49ers embezzling half a million dollars from SF on parking fees -- fine, let the small-time thieves move -- as far away as possible

Too bad. I like the people I know who live in and around Santa Clara and wouldn't wish that family of small-time pickpockets on them.

People say Bangkok is a real shithole -- maybe that would be a perfect fit -- how about moving there?

As we reported about a month ago,the city controller contends the 49ers owe San Franciscans more than half a million bucks in miscalculated parking fees at Candlestick Park - $569,041 to be exact.

Yet despite the official report released Wednesday, the team continues to say the argument is nonsense.

The city contends that parking rent must be paid based on sold parking spaces, not on the size of the 7,000-space city lot. Invariably, parking pass holders don't show and then other fans pay to use those spots, but the team isn't giving the city a cut of that extra money, said Rich Hillis, deputy director at the Recreation and Park Department.

"It's not a gift to the 49ers. They sold parking," Hillis said. "They don't refund the money, they keep it. Whether people show up or not, they have to pay the appropriate tax and the appropriate lease payment."

The team called that argument "simply wrong."

"The city is not entitled to rent for prepaid cars that park in other parking areas, or that do not park there at all," Larry MacNeil, the team's chief financial officer, wrote to the auditor.

So, anyone want to build a new stadium together?




It seems pretty simple -- a US Postage Stamp to mark the 100th anniversary of Actor's Equity

A simple petition to sign to vote for a Postage Stamp to celebrate 100 years of Actor's Equity.

Here's the story ---

On May 26, 2013, AEA will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of its founding. Many events are being planned to celebrate a century of professional theatre in America and AEA's unique contribution to our country's culture and society. We are applying to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee and the Postmaster General of the Unites States to be honored with a commemorative stamp. The process is highly competitive and has to begin years in advance.

We are doing everything we can to be selected- making a good case that AEA merits the honor of a stamp, reaching out to elected officials and organizing an AEA Centennial Stamp Committee under Kate Burton and Dana Ivey's leadership to engage celebrities in the effort.


Here's the wording of the petition:

May 2009

Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
U.S. Postal Service
1735 North Lynn St., Suite 5013
Arlington, VA 22209-6432

Dear Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee:

For almost 100 years, Actors' Equity Association has represented America's professional theatre, ensuring the dignity of Actors and Stage Managers throughout the United States, serving as the conscience of the professional theatre community, exemplifying our National ideals of hard work, artistic excellence, social equality and humanitarian values, and bringing the words, music and dance of American plays and musicals, in good times and bad, to audiences numbering millions of Americans and generations of theater lovers around the world.

I am, therefore, proud to add my name to those who support the issuance in May 2013 of a national commemorative stamp to mark the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Actors' Equity Association and 100 years of professional American theater.



Here's the link to the petition again.


Judge Sotomayor -- why don't the Repugnicans drop the pretense and just call her a "spic bitch" and be done with it.

That's what they're saying so politely, and not so politely -- for example, Romney and Huckabee.

Their objections? She's not a man. She's not "white." She's not rich. She's not a religious poseur. They may not even know -- as we've seen from several recent Repugnican statements, that Puerto Rico is American soil and Puerto Ricans are actually American citizens.

Mitch McConnell started it off with a sleazy insult, in essence saying that despite education at Princeton and Yale, despite the fact that the senate investigated and confirmed her twice, once on the nomination by George H W Bush and again on the nomination to the next position by Bill Clinton, still, she probably doesn't know the law:

"We will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences."

Political preferences?
Personal preferences?

What that means is she's NOT a rich WHITE man, so obviously her judgment can not be trustworthy. She can't be counted on to go along with the attitude that we get from the statists: Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. The four comrades who will uphold ANYTHING that supports and allows pretty much any presidential whim overriding the constitution.

They call it an "imperial" presidency, but it's not really "imperial."
The way they march in lockstep with Big Guy is less like any royalty and more like the Comintern -- the Marxist Soviet Commissars of the 1950's.

