Monday, May 18, 2009

The Best Blogs for Information on the Torture Debate

I. Over the weekend, the right-wing noise and lies machine attempted to steer mainstream coverage of the torture debate toward attempting to portray U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a liar, because she is disputing the CIA's claim to have fully briefed her on such things as waterboarding of detainees, as early as 2002. Radio show after radio show tried to evoke an image that, "if Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional Democrats knew about the torture, then the Democrats will drop the subject, to cover their own asses."

Well, that might work on getting legislators like Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jane Harmon and other right-of-center national security committee Democrats who may or may not have known more than they have let on, to be more reticent, or even silent. But it won't keep real progressives and liberal Democrats from continuing to do everything they can to get the truth out, and justice served, even if it takes down some powerful Democrats.

As I observed earlier in the month, few Alaska blogs have spent much space or time on the torture debate. Shannyn Moore, at her blog and on radio appearances, has led the way. Progressive Alaska is going to spend a lot of time on it this week.

II. Also, this blog is the only Alaska progressive blog to post fairly continuously on Israeli-Palestinian issues. That is in large part due to my close relationship to the issue through continuing performances of my work, The Skies are Weeping, which was about aspects of this set of issues. Also, as I write this post, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are meeting in the White House. To help set the tone for the meeting, the Israeli government announced early today:

Israel has begun constructing a new settlement in the northern West Bank for the first time in 26 years, Army Radio reported.

The move comes on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, despite Western calls for Israel to halt its settlement activity.

Tenders have been issued for 20 housing units in the new Maskiot settlement and contractors have arrived on site to begin foundational work, the radio reported.

Also, something that brings coverage of I/P issues to the fore here, is the presence of my good friend, Max Blumenthal, in the occupied territories. He's making a film about confrontations along the apartheid wall, and is reporting on what he's witnessing:

I have been in the West Bank of Palestine all week filming a video series on the Occupation that I will release in a few days. Yesterday, I traveled to Ni’lin, a town in the West Bank that has been the site of weekly demonstrations against the construction of a portion of the Israeli separation wall that would effectively and deliberately annex farmland from the villagers for a nearby Jewish settlement. Each week the Israeli Army puts down Ni’lin’s demonstrations in a draconian manner, escalating from the firing of teargas from surrounding hillsides to rubber bullets and live fire when they invade the town center.

Yesterday, true to form, the army set up positions in the hills above the village and began firing teargas volleys towards a cluster of about 30 demonstrators seeking to block the path of the wall’s construction. I stood behind the demonstrators and filmed. Within minutes we were blanketed by teargas as canisters exploded all around us. My eyes burned until I couldn’t see; I struggled to breathe as I ran down a narrow street, seeking cover behind walls. This happened over and over throughout the day. At one point the army cornered journalists and a group of demonstrators in a parking lot then appeared to pursue us until we leapt over a series of backyard walls and scattered. Afterwards the Shabab assembled at various points and began slinging rocks towards the Israeli positions.

By 3 pm I was exhausted. My head was searing with pain and my clothes were immersed in teargas residue. Most of the journalists and many of the international demonstrators had left, so I followed them out of Ni’lin, passing on my way out through an Israeli flying checkpoint that had sealed off the town’s main entrance. With the media and international presence gone, Israeli forces transitioned from tear gas to live bullets.

At approximately 4:30 pm, a 12-year-old girl named Summer Amira was struck in the arm by a .22 caliber bullet from an Israeli rifle as she passed by the window of her home.

Additionally, Col. Ann Wright, one of the USA's most effective war resistors, upon my urging, is going to request that Alaska Sen. Mark Begich follow in the footsteps of Sen. John Kerry, and visit Gaza and the West Bank. Here's a report on that, from Tom Macchia:

Col. Wright will soon return to Palestine with Code Pink. She plans to invite Sen. Begich to go (at Phil Munger's suggestion). We might call and encourage him to join the Code Pink Trip.

III. If you want to be a truthfully informed as anyone in the world on the truth of the torture issue, the best place to start is the blog of Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel. Wheeler's work on the Scooter Libby trial was the best in the USA. She is very thorough in her research, and has created timelines for almost every major issue she has covered over the past four years. Here are two timelines she has created regarding questions on the true history of torture by Americans:

Torture Timeline
Torture document Dump Timeline

Wheeler's blog is niched at firedoglake (where I sometimes write). firedoglake is also one of the top sources for timely, accurate, information on torture issues. Other writer at firedoglake who have excelled in truthful coverage of Americans who torture and sometimes kill the people they torture are:

Jane Hamsher
Jane's facebook page - I Oppose Torture and KagroX is My Hero
Glenn Greenwald at
Secrecy News
Digby's Hullabaloo
Laura Rozen's blog, War and Piece
Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse at Daily Kos
David Thompson at DailyKos

That should keep you busy! I regard the torture debate -- how far should we go in upholding our laws in prosecuting those who have violated them by torturing people? -- to be one of the most important of my lifetime:

image - darkblack


Mel said...

Thanks for this, Phil. I'm going to post this on Facebook -- I'm especially thinking of a Facebook friend of mine who has been posting a lot about torture in recent weeks.

(Ironically, a few days ago she took one of those ubiquitous Facebook quizzes, this one on "What type of warrior are you?" with the result of Jack Bauer. Exactly not the type of warrior she'd be... "24" is aa show that disgusts her because of its glorification of torture. I have never watched it for the same reason.)

Igor said...

Old Russian saying...You can tell same lie 1000 time(Ms.Pelosi) but not change truth!

Difference between USSR Communist media and USA "mainstream media"

In Russia government make media say what they want - even if lie.
In USA "mainstream media" try make government what they want - even if lie..
.....eventually they become same thing?!

I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at