather sit back and armchair QB instead of hitting the pavement.

     

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  68.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: questions questions

    Feel free to suggest doing a thing that will actually make a difference, or will affect a reasonable amount of influence on the situation for the work.

    If you're meaning to imply that there are legitimate vectors by which to petition representatives, voice grievances and set things right, I, and I suspect many of us, are skeptical.

    But go ahead. Surprise me.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Re: Comparison With the My Lai Investigation.

    Yup.

    One might add that Calley went on successful fundraising tours. He attracted girls like nobody's business, the kind of girls who hang out around football players, eventually married one, and his father-in-law gave him a job running a jewelry store outside of Ft. Benning, in rural Georgia, not too far from President Jimmy Carter's hometown. When President Nixon granted Calley clemency, he was simply responding to public opinion. You simply cannot imagine the depths of racism which existed in parts of the South, circa 1970. I was a boy in Texas at the time, and it was considered arguable whether killing very small Vietnamese children was morally wrong or not. I had a high school teacher who taught the most pernicious doctrines, about "gooks" and "slopes," and all that. You know, the kinds of things that Corporal Adolph Hitler was circulating, circa 1923.

    There's a limit to what you can do in the face of all that, but you can at least set down the facts for posterity. And that is what General Peers did.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 8:57pm

    So if Beohner can sue the president over the health care act, why can't a citizen sue for violations of the Constitution? It's "We the People" that set the rules (the constitution) and he violated it, so why can't "We the People" sue?

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So...we are now a country that just... tortures.

    And again you attempt to equate events in the past fourteen some years to that of the holocaust.

    Not even close.

    You are doing a disservice to those who raise their voices against such bad behaviors,

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2014 @ 10:29pm

    Hey at least they are not being publicly beheaded like in certain eastern countries.

     

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  73.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: questions questions

    I've made such suggestions a number of times. In short, we just need to look at the times past when huge, seemingly impossible corrections have been made before. You have to remember that we've been in even worse spots than we are now before, and managed to fix it. The key is that there isn't a single silver bullet action. It takes action from all fronts (both working withing the established system and otherwise). And it won't be fast -- this will take years to fix.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Re: White House press corps

    What is wrong, is the White House rules. Reporters don't get to question most of the time. A speech is given with no opportunity for questions as the ground rules and no opportunity to photograph. Any press releases come from the official White House website, not from interviews. Same for the photographs.

    Uncomfortable questions are not asked. Doing so gets them removed from the White House Press Corps where they will no longer have access to the excuse for first hand info.

    Quite a few press groups have condemned this administration for it's lack of transparency. All officials almost always demand non-identification for any interviews so they can't be quoted, which was another of the complaints the press groups had. No one, but no one wants to go on record with an official statement for fear of upsetting the administration. Even official leaks that are approved by the administration are handled in this manner.

     

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  75.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    Applied Godwinism.

    And again you attempt to equate events in the past fourteen some years to that of the holocaust.

    I'm not sure if you're talking to me. I haven't mentioned the Jewish Holocaust or the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem even once.

    Because of Godwin's Law as a known phenomenon in contemporary discourse, I've taken to practicing what I call applied Godwinism, which is to, rather than offering a general comparison between a person and Hitler (or a questionable political action to the Arbeitslager program, or a particular war catastrophe to the Hiroshima bombing), I like to compare specific traits to specific traits, and specific events to specific events. Despite common caricaturizations, WWII was a big, eventful world process in which there many things happen and there are many examples useful for juxtaposition to current events. Not all roads lead to the Holocaust. Many do, but only if you stay on that road.

    If you want a Godwinian comparison that does lead there, I'll offer you this: In Germany they looked at historic atrocities and said "It can't happen here." And no, we're not yet rounding up people and putting them in work camps, but we're seeing a lot of the symptoms, and we DO have black sites to which we disappear our dissenters. We do pack our undesirables into impacted prisons. We DO round unsuspecting immigrants into labor camps in which they're paid a pittance and are contracted in such a way that they cannot escape, and we not only condone but encourage forced labor practices abroad such as at the Foxconn site that produces our Playstations and iPhones.

