Aunty Ism

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today, the final nail was hammered into the coffin of our Constitution. Is America dead, or merely in suspended animation? That depends on us. Act before the jackboots spring forth from the ink upon which The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was penned.
Some inspiration:

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

ISBN 0 00M 6336426

Part 1

The Prison Industry

Footnote 5

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in there lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or, what about the Black Moria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur—what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked? The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalins’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more_ we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure! [author’s emphasis]…

We have been happily borne – or perhaps have unhappily dragged our way - down the long crooked streets of our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood, rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to penetrate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away from us. In addition we have failed to notice an enormous number of closely fitted, well disguised doors and gates in these fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one! And all of the sudden the fateful gate swings quickly open, and four white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but nonetheless strong and tenacious, grabs us by the leg, arm, collar, cap, ear, and drags us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to our past life, is slammed shut once and for all.

Excerpted from A.I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Then They Came For Me

Stephen F. Rohde, Esq.

First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely solely upon the certification of the Attorney General, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect.

Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen.

Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide.

Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I had stopped participating in any groups.

Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because...... I didn't speak up.

Then they came for me....... and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and President of the ACLU of Southern California, is indebted to the inspiration of Rev. Martin Niemoller (1937).

“ The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
Patrick Henry

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny” James Madison

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined. --Patrick Henry, on ratification of the Constitution, 1788

He who will give up essential liberty for temporary security deserves neither liberty nor security. Thomas Jefferson

"He that would give up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of personal safety, deserves neither liberty nor safety" --Benjamin Franklin

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." --Benjamin Franklin

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State." --Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels

"Beware of the leader who bangs of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.

"And when the drums of war have reached a fevor pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind is closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and do it gladly so. "How do I know? I know for this is what I have done. And I am Caesar." --Julius Caesar.

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." --William Pitt, 18 Nov 1783

It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. --Patrick Henry

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle! Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." --Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

Aquiescence is Treason! Silence is Sedition! Sharpen your pens, polish your shields, make some noise! Light the candles. Resist the consolidation of power and give courage to those who are willing to wake up and wield the crowbars! Open the coffin and start CPR. Never give up. Or, like many other evolutionary events in human history, this too, the legalising of Rights, will fall and fade. Even so, like other evolutionary ideas and technologies, it can wait until the 100th monkey is born again, and wait for the elder monkies to die. There will be another enlightenment, and another age of reason. Aunty.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Aunty Ism

Another post I found over at Political Cortex:
From the article:

Now remind me again... what are the advocates of torture saying about "ticking time bombs", "imminent threats", "ruthless enemies"? Forgive me if I say the imagery seems a bit shallow when you deliver those lines to men spending months sleeping, fighting and dying under continuous fire in the mud half a world away. It's enough to drive a person mad. So let's consider how Sherwood Moran reacted.

It wasn't until the Marines were evacuated to Australia that his superior officer, Lt. Col. Edmund Buckley, sent word of his interview style and impressive results back to headquarters. Moran was called back to Washington DC. awarded a Citation and a Bronze Star by Admiral Halsey. In DC he lectured, retrained interrogators, and revised the manual. Part of his rewrite effort was the newly transcribed memorandum, "Suggestions for Japanese Interpreters Based on Work in the Field."

I am going to publish it here in full because this document is no longer available on the Internet and it needs to be made available. As his grandson notes, the document is important because of its "clear, emphatic, and persuasive explanations of why sympathetic, familiarly grounded prisoner interrogation was altogether preferable to its opposite." That is why this document is still being taught today within the US military for its intended purpose, and, as has been pointed out by many others, is perhaps more important than ever given our present circumstances.

I am going to publish it here in full because this document is no longer available on the Internet and it needs to be made available. As his grandson notes, the document is important because of its "clear, emphatic, and persuasive explanations of why sympathetic, familiarly grounded prisoner interrogation was altogether preferable to its opposite." That is why this document is still being taught today within the US military for its intended purpose, and, as has been pointed out by many others, is perhaps more important than ever given our present circumstances.

(end snippet)

Since the letter needs to be preserved and made available, I'll copy it here (Fair Use rules) just in case the other site disappears:

by Sherwood F. Moran, Major,

Division Intelligence Section,
Headquarters, First Marine Division,
Fleet Marine Force,
C/O Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif.
168/292 17 July, 1943.


(Being selections from a letter to an interpreter just entering upon his work.)

