Sunday, January 19, 2014

Because signing Internet petitions isn't enough

 Updates, 2/4/2014:
 Witness Against Torture just uploaded these videos to YouTube

Andy Worthington speaking

Ret. Maj. Todd Pierce speaking


  Been so busy at work all week that I haven’t had time to unpack and share my impressions of last weekend’s Close Guantánamo events in D.C.

   Friday, January 10. I took a vacation day so that I could attend the screening of Doctors of the Dark Side, Martha Davis’ documentary on the complicity of psychiatrists, psychologists, and medical personnel in the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the CIA. I especially wanted to attend the screening because it was going to be followed by a panel discussion by British journalist, blogger, and author of the Guantanámo Files, Andy Worthington. I had the pleasure of meeting and saying a few words to him before the film.

  Doctors of the Dark Side was disturbing, to say the least. Subjecting any human being to physical or psychological torture for any reason is always illegal and immoral. Period. (Never mind the fact that torture is ineffective.) No matter what they may have done or what information they supposedly possess. The fact that White House attorneys agreed to walling, stress positions, enclosing prisoners in a small box with an insect (who thinks up this stuff anyway?), and of course, the pièce de résistance, waterboarding, is absolutely repugnant. It is even more shocking and sad to learn that medical and psychological professionals, whose sword duty it is to safeguard individuals in their care, collaborated instead in their torture. I have to agree with Nathaniel Raymond of Physicians for Human Rights that these acts of complicity constitute “the single greatest scandal in the history of American medical ethics.”

 Yoo has appealed to history, pointing out that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Pierce, however, asserts that the Geneva Convention supersedes any sort of war powers that would allow the president to suspend habeas corpus or authorize torture.
Panel members: Maj. Pierce, Andy Worthington, Stephanie Rugoff
  Another panel member, retired Judge Advocate General, Maj. Todd E. Pierce, offered some interesting remarks on the legality of rulings handed down by White House attorneys John Yoo and others.
  Also participating in the discussion following the film were retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and Stephanie Rugoff of World Can’t Wait.

Saturday, January 11. Well, I can say that I’ve taken part in vigils and marches in Washington, D.C. in falling snow, in withering heat, and now in drenching rain. Still, I was proud to join with members of National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Amnesty International USA, Code Pink (who lent me an orange t-shirt), Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait, Center for Constitutional Rights, Veterans for Peace and others in marching from the White House to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I parted with the group and headed home at that point. However, dedicated members of Witness Against Torture entered the museum and conducted a living exhibit, urging us all to work to Make Guantánamo History. View their courageous action:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Time paused, resumed, then paused again

  Our first snowstorm of 2014.  Went back to work yesterday after a wonderful twelve-day holiday, only to have a snow holiday today.  Everything seems almost eerily quiet and still.  The branches are lined with snow, and only the wind shakes off a few stitches now and then.  At 17° it's way too cold for any melting.

   I've been doing some work at my desk by the back window. The sun is shining and shadows slowly cruise from one side of the ocean of white to the other. Listening to classical music on Radio Swiss Classic (French announcement version).

   Reigning over all is the calm that only a snowfall can bring.