Of course, since the minute Obama said "empathy" (and after the Repugs ran to the dictionary to find out what that word meant), they have been screaming bloody murder -- in essence saying "He's the most radical president EVER!!! He wants a supreme court justice to actually notice there are people out there who have to live under those laws."

Frankly, this court garners a great deal of well-earned contempt -- the selling of the presidency to the Bush family, and even more egregiously, the court decision that refused stay of execution for a prisoner who was exonerated when the crime he'd been convicted of was confessed to by someone else (but after the period for a type of appeal had expired).

That unbelievable majority opinion:

"Innocence, in and of itself is not a sufficient reason to stay the execution."*

Fuck 'em.

The court (and the Senate and the House of Reprobates) need people who know what it's like to grow up poor and pissed on.

(HEY! There are plenty of us out here who would gladly enlarge their educational experience by taking all their money and then pissing on their shoes. Scalia -- who has a sense of humor -- would probably laugh at this suggestion, but not at the wet shoes.)

It's bizarre -- with all their cumulative education, they don't even realize that they've been bought and paid for by their social class, their political angels, their blind biases. Their attitude seems to be:

"Oh but we already have a girl. And she's a Jew, too. And Scalia and Alito -- both Eyties -- isn't that enough for you radical activists who want the court to actually notice there are people who have to live with our decisions?")

Perhaps they need to have this quote from Upton Sinclair engraved over the back door entrance they use (let's call it The Servant's Quarters):

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something
when his salary depends on not understanding it."

But public service is important, so let me know --
I'll even pay my own way to DC to do them the service of pissing on their shoes.

*This may not be verbatim, but it was the essence of it.




When we get to the top we go back to the bottom and we start all over again...

...evolutionarily speaking.

And something of the animal rights anarcho-nihilist in me just loves this.

Hey, if the Christers can revel in their sadistic fantasies of Hell and The End Times, can't we Natural History buffs enjoy The Revenge of The Dragons?


Komodo dragon attacks terrorize Indonesia villages

May 24, 2009

KOMODO ISLAND, Indonesia (AP) — Komodo dragons have shark-like teeth and poisonous venom that can kill a person within hours of a bite. Yet villagers who have lived for generations alongside the world's largest lizard were not afraid — until the dragons started to attack...

Komodo dragon attacks are still rare, experts note. But fear is swirling through the fishing villages, along with questions on how best to live with the dragons in the future.

Main, a 46-year-old park ranger, was doing paperwork when a dragon slithered up the stairs of his wooden hut in Komodo National Park and went for his ankles dangling beneath the desk. When the ranger tried to pry open the beast's powerful jaws, it locked its teeth into his hand.

"I thought I wouldn't survive... I've spent half my life working with Komodos and have never seen anything like it," said Main, pointing to his jagged gashes, sewn up with 55 stitches and still swollen three months later. "Luckily, my friends heard my screams and got me to hospital in time..."

Story continues here:


Venom is Komodo dragon's lethal weapon

The Times Online May 20, 2009

A Komodo dragon

The Komodo dragon is not just the largest living lizard, but also one of the most venomous creatures on Earth, scientists have discovered.

The carnivorous animal, which can tear its prey apart, kills with venom rather than bacteria-laden bites, as scientists had always believed.

The dragons, which grow to a length of about 10ft and weigh about 130lb (60kg) are vicious predators that prey on animals as large as deer.

They attack their victim by biting and tearing at it repeatedly, then wait as it dies a lingering death...

Times article continues HERE:


Tuesday 24 March 2009 06.44 GMT

Komodo dragons maul man to death

Stephen Bates

Fruit picker attacked after he fell from tree in Indonesia

Komodo dragon

Two Komodo dragons have mauled a fruit picker to death after he fell out of a tree in an orchard in eastern Indonesia, in a rare attack on humans by the world's largest lizard.

The man, Muhamad Anwar, 31, was found bleeding from bites to his hands, body, legs and neck within minutes of falling out of a sugar-apple tree on the island of Komodo and died later at a clinic on neighbouring Flores. The giant lizards had been waiting for him under the tree, according to a neighbour, Theresia Tawa.

Continues HERE:


And doesn't that last sentence just write the screenplay?

