Tag Archives: tWAT

io9 blogs on Evan Booth, who devised weapons built from items found inside an airport, after you go through security.

From the original post on io9:

Shotguns are not allowed through airport security. But what does that matter if you can build one from items purchased in an airport gift shop? The break-action shotgun pictured above was made from Red Bull cans, a hair dryer, batteries and a can of Axe body spray – and it can blast a handful of pocket change through a sheet of drywall.

My dad always says that if someone wants to hurt you bad enough, they’ll find a way to do it. However, it looks like they don’t even have to try that hard. All they have to do is get a little clever. To me, knowing that this is possible is NOT scary. This has been possible for years and will go one being possible. Why am I not afraid? Simple: the overwhelming majority of people on Earth are not killers, terrorists or psychopaths. The overwhelming majority of people in airports are just trying to travel, just like you. And if you happen to have the bad luck of ending up on a plane or in a terminal at the same time as a killer, terrorist or a psychopath, take stock in knowing that it was just random bad luck.

Or, if you swung by Evan Booth’s website, you may have already learned how to arm yourself against the insanely unlikely event of being on a plane or in a terminal at the same time as a mean person. That’s ultimately my point. All these security measures at airports (taking off our shoes, x-raying our bags/coats/laptops etc, backscatter x-raying our bodies and sometimes getting felt up by a TSA agent) are not going to stop someone who really wants to hurt people.

The likelihood of getting hit by a car, even killed by one, is infinitely higher than of getting killed, or even harmed, in an air-travel-related act of violence. But do we ban cars, stop ourselves from crossing the street, or avoid leaving our homes? Of course not. Yet we act like we can stop someone if they really want to be horrible at the airport.

But the odds are in our favor. So, why bother living in fear? Why bother making air travel such a huge pain in the ass? Sure, keep x-raying bags and making me empty my pockets, but can I please keep my shoes on and my water bottle filled?

Read the original post on io9: goo.gl/4CHNg0

Al Qaeda thinks they can weaken our economy by making us overspend on security. War is bad for the economy since when?

Read the original Reuters article here: is.gd/IPbP9n

Read my commentary here:

Riiight, good plan, Al Qaeda! Have you even been paying attention?!? The USG has spent trillion$ on TWO WARS (three if you count Obama’s Drone Wars) and billion$ more on “homeland security” and according to “experts” our economy is coming back. Oh yeah and if you bothered to do any research, you’d know that we invent our money out of thin air. How else does our economy crash in 2008 and some how have nearly a trillion dollars injected into it before 2009??? Do you think the Fed just had $700 billion laying around?

The only thing dumber than thinking you can kill our economy by making us go to war is thinking terrorism will change anything for the better.

Idiots.

Yet another supposed “terrorist plot” has been “foiled.”

One thing I’ve noticed about the various terrorist plots foiled by the USG is that they’ve all involved undercover USG-types posing as Al Qaeda or someone else.  When those dudes in Florida wanted to blow up the Sears Tower, they were to get everything from weapons to boots (BOOTS!) from their Al Qaeda guy.  Their Al Qaeda guy was actually FBI.  Turns out they had zero means to do what they wanted to do.

Likewise, that kid who wanted to leave a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon (I think) a year or two ago–he was a kid who was dealing with, who he thought was an Al Qaeda guy, but was actually an FBI guy.  This was a kid who had no means to commit his act of terror.

And again, recently with this supposed Iranian plot.  Check out what Reuters reported:

U.S. court documents accuse Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen with an Iranian passport, of paying $100,000 to an informant, who had posed as an associate of a Mexican drug cartel but in fact worked for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and alerted the authorities to the plot.

Now, there aren’t enough specifics here to say it’s essentially a case of entrapment (like we can say about the previous two examples), but if the USG is sticking to form, we can certainly consider it a strong possibility until we know for sure.  But seriously, we really shouldn’t be surprised if suddenly this story drops out of the media entirely in a few days like those previous stories I mentioned.

