Demand Better from Washington

Torture is illegal.

Torture is shameful.

Torture is immoral.

Torture doesn’t work.

Pick whichever one of those works for you.

The CIA lied about it to Congress and the Administration lied to the American people.

Many in the American right are freaking out because, when you get past the pretexts, they simply love torture. They think it shows strength and leadership, and that waterboarding or making a guy stand for hours in the cold on his broken legs is magically going to produce good information.

But if you need proof that the CIA’s torture program was not just illegal, but morally depraved, consider they even tortured the guy who “sang a like tweetie bird” on his own. We shoved hummus up guys’ asses for freedom. 20% of the detainees shouldn’t have been there. There was no meaningful oversight. As most people thought, sadistic federal retiree Dick Cheney’s name is all over the report.

The CIA’s torture program was worse than anyone thought, and produced nothing worthwhile. It was ended by President Obama in 2009.

What was revealed yesterday amount, frankly, to war crimes, and this – from the CIA – isn’t good enough:

As noted in CIA’s response to the study, we acknowledge that the detention and interrogation program had shortcomings and that the Agency made mistakes. The most serious problems occurred early on and stemmed from the fact that the Agency was unprepared and lacked the core competencies required to carry out an unprecedented, worldwide program of detaining and interrogating suspected al-Qa’ida and affiliated terrorists. In carrying out that program, we did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves and that the American people expect of us. As an Agency, we have learned from these mistakes, which is why my predecessors and I have implemented various remedial measures over the years to address institutional deficiencies.

You want to argue that these detainees deserve it because they were murderers and terrorists? Some of them were, some of them weren’t. But if you’re comparing our behavior to that of our brutal mass murderer enemy, that’s a pretty low standard.

If you think that the American government’s moral and legal standards should be equal to that of al Qaeda or Daesh, what does that make us?

Patriotism Run Amok

It’s not a good day for the self-described “patriot” movement. On the one hand, you have two bitter middle-aged men who decided to put their hatred to use, and decided to build a mobile death ray to kill Muslims and other undesireable ethnics in secret, while they slept.

The Tea Party is Totally Reasonable

Luckily, the synagogues that these two geniuses approached contacted the police, and the armchair terrorists were caught before they could do any harm. As an added bonus, one of them is a member of “Tea Party Patriots“, and named, pro-se, co-plaintiff on the lawsuit to repeal the NY SAFE Act – a lawsuit that is as clumsily written as you’d expect from a collection of pro-se litigants. Why would they think that Jewish congregations would be totally cool with committing mass murder and terrorism? 

On the other hand, a founder of the Arizona-based “Minuteman Militia”, which protects our country from an influx of dangerous brown people, stands accused of serial molestation of girls under the age of 10. 

Remember how the right wing had a conniption fit because the Obama White House dared to suggest that right-wing terrorism was a genuine threat to America?

Me, too.  

Niagara Falls Error Suspects

Friday in Niagara Falls, this happened


Two Guys from Massachusetts Drive to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned…

