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07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]

07.19 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat

07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

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07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

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07.19 Are progressives working on a climate plan for 2021? You bet.

07.19 The 51 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump's repugnant North Carolina rally

07.19 The Real Meaning of ‘Send Her Back!’

07.18 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Breaking up Homeland Security

07.18 Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California

07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]

07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]

07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]

07.18 "Can't Change a Corrupt System by Taking Its Money": Sanders Urges All 2020 Democrats to Reject Insurance, Big Pharma Cash [49:02 video w/ lousy sound]

07.17 Why Democrats’ oversight machine is moving so slowly against Trump

07.17 Here's the real reason Trump is attacking 'the squad': he's scared of their politics

07.17 'Good,' Says Elizabeth Warren, After Billionaire Right-Winger Peter Thiel Says She's 2020 Democrat He Is 'Most Scared By'

07.17 The American Right Defines Patriotism As Complacency About Racism

07.17 This is what today's America looks like. The squad is us

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07.19 UN urged to act over 'purge' of Turkey's lawyers by Erdogan

07.19 DOJ Releases Strong Evidence of Trump’s Campaign Finance Violations But No Explanation of No Charges [The statement]

07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

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07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]

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07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

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07.19 U.N.'s Bachelet says Congresswomen opposing Trump are 'fantastic'

07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]

07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]

07.18 Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market

07.18 There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff

07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]

07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]

07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]

07.17 Trump’s Unlawful Asylum Policy Is a Jab at Mexico

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

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  Process Philosophy: Immorality and Imbecility in the Torture Memo Mess
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AMERICA'S OLIGARCHS ACT LIKE TALIBAN:

Process Philosophy: Immorality and Imbecility in the Torture Memo Mess

by Chris Floyd
Monday, 20 April 2009
Hooded man w/ child

Obama's illegal absolution of Bush's torturers -- and his continuation of the gulag are not suppositions. They are facts. We are not done with torture in America; not by a long shot. The current non-prosecution scandal -- as heinous as it is -- only deals with a very small CIA program for "high profile" detainees. Literally tens of thousands of other people have passed through the guts of the American gulag, and their hatred of us grows for it.
Let's do something we rarely do around these parts. Let's do a "process story," looking at an issue from the standpoint of how it plays out in the political game. As a rule, we prefer to focus much less on political kibitzing in the imperial courts, and more on the actual products of imperial policy: i.e., corpses, chaos and corruption. But just for a moment, let's "processize" Barack Obama's bold, progressive, morality-restoring decision not to prosecute anyone at all for the filthy, KGB-derived torture system installed by the very highest officials of the Bush Administration, even as he releases memos showing clearly that practices which are high crimes under U.S. law were explicitly authorized by the White House.

(And make no mistake; Obama has not only decided to let the actual, ground-level waterboarders, wall-slammers and child torturers get off scot-free; he is also going to let the gilded creators and framers of the system live on untroubled in peace, prosperity and privilege. Obama's chief gatekeeper and hatchet man, Rahm Emanuel, made this clear over the weekend, telling Beltway waterboy George Stephanopoulos: "But those who devised the [torture] policies – [Obama] believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either.")

Leaving aside the moral perversion of this action, consider what a boneheaded move it is politically. By releasing the memos, Obama has guaranteed the enmity of many powerful factions in the security organs -- the secretive, lawless, military-covert complex that holds such vast and deadly sway over imperial affairs. Yet by promising not to prosecute any of them for their glaring misdeeds, he has merely angered and embarrassed them to no good purpose. He has allowed them to roam free around the political landscape, denouncing and deriding him at every turn in the corporate media that is only too happy to treat torturers and mass-murdering war criminals as respectable, "serious" figures in affairs of state.

They won't thank him for absolving them of their capital crimes -- any more than they will thank him and laud him for his "continuity" of their imperial aggression in the never-ending Terror War. As we have often noted here, all of the major factions in America's imperial system share the same basic values and goals: the domination of national and world affairs by a wise elite -- who are of course entitled to a lion's share of power and privilege in return for bearing the terrible burden of leadership for the ignorant herd. (For a quintessential expression of the elite's underlying philosophy, see Dostoevsky's chapter on "The Grand Inquisitor" in The Brothers Karamazov.) However, the broad agreement on general themes means that much smaller differences over details will be fought all that much more fiercely, as factions jockey for position. Hairsplitting factional differences within a general movement often produce savage energies far out of proportion to the difference itself (much like the splitting of the atom): a dynamic that Lenin, for example, utilized to such great and vicious effect throughout his career. But you can see it anywhere and everywhere -- in the office, in a family, in a church. In the case of American politics, the imperial factions viciously exploit their minute differences in order to retain -- or regain -- the top rungs of power. The fact that they all share a general belief in the system doesn't matter in the primitive, gang-style mentality that rules our politics.