It’s just another example of this trumped up (non-)war on terror.

Frank Miller: Great Writer and Great Fear Monger? Yeah, probably.

Frank Miller, the man who wrote some of my favorite comic stories ever, has a new graphic novel called “Holy Terror“.  If you’re familiar with his previous work “300” and his politics, you’ll not be too surprised that this new book is about super-heroes going up against jihadists. Spencer Ackerman has reviewed it negatively (understandably) for Wired.  Toward the end of the review, Ackerman explains:

And following 9/11, Miller himself had a sophisticated, complex reaction, intolerant of anyone’s easy pieties. As David Brothers at Comic Alliance reminds, Miller contributed to a volume called 9-11 Artists Respond by offering a scathing, stark series of captions — “I’m sick of flags. I’m sick of God. I’ve seen the power of faith.” — over a haunting illustration of the World Trade Center wreckage.

But it wasn’t God who knocked down the Towers. It was fanatics who believed themselves to have deciphered His true message. Miller doesn’t realize that by portraying them as true disciples of Islam, he’s giving the murderers what they want most. That’s the real terror of Holy Terror, the real lie, and the real naïveté.

Absolutely right.  However, Ackerman glosses over the real truth behind what brought those towers down.  Here’s the comment I left on the review:

I never read “300″ but I saw the movie and found it to be racist, xenophobic and very much a reflection of Bush-era foreign policy. So, Ackerman’s take on “Holy Terror” doesn’t surprise me at all. But I think it’s an important thing to note, that, while a Believer would defend God and say “God didn’t knock down those towers, it was fanatics,” an atheist would point out that it’s the belief in that god, itself, that did it. Of course, then you put every major religious belief system on the hook (which is why you never see it taken that far). We can’t challenge all religions everywhere, now, can we?

But I don’t think planet-wide atheism would solve things, either.  Fear-mongering isn’t always about religion.  Sure, it was for the Crusades, the Inquisition, the colonization of North and South America (“Convert or die” was the option given to many natives), but often it’s about whatever the fear-mongers can get their hands on.  The Soviets were, according to President Reagan, literally, “The Evil Empire” when 30 seconds of thought would have reminded us that they have spouses and children and homes and hopes and dreams *just like us*.  And we all know that the human tendency toward the fear of “The Other” goes back much further than the Soviets and so does said fear’s exploitation by humanity’s “great” leaders.

That’s really what brought the Towers down ten years ago–fear.  Those extremists were terrified of what would happen to their culture, their beliefs, their loved ones if America wasn’t stopped.  Likewise, Frank Miller is terrified what will happen to his culture if Islam isn’t stopped.  What’s worse is that it seems like he wants us all to feel that way, too.  And that is really really sad and kind of scary.

Sorry for the long comment.

I’m just glad Frank Miller has an outlet for his fears!  After watching Thomas P.M. Barnett’s “The Pentagon’s New Map” seminar on C-SPAN a couple times, I think I truly understand why terrorism happens.  In that seminar Barnett concludes that the majority of the violence in the world comes from regions of low connectivity.  In other words, the people committing the violence don’t feel connected to the world around them.  They feel powerless and out of control.  Connected people feel that their voice is heard.  Frank Miller’s voice is heard by a lot of people.  I wonder what he would do if suddenly his audience and book deals vanished.  As a writer, myself, I know firsthand that it takes an impossible amount of passion and belief in/for a story to see it through to the end.  Now imagine all that passion and belief with no where to go.

As much as I wish Miller would stop writing, I’d definitely prefer literary terrorism to the literal kind.  Then again, he could just get a blog like the rest of us.

That seminar from Barnett is really quite excellent. I highly recommend you watch it either at the Google Video link above or here on C-SPAN.