Storified by Alan Bedenko· Fri, Apr 19 2013 11:28:01

Falls and the State Police have shut down Elmwood and 19th in the city while the State Police’s "robot" checks out a suspicious car.Niagara Gazette
BREAKING NEWS – 2 RUSSIAN NATIONALS PULLED OVER IN NIAGARA FALLS, 4 SUSPICIOUS BACKPACKS IN THE TRUNK. BOMB SQUAD AND FBI HEADING IN! WGRZ.911 Operator
Latest WTF RT @WGRZ: Police: 2 Russian nationals pulled over in Niagara Falls; 4 suspicious backpacks in car, robot & bomb techs on scene.jimgeraghty
FBI joint terrorism task force working with NYSP in the Falls @WGRZ go to WGRZ.com for latestHeather Ly
Suspicious car with Mass. plates being investigated fb.me/23nxWmG6NNiagara Gazette
RT @WGRZ: Police source: 2 Russian nationals pulled over in Niagara Falls; 4 suspicious backpacks in the car, robot & bomb techs on scene.jmartpolitico
What’s the difference between a backpack and a suspicious backpack? @WGRZ @NiagaraGazetteAlan Bedenko
UPDATE: Large police presence around vehicle on Elmwood & 19th in #NiagaraFalls. Car has Mass. plates. Unsure if connected to #Boston.WGRZ
Police are interviewing two Turkish brothers who drove into Niagara Falls this morning in a vehicle with Massachusetts plates.The Buffalo News
Caution tan people with Mass plates: lay low today.Alan Bedenko
So, Niagara Falls car with "2 Russian nationals" "suspicious backpacks" & Mass plates is really 2 Turkish guys. @WGRZ @NiagaraGazetteAlan Bedenko
Source says activity in #NiagaraFalls is routine traffic stop. vehicle has Mass. plates. Extensive search out of caution. Nothing found yetWGRZ
Russian, Turkish. Same difference. @WGRZAlan Bedenko
Residents near Elmwood & 19th Ave. in #NiagaraFalls asked to stay inside as police search vehicle with Mass. plates.WGRZ
State Police has bomb detection unit at 19th & Elmwood in #NiagaraFalls. Nothing found yet. Scene remains calm.WGRZ
BEING SWARTHY, HAVING MASS PLATES TO GO SEE NIAGARA FALLS IS NOW PROBABLE CAUSE.Alan Bedenko
Scene from 19th and Elmwood in the falls @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/J2aCAt1l1DHeather Ly
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said two men are being detained as Falls and State Police… fb.me/wvePZfGYNiagara Gazette
UPDATE: 2 men in custody as investigation into Mass. car continues in Falls fb.me/2DH3ygEJeNiagara Gazette
Troopers say two people in vehicle were NOT armed, are cooperating, pulled over by NFPD acting on tip from resident @WGRZHeather Ly
Turkish-American sightseeing brothers from Massachusetts arrested in Niagara Falls, police suspect they did not "click it".Alan Bedenko
Police in #NiagaraFalls telling residents to move 100 feet back from vehicle with Mass. plates. Scene remains calmWGRZ
Look! @WGRZ has found two more "suspicious" Russians! Here is a photo: img.ly/ueho @ChrisSmithAV @BuffaloPunditJosh Potter
BREAKING: Possible photo of Turkish man pulled over in Niagara Falls. api.monosnap.com/image/download…Alan Bedenko
This just in, @WGRZ has photos of Niagara Falls suspects. moviesmedia.ign.com/movies/image/a… @J_Potter @buffalopundit @trendingbuffaloChristopher Smith
Mayor Paul Dyster on the car investigation: "There are many rumors circulating, none of which are based on fact…. fb.me/2mmxFCPSmNiagara Gazette
Updated story from Niagara Falls, where two brothers of Turkish ancestry were stopped this morning: bit.ly/11qTsrOThe Buffalo News
tow truck pulled up to car in Niagara falls, command unit now blocking view. ATF NYSP NFPD all here. Public moved back a block .@wgrzDave McKinley
Robot now being used to approach suspicious car w/ Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls..@wgrzDave McKinley
State police "robot" is still investigating car from Massachusetts. Press and bystanders have now been moved down… fb.me/2Dzj22FCONiagara Gazette
UPDATE from #NiagaraFalls: Robot removed backpack, pillow & clear plastic bag of objects from suspicious car. Now opening passenger doorWGRZ
UPDATE: Bomb squad continues to investigate Massachusetts car as crowd is pushed back fb.me/2TQnEiPAGNiagara Gazette
#NiagaraFalls update: Robot removed 2nd backpack from vehicle w/Mass plates. Also took out a pillow & plastic bag of objects.WGRZ
.@wgrz robot drops 2nd backpack removed from car w/Mass plates in NF. Papers blowing all over. Earlier, robot ran over 1st backpack. WhoopsDave McKinley
Niagara Falls bomb robot cannot handle Kafka-esque municipal ennui, detonates itself, video at 11.Christopher Smith
Bomb Robot elected Mayor of Niagara Falls, promptly indicted. #niagarafallsbombrobotAlan Bedenko
Police say suspicious packages have been removed from the Massachusetts car on Elmwood. "I have seen at least 3 or… fb.me/zOETdAhRNiagara Gazette
Police add that the two men being detained are cooperating with authorities.Niagara Gazette
.@wgrz removed from stopped carw/Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls by police robot so far: 2 backpacks, 2 sleeping bags, 1 satchel, 1 plastic bagDave McKinley
Suspicious packages removed from Massachusetts car; detained men cooperating with authorities fb.me/yIFncGe5Niagara Gazette
#NiagaraFalls police say they have NOT found anything suspicious in the packages removed from car with Mass. plates. Still searching trunk.WGRZ
"So far, everything is going good," police at scene say of packages removed from Massachusetts car. Investigators… fb.me/2aP2nx2qsNiagara Gazette
.@wgrz fully donned bomb squad member now inspecting items removed from vehicle w/Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls. Put a device over one itemDave McKinley
A member of the State Police bomb squad is now investigating the Massachusetts car. He’s opened the driver’s-side… fb.me/AQqSznyaNiagara Gazette
PIC from #NiagaraFalls: Several items removed from car are on sidewalk pic.twitter.com/kqZcNNUe7SWGRZ
LIVE: News conference in #NiagaraFalls on car with Mass. plates stopped at 19th & Elmwood on.wgrz.com/17LAsuqWGRZ
Police officials say nothing found in Mass. Car in Niagara Falls but paper and clothingWGRZ
#NiagaraFallsRobot is now new spokeman for @WGRZ’s annual 2PackABackPack campaignChristopher Smith
Police only saying two men are in 20s, traveling to visit WNY, cited with failure to stop at stop sign, use turn signal @WGRZHeather Ly

