Immune Deficient Sunday

by matttbastard

Once again my body has unconditionally surrendered to illness. “Not an option”? My defeatist antibodies would argue otherwise.

In lieu of substantive posting today on the part of yours truly (substance? Ha! I’ve got your substance–and a pony–right here…), I recommend you head on over to cripchick’s place and read up on the NYU Child Study Center’s scary ransom note ad campaign, which utilizes a most unsavory metaphor in a misguided attempt to draw attention towards people living with disabilities and psychiatric disorders.

Also, be sure to check out Feminist Peace Network’s ongoing (and, as always, superlative) coverage of the KBR gang rape whitewash (corporate fucktardery at its finest); Lindsay Beyerstein looks into the connection between John Kiriakou and The Kite Runner; finally, the indomitable Melissa McEwan continues her ceaseless teaspoon-dipping with an absolutely heartbreaking-yet-unfortunately-necessary post on the cold, hard reality of rape (newsflash: it fucking happens to people).

Oh, and if, after reading all that, you’re still bored, the 2007 Canadian Blog Awards are accepting nominations; go forth, my Canuckle-headed brethren and pimp your homies. Additionally, The Lefties are being tabulated and somehow this ‘umble little blog managed to garner a last-minute nomination. Ta (and squishy hugs) to whomever gave us the nod.

Alright, that’s all I can muster–heading back to bed forthwith. Hope y’all are enjoying the weekend more than I am.

Go.
*moans*

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The Learning Gap (Or, A Demanding Vocation)

by matttbastard

ABC News EXCLUSIVE:

A leader of the CIA team that captured the first major al Qaeda figure, Abu Zubaydah, says subjecting him to waterboarding was torture but necessary.

In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds.

[…]

“The next day, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate,” said Kiriakou in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News’ “World News With Charles Gibson” and “Nightline.”

“From that day on, he answered every question,” Kiriakou said. “The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”

The Washington Post, from a review of Ron Suskind’s now-more-than-ever indispensable book, The One Percent Doctrine (h/t Kevin Drum):

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be….Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda’s go-to guy for minor logistics.

[…]

Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. “I said he was important,” Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. “You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?” “No sir, Mr. President,” Tenet replied. Bush “was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, “Do some of these harsh methods really work?”

Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety — against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, “thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each…target.” And so, Suskind writes, “the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.”

Drum bridges the gap:

So here’s what the tapes would have shown: not just that we had brutally tortured an al-Qaeda operative, but that we had brutally tortured an al-Qaeda operative who was (a) unimportant and low-ranking, (b) mentally unstable, (c) had no useful information, and (d) eventually spewed out an endless series of worthless, fantastical “confessions” under duress. This was all prompted by the president of the United States, implemented by the director of the CIA, and the end result was thousands of wasted man hours by intelligence and and law enforcement personnel.

DJ rewind–ABC News EXCLUSIVE:

A leader of the CIA team that captured the first major al Qaeda figure, Abu Zubaydah, says subjecting him to waterboarding was torture but necessary.

I believe this is an example of what Pascal (and, later, Chomsky) referred to as “the utility of interpretations.”

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