UPDATE 16:45:

Someone commented on the above-mentioned Wired article and basically put forth the idea that some of Miller’s fears are true, saying in part:

Certainly many Muslims and Arabs are very much the peace loving types that Bush espoused, and that you seem to think all non-Al Qaeda-card-carrying Muslims are — but it’s telling that a few cartoons will get Muslims protesting in the streets about offending Islam, while the bombings carried out in the name of their prophet around the world seem to mostly go unmentioned. The “Not in our name” protests are far and few between.

Ugh… I hate this kind of disguised racism, so I had to say something:

I don’t think anyone is saying Islam is a perfect religion with believers who are flawed, just like the rest of us. I think the point is that painting them *all* (or even most of them) as violent people willing to kill for their beliefs is unfair and a mistake. The “connections” you describe are pretty tenuous. I have a good friend who is Muslim and I dated a Muslim, as well. I’m an atheist. They both knew this and they never tried to kill me. Not once! I even had my friend play Jesus in a web video I shot. Does it sound like they have connections to terrorism? Are they acting like extremist Muslims? I don’t think so.

As for moderate Muslims not speaking out against extremist Islam, I agree, but then again, how many moderate Christians do we hear speaking out against the extremist Christianity that denies global warming, hates gay soldiers and is somehow simultaneously both pro-life and pro-war at the same time? Hell, while we’re at it, I’d love to hear from moderate Jews who are against the occupation of Palestine. However, I also understand why it doesn’t happen. How would you like it if I asked you to prove you’re not an ethnocentric, paranoid racist? Wouldn’t you mind me demanding that you prove your innocence to me?

That’s the key, by the way, to know whether you’re being unfair to someone else.  Point your judgment or accusations back on yourself.  Do they fit? Or not? And why?

In this commenter’s case, he was demanding Muslims prove they aren’t supporters of terrorists and aren’t terrorists themselves.  But when a similar question is put to him, how would he like it?  He’d probably make excuses about how no group he is affiliated with is responsible for the death of thousands.  To which I would say: “Oh, you’re not American then? Because they killed A LOT of people–half-a-million in Iraq, alone!  Probably billions if you go back to the Native Americans during the time of western expansion!  So, go ahead, prove you’re not a genocidal maniac like so many other Americans throughout history. Or maybe you don’t like someone demanding you prove you’re not like other people of your kind since you’re pretty sure you’re not.”

Screen shot 2011-09-09 at 9-9 5.11.43 P

Earliest form of 911 Exploitation by the Media Came Just Days After

I won’t go on about this too much, but I remember right after 911 seeing the “911″ issue of People Magazine.  I know it’s a rag, but I was really surprised and shocked at what I saw inside of it.  I scanned in the parts that offended me the most and set up a web page detailing everything, including a pissed off email I sent to the editor at the time.  Check out this page here: thepete.com/disgustingpeople/

Please forgive the crappy design and layout–it was a time long before Flickr, blogging or even Web 2.0.

 

 

It Has to Be Said: Why 9/11/11 is bugging the shit out of me

Wow… I’m having to unfollow some folks who insist on posting 911-related photos. I wasn’t a NYC resident on 9/11/1 but I don’t know why people need to relive this event annually and usually do so without recognizing the horrible overreaction it inspired from its victims.  I saw Newsweek’s latest magazine cover which seems blissfully unaware of the positive spin it provides on death, war, torture and violence.  Then I saw, in a sad, self-congratulatory Photoshop montage of tweets,  sycophantic followers taking joy in praising said cover (man, that made me angry). I am too scared to look to the TV media because I can easily imagine the absurd depths they’ll descend to in order to “properly” exploit the 10th anniversary of 911.

Even my absolute favorite podcast, Stuff You Should Know, got in on the 911-act and talked about “How the World Trade Center Memorial Works.”  Usually they talk about things we should know, instead, they talked about stuff we’re going to already know because everyone and their uncle is covering that memorial.  I would say that they handled it well, but not handling it at all would be the better path as, really, do you need to bother with this since so many other folks already are?