"..waiting for him under the tree..."


Komodo dragons kill Indonesian fisherman



What Cheney doesn't understand

OK -- they all want to say "He's sincere -- he has what's best for America at heart," which I really can't buy -- hard to accept that he really believed that ONLY his old pals at Halliburton-KGB were competent enough to take the billions of dollars to pull off the immense jobs in Iraq.

(Doing things like installing wiring that electrocutes American military personnel while they're showering sort of suggests they weren't exactly on top of the game.)

But ok, sincerity and honesty isn't the point -- pathology is -- there's something he does not seem to understand -- it's the same thing Rambo and Jack Bauer and all the other fictional masturbatory heroes don't understand:


and none of them seem to know the difference which is why all of them are the wrong one, including Nixon and Kissinger who bragged about their "insanity" ploy in Vietnam, i.e., "pretend you're insane and they'll give up earlier." That was a pair of rabid ones, and THEY ONLY THOUGHT they were pretending. (Hmmm -- Cheney and Redrum, were in THAT mix, too.)



Oh one more thing about the current rewriting of history...

A weird asshole named Hannity, another one named Cheney, and many others are pointing to Clinton as the one who got us attacked, that "he had opportunities to get Ben Ladn but he did nothing."

Some of us DON'T have impaired memory -- every time Bill Clinton tried to get people to focus on Ben ladn and terrorism the Rupugnants screamed like the Pod People, pointing their fingers and saying "WAGGING THE DOG! HE'S TRYING TO MAKE US FORGET MONICA!" (I always found it amusing that the Repugnicans spent a lot more time getting off on Monica than the President ever did.)

That's aside from the Hart-Rudman Report/Analysis of how to deal with imminent terrorism Clinton ordered, and which they spent several years putting together talking with every anti-terrorism outfit in the world, the one that congress was enthusiastically reviewing until Monkey Boy came in and pulled it, saying "I'll have Cheney look it over."


Cheney says not to call it torture

I guess it's OK, since he seems to call it "My viagra."

Was it good and hard, Dick?

Is THAT what you miss so much about not being able to snarl out an order to go mutilate someone?

Oh, too bad.


Cheney's addiction

Well, since Whoopie Goldberg already called Glen Beck the broadcast version of "lying sack of dogshit," that's been used.

Wouldn't be what I have to say, anyway, about Dick Cheney's Sedition Tour, even though you could describe Cheney quite accurately with that phrase -- just not to the core of what's going on.

But if you've ever seen junkies, crack or meth addicts, you know that unwholesome vibration of weirdness and self-serving whining. It's the need for a fix when you haven't got the price and are willing to commit any crime to get it.

Cheney is and has been terminally addicted to his own self-importance, and he's less than important unless he has power and influence. He's had that for so long (hanging onto it with threats and payoffs and plunder for his pals) that he's terrified to find himself out and needing to be just another asshole who has to face his ghosts and crimes as they hover accusingly in the dark late night. For a meaningless vehicle of corruption like him to be without power and authority is as if he's being deprived of oxygen. Death is more acceptable than to have to man up and own up to his crimes.

But like the junkie on the skids, he hasn't got the price for a fix -- he no longer has the authority vested in him by the Bush family and Halliburton, no longer has or is able to spend the currency that came from sitting in the dark shadows, hiding from the boogie-man under some rock, letting a sock puppet front for him and snarling his monstrous orders ... he became the boogie-man, and maybe he liked that -- if no one likes you, or respects you, or can tolerate you, then what's left is to scare them. But without the power, he's no longer scary, just pathetic. Without the power, no one needs to smile when they see him, no one needs to return his phone calls.

And what was he saying with today's speech?

"Everything I did (or took credit for) was good and perfect and kept Americans safe."

"Everything this usurping darky and his dyke bitch* is doing is going to get all of you killed so be very very afraid." (Oh he didn't SAY those words -- darky, bitch -- that contemptuous sneer said it loud and clear and everyone knows it, even though, being a facial expression and tone of voice, it gets to be deniable, something he's always been quite good at.