First of all I wish to say that every interpreter (I like the word "interviewer" better, for any really efficient interpreter is first and last an interviewer) must be himself. He should not and cannot try to copy or imitate somebody else, or, in the words of the Japanese proverb, he will be like the crow trying to imitate the cormorant catching fish and drowning in the attempt ("U no mane suru karasu mizu ni oboreru"). But of course it goes without saying that the interpreter should be open to suggestions and should be a student of best methods. But his work will be based primarily upon his own character, his own experience, and his own temperament. These three things are of prime importance; strange as it may seem to say so, I think the first and the last are the most important of the three. Based on these three things, he will gradually work out a technique of his own, his very own, just as a man does in making love to a woman! The comparison is not merely a flip bon mot; the interviewer should be a real wooer!

What I have to say concretely is divided into two sections: (1) The attitude of the interpreter towards his prisoner; (2) His knowledge and use of the language.

Let us take the first one, his ATTITUDE. This is of prime importance, in many ways more important than his knowledge of the language. (Many people, I suppose, would on first thought think "attitude" had nothing to do with it; that all one needs is a knowledge of the language, then shoot out questions, and expect and demand a reply. Of course that is a very unthinking and naive point of view.)

I can simply tell you what my attitude is; I often tell a prisoner right at the start what my attitude is! I consider a prisoner (i.e. a man who has been captured and disarmed and in a perfectly safe place) as out of the war, out of the picture, and thus, in a way, not an enemy. (This is doubly so, psychologically and physically speaking, if he is wounded or starving.) Some self-appointed critics, self-styled "hard-boiled" people, will sneer that this is a sentimental attitude, and say, "Don't you know he will try to escape at first opportunity?" I reply, "Of course I do; wouldn't you?" But that is not the point. Notice that in the first part of this paragraph I used the word "safe". That is the point; get the prisoner to a safe place, where even he knows there is no hope of escape, that it is all over. Then forget, as it were, the "enemy" stuff, and the "prisoner" stuff. I tell them to forget it, telling them I am talking as a human being to a human being, (ningen to shite). And they respond to this.

When it comes to the wounded, the sick, the tired, the sleepy, the starving, I consider that since they are out of the combat for good, they are simply needy human beings, needing our help, physical and spiritual. This is the standpoint of one human being thinking of another human being. But in addition, it is hard business common sense, and yields rich dividends from the Intelligence standpoint.

I consider that the Japanese soldier is a person to be pitied rather than hated. I consider (and I often tell them so) that they have been led around by the nose by their leaders; that they do not know, and have not been allowed to know for over 10 years what has really been going on in the world, etc. etc. The proverb "Ido no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu" (The frog in the bottom of the well is not acquainted with the ocean) is sometimes a telling phrase to emphasize your point. But one must be careful not to antagonize them by such statements, by giving them the idea that you have a "superiority" standpoint, etc. etc.

But in relation to all the above, this is where "character" comes in, that I mentioned on the preceding page. One must be absolutely sincere. I mean that one must not just assume the above attitudes in order to gain the prisoner's confidence and get him to talk. He will know the difference. You must get him to know by the expression on your face, the glance of your eye, the tone of your voice, that you do think that "the men of the four seas are brothers," to quote a Japanese (and Chinese) proverb. (Shikai keitei.) One Japanese prisoner remarked to me that he thought I was a fine gentleman ("rippana shinshi"). I think that what he was meaning to convey was that he instinctively sensed that I was sincere, was trying to be fair, did not have it in for the Japanese as such. (My general attitude has already been brought out in the article "The Psychology of the Japanese.")

In regard to all the above, a person who has lived in Japan for a number of years has a big advantage. One can tell the prisoner how pleasant his life in Japan was; how many fine Japanese he knew, even mentioning names and places, students and their schools, how he had Japanese in his home, and vice versa, etc. etc. That alone will make a Japanese homesick. This line has infinite possibilities. If you know anything about Japanese history, art, politics, athletics, famous places, department stores, eating places, etc. etc. a conversation may be relatively interminable. I could write two or three pages on this alone. (I personally have had to break off conversations with Japanese prisoners, so willing were they to talk on and on.) I remember how I had quite a talk with one of our prisoners whom I had asked what his hobbies (shumi) etc. were. He mentioned swimming. (He had swum four miles to shore before we captured him.) We talked about the crawl stroke and about the Olympics. Right here all this goes to prove that being an "interpreter" is not simply being a Cook's tourist type of interpreter. He should be a man of culture, insight, resourcefulness, and with real conversational ability. He must have "gags"; he must have a "line". He must be alive; he must be warm; he must be vivid. But above all he must have integrity, sympathy; yet he must be firm, wise ("Wise as serpents but harmless as doves".) He must have dignity and a proper sense of values, but withal friendly, open and frank. Two characteristics I have not specifically mentioned: patience and tact.