    The soil is fecund for another holocaust here in the US, or (more likely) instigated abroad by the US. The only thing that needs to happen is another secret interpretation of the law be used to declare a specific demographic as Lebensunwertes Leben. As far as you or I know, this has already happened, and we've been working the ovens for years.

    If you want to complain that contemporary events might steal the thunder of the tragedy that was the German holocaust, feel free. I, for one, would prefer that bit of history to not repeat itself ever again anywhere, thanks.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Applied Godwinism.

    Guess I misunderstood your post, here it is:

    "Once the Soviet forced moved into Berlin, and Germany surrendered to the allies, were the civilians of Germany treated well by the allies, or were they held accountable (or at least shown contempt) for the actions of their government"

    What were you referring to then?


    Do you think the citizens of Israel will held accountable for the actions of their government? This is a more plausible scenario due to their mandatory military service.

     

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  77.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 4:28pm

    A third-party or independent candidate

    I can't think of how an independent or third-party candidate would be any different than the party affiliated representatives we have.

    Maybe one will be pro-gun and pro-pot. But when it comes to pro-torture, they all are.

     

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  78.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Applied Godwinism.

    On the unlikely case that Israel is defeated by the allies of Palestine, I imagine that the actions of Israel will be used to justify the ethnic cleansing (read mass genocide) of the Israeli people. That conflict is so loaded with religious ideology and outrage that I don't believe it's possible for either side to be either reasonable or compassionate in victory.

    Regarding my own question (It was a question, I just was failing to use question marks at the time.) When I referred to "the actions of their [the German people's] government", I was referring to a set of actions that includes, but was not limited to their use of death camps. War, being a messy thing, is often rife with war crimes, some of which were perpetuated by the allies as well, yet still fell under fire during the Nuremberg trials. Among those was the occasional use of torture in the interrogation of common POWs (not just non-uniformed spies).

    Coming back to the present, legal council to the Bush administration had advised the Oval office that the Geneva Conventions were outdated, that unlawful combatants didn't have to be afforded the same rights and accordances given to POWs, as if these accommodations were privileges. I don't agree with this interpretation. I wasn't told about it when the interpretation was implemented. I didn't know about US use of torture until the Abu Graib photos. And yet, I have no doubt that I will personally be held responsible and will suffer punitive sanctions as

    I tend to refer to WWII because it's a war I know about more than most others (including the Vietnam war, for which I had less study in college, and the Gulf War, that I experienced through CNN and other news channels). It seems due to the events of the German Holocaust, my speculation seemed more loaded to you. It shouldn't be. WWII was one circumstance in which the Allies tried to be measured in how they handled the remains of the Axis powers. It's our example of a best-case scenario should the US ever have to answer for its crimes.

    Frankly, We The People are responsible for the transgressions of the state, yet we personally are not empowered to actually do anything about it. It sucks to be us, but it doesn't suck to be us as much as it sucks to be the victims of the United States. That's what we get for having a bunch of psychopaths in office. (including those for whom I personally voted. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Feinstein.)

     

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  79.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 5:08pm

    Nobel Prize.

    Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize for not being Bush...at the moment of being awarded the prize.

    I guess he sure showed them.

     

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  80.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: questions questions

    Yeah, I'll take the suggestions and weigh them independently as they come, but I am skeptical.

    If there was anything with which we (or at least I) could get a reasonable result-to-effort ratio, we'd be on it already. Case in point, all the pounding we are doing to plead with the FCC to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service seems to be doing diddly compared to the NCTA and its associates' hand around Wheeler's balls.

    We can plead and implore all we want, but money is the only thing with a voice in the United States.

