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April 20, 2011

Why We're So Great

It's not just that we train criminals while we put heroes in jail. Any picayune empire can do that. And it's not even that we train criminals and imprison heroes in the exact same place. It's that we imprison a hero for revealing our discussions with a criminal about how he was trained where we imprison the hero. EsherEmpire!

Wall Street Journal:

The Defense Department said Tuesday it would transfer Army private Bradley Manning, accused of providing classified documents to WikiLeaks, to a new detention facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas from the brig at Quantico, Va.

State Department cable from Wikileaks:

"The King [of Bahrain] related how his own experience at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort LEAVENWORTH, Kansas had been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding of his life; he praised the value of continued military education opportunities."

–Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at April 20, 2011 07:06 AM

We've truly become an overlowing toilet of inhumanity.

Posted by: AlcibiadesSlim at April 20, 2011 08:55 AM

EsherEmpire! Brilliant!

We need an illustration to go with that....

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at April 20, 2011 09:04 AM

Esherempire--that's extremely clever.

Praying people should remember Bradley Manning AND his parents. Rotten as I am, belief-wise, I'm tempted to start praying for them all.

Those who want to follow the ongoing collapse of the rule of law can't do much better than to read Andy Worthington:

Posted by: N E at April 20, 2011 10:37 AM

Thanks for this, John.

Just as a recap: Saudi troops and tanks occupy Bahrain since mid-March. But Iran is being "unconstructive" and "meddling" (for criticizing the police murders of 7 peaceful protesters in Pearl Roundabout when it was still standing, and for the ongoing reprisals against Shiites, which include the leveling of at least four mosques, the militarization of the hospitals, the firing of more than a hundred from state jobs, the suspension of almost a hundred students (including elementary students), and the firing of an unknown number of employees from private businesses through circulation of blacklists issued by govt.)

Five people have now been killed in custody. Almost six hundred are known to be in custody, with few releases so far. Torture is systematic. Almost 200 more people are missing/disappeared. Doctors have been a special target. This in a country of 600,000 citizens. [close to pop of DC]

From the summary of the meeting State's Jeffrey Feltman had with some Bahrain functionary (in a "very constructive atmosphere", which means they sat around and agreed about how AWFUL Iran is): Reiterating U.S. support for Bahraini national reconciliation and dialogue, he concurred with the Bahraini leadership’s own embrace of the principles of reform and the respect for rule of law and coexistence.

Okay then!

Code Pink had an emergency demo in DC to call for release of the prisoners, which meant a lot to the many Bahrainis who are hunger-striking for the same demand.

If you watch one video on Bahrain, make it this one, which I can't get through without sobbing. (and not because of the maudlin Timbaland background music). The clips of movement leaders and participants capture them in action at defining moments of the protests, and manage to convey their personalities and roles. Several of them are eerily similar to their counterparts in El Salvador, as in fact this wave of hate-filled repression and vindictiveness is similar to the period in 1980-81 when the government there went all out to decapitate the popular movement. (Ebrahim Sharif, shown in one of the most affecting parts of the video, was reported two days ago to be in military hospital, near death from torture. I'm hoping this is not true and only put out to terrify his family.)

During which the U.S. government had many meetings with them in a very constructive atmosphere, reminding them of our belief in universal human rights and concurring with their embrace of the principles of reform.

My twitter feed (nlanc) has lots of links, but I'm about to go silent. The annual herb sale for which I'm chair is going to be the least successful one in years because I've been on the web instead of lining up volunteers.

Posted by: Nell at April 20, 2011 11:23 AM

One more thought before I get to those calls): The Sunni minority, whipped up by one of the most poisonous state media operations in the middle east on top of existing guilty conscience about what's been and being done in their name and to preserve their privileges, are just rabid about protesters and all Shiites on the island, buying into and spreading wild stories about them.

One accusation does have a ring of truth -- that in the wake of the killings and beatings suffered in the Saudi-led invasion last month, groups of Shiite men have gone through neighborhoods populated by immigrant Pakistanis roughing them up in search for policemen. Important background: Pakistanis have been imported in large numbers. Some have been stealth-naturalized to boost Sunni voting power after elections for symbolic legislature were instituted, but most crucially for current events Pakistanis make up a significant part of the police and security forces, jobs forbidden to Shiites. They are much more vulnerable to retribution by aggrieved Shiites than their Bahraini counterparts who live in the gated and well-guarded Sunni enclaves.

It would take a LONG time to cool down the privileged, paranoid Sunni citizens who are now baying for blood, even if the royals were to try to do so. Which they're not. The mood has a lot in common with that inside Israel.

Posted by: Nell at April 20, 2011 01:28 PM

I was a resident of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while my late father Colonel Charley (at that time Major Charley) attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. I was five years old at the time. In the fall we kids collected paper bags full of acorns, which we would then throw at each other (playing at a sort of "war", I suppose).

I hope Bradley Manning has as nice a time there as I did, but it seems unlikely. But it might be a little less nasty for him than conditions in Quantico, because they work harder at driving Marines crazy during basic training (from what I have heard - I have never gone through basic training).

Posted by: mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at April 20, 2011 02:26 PM

per my local fox news (d.c.), manning is being transferred b/c of the super awesome mental health facilities at leavenworth. all part of the nation's totally beneficent concern for his well-being.

Posted by: anonymous at April 20, 2011 04:05 PM

Jonah's swallowed by the giant fish, again.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 20, 2011 04:22 PM

esher -> escher?

Heard that Chris Hondros is not well. You may want to include him in your prayers, too, NE.

Posted by: bobs at April 20, 2011 04:32 PM

As for Manning's well-being, those who want to better understand some of the "beneficent" aspects of his treatment can read Alfred McCoy's A Question of Torture to better understand the development and purpose of the many "sensory" tricks employed on Manning and others who have crossed the State. Modern innovations with regard to cruelty have largely freed torture from bloodiness, enabling torturers to practice their craft without gouging out eyes and burning flesh while still destroying spirit and will.

The oldest teachers of all the various sects of the One God say that if you destroy a soul, you destroy the universe. It's not the eyes and the fingers that matter--it's the spirit that is sacred. To violate the human spirit is not just barbarism, but blasphemy--an assault on the very image of God.

That's what Faith would say anyway, if it really still existed.

Posted by: N E at April 20, 2011 08:22 PM

NE; Oh, I think there's STILL a little niche market for the "Bloody Stuff" in OUR torture regimen.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 22, 2011 03:12 PM

We are "great" only because we get to define the meaning of "great".

Posted by: Dredd at April 24, 2011 09:51 AM