Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 07, 2005

The Meaning of Right

Back in October 2000 Bush said:

"We will ask not only what is legal, but what is right.

People implied that Bush did expressed a promise to act on a standard more narrow or more ethical than the law.

They were wrong.

What Bush really expressed could only be seen over time. He did and does what he feels to be right - regardless of the law. If the law does not fit to what he perceives to be right, it will have to be ignored, changed or discarded.

To torture is unlawful and unethical. But when Bush says "We do not torture." He really says: "Torture is something illegal. My ethics determine, that any method by which we interrogate prisoners is right. We have changed the laws accordingly. The interrogation methods are within the limits of those laws. Thereby, we do not torture."

You can clearly detect this Orwellian language in Bush's press conference today. It is followed by an excerpt from a New Yorker piece, also published today.

Q Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture. ...
President Bush Meets with President Torrijos of Panama , Nov. 7, 2005


A source familiar with the memo’s origins, who declined to speak on the record, said that it “was written as an immunity, a blank check.” In 2004, the “torture memo,” as it became known, was leaked, complicating the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be Attorney General; as White House counsel, Gonzales had approved the memo. The Administration subsequently revised the guidelines, using language that seemed more restrictive. But a little-noticed footnote protected the coercive methods permitted by the “torture memo,” stating that they did not violate the “standards set forth in this memorandum.”

The Bush Administration has resisted disclosing the contents of two Justice Department memos that established a detailed interrogation policy for the Pentagon and the C.I.A. A March, 2003, classified memo was “breathtaking,” the same source said. The document dismissed virtually all national and international laws regulating the treatment of prisoners, including war-crimes and assault statutes, and it was radical in its view that in wartime the President can fight enemies by whatever means he sees fit. According to the memo, Congress has no constitutional right to interfere with the President in his role as Commander-in-Chief, including making laws that limit the ways in which prisoners may be interrogated. Another classified Justice Department memo, issued in August, 2002, is said to authorize numerous “enhanced” interrogation techniques for the C.I.A. These two memos sanction such extreme measures that, even if the agency wanted to discipline or prosecute agents who stray beyond its own comfort level, the legal tools to do so may no longer exist.
Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner?, Jane Miller, The New Yorker, Nov. 7, 2005

Posted by b on November 7, 2005 at 18:28 UTC | Permalink


'Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner?'


Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 19:06 utc | 1

there is of course a little matter of the church committee which 'outlawed' extreme sanctions

perhaps it did for 24 hours

perhaps less

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 7 2005 19:16 utc | 2

More links:
WaPo: Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy
Newsweek: Cheney in the Bunker and Pssst ... Nobody Loves a Torturer

Col. Pat Lang Cheney and the "Tormenters" on his experience when discussing this with American people.

And it is not only Cheney, it is Bush. His full answer in his press conference today was a clear defense of Cheney's attempts to have Congress legalize torture.

Posted by: b | Nov 7 2005 19:31 utc | 3

Simply a matter of a presidential finding (classified or not)... and when the ops are black without Congressional oversight, even by the Intelligence Subcommittee ?

I could start listing and linking the publicly known cases of deaths in Agency, not Military, custody ... nothing has changed ... in fact its gotten much worse than the 'old days' ... more blatant, direct and contemptuous ...

"They tell us they're teaching Democracy. We say 'How do you teach democracy through the barrel of a GUN ?"
- F. Roy Bourgeois

CIA Death Squad Timeline
by Ralph McGehee

CIA set up Ansesal and other networks of terror in El Salvador, Guatemala (Ansegat) and pre-Sandinista Nicaragua (Ansenic). The CIA created, structured and trained secret police in South Korea, Iran, Chile and Uruguay, and elsewhere - organizations responsible for untold thousands of tortures, disappearances, and deaths. Spark, 4/1985, pp. 2-4

1953-94 Sponsorship by CIA of death squad activity covered in summary form. Notes that in Haiti CIA admitted Lt. General Raoul Cedras and other high-ranking officials "were" on its payroll and are helping organize violent repression in Haiti. Luis Moreno, an employee of State Department, has bragged he helped Colombian army create a database of subversives, terrorists and drug dealers." His superior in overseeing INS for Southeastern U.S., is Gunther Wagner, former Nazi soldier and a key member of now-defunct Office of Public Safety (OPS), an AID project which helped train counterinsurgents and terrorism in dozens of countries. Wagner worked in Vietnam as part of Operation Phoenix and in Nicaragua where he helped train National Guard. Article also details massacres in Indonesia. Haiti Information, 4/23/1994, pp. 3,4

CIA personnel requested transfers 1960-7 in protest of CIA officer Nestor Sanchez's working so closely with death squads. Marshall, J., Scott P.D., and Hunter, J. (1987). The Iran-Contra Connection, p. 294

CIA. 1994. Mary McGrory op-ed, "Clinton's CIA Chance." Excoriates CIA over Aldrich Ames, support for right-wing killers in El Salvador, Nicaraguan Contras and Haiti's FRAPH and Cedras. Washington Post, 10/16/1994, C1,2 ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 19:31 utc | 4

Flashback to 2003 ...

They will do what is needed to get the information - and fast

At Bagram, where the White House argues that al-Qa’eda prisoners are "unlawful combatants" and thus not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention, the CIA has carte blanche to employ the "stress and duress" techniques that it has honed since the Vietnam war.

On Friday it was revealed that two al-Qa'eda prisoners at Bagram died as a result of ill treatment. Post-mortem examinations showed that they had been beaten with blunt instruments and their deaths were classified as homicides.

As one informed CIA official puts it: "Let’s just say we are not averse to a little smacky face. After all, if you don’t violate a prisoner’s human rights some of the time then you aren’t doing your job."

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 20:00 utc | 5

Maybe that's with a captial 'R'?

Posted by: aschweig | Nov 7 2005 20:09 utc | 6


truly a timeline of terror

knowing all that - knowing it well - but when you see that list again in all its cold & sourced splendour - you want to throw up

that behind every bit of managed diplomacy exist these forms of applied terror

& it goes on & on

when the church committee met i was deluded enough to believe that it was possible that these forms of murderous actions would stop -

that as pat lang says & our own pat here at MOA for that matter - that it does not lead to real information & that it is always counterproductive - yet it still goes on

we know that to be true in iraq - the assassinations of intellectuals for example are clearly not the work of the resistance - they are the work of death squads - & their standard operating procedure - we have witnesed before & know from hearings like the church committee

today i would be completely surprised if certain parts of the 'resistance' aren't comprimised or are working directly for occupation

the history, the evidence & the facts are there to tell us that this is not only possible - it is probable

when you think of a man like negroponte who has presided over so much blood - how does he sleep at night - the most worrying part of their pathology is that they most probably slep better than we do

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 7 2005 20:12 utc | 7

Yes, all is 'right' w/the "profit jehad". The counter-reformation is somewhat interesting in light of recent developments that the Vatican rejects intelligent design . Perhaps, C+ Agustus (i.e.JR.)thinks his mission as thee last great crusade for civilisation. Of course, as another wrote:

"The goal of "Intelligent Design" is to fabricate a belief system that allows one collective to claim the right of dominion. "Intelligent Design" denies our shared matriarch, "Granny" Mitochondrial Eve, thus denying our shared humanity. Instead, “Intelligent Design” would allow a certain stock of white to claim supremacy because they were designed different than the black or brown man and that their history of technological innovation is [not only] proof of of intelligent design, but also their right to claim dominion."

"Intelligent Design" is a dominion heresy.

Further, It’s an acceptably packaged form of racism: The white man is best is because god intended it to be that way. It’s the Evangelical form of Kabbalah!

I have seen images from Afghanistan. Women and men in Afghanistan can nuture their children on fields of alpine stone. I think it time we considered the criterea for assessing succesful cultures. Who would you hang with should things get tough - they guy that will starve to death if the electricity is off for 2 days or develop a neurosis because his HDTV ain't working, or the guy that can feed and educate his children off a field of stone or the hot sands of Iraq.

The neat thing about “Intelligent Design” is that it can also be used to enforce a whole host of messianic claims and privileges. God’s intention usurps the rule of law.

