Monday, May 19, 2008

самиздат (Samizdat)

I have just finished reading Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values by Philippe Sands, an internationally acclaimed expert in International Law.

I was enraged. I was also heartbroken. Sands does an excellent job of making his case. He does so in excruciating lawerly detail. Part of the credibility he brings to this is that he was one of the lawyers who brought the case against Auguste Pinochet.

Step by step through the process of the degredation of principles of law and simple human decency he outlines the way American Law, the Law of Nations, and what the Apache and other native peoples would call Sacred Law, was first, weakened, then discarded entirely. He does so using the case of Detainee 063. He shows the escalation of tactics, from strictness, through bullying, and finally into plain and simple cruelty. All of which achieved nothing of any benefit to the stated goals of finding intelligence in the War on Terror.

He interviews the lawyers who drafted the memos, the cabinet officers who expanded them. He attacks the process that led us to this state of affairs.

He draws an undeniable parallel to a case at Nuremburg which was the basis for the film Judgement at Nuremburg. He goes so far as to conduct an interview with the son of one of the Nazi defendants. What made the case at Nuremburg applicable here is that the cited case was judges and lawyers who twisted legal arguments and made a case for the legality of the death camps, the slave labor system, and other Nazi war crimes. By providing the evil a cover of law, they helped to make it happen.

The name of what I'm about to do after reading this book was graciously provided by Jurassic Pork of "Welcome to Pottersville". Thanks JP!

Samizdat was the old system in the days of the iron curtain. Using typewriters with carbon paper, using duplicating and mimeograph machines, folks behid the curtain would copy works that were forbidden. They would also memorize entire books and recite them in underground salons.

What I will do next with this book is send my copy off to Melissa McEwan of Shakesville. I chose her because she is passionate and vocal in her quest for a better America. Hell, she had a brutal case of the flu and dragged her sick ass to the polls in order to vote in the last Indiana Primary. She was one of the main inspirations that got me to start my own blogging.

I am going to send her my copy of the book, with a short little inscription. She's going to read it, write about it, and pass it on to another. Just like the old Samizdat (literally: Self Publishing).

Unfortunately, the truth has become contraband in our country. That must change.

I'm looking forward to following this book's progress through Blogtopia. (Yes! Skippy coined that phrase!)

Big Brass Blog


Blogger BadTux said...

One of the founding principals of American "soft" fascism is to give people outlets like this for their rage. What our rulers have discovered, over the decades, is that if they allow dissent, then what they get is dissent -- a lot of hot air. If they squash dissent, what they get is, well, revolution. Bad news. So they allow dissent, but are careful to do so much crapflooding -- the flooding of society with meaningless crap like Britney's panties and driving habits -- that it's hard for the dissent to gain any traction with the greater public, who would have to actually go searching through all the crap to find the dissent if they really cared, which, of course, the average American (or average human being, for that matter) doesn't, since, as monkeys with delusions of grandeur, they're pre-wired to follow a leader rather than questioning him.

In the end it was economic collapse that brought down the Soviet Union, and the decision by important elites that the system was dead and it was time to try something else. When Yeltsin hopped up on that tank to have a tete a tete with the commander of the forces about to shell the Russian parliament house, he wasn't up there saying "Democracy, bitches!". He was up there saying, "Look, you know it's over, that the Soviet Union is done. Why support a reeking corpse when there's a different way?"

Sad to say, it's going to have to get that bad before we kick out our own Soviets. And as Russia proves, that doesn't mean anything good arises out of the rubble. The jumped-up monkeys with bad fur and delusions of grandeur still want an alpha male monkey to follow. Vladimir Putin, anybody?

- Badtux the Pessimist penguin

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, all charges against Detainee 063 have been dropped.

On the May 9, 2008 edition of BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, legal scholar Philippe Sands, author of TORTURE TEAM, talked about the approval of coercive interrogation by high-level American officials. Below is a special essay from Sands about the man known as Detainee 063 at Guantanamo.

This is a worthy read. (Hat tip, Sully.)

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you not sending this to the judges and lawyers who provided the evil a cover of law and helped to make it happen? Why are we talking among ourselves? I came upon Melissa's blog by chance through (wait for it) a knitting blog. Otherwise I'd still feel powerless and alone, instead of just powerless. A powerless spectator at the circus of mosquitoes.

