Torture Outrage!

by Clio

While reading accounts of physical and psychological torture inflicted on political detainees, one can’t help but feel sympathy and concern for those who were held for such a long period of time under the most inhumane circumstances.

Such reports prompted me to research some of the cases of alleged abuse; some of you may be familiar with this information, but it bears repeating, if only to shine a light on the atrocities these people experienced at the hands of their captors.

Yes, there are claims that the “detainees” were, initially, treated kindly and respectfully. One guard was quoted as being offended by even being called a guard, saying that it was “too cruel.” The guards told the detainees that they should consider themselves as guests!

Perhaps the initial treatment of these people was humane – even if the “guests” were taken against their will and imprisoned. However, as we now know, the detainees were bound, often for days or weeks; some endured long periods of solitary confinement, forbidden to speak to one another, stand, walk or leave their areas unless they needed a bathroom break.

Frequently, the detainees expressed that they were threatened with execution – and they took those threats seriously. Torture is not limited to physical abuse (those incidents are well-documented), but emotional and psychological cruelty leaves scars and wounds that may never fully heal.

One night was extremely terrifying for the detainees: their guards donned masks and rousted them while they were sleeping, led them to another location, searched them, forced them to strip to their underwear in preparation for a mock execution. The guards loaded and prepared their weapons to fire, then ejected their cartridges and told the prisoners that it was just a joke, something that the guards “had wanted to do.”

Can you imagine the fear and agony these people experienced while waiting for their captors to pull the trigger? They were helpless and under the total control of the guards.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the barbaric treatment the captives endured and it must be noted that many of them suffered enduring physical and psychological damage.

One captive went on a hunger strike, two tried to commit suicide: one by breaking a water glass and slashing his wrists after being locked in a dark room; another banged his head against corner of a door, knocking himself out and cutting a deep, bleeding gash in his head. The latter suicide attempt goaded the guards to make this prisoner a target for abuse which included creating a mock electric chair with wires, taunting him with a horrifying execution.

Other prisoners reported threats to boil their feet in oil, cut their eyes out, or kidnap and kill a disabled child and `start sending pieces of him to your wife.`

Finally, after 444 days of captivity, the 53 imprisoned hostages in the American Embassy in Iran were released on January 20, 1981; moments after President Ronald Reagan took the Oath of Office.

The captors, primarily Iranian students who called themselves “Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line,” demanded that the United States return the deposed Shah back to Iran for trial and execution. However, the Shah died during this period and that negated their primary motivation for the protracted captivity of the hostages. Negotiations continued and, finally, the Embassy hostages were released, flown out of Iran and welcomed home with a ticker tape parade through New York’s Canyon of Heroes.

On September 11th, 2001, operatives of the al-Qaeda terrorism network, hijacked four airplanes, flew two of those planes into New York’s World Trade Center Twin Towers, one plane was crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth plane plummeted into a field in Pennsylvania after an onboard passenger revolt. The number of deaths from the plane crashes and the collapse of the Twin Towers: 3017.

Approximately one month after the attacks, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces in the removal of the Taliban regime for harboring the al-Qaeda organization.

The United States set up a detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to hold what they termed “illegal enemy combatants” who were captured during the strike on Afghanistan or arrested due to information gleaned from prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay (Gitmo) facility.

On August 24th, 2009, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced he would conduct a preliminary investigation into whether some CIA operatives broke the law in their “coercive” interrogations of suspected terrorists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

These coercive interrogations, or torture, as many consider the treatment, include the following, according to an ABC News investigation:

“They would not let you rest, day or night. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Don’t sleep. Don’t lie on the floor,” one prisoner said through a translator. The detainees were also forced to listen to rap artist Eminem’s “Slim Shady” album. The music was so foreign to them it made them frantic.” (author’s note: Americans are also subjected to this type of torture when we tune our radios to the wrong channels – we feel their pain.)