It's beautiful - but even a simple man can see the sense of Darwin verses the nonsense of racism.

"Now at midnight all the agents, and the superhuman crew, Come out and round up everyone that no more than they do" - Bob Dylan

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 7 2005 20:31 utc | 8

from : “Cheney in the Bunker “

...Normally taciturn, Cheney was uncharacteristically impassioned, according to two GOP senators who did not want to be on the record about a private meeting. He was very upset over the Senate's overwhelming passage of an amendment that prohibits inhumane treatment of terrorist detainees. Cheney said the law would tie the president's hands and end up costing "thousands of lives." He dramatized the point, conjuring up a scenario in which a captured Qaeda operative, another Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, refuses to give his interrogators details about an imminent attack. "We have to be able to do what is necessary," the vice president said, according to one of the senators who was present. The lawmakers listened, but they weren't moved to act....

The VP is a man of his word, right? If he says it is so, I expect we will see the evidence to support his words soon after the Congress acts against his will.

The VP seems to be totally without heart and his actions support this claim.

Look out innocent American civilians.

Posted by: Juannie | Nov 7 2005 20:32 utc | 9

'Right' is what the Right feels is right. And if not legal, they quickly make it legal. 'But Daddy, why?' 'Because I said so!'

I found it credible when FBI agents opined that torture does necessarily yield useful information. Therefore we are doing this to frighten, to send a message; therefore we are practicing terrorism, therefore we are terrorists.

What are Cheney et al getting out of this? Not information, not a reduction of numbers of 'the enemy', not even a lessening of violence against us - it must be a power thing.

Posted by: dus7 | Nov 7 2005 20:35 utc | 10

Recall Ron Suskind's reporting in the NYT Magazine -- "Without a Doubt" -- quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

From which Justin Raimondo concludes:

They aren't lying – they're creating "new realities."

See also: Noble lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the neo-cons, and Iraq

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Rove, and others -- they're all ardent spawn of the neoconservative, Strauss-meets-Machiavelli "noble lie" school of governance.

Posted by: manonfyre | Nov 7 2005 20:43 utc | 11

Anyone remember Army Spc. Sabrina Harman was sentenced for 6 months prison re the Abu Ghraib photo's events, including the 'thumbs up' photo of the dead Iraqi packed in ice ... yes, the 'disappeared' Iraqi who was illegally NOT documented/recorded as a prisoner upon delivery by special forces (a Ghost Detainee)... denied medical treatment and subsequently beaten to death within his hood by the agencies interrogators ... his corpse then concealed on ice for 24 hours and escorted out with false catheter and intravenous drip to an ambulance for 'disappearance' of the body ...

In spite of all the intervening Military investigations and trials no one has yet been charged in relation to those events other than Harmans appearance in the trophy photo ...

More than a year later and the Agencies Inspector General has yet to finish his investigation since the Abu Ghraib photo's were made public and no action has been evidenced against the congressional testimony re 'Ghost Detainee's' ... No one has been charged ... whilst Prez Bush called the Amnesty International Human Rights report in June, 'absurd' (re an American Gulag) ...

Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy pointed out that for a long time, officials in Washington have been dismissive of the human rights pretensions of regimes that clearly are human rights violators, while much of what Washington does to violate human rights is "coated with a veneer of righteousness".

A multi-track monologue discourse from Washington -- in tandem with tremendous economic, political, diplomatic and military power -- can be bought to bear on the United Nations, he said.

"A superpower that is striving to remake the 60-year-old world body in its own image can hardly be expected to submit to institutional scrutiny of its actual human rights record. The self-designated role of Uncle Sam at the United Nations is to preach and teach without reflecting or learning," he argued.

A harsh truth is that a pronounced form of jingoism is at the core of the Bush administrations approach to the United Nations, Solomon added.

"Human rights violations come in many shapes, styles and sizes. The United States, like many other countries, has a government well-practiced at dodging accountability and proclaiming its own virtues," he said.

"But the U.S. Record, as assessed by independent organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, is reprehensible," Solomon noted.

Yep, the Prez says it's A-OK to:

torture, such as rape/sodomy, electrocution, beatings (occasionally resulting in 'accidental death), shackling, managed asphyxiation, controlled drowning, savaging by dogs, sensory deprivation, extended hooding, sleep deprivation, faked executions, denial of food, water & clothing, extremes of heat and cold, and infrequent 'accidental' death under interrogation.

We no longer live in a Democracy because the State and its agents are demonstrably above the Rule of Law ... by imperial presidential decree ... the FuhrerPrinzip and the Fuhrer Directive ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 21:05 utc | 12

I have a over wordy unpublished rant somewhere on this issue of the 'ticking bomb' that Cheney and his fellow psychopaths drag out to defend their excesses on subject non-white populations. (everyone stop for a minute and consider how the sheeple would feel about these techniques being used routinely on a German or even a Russian population)

Anyway in a nutshell if someone from a NYPD uniform to Joe Public did get excessive with a person who had information that prevented innocent deaths (NB I mean directly prevented by disarming a thermonuclear device or somesuch not the theoretical defense of freedom bullshit that Cheney and co would trot out if the CIA's right to torture were actually legislated), it is just about inconceivable that reasonable people would let an over zealous publicity seeking lawyer such as Gonzales persecute/ prosecute the miscreant.

Further most normal people would be more than willing to take that risk. If they weighed the deaths of thousands against major negative changes to their own existence, they would still come out in favour of getting the information. I would like to think I would and I'm sure I'm not Robinson Crusoe on that.

The only people who would feel the need for legislation to protect them are the same sort of self obssessed careerist assholes who would pros/persecute someone for doing it. Lets face it the chances of one of those types being at the pointy end of a terrorist situation are slim to none.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 7 2005 21:17 utc | 13

Well, this is not right - or legal.

U.S. Used Chemical Weapons In Iraq

Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us.

Shocking revelation RAI News 24.

White phosphorous used on the civilian populace: This is how the US "took" Fallujah. New napalm formula also used.


Posted by: DM | Nov 7 2005 21:24 utc | 14

You missed something else, B ...

We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice.

By looking at how Bush and his Administration thinks, we get a glimpse at how he and his fedayeen percieve not just reality but also how they percieve the law, how they perceieve fairness, and justice. Your post covers all these angles except the fairness and justice part. When combined with your accurate reasoning, that line I quoted above tells us all we need to know what exactly does Bush mean by "justice" ... and it's basically this: "These evildoers killed 3,000 people on 9/11. Since my Bible and my God says 'Reap what you sow' and 'If thou shed blood thou blood shalt be shed', I'm going to follow the laws of my God instead of the laws of this country because God's Law trumps our man-made laws. At least, it should ... and it would be a sin for me to wait for Washington DC to come to grips with that and change our made-man laws to something more in line with God. Therefore, I must ignore the Constitution, Geneva Conventions, etc. because I fear falling the into the hand of the Almighty God moreso than the hands of the tax-payers and, as a result, our torturing of these wicked, evil people is not really torture -- it's justice! My God said so thus is must be right!"

Rightwing Christian Fundamentalists have more in common with the bloodthirsty, warmongering, vengeful God of the OT than the calmer, more gentle, more peaceful God of the NT, just like the Roman Empire and Hitler's motley crue before them. They're evil and wickedness is no different than Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

Birds of a feather ...

Posted by: Sizemore | Nov 7 2005 21:29 utc | 15

@Debs is Dead
It's a fallacious argument. The end never justifies the means.

Pat Lang's article is definitely worth reading. Our own Pat and myself have posted on this numerous times.