10:16 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

my dear anonymous friend. i sent this to Melissa, after that, the way it works is out of my hands. let's see where this book goes.

i thought about sending it to my cousin, who is a brilliant attorney with superb constitutional law chops. he's taken on the federal government four times in the supreme court and won decisively each time. thing is, he doesn't blog.

i thought the idea of sending this out, to a trusted friend, would be the best place to start.

the judges and lawyers who had a hand in this know exactly what they did. some of them even feel shame. if nothing else, none of these bastards will ever be able to travel abroad with any assurance that they will not be arrested, hauled before the international court and tried. my cousin is also looking into what might happen if another sovereign entity within the u.s. borders (like an indian nation) were to arrest them and extradite them to the hague.

that would be a very cool case.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

i think it's a wonderful idea and i wish your cousin would blog. i'll bet it would be a good one.

tho i love yours and the recipes as well as the opinions and things that i learn.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Moyers has/is already covering this story and this author, so it's already got a much wider audience than just us. Sully has covered it as well, so it's also got a wider blog audience than just us.

Spreading it around on the blogosphere is a terrific idea. It's the kind of story that needs to get into as many nooks and crannies as possible. While doing so guarantees nothing I think without doing so the guilty bastards will never be brought to justice.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that would be a very cool case.

It would, although the payback whenever the GOP comes back into power would be a true bitch.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be a cool case indeed. I was very impressed with what the Klamath did to Warren Buffets annual shareholders meeting. Maybe our salvation will come from our first Nations friends.

1:49 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

yes, oddjob, sadly one of the bald historical facts is that any victory by native americans was followed by a vicious, full force ass kicking. my grandfather once told me that the most depressing thing about the belaangaana is that they never quit coming. there will always be more, and more, and more of them.

the worst thing that red cloud could do for the ogalala was to win a war against the united states. they came back with a vengance that destroyed the ogalala, the hunkpapa, the brule, and anyone, like the northern cheyenne which was allied with them. cochise completely cut off tucson and bisbee from the outside world, forced a treaty with very favorable terms and ensured that the chiricauhua would be hunted down (sadly, one of the most stalwart units in that hunting was made up of white mountain apache) and exterminated.

i imagine that my cousin will take this harsh lesson well into account. he's a pretty fearless sort of man though. when you combine his courage with his sense of what it right and good, and beautiful, well, let's just say that what ever he decides to do, i'm on his fucking side.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you've posted about him suggests he would indeed weigh the consequences carefully in the balance. It wasn't the consequences to him personally that I was thinking of, but rather those to his people.

However he's bound to be considering that more carefully than I could ever know.

(Code is hjujgjbj, which looks suspiciously Apache to me...... ;-))

2:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have heard enough about this situation from watching Bill Moyers. I don't think I could stand reading this book. I am now in a phase of trying to be the change I want to see and trying to concentrate on the blessings in this world. The blessing, if there is one, in this situation is that its being made public will help bring about positive changes in our society. The more people are angry about this, the more they will vote the bastards out of office.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the full weight of this book's contents would crush me, but it should.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I am with the penguin on this one.

I have often wondered what blogging can accomplish. For many, it is a way to blow off steam or find a community of like-minded people--but will it animate people to take action? Maybe we'll all just be so tired from blogging we haven't energy to do anything else.

Perhaps the best purpose is focused information analysis and dissemination among people who are able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and then do something about the info they've been given.

Surely most of our MSM serve as lapdogs to their masters.

4:47 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

In the end the fascists always overstretch themselves and end up destroying the nations they head. A look at the economic indicators of the United States indicates that it isn't long for the U S of A. The question then becomes, "what next?". What we can think about really, really hard is what kind of nation we want to arise out of the rubble that the fascists are making out of our nation and its moral and legal underpinnings. Because if we don't... well, I wonder what our own version of Vladimir Putin will look like?

- Badtux the Forward-thinking Penguin

5:20 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...


No doubt, he will be beady-eyed and call people "little snotty noses..."
A slightly better-looking version of Cheney...?

6:37 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

sinclair lewis (or was it upton sinclair, i always confuse them) said "when facism comes to america it will come waving the flag and carrying the cross."

probably look like one of the "born again" generals.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lewis, not Sinclair. I've always thought the proper follow-up to that quote was, "But isn't that always how fascism comes?"

7:40 PM  

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