     

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  81.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: questions questions

    I never said the effort-to-result ratio for specific actions was reasonable. It rarely is. It takes a huge amount of effort to turn the ship of state. But that doesn't mean it's ineffective or not worth doing. Look at civil rights as an example. It took literally generations of action that seemed futile at the moment in order to achieve victory. But that victory would never have arrived if people gave up.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Applied Godwinism.

    Ok, I see your point.

    I still think that We The People are not personally responsible for the actions of our government, it's not like they ask us for input. No, it is We The Corporations that are responsible. Pulling congressional strings like some sick marionette show put on for the benefit of the 1%.

     

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  83.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2014 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: questions questions

    This reminds me of EA's "over-innovation" in their mobile, free-to-play re-imagining of Dungeon Keeper. It was feasible to play the game without paying real money for the in-game currency, but it ceased to be fun.

    To extrapolate from Kennedy, when peaceful revolution becomes similarly infeasible, in which it is still possible to petition your government for redress of grievances, yet doing so does very, very little to the point of being negligible, that should make violent revolution inevitable as if peaceful revolution were impossible.

    Sadly, there are circumstances in which people fall for the notion that the existence of a proper channel legitimizes it. In war-games if I leave the gate of my fortress open (into an obvious kill-box) most opponents storm the gate anyway, rather than siege the walls.

    I suspect we won't see true reform in the United States until we protest with wooden shoes and fire.

     

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  84.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:13am

    Re: Aaron Swartz

    The Legislative and the Judiciary both have the power to put the Executive back into its place. Why they aren't doing it (specially the Legislative) is something to wonder about...

     

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  85.  
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    JBDragon (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:33pm

    I have to say that how the U.S. Tortured these BAD people, is a joke! What I mean is they have no permanent physical injury from it. Water boarding is the worst thing going on and really, it's all in the mind. Playing Britney Spears Music and other things like that, I mean come on.

    This is NOT tie a persons arm behind their back and then hang them by their arms. Like say John McCain. This is not needles under the fingernails, or cutting off parts, or just cutting on their head and being done with it. Oh no, the poor Terrorist got Water boarded. Then spends the rest of his day getting 3 meals a day, and not just any old food either. Free Health care, free Korans and all the other crap. I mean really??? Because U.S. Prisoners never got ANY of that crap. Lucky to live, let alone 1 mean a day of whatever garbage was put in front of you. American prisoners getting REAL Tortured.

    Cry me a river.

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Uriel-238 on a mobile device, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Response to: JBDragon on Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:33pm

    Wow. JBDragon I find myself both outraged and ashamed to share a common species with you.

    a. The US DOES implement stress positions, electricity, humiliation, starvation and so on. Not just waterboarding.

    b. NOT just BAD people. Not just convicted terrorists, but people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time, or shared a name with a terrorist. Or just knew the wrong combination of persons-of-interest. No due process involved.

    c. Have you suffered the water cure by a SERE specialist? I haven't either, but numerous correspondents have, and every last description of it is Hell on earth. There is no question that if you were waterboarded (or our hardiest SEAL for that matter) you'd be squealing like a baby for mama within three minutes. The water cure breaks everyone.

    d. It's already been stated that amongst the redactions are those forms of torture that WE STILL USE. So you don't know what we cut off. But we do know that people die from this. People have been disappeared, tortured to death and disavowed.

    Please, JBDragon, never, ever breed.

     

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  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 5:13pm

    Re:

    Perhaps you and your friend Hannity will endure water boarding - You know, to prove it's not so bad.

    Many have said they would donate to charity in order for this to happen. Please say yes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 9:11am

    Re:

    "What I mean is they have no permanent physical injury from it."

    Are you really trying to say that if there's no permanent physical injury then it's not torture? I think the rest of the world and the history of torture vehemently disagrees with that assertion.

    Also, how and how much other nations torture, and how or how much torture US soldiers have endured is entirely beside the point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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