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John Yoo Defies Science

September 24th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

A neuroscientist published a report this week on “enhanced and coercive interrogation techniques” like waterboarding and found that they don’t work, primarily because they cause so much stress, they actually impair memory.

“There is a vast literature on the effects of extreme stress on motivation, mood and memory, using both animals and humans,” writes Shane O’Mara, a stress researcher at Ireland’s Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. “These techniques cause severe, repeated and prolonged stress, which compromises brain tissue supporting memory and executive function.”

Meanwhile, Torture Memo author John Yoo, in his latest column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is still defending the use of these techniques.

[via Wired]
[John Yoo: Closing Arguments: History shows targeting the CIA is perilous move]

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Palau Uielcomes the Uighurs

June 12th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

The 17 Uighurs detained at Gitmo have finally found a home. And if you ask me, they totally scored. On Wednesday, the tropical Pacific island nation of Palau announced that it will accept the 17 Chinese Muslims who’ve been unlawfully jailed for the last 6 years (and take $200 million in aid from the U.S. along with, apparently).

Uielcome, Uighurs!

In other words, the Uighurs have won an island vacation! For the rest of their lives! Where they can work on their base tans year-round, eat fruit right off the trees, spontaneously break out into the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, and get wasted on drinks with tiny paper umbrellas in them, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!

And the only thing they had to do to earn that was give up 6 years of their lives. Considering a vacation to Palau will run you about five grand these days, I’d say those Uighurs got a sweet deal, wouldn’t you?


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Uihere Uiill the Uighurs Go?

June 1st, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

So, here’s the deal. There are these 17 Uighurs (or Uyghurs, pronounced “wee-grr”), right? They’re part of a Muslim minority group who come from the far-western province of Xinjiang, China. And they’ve been detained at Guantanamo for the last 6 years after getting rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the course of that time, it’s been determined that they aren’t enemy combatants–enemies of the U.S. or our allies–nor is there significant evidence demonstrating that they’re any kind of threat, nor do they have ties to al Qaeda. They have been cleared for release and are free to go. But if they return home to China, they’ll likely be tortured and persecuted. Like Tibetans, Uighurs have suffered plenty of human rights-abuses at the hands of the Chinese government but received far less attention for them, probably because they believe in a religion that scares people instead of one that, say, attracts a beautiful Hollywood following. While the 17 Uighurs have petitioned for asylum in the U.S., they’ve been denied twice, most recently by Obama.

Ever the dickish troll, Newt Gingrich has said that the Uighurs are not an “American problem,” despite the fact that they have been unlawfully detained by our government for the last 6 years. So whose problem are they? And uihere in the uiorld uiill the Uighurs go now?

[NY Times: Chinese Inmates at Guantánamo Pose a Dilemma]


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Holy Crap: Donald Rumsfeld’s Crusade Memos

May 18th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Oh Jesus. Have you seen the cover pages of the top secret Crusade Memos, authored by Donald Rumsfeld in 2003 around the start of the Iraq War, recently published in GQ?

What’s shocking is that, according to HuffPo contributor Chris Rodda, the mixing of religion and military policy at the highest levels is nothing new. What’s also shocking? These Crusade Memo-cover sheets are about as smart and sophisticated as your typical youth group-messaging. They used to put Scripture like this on t-shirts in my Southern Baptist youth group, to get us kids pumped about spending the first week of summer, the first taste of freedom…quietly studying the Bible while getting murdered by mosquitoes in the woods, teenage hormones on tilt because you were surrounded by beautiful people you wanted to fuck but couldn’t because Jesus didn’t approve, and the most you could do about it was maybe get felt up in the Prayer Garden at night, but that was only if you were really, really bad and hooked on getting saved and re-saved, which so many kids were because, hey, you had to get high somehow.

Yep, this was the sort of fist-pumpy Bible-beater stuff we kids would get brainwashed with during Wednesday night Bible study or before we went to witness to slack-jawed teens at the mall on a Friday night because, because, because…

We were responding to a higher calling? Because we had purpose? Because we were chosen and righteous?

No. It was because, frankly, we were bored. There were only so many movies you could see at one of the two local movie theaters, only so many frames you could bowl, only so many times you could sit in the Safeway parking lot after closing getting wasted on Bud and wine coolers. Going out and saving the world was a thing to do because there was kinda nothing better in our podunk town.

And to think this is the way the Bush administration ran the military and justified invading Iraq. God help us.

[GQ: Onward, Christian Soldiers! (SLIDESHOW)]
[GQ: And He Shall Be Judged]
[HuffPo: MRFF's Response to Rumsfeld Crusade Memos: We Told You So!]


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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Brian Tierney and Harold Jackson

May 15th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

In response to the public outcry this week over the hiring of Torture Memos author John Yoo as a monthly columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, both the paper’s publisher, Brian Tierney, and its editorial page editor, Harold Jackson, issued defenses of Yoo’s hiring that were, well, indefensible.

The NY Times reported:

“What I liked about John Yoo is he’s a Philadelphian,” Mr. Tierney said. “He went to Episcopal Academy, where I went to school. He’s a very, very bright guy. He’s on the faculty at Berkeley, one of the most liberal universities in the country.”

To critics of the hiring, he said, “The most important speech to defend is the speech you hate.”

And sure, we can all agree that free speech = GOOD, even when we don’t agree with said speech’s content. Unless, of course, you’re John Yoo. In a 2001 memo, Yoo actually suggested that free speech and free press were maybe not all that, in the words of Tierney, “important” and worth “defending.”

First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote, in a memo entitled, “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States.

Oh. The. Irony.

The Inquirer‘s editorial page editor, Harold Jackson, was less chummy in his own Yoo-pologia, but he wasn’t any more convincing.

For, he wrote:

Adding more conservative commentaries to our mix doesn’t mean we have become right-wing in our editorial positions. It means we aren’t afraid to let people hear what the other side has to say.

We think most of our readers aren’t afraid either.

Our editorial board strives to take distinct positions on every topic we write about. But we also want to make sure our pages present alternative points of view.

That’s the reason we run Yoo.“

Ahh! “Hearing…the other side” and “alternative points of view” also = GOOD (and now let us embrace and sing Kumbaya together), however…

Legally justifying torture is not simply “other” and “alternative,” it’s madness. It goes against reason, logic, ethics, and humanity. And, for the record, we should be afraid of that. We should be very afraid.


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Not Just a Torture Expert

May 12th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Torture expert John Yoo has a new gig…as monthly columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition to yawn-y legal opinions, he’ll also be sharing his thoughts on how to commit war crimes and get away with them, how to re-brand waterboarding into an extreme sport and lobby to get it into the next Olympic Games, and how to rock a White Man’s Puff when you’re not white!

He has so much to offer, people, beyond how to almost kill people without actually killing people (factoring in the occasional “Oops!” of course). Open your minds and give this man a chance!


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