So, the day after tomorrow, we are going to remember the 3000ish people who died ten years ago on that day in New York, Pennsylvania and in Virginia at the Pentagon… but who will remember the hundreds of thousands who died in Afghanistan and Iraq thanks to the way we reacted?  And what about the tortured, the disappeared and our place in history?  All of these things will be ignored while we desperately try to convince ourselves that 911 justified everything we’ve done.

A Japanese person I know recently told me that the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki taught Japan that the only way to respond to violence is with peace.  Responding with violence just means more violence.

What is so hard to grasp about this concept?

666cast episode 54: It’s the all Osama bin Laden episode! He’s dead, but he’s not gone!

It’s the all Osama bin Laden episode! He’s dead, but he’s not gone! Why was killing him wrong? Why shouldn’t we celebrate his death? How does this change squat? Answers to all of these questions AND more in this week’s 666cast!

Oh and here’s the FBI’s Most Wanted page for ObL as of this posting:

Usama/Osama bin Laden’s FBI Most Wanted page Still Doesn’t Mention the 911 Attacks

It doesn’t mention 911. Go figure.

Episode 54 of the 666cast is hosted at Archive.org.

Please subscribe to the feed.

Don’t forget to visit webstore666!

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Killing the killer, who’s the savage now?

From motherjones:

White House counterterrorism adviser: “There was a female who was in fact in the line of fire…to shield bin Laden from the gunfire,” which speaks to “the nature of the individual.”

Everything you want to know about bin Laden’s death, explained. And updated.

“which speaks to “the nature of the individual.”

Not to mention the nature of the individual pulling the trigger.

I’ve read and heard some disturbing things since Obama’s announcement that bin Laden had been killed, last night.  My wife read something from a Facebook status that went something like this: “3000 souls are smiling tonight.”

Ugh.

Really?

Smiling?

I would have been fine with “3000 souls can finally rest in peace” but they’re smiling?

It seems like people have forgotten just how much time, effort and blood, it’s taken to get to this point. 

More Americans have died in Afghanistan and Iraq than died in the WTC and Pentagon attacks on 9/11/1.  An untold number of non-American civilians have died in both countries, as well.  Weddings were bombed, innocent civilians tortured by our soldiers, as well.  We invaded two countries and spent over a trillion to fight the terror war that we like to say Osama bin Laden started with us on 9/11/1. 

The catch is, he declared that war years earlier, we just didn’t notice.  See, we’ve been viewed as an enemy by a lot of the Middle East since long before 9/11.  So long that, when one looks at the history of American policy objectively, one can’t help but wonder how long our enemies will take it lying down.  In fact, Chalmers Johnson, in his 2000 book “Blowback,” suggested that, if the USG continues it’s current foreign policy as is, it might see attacks on US soil.

Seeing as 9/11 was not the beginning of the war on terror, it’s a mistake to think that this is somehow the end of it.  We have done much to inspire our enemies and to think that just because bin Laden is gone, there won’t be another head for this hydra is to not understand history.

Not only does this not change anything (as one friend of mine posted on Facebook last night) but it doesn’t somehow erase the atrocities the American government has committed over it’s 250 year lifespan. 

Since last night, I’ve been kind of haunted by this moment imagined in my head of people cheering and shouting in celebration of bin Laden’s death when one yells, without recognizing the irony, “who’s the savage now?!?!”

The answer to that, of course, has always been: us.

EFFYOU.ORG: EFFYOU to alleged terrorism fighters who don’t go after ACTUAL terrorists.

EFFYOU.ORG: EFFYOU to alleged terrorism fighters who don’t go after ACTUAL terrorists.

effyouorg:

All of the folks out there that are going after Al Qaeda or other extremist-types with the actual means to cause physical harm, GOOD ON YOU!  Keep up the good work!!  All the other folks out there who go after pissed off kids and other losers who have precisely zero means to commit the acts they say they want to commit: EFF YOU.

Among the principles the United States was founded on, none of them encourages or condones the arrest of people who would LIKE to harm others but can’t actually do it.  In fact, one of the most basic concepts behind our country is the idea that every human is entitled to freedom of thought.

