Looks like Binyam Mohamed et al. may get their day in court:
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit brought by five men who say they were tortured as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program can proceed, dealing a blow to efforts by both the Bush and Obama administrations to claim sweeping executive secrecy powers.
In a 26-page ruling, the court declared that Binyam Mohamed, a British resident of Ethiopian nationality, and four other former detainees can go forward with a civil lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary.
I’m going to pretend that the Viking performance art piece we did on this subject in March had an impact.
We recognize that as a matter of diplomacy, the United States may for various reasons in various circumstances call another nation to account for practices that may in some respects resemble conduct in which the United States might in some circumstances engage, covertly or otherwise. Diplomatic relations with regard to foreign countries are not reliable evidence of United States executive practice and thus may be of only limited relevance here.
What would George W. Bush’s favorite political philosopher make of that?
Given the paucity of relevant precedent and the subjective nature of the inquiry, however, we cannot predict with confidence that a court would agree with this conclusion, though, for the reasons explained, the question is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry.
As Chris Floyd put it, “To be sure, Bradbury was politically astute enough to recognize that the essential unity of America’s power-structure elite means that it is almost impossible for anyone who would genuinely and actively pursue imperial crimes to ever reach the top … And just as Bradbury foresaw, Obama has slammed the door shut on such judicial inquiries.”
Even if torture weren’t happening under his own administration (and it is), Barack Obama is giving the most abhorrently brutal and sadistic torturers in future administrations exactly what they want. If war crimes like Bush’s are matched or exceeded by succeeding administrations, Obama will bear a large part of the responsibility. Saying “we don’t torture anymore” (again, especially if we still do) is not enough. Continue reading “from the torture memos”
Hi! I was going to write another post complaining about stuff I dislike about the Obama administration, but news stories kept piling up before I could find time to write editorial comments about all of them. So just do what I do and read Glenn Greenwald. How can he type that fast?
Some highlights (not all bad) from the news from the past several weeks:
Obama worse than Bush on wiretapping
CIA closing secret prisons (but as for Bagram, see below)
Obama on habeas corpus
Gravel says that Obama’s rhetoric on nuclear weapons is just “Cold War déjà-vu.” I’m not sure — I think even disingenuous vows to rid the world of nukes can serve the function of pushing the issue back into the political discourse.
more on Binyam Mohamed and US pressure on the UK to suppress evidence of torture
Spanish attorney general rejects investigation of Bush officials
continuing torture at Guantanamo (Can you imagine being there from age 14 to 21? That’s like high school and college.)
NSA abuses (surprise, surprise)
which member of Congress was (almost) wiretapped?
torture memos released, and CIA torturers won’t be prosecuted (unlike the agents of a certain twentieth-century regime who used the same tactics in Norway)
gays more discomforting than killing other humans
RIAA takeover of the Justice Department
But fuck it. I’m going to post about the latest advances in semen art. Continue reading “jedermann sein eigner Stylo”
(note: this post’s title is a Zappa quote)
Hey, remember how the other day Obama (exhibiting his usual supercilious mien) laughed off the question of marijuana legalization, saying “I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy”?
And remember those recent DEA raids in San Francisco?
Maybe the story behind Barry’s newfound faith in the drug war can be found in this article from a few months back.
I think Poetariat will have new posts soon regarding our recent surface-world projects. Stay tuned.
Anyway, I wanted to post something this month, so here’s a salient quote from Glenn Greenwald:
The political class wants people to see them as helpless captives to immutable political realities so that they have a permanent, all-purpose excuse for whatever they do, so that they are always able to justify their position by appealing to so-called “political realities.”
And a totally unrelated quote from Ben Watson:
“Geniuses” and “stars” are the pillars of salt hierarchical society erects on the waste ground of our ruined lives. Kick down the statues! Live out your dreams!
I got some more e-mails from my friend Jason:
It happened again.