Below are descriptions of some of the techniques used by a small group of trained CIA operatives to obtain information from the prisoners:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.
2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.
3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.
4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.
5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.
6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
(source: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Investigation/story?id=1322866)

Perhaps listening to a rap album or even water boarding goes beyond what any human should have to endure, however, let’s put a few things in perspective: the 53 Embassy hostages were subjected to similar, if not worse treatment than the enemy combatants held in Gitmo – and they were innocent victims.

A terrorist group in Iran targeted and carefully planned the takeover of the American Embassy and did so with the consent and approval of their leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini and militants supporting the Iranian Revolution.

In contrast, the prisoners at Gitmo were taken on the battlefield or arrested for aiding or abetting al-Qaeda in its unforgivable act of violence against innocent civilians. (Please remember that attacks on September 11th were not the first or last acts of terrorism by anti-American, Muslim militants.)

George W. Bush’s administration instituted strong measures to ensure the safety and well-being of American citizens, including creating a Department of Homeland Security and instituting the Patriot Act. These measures and strategies helped prevent planned terrorist events from taking place and kept our country safe for eight years.

Torture should be abhorrent to any civilized society, however, coercive interrogations, including forcing prisoners to listen to rap music or open-handed slaps in the face, seem mildly appropriate. Militant groups, such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban, to name just a few, are avowedly hell-bent on attacking and killing innocent citizens while brazenly shouting “Death to America, ” – make no mistake: the terrorists mean what they say and intend to make it a reality.

What measure is too strong to take against those who have boldly stated their intention to destroy our country and murder its citizens?

References:

Bowden, Mark, Guests of the Ayatollah: the first battle in America’s war with militant Islam, Atlantic Monthly Press, (2006)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_hostage_crisis#cite_ref-75

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks#Immediate_response

While Rome Burns …

by Clio

… We sit in our easy chairs, watch or read the news on our computers. Every day, elemental aspects of America are being changed, manipulated and excised, and most of us sit, watch, read or perhaps engage our family or colleagues in discussion or debate about our country’s transformation.

Throughout my life, I also watched, read and, when I felt my company might appreciate my perspectives, expressed my views. I guess I was a political wallflower.

My earliest memory of a national news event was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I remember the somber mood in our home as my parents spoke with relatives and friends about the tragedy.

As an adolescent, the riots of the 60s raised the issue of racism at our dinner table; I read accounts of the Vietnam War protests and Watergate (resulting in President Richard Nixon’s resignation) in one of my favorite magazines, Rolling Stone. I remember the slogans and chants and probably repeated some myself. I was a typical teenager in many respects: naively judgmental and relatively uniformed.

My high school Social Studies class covered the feminist movement and explored our deep concerns about nuclear proliferation. The U.S.S.R. was our Cold War enemy and the films and novels of the day reflected American fear of a smirking Russian with a ready finger on the nuclear “red button.”

Skyjacking, Libyan-supported terrorism and Muslim extremists replaced the smirking Russian in our nightmares and newspapers. In 1979, the American Embassy in Iran was invaded and Iranian students held 53 Americans hostage for 444 days. President Jimmy Carter organized a disastrous rescue attempt (“Operation Eagle Claw”), but the hostages were freed only minutes after Ronald Reagan, who defeated Carter in the election, took the oath of office.

President Ronald Reagan took bold steps to end the Cold War and did so without a single shot being fired. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Reagan demanded; a bold command that reverberated around the world, changed the course of history and led to the lifting of the Iron Curtain.

There are many memorable events in the Reagan presidency, however, his election was particularly poignant for me because I became a Republican, voted for the first time and chose Ronald Reagan to lead our country.

I remember how empowered I felt after I left the voting booth on November 4, 1980. Later that evening, I watched the election returns and as the final votes were tallied, it occurred to me that if I hadn’t voted there would have been 43,903,229 instead of 43,903,230 votes cast for Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George H.W. Bush. My one vote would not have affected the outcome of the election, but it was counted! I took part in democratic process and was proud to be an American.