Pat Lang's vague reference to releasing the 'dark ones' is germain to what I've unsuccessfully(?) tried to convey previously ... such as would do the deed re Cheney/Bush policy must be kept in check or the corruption becomes a systemic cancer, the true cost is on many levels ... I've been there ... and believe me, you do not give certain people, 'free reign' ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 21:29 utc | 16


whatever happened in fallujah is too terrible to contemplate - but we must because it is continuing today on the border of syria.

it is absoltely clear that the occupation forces are using means that are not being discusses - in this i am curious why the italian journalist sregna has remained extremely quiet. as is noted here she was working on that story & either she has been frightend into silence which was how she alluded to it in the first interviews after being 'freed'

the methods tha are being used against th people of iraq - go far beyond illegality & we are getting to see a landscape of atrocity, daily atrocity. & the atrocity far from silencing the resistance des the opposite & populates it. there could be no greater recruiter

fear - is something - only we in the west allow ourselves to become victims of

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 7 2005 21:36 utc | 17

Re the Mk77, white phosphorus, relevant treaties and the Laws of War, checkout these previous posts (Raw Source and references):

Mk77 Mod 5


Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW)
The relevant section is Protocol III: Incendiary Weapons

The Laws of War and relevant conventions & references

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 21:50 utc | 18

I've been there ...

You've made several comments along these lines... care to be more specific?

Posted by: Brix | Nov 7 2005 22:20 utc | 19

I'm not suggesting anyone be given free rein quite the reverse. What I am saying is that were a genuine ticking bomb situation ever to arise (which is doubtful) the actors in this dreadful scene would be making their decisions on the basis of what is happening not worrying about 'rules'.

As soon as rules are made to allow excesses the door is open for unnecessary, un regulated and unwanted (by any reasonable person whose name this is being done in) torture.

The only other way I can say it is like the abortion or euthenasia debates, attempts to codify behaviour will fail and be counterproductive simply because it is impossible to legislate for every possible situation.

Nobody should get free rein on this shit ever.

If the state stays out of abortion apart from ensuring procedures are safe and available there is every chance that the people on the ground involved in the situation will make a better decision than one imposed on them by legislation. They will make bad decisions from time to time too but there is no perfect system.

Conversely with euthanesia if the state gets involved in that debate at any level the consequences would be disastrous. For example how long would it be in the US before HMO's started pressuring the health system to increase euthenasians?

The same would happen under a tightly budgeted state funded health system so the best solution is not perfect but it works in the majority of cases.

That is all killing is rightly illegal but sometimes a doctor might choose to end someone's pain.

I realise that there are plenty of times when those doctors who have issues with power and control won't co-operate so there is still unecessary pain. However if doctor's could off a patient on request the problem would become worse in that people who weren't ready willing and able to die would be 'switched off' by doctors who have issues with power and control.

From this we conclude the problem is not with the law but with the participants which is exactly why sensible people put a lot of effort into making sure they find a medico who suits them.

Similarly this is one of a myriad of reasons why a community has to put a lot of effort into selecting and training it's law enforcement officials.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 7 2005 22:33 utc | 20


Interrogation morphing into Torture. It's been my experience that certain personality types obtain a form of pseudo-sexual pleasure from progressively extreme methods, especially where they are able to obtain unsupervised 'absolute' control over other human beings, i.e. subjects. For these types it becomes progressively more addictive and extreme over time and in their view easy to rationalize their actions based on the needs of the 'Mission'.

These types are also likely to take the opportunity to manipulate/suborn others, if the opportunity presents.

Only effective, disciplined leadership command by moral and principled individuals can detect and prevent this.

Understanding Interrogation, Torture, Guantanamo, the 'Gloves Off' Policy

What's Gitmo really for ?

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 7 2005 23:40 utc | 21

Video link to the RAI report on Fallujah referenced above.

Posted by: mats | Nov 7 2005 23:42 utc | 22

Here is the bittorent hash #:
if anyone is interested in downloading the RAI report on Fallujah that mat speaks of. It saves bandwidth on their servers.

Information: any difference that makes a difference!
the public trust of the Merican Stasi has been broken.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 8 2005 0:42 utc | 23

the rai report is both shocking & credible

i don't know what outraged or pat thinks but i find the young soldier a credible & reliable witness

for those who criticise the 'methods' of the resistance without acknowledging such atrocites carried out by the occupiers is absolutely immoral & intellectually dishonest

no one celebrates death as if that is only binary opppositions are allowed. to oppose this form of atrocity is not to accept in its entirety the way the resistance is fought

it is for the people of iraq to make those kind of decisions on the ground & for us it is increasingly difficult to know who is responsible for a whole manner of actions

the kidnapping of sgrena from the evidence of this film would be that she was not held by the resistance but acomplices of the occupation, the death squads roam iraq & it is far from certain who & what are controlling them

the occupation has continued a dirty war & hould not be surprised that we can imagine them committing the worst of crime

this rai report is a confirmation of one of those crimes

thank you mats & uncle for making it available here

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 8 2005 2:45 utc | 24

@Uncle thanks for the bittorrent link I have to admit though my ability to watch much of it is doubtful. I'm writing this after watching about 25% of it. Much more at the moment and I'll feel angry (which is to be expected) but also I will probably start to feel powerless to do much which is not a place I want to be.

For me new information is essential and that is a great service you provide for all of us Uncle. Your skill in finding this stuff and posting it is outstanding.

6.00pm news is on here. The critically injured bloke who was shot during the Sydney 'terrarist' oops sorry anti-terrarist raids had the gall to be wearing a backpack. The cheek of the bloke!

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 8 2005 5:09 utc | 25

Background and overview, potted history/usage (incomplete, somewhat sanitized). References and relevant links from

Incendiary Weapons

At ordinary temperatures, white phosphorus (WP) is a solid which can be handled safely under water. When dry, it burns fiercely in air, producing a dense white smoke. Fragments of melted particles of the burning substance may become embedded in the skin of persons close to a bursting projectile, producing burns which are multiple, deep and variable in size. The fragments continue to burn unless oxygen is excluded by flooding or smothering.

According to an analysis by the US Department of Defense's office for Arms Control Implementation and Compliance, "incendiary weapons have significant potential military value, particularly with respect to certain high-priority military targets. Incendiaries are the only weapons which can effectively destroy certain counter-proliferation targets such as biological weapons facilities which require high heat to eliminate bio-toxins. To use only high explosives would risk the widespread release of dangerous contaminants with potentially disastrous consequences for the civilian population. Certain flammable military targets are also more readily destroyed by incendiaries. For example, a fuel depot could require up to eight times the bombs and sorties to destroy using only high explosives rather than incendiaries. Such an increase means a significantly greater humanitarian risk of collateral damage. The United States must retain its ability to employ incendiaries to hold high-high priority military targets such as these at risk in a manner consistent with the principle of proportionality which governs the use of all weapons under existing law."

Compared to previous incendiary weapons, napalm spread further, stuck to the target, burned longer, and was safer to its dispenser because it was dropped and detonated far below the airplane. It was also cheap to manufacture.

Modern day napalm uses no Napalm (naphthalene or palmitate) -- instead using a mixture of polystyrene, gasoline and benzene]. The official Department of Defense definition of napalm is "1. Powdered aluminum soap or similar compound used to gelatinize oil or gasoline for use in napalm bombs or flame throwers. 2. The resultant gelatinized substance." Modern napalm is typically a mixture of benzene (21%), gasoline (33%), and polystyrene (46%). Benzene is a normal component of gasoline (about 2%), while the gasoline used in napalm is the same leaded or unleaded gas that is used in automobiles.

There was a report on Al-Jazeera on December, 14, 2001 that the US was using napalm at Tora Bora in Afghanistan. In response, General Tommy Franks said "We're not using -- we're not using the old napalm in Tora Bora."

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 8 2005 12:00 utc | 26

The neo cons are attempting to effect a cultural change: to make torture acceptable. Bush does not have Saddam’s power, so some social agreement must be crafted. The aim is:

1) To give more power to agents of the State, let them act with impunity.

2) To use the general threat of torture to increase fear and self-control in a population.

3) To demean and stigmatise Muslims and Arabs.

This is often over-looked. Creating powerless victims, that is, a community that cannot defend its members from the gravest human rights violations enhances prejudice. It is the reverse engineering of prejudice and hate. Soldiers are on the front line here. If they cannot abuse their prisoners they may come to consider them to be humans just like them, poor buggers in a bad situation.