And so in this regard, Obama has made an egregiously stupid mistake. He has given his imperial rivals a big stick to beat him with, while failing to strike any kind of genuine, substantial blow at them. If he had instigated investigations and prosecutions across the board, bringing the full power of the state to bear, they would have spent the next few years reeling and squealing and scrambling to save their skins. Instead, he has shown that he is unwilling -- or too weak -- to do them any real harm in the factional warfare at court. And of course he continues to advance their own policies of militarism, authoritarianism and oligarchy at home and abroad, so he is obviously no threat to them at all on that score. (He would never have reached the White House if he was.) They will merely bide their time, disgorge their bile, and use their freedom and tranquility to undermine or stifle any minor mitigations of the system's excesses that the current imperial management might attempt from time to time.

Thus even in the amoral context of political gamesmanship, Obama's policy of transparency without accountability is a maladroit botch. Much like torture itself, it is hugely self-damaging -- and doesn't even work.

II.

Of course, the political imbroglio ignores the fact that Obama is absolutely obligated under the law to investigate and prosecute credible allegations of torture by government officials. Despite the deep, wise analysis of Rahm Emanuel, prosecuting torture is not a "decision" that Obama can make or not as he sees fit. It is a legal requirement under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the United States signed, thereby making it part of binding U.S. law. Not only does Obama's failure to prosecute constitute an illegal act in itself, the very excuses he offers for his action -- that CIA operatives tortured in "good faith" because the White House told them it was OK -- are specifically rejected under the torture law, as ThinkProgress reports:

Indeed, Article 2 of the convention on torture explains that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever” can be used to legally justify torture. Further, the convention states that an “order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”

[In an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Professor Manfred] Nowak explained that by invoking the OLC’s memos as justification for the actions of CIA agents against terrorist suspects in U.S. custody, Obama is acting contrary to U.S. obligations under the treaty:

STANDARD: In other words, by making this announcement, Obama has violated international law?

NOWAK: Correct. It is a violation of binding international treaty law in this case, because this is an international law convention — and it provides unequivocally that states are not merely obligated to make torture a crime, but also to prosecute any incidents of which credible evidence can be found.

None of this comes as any surprise, of course. It was clear during the presidential campaign that candidate Obama was not going to prosecute anyone for torture. As we noted exactly one year ago, drawing on an interview that the then-candidate gave to the Philadelphia Daily News:

Obama says that any decision to pursue "investigation" of "possibilities" of "genuine crimes" would be "an area where I would exercise judgment." He stressed the need to draw a distinction between "really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity." He said he would not want "my first term to be consumed by what would be perceived by Republicans as a partisan witch hunt."

He then tied his thinking on torture, illegal wiretapping, aggressive war and all the other depredations of the Bush Regime to his stance on impeachment:

"I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings. And I've often said, I do not think that would be something that would be fruitful to pursue. I think impeachment should be reserved for exceptional circumstances."

In other words, very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of launching a criminal war of aggression based on deception is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of the investigative and prosecutorial process of impeachment. It might just be a "very dumb policy." Very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of knowingly, deliberately creating a regimen of systematic torture is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of impeachment; it might not even be worth further investigation by the Justice Department. It too could just be a "dumb policy" that we should forget about – especially if Republicans are going to make a fuss about it.

Now all of that has come to pass. The Iraq War, far from being a war crime worthy of investigation -- or even a dumb policy -- is now "an extraordinary achievement," Obama says. As for obeying the law of the land and prosecuting officials for ordering and carrying out heinous tortures, we are told to forget it and just move on. Trust me, says Obama -- even as he outstrips George Bush in making aggressive claims for authoritarian power; even as he seeks to strip helpless, nameless, renditioned captives in Afghanistan of any shred, any crumb of legal redress; even as he (and his liberal champions) promote the use of a Pentagon interrogation manual that still allows a range of practices that any decent person would consider torture; and even as he promotes some of the key CIA officials overseeing the torture program to even greater heights of power.

I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of the political considerations behind Obama's decision to release the torture memos but protect the perpetrators. And this of course is one of the major drawbacks of any "process" piece: a lack of information on the process itself -- coupled with the unfathomability of that ever-shifting mixed bag of conscious and unconscious impulses that we call "motivation" or "intention."

But actions and end results speak far more loudly than words or intentions. Obama's illegal absolution of Bush's torturers -- and his continuation of the gulag, the Terror War and the tortures of the Pentagon manual -- are not suppositions. They are facts -- deadly, disgraceful, degrading facts. And we have seen, time and again, just what such facts produce: more suffering, more extremism, more upheaval, more corruption.

We are not done with torture in America; not by a long shot. And note that the current non-prosecution scandal -- as heinous as it is -- only deals with the tip of the iceberg: a very small CIA program for "high profile" detainees. Literally tens of thousands of other people have passed through the guts of the American gulag -- and are passing through there still, in Bagram, Baghdad, Diego Garcia, and other points known and known (including the torture chambers of client states and proxies). Nor does the controversy encompass the tortures that go on every day in America's overflowing state and federal penitentiaries, corporate prisons and country jails. As we noted in that piece last April:

You cannot compartmentalize the evil of torture. You cannot tame it, domesticate it, separate it into neat categories. [Nor can you sanitize it and "forget" it, as Obama is now trying to do.] It is a sinister acid that eats through all walls, and spreads throughout any system or organization that practices it. You begin with "light slapping" and loud music, and you end up with waterboarding, beating, and murder. There is no exception in human history to this process.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published on April 21, 2009.

 



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