What happens when you find a 21 year-old guy or a 19 year-old kid who are pissed off at the government and dream of killing people?

Nothing.

Well…

Read the rest at effyou.org

The USG trumps up threat then tells us how they’re protecting us from it.

This is something I’ve noticed the USG and the FBI doing for a while.  See if you can notice what’s wrong with the following cutting from a November 28, 2010 article at LATimes.com reporting on a 19 year-old naturalized American (originally from Somalia) who wanted to blow up a bunch of Americans (I’ll add italics to make it obvious):

The threat was very real,” said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale.”

According to the FBI, they arrested Mohamud after he dialed a cellphone that he thought would detonate a huge bomb — six 55-gallon drums, diesel fuel and a large box of screws — in a large white van parked near the tree lighting.

But the bomb was a fake built by the FBI, and the packed crowds who enjoyed a youth choir and a symphony orchestra at Friday’s holiday celebration at Pioneer Courthouse Square were never in danger, authorities said.

Let me break this down for you:

The FBI finds this teenager who’s pissed at the USG, builds a pretend bomb for him, hands him the detonator and then arrests him when he activates it.

Where’s the crime there, exactly?

I mean, sure, he’s “wrongthinking” like in the Orwell novel, 1984, but wrongthinking isn’t illegal (yet). 

On top of that, this guy had no obvious means to make a bomb to kill anyone on his own.  He’s a kid.  I remember how moody and obnoxious I was when I was 19! (If you think I’m bad now!) 

Why is it that we only hear about these toothless tigers and not actual threats being foiled by the FBI?  Hell, the Times Square Bomber from earlier this year failed in his attempt to blow up a bomb only because he was a complete and utter fucktard.  The FBI didn’t catch him beforehand and nearly lost him as he tried to flee the country. 

Seems the FBI can only catch a terrorist if they arm him and supply him first. It’s like a literal version of the “Straw Man Argument” where you, effectively, make a false statement and then prove it wrong to show how cool you are.  This time, they prop up this kid as a terrorist and then brag about it when they take him down.

There’s something deeply wrong about this.

Islam and the West: (not) keeping things in perspective

From blogdrop.posterous.com:

Just to put this into perspective, Ariana Huffington transported, for free, around 10,000 New Yorkers to Washington DC for the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear on October 30, 2010.  That’s a third of the Taliban and more than Al Qaeda.

Here’s another graphic I nicked from blogdrop.posterous.com:

If you are pro-life you should be horrified by this.  Of course, if you are pro-only-your-own-life, you’ve already rationalized this away.  Sad, either way.

SEE THAT, Anti-Mosque-at-Ground-Zero Protesters? You’re HELPING THE TERRORISTS! (seriously)!

officialssay:

“By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor… It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”

Taliban operative Zabihullah, on how the mosque controversy is benefiting the Taliban

If we respect people’s freedom (even their freedom to be insensitive to people’s feelings about 911) the terrorists DON’T win. Why do you anti-mosque-types not get this? Maybe you just WANT to hate? That could be…

(Blogged this on my lifestream by accident so here it is where it belongs on Website666.com)

#WTFObama: #DontBelieveTheHype: US Mil “withdrawal” from Iraq just a rebranding–56k will stay.

US Withdraws Last Combat Brigade from Iraq, But 56,000 Troops Remain

The US has officially withdrawn its last designated combat brigade from Iraq, two weeks ahead of a deadline for the withdrawal of some 14,000 troops. In a surprise announcement, the Pentagon said the last combat brigade crossed over into Kuwait earlier today. Although the withdrawal has been hailed as a major milestone in the Iraq war and an end to combat operations, most of the remaining 56,000 US troops are still trained in combat and will continue to carry out armed attacks. The Obama administration also plans to double its private military force in Iraq to an estimated 7,000 contractors. According to the New York Times, the bulk of the private military force will be deployed at five compounds across Iraq, where they’ll perform duties including operating drones, deploying reaction forces and operating radars to detect militant attacks. In an interview on Democracy Now! earlier this month, independent journalist Jeremy Scahill said the Obama administration’s withdrawal plan amounts to a rebranded occupation.