Humanity and Society

Yesterday, unknown person or persons perpetrated an unspeakable and senseless crime against innocents in an American city.  Three people are dead, over a hundred injured – people who got up yesterday morning, got dressed, went over to Boylston to watch people finish a marathon. People like you and me. Videos showed timed, coordinated bombings going off along the Boylston Street terminus of the Boston Marathon, designed to inflict massive carnage in crowded groups of celebrants. 

There’s no sense in trying to speculate who might be behind it until there’s actual news reported about it. For instance, one would have been dramatically misinformed had he relied on the horrible Murdoch rag the “New York Post” for news about the attack. 

Some people are insufferably horrible – especially those cynical vampires who make their living by being conspiratorial, paranoid idiots. 

Boston was my second hometown, and I’m sick over this. We live in a dangerous world with a lot of crazy people, and there’s absolutely no way that we can always prevent bad people from doing horrific things, no matter what we do. 

But if you’re one of those people who see a tragedy and immediately speculate – without any proof, evidence, or information – as to the perpetrators or cause of a horrible terrorist act like this, you’re just a horrible person. Is it hillbilly militiamen protesting tax day? Is it brown-skinned people with accents? If those are the questions you’re asking right away, you’re an idiot.

If, like conspiracy salesman Alex Jones, you’re suggesting that the government is behind it, you deserve nothing but scorn and humiliation.  If, like newly minted glibertarian but former Bush supporter, Patriot Act backer, Iraq War microphone belligerent, and security-porn enthusiast Tom Bauerle, you warn against “liberties” being taken away, you’ve missed the point of anything important about humanity. When you think about how a tragedy such as this affects your personal comfort, while 400 miles away an 8 year-old dies and people struggle with catastrophic injuries, you’re sort of a monster.  

Humanity makes me sick when innocent people are murdered or attacked without cause or provocation, but also when it worries about how others’ misfortune might affect their individual political prejudices.

The 11th Day of September

On this September 11th, let’s remember the dead, but also re-examine how we responded to the one that took place a decade ago. Perhaps we should heed the words of this famous New Yorker: 

Georgia Militia: Let’s Rain Ricin on Washington

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of the risk to American lives from right-wing extremists.

The American Limbaughist commentariat blew a gasket, accusing the DHS of a sweeping indictment of all conservatives. Never mind that it was prepared during the Bush Administration.

Since that time, we’ve had a guy fly a plane into an IRS office, an abortion providing OB/GYN shot to death in Kansas, people shot by a neo-Nazi at the Holocaust Museum,  and many other acts of murder and mayhem perpetrated by the violent, extremist right wing in this country. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a comprehensive list.

The most recent one involved four old tea party / right wing / militia types who wanted to manufacture ricin and sprinkle it across the whole of Washington, DC to murder as many innocent men, women, and children as they could.

Is it isolated madmen doing this? Sure. But they’re fueled in part by anti-government rhetoric and other nihilist propaganda that comes from the American right nowadays. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, a former ultra right-wing anti-jihadist type has had a complete re-awakening in recent years and now dedicates his time to exposing this type of rhetoric.

Either way, we needn’t attack the DHS for investigating, researching, and assessing risks to our safety – regardless of how closely aligned the prospective perpetrators are to our way of thinking.

 

Georgia Militia: Let's Rain Ricin on Washington

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of the risk to American lives from right-wing extremists.

The American Limbaughist commentariat blew a gasket, accusing the DHS of a sweeping indictment of all conservatives. Never mind that it was prepared during the Bush Administration.

Since that time, we’ve had a guy fly a plane into an IRS office, an abortion providing OB/GYN shot to death in Kansas, people shot by a neo-Nazi at the Holocaust Museum,  and many other acts of murder and mayhem perpetrated by the violent, extremist right wing in this country. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a comprehensive list.

The most recent one involved four old tea party / right wing / militia types who wanted to manufacture ricin and sprinkle it across the whole of Washington, DC to murder as many innocent men, women, and children as they could.

Is it isolated madmen doing this? Sure. But they’re fueled in part by anti-government rhetoric and other nihilist propaganda that comes from the American right nowadays. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, a former ultra right-wing anti-jihadist type has had a complete re-awakening in recent years and now dedicates his time to exposing this type of rhetoric.

Either way, we needn’t attack the DHS for investigating, researching, and assessing risks to our safety – regardless of how closely aligned the prospective perpetrators are to our way of thinking.