Look At Their Faces. Learn Their Names. Never Forget Them!

Anne Frank didn’t die in one of the Zyklon B gas chambers. She died from typhus contracted from the unsanitary conditions in Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp she was interned in waiting for execution. She contracted typhus in that camp because her father’s attempt to get a refugee visa for the Franks to come to safety in the US was denied. The reason we have the immigration rules we have now, no matter how in need of updating and revision they are (like too much else in the US), is because of how the Franks, the refugees on The St. Louis, and others trying to flee NAZI tyranny and the Holocaust were treated in the run up to and during World War II. The stories brought back by American Soldiers of what they’d seen in the liberation of the camps and the historical documents found, utilized, and archived by both Civil Affairs personnel and US civilian personnel for the Nuremberg Trials shamed the US into making the changes. It are these changes, changes to prevent the US from ever again being a passive party to the death and destruction of tyranny, state terror, and genocide, that the President, Stephen Miller, former AG Sessions, Senator Cotton, Congressman King, the President’s base of supporters, the base of the GOP and the conservative movement now seek to overturn in an attempt to return to the Immigration Act of 1924.

The children that are dying in the concentration camps that the Trump administration have established on or near the southern border are dying from disease contracted from unsanitary conditions or worsened by them. And they are in those camps because instead of processing their initial asylum requests and releasing them along with their parent or parents, they are being separated and detained in the hope that news of this will somehow get to desperate people in villages in Central American and that will deter them from trying to seek asylum in the US.

Here are the faces and the names of the children who have died in US custody or because they were in US custody* so far.

Here is the Google Docs document that has been created to record these crimes against humanity.

We will need a Truth & Reconciliation Committee to come through this. And it will not only need to have the authority to refer prosecutions, the legislation establishing the Truth & Reconciliation Committee will need to include language establishing a crimes against humanity tribunal for the people who conceived of this policy and strategy, who ordered it, who carried it out, and who have tried to cover it up.

Look at their faces! Learn their names! Never forget them and what is being done to others like them in the name of the United States.

Open thread!

* US personnel have, apparently, been transferring seriously ill detainees from custody to hospitals so that they technically do not die in one of these camps or other Customs & Border Patrol or Health & Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities.

Dark Night of the National Soul Open Thread: Trump’s Concentration Camps

Thing is, I don’t think this is a power move — it’s the GOP’s frantic effort to appeal to worst elements of its Base by upping the public cruelty, because Trump’s lost his novelty and the economic impact of the GOP’s smash-and-grab is affecting too many ‘dependable’ GOP voters. It’s like offering fentanyl to a heroin addict in withdrawal… assuming the GOP oligarchs are fentanyl addicts already, and the junkie has the key to the drug safe.

I remember reading that, by the final months of World War II, Hitler’s staff was pulling desperately needed resources away from the production of weapons to keep the trains running to the death camps. We need to fight back, hard, but we shouldn’t let an unwarranted despair over Republican power deter our efforts.

The current “debate” started, AFAICT, because Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez decried the conditions of migrant detention facilities the administration is using to cope with a surge of border crossings and highlighted a decision to hold some children at an Oklahoma Army base that was used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.” So Dick Cheney’s favorite daughter Liz — already “the No. 3 Republican in the House” — upheld her family’s proud tradition of inhumanity by pretending the Holocaust meant something more to her and her GOP associates than a rhetorical tool. Every Media Village Idiot (plus some quasi-liberal people who should’ve known better, like Chris Hayes) rushed to wallow in the quicksand…
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Up front, I want to plead guilty to third hand blogging a rumor that started in the Daily Mail. There is really no excuse and I’ll post a new picture of Max at the end to make up for it. In defense of the rumor it seems like good advice for Cheney and his administration to stay within the United States and its territorial waters at least until the whole concept of international jurisdiction for crimes against humanity blows over. When even John fucking Yoo, John “child’s testicles” Yoo, tries to get some distance from the torture report then you know these guys should think twice about vacationing in the civilized world*.

But all that said I find it a little crazy that dubya would back out of a charity gala in Switzerland and for that reason. Sure, I get that times have changed. You cannot just bury that laundered fortune in an anonymous Swiss account until the statute of limitations expires, and the Swiss have in general opened up lately to the world community. Some have even taken a serious look at getting out from under the shame of what they facilitated in WWII. But even when the law technically allows it arresting a former American head of state adds up to a reckless, ballsy act that I would not seriously expect even from the more activist scandanavians. I can see George Tenet or even Don Rumsfeld getting escorted from Heathrow or CDG by armed smurfs. Europe might open protracted and ultimately fruitless negotiations to arrest Cheney if he chose to spend a month in the French riviera being pelted with fruit walking about in public. But Bush? In Switzerland? Honestly, I would love that to be true as much as anyone but I suspect the charity took stock of the latest news and quietly rescinded their invitation.


(*) By which I mean countries that don’t torture.


Looks like the Mail just re-reported an item from 2011. No link because it’s the freaking Mail but they updated with a correction. Again, I bet that the charity in question just got some local pushback and canceled the invite.

***Update 2***

Crooks & Liars, to which I did link, got the year wrong and made the correction. I am a lazy blogger.

Before we go patting Mark Udall and Diane Feinstein on the back…

Remember that they knew all of the stuff in the torture report for years, and they did and said NOTHING.  Feinstein was in the “gang of eight,” as the Chair of the Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since 2009.  She’s known all or most of this stuff since then.  A couple other notable members of that group are Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

As for Udall, he has been on the Senate floor today as a couple of earlier posts by John and Anne Laurie pointed out. But he’s been on the SSCI for at least the last two years, and was very involved in the research on the torture report.

