Monday, January 26, 2009

Not In My Prison Yard!

The ACLU has taken some unpopular stands, primarily over state religious issues, while pissing off and frightening reactionaries, an amusing, necessary component of any serious attempt at political/social evolution. Yet the ACLU, like any other advocacy group, is oftentimes too courteous and mild when courting the powers-that-be. Its current campaign, seen at leading liblogs, calls on liberals to sign this statement and send it to Obama (who I'm sure can't wait to read it):

"Thank you for taking decisive action on civil liberties -- issuing four executive orders to close Guantánamo, end the military commissions, ban torture and delay the al-Marri trial.

"I am proud that in your first 48 hours in office you are beginning to free America from the civil liberties outrages and human rights abuses of the Bush era.

"I promise you my support as you continue to take actions to renew American justice and look forward to your next steps towards ending this national shame and restoring America's moral leadership in the world."

Luckily, I cleaned my puke bucket last night, so I didn't need to leave my desk after reading this.

Allan Nairn, who has extensive experience exposing American-backed torture, including nearly being killed by Indonesian troops in East Timor, rips away the mask beneath the hood:

"Obama's Executive Order bans some -- not all -- US officials from torturing but it does not ban any of them, himself included, from sponsoring torture overseas.

"Indeed, his policy change affects only a slight percentage of US-culpable tortures and could be completely consistent with an increase in US-backed torture worldwide.

"The catch lies in the fact that since Vietnam, when US forces often tortured directly, the US has mainly seen its torture done for it by proxy -- paying, arming, training and guiding foreigners doing it, but usually being careful to keep Americans at least one discreet step removed.

"That is, the US tended to do it that way until Bush and Cheney changed protocol, and had many Americans laying on hands, and sometimes taking digital photos.

"The result was a public relations fiasco that enraged the US establishment since by exposing US techniques to the world it diminished US power.

"But despite the outrage, the fact of the matter was that the Bush/Cheney tortures being done by Americans were a negligible percentage of all of the tortures being done by US clients.

"For every torment inflicted directly by Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the secret prisons, there were many times more being meted out by US-sponsored foreign forces.

"Those forces were and are operating with US military, intelligence, financial or other backing in Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Nigeria, and the Philippines, to name some places, not to mention the tortures sans-American-hands by the US-backed Iraqis and Afghans."

The rest.