From the above, you will realize that most of these ideas are based on common sense. I might sum it all up by saying that a man should have sympathetic common sense. There may be some who read the above paragraphs (or rather just glance through them) who say it is just sentiment. But careful reading will show it is enlightened hard-boiled-ness.

Now in regard to the second point I have mentioned (on p 1), the knowledge and the use of the language. Notice that I say "knowledge" and "use". They are different. A man may have a perfect knowledge, as a linguist, of a language, and yet not be skillful and resourceful in its use. Questioning people, even in one's own language, is an art in itself, just as is selling goods. In fact, the good interpreter must, in essence, be a salesman, and a good one.

But first in regard to the knowledge of the language itself. Technical terms are important, but I do not feel they are nearly as important as a large general vocabulary, and freedom in the real idiomatic language of the Japanese. Even a person who knows little Japanese can memorize lists of technical phrases. After all, the first and most important victory for the interviewer to try to achieve is to get into the mind and into the heart of the person being interviewed. This is particularly so in the kind of work so typical of our Marine Corps, such as we experienced at Guadalcanal, slam-bang methods, where, right in the midst of things we had what might be called "battle-field interpretation", where we snatched prisoners right off the battlefield while still bleeding, and the snipers were still sniping, and interviewed them as soon as they were able to talk. But even in the interviewing of prisoners later on, after they were removed from Guadalcanal, first at the advanced bases, and then at some central base far back. The fundamental thing would be to get an intellectual and spiritual en rapport with the prisoner. At the back bases you will doubtless have a specific assignment to question a prisoner (who has been questioned a number of times before) on some particular and highly technical problem; something about his submarine equipment, something about radar, range finders, bombsights, etc. etc. Of course at such a time, a man who does not know technical terms will be almost out of it. But he must have both: a large general vocabulary, with idiomatic phrases, compact and pithy phrases; and also technical words and phrases.

Now in regard to the use of the language. Often it is not advisable to get right down to business with the prisoner at the start. I seldom do. To begin right away in a business-like and statistical way to ask him his name, age, etc., and then pump him for military information, is neither good psychology nor very interesting for him or for you. Begin by asking him things about himself. Make him and his troubles the center of the stage, not you and your questions of war problems. If he is not wounded or tired out, you can ask him if he has been getting enough to eat; if he likes Western-style food. You can go on to say, musingly, as it were, "This war is a mess, isn't it! It's too bad we had to go to war, isn't it! Aren't people funny, scrapping the way they do! The world seems like a pack of dogs scrapping at each other." And so on. (Notice there is yet no word of condemnation or praise towards his or his country's attitude, simply a broad human approach.) You can ask if he has had cigarettes, if he is being treated all right, etc. If he is wounded you have a rare chance. Begin to talk about his wounds. Ask if the doctor or corpsman has attended to him. Have him show you his wounds or burns. (They will like to do this!)

The bombardier of one of the Japanese bombing planes shot down over Guadalcanal had his whole backside burned and had difficulty in sitting down. He appreciated my genuine sympathy and desire to have him fundamentally made comfortable. He was most affable and friendly, though very sad at having been taken prisoner. We had a number of interviews with him. There was nothing he was not willing to talk about. And this was a man who had been dropping bombs on us just the day before! On another occasion a soldier was brought in. A considerable chunk of his shinbone had been shot away. In such bad shape was he that we broke off in the middle of the interview to have his leg redressed. We were all interested in the redressing, in his leg, it was almost a social affair! And the point to note is that we really were interested, and not pretending to be interested in order to get information out of him. This was the prisoner who called out to me when I was leaving after that first interview, "Won't you please come and talk to me every day". (And yet people are continually asking us, "Are the Japanese prisoners really willing to talk?")

A score of illustrations such as the preceding could be cited. However, all this is of course preliminary. But even later on when you have started on questioning him for strictly war information, it is well not to be too systematic. Wander off into delightful channels of things of interest to him and to you. But when I say it is well not to be too systematic, I mean in the outward approach and presentation from a conversational standpoint. But in the workings of your mind you must be a model of system. You must know exactly what information you want, and come back to it repeatedly. Don't let your warm human interest, your genuine interest in the prisoner, cause you to be sidetracked by him! You should be hard-boiled but not half-baked. Deep human sympathy can go with a business-like, systematic and ruthlessly persistent approach.

