Wednesday, May 28, 2008


We cannot meet the future either by mere gross
or by mere silly sentimentalism;
above all,
we cannot meet it if we attempt to balance gross
in action by silly sentimentalism in words
--President Theodore Roosevelt,

Memorial Day, 1916


Two stories clashed on the same page in our local paper recently (Tallahassee Democrat, p 15A, 5/21/08.) We'll call it a case of situational ethics.

First, President Bush apologized to Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for an American sniper's shooting of a Koran (Bush Apologizes to Iran for Quran Shooting.)

Second, an audit shows that not too many FBI agents deigned to "engage in terror tactics" when interviewing detainees. Depending on which news outlet you read, this is either a bragging point or a great shame.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said, "While I take comfort in knowing that, for the most part, FBI field agents followed the agency's policies regarding interrogations, I find it very disturbing that many senior FBI and DOJ officials failed to take strong action after identifying interrogation abuses."

Some of the agents seemed embarrassed at the Howdy-Doody nature of events:

"At Guantanamo Bay, two FBI agents 'had concerns not only about the proposed techniques but also about the glee with which the would-be [military] participants discussed their respective roles in carrying out these techniques, and the utter lack of sophistication and circus-like atmosphere within this interrogation strategy session,' the report found."

The Justice Department audit exonerated most of the FBI agents, who "refused to participate when detainees were questioned under harsh and
potentially illegal methods." But the AP report gave a free pass given to the CIA and military interrogators, whom the FBI agents reported had perpetrated the abuses.

There is no potential to it; all of the listed methods, including short-shackling to concrete floors and stress positions, are illegal. When did America cross this street? The FBI and Justice Department should have done more to stop the illegal interrogations, vs. just turning their collective backs.

A chart accompanying the article is titled, "Few agents engage in terror tactics;" subtitled, "Many FBI agents refused to participate in terror interrogations against detainees at military bases in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan." Comforting, no?

The chart lists abuses reported by FBI agents, 34 of which included "abuse of the Quran." Somebody was engaging in these FBI-reported terrorizing incidents of detainees, but thank goodness not many of the Men in Black played along, at least according to their own reportage.

But of those 34 abuses of the Quran, defilements of religious icons aimed at breaking accused terrorists to their will: Mr. Bush has not apologized for those tax-paid interrogators who desecrated the Quran during secret interrogations, so why the apology for the shooting?

A bit hypocritical to apologize for one incidence of offense while allowing implicit institutional endorsement for many other identical offenses via Department of Defense policy, y'think?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this would be branded a cheap "Calling us fascists" trick by the right wingnuts, but so be it. The Germans of the mid 20th century were notoriously sentimental, did you know? They liked to talk about a wonderful pan-German age that never was, and identify with Charlemagne. Proto-fascist Americans are nostalgic for the 50's and like to identify with John Wayne.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 5:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


You are exactly right about the self-aggrandizing impulse to a false nostalgia.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 5:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any display of uneasiness with abridgement of civil rights is a step forward for the FBI from its origins as what Eleanor Roosevelt called the "American Gestapo". I find it oddly heartwarming that the Bureau has developed even a small conscience in this conflict.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 7:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


"Oddly heartwarming" is well-put. We must take consolation where it comes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 8:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Rick98C said...

Just a coincidence of course, but I found it fascinating, given the drift to totalitarianism and all, that the head of the FBI was named Muller. The head of the gestapo was name Mueller.

I also find it oddly heartwarming that some FBI agents are people of honor, but what the incident says about MI is horrifying. I have trouble believing things have gone this far and that most people don't seem to give a sh%t. Nixon seems like a saint by comparison and many thought he was evil incarnate.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:45:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you for noting the surname coincidence.

Strange days indeed when we must be proud of a man who does not kick a lying dog. The Nixon analogy is apt; there has been a great comedown in less than 40 years. Every empire has its day. . .

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 1:15:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

To all ;labrys,arkamite,rick;Thanks for your cmts. i believe all can be summarized in the struggle that i've been engaged in for the last 25 years.TERRORISM IS NOT WARFARE BUT IT'S A GREAT FUCKING GRAVY TRAIN.!
The Bush League by calling it warfare , which is a carry over from weakminded Reagon policy simply lowers the reality to an unmaneagable goatscrew.Armed personnel captured by US soldiers on a battlefield ARE NOT TERRORISTS;they are a number of things but they are not T's.Pls bear in mind that we are in their country killing and marauding the landscape so what does that make us?
Scum like KLM and the 19 hijackers of 9/11 are terrorists and CRIMINALS and should be treated as such when apprehended and arrested.Pls note the key word is arrested which is a police/law enforcement term/ they are not captured. Thats why we have FBI/federal courts and US code.
Under either above description there is no wiggle room that allows torture in any form.Shame on this nation /military /legal institutions that justify/downplay or cooperate with a policy gone criminally astray.
Thanks for your input. jim

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 9:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous fnord said...

What I do not understand is that they do not understand that, all morality and such pansywansy liber ideas to the side, *this is detrimental to the mission*. What kind of stupid senseless Information Officer came up with the idea of legalizing torture as a means to win the hearts and minds of islam? "Oooh, lets parade them with hoods in orange jumpsuits and show how we humilitate them, thatl teach the sand-niggers" They only understand force..."?

Stupid fing tactics in the hearts and minds department, to put it mildly. Stupid stupid stupid.

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 9:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

fnord, it's hard for me not to rant so i'll be as political as i can. Enemy pow or EPW is a Military Police function. The ball falls in their court and i will make no comments .My silence should say it all.
The ignorance and hubris of the PWOT is incredible and borders on madness.Actually that comment is probably a kindness.
Please remember the 25,000 +\- prisoners held in Iraq and untold numbers in Afghanistan.Yep, give me a second helping of democracy.
I enjoy your comments. Jim

Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 10:02:00 AM GMT-5  

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