Saturday, July 16, 2005

General refuses to discipline guards

The LA Times reported Thursday that Army Major General Geoffrey Miller has refused to discipline the guards responsible for several incidents of prisoner abuse, including the ladies’ underwear episode.

Like I said: military discipline down the shithole.

Corrected Update: Actually, it was the good Major General's superior, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, who refused to discipline the former commander of interrogation at Gitmo, saying that he (Maj Gen Miller, a notorious torturer) hadn't violated any US policies or laws.

Actually, any way you slice it, nobody's getting disciplined except the two or three "bad apples," and they're just grunts, following orders.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The CIA is not amused

The outrageous act of Karl Rove’s exposure of a CIA officer has the blogosphere in a spin; the left, while abhorring the childishness of Rove’s underhandedness, is still confused about the legality of the situation, which is actually quite straightforward: it is illegal to identify an undercover CIA operative, period. This would include alleging a certain someone is a spy while chatting over cocktails with Drudge or giving up your case officer while your nails are being torn out by sweaty North Korean interrogators: same difference. But liberals generally will go out of their way to try and see the other guy’s side; it’s part of the philosophy of inclusiveness. It also makes them slow to anger.

The right, on the other hand, likes to start howling “Get the rope!” at the merest mention of unAmericanism. In the case of Rove, however, because he is one of them, it is suddenly OK to get all mushy and liberal-like and start making excuses: extenuating circumstances, situational ethics, relative morality, whatever. In other words, the conservatives are sounding just like liberals in their momma-like excuses for the step-child’s bad behavior. Hmm.

Speaking as a born-again liberal, I personally would like to see the guy slowly roasted over low heat. I say this as a person who has held a rather high security clearance in the service of my country. Imagine how I would feel if somebody that I worked for (i.e., was in my chain of command) started babbling over cocktails at the Russian embassy that a certain blogger was 1) a spy, 2) was holding the nuclear code books, 3) ran a spy ring, 4) is actually Martin Boorman under the Witness Protection Program?

What I’m getting at here is that this shit has no point. It’s ineffectual in terms of politics: all it did for Wilson was to make him hopping mad and to piss off the whole intelligence community. You think that blowing the cover of an active intelligence office is making friends in the community? “You want us to confirm what?” Har and fat chance. And forget about anybody telling Rove anything of value in the future, except maybe under duress and the threat of red-hot pokers.

And probably not even then. The CIA runs a pretty good anti-interrogation course at Langley, including getting laughed at while wearing a bra.

Larry Johnson, former CIA officer and associate of Valerie Plame explains "cover" and Joe Wilson's Niger fact-finding trip here .

Back to the torture question vs. military discipline

Speaking of bras, how about those clowns down in Gitmo forcing the fuzzy-wuzzies to parade around in women’s frillies? Is this torture or just more examples of “hijinks”?To this writer, it brings back memories of the time that I was a drill instructor at San Diego charged with the brainwashing of several hundred of America’s finest.

When I reported to recruit command, I was instructed that recruits were under the new regime of Admiral Zumwaldt, Secretary of the Navy, and could no longer be “maltreated,” and I signed a document swearing in effect that I would not mistreat those under my command. In other words, as a DI, I was not allowed to use biased words like “worm,” “douche-bag,” etc., and under no circumstances was I allowed to touch (“assault”) recruits without their permission (!), under threat of court-martial and brig time (I swear to God this is true).

This makes for some awkward moments, as much of your time is spent trying to control your temper as your recruits fuck up repeatedly in their inability to understand plain English or to differentiate between left and right. It makes it especially challenging in attempting to discipline the troops. This is where the fine line between discipline and torture comes in. One is forced to become very creative. No longer can we verbally abuse the lads, no longer can we march them into swamps with hundred-pound deadweights or use other time-tested disciplinary activities like cleaning the urinals with their tongues; no, we have to be very careful to not hurt their sensitivities and no physical abuse absolutely! Fortunately for everyone involved, I soon learned to sort out what comprised effective disciplinary action and plain vindictiveness without resorting to torture or even extraordinary embarassment (some measure of shame is instructive and too much is counterproductive).