Jeremy Scahill: “What is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style, that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces. The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armored vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces. So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality you’re continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush’s game from the very beginning.”

via democracynow.org

Sadly, this is what I was expecting.  I’m sure anyone paying attention isn’t surprised by the fact that we’re leaving a huge stack of troops behind.  What’s next from the O-man? A giant “Mission Accomplished” banner and an aircraft-carrier-based photo-op?

Are the Lies the Lying Government Officials tell actually lies? Or…?

newsweek:

“What does it mean to tell the truth about a war? Is it a lie, technically speaking, for the Administration to say that it has faith in Hamid Karzai’s government and regards him as a legitimate leader—or is it just absurd? Is it a lie to say that we have a plan for Afghanistan that makes any sense at all? If you put it that way, each of the WikiLeaks documents—from an account of an armed showdown between the Afghan police and the Afghan Army, to a few lines about a local interdiction official taking seventy-five-dollar bribes, to a sad exchange about an aid scam involving orphans—is a pixel in a picture that does, indeed, contradict official accounts of the war, and rather drastically so.”

The New Yorker: Wikileaks and the War

  (via southpol)

So, they are lying?

Like it even matters.

Who freaked out in 2000 when it was obvious to anyone paying attention that there was no clear winner in the election?  Or that it’s Congress’ job to settle ties, not the Supreme Court’s?

What public rose up to demand impeachment when it became obvious the Bush Administration’s USG had violated international law several times over, least of all by invading countries unprovoked?

Every single one of us wander the streets of our cities and towns knowing full well that the cash in our pockets isn’t worth anything tangible, yet we just keep pretending that’s not true.

We, The People, are used to dealing with lies—all the time.  Whether it’s God, Santa, our money, our government or the fact that Diet Coke is really no better for you than regular Coke.  We lie to each other and ourselves all the time and this shock that the USG is lying to us about war is, you guessed it: a lie.  This one, like many of them is to make us feel better.

No one in the USG should worry.  Both endless wars can continue. We have no ability to stop them from doing so and even if we did we wouldn’t use that ability.

And that is no lie.

All This For 500 Al Queda?

underpaidgenius:

David Sanger and Mark Mazetti, New Estimate of Strength of Al Qaeda Is Offered

American intelligence agencies believe that there are most likely fewer than 500 members of the group in a region [Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas]  where the United States has poured nearly 100,000 troops.

This is proof that the US government is cracked. We are spending billions every month to wage a ‘war’ — in reality, to attempt to suppress a terrorist movement — than comprises a few hundred hard core radicals.

Afghanistan is not a ‘country’ in any sense, and neither is Pakistan, really. We are wrestling with shadows.

Insanity.

Sociopathy.

I’ve been saying for years that Al Qeada is a joke and that we have little (if anything) to truly fear from these guys.  The USG has us as scared of a handful of idiots in the desert as we were of the Soviet Union.  This is absurd and our leaders should be ashamed.

There are about a thousand things we could be better spending hundreds of billions of dollars on that would save more lives right here inside America.

Where are we going to get the money to pay for free health care for all Americans? I’m pretty sure ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would help pay for it.  That way my step-dad doesn’t have to die of the cancer that is killing him.

But no, let’s keep on being scared of nothing so we can keep the funds flowing into the military industrial complex that runs our government.

Sociopathy.

Blackwater Ties with CIA: Is Anything Going to Come of This?

Last month it came out that Blackwater (or whatever the heck they’re calling themselves these days), has massive ties with the CIA.

Seems like when the CIA wanted folks killed, they just outsourced it to the private sector.

This is how it starts folks–private contractors come in and do your empire building for you and the next thing you know, some dude with an Indian accent is asking what foreign leader you want to axed next.

