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The Shadow Factory
A Cross Estate
The Woman Who Wrote
Hot Issues, Cool Topics
The Art of Conscious Creation
The Mental Environment
The Energy of Belief
Definitions of Some Mathematical Terms
Trust in the Lord
The New IQ: How Integrity Serves You, Your Relationships, and Our World
El Zarco: The Blue-Eyed Bandit
Channeling the Apocalypse: From the Eighteenth Dynasty to the Current Incarnations
Liberal Hearts and
Stolen Without a Gun
Finding the Bloom of the
The Madness of
By Hugh Rosen
Think Like a CEO
Bad Boys, Nasty Boys:
By Michael Parenti
Republican party politicos espouse an unflagging devotion to old-fashioned morality and family values, inveighing heavily against gay marriage, abortion, homosexuality, adultery, feminism, crime, stem-cell research, secularism, and liberalism-all of which they tend to lump together as different facets of the same evil decadence.
GOP leaders dilate on the need to “put God back into public life.” Many of them even claim to be directly guided by their deity’s mandate when legislating and governing. Their private deeds, however, frequently betray their words. Consider this incomplete sampling of politically prominent “social conservatives” who preach the conventional virtues to their constituents while practicing something else in their off-hours.
Recently-deceased Representative Henry Hyde, Illinois Republican, played a key role in the impeachment campaign waged against the adulterous president Bill Clinton. The several obituaries I read about Hyde failed to mention that he himself had carried on a six-year liaison with a young married mother of three children. The woman’s former husband blamed Hyde for the divorce that followed from the affair, and for the emotional damage inflicted on his children. Hyde dismissed the affair as “a youthful indiscretion”—it having ended when he was just a callow youngster of 46 or so. In 1992, Hyde divorced his wife of 45 years. Soon after that, she died and he quickly remarried.
Representative Bob Livingston, Louisiana Republican, married with four children, resigned as House speaker-elect after his marital infidelities made the headlines in 1998.
Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich, led the charge against the philandering Clinton while himself carrying on an affair with a congressional aide. Gingrich hastened a divorce action against his (second) wife while she was hospitalized with cancer in order that he might marry the aide. At one point Gingrich’s ailing ex-wife and children had to get material assistance from their local church, having received insufficient sums from Gingrich himself. In 2007, he claimed to have come to grips with his “personal failures,” having sought God’s forgiveness.
Republican Baptist minister Bill Randall, who had been aggressively touted by the Republican party as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida, admitted that he had fathered an illegitimate child in the 1980s. After confirming the child’s existence, he changed his story the next day during a press interview, suddenly insisting that his teenage son was the father. Sensing that no one would swallow that story, Randall again reversed course and admitted to paternity. He did everybody a favor by dropping out of the 1998 congressional race.
Bob Barr was a Georgia GOP congressman until 2003, after which he became a conservative activist. While still married to his first wife, he was romancing the woman who would become his second wife. Barr was on record as a staunch right-to-lifer, but this did not prevent him from driving wife #2 to a clinic and paying the costs for her abortion. He soon took on a new mistress who became wife #3 shortly after he dumped #2. While in Congress, Barr authored the “Defense of Marriage Act,” probably with good reason.
Three leading candidates for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination, Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, and Newt Gingrich, had five divorces between them, all involving adultery. On the Democratic side, the three front runners, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, had neither divorces nor infidelities. Yet it was the Republicans who laid claim to being keepers of traditional family values, while damning the liberals for their amorality and profligacy.
In 2007, Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican and family-values man, made the news for having patronized a prostitution ring in Washington, D.C. for several years, and earlier having used the services of a New Orleans brothel over a five-month period. Vitter refused to resign, assuring everyone that “I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife.” Read More
Many Innocent Men Tortured
By Jeremy Putley
In the recent film Rendition, a “rendered” prisoner under torture is forced to give his North African interrogator the list of names of his supposed collaborators. The American CIA agent standing by to collect the torture victim’s statement eventually comes to realise, after he discovers that the list of the names is a former national soccer team, that the torturer’s labours have produced “intelligence” of zero value. The prisoner just didn’t know anything.
