“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, February 18, 2006

JIF GTMO Op Enduring Freedom

We were recently attracted to an article in the Omaha World-Herald about a small businessman, Tom Hogan. Hogan, according to the paper, designed “a sort of wheelchair, … that people can be strapped into to keep them from harming themselves or others.” Hogan, a sheriff, was inspired to do this by an incident involving an intoxicated man at a jail.

He now makes these chairs and sells them for $1,200 apiece. He doesn’t have a large factory. His clients are institutions, usually. But he did ship 25 of the chairs recently to a client in Norfolk, Virginia – “the orders were marked "JIF GTMO Op Enduring Freedom."

Hogan seems like a decent kind of man:

“Under most situations, Hogan said, he doesn't consider it abuse to force-feed someone.

"If my chair is being used to save somebody's life . . . that's fine by me," he said. What concerns him, he said, is whether the feeding is done in an abusive way. "I don't want my chairs to be used to torture people." “

And so it creeps in – our Homeland decency, and our need to fight the long war. That long, beautiful war in which, what with one twist and another, we have to gradually throw off our freedoms – temporarily of course – and ditch our scruples – for a good purpose, of course – and generally become a more depraved and in every way worse country. It looks like Hogan’s chairs were found by some clever person at the Pentagon, and turned out to be just the addition needed to break a hunger strike at America’s Buchenwald in Guantanamo Bay.

Rupert Cornwall in the Independent has a nice column about Guantanamo in the light of the U.N. condemnation:

“The justifications advanced by the US authorities are now absurd. Four years on, whatever intelligence value these individuals once had has surely long since been exhausted. Many of them, it is known, were caught in the American net by accident in Afghanistan and Pakistan, sometimes handed over by rivals, for reasons that had far more to do with bounty collection than the "war on terror". Lawyers say that only 8 per cent of prisoners have been classified as al-Qa'ida fighters, and that less than half, according to Pentagon documents, have committed a "hostile act" against the US.

But we can't release them, intone Donald Rumsfeld and his minions' once freed, they would revert to doing "bad things against America". As if an extra 490 "bad guys" - assuming they are "bad guys" - would make much difference, when in Iraq alone active insurgents number at least 20,000, and when the very existence of Guantanamo Bay is among the terrorists' most potent recruiting agents.

But, in this White House, no one seems to care about that. No one seems concerned by the unanimous feeling of America's allies - let alone America's enemies - that Guantanamo should be shut down. Even by this administration's standards, Mr McClellan's contempt was remarkable. The UN report was a "discredit" to the organisation. Did it not have better things to do?”

Cornwall should look at where Bush hails from – Texas, the state with the fifth or sixth largest prison system in the world. And a prison system that, as has often been noted, self-organizes by way of rape – it being a way of breaking in those unfortunates who’ve been swept up in the often racist policing we see in Edna, or Tulia. Pliability enforced by the stronger inmates brings about a more peaceful prison, and – it being a private enterprise kind of thing – helps to guarantee recidivism – nothing like sending people out into the world with worse criminal attitudes than they had when they came in to ensure that Wackenhut does not take a hit from falling crime rates. This virtuous circle, this convergence of the public and the private, is the governing philosophy at work in D.C. at the moment.

But another day, another UN condemnation, another channel changer speech by our Secretary of War. There are two monuments to the American paralysis that goes by the name, “the war on terror:” one is the uncaptured status of Osama bin Laden; the other is the continuing employment of Donald Rumsfeld. Between the two, we have the story of the American crackup. Here’s Rumsfeld, making Bush seem, by startling contrast, almost connected to reality:

“U.S. public affairs operations tend to be "reactive rather than proactive," Rumsfeld said, operating slowly during standard working hours while "our enemies are operating 24/7 across every time zone. That is an unacceptably dangerous deficiency."
To remedy this, he called for increased communications training for military public affairs officials by drawing on private-sector expertise, noting that public affairs jobs in the military have not been "career enhancing." He also called for creating 24-hour media operations centers and "multifaceted media campaigns" using the Internet, blogs and satellite television that "will result in much less reliance on the traditional print press."

Rumsfeld criticized the U.S. media for hampering such initiatives, however. He said the press "seems to demand perfection from the government but does not apply the same standard to the enemy or even sometimes to themselves," contrasting the coverage of the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse with that of mass graves in Iraq.”

The endless, endless drivel that comes out of Rumsfeld is, as always, a source of wonder to us all.

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