Every time he opens his mouth, he covers the same list of issues that he desperately doesn't want any special investigators to look at and determine for him or her self just what went on.

That's logical enough -- most of them are felonies and still within the Statute of Limitations.

"Pay no attention to the crimes committed by this man behind the curtain when he had the power."

No one ever said he wasn't smart -- just vicious and self-serving, a toady and plunderer for his power-backers at Halliburton, KGB -- uh, I mean KBR.

He kept us safe?


He didn't even read the memos.

9-11 happened while Cheney and Bush were asleep at the wheel -- 9-11 is THEIR failure.

Anyone not so hide-under-the-bed-terrified as he was by 9-11 could see that it was the solid economic strike -- it took down the airline industry and half a dozen other major ones -- there was no need for Ben Ladn's people to do it again. They hit the mother ship centers of the people who, in their view, were fucking with them -- the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The CIA people knew there really wasn't any such thing as Al Quaeda as a centralized organization. Just a label anyone with a grudge -- justifiable or not -- could adopt for his own gang. And some of those grudge-holders WERE the result of seeing what Bush and Redrum and Cheney did to Arabs and Muslims.

Ben Ladn's grudge came from -- and he said it right out loud and made it clear -- came from Poppy Bush putting a military base in Arabia. He didn't so much mind that Bush 41 faked up his own war against Saddam Hussein -- if he hadn't, Ben Ladn would have -- he DESPISED Saddam Hussein and everyone in the intelligence community knew it. No alliance possible there.

But since Cheney no longer feels a need to piss on the CIA for his own personal aggrandizement as he did when in office, now he's their best buddy -- but only on the issues where people have pointed a finger AT HIM, and now he says they're REALLY pointing a finger at the CIA operatives.

I know that politicians lie, but this was a tour de force of total insane fabrication.

It's definitely SEDITION -- and he's getting closer and closer to outright TREASON.

If he were a dog, we'd call the SPCA out of compassion to come and put him down -- put him out of his misery.


*No, not Michelle Obama -- Nancy Pelosi, the bete noir of every Repugnican politician with warped mommy issues. Maybe that's what you get from going wankywanky while thinking about a grandmother with a large bosom.



The election's over and the business of cleaning out the Bush-Cheney Augean Stables of filth, rot, plunder, payoffs, corruption and destruction is underway.

The Repugnants's business also goes on -- that of sedition and undercutting the attempt to fix things because THEY aren't doing it. They seem to forget what got us here.

I actually watched some doofus name Hannity trying to convince Jesse Ventura that one of Bush's problems was that HE INHERITED 9-11.

And I was delighted, when he said "What could Bush have done?" and Ventura said "Well, he could have read the August 6 memo that stated exactly what Ben ladn was planning. (Also pleased that he mentioned the rarely-heard point that, before Bush's daddy -- and daddy's friends -- bought him a job as Governor and then President, W's business failure was bailed out by Ben ladn's brother)

Other than that, I've lost my taste for watching even the people who share my point of view.

And I think back over my life to see if there's any wisdom I can recall that will help in this situation (the old "why didn't someone tell me about this? followed by "Oh, yeah, someone did...") and I remember an old friend nailing all this stuff dead center...

He said:


Dave Klemp is the friend and philosopher who summed this up one or two times ago when the same thing happened.

Hey Dave -- your insight and wisdom still echoes and rings true.


Let's hear it for Ron Reagan

I've occasionally thought it must gall Ron Reagan to hear someone like Rush Limbaugh even mentioning his father's name, let alone claiming his authority from the late president.

I, like a lot of people, had little love for President Reagan's programs, but he had a focus and a stance and strong uncompromising principles and I would imagine his sense of kindness would allow him to do what most of us wouldn't, i.e., actually piss on Rush Limbaugh if he were on fire.

