Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AG Holder Takes the First Step

The journey of ten thousand miles begins with the first step. - Lao Tzu.

Attorney General Eric Holder took the first step towards returning the United States to its ideals with the appointment of Federal Prosecutor John Durham to begin an investigation into allegations of torture by CIA employees and their subcontractors.

The appointment of Durham coincides with the release of the Inspector General's report that the Department of Justice has prevented the public from seeing for approximately five years. The largely still redacted report reveals a number of events that are so troubling that one wonders what kind of individual could have conceived of such actions. To argue that several of these actions are anything but torture is to defy common sense.

- Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri was threatened with having his mother raped in front of him.

- one detainee died after being beaten with a flashlight by a person identified as an "independent contractor."

- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was told that his young children, whom he knew to be in custody, would be killed.

- mock executions were staged.

- hand guns and power drills were present at interrogations.

I have worked as a prison psychologist, examined sociopaths and murderers, witnessed violence become so casual that it was second nature, but these revelations shocked me. There are only a few of the worst and most ruthless in prison who could look at these actions as anything but pathological.

Yet such behaviors seemingly occurred with frequency. The actions described are just the tip of the iceberg. It would be impossible for multiple people to behave in such barbaric and inhumane ways without others knowing about it. In my reading of the report, there seems to have been concern that then Attorney General Ashcroft was aware of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed having been waterboarded "119 times." If there was no concern of illegality, why was there seeming concern about him knowing. Alternatively, if I have misread this and Ashcroft was merely being informed, then he was clearly in the loop. As Attorney General it would have been his duty to stop the actions, not sanction them.

Remember though, that Ashcroft was the one who refused to sign off on Gonzalez's efforts at even greater atrocities. I know, with the Bushies it gets hard to remember what crimes you're talking about.

The confusion about who was informed and what was ordered and by whom are questions that are miles down the road at present. Bush may be at the ten thousandth mile, but I'll bet Cheney will be somewhere around mile marker one. Now that Durham has begun an investigation he must take this wherever it leads him. The report already seems to suggest that the CIA people were deeply concerned that their actions would not be covered. It seems irrational to suggest that they would have spent so much time documenting and questioning how to proceed, i.e. requesting orders from headquarters unless they were following orders.

Who gave the orders? Who ordered that legal justifications be concocted to support the orders to torture? Who made up the legal justifications? It is not just about who inflicted the torture. Those who sanctioned, ordered and turned a blind eye are all guilty. The first step that Attorney General Holder has taken must be followed for the entire ten thousand miles.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. mnn.com. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer