Puppet MastersS

War Whore

U.S. braces for blowback hurricane of wars

Most violence we face we've provoked. Those confronting us with violence are exactly as wrong as if we hadn't provoked them. But we are not as innocent as we like to imagine.

This seems like a simple concept awaiting only factual substantiation, but in fact it is dramatically at odds with most people's ridiculously ill-conceived notion of how blame works. According to this common notion, blame is like a lump of clay. Whoever holds it is to blame. If they hand it to someone else, then that person is exclusively to blame. If they break it in half, then two people can each be half to blame. But blame is a finite quantity and the clay is very difficult to break. So once the clay is attached to one person, everybody else is pretty well blameless.

I faulted President Obama for instructing the Justice Department not to prosecute anyone in the CIA for torture, and someone told me that Attorney General Holder was in fact to blame, and therefore Obama was not. I faulted easy access to guns for mass shootings, and someone told me that antidepressant medications were to blame, and therefore gun laws were not. If you're like me, these sorts of calculations will strike you as bizarrely stupid. The question of whether Obama is to blame is a question of what he has done or not done; Holder doesn't enter into it at all. The question of whether Holder is to blame comes down to whether Holder acted against the interest of the greater good; it has nothing to do with Obama. One or both or neither of them could be to blame. Or they could both be to blame and 18 other people be to blame as well. We have problems with gun laws, psychiatric drugs, films, tv shows, video games, examples set by our government's own violence, and many other elements of our culture; none of them erase any of the others.


Israel to demand apology for 'anti-Semitic' Netanyahu cartoon

© The Sunday TimesThe cartoon that accurately portrays Netanyahu and Israel's policy of walling itself in while murdering its way through the Palestinian nation.
The Sunday Times 'crossed a red line,' says Ambassador to UK Daniel Taub; Knesset Speaker Rivlin lodges complaint with British counterpart

Israel is planning to demand an apology for a controversial cartoon that appeared in the British Sunday Times, Israel's ambassador to London said Monday, while one minister mulled steps against the paper.

One day after the caricature sparked outrage among Jewish groups for its depiction of a bloodthirsty Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinians, leading Israelis joined the chorus of condemnation.

"The newspaper should apologize for this. We're not going to let this stand as it is," Israeli Ambassador to London Daniel Taub told The Times of Israel in a telephone interview. "We genuinely think that a red line has been crossed and the obligation on the newspaper is to correct that."


Verbal defecation buries truth

We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments (made by MP David Ward last week) about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience " (Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1/25/2013).
I must apologize for not responding to the lashing given to Lib Dem MP David Ward a week ago as my wife's Mother, 88 years of age, was moved into Hospice care readying her for leaving this vale of tears. Her life, as is true of my own, suffered the horrors of WWII and the Nazi devastation of prisoners including, from 1933, Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals , (and) persons accused of "asocial" or socially deviant behavior, and Jews, between 1938 and 1945 (Holocaust Encyclopedia). Our lives are bookended between depressions and wars. So what have we learned, as David Ward so tellingly asks to the chagrin of many including Mr. Benjamin quoted above. Curiously I found Mr. Ward's comment incomplete. This is what he said:
Having visited Auschwitz twice - once with my family and once with local schools - I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.


Obama's CIA director nominee had detailed knowledge of harsh interrogation techniques

© Reuters/Kevin LamarqueBarack Obama and John Brennan
CIA Chief-in-Waiting John Brennan had detailed knowledge of "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the agency against suspected terrorists, including waterboarding and other painful torture techniques.

Brennan is expected to be confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 7, but he will likely face tough questions about the extent of his knowledge about the CIA's controversial use of torture. Brennan publicly condemned such interrogation techniques when he temporarily left the government in 2005. He claims to have forcefully opposed torture methods while working for the CIA after 9/11, but lawmakers will likely question him to see if he did in fact take a stand against it, Reuters reports.

Brennan regularly received classified CIA reports about the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques". Unnamed sources told Reuters that according to official records, Brennan expressed no opposition to the torture methods at the time. Other former officials said they don't recall hearing any objections from him. Some say Brennan was uncomfortable about the use of physically coercive tactics, but that he did little more than privately express his concern with a few of his colleagues.


Deaths of prisoners in British custody in Iraq to be re-investigated, court told

© Photograph: PAThe MoD is also facing allegations that British forces were responsible for the unlawful killing of more than 250 people who were not in custody.
MoD faces legal challenge to its refusal to hold public inquiry into alleged human rights violations following 2003 invasion

Fresh investigations have been ordered into the deaths of several prisoners who died in suspicious circumstances while under British military custody in Iraq, the high court has been told.