Gitmo has a similar function, but for the US public. It serves de de-sensitize Joe BBQ to harsh and inhuman treatment and the hints of torture. Once the hints are accepted as having a hypothetical existence - enter the discourse - it becomes necessary, it appears, to fix ‘limits’ (e.g. sleep deprivation OK, as everyone has had sleepness nights..). The Authorities dont care about the limits (they know that there are none), only want them discussed. The little moral conumdrums about ticking bombs fulfill the same function, even if intelligent discussion can take place, as for all such puzzles (see above) the trick here is to assimilate the situation to a very common human norm - that is, to sacrifice one or a few, for the good of the many, such as in a highly dangerous sortie for 3 soldiers which potentially might save the whole platoon. I need not point out the important differences in the situations, but will add that the trick works because that metaphor puts all the protagonists or actors on the same level: disembodied epistemic humans; that is very confortable, appealing, and can wipe out morality and law. Lastly, the puzzle harks back to the prevention of 9/11 by the simple method of ‘catching terrorists’, and so reinforces that scenario as well.

The emblematic figure of the Abu Ghraib torture victim is very telling. He is standing, therefore healthy, whole. There is no blood, no visible damage, he is not a smashed dislocated, tumefied, marionette. Moreover, he is menacing; he looks weird, evil, nasty. He is hooded - hidden, under cover, anonymous. His silhouette resembles that of a witch, or wizard, or a Ku-Kluxer, a comic book monster. He is scary ..and if he is so horrible it is his fault, as his image instills mild fear and repulsion.

(Getting a bit long here, bit of a ramble...) I have seen people turn away in fear from that image (to be precise, they were American teenagers) : the conflicting sentiments evoked were too much. Some found him scary and said ‘he will give me bad dreams’ (say), others assimilated the image to what is painful but somehow ordered or necessary. One girl said it was yucky, just like the frogs you have to cut up in biology, or pictures of operations. At least here, some awareness of damage done was present; but the damage done is for someone else’s good - the student who must learn, the patient who can recover.

Posted by: Noisette | Nov 8 2005 14:20 utc | 27

From The Interrogators, Inside the War Against Al Qaeda, by Chris Mackey and Greg Miller:

"Our civilian intelligence services, always inclined to take a coldly analytical approach, concluded decades ago that threatening to inflict pain produced much more anxiety in prisoners than pain itself. 'Most people underestimate their capacity to withstand pain,' reads a passage from a 1983 CIA interrogation manual released under the Freedom of Information Act. 'Sustained long enough, a strong fear of anything vague or unknown induces regression. Materialization of the fear is likely to come as a relief. The subject finds that he can hold out, and his resistance is strengthened.' The manual goes on to describe multiple ways of inducing anxiety: exposing prisoners to extreme heat or cold; forcing them to hold stress positions for hours on end; depriving them of any sensory stimuli. Disclosure of the document in 1997 caused an uproar, but the government said it had repudiated techniques of mental torture and coercion in 1985. Since September 11, U.S. intelligence services continued to insist that they did not engage in torture, although some officials have acknowledged that techniques including sleep deprivation and refusing to provide pain medication to wounded detainees are again consisered fair practice."

Another coldy analytical observation: Pain - as well as, depending on their source and degree - fear and anxiety, mask other 'signals' and body language that are of vital importance to the interrogator and the mission.

In this war, in so many ways and on so many levels, we've seemed doomded to recommit the very same crimes, errors, and absolute follies once recognized as such. As if we had no memory. As if the very mechanism of memory had broken down and all was new under the sun.

Posted by: Pat | Nov 8 2005 16:35 utc | 28

From cannonfire

By now, I'm sure that you've heard the news: Before war broke out in Iraq, Al Qaeda's Ibn-Sheikh al-Libi was seized in Pakistan, flown to Egypt, and tortured until he "confessed" that Saddam and Osama were working together. This bogus "confession" played a key role in the administration's case for war.

I have no doubt that the Powers-That-Be knew full well that the information had no validity.

This episode is, of course, no laughing matter -- yet it reminds me of a grim joke, one of the few jokes ever concocted about the spy trade. This one goes back to the Cold War days...

The heads of the CIA, the KGB and Mossad go hunting. They engage in a contest: Which of the three can enter the forest and bag a bear in the shortest time?

The CIA chief goes first. He calls for satellite recon. Bear-like imagery is analyzed in Maryland. The famed Unit 566, a paramilitary team specializing in bear-related covert operations, is dispatched to the forest. Using night-vision goggles, they track the beast down. Using highly sophisticated ultra-sound devices, they incapacitate the animal and deliver him to the three spy chiefs. "Operation Bruin" takes a mere six hours. (After the bear receives a memory wipe, he is allowed back into the forest.)

The KGB chief goes next. Lacking sophisticated technology, he simply shoots anything that moves. Then he starts lobbing explosives. Soon, he has blown up half the forest. Finally, he returns to camp, proudly displaying a smoldering bear carcass. The whole excusion lasts a mere three hours.

The Mossad chief goes next. He disappears into the forest -- and returns twenty minutes later. In one hand, he carries a rabbit -- a terribly bruised and beaten rabbit.

"He confessed!" announces the Mossad head. "He IS a bear."

So what modern lesson do we draw from this joke? Perhaps this: The neocons have replaced our high-tech espionage apparat with something that is starting to look a lot like Mossad.

Posted by: beq | Nov 8 2005 18:13 utc | 29

Read how McClellan is getting squeezed on the matter here.

First he doesn´t want to answer, then he says it's all "within the laws" then he comes up with "these are dangerous people" and "the Americans understand" and as last resource "that`s a security matter and we don´t talk about these".

So we know, if didn't before, Bush didn´t missspeak. It's the official tag line now.

Posted by: b | Nov 8 2005 21:55 utc | 30

Although I have respect for Juan Cole, I am again disillusioned with the value of academics and self-appointed intellectuals in general (including most people here).

Yes, by all means, let’s focus on exactitude. Let’s put “chemical weapons” in quotation marks in case there is some argument about the definition. Let’s be careful to point out that there are ‘allegations’ that these weapons were used indiscriminately and against civilian populations (hey, you never know, someone might determine that a 10 year old girl is not technically a civilian). And let’s be very careful about stating exactly which weapons conventions have actually been ratified by US law (hey, this might all be quite legal after all). And let’s ameliorate the whole thing by pointing out that this is “not a new thing” (hey, nothing earth-shattering here, let’s move along).

Yes, we know about Bomber Harris, we know the British were bastards, but exactly what does all this erudition achieve?

I’m just getting a little bit sick of the excuses by Americans, the intellectualizing of barbarism, the ‘lessons’ – “the military occupation of a conquered population is a barbaric business and can easily draw the colonizer into the use of horrific means to control the rebellious occupied”.

This is NOT an ad hominem directed at Professor Cole.

He shares everyone’s outrage ..

The country that began by forbidding cruel and unusual punishment is ending by formally authorizing torture on a grand scale, and by burning small town Iraqis down to the bone with white phosphorus.

.. but I think by now we all understand that this is something that does not need to be ‘intellectualized’. We don’t really need to debate the legality of weapons conventions or if some convention has or has not been ratified.

I think we all understand that ‘legality’ is just whatever the powerful say it is, and that the current crop of American power-mad lunatics will continue along this path of cruelty and destruction and insanity as long as they are able to continue.

And they will continue. Who’s gonna stop them? Who’s army?


@outraged. I agree with everything you post. You are outraged. We should all be outraged.

@pat. If any of your US Army types were worth a pinch of shit, Rumsfeld and the gang of criminals would have been arrested.

Posted by: DM | Nov 8 2005 22:45 utc | 31

Bush’s Syrian Mass Murder Campaign Inches Forward

Nothing will stop these criminals from realizing their diabolical plans for total war—except maybe a few million outraged Americans marching on Washington with plenty of tar and feathers.

Short of that, we will simply have to sit back and endure the inevitable.

Exactly. Slow motion train-wreck. Think I'll take a hike.

Posted by: DM | Nov 9 2005 1:03 utc | 32

Report Warned on C.I.A.'s Tactics in Interrogation

A classified report issued last year by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general warned that interrogation procedures approved by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks might violate some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture, current and former intelligence officials say.