OK, so it probably won’t happen exactly like that, but the Blackwater story will continue to flow downstream just like it has been for years now. Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill has been going after them for many trips around the sun and even wrote a book about them. And here comes the Christian Science Monitor and CNN (see: the screencaps in this post, sources: here and here), both mainstream news sources that reported on not just Blackwater but Blackwater getting hired to kill folks for the CIA. This isn’t the first time the guys from DarkH2O have been in the MSM, either. They’ve gotten press for “possible” massacres, random killings and maybe you remember those “contractors” who got pulled from their SUV outside Fallujah, killed, set on fire and hung from a bridge? Yeah, those dudes were Blackwaterians.

Gee, what would have made Fallujans mad enough be that horrible to a couple of guys in an SUV?

Regardless, nothing they’ve done stops Blackwater from existing and I believe they’re still doing things for the USG, too. If memory serves there were even Blackwater guys on the ground in New Orleans after Katrina.

How can any of this be legal? It’s like the Federal Reserve only with guns. How do you expect your senators and/or House reps to control what this armed corporation does in our names? It’s not like you or I can just vote Eric Prince, CEO of Blackwater, out of office anymore than we can vote out Ben Bernanke as the guy running the Fed.

More and more keeps coming up about Blackwater (really scary stuff, too) and yet no one seems to do anything about it.

Neat.

Want to learn more about Blackwater? Read Scahill’s book or at the very least visit his website: RebelReports.com. He’s also on Twitter.

OH and in case you’re curious, Blackwater changed it’s name to Xe Services…

…and then changed it again to US Training Center. At least, you end up at the US Training Center website when you aim your browser at: BlackwaterUSA.com.

Yeah, they’re having some issues with their image lately. Can’t imagine why…

One Last Thing About 9/11/9 and One Last Pic, this one of my bro & I at the WTC long before 911

That’s a photo my parents took of me and my little brother (I’m the cuter one on the left) sitting in front of The WTC Sphere sculpture as it originally stood, in between the Twin Towers. I’m guessing it had to be taken in the mid-to-early 1980s since my little brother is still shorter than me in this image (he’s really my step-brother and today towers over me by several inches).

A few decades later, while my wife and I walked past the site where that picture was taken, now a big hole in the ground surrounded by blue fencing, I looked for the memorial spotlights the City of New York had been using to commemorate the victims. In years past, I had heard that they were placed in the hole. However, they weren’t there on this September 11th. They were on, but several blocks south.

My wife suggested that perhaps they were moved to avoid getting in the way of construction of the permanent memorial. I replied:

“What construction?”

Politics and miscellaneous city-BS has kept anything else from being built on the spot over the last eight years. This is absolutely fine with me, since I’ve always felt that the spotlights were the perfect homage to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC. Poetic, haunting, somber, and practically impossible to exploit for a quick buck. They’re actually suggesting that shopping areas be included in the memorial in some capacity.

I say we pave over the whole thing and leave the spotlights in place, year-round. Have a gift shop and a non-profit org to pay for the electricity that the spotlights use. Hell, we could even take
donations to set up solar panels to gather energy in the day to power the spotlights at night.

I used to think that Ground Zero should just have another pair of
towers built on it and let a bunch of businesses set up shop inside. My idea was that we’d be showing the terrorists that they haven’t won.

The problem is, they did win.

Ground Zero, to me, is a tomb stone, not just for the 2752 people who were killed thanks to the attacks, but for the countless number of people who have died because of how America reacted to the attacks–American soldiers, Iraqis and Afghanis who have died because of the wars we were so convinced were necessary after we were attacked by a handful of rag-tag loser-extremists who got very lucky that day.

Let the lights stay.

Let them serve as an eternal flashlight on ourselves and our decisions in the days, weeks, months and years following that horrible day in September.

We need anything but “business as usual.”