So it was my delight to read this as posted on Tim Graham's blog

One thing Reagan said on the audio (link is below) that wasn't in this transcript was reminding us about the time Rush was stopped at customs with a suitcase full of Viagra... remembering that make this callout even more amusing:

Ron Reagan Junior: 'Limbaugh Hasn't Had a Natural Erection Since the Nixon Administration'

They used to mock the manhood of Ron Reagan ("Junior") for being a ballet dancer. But Junior is striking back on his leftist Air America radio show. He would not stand for Rush Limbaugh joking about Nancy Pelosi shaking from "Botox withdrawal," and even recycled a January routine in which Limbaugh joked to keep the birth rate down, "simply put pictures of Nancy Pelosi ... in every cheap motel room." Reagan Junior unloaded on Limbaugh being on thin ice for making erection jokes (click here for the entire audio):

Limbaugh hasn't had a natural erection since the Nixon Administration; think he's compensating for something? Now, I wouldn't pick on him for any of this stuff, not his blubbiness, not his man-boobs, not his inability to have a natural erection -- none of that stuff -- to me, off limits until! until! -- Mr. Limbaugh, you turn that sort of gun on somebody else -- once you start doing that, you're fair game, fat boy. Absolutely, you jiggly pile of mess. You're just fair game, and you're going to get it, too. [Laughs] You'd better watch what you say, Limbaugh, because it can come back the other way.

Junior also strangely claimed that Pelosi looks pretty good for a grandma, but Limbaugh looks like "the unholy spawn of Tony Soprano and the Michelin Man."

He also jumped all over CNN analyst Alex Castellanos joking that "If Speaker Pelosi were still capable of human facial expression, she'd be embarrassed" by the "Nixon-like position" she's in. He said "This from a guy who looks like he just stepped out of a road production of [the Harvey Fierstein drag-queen musical] La Cage Aux Folles."

—Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center



Regarding torture and Guantanamo

Regarding these two issues, the rationale in favor seems to be largely based on two fictional characters -- Jack Bauer in the TV series 24 and Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men.

Real life people who have been there, seen it done, perhaps done it themselves, have repeatedly made it clear that the "ticking bomb" scenario is, as one of them said "So far from reasonable possibility as to be absurd to even consider."

Still, people watch the show, and for some seriously sexually sick humans (and I include our former Vice President and his hench-creatures in that category) the idea and/or fact of torture acts as a sort of viagra.

Former CIA agent and novelist, the late Edward Whittemore, put it this way in Sinai Tapestry : "...they were appalled by Strongbow's assertion that any military expedition was merely a disguised sexual sickness, more specifically a profound fear of impotence... Thus armies were raised, he said, because it was likely their raisers could raise nothing else."

As to Guantanamo, my reaction to the famous "You can't handle the truth" line in that play was immediate. "No colonel -- YOU can't handle the truth. The truth is, you're washed up in a tropical tidepool. You're never going to get to be a general. They've put you, for whatever reasons, in a place where the biggest threat is some Cubano farmer taking potshots across the wire. What YOU can't handle, colonel, is that your career is over and the Marine Corps have tested you and found you wanting."

So the internment of people suspected of being terrorists is just the latest excuse to hold on to a piece of another country's land. I wondered about Gitmo when I was in the Marines and still wonder about it. What the hell is Gitmo about? Polishing up an old award that the Marines won in 1898? Some real-estate version of the Mameluke sword? Having an outpost to hold off the naval invasion of the USA? Whatever -- it is Cuban land and we only shame outselves with what they do there.

This latest pile of steaming crap about "We can't have those terrorists in American jails. These are evil people."

Right and the jail breaks of Charles Manson and Timothy McVey and the Unibomber, et al are proof that ... they HAVEN'T escaped? NONE of them? Ok, a bit of sarcasm may be inappropriate. The point being, they ARE in an American jail -- the one in Cuba.

Has ANYONE ever escaped from Pelican Bay?

You'd think the people who make such huge profits from our prison system would leap to embrace the idea of building a NEW escape-proof dungeon where no prying journalistic eyes can go.

But if they were rational they wouldn't be doing what they're doing in the first place.

Still they like money -- so how about an escape-proof facility where the public can come and pay $25 each to throw feces at the prisoners? $50? $100? The media serving the powers that be have gotten people scared enough that it could be a money-machine that would pay for itself.

Feel free to use the idea.