During the Persian Gulf War, I read newspapers, watched a war on television 24/7 and marveled at seeing reporters speaking to us “live” from various parts of the world, via satellite, on cable TV news stations. We watched the War as if it was a primetime series (“Operation: Desert Storm”) and combat vernacular (smart bombs, Scud and Patriot missiles) became part of our water cooler conversations.

Such was the extent of my political “activism” until the 2000 Presidential campaign. I joined the Bush-Cheney grassroots effort and created a virtual precinct. I attended some parties, was quoted by a Village Voice reporter and cast my vote. I did something, made an effort, but felt that I had more to give and wanted to give to my country.

The political timeline continues with great accomplishments and disappointments: recessions, recoveries, bear and bull stock markets, technology and Internet booms and busts, the space shuttle program launches Columbia on its maiden flight; later, the Challenger shuttle crash claims seven lives. We endured and observed more terrorist attacks … and, then September 11, 2001. Do I need to say more?

Last November 4, 2008, we witnessed a looming American tragedy: Barack Hussein Obama won the presidential election and ushered in a new era of extreme liberal agendas, supported by majorities in the House and Senate.

Six months into his presidency, Mr. Obama has made swift, drastic and expensive changes to this country without few impediments. Our venerable system of checks and balances in this administration is compromised and the current administration has free rein (or is it “reign”) to plunge our nation into a multi-trillion dollar debt, appoint cabinet officials, “czars” and judges with spotty records with little or no opposition, attempt to institute a government-sponsored health care industry – an ineffective, costly socialist-type of program that has failed to be effective in other countries.

Obama’s health care bill, like the TARP program and industry bailouts, will be a financial burden for generations to come. Experts tell us that H.R. 3200 will create a huge bureaucracy that will amount to 1/6th of our national economy. There are frightening aspects of this bill that may affect the way we treat senior citizens, ration care, create diminished quality of care and will negatively affect small businesses through tax increases and other measures.

Health Care Reform Bill, H.R. 3200 shares some commonalities with Obama’s other hasty endeavors (TARP, corporate, banking and auto industry bailouts): his administration presents lengthy and complicated legislative bills (H.R. 3200 has over 1000 pages) and then applies pressure for an immediate vote. Our representatives in Washington aren’t given enough time to read the entire complex and hefty legislative literature, leaving our representatives no choice but to blindly vote on the measures and their constituents in the dark and at the mercy of Mr. Obama’s aggressive plans.

However, something unexpected (at least to Mr. Obama and his minions) is taking place: seniors and other citizens are verbalizing their concern and anger over the more pernicious parts of the bill. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin recently wrote forcefully about the health care rationing on her Facebook Notes:

“… who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi compared the protestors to Nazis and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused them of trying to “sabotage” the democratic process. As a nation, we’re in trouble when our leaders try to trample on our First Amendment rights and attempt to suppress our freedom of speech by impugning our patriotism and intentions with inflammatory comments and slander.

I applaud the patriots who raised their voices in outrage over the health care reform bill and I admire those who attended recent “tea parties” to protest tax increases and the burgeoning national debt.

Former Governor Palin has taken more abuse from Obama and his staff than any politician in recent history, but she is unafraid to stand up to his administration and condemn this latest deeply-flawed piece of legislation – her actions and leadership command my respect.

While “Rome” burns, we can sit, read, watch and wait until someone else tries to stamp out the flames or we can, as a country, take a stand and demand better leadership from Washington’s enthroned elite.

It isn’t necessary for all of us to march on Washington, D.C., engage in protests or attend tea parties – we can throw our own Revolution if each of us will just take some kind of action, such as write to our elected officials, send a letter to the editor, attend a town hall meeting or even post a notice on our church or community bulletin board.

We can achieve tremendous results and perhaps douse the flames that threaten this great democracy if we get out of our chairs and start walking our talk… even small efforts can bring remarkable changes.

If the ire of a few of our senior citizens can attract international press coverage and one former governor’s strong statement, via the Internet, prompts a change in the bill, surely we can make a difference in the future of our country if we just stop talking about what we don’t like about the current state of affairs and do something in defense of America. We must act now, before we have nothing left but the ashes of a divinely-inspired Constitution and a charred and ruined country.