It’s good that an executive summary of the report has seen the light of day. It’s important for us to know what’s being done in our names, and I seriously doubt we’d have gotten actual information from the Republicans after they take over late next month.  It would be very nice for the Politicians who oversaw torture programs and the lawyers who twisted the law to claim it was legal to be punished, but I’m not holding my breath. The prime difference between Charles Graner and Dick Cheney is rank, after all.

Having said that, why, if this report shocks the consciences of those who’ve read it, are we only seeing the exec summary, and why only now? Udall waits until now when there’s no risk to him doing this. Well, better late than never for your ideals, I suppose, even if it’s to demand a couple of people resign and not, as he said he would, to enter the text of the report into the Record. Feinstein is as safe as a Democratic Senator can get. She could have read the actual contents of the entire report into the Congressional Record at will at any time and nobody could have stopped her and there would’ve been no cost to her at the ballot box in 2018.

Everything I’ve just said above applies to the other Democrats who’ve served on the SSCI in particular and to a lesser extent on the House Committee on Intelligence since 2001.  We still don’t have effective oversight of the CIA or the NSA or the rest of the Intelligence community because our representatives in Congress are complicit in keeping these secret.  If Congressional oversight is the mechanism by which we exercise control over our government, we are being sadly failed by the people that we’ve sent up there to provide that oversight. And the Republicans are every bit as complicit, but being Republicans, it was absolutely predictable that they’d actively work against the interests of the general public on issues like this, and the few who aren’t are notable for that.

And lastly, look in the mirror. After 9/11, the vast majority of the American public was demanding that the government do whatever had to be done to keep another mass-casualty attack from taking place. A lot of people who otherwise counted themselves as liberals supported the Bush administration in their taking a free hand to do whatever the hell they wanted in those early years.  And while Liberals began to peel off of that support within a couple of years, it wasn’t even as Iraq dragged on, and Abu Ghraib first exposed some of the ugliness did the majority of our country begin to express doubts and question what we were doing there. And in fact, it wasn’t until after Hurricane Katrina landed on our own shores and we witnessed the full extent of their incompetence and mendacity where they couldn’t hide it that the majority of the American public finally began to admit that Bush and Cheney and their minions had lied us into an unwinnable war on the other side of the world.  And our Congress, including the heroes of many people here, supported them for much of their agenda.  The USA PATRIOT Act passed a Democratic-held Senate, and a Democratic-held Senate gave retroactive immunity to the NSA and private corporations that assisted them later on.  These were our elected representatives that did these things or allowed them to happen.  They are our will made whole, and their acts and things, dark and light, are ours.  Before we spend too much time wallowing in the outrage bath, we would do well by our children and our ancestors to remember that.

The CIA Torture Report – Yes, It’s Still Out There

Look back, not forward!… because you know what they say about those who don’t learn from the past. From the Vice link:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) provided the first official confirmation on Thursday that a long-awaited report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program will be released “early next week.”…

At Bloomberg View, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake have more detail on “the Battle Over the CIA Torture Report“.

At The Intercept, Dan Froomkin (whose skeptical Washington Post column got me through Dubya’s first term), shares “12 Things to Keep in Mind When You Read the Torture Report“:

… The report, a review of brutal CIA interrogation methods during the presidency of George W. Bush, has been the subject of a contentious back-and-forth, with U.S. intelligence agencies and the White House on one side pushing for mass redactions in the name of national security and committee staffers on the other arguing that the proposed redactions render the report unintelligible.

Should something emerge, here are some important caveats to keep in mind:

1) You’re not actually reading the torture report. You’re just reading an executive summary. The full Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program runs upward of 6,000 pages. The executive summary is 480 pages. So you’re missing more than 80 percent of it.

2) The CIA got to cut out parts. The summary has been redacted – ostensibly by the White House, but in practice by officials of the CIA…

4) The investigation was extremely narrow in its focus. Committee staffers only looked at what the CIA did in its black sites; whether it misled other officials; and whether it complied with orders. That is somewhat like investigating whether a hit man did the job efficiently and cleaned up nicely.

5) The investigation didn’t examine who gave the CIA its orders, or why. The summary doesn’t assess who told the CIA to torture

6) Torture was hardly limited to the CIA. In fact, the worst of it was done by the military….

Just before Thanksgiving, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s former lawyer, Jason D. Wright, told PoliticoAmerica Tortured—And We Need to Shed Some Light on It“:

… This report, set to be accompanied by a CIA response and review by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, is the backdrop for President Obama’s admission at a White House news conference in August: “We tortured some folks.”

Let’s be clear: President Obama is wrong on one point. There’s no collective “we” here. The American people did not torture these folks. The sin of torture is on the hands of those who directed the torture, those who contorted the law to justify the torture, those who applied the torture—and those who have attempted to cover-up the torture…

We, the American people, must not commit the sin of silence. We need a public debate about the American torture policy. We need this debate to obtain some measure of governmental accountability and ensure that we never repeat these mistakes again. We also need this debate to demonstrate to the world that the United States of America can once again be the shining beacon on the hill, that principle is more important than politics, and that the rule of law is greater than the rule of men…

There’s one more slim chance that we non-VIPs might get access to the full report: Read more