Well it's not ACTUALLY lying, is it? It's a clever way of wording it so you won't notice he's selling you a sack of shit right away.

Sleazy smarmy slippery ad by Repugnicans to show why it's ok they will just refuse to even discuss how to reform the healthcare system for the benefit of the people who use it as patients, but just scream "NO! NO! NO! DEVILS! DEMONS! COMMUNISTS!

This ad should be shown in ALL college courses on advertising as an example of how to get totally vicious and sleazy and amoral enough to create a totally false impression that works for your own profit -- sort of like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now telling Martin Sheen he knew we couldn't win when he saw that the VC had cut off the vaccinated arms of babies and thrown them into a big pile in the center of town, and that pile of babies arms showed him that we couldn't win because none of us had the stomach to do something that hideously vile... same with this commercial.:

Some man who claims to have been a doctor is seen in low-production-value head shot (as if it were a home-made video) and he says -- (watch the number of "I didn't actually say that" phrases -- Not a verbatim quote here but close enough to show the shell game going on)

"SOME Republicans have
that the government runs health care...
so that BUREAUCRATS decide what treatment you're allowed to have ..."

And then some crap about how he was a doctor and that would be TERRIBLE.

And it's so vile, I can never remember the whole thing, even though the news is running it every half hour. The point is: he's not ACTUALLY lying, is he?

SOME OF US -- well not ME, but SOME Republicans
have said they've READ ABOUT how SOME Democrats --
well not the ones you know but SOME of them, the evil ones OTHER DEMOCRATS vote for ---
MIGHT FAVOR health care reform run by the government (meaning they might actually ask, in meetings "What's wrong with government single-payer, like Medicare?)
and that MIGHT MEAN, a system in which BUREAUCRATS (AIYEE!) can do to YOU what the insurance companies do right now, i.e., deny you the care your doctors want you to have but for political reasons instead of profit-margin ones (possibly because your doctor ALREADY KNOWS not to prescribe certain things because "Well, it might cure you but your health plan won't pay for it.")

This is in line with (possibly done by the same ad agency) the "As you get older, your legs MIGHT feel heavy and tired, AND IF your legs are tired it MIGHT mean you have blood clotting from P.A.D and IF you have P.A.D it MIGHT MEAN you MIGHT have a heart attack and SO get your doctor to buy our medicine to treat the thing YOU MIGHT HAVE (P.A.D.) because

One really good thing about Mao's China was that people who wrote things like that ad could be executed. Or sent to re-education camps at the very least.

(The other good thing was unifying the language via television.)



Testifying, but NOT under oath -- let me get this straight...

Is there ANY OTHER POSSIBLE MEANING to agreeing to testify before congress or an independent prosecutor, but NOT UNDER OATH than that the person (Cheney, Rove, et al) is saying




Two thoughts on the current presence of Dick Cheney and his masterful ability to actually achieve something not unlike human form

* What Cheney's doing has a legal name:

* It's called SEDITION.

* Obama may be -- to our disappointment -- not opening up the records and allowing the DoJ to throw down on the sadists and monsters that are right now crawling out of the Nixon-Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Establishment. (And former FBI agent made it pretty clear in his statement that it was possibly nothing more than some sadistic -- possibly sexual -- that drove the Cheney policy of what he's now afraid to allow people to call by its proper name -- torture.)

* This concerted, continuing, public campaign to undermine the legitimate, legally-elected government used to be a felony. Is it not still?

* This band of vermin tried their best during Bill Clinton's administration to do a congressional coup of the legal government. Didn't work.

* Next they bribed the Supreme court to quasi-legitimize their sock-puppet. Easy enough to look back over government records to see how family members were appointed to plum jobs -- of course THEY might argue it wasn't payoff at all but merely appointing people they could count on to help carry out the policy of intimidation and repression.

* And now this creature of darkness and hate, this thing who needed to stay out of the light because -- perhaps -- he could only achieve human form intermittently -- is continually trying to agitate the discontents to the point of -- and I have no doubt this has crossed his mind -- to the point of assassination. (Is it wrong to vilify someone who insists that it's ok to torture someone because that person SCARES HIM? I don't think so.)