The previously undisclosed findings from the report, which was completed in the spring of 2004, reflected deep unease within the C.I.A. about the interrogation procedures, the officials said. A list of 10 techniques authorized early in 2002 for use against terror suspects included one known as waterboarding, and went well beyond those authorized by the military for use on prisoners of war.
The report, by John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A.'s inspector general, did not conclude that the techniques constituted torture, which is also prohibited under American law, the officials said. But Mr. Helgerson did find, the officials said, that the techniques appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the convention.
The list of 10 techniques, including feigned drowning, was secretly drawn up in early 2002 by a team that included senior C.I.A. officials who solicited recommendations from foreign governments and from agency psychologists, the officials said. They said officials from the Justice Department and the National Security Council, which is part of the White House, were involved in the process.

Among the few known documents that address interrogation procedures and that have been made public is an August 2002 legal opinion by the Justice Department, which said that interrogation methods just short of those that might cause pain comparable to "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death" could be allowable without being considered torture. The administration disavowed that classified legal opinion in the summer of 2004 after it was publicly disclosed.

A new opinion made public in December 2004 and, signed by James B. Comey, then the deputy attorney general, explicitly rejected torture and adopted more restrictive standards to define it. But a cryptic footnote to the new document about the "treatment of detainees" referred to what the officials said were other still-classified opinions. Officials have said that the footnote meant that coercive techniques approved by the Justice Department under the looser interpretation of the torture statutes were still lawful even under the new, more restrictive standards.

the techniques appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the convention. They appear to - can't that reporter write what they are?

Posted by: b | Nov 9 2005 7:12 utc | 33


You are right. Images like the hooded figure may disturb the intellectuals who write for the New York Review of Books, but the Bush administration doesn't care what a few "liberals" may think. The image plays out very well with their base, reinforcing the otherness of the victims. That those images may generate outrage, only increases the emotional intensity around this issue, further reinforcing the acceptance of torture with the 45% of the American public who literally cannot think critically. The MSM then "slice and dice" the truth, by telling partial truths, or decontextualized truths, or playing up general fears, like using the ticking bomb conundrum (first evinced by Alan Dershowitz about two days after 9-11), bringing along another 20 - 40% of the population. That is enough to "normalize" the administration's actions with the public.

On another thread, someone was listing all of the scandals, and lies that the Bushites have endured in the past 5 years, without taking a hit in popularity, until Katrina and rising oil prices. While I don't want to comment about the thesis specifically, it did get me thinking about the machinations of the MSM. Only a small percentage of the population (20% at most) have developed enough critical thinking ability under our didactic educational system to engage in fact-based arguments--and even then, we all know how facts can be spun many ways.

The MSM engages the rest of the population. Books like John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" point out that it is only in the last five hundred years, since the invention of the printing press, that mankind has been bombarded with images. Befor that, everything one saw was real, that is, the actual item, rather than the symbol of the item--with the exception of a few time consuming works of art, mostly of religious import: pictures, sculptures and stained glass. And even then, the religious content of the images should key us in to the pervasive psychological effect that they have upon the subsonscious. I, along with Madison Avenue, am sure that we have not evolved enough to be able to completely distinguish between image and reality on a psychological level.

We all know that the pupose of advertising is to create desire. The purpose of news and political coverage in the MSM is only slightly more complex: to manipulate opinion by generating emotion. The emotion generated then reinforces, or shall we say imprints, the opinion or belief that is created. The specific emotions can span the gamut, and there are numerous techniques used to generate this emotion.

Next, it is important to understand how information disseminates through society. This is a big topic, largely beyond the scope of this brief argument, but a few questions should be asked. How do people distinguish between fact, lie and myth? What does it mean for something to be "known" in society? Is there a difference between something that is known by 1% of the population, for instance, and 50%? What is the effect of somthing that is "known" by 40% of the population, while the complete opposite is "known" by another 40%. Many more questions can be asked. By putting the word "known" in quotes, I am implying a non-standard definition, that is: known and accepted as truth by a critical mass of people. In our society, information is not "known" when an article appears once or even fifteen times. For information to actually be "known" and accepted requires hundreds or thousands of repetions over a minimum of several days to a week. Everyone in America remembers the "Dean Scream." Very few know that it was completely manufactured.

In respect to this thread, I would like to look at two techniques employed by the MSM, and their propaganda functions. The first technique is "the slow leak". This is the technique employed with the hooded torture victim, or the news of the use of white phosphorus and napalm in last year's assalt on Falluja. In "the slow leak" news comes out slowly, maybe starting with a paragraph on page A26, then later a story, then another, etc. The rate can be modulated as needed. One function of the slow leak is to reaffirm faith in the openness of our media system, "See, the news wasn't hidden. This is a Democracy. It's just that no one else picked it up." This is the reverse of the "Few Bad Apples" argument-the "Few Good Apples" argument. And, of course, it brings up the question again of when information is actually "known."

But a second, more important function of the "Slow Leak" is to acculturate, habituate and inure us; that is, to get us used to and accepting of potentially problematic information. The image of the hooded torture victim, or the news of the use of white phosphorus and napalm pervades the public's consciousness slowly, like perked coffee. At the same time, the "Talking Heads" interpret this information for us: Should we feel indignance, shame, pride--indeed, should we feel anything at all about this image. If the public is having a hard time with some news, slow down the images and increase the Talking Heads. Once they catch on, you can practically dispense with the Talking Heads and ramp up the images, like cranking up an old time Cineascope; after all they know how to interpret them. So, in general, we see that the "Slow Leak" technique is used to engender public acceptance. In general, it has a calming and accepting influence on public opinion. It soothes emotion.

The opposite of this technique is the "Barrage." The "Barrage" is to the MSM what full utilization is to factories. It is a relentless 24/7 echoing of a fact or a meme, or ideally, the marriage of the two: The image and how one should interpret it conjoined seemlessly as one. so united, one cannot see the image without the frame, that is, the emotional framing that the MSM wants us to associate with the image. This is the technique employed in the "Dean Scream", when the short video clip with the artificially enhanced sound was played over one thousand times in just four days. The average person saw and heard the image five times a day, even not watching TV at home--at the pizza parlor, in the mall, on the radio, at work. Again, this is the same technique used to sell the war against Iraq. The constant repetition of memes: Mentioning Iraq and 9-11 in the same sentence, using the phrase "mushroom cloud", all the fudged evidence, letting Joe Q. Public in on technical jargon with the term "Yellow Cake", yadda, yadda, yadda. We received the "Barrage" constantly, only broken by the Talking Heads affirming the evidence. A refinement of this was the way Bush used the Talking Heads. They, along the Rices, Cheneys, and Rummys, etc., were as grim as possible, sowing as much fear as possible. That allowed Bush to play the corresponding tune: Hope, Freedom, Democracy, thus appearing more likeable, magnanimous, and above the fray. And it threw even more weight behind his adoption of the apocalyptic tone in his State of the Union address. We can see that the "Barrage" has the opposite effect of the "Slow Leak": It heightens emotion. It plays on the public's emotions, even to the point of creating a self-perpetuating cycle of fear or anger. Remember the panic produced right after 9-11 over "dirty bombs"? No one had ever heard about "dirty bombs" and suddenly people were having nightmares, selling their houses, etc. All part of the lead-up to war. Whatever happened to dirty bombs, were protective measures taken, was the threat addressed, did the threat dematerialize? Or did its function in the propaganda system dissappear, and the need to generate emotion evaporate without a trace?

Anyway, those are a few thoughts I had about the function of images, their presentation, and their function in the modern day propaganda system.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 9 2005 11:38 utc | 34

Not just Fallujah.

From Firebombs in Iraq.. electronic Iraq news:

one excerpt:

For example, two embedded reporters (from the Sydney Morning Herald and CNN ) witnessed a firebomb attack on an Iraqi observation post at Safwan Hill, overlooking the Kuwaiti border, on 21 March 2003:

Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by US Navy aircraft which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a US officer told the Herald.

Safwan Hill went up in a huge fireball and the Iraqi observation post was obliterated. "I pity anybody who's in there," a marine sergeant said. "We told them to surrender."