Now, at that time (Vietnam) and to this day (Iraq), I was and remain very respectful of properly-constituted authority, but simultaneously remain properly aware (and wary) of the abuses of authority. Now, I volunteered to subject myself to military authority, in the full knowledge that in so doing I was relinquishing certain of my civil liberties, but none of my obligations. This includes not torturing persons under my control, be they recruits or prisoners of war, however one defines “war.” I am no expert on military codes for other military services, and for all I know the American UCMJ may be unique in its call for an objection to illegal orders, but American military authority under the UCMJ does provide for objection to illegal orders. In fact, it (the UCMJ) makes it obligatory to object to illegal orders.

(In an aside: in a slightly different context, some noted bloggers have referred to Department of Defense directives as the operative legal codes, but the fact of the matter is that the legal code for the military is embodied in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and is not a set of “directives;” it is the set of laws for America’s military and is absolute for the armed services under the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Paragraphs fourteenth and sixteenth).

Furthermore and for obvious reasons, the Uniform Code of Military Justice is written in English plain enough to be understood by even a high school dropout. It is crammed with phrases such as “shall not” and “punishable by death”, etc. Plain English and mostly common sense.

UCMJ 809.Article (20) makes it illegal to torture prisoners. I can see that in the heat of battle, it might temporarily be difficult to find the line between torture and hijinks, but after only a little experience, a soldier settles down and the line becomes pretty obvious. The goings-on at Gitmo and Abu Gharib and other places should have ended a long time ago, as Americans became familiar with their prisoners and in their positions as custodians of same. That this has not happened means several very serious things: the UCMJ is being violated and ignored, authority has broken down and the chain of command is being abused, both up and down the chain, and illegal orders are being given and not questioned, with the end result a cluster fuck of irresponsibility and anarchy, and military discipline getting tossed out the window. command has not taken responsibility and lesser ranks are being scapegoated as the occasional “bad seed.”

This throwing the enlisted ranks to the wolves has got to stop, as the breakdown in morale is going to have a terrible effect on all the military, not just the folks running the gulags. The relevant services’ Inspectors General need to get busy and clean this mess up, before more careers are short-circuited and more prisoners abused unnessarily.

PS: A pretty good discussion on the the issue of illegal orders can be found here.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Traitors in our midst

One of the headaches in maintaining a website like the one presently staring you in the face is not the lack of news to report, but rather the sorting through the overwhelming avalanche of shite that has been rolling down the mountainsides of this fair Republic since the Junta took office. One has barely sat down at the monitor and clicked on a few news sites to discover another flimflam, another lie uncovered, and more death. It just doesn't stop. And when we thought that BushCorp had run out of crap to pull on its fellow citizens, another monumental sleazoid pops out of the woodwork.

I refer, of course, to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Office of the Presidency of the United States.

That title has a certain ring to it, neh? Well, we might as well call its present holder by his actual title, Backstabber and Traitorous Shite, in the person of one Karl Rove, mutant genius and chief henchman of the President.

Certainly it's no news to many that Rove deliberately and maliciously "outed" an active CIA officer in retaliation for an anti-administration op-ed article that the officer's husband had written. This is, of course, highly illegal and the prep is eligible for a substantial fine and several years in a real jail, like Leavenworth (Technically speaking, I'm supposed to write "alleged" perp. Humph). That the perp, being who he is, will probably get off without a scratch is almost a foregone conclusion, and a sad commentary on the state of the nation. That this traitorous pig is a personal friend of the President and his Number 2 assistant should give anyone pause, but I doubt that it will for a vast swath of the American public, shell-shocked as they are with the sheer magnitude of this present government's criminality.