* And about which he'll innocently point to himself and say "Me? Why I never wanted anyone to HARM the president."

* And we'll believe that as much as we believe anything else he says. But if that horrible event happens, it will be -- as with JFK -- too late and another 40+ years until human beings have someone to lead and stand up to this conspiracy of unwholesome creatures who have crawled out from under the rocks that keep the light away from them.

* And people will say: "Too bad we never got to see what he could do."

* Because it will kill the dream once more. And even if we don't believe Cheney and his hench-creatures actually want assassination, a wise man told me, back when people were pointing a finger at him and his for conspiring to create 9-11, "Of course they didn't do it. But what horrifies us is -- now that it's done -- we know in our hearts they were CAPABLE of doing it for their own benefit."

* To quote Orson Welles' character in the movie of Catch-22:

* "What do you mean I (we) can't just have this man taken out and shot?"

* Well, like torture, if we become what we right now behold, that would pretty much complete their agenda.

* But it is NOT premature to begin pressing charges against Cheney (and his co-conspirators) for sedition.



So it's still "Does torture work?" Even though we now KNOW it wasn't what got us the info.

I guess it's a success that Cheney and his hench-creatures have managed to shift the dialogue from torture being the historically monstrous signature of sexually-sick creatures that we -- I certainly hope -- do NOT wish to become -- to

"Does it Work? If there were a ticking bomb... If Jack Bauer were a real person, you'd have to agree."

This is the new form of the unbelievably same old tired the boot camp question asked back during draft years:

"Private -- what if a battalion of Red Chinese were raping your mother? Would you have an ethical problem THEN?"

It's been a long time, but that's pretty close to verbatim, the question I was asked back then.

(The fact that the base chaplain's actual Sunday sermon was "Why Jesus would have been a Marine," may be irrelevant other than to provide new scripts for Superman's Bizarro-World comics.)

And yet, like Charlie Brown and the football we fall for it every time.

Excuse the profanity, but the quote that best summed it up was from Charles Bukowski:

"Wars, politics, causes -- for thousands of years we've ended up with a sack of shit. It's time we learned to think."

But of course the concerted onslaught of politics and media and entertainment all seems to have the effect to interfere with the ability to think. "But what if Jack Bauer were a REAL person? What smartass kind of remark would you make THEN?"

Yeah, but he isn't. And -- to some extent -- neither are the people who ask that question.

-- Saintperle


Soufan: CIA torture actually hindered our intelligence gathering

I'm printing this in entirety in case it's restricted to Premium subscribers (the best $25 or so I've spent annually for the past few years)

Soufan: CIA torture actually hindered our intelligence gathering

An FBI agent testifies that an al-Qaida prisoner provided useful intelligence until the CIA got rough -- and casts doubt on Bush's statements about the effectiveness of harsh interrogations.

By Mark Benjamin

May. 14, 2009 |

The testimony of a key witness at a Senate hearing Wednesday raised serious questions about the truthfulness of former President George W. Bush's own personal defense of the CIA's brutal interrogation program. Former FBI agent Ali Soufan also indicated that the harsh interrogation techniques may actually have hindered the collection of intelligence, causing a high-value prisoner to stop cooperating.

In the first congressional hearing on torture since the release of Bush administration memos that provided the legal justification for torture, Soufan told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the CIA's abusive techniques were "ineffective, slow and unreliable, and as a result harmful to our efforts to defeat al-Qaida." According to Soufan, his own nonviolent interrogation of an al-Qaida suspect was quickly yielding valuable, actionable intelligence -- until the CIA intervened.

Soufan was with the FBI on March 28, 2002, when the United States captured its first suspected al-Qaida operative after 9/11, a man named Abu Zubaydah, held at a secret location overseas. Soufan had investigated terrorism cases dating back to the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998, and he was one of the first experts called after Zubaydah's capture.

