The Least, First

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US General: Bush Administration committed war crimes, must be held accountable

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MG TagubaYou may remember Major General Antonia Taguba, USA (Retired); he headed up the Abu Ghraib abuse investigation, carefully and openly laying out the details before Congress in 2004.  The Pentagon was not pleased;  Taguba appears to have been coerced into retirement as a result.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a new report, “outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States.”  Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote the preface.  His statements of fact—coming, as they do, from a top-level military investigator—are startling.  Apparently, America is long overdue for a reckoning with justice.

I reprint it in full (from Truthout), below.  The full Physicians for Human Rights report can be read at their website.
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Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives

By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

Bush, Rumsfeld, CheneyIn order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.

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Written by Monte

June 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Jimmy Carter: Make peace with Iran

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Now here’s a startling idea: try to make peace with a nation before going to war against it! Imagine!
clipped from

Jimmy Carter calls for US to make friends with Iran after 27 years
“What happens if, in three years time, Iran has a nuclear weapon,” Mr Carter asked. “I’m not sure that is going to happen, but if it does, what do we do? They are rational people like all of us in this room. Do they want to commit suicide? I would guess not. So what we have to do is talk with them now and say to them we want to be their friends.
Twenty-five years ago we cut off trading with Iran. We’ve got to resume trading to show Iran we are friends.”
Mr Carter also criticised President George Bush, saying it was a “serious mistake and terrible departure” from the actions of previous US presidents not to engage with countries with which they differed. “The president of the administration in Washington is the first one to have ever done this and I think we close off ourselves from any sort of rational accommodation of the views of other parties in order to reach out on major goals,”
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Written by Monte

June 1, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Iran, Islam, Politics, Terrorism

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JFK: What Kind of Peace?

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“What kind of peace do we seek? John F KennedyNot a PAX Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave.

I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women — not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.” – John F. Kennedy (1963)

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Beautiful and true, these words come from the website of Shirley Golub (, who’s taking on Rep. Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, over Pelosi’s refusal to begin impeachment proceedings against the President.

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Written by Monte

May 27, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Catonsville Nine: “think less of the law, and more of justice”

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Catonsville NineJesus goes so often to the essence of things, rather than the appearance of them. Sometimes, his followers do, as well.

Forty years ago [May 17, 1968], nine committed followers of Christ entered the Selective Service Office in Catonsville. They moved past three surprised office workers, who questioned what they were doing but did not stop them. The nine quickly gathered 378 1-A draft files in wire baskets, then took them to the parking lot and immolated them with a homemade version of napalm. They prayed quietly over the burning papers until the police arrested them 15 minutes later. […]

The catalyst for this, of course, was the unbelievably brutal war in Vietnam.

By 1968, the Vietnam War was ripping America apart. Our actions seemed insane, our rationales ever shifting, our goal never clear. The impact on Vietnamese society as well as on our troops was confusing, demoralizing and deadly. What was clear, however, was that we were dropping more than 9 million tons of bombs on Indochina’s military and civilian populations. We were dropping 72 million liters of biochemical poisons on the land and its people. And, of course, there was hell’s fire: napalm. We used 400,000 tons of it.

By May 1968, the Catonsville Nine had enough. They chose to directly confront the state, to protest where the nation’s leaders had taken us. […]

Controversial? Of course. These are hard and costly decisions. But some of their argument is persuasively Christ-like:

In a play written by another of the nine, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, and based upon the trial transcripts of their conviction, his brother Philip argued: “Let lawmakers, judges and lawyers think less of the law, and more of justice; less of legal ritual, more of human rights. To our bishops and superiors, we say: Learn something about the gospel and something about illegitimate power. When you do, you will liquidate your investments, take a house in the slums, or even join us in jail.” […]

Less of the law and more of justice. Less of legal ritual, more of human rights. So relevant today. Such a deeply Christian sentiment, correcting the self-righteousness questions of legality that infect our dialog about so many issues.

Yes, that could be the voice of Jesus.

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Web filter bypass for Persian sites

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I’ve benefited from meeting many phenomenally interesting Iranians on the web. (Talking with them will make you homesick for Iran, even if you’ve never been there! I’d love to go . . . But that’s another story.)

Today I stumbled onto this Firefox add-on and list it here, in case it could be helpful. Cheers!

FreeAccess Plus! 1.0.5

by MohammadR

Bypass filter of YouTube,, Flickr,,,, MySpace, Hi5 and some Persian (farsi) sites in Iran and other countries that blocked this sites … Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 12, 2008 at 11:46 am

Posted in Iran

Skeptical about the Surge

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Iraq has become SomaliaGet used to hearing about the Surge. Unless Iraq completely blows up between now and November, it’ll be touted again and again as proof of that a military solution can succeed there. That story needs to be carefully examined.

It’s is convincing on the surface: troops went in, violence went down. Never mind that the purpose of the surge was to buy time for the government to make a political surge, and that didn’t happen. For (as is common in Mr. Bush’s world) the mission was re-defined retroactively—from empowering a government breakthrough, to simply quieting the violence—and then proclaimed a success.

But many now question whether the decrease in violence itself had anything to do with putting extra Americans in harm’s way. It may be that Iraq is simply becoming like Somalia: segregated groups, governed by warlords. Here’s one of the journalists who thinks so.

Nir Rosen is a freelance journalist and a fellow at NYU’s Center for Law and Security. Rosen is the author of The Triumph of the Martyrs: A Reporter’s Journey into Occupied Iraq, which is coming out in its second edition this month. His latest article, “The Myth of the Surge,” was published in Rolling Stone magazine last month. This interview is excerpted from DemocracyNow!

AMY GOODMAN: “The Myth of the Surge”—why is it a myth?

NIR ROSEN: Well, it’s been propagated by the right and accepted by the left in the US that the surge, which is really an escalation of troops—“surge” is just a euphemism—the escalation of troops by 30,000 soldiers, somehow brought peace to Iraq. And this is just an absolute lie. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

April 1, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Stop the Clash of Civilizations

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Dazzling 2.5 minute video from – in the running for best 2007 political video – you can see the others and vote, if you like, at 2007 Video Awards. If you have trouble with videos stopping and starting, click pause, let the thermometer fill up a bit with gray, then play.

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Written by Monte

March 19, 2008 at 8:46 pm