Posted by: Noisette | Nov 9 2005 11:43 utc | 35

We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding.

There is also that pesky, undefined word-- terrorist--which no one has commented upon. A word that more and more means "anybody who disagrees with me" --they shall have no rights and may disappear forever.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 9 2005 12:07 utc | 36

"The average person saw and heard the image five times a day, even not watching TV at home--at the pizza parlor, in the mall, on the radio, at work."

Happy to say, I've never seen or heard it.
Kill your television.

Good post Malooga.

Posted by: beq | Nov 9 2005 14:11 utc | 37

I am against capital punishment, the death sentence, for any crime. Yes, any crime, no matter how heinous, inhuman, shocking and no matter the 'scale' of the crime.

Why ?

Because due process, even with checks and balances, even with jury panels, can still make mistakes or be manipulated, misinformed, dis-informed, misled, conspired against, etc, and for a myriad of reasons.

In the twilight of my life, I have come to understand in some small way the precious, priceless value of a single life.

In a modern, 'neutral', advocacy based trial, overseen by an 'independent' judiciary, if even one person 'could' be wrongly deprived of their life, that for me is ONE life too many ...

True justice cannot allow for even the possibility of such a tragedy.

Revenge, retribution, 'an eye for an eye', et al, no matter how sincere or founded the victims, or victims relatives, or more distantly a communities revulsion or desires can ever justify the possibility of taking an innocent life ...

So, if such an argument can be accepted, and many do not, how can the arbitrary 'bagging', effectively illegal kidnapping, secret transport, secret detention, secret 'interrogation' even torture of 'suspected' 'terrorists' by our Intelligence, Intelligence operational paramilitaries and seconded/detached Special Forces elements be deemed Legally or morally right or just ?

Deprivation of liberty alone, without ANY due process, absolutely none, with no judicial oversight, no advocacy, no judges, no jurors of peers, and above all in secret, outside multiple relevant statutes, treaties and conventions, is utterly indefensible.

This theme, Justice and Liberty, was one of the prime reasons we supposedly militarized our nation and girded for war so long ago against the then evil Soviet empire.

When we KNOW it includes effectively proven cases of state sanctioned torture, even death in custody, of uncharged 'detainees', an illegal combatant (a legal fiction), by executive degree only, without independent oversight or review, then WE are an authoritarian regime, a dictatorship of the executive, the State.

Numbers don't count. One such victim is too many.

Whether they are American citizens or foreign nationals doesn't matter. Their color, race or creed is irrelevant.

No matter what our demonstrably 'infallible' (sarcasm) Intelligence services may suspect, imply, purport or infer against the detainee is irrelevant.

We are all brothers because We are all human beings. We are supposedly One People before God.

I am outraged. I am grief stricken. I am bitter and aggrieved. I am day after day almost ashamed to be human.

Because for all our pretty baubles, 'advanced' technology, 'sophisticated' societies, supposed 'learning', our 'civilization', we are still as utterly ruthless, hypocritically brutal and self-righteously internecine savages as the ancient Romans we haughtily mock from afar ...

And thousands of years of history has shown us ... what the State did yesterday against the 'suspected terrorist', what it did today against the 'other' ... tomorrow, the State can do against, you.

First they came for the 'suspected' Terrorists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a 'suspected' Terrorist.
Then they came for the Seditionists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Seditionist.
Then they came for the Populists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Populist.
Then they came for the dissenting 'Radicals',
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a dissenting 'Radical'.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

Unedited text and references here.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 9 2005 14:20 utc | 38

Malooga (6:38),
Excellent summary. I have forwarded it to my sister who is teaching jounalism to high school students. Unfortunately, she still believes what was taught to us in civics class about the 4th Estate and is passing that on to her students. We've had some agruments about this, so maybe your post can open her up to a different point of view.

We never have to feel ashamed of being human; the things that grieve you - and all of us - are inhuman. That you do feel shame and anger and sorrow to learn of the brutality conducted in our name is a testament to your humanity. We need many more people capable of feeling the same way. I wish you a long twilight with many many moments of genuine humanity.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Nov 9 2005 17:30 utc | 39

Peace. Salaam. Shalom.

My own ... demons ... struggle within.

Bush & Co don't even bother with the past proforma tradition of plausible deniability. The bastards want to advertise their deeds because doing so serves their ends. They casually, contemptuously, consume and corrupt our sons and daughters whom, 'unaware', believe they serve a higher duty with honor.


Posted by: Outraged | Nov 9 2005 18:02 utc | 40

That was a very interesting post, malooga. I've had thoughts similar to your slow drip theory, where information is released slowly and the MSM can say "see, no censorship here", but the effect is one where the information is effectively buried on page A10, or alternatively, released in manageable doses rather than all at once. I think something like this could happen without any overarching conspiracy--before Abu Ghraib, for instance, there were stories about torture in Iraq and Afghanistan, but only a few people would have noticed them and because it wasn't common knowledge, the story never took off. If the soldiers hadn't taken photos and if Seymour Hersh hadn't been around, the torture scandal probably would have remained a page A10 story.

It reminds me of something in Bob Woodward's book on the CIA "Veil". Woodward claims (and I don't know if he's the first to report it or if he got the info from another reporter) that the US used a car bomb in Lebanon to try to kill someone the CIA didn't like (a Hezbollah leader named Sheik Fadlallah) and in the process killed 80 people, though not the Sheik. Now on the one hand that's a tiny little atrocity in the annals of US atrocities, but on the other hand, in mainstream circles the US is supposed to be the force for good, not one of the countries that uses car bombs. This was in the days of Reagan's earlier war on terror. So a rational person would expect this to be a front page story on every newspaper in the country and that it would have been common knowledge that the US was a state sponsor of terror. But it wasn't. How odd. But it was reported, so no one can say that the US press practices censorship. Your slow leak theory in action, I'd say.

Posted by: Donald Johnson | Nov 9 2005 18:58 utc | 41


I refuse to be discouraged. My entire e-mail list has written every print and broadcast entity and will continue to. Please take a moment and write a request. We can't allow this story to be buried and the images to go unseen.

Posted by: | Nov 9 2005 19:16 utc | 42

When we look at this which tells us:
" MPs today delivered a massive snub to Tony Blair, rejecting his proposals for police to be allowed to hold terror suspects for 90 days and voting instead for a much shorter 28-day period."

We could be lulled into believing that there has been some great victory by the people in the eternal struggle against the selfish. But stop for a minute and think. People can now be arrested and held incommunicado for 28 days and presumably that can then be 'rolled over' after 28 days without the incarcerators coming forward with a shred of evidence to justify their denial of this person's right to be a human.

Thatt's a victory? No of course not! Its what you get when you leave decision making up to mealy mouthed mainchancers who believe that the way forward (one of their favorite current phrases) is 'best met' by compromise. So to get bad shit through all a power freak has to do is try and get really bad shit through. Huh?

But I've spouted off on these low lifes ad nauseum so there's no point in regurgitating that spiel.

What interests me though is why we always fall for it.

Malooga has given us an excellent outline of the mechanics of how these pricks manufacture consent but it still doesn't tell me why we go along with it or how to deal with the destruction these grubs have wrought upon fellow humans.

But then when you stop and think. That's it! Once again we have spent a lot of energy examining the how not the why. And that's not to be having a go at what Malooga wrote because in essence here I am about to do the same, that is spend time examining the process of our society at the expense of fully studying the outcomes of that process.

It seems that this method is a an intrinsic part of the current human condition but if we start talking about whether that is learned or innate behaviour we are doing it again.

So how about we accept we do this and then study ways of changing that outcome.

This is one of the reasons I try and stay outta conspiracy theories because to me every iota of energy we spend on pulling apart assholes' actions is an iota not spent on dealing with the upshot of those actions.

Maybe there is a really big con dating back to before Kennedy got his where the dark side worked out having the whole world talking about the shadow cast by Mannlicher rifles would be a good way of occupying the sheeple's waking moments and distracting them while the rape was happening.

The thing is though what's more important in the end; The con? Or the rape?

The English have spent so much time counting numbers and delving into the personalities of obscure party hacks that they have been conned into being elated that they have lost freedoms first encapsulated in the Magna Carta in 1215.