Just as I had finished putting my laundry away, I felt that mysterious buzz inside my head and suddenly found myself in pure white surroundings, with only Joey’s face before me. I had no body of my own; it was like I was nothingness existing in front of the image of Joey’s head, which seemed about 3 feet across. I could see it in perfect detail. His eyes stared directly into my line of sight, and I could not turn away or blink. In a sudden flash he transferred what seemed an entire movie’s worth of dialog and imagery. I think I am still coming to terms with it but the essence of it was that humanity will soon be faced with a choice: a crossroads from which we can’t go back and change our minds once we decide the course. In my mind I wondered what he meant, and he telepathically answered that it would soon be apparent. The next thing I knew I was getting up from the floor by my bed. I immediately went over to check my laptop to see if he had left anything for me; this time it was a single ominous image. I asked Joey if I could share this knowledge with others, and he told me “Only with those whom you trust.” Continue reading “all cats have Asperger syndrome, cont’d”
I’ve been meaning to write about President Obama’s implicit support for penile torture. Glenn Greenwald had a pretty comprehensive summary. Basically what the Obama administration has done is apply the Bush administration position on the state secrets privilege: the expansive use of the privilege to get entire cases thrown out of court, whereas earlier administrations had only used it to suppress certain pieces of evidence.
One of the judges on the three-judge panel explicitly asked the DOJ lawyer, Doug Letter, whether the change in administrations had any bearing on the Government’s position in this case. Letter emphatically said it did not. Instead, he told the court, the new administration — the new DOJ — had actively reviewed this case and vetted the Bush positions and decisively opted to embrace the same positions.
After eight years of nauseating crimes by the Bush administration, now we’re beginning to find out what hypocritical shits most American liberals are. Sure, this is a reversal from Obama’s campaign position on the secrets issue, but he gave ample warning of his predilections for authoritarianism and reneging on promises when he voted for the FISA overhaul. Now he wants to deny legal recourse to a man who was kidnapped, tortured genitally, and threatened with rape and electrocution. Everything’s OK as long as our president listens to hip-hop and uses a Mac, right? Our leaders’ awareness of hipster shibboleths is the truest test of our democracy! No wonder this country is such a shithole. Continue reading “a hot stinging liquid was then poured into open wounds on his penis where he had been cut”
I haven’t posted any of my own poetry for a while, but hopefully I’ll post new creative works soon. But here is a great anagrammatic poem you should read. And here is a 1996 New York Times book review by Douglas Hofstadter with some other examples of stunt poetry (basically the literary equivalent of stunt guitar), including one totally cunning stunt by Bonita C. Miller, who hasn’t written anything else that I can find on Google.
Here is an index of literary anagrams, naturally including some by Mike Keith, one of the transcendent geniuses of our time. His Cadaeic Cadenza is required reading, or at least required skimming.
The Lester Bangs manqués of the poetry-industrial complex might dismiss such pyrotechnics as extraneous to the goals of real poetry, but they can go fuck themselves (preferably with rolled-up copies of “Praise Song For the Day”).
My friend Jason sent me the following e-mail:
Today Joey revealed to me his space ship which he used to get to this planet. He also telepathically hacked my computer with his mind and made the attached images appear on my Desktop. He then communicated to me that these images are of him as a juvenile, recorded some 8,000 years ago. His race long ago discovered immortality and they can be reborn in any form. He chose the form of Terran feline so that he could have a comparatively short respite of comfort and luxury after spending many decades in a thought chamber. I asked what a thought chamber was but he told me our language lacks the appropriate words to adequately describe it. Many late night discussions I have had with Joey have revolved around his ancient and alien philosophy, and they have in no small part served as an inspiration for many themes in my book. He has told me that he seeks only to promote a greater consciousness among humanity and hopes that we make it past our “technological adolescence” as his species did. He wished that I share his sentiments with a broader audience, and hence this e-mail. Continue reading “all cats have Asperger syndrome”
Here‘s a Devo song that should be rewritten for Dick Cheney:
he got big and fat
and he was ridin’ high
makin’ lots of cash
trashin’ others’ lives
now Cheney’s in a wheelchair and I don’t care
Anyway, what did everyone think of Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem? I think mine was better. The news on whether the new administration will in fact clean the wound is still mixed.