Clio

The Bold Pursuit…

by Clio

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon a quote by Thomas Jefferson: “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.” The words of this great patriot resonated very strongly with me.

In the months leading up to the creation of TheBoldPursuit, I was actively involved with a political network. One of the network’s primary goals was to sort out inaccuracies and confront rumors with facts on blogs, mainstream media and liberal web sites.

These efforts, while noble, took us into places where vulgarity was the native tongue and lies and deflection the common vernacular. Visiting these sites left me feeling nauseated and defeated; it is pointless to offer an intelligent, factual comment or response to those who simply aren’t interested in the truth. The denizens of those mendacious and polluted places are there for confrontation – truth and accuracy are of no concern to them.

I knew there had to be a better, more effective way to represent and defend the causes in which I believe and that is when I started working on a concept: “The Bold Pursuit.”

This is an excerpt from my first, private, brainstorming session:

Mission:
“TheBoldPursuit aspires to be a conservative news, commentary and blogger portal; a place where intelligent and thoughtful perspectives are invited, as well as a setting for relevant and respectful interaction. Our beliefs are rooted in the United States Constitution. We support a conservative agenda, but welcome all points of view.”

Website Concept:

  • We are patriots.
  • We love our country and present TheBoldPursuit as a venue for expression of patriotic and political views.
  • We value truth
  • We accept all points of views
  • We insist that blogs, articles and comments are presented thoughtfully and respectfully
  • We reserve the right to remove any comment, blog, article or advertisement that is offensive, regardless of political or philosophical beliefs.
  • We reject intolerance or abusive behavior and will ban anyone who engages in such behavior from TheBoldPursuit.
  • We endeavor to create an atmosphere of respect

In anticipation of creating TBP – a conservative news/commentary/log portal, I purchased domain names, hosting – all of the elements that one needs to start a web site. I also created a publishing group: TBP Publishing.

A first attempt at launching TBP.com was unsuccessful due to technical issues with the template and internal differences within the group that I assembled to create the web site. (There was a soft launch of the site on July 27th.)

We can learn from our failures, perhaps even more than from our successes. I took some time to consider the options for TBP, as well as the need for another conservative web site. My conclusion is that the concept for TheBoldPursuit is sound and vital. TBP is capable of evolving as a refuge for thoughtful exchange, intelligent commentary, insightful articles and investigative reportage. We are already underway with a new “test site,” a place to refine and define the site so that it is relevant and useful to its visitors.

Why do I believe it is time to embark on this journey, this bold pursuit?

There is, at last, a slow “awakening” in America to the deception and mishandling of our government by the current administration. Our countrymen are beginning to hear the alarm that bloggers and conservative reporters and commentators have been sounding throughout the past eight months: the rush to implement questionable and fiscally-irresponsible legislation is leading this nation into a crushing debt that, at best, will be passed on to future generations.

The president’s true agendas are emerging – Mr. Obama has transformational plans that will nullify the America we know and love … A country founded in the wisdom and blood of patriots and for which generations of men and women have fought, died and sacrificed.

President Ronald Reagan once called America that “shining city upon the hill.” ‘America’ is more than a country; it is a concept, an icon – a brightly shining beacon of hope and democracy for the world to see. However, that “shining city” is becoming obscured by the dark and blustery clouds of a disingenuous regime. Our shining city may become the dark fortress of Obama and the liberal left.

We cannot be silent or allow the aggressive agendas of the current White House to take effect without protest or objection. We must demand the transparency in government that we were promised. We need to attend town hall meetings, tea parties and other events to ensure that the ‘powers that be’ know that we are aware, informed and ready to fight for what we believe.

If we are “bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way,” we may reclaim our country, protect its Constitution, fundamental values and conservative principles.

I hope you’ll support TBP and those who believe in the words and intentions of our Founding Fathers – fellow patriots who love their country and express it in word and deed. We’ll unite in The Bold Pursuit of knowledge, integrity and accountability in government and our voices will be heard!

Clio,
Publisher, TheBoldPursuit.com