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Talking Points Memo is keeping up with the rapid stream of revelations coming out of the released records and yesterday Obama stated that while they won’t be prosecuting the actual torturers, he’s leaving it up to Holder to decide whether to go after the brains behind the policy.  The Levin Report meanwhile has generated revelations which include reports that the torturing began even before the Bybee Torture Memo; that none of the torturing disrupted any substantial terror threats; and that some of the torture was perpetrated in a desperate effort to generate evidence of connections between 911 and Iraq.  Also reported is that some of the torture techniques were rooted in Eastern Bloc interrogation methodology, adding to the many dark ironies.

Addendum: Lots of torture in the news.

Holder and Obama swing back and forth on whether they want a commission to investigate, and whether they’ll prosecute anyone.  If they want to punt, why not appoint a special prosecutor and wash their own hands of it?

For those of you who don’t think waterboarding is torture, from Wikipedia:

In May 2008 the journalist Christopher Hitchens voluntarily experienced waterboarding. He managed to resist for twelve seconds the first time, and, embarrassed at his poor performance, he asked to try again. He then managed to resist for 19 seconds.[42] He later told the BBC: “There is a common misconception that waterboarding simulates the sensation of drowning, but you are to all intents and purposes actually drowning”[42] He said that although he was somewhat prepared for his ordeal, he had not been prepared for what came later: “I have been waking up with sensations of being smothered”.[42] Hitchens concluded, “if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture. Believe me. It’s torture”.[43][44][45]

Hitchens is of course something of a hawk these days, supporting the invasion of Iraq among other actions.  For the record, Ollie North also underwent a demonstration and says it’s no big deal, but then he’s been trained and he’s a freak.

Second addendum: Just returned from my workout where my cardiovascular exercise was probably enhanced as I watched the cable news and read the Republican reference to the “witchhunt” around the torture issue as indicative of a “banana republic.”  That should earn them the Orwellian Award for the year thus far.

Third addendum: You know, I’ve sort of become numb to stories like this over the years.   I’ve been extremely disappointed when I’ve felt that we’ve made some practice and then something happens which sends so many people back into a neanderthal mental state allowing for the same “mistakes” to be made over and over again.  But this story is starting to get to me.  Apparently an FBI agent walked out of one torture session, which is somewhat laudable, but why didn’t he/she turn the perpetrators in?  Another story has surfaced of a soldier who refused to participate and took her own life several days later.  What’s even more galling is the mental gymnastics the media and so many people are employing to justify these actions.  I really wonder how many people agree with me that we’re in a profound moral crisis about how we respond to this.  It’s not about “policy differences.”  This is a fundamental betrayal to everything we claim to believe in and someone has to account for it.

Fourth addendum: by request here is a discussion between Bill O’Reilly and someone with a brain.


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Last night KMUD reported that the acceptance of the grant had been approved unanimously by the Board of Supes, but the Times Standard is reporting that the decision was tabled for further discussion.  Did I wake up this morning in an alternate universe?

In any case, the acceptance is usually passed 3 to 2, with Rodoni and Woolley opposing.  KMUD reported that Clif Clendenen and more surprisingly Mark Lovelace had voted for the funds citing various reasons.  Clif said he was taking Sheriff Philp at his word that the money was only being used for the mega-operations particularly those involving diesel, and Mark cited conversations he had with many liberal Arcata residents who support legalization but are tired of the grow houses in their neighborhoods (which suggests a disagreement between those two supervisors on how the money would be used).

This would be the second recent disagreement I have with Clif.  I do agree that the excesses of the marijuana industry have been very detrimental to the various communities.  But accepting this money puts the county, symbolically speaking, in the position of supporting the larger drug war and in particular the obsession around marijuana at the expense of concerns about more serious drugs, such as the oft cited meth.

But first things first.  Can anyone clarify yesterday’s events?

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