It's taken damn near a thousand years but the shitbags have done it. They have just robbed the English of their most basic and hard won freedoms!

Lets not get all upset about it though. That Bliar sure got one big black eye. Yeah right. He'll be laughing all the way to the bank. That's where he'll deposit his pieces of silver condescendingly given him by the usual suspects. The money will sit snugly against the sheckels wife Cherie Bliar ripped off terminally ill children . I'm not kidding. I reckon you can't go much lower than that. Even child molestors usually leave their victims breathing, but Cherie's greed will kill kids.

So while we are assiduously study the methods and motivations of repression we can get so caught up we forget to fight the effects of that repression.

I realise we have a million rationalisations for doing so. The one I use most often is "How else are we going to stop them next time, if we don't know how they did it last time."

All the time energy spent wondering what Fitzgerald would do to Rove and Libby hasn't done squat for the people living up on the Iraqi/Syrian border, none of whom will have the slightest connection with the elites of Assad and Hussein or Chalabi and Bush. Those people WILL be learning about white phosphorous. That the 'new' napalm is the same as the 'old' napalm.

Can we, should we, could we, would we be sticking together with our fellow humans who are being bombarded in the desert? Should we be doing everything we can to alleviate their misery or should we try and analyse the thinking and machinations of psychopathic greedheads that decided these people should die to enhance the greedheads existence?

I don't have an answer but we do need to make sure we don't get lost in one at the expense of the other. Should we? Perhaps that's just another mealy-mouthed compromise.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 9 2005 20:34 utc | 43

@Donald Johnson

before Abu Ghraib, for instance, there were stories about torture in Iraq and Afghanistan, but only a few people would have noticed them and because it wasn't common knowledge, the story never took off. If the soldiers hadn't taken photos and if Seymour Hersh hadn't been around, the torture scandal probably would have remained a page A10 story.

As Robert Fisk mentioned on Democracy Now today, everyone in Iraq and the Arab world already knew about the torture. The event was only hidden from the vast bulk of the American public. Remember Rummy's response to this was to ban soldiers from carrying cameras, not to care about the torture.

So a rational person would expect this to be a front page story on every newspaper in the country and that it would have been common knowledge that the US was a state sponsor of terror. But it wasn't. How odd. But it was reported, so no one can say that the US press practices censorship.

This is the concept of "Worthy and Unworthy Victims", as propounded by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their groundbreaking book, "Manufacturing Consent" MSM News is always written with the slant of our propaganda system: Our cause, and that of our allies, is worthy and the same for our human loses. Our enemies cause is unworthy and the same for their human losses. "We are a force for good. If you present evidence otherwise, it is an inadvertent error, one of a few bad apples, which we will deal with." Other humans beings are never accorded the same standing that we are, because we are Democratic and believe in Freedom.

I think something like this could happen without any overarching conspiracy

Of course. Again, in "Manufacturing Consent" the propaganda model is described as a series of five filters which cause coverage to be the way it is for very obvious reasons, without any conspiracy involved. See links below.

@ lonesomeG -

I hope you edited my misspellings. It was 5:00 AM and I had woken up from a nightmare, so I got on the computer to calm myself down.

Get your sister to read Bob McChesney. Also Project Censored publishes a book every year of the top censored or uncovered stories in the media, and much background material explaining how this process of important stories "falling" off the radar happens. Finally, The Media Education Foundation produces and distributes video documentaries to encourage critical thinking and debate about the relationship between media ownership, commercial media content, and the democratic demand for free flows of information, diverse representations of ideas and people, and informed citizen participation. This is perfect for high school students.

The best and easiest way that I know of to explain how the media works to someone who doesn't understand it, is the recording "The Problem of the Media", an interview of Bob McChesney by David Barsamian of "Alternative Radio", at the National Conference of Media Reform this past summer in St. Louis. It's a fantastic hour which I can't recommend more highly. In the interview, McChesney details the whole history of American Journalism, how it developed, and how our current problems arose out of previous solutions enacted at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as insight into the current state of Journalism. I'm sorry that this recording costs a few bucks, but it is well worth it. (If you order it, use my URL and David will know who sent you). You can also google "McChesney mp3" and find many excellent recordings for free download; McChesney also hosts his own radio show, available online.

Another font of information about the media is Z magazine, which has a ton of free information online. I recommend "Propaganda in the Free Press - An Interview With Edward Herman", where Herman goes through the propaganda model in simple terms, in a short readable article. Also, What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream. There are many other resources out there. You can google "Media Literacy", and "Critical Thinking", though there is a lot of junk to wade through there. I have a course I teach from time to time, specifiaclly on political media literacy and understanding the news. Unfortunately, I don't have the materail online yet. When I do, I will post a link. (Don't hold your breath--it could be several months.)

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 9 2005 20:56 utc | 44

Outstanding work. Peaceful dreams.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 9 2005 21:03 utc | 45

So why do the Iranians loathe American foreign policy and call America the Great Satan ?

Raw declassified source: PDF file of a secret CIA report: "CLANDESTINE SERVICE HISTORY, OVERTHROW OF PREMIER MOSSADEQ OF IRAN, November 1952-August 1953,"
an operation planned and executed by the CIA and British SIS

Iran and the Forgotten Anniversary
By Arnold Oliver
Global Policy Forum
Foreign Policy In Focus
August 29, 2003

... On August 19th the U.S.-orchestrated military coup emerged triumphant, and the exiled monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, was installed on the Peacock Throne. A secret history of this CIA operation, written in 1954 by agent and participant Donald Wilber and leaked to the press a few years ago, leaves no doubt as to the central role played by the United States.

Had the Shah been a benevolent ruler, the image of the U.S. in Iran might not have become so tarnished, but benevolent he was not. And to make matters worse--much worse--American and Israeli intelligence agents organized SAVAK, the Shah's personal secret security force. Before long, Iran developed into a full-blown police state complete with thousands of informers, censorship, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and widespread torture and assassination. Of course, none of this was a secret to the Shah's many U.S. advisers.

According to the Harvard Human Rights Journal, many of SAVAK's 15,000 full-time agents were "trained in the United States and Israel where they learned 'scientific' methods to prevent unwanted deaths from 'brute force'." Electrified chairs fitted with metal masks were used "to muffle screams while amplifying them for the victim." Another historian called the Shah's methods of torture "horrendous," and "equal to the worst ever devised."

Aiming to terrorize an entire population, SAVAK repression was both extreme and widespread. Few Iranian families were spared, and among the victims were family members of the Shiite clerics who would later overthrow the Shah's regime in 1979, and spark the seizure and hostage-taking crisis at the U.S. embassy...

A Matter of Perspective: The United States and Iran
By Ron Jacobs

I'm not sure where GW Bush was in 1979, but he must remember something about the popular uprising of the Iranian people that overthrew the US's biggest puppet in the region-the Shah. Although the revolution had been brewing for years, in 1978 and early 1979 there were huge demonstrations against his rule by all sectors of Iranian society. These demonstrations took place in Iran's cities, her oilfields, her mosques and other places of worship, and finally within her military. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) were killed by the Shah's military and secret police, the SAVAK. The movement involved social democrats, communists of all kinds, students, peasants, urban intellectuals and middle classes, and Islamists of every stripe-fundamentalists to radicals. It was a truly popular movement that resulted in the Shah leaving the country in disgrace on January 16, 1979...

The CIA in Iran - A Forgotten History

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 9 2005 21:47 utc | 46

turning the night on fire

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 9 2005 23:21 utc | 47


Malooga has given us an excellent outline of the mechanics of how these pricks manufacture consent but it still doesn't tell me why we go along with it or how to deal with the destruction these grubs have wrought upon fellow humans.

But then when you stop and think. That's it! Once again we have spent a lot of energy examining the how not the why. And that's not to be having a go at what Malooga wrote because in essence here I am about to do the same, that is spend time examining the process of our society at the expense of fully studying the outcomes of that process.