In a similar, real-life case the misinformation given under torture became part of the US casus belli for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This was the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, captured by the US in Pakistan in 2001 and sent for questioning in Egypt as part of its “extraordinary renditions” programme. According to the New York Times: “The Egyptians interrogated Libi for a year and sent him back to the US authorities talking about how Qaeda members had received chemical weapons [i.e. WMD] training in Iraq.
There was one problem: Libi says he made the story up to appease the Egyptians, who he says tortured him.” It seems, then, that the resort to barbaric methods helped the Bush administration to hear what it wanted to hear about weapons of mass destruction. The methods of the torturer were instrumental in bringing upon Iraqis, and upon the US and its allies, a terrible war. Subsequently Mr al-Libi completely vanished. He is not listed by the US as held at its naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. His whereabouts are a mystery – he has been “disappeared”.
Evidence has been amassed in several important books showing what happens when a civilised nation abandons the Geneva conventions governing the treatment of its prisoners. The latest of these is The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, by a British journalist, Andy Worthington.
Basing his research mostly on the Pentagon’s own documents, obtained under freedom of information legislation, Worthington has produced a unique compendium of individual histories, combining them with a narrative of events in the “war on terror” from the beginning of the 2001 war in Afghanistan against the Taliban to the present. The overwhelming case made by the book is that, amongst the great numbers of prisoners who were swept up in Afghanistan, the majority were either completely innocent men caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were unimportant foot-soldiers whose involvement in an inter-Muslim civil war both pre-dated 9/11 and had no connection with it. The treatment of these captives has been wholly disproportionate.
Helpless men, of whom some have subsequently been released, were tortured before arriving at Guantánamo Bay, the torture producing forced – and untrue – confessions of their links with al-Qaeda. In a number of cases the torture was “outsourced” to selected countries. The conduct of the CIA and the US military towards their prisoners recalls in some instances the fate of prisoners at the hands of the Gestapo in World War Two. Not coincidentally, perhaps, the term adopted by the US authorities, “enhanced interrogation techniques”, expresses in English the Nazis’ identical euphemism for similar forms of torture.
One prisoner, comparing the US prison at Bagram, in Afghanistan, to Nazi camps, reported that beating and torture were considered normal, and that he was subjected to forced nudity, food deprivation and being locked in a box with very little air for prolonged periods, continuing: “Guards forced petrol and benzene into the anuses of prisoners.” Following rendition to Guantánamo Bay, prisoners reportedly received brutal treatment in supermax lockdowns.
Relying on a narrow definition of torture, President George W Bush has denied that the US tortures prisoners. It is important to understand how false this denial is. Elucidation is to be found in recent books written by lawyers representing captives, describing the US renditions programme and the torture of individuals by or at the behest of the US. Two worthwhile books are Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power, by Joseph Margulies, and Bad Men: Guant�namo Bay and the Secret Prisons, by Clive Stafford Smith. Previous testimony is provided in the excellent Ghost Plane by the journalist Stephen Grey.
The majority of US “detainees” in Guantánamo Bay are being kept isolated, in long-term solitary confinement, in “high-security facilities.” While there appears to be no operational necessity for such long-term isolation, one consequence of it is permanent psychological damage. In plain language, the detainees are being driven insane by the conditions of their incarceration. According to the normal meaning of words this is “cruel punishment” which the eighth amendment to the US Constitution specifically prohibits. The US appears to think such revenge against captives in its war on terror to be its moral right. Unfortunately for the Guantánamo detainees, because they are not US citizens, and not held in “the sovereign United States”, the US Constitution does not operate for their protection. Read More
A bone-chilling political
March 19, 2017