Soufan, who testified at the hearing from behind a partition to hide his identity, worked on a small team of interrogators utilizing tried-and-true techniques that emphasize knowing the detainee's language, understanding his culture, leveraging known information about a detainee, and sometimes using a bit of trickery. The method is based on rapport and is believed by experienced interrogators to result in the most reliable actionable intelligence. "It is about outwitting the detainee by using a combination of interpersonal, cognitive and emotional strategies to get the information needed," Soufan said in written testimony, which he paraphrased on Wednesday.

"For example," Soufan told the committee, "in my first interrogation of the terrorist Abu Zubaydah ... I asked him his name. He replied with his alias. I then asked him, 'How 'bout if I call you Hani?'"

"[Hani] was the name his mother nicknamed him as a child," recalled Soufan. "He looked at me in shock, said, OK,' and we started talking."

"Within the first hour of interrogation," Soufan said, "we gained actionable intelligence." Soufan could not say what that information was because it remains classified. Zubaydah had been injured during his capture, and Soufan's team arranged for medical care and continued talking to the prisoner. Within the next few days, Soufan made one of the most significant intelligence breakthroughs of the so-called war on terror. He learned from Zubaydah that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind behind the attacks on 9/11.

Then, however, a CIA interrogation team from Washington led by a contractor arrived at the secret location. Zubaydah was stripped naked and the contractor began a series of coercive, abusive interrogations, based on Cold War-era communist techniques designed to elicit false confessions. During the Korean War, for example, Chinese interrogators employed the measures to get captured American pilots to make false confessions. "The new techniques did not produce results, as Abu Zubaydah shut down and stopped talking," Soufan explained. "After a few days of getting no information, and after repeated inquiries from D.C. asking why all of a sudden no information was being transmitted ... we again were given control of the interrogation."

As Soufan and his team resumed their interrogation, Zubaydah revealed information about Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber."

But after that, the CIA and the contractor again took over, using what Soufan called an "untested theory" that the Cold War techniques might work for getting good information. "Again, however, the technique wasn't working," Soufan recalled.

Soufan's team was brought back yet again. "We found it harder to reengage him this time, because of how the techniques had affected him," Soufan noted. "But eventually, we succeeded."

A third time the CIA and the contractor team took over, using increasingly brutal methods. Soufan reported what he called "borderline torture" to his superiors in Washington. In protest of the abuse, former FBI Director Robert Mueller pulled Soufan out of the location.

On Sept. 6, 2006, President Bush revealed the network of secret CIA prisons set up under his command and defended the CIA's interrogation program. On Wednesday, Soufan described Zubaydah as a cooperative prisoner who became uncooperative when abused. Three years ago, Bush described a recalcitrant Zubaydah who accidentally revealed the name of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and then clammed up -- having been trained to resist traditional interrogation techniques -- forcing the CIA to get rough.

"Within months of Sept. 11, 2001, we captured a man named Abu Zubaydah," Bush said. The president said the CIA arranged medical care for the suspected terrorist's injuries. "After he recovered," Bush said, "Zubaydah was defiant and evasive."

"During questioning, he, at first, disclosed what he thought was nominal information and then stopped all cooperation," Bush said, noting that Zubaydah had revealed the role of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Bush did not mention the FBI.

"We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives," the president added. "But he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation," Bush went on. "And so, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures."

Soufan's description of events also differs from official Justice Department memoranda defending the CIA program. A May 30, 2005, memorandum from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, drafted by attorney Steven Bradbury, defends the CIA's program as legal and also effective.

"Interrogations of Zubaydah -- again, once enhanced techniques were employed -- furnished detailed information regarding al-Qaida's organizational structure, key operatives, and modus operandi and identified KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks," Bradbury wrote in a memo to the CIA. "You have informed us that Zubaydah also provided significant information on two operatives, including Jose Padilla, who planned to build and detonate a 'dirty bomb' in [the] Washington, DC area."

During testimony Wednesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked Soufan if Bradbury's memo was incorrect. "Yes, sir," answered Soufan. The former FBI agent also suggested that Bush had been told "half truths" about the CIA. George Little, a CIA spokesman, suggested to Salon in an e-mail that Soufan might be wrong. "Today we heard one account of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah," Little said. "There are others."

-- By Mark Benjamin


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