The disclosure comes as the Ministry of Defence faces a legal challenge to its refusal to hold a public inquiry into a series of alleged human rights violations following the 2003 invasion, including hundreds of claims of unlawful detention, torture, and murder.

An inquiry team established by the MoD is now re-investigating the deaths of two men who had been detained by soldiers of the Black Watch in Basra in May 2003, the department's lawyers told the court.

An initial review by the MoD's Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHat) had concluded that although inquiries had been made following the deaths of Radhi Nama and Jabbar Kareen Ali, "both investigations had not been sufficiently thorough and were thus incomplete" and would need to be re-investigated.

Life Preserver

Rand Paul: I don't understand same-sex marriage

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who describes himself as a libertarian, said Wednesday that he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because it could unintentionally result in same-sex marriage becoming legal.

"I believe in traditional marriage," he said during an interview with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. "I really don't understand any other kind of marriage. Between a man and a woman is what I believe in, and I just don't think it is good for us to change the definition of that."

Bad Guys

Woman accuses NYPD of handcuffing 7-year-old son for 10 hours

© AFP Photo
A New York City woman has threatened to sue the local police department for $250 million for allegedly handcuffing her 7-year-old son and accusing him of beating up another child over $5.

The New York Post reported on Wednesday that, according to Frances Mendez, she found her son, Wilson Reyes, cuffed to a wall at 14th Precinct headquarters, after being mistakenly accused of stealing the money.


Sen. Graham brags about his AR-15 at home

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Wednesday during a Senate committee hearing on gun control that he is a proud owner of an AR-15 assault rifle, and personally hesitant to restrict magazine capacity because such a decision, he said, could give rise to gun-packing mothers running out of bullets when faced by a criminal threat.

"You could find yourself in this country in a lawless environment from a natural disaster or a riot," he said. "I have an AR-15 at home, and I haven't hurt anybody, and I don't intend to do it."

The Republican senator added that he would carry his assault rifle around his neighborhood in the event of "a law and order breakdown," then said that magazine capacity should not be restricted because "there could be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of something we do here."


Military provides inadequate care for injuries suffered during sexual assaults

© Flickr/isafmedia
Some women in the military are still receiving inadequate care for sexual assault, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published Tuesday found. The report found that "not all first responders had completed the required training," even after a 2005 Department of Defense directive mandated "a comprehensive policy for the prevention of and response to sexual assault." One servicewoman even reported an inability to gain access to yeast infection treatment.

Though GAO found that the military "has not established guidance for the treatment of injuries stemming from sexual assault - a crime that requires a specialized level of care." Often, officers assigned to be "victim advocates" for those who had suffered sexual assault "are not always aware of the specific health care services available to sexual assault victims."

GAO investigated three military installations in the United States and seven Afganistan installations, as well as looking at eight Navy ships. The investigators talked to 92 servicewomen, 60 of whom said they believed they were receiving "generally" adequate care, but 8 reported deficiencies in female-specific health care.

"At one location we visited in Afghanistan," the report said, "a female airman told us that she believed the military was trying to meet the health needs of women, but still had work to do - noting, for example, that a medication she was prescribed had given her yeast infections."

Gold Seal

Obama's non-closing of GITMO, kind NYT headlines, and US government irony

© Photograph: Brennan Linsley/APAn image of President Barack Obama is put up in the lobby of the headquarters of the US naval station at Guantánamo Bay.
The excuse used to justify Obama's failure to close GITMO is incomplete and misleading. Plus: multiple other items

A few (relatively) brief items worthy of note today:

(1) The New York Times' Charlie Savage reported yesterday that the State Department "reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him". That move obviously confirms what has long been assumed: that the camp will remain open indefinitely and Obama's flamboyant first-day-in-office vow will go unfulfilled. Dozens of the current camp detainees have long been cleared by Pentagon reviews for release - including Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a 36-year-old Yemeni who died at the camp in September after almost 11 years in a cage despite never having been charged with a crime. Like so many of his fellow detainees, his efforts to secure his release were vigorously (and successfully) thwarted by the Obama administration.

Perfectly symbolizing the trajectory of the Obama presidency, this close-Guantánamo envoy will now "become the department's coordinator for sanctions policy". Marcy Wheeler summarizes the shift this way: "Rather than Close Gitmo, We'll Just Intercept More Medical Goods for Iran". She notes that this reflects "how we've changed our human rights priorities". Several days ago, Savage described how the Obama DOJ is ignoring its own military prosecutors' views in order to charge GITMO detainees in its military commissions with crimes that were not even recognized as violations of the laws of war.