So, how do we get out of this mess? This morass of crime, shredded treaties, gulaged prisoners, rendered persons, and staggering debt that has everyone knocked loopy, fighting to gain a foothold to consider just what the fuck is going on. And even if they gain some insight to the truth, where are the exits? Hell, are there any exits?

The Democratic members of Congress have proven their spinelessness time and time again, so there's little hope there. Having said all that, there is this little matter of a Special Prosecutor.

Personally, I 'm hoping that Rove may have in fact shot this administration in its collective foot, and like the third-rate burglary that instigated the Watergate investigations and ended a previous imperial presidency, this little affair may be the beginning of the end of this collective nightmare.

posted by g randy primm, ace reporter

All a 'shore who's going a 'shore
In a related story, it seems that Ari Fleisher, former White House Press Secretary, abruptly quit his post the same day that Novak's syndicated column outing Plame (the CIA officer) went out over the wires. Within minutes of its hitting the wires, in fact. Could it be that the mouthpiece couldn't stand the lies and bullshit anymore, or was he just a prescient rat, abandoning ship before the shite hits the rotating thingies?

I'm looking forward to his memoirs.

posted by g randy primm, ace reporter

LA Times morphs into blog
The timing couldn't be better: just when many bloggers (including yours truly) are converting their formats to more upscale journals and e-zines, the LA Times has changed the title of its Sunday Opinion section to Current and has launched a blog of the same name.

In a spasm of confession, when they asked themselves why, the answer returneth, "It's time for a change."

We're still waiting
It's been 3 years and 303 days since Osama bin Laden's attack on the World Trade Center and he's still a free man.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

HTML struggles over

We’ve pretty much stopped fooling with the HTML and have settled back to enjoy the brighter, more expansive style of the new layout. Links have been added (judicious ones, I think) and some deleted (assholes, mainly) that are more in a Tone that I like to think is more, um, cultivated. All this was brought to mind in the redesign planning of Our Journal while cruising the net to refresh myself about some of the loonies out there, which brings me to my point: I spotted some remarks by Yglesias and others on the trend of so-called liberal bloggers (esp. the older, more established blogs, one might even call them the patriarchs of the blogosphere) to spin off yet more blogs, as liberal blogs seem to have more, ah, liberal policies on comments which in turn, inspires more people to publish more blogs. A good trend for all, I think.

The bad trend is this: this commenting does have the unfortunate result of opening the door to trolls and other low-life, who seemingly have a limited vocabulary of vitriol, but vitriol they have a-plenty. While I personally think that Michelle Malkin, for instance, is a severely brain-damaged woman, hateful of her own race (she’s of Asian descent) and an apologist for the fascist tendencies in our civilization, there is really no call for anyone to call her a whore who hasn’t actually paid her money for her alleged sexual perversions. But at the same time, she’s calling her trolls “liberals” for no good reason other than that they don’t seem to like her, as if loonies aren’t just looney, period.

Name-calling is fun, I’ll be the first to admit, but a little context is needed. We know that Michelle thinks that the incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent was a good thing during WWII, and anybody sharper than a beach ball could extend her logic to incarcerating Americans of Arab or Semitic descent today. Still, if in fact you have some vitriol that needs to be unleashed, tell it to your dog. Or better yet, your pet iguana. But to be fair, a satiric blog like Blame Bush is funny but harmless, while Powerline is pure spewing, and needs to be avoided like the plague that it is, lest the advertisers think their crap is okeydokey civilized discourse.

Truth be told, I like to leave little snarks on the loonier blogs I come across, if I feel it is necessary to give them a slap upside the head. But I also post a link to this here blog, so they don’t get the idea that I’m a stalker. Wack ‘em in the balls and leave your calling card, I say. So if you want to comment, comment. But name calling is just so recherche.

Having said all that, after I polish off this KC steak and that there baked potato, it’s back to business all too soon.