Dennis Loo

 Dennis Loo is an award-winning sociologist, co-editor of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, Associate Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and an honors graduate in Government from Harvard. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is a former journalist and his research specialties include polling, public policy-making, social movements, and criminology.He can be reached via his blog: http://dennisloo.blogspot.com

The “War on Terror” is Like Antibacterial Soap

By Dennis Loo

Now comes Dick Cheney, the guy everyone thinks is the Prince of Principles and Teller of Truths, reacting to the storm around the torture memos and saying that torture worked.
Dennis Blair, the Obama Director of National Intelligence, echoes this sentiment before revising it and acknowledging that there’s no way of knowing if the “intelligence” could have been obtained by methods that didn’t include suffocating people with water 266 times.
Let’s suppose that torture did on occasion produce something useful to the US military/intelligence.
It goes against everything that interrogators and torture victims tell us, but, for the sake of honoring the Teller of Truths, let's suppose he's right.
They have yet to provide any evidence of said actionable information, by the way.
But let’s give the Prince of Principles the benefit of the doubt since he has such a peerless record of consistently telling the truth about everything.

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Tugging on the Torture Thread

By Dennis Loo
 
Chris Floyd writes at Empire Burlesque “
The Fatal Thread: Torture, War and the Imperial Project:”
 
“You cannot disentangle the torture program from the war of aggression in Iraq – nor from the illegal wiretapping program, the corrupt war profiteering, and all the other degradations of liberty and law that have been so accelerated in the past eight years. They are all of a piece, part and parcel of a plan to expand and entrench America's ‘unipolar domination’ of world affairs with a thoroughly militarized state led by an unaccountable, authoritarian ‘Unitary Executive.’

“This is one reason why Barack Obama is so obviously reluctant to tug on the torture thread too hard. If you tear it out, with full-scale prosecutions and top officials locked up behind bars, the whole rotten skein would fall apart. Once you start genuinely subjecting government officials – including security apparatchiks and military brass – to the full extent of the law, there would be no end to the unraveling: senators, contractors, representatives, bureaucrats, generals, lobbyists, judges, corporate chiefs – the whole edifice of Establishment power would be shaken to the core as its leading lights went down, one after the other.”

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Obama: Gitmo Prisoners Aren’t ‘Persons’

By Dennis Loo
If you ask most people what Obama has done about Guantanamo, most would say, "He shut it down."
Most don't know that Obama has said he might take as much as a year to shut it down.
If you ask most people what Obama has done about torture and rendition, most would say, "He's ended them."
Most don't know that Obama has declared that he will continue rendition, that he reserves the right to go beyond the Army Field Manual for interrogations, and that by not acting affirmatively to ensure otherwise, he has allowed conditions to worsen at Gitmo.
If you ask most people what Obama's done about restoring habeas corpus, most people would first say, "What's habeas corpus?"
Then, after you explain to them that habeas corpus is your right to challenge your detention, most people would say, "He's restored habeas corpus, hasn't he?"
Most people don't know that Obama has said that Bagram prisoners have no right to habeas corpus and that Gitmo detainees don't have a right to it prior to June 2008. 
The latest news about what Obama is up to on these fronts follows.

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Out of the Woodwork: Today’s Torquemadas

By Dennis Loo

“Our aim is to put you in hell so you will tell the truth. These are the orders we have from our superiors, to turn your lives into hell.”
 
— US soldier to Abu Ghraib detainee[i]
 
Coming out of the woodwork … as if from the woodcut of waterboarding in the Spanish Inquisition, stepping out, into our lives, assuming three dimensional features, taking on flesh tones, inhaling and exhaling… figures who declare with serious faces that … torture …. works.
 
They tell us:
 
We will extract confessions from you.
 
We know that you know what we want.
 
We will tell you what we know about you and your co-conspirators and what we know that you know.
 
We will tell you again and again and again and again until you tell us what we have told you so that we may know the truth.[ii]
 
We will pour jugs of water onto your face till you choke and struggle against your binds, to purify you.
 
We will tell you that if you don’t talk that you will surely die.
 
We will put you in coffin-sized boxes for hours.
 
We will throw you against the walls. Repeatedly.
 
We will strip you naked and sic dogs upon you.
 
We will deny you sleep for days upon days.
 
We will tell you that we will not ever stop until you have made your peace with us and confess freely and fully.
 
We will slap you and beat you until you tell us what we want.
 
We are, you must know, a merciful people, a kind people, a just, and a moral people.
 
There are no more merciful, more kind, more just, more moral people than us.
 
We are so just and moral that we can do these things to you and not be sullied by it.
 
We remain moral and righteous as we beat you because our intentions are so pure.[iii]
 
We are protecting Americans’ lives and if we have to suffocate you or beat you to death, we do so in the name of the American people, whose lives are more precious than your pitiful lying life.
 
Our morality and justice is so great – Lord Be Praised - that you envy us this righteous life that we live, which is why you hate us so.
 
But we are stronger and mightier than you.
 
For we have God on our side.
 
And you, you have nothing but superstition.

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Four Times in Eight Sentences

 By Dennis Loo

 Asked recently by a fourth grader about she thought about what President Obama's administration was saying about the Bush administration’s methods to get information from detainees, Condi Rice, having prepared better this time and scaling down the age of questioners from Stanford undergraduates to elementary school students, said:
 
"Let me just say that President Bush was very clear that he wanted to do everything he could TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY. After September 11, we wanted TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY," she said. "But he was also very clear that we would do nothing, nothing, that was against the law or against our obligations internationally. So the president was only willing to authorize policies that were legal in order TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY."
 