Pentagon Grants (Returns) “New” (Old) Rights to Afghan Prisoners

Yes, this is actually GOOD news. BBC news reported today that the Pentagon has
decided to "grant" Afghan prisoners at Baghram the right to challlenge their detention
. Here is a short cutting from the BBC News article:

US defence department spokesman Bryan Whitman said inmates would be allowed to go before a panel "periodically" to contest their detention, reports AFP.

Huh, that sounds like the right of Habeus Corpus–the right for any detained person to see the body (corpus) of evidence brought before them. It’s one of the oldest "unalienable" rights guaranteed man, existing long before the US Constituion which, I believe, also guarantees it (which says to me the Pentagon is likely in violation of international law by not guaranteeing it).

So while this BBC News article and the Pentagon call this a "new" right that’s been "granted" to these prisoners, you should note that this is one of the oldest rights in the book and that the right isn’t being "granted," but "returned." You should also note that in order for the Pentagon to "return" something they must first "take it away."

Here’s the fun little ironic cherry on top, though–check out another cutting from the Beeb News article:

Mr Whitman added that it was a process the US had used in Iraq.

It helped US officials there "manage the detainee population and ultimately reduce the detainee population by ensuring that we are only holding those that are the most dangerous threats," he said.

So, basically, if the Pentagon had been doing this all along it would have helped them run their prison better.

Don’t these people THINK before they do anything?

UPDATE 9/14/9 4:31 EDT: Today’s Democracy Now points out why the prisoners aren’t even getting full Habeus Corpus back–it turns out the prisoners don’t get lawyers–they just get a US military official who, in theory, will help each prisoner “gather witnesses and evidence, including classified material, on behalf of the prisoners to challenge their detention in proceedings before a military-appointed review board.”

Well, it’s still an improvement.

Just a Friendly Reminder that We Tortured


So, while Obama still would like to keep looking forward and not backward (at all the bad stuff we did during the War Against Terror) I, just a regular American citizen, will look back for my President and quote what Glenn Greenwald said in a post on Salon.com back in August. In turn, Greenwald quotes, in his post, a 2004 CIA’s Inspector General Report released due to a FOIA request made, not by the New York Times, or Time Magazine, or Newsweek, or any other mainstream news source. Greenwald reminds us that it was the ACLU who is uncovering the evidence required to go after torturers in our own country and not the news media. But that’s a side note.

So, here’s what Greenwald found was done in our name, to keep us “safe,” and to preserve our wonderful freedom:

Threats of execution (img)
Threats to kill detainee and his children (img)
Threats to rape detainee’s female relatives in front of him (img)
“Buttstroking” with rifles and knee kicks (img)
Blowing smoke in detainee’s face for five minutes (img)
More “convincing and poignant” waterboarding of the type we prosecuted Japanese war criminals for using (img)

You can click each of those to see scans of the pages of the report that match up with the type of torture to read some of the details. Unfortunately, too many of the details have been redacted by the USG, but hey, at least we know for sure that this definitely happened. The government admitted it did these things and they all sound illegal to me.

Don’t think they’re that bad? Well, Greenwald adds:

The IG Report also documents numerous other abuses that have been documented by prior OLC memos, including having waterboarded detainees 82 and 183 times; hanging them by their arms until interrogators thought their shoulders might be dislocated; stepping on their ankle shackles to cause severe bruising and pain; putting them in a diapers and leaving them doused with water on cold concrete floors in cold temperatures to induce hypothermia, etc. Some of the numerous deaths of detainees during interrogations were also discussed (for details on detainee deaths, see here and here). After documenting all of that, the IG Report notes:


(img)

Yeah, so this stuff is all wrong. There has been no declaration of war against the country of Al Qeada, so we can’t treat them as POWs and even if we could, we’d be forced to treat them better than this. These people are just that–people. They deserve a fair trial and every other right promised every human on the planet in the US Constitution. Just because we don’t like them doesn’t mean they stop being human. But if we do this stuff, it’s we who stop being human.