So-called Democratic societies are very carefully constructed to control their populaces. Fully explicating this process and the models involved would entail a long post again, which I don't have time to construct today, but in short here are some of the methods:

* Fragment groups of people, constituencies, and set them against each other, economically, socially, and religiously. Make them compete for money, jobs and housing. Do not teach cooperation or mediation or any other methods of non-violent problem resolution. Highten sectarian tensions.

* Inculcate blind unquestioning religious belief. Do not condone atheism. Lionize the most sectarian religious leaders, and obfuscate the implications of their edicts.

* Disempower and alienate people through entertainment, fear, hopelessness, poverty, corruption of the political process, etc.; violence, and the threat thereof, is a last resort. Keep the populace ignorant of capitalism's structural unemployment model, combined with the highly inculcated myth that "Economic growth" will solve it: The next big development will solve our economic insecurity.

*Co-opt just enough to maintain order--police salaries go up in times of social and economic unrest effectively forming a separate class interest of people; military spending is carefully apportioned geographically, and in the US, at least, the sums involved are sufficient to involve a very significant proportion of the populace. Indeed, many high tech developments which are not essentially military in nature, like the development of the internet, are grouped under military spending because of just this control factor and also military spending's regressive redistributive function of channelling money away from the poor, and social needs, and towards the rich. Manage the co-optation of the coordinator class--doctors, lawyers, engineers, sports celebrities, etc.-- that makes society function smoothly in the interests of the ruling class, through managing their income levels and monopolizing their knowledge rights, controling their laws, and propagandizing their actions (charitable foundations formed by sports celebrities, rather than questioning their exhorbitant salaries and lack of society's social spending). Encourage mindless identification with capitalist ideals and goals: endless stock market reports and business shows, no labor reporters anymore; publicize wildly successful entrepreneurs.

* Maintain ignorance through defunding of schools, food programs, facilities, and educational materials; rote answer based testing; tranching of students; vocational training; and control of curriculum. Fill the void with empty idollization of celebrityism. Perpetuate the myth that anyone can be famous. Subtly encourage blind uniformity, while overtly promoting meaningless individuality. Delegitimate Science.

* Minimize knowledge of the effects of capitalist civilization upon the earth and its creatures. The great masses who still believe that Saddam Hussein is behind 9-11, have no idea about the rate of extinction of species, consumption of resources (water, minerals, arable land, etc.), the danger posed by nuclear waste, DU, and nuclear warfare, global warming, ozone depletion, toxic waste, and GM foods. Make sure that no one sees the exponential curves of humnankind's effect on the earth, which began only 500 years ago, now going off the charts. Encourage unfounded faith in the unproven thesis that Science will solve all of these problems. Ridicule Native People's and their collective wisdom.

* Minimize knowledge of the effects of capitalist policies within this country. Ensure that the populace has a mindless prejudice against the posssibilities of government, or any other collective body, implementing policy for their benefit. Ensure that no one reads Take the Rich Off of Welfare, or understands governments real role of perpetuating ineqity through upward income redistribution and social welfare for corporations. Ensure that no one questions corporations having the rights, but not the responsibilities of people. Legitimate the detrimental accumulation of vast wealth in the hands of a few through the worship of glamour and power. Encourage blind faith in endless growth. Encourage the mindless and meaningless belief that "Our country is the greatest!"

*Militarize society: Its language, its ideals, its pastimes, its entertainment, its legal system, its metaphors--so that everything becomes a war (War on drugs, war on fat, etc.). Mindlessly revere military figures as heros and authorities. Dehumanize the other. Delegitimate the other with prejudiced creeds like Racism, Orientalism, etc. Keep knowledge of our wars' true aggressive, resource exploitative and imperialist nature obscured behind engineered sectarian strife. Teach a mindless faith in the rightgeousness of all our wars. Revere national military holidays and mindless jingoism.

* Propagandize an ignorant populace through Orwellian methods--Ignorance of critical thinking; undefined and malleable ideals: Democracy, Freedom, etc., Orwellian concepts like "waging war for peace", "support our troops", etc. Control the media at all costs: Accept major opinion makers into the ruling class for their service. Buy off others. Dumb down journalism. Have corporations own the media. Give away our airwaves; demand nothing in return. Manage the news cycle. Generate raw, unquestioning emotion in the masses. Mislead, misdirect, and misinform. Kowtow to power. Periodically, put the populace through it's paces through the engineering of false crises--it's like exercizing a brutish muscle.

Well, that's some of my thoughts about why we go along with the Manufacture of Consent. Deconstructed like this, the why becomes simple and the why not becomes apparent. Every statement has its obvious solution. That's not to minimize the enormity of the task confronting us.

How to overcome this: As Kwame Ture used to say, "Organize, organize, organize." To which I would add, "Educate, educate, educate." They have the money, but we have the burning desire.

See also, Charlie Reese's classic "How to Control People"

Bonus question: How much of this can you see in the events themselves and the media'a covering of these events in the case of the riots on France. Remember the concept of "Worthy Victims."

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 9 2005 23:51 utc | 48


under the third * (Disempower and alienate people), add "Equate money with free speech."

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 10 2005 0:11 utc | 49

turning the night on fire

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 9, 2005 6:21:46 PM

For those that may not understand certain military jargon usage ...

In this context to 'Shake and Bake' is to call a fire support (artillery) or air support (Ground attack aircraft) mission on a target.

Specifically the rounds fired will be a roughly equal mix of High Explosive (HE) (various configuration and fuze settings) and White Phosphorus (WP) rounds intermixed on the target. Especially typical used on enemy forces 'dug-in' in bunkers, foxholes, trenches, fortified buildings.

A typical mission could be anywhere from 4-10-60 mixed rounds per fire mission and in Vietnam could last up to 3 days (intermittent fire). For air-strikes napalm (new or old) is routinely substituted for WP.

A 'shake and bake' fire mission has nothing to do with artificial illumination or laying a delivered smoke screen ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 10 2005 0:12 utc | 50

Thank you again, Malooga. I have passed along your second post as well. Both posts should stimulate an interesting conversation when I see her this weekend.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Nov 10 2005 1:26 utc | 51

I think we're missing each others point. In my own inarticulate way I was trying to say that we can fall into the trap of spending so much time examining the processes and even (to a lesser extent) the motives for that these pricks use but oftentimes it doesn't help with the critical bit which is dealing by nullifying or resisting the outcomes or results of their machinations.

In the end surely it doesn't matter if we get there by canoe or spaceship. It's if we're in paradise or the asshole of the universe that really matters.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 10 2005 1:40 utc | 52


I agree with you. I just needed to write a bit today; air out my brain and my fingers.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 10 2005 1:47 utc | 53


i presume that all of us here in our individual & collective work are fighting that struggle

the information, for me - is of absolute importance - especially when we are drowned in imbecilities & imbecilities pretending they are profound

the detail - even at the most minute level is absolutely capital & i understand to arrive at that point we have to wade through jugles or forests

each person bring their history & their experience of struggle, of learning, of apprehending & of coming to 'know' - i for one am prepared to enter the density of facts if they reveal - once & for all - the terrible reality. without these facts - then we are left in catharsis - which is a personal question - perhaps even a mystic one - the role of teaching & of learning is to quotidianalise the extraordinary nature of our experience & transform it

the waters are getting so deep - without the knowledge - we drown

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 10 2005 1:57 utc | 54

There can be pitfalls in too much information. When I was bein a union activist and we were working in an 'industrial democracy paradigm' (definitely oxymoronic) At first we battled to get access to information and in a way were learnt what was happening by working out what they hadn't shown us. Esp when dealing with restucture/retrenchment; more properly knowing as laying off comrades.

Anyway the bosses wised up after a while and overwhelmed us with minutae. They set up industrial relations divisions employing lots of people who would just pump out reams of minutes and memos all needing an 'urgent response'. That made our work far more difficult than it was when they were being their naturally secretive conspiratorial selves.

In a way it wasn't even deliberate. It's what bureaucrats do because immersing onself in information can replace action.

I'm not trying to chide anyone about what the may or may not do in terms of action because that can be far more destructive to solidarity.

All I'm trying to convey is the importance of not getting distracted by over analysing the opposition.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 10 2005 2:56 utc | 55

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