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The Impossibly Bad Policies of the Politics of the Possible

 By Dennis Loo

The Democratic and Republican Parties are able to govern mainly because most of the population take their cues from the two parties about what is going on and what to do about it. The parties (and each parties’ leaders especially) define the boundaries of what is “possible.”
The prestige press (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The National Review, etc.) also stake out their positions within the parameters set by the major parties - though at times the prestige press leads one or both of the parties on an issue, producing a shift in their position.
I leave out of this discussion, for the time being, those in the population who are politically active and aware, but who do not take their orientation from the Democrats or Republicans.

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The Ticking Time Bomb

By Dennis Loo

Pictured with this article are two of the sixty photographs given to the Australian press previously that the Sydney Morning Herald is publishing now. They may be among the photographs that Obama is now refusing to release. 

Notice that the man in the first photo is packed in ice because, presumably, he is dead. Behind his head appears to be part of the body bag.  
These photos are part of the real ticking time bomb that Obama wants to avoid setting off in the realm of American and world public opinion.

As Mike Malloy put it at Huffington Post:

“If we are to believe reports that began circulating four years ago, reports from investigative journalists such as Seymour Hersh, their release would unleash a wave of anti-American hatred that would endanger the lives of not just U.S. soldiers, but the lives of all Americans, civilians as well as military personnel. Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: ‘Some of the worse that happened that you don’t know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men … . The women were passing messages saying “Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened. Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They [the Bush Crime Family] are in total terror it’s going to come out.’

“At today’s White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president was concerned that the photos’ release would pose a national security threat. In other words, these unreleased photos and videos show acts of degeneracy so vile there is no way they can be explained or rationalized. They contain images of children - some of them the children of detainees - being raped and sodomized as a means of forcing confessions from the adult detainees that would provide the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Quaeda that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush insisted were the basis of their orders to invade and occupy Iraq. Children of detainees being raped and sodomized as a means of obtaining confessions. In testimony before Congress five years ago no less a war criminal than the murderous former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the unrevealed photos and videos contain acts ‘that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman.’”

 

Fundamentalist Christians such as Gary Bauer, President of American Values (sic) and Chairman of the Working Campaign, former president of the Family Research Council and presidential candidate in 2000, who, in posing the question: "What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?" answered with this, "[I]t depends... I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information." 

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GOP Senator Praises the Spanish Inquisition

By Dennis Loo

Robert Parry of Consortium News wrote on 5/17/09:

“'One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work,' [Senator Lindsay] Graham said on May 13 in the latest Republican justification of Bush’s authorization of tactics such as forced nudity, sleep deprivation, painful stress positions and the near-drowning of waterboarding."

Sen. Graham (S. Carolina - R) is touting the virtues of the Spanish Inquisition!

So it comes to this: a leading Republican is now openly saying approvingly that they are doing what Torquemada, the infamous Spanish inquisitor, did to the unbelievers - using torture.

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Senate Votes to Block Photos’ Release for Five Years

By Dennis Loo

CNN reported yesterday
"The Senate late Thursday easily passed a $91 billion spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After stripping it of funds to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and placing restrictions on the transfer of its detainees, the bill was adopted 86 to 3.
"The Senate included an amendment to prevent the public release of photographs that reportedly document the mistreatment of post-Sept. 11 detainees in U.S. custody.
"The language is aimed at preventing a court from ordering their release in response to a freedom of information lawsuit."

...

"The measure was sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Sen. Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who said releasing the inflammatory photos would stoke resentment against the U.S. It blocks the photos' release for five years and gives the Secretary of Defense the ability to keep them under wraps longer."

(Sen. Graham, by the way, on May 13 actually explicitly cited the Spanish Inquisition approvingly on the grounds that it worked!)

What this news means is that the Democratic controlled Senate, right after denying funds to close Gitmo, has now approved $91 billion for carrying forward the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and is blocking release of the extremely incriminating evidence of the US policy of torturing prisoners for at least five years. 

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Adding Insult to Injury: the Cover-Up of Torture Photos Continues

 

By Dennis Loo
Comes now a Defense Department spokesperson, anonymously speaking to Salon’s Mark Benjamin in a June 2, 2009 article entitled “Suppressed images don't show rape, official says: The Pentagon says no sexual abuse, no Abu Ghraib photos among those held back in ACLU suit.”
Benjamin writes: “[T]he Defense Department is not withholding any additional images or video of apparent detainee abuse from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Salon published all of that material back in 2006, which included images of prisoners being forced to masturbate and to simulate oral sex. The Pentagon is not aware of any other images of abuse from the prison. ‘You have the whole set of Abu Ghraib,’ the official said. ‘There are no 'X Files' of images sitting somewhere else of Abu Ghraib.’"
This flatly contradicts two credible sources. It also contradicts commonsense. First, as to the sources: In the May 30, 2009 edition of Salon, Benjamin quotes Lt. General Antonio Taguba who was tasked by the DOD under Rumsfeld to investigate the Abu Ghraib scandal when it broke in 2004: "'The photographs in that lawsuit, I have not seen,' Taguba told Salon Friday night. The actual quote in the Telegraph was accurate ["These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency"], Taguba said -- but he was referring to the hundreds of images he reviewed as an investigator of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- not the photos of abuse that Obama is seeking to suppress."

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Obama: Kidnapped? Tortured? Sorry, State Secrets, You Can’t Sue

By Dennis Loo
On June 12, 2009, Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) filed court papers seeking to overturn a landmark case that permitted the victims of torture to sue the Boeing subsidiary, Jeppensen Data Plan, for its role in “extraordinary rendition” and torture.
The case, Mohamed, et al v. Jeppesen Data Plan, et al was ruled upon in April 2009 by the Ninth Circuit. The Court’s decision Is summarized here by The Lift:

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About

World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.