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Monthly Archives: May, 2008

What We Have to Study

Above: What I would be reading online if I didn’t have a book review to complete by Monday. My earlier comments here:

He will soon be releasing his well reviewed young adult novel “Little Brother”. And check out this crazy premise: apparently, in the far off future, you’ll be a kid and some evil government will try to make everything that you enjoy doing over the Internet completely illegal. Ker Razy. I can’t wait to read it when Cory releases the Creative Commons version of this book in several days. It feels like 1984 with a viable resistance movement. Some of us would really like to know how such a resistance movement would work. We really would. Especially if it involves not blowing up stuff.

Good Tom Morello Interview

Go watch. Great Tom Morello interview. Here is someone who, like Cory Doctorow, I like more as a person than as an artist, even though he is a great great guitarist. Funniest line: “As the other half Kenyan half Harvard educated person from Illinois who isn’t running for president…” Run Tom Run. I hear there might be a senate seat opening up in Illinois…Related: Not that impressed with the acoustic Nightwatchmen vid at the end. He’s not a bad singer and I like the lyrics but he sounds like a white guy from Illinois infected with just a touch of the Pogues. Hope that’s not catching. Please keep attempting to create an American superband like U2…

Knee-Jerk Redaction?

After CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly admitted that the CIA has, in fact, waterboarded detainees, the agency could no longer cling to its last excuses for covering up the use of the very word “waterboarding” in CIA records. As a result, yesterday we obtained several heavily redacted documents in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by the ACLU and other organizations seeking documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas.

While the documents do, in fact, reveal the word “waterboarding” or some variation, they leave pretty much everything else to the imagination. The pages that haven’t been completely withheld (many of them contain the words “Denied in Full” instead of any actual content) have the clandestine blacked-out look that’s become a sort of trademark of this administration. This is my favorite:

(click to enlarge)

One of the documents is a heavily redacted version of a report (PDF) by the CIA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on its review of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program. The report includes information about an as-yet-undisclosed Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion from August 2002. Interestingly, this opinion appears to be the same OLC memo authorizing specific interrogations methods for use by the CIA that is being withheld by the CIA as a classified document in the ACLU’s FOIA litigation — but the OIG report refers to this document as “unclassified.”

The CIA continues to withhold many more documents that should not be secret. The incomplete response to the ACLU’s demand for records reflects a complete disregard for the right of the American public to know when and how often the government has employed illegal interrogation methods.

many embedded link there too…

BBC : Peacekeepers ‘abusing children’

Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.

After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up.

A 13-year-old girl, “Elizabeth” described to the BBC how 10 UN peacekeepers gang-raped her in a field near her Ivory Coast home.

from the report, no one to turn to, linked from the bbc article,

As Figure 1 (overleaf) shows, focus group participants identified coerced sex as more common than forced sex. Children as young as six are trading sex with aid workers and peacekeepers in exchange for food, money, soap and, in a very few cases, luxury items such as mobile phones. Although forced sex was reported to be the least common, adults and children in all fieldwork locations visited as part of this study emphasised that it was of key concern to them. Many incidences of forced sex perpetrated by individuals and groups were cited. Verbal sexual abuse was identified to be the most common. Cases of sexual touching were cited by more than half the fieldwork participants and kissing by just over one-third.

Our fieldwork suggests that already vulnerable children are particularly at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and aid workers.These include orphans and children separated from their parents; those from especially poor families; children who are discriminated against; children displaced from their home communities; and children from families who depend on humanitarian assistance.

Focus group participants identified children as young as six having been abused.Younger children were said to be more vulnerable to abuse than older children. However, the most common age to be a victim of abuse was thought to be 14 or 15 years old.

the breadth of local and international NGOs, UN agencies and other actors implicated by those who took part in the study suggests that this is a problem for a wide range of organisations. Our fieldwork revealed cases of abuse associated with a sum total of 23 humanitarian, peacekeeping and security organisations.These include civil humanitarian agencies such as those delivering food and nutritional assistance, care, education and health services, reconstruction, shelter, training, and livelihood support, as well as military actors providing peace and security services.

Troops associated with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) were identified as a particular source of abuse in some of our fieldwork locations, particularly in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, of the 38 groups of people we spoke to, 20 of them identified peacekeepers as the most likely perpetrators, and four identified them as the only perpetrators within their communities.This is likely to be linked with the fact that peacekeepers make up the largest proportion of emergency personnel in some of our research locations. However, even in areas with mixed representation from the international community, peacekeepers were identified as a key source of concern.

I can’t help but wonder how much Bushes relaxing of Human Rights abuses has contributed to this dehumanizing behavior across the globe. Of course, I’m not so nave as to believe that things like this didn’t already go on, but this admin has set a prescient and sure likes to look the other way when it suits them. I know for a fact we okay and support death squads.

Entrenched, Embedded, and Here to Stay: The Pentagon’s Expansion Will Be Bush’s Lasting Legacy

..perhaps his most enduring legacy is now deeply embedded in Washington-area politics — a Pentagon metastasized almost beyond recognition.

The Pentagon’s massive bulk-up these last seven years will not be easily unbuilt, no matter who dons the presidential mantle on January 19, 2009. “The Pentagon” is now so much more than a five-sided building across the Potomac from Washington or even the seat of the Department of Defense. In many ways, it defies description or labeling.

Almost six years later, the scale of that institution’s expansion has yet to be fully grasped, so let’s look at just seven of the major ways in which the Pentagon has experienced mission creep — and leap — dwarfing other institutions of government in the process.

1. The Budget-busting Pentagon: …

2. The Pentagon as Diplomat: …

3. The Pentagon as Arms Dealer: …

4. The Pentagon as Intelligence Analyst and Spy: …

5. The Pentagon as Domestic Disaster Manager: …

6. The Pentagon as Humanitarian Caregiver Abroad: …

7. The Pentagon as Global Viceroy and Ruler of the Heavens: …

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