May 16, 2005

No Filter

I wrote my compatriots here at Pacific Views last night to let them know that I was taking a short leave of absence. I am kind of busy with studying right now, but that isn't really the point. I'm pretty creeped out by the latest revelations of the gruesome failings of our self-appointed righteousness crusaders who want to mind everybody's business but their own, and while that's a big part, that isn't the whole point either.

A lot of the discussion at the blogging and media forum I attended the other day revolved around people 'siloing' themselves into little information tunnels where they couldn't ever get past the information filters they decided to set up for themselves. What I find in acting as a filter is that there are days when I just don't want to be somebody that knows all the best keywords to type into Google to pull together a synopsis of US atrocities in Iraq.

Case in point: Yesterday I was at the usual Sunday meeting where we put together the school paper and a colleague wanted to know what the big deal was about the torture thing. Fortunately, I was able to keep in all but a bit of acid snark. I apologized for being snippy, he apologized for being on Sudafed and more callous than usual. Today I pulled together the following links and sent them by email because it's just a compulsion by now, and all the initial disgust and anger that I felt reading this stuff the first time is just right back there in my face.

Here's the Taguba Report, the summary of a military investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba into incidents of torture at Abu Ghraib.

This article covers some incidents of the mistreatment and sexual abuse of female prisoners in Iraq, sometimes taken into custody because the male relatives who were the targets of an arrest raid were not at home.

An editorial in the Army Times discusses the impact and causes of the prisoner abuse.

This article describes the abuse and murder of a detainee at the Bagram AFB in Afghanistan, and quotes from the report of the military's medical examiner responsible for examining the body, the link leads to a reprint of an archived NY Times story.

This article discusses the abuse in US detention of three Iraqi Reuters staffers.

This is some commentary about extraordinary rendition, the practice of sending a suspect to a country known to practice torture as part of the interrogation procedure.

This is the story of Maher Arar, who was renditioned to Syria, followed by a link with a reprint of a Globe and Mail article describing what it
did to him

This editorial quotes a veteran interrogator from the Vietnam war, and reports from Guantanamo saying that torture doesn't produce good intelligence, but rather produces a subject willing to say absolutely anything to make the torture stop.

The effect of torture on people not in custody
who share similarities with torture victims, noting the chilling effect that Abu Ghraib and the case of Maher Arar have had on the Muslim communities in both the US and Canada.

Some of the legal discussions that preceded these widespread incidents of torture and abuse, and the advice of current US Atty General Alberto Gonzales regarding the dismissal of the Geneva Conventions, which became part of US law on the date the treaty was signed.

And that's what my colleague has in his inbox right now, with minor format differences and a warning that some of it might be disturbing. Might be. And I said might be disturbing because you just never know with people. Some people can read about this sort of thing and feel nothing at all. Some others get filled with a furious anger that anyone would dare suggest that the US was involved in anything that might make Republican policies look bad, and yet remain perfectly unbothered by the content of the allegations no matter how well substantiated, just as in the current case of the Newsweek story about the defacement of the Koran/Qu'ran.

It isn't just what I end up reading that gets to me sometimes. It's the knowledge that so many people who see the same information are entirely unmoved, they just don't care and don't understand what could possibly be important about issues so critical to individual liberty.

Sometimes it's knowing that people so ethically dead are responsible in many cases for informing the rest of us. And that maybe they have those jobs because they can just let it wash over them week after week without ever feeling like they need to have their souls disinfected afterwards, a realization that tremendously increases my respect for journalists like Seymour Hersh who've kept a clear head through many years and all kinds of muck.

Other times it's knowing that generally good people have had their moral compasses smashed by a steady diet of lies. Which is even worse when I have to try not to act shocked when I hear them repeat the worst kind of lies and inhumanity.

Anyway, I feel like I need a shower. Followed by another one. And a break from looking at this stuff, for just a while. Also, they have a SciFi channel Stargate SG-1 marathon every Monday, and I'm going to pretend for the next week or so that our goverment's intentions are every bit as noble as a bunch of utterly fictional explorers of a type that would never in a million years be put in charge of anything so important under this administration.

"It's not the despair. I can handle the despair. It's the hope...." - Michael Weholt in Clockwise

Posted by natasha at May 16, 2005 04:28 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

I understand your current state completely. But the strength of your emotions and feelings are a good thing, and they will have you back soon, bringing on the good fight in the way you do; incredibly well.

Posted by: Scott at May 16, 2005 05:52 PM

I'll look forward to your return. I certainly understand how you could want time out. It's crazy making to know that nothing sticks to these industrial-teflon administration criminals. The good news is that there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, and we have to believe that the wheel will turn.

Posted by: Scorpio at May 16, 2005 06:26 PM

Take care and get your life back on track. I envy you, as mine is as derailed as Japanese commuter train.

The debate is winding into a war of wills, who's will is the stronger, who will be the first to succomb to the words of the other.

Currently, I have found myself in a war of words with supposed allies, fellow progressives. We already have the high ground, we don't need to lower ourselves to the gutter view of the GOP.

And I will watch SG-1 as well. At least we can dream.

Posted by: David Aquarius at May 16, 2005 11:24 PM

Thanks for that, all. Like I told my coauthors, the only thing I feel I have to contribute right now is a lot of loud [expletives deleted] shouting. There's enough of that around, and it's bad for my blood pressure.

But I'll be chilled out and ready to mix it up again right quick.

Posted by: natasha at May 17, 2005 12:10 AM

breath, natasha, breath. and dont be too long, we need your voice. many of us cant write, or stare down candy crowley like you can.


He who hunts monsters....

Posted by: Hubris Sonic at May 17, 2005 06:26 AM

Battle fatigue. Yes, incivility and inhumanity can weary the soul, and taking a leave won't cure it. But it'll allow you time to patch your armor and recalibrate the sights on your hope beam.

There always will be fools among us, tyrants and thieves, but there will also be compadres brave enough to struggle for the higher good. And they will be gladdened upon our good sister's return.

Rest and make merry, Natasha. And bring back chocolate to fortify your team.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at May 17, 2005 06:12 PM