I now wish to take up an important matter concerning which there is some difference of opinion. At certain bases where prisoners are kept, when some visitor comes to look over the equipment and general layout, as he comes to each individual cell where a prisoner is kept, the prisoner is required to jump up and stand at attention; even if he is asleep, they prod him and make his stand stiffly at attention. Again, when a prisoner is being interviewed, as the interpreter or interpreters come into the room used for that purpose, the prisoner must stand at attention, and for the first part of the questioning he is not asked to sit down. Later on he is allowed to sit down as a gracious concession. He is treated well, and no attempt is made to threaten him or mistreat him, but the whole attitude, the whole emphasis, is that he is a prisoner and we are his to-be-respected and august enemies and conquerors.

Now for my own standpoint. I think all this is not only unnecessary, but that it acts exactly against what we are trying to do. To emphasize that we are enemies, to emphasize that he is in the presence of his conqueror, etc., puts him psychologically in the position of being on the defensive, and that because he is talking to a most-patient enemy and conqueror he has no right and desire to tell anything. That is most certainly the attitude I should take under similar circumstances, even if I had no especially patriotic scruples against giving information. Let me give a concrete illustration. One of our interpreters at a certain base was told that, when a prisoner is to be interviewed, he should be marched in, with military personnel on either side of him; the national flag of the conqueror should be on display, to give the prisoner a sense of the dignity and majesty of the conqueror's country, and that he should stand at attention, etc. In this atmosphere the interpreter, according to instructions, attempted to interrogate the prisoner. The prisoner replied courteously but firmly, "I am a citizen of Japan. As such I will tell you anything you wish to know about my own personal life and the like, but I cannot tell you anything about military matters." In other words, he was made so conscious of his present position and that he was a captured soldier vs. enemy Intelligence, that they played right into his hands! Well, that was zero in results. But later this same interpreter took this prisoner and talked with him in a friendly and informal manner, giving him cigarettes and some tea or coffee, with the result that he opened up perfectly naturally and told everything that was wanted, so far as his intelligence and knowledge made information available.

Of course all this dignity emphasis is based on the fear that the prisoner will take advantage of you and your friendship; the same idea as that a foreman must swear at his construction gang in order to get work out of them. Of course there always is the danger that some types will take advantage of your friendliness. This is true in any phase of life, whether you are a teacher, a judge, an athletic trainer, a parent. But there is some risk in any method. But this is where the interpreter's character comes in, that I have so emphasized earlier in this article. You can't fool with a man of real character without eventually getting your fingers burned.

The concrete question comes up, What is one to do with a prisoner who recognizes your friendliness and really appreciates it, yet won't give military information, through conscientious scruples? On Guadalcanal we had a very few like that. One prisoner said to me, "You have been in Japan a long time. You know the Japanese point of view. Therefore you know that I cannot give you any information of military value". (Inwardly I admired him for it, for he said what he should have said, and in the last analysis you cannot do anything about it; that is, if we are pretending to abide by the international regulations regarding prisoners of war, or even the dictates of human decency. I reported this conversation to the head of our MP, a man about as sentimental as a bulldozer machine. He said, much to my surprise, with admiration, "He gave just the right answer. He knows his stuff!")

But even granting all the above, there is something that can be done about this. In the case of a salesman selling goods from door to door, the emphatic "No" of the lady to whom he is trying to sell stockings, aluminum ware, or what-not, should not be the end of the conversation but the beginning ("I have not yet begun to fight!" as it were). As for myself, in such a situation with prisoners, I try to shame them, and have succeeded quite well. I tell them something like this, "You know, you are an interesting kind of person. I've lived in Japan many years. I like the Japanese very much. I have many good friends among the Japanese, men, women, boys, girls. Somehow or other the Japanese always open up to me. I have had most intimate conversations with them about all kinds of problems. I never quite met a person like you, so offish and on your guard." etc. etc. One prisoner seemed hurt. He said, with surprise and a little pain, "Do you really think I am offish?" Again, I sometimes say, "That is funny, you are not willing to talk to me about these things. Practically all the other prisoners, and we have hundreds of them, do talk. You seem different. I extend to you my friendship; we have treated you well, far better probably than we would be treated, and you don't respond." etc. etc. I tell him that we purposely try to be human. I say to him, "You know perfectly well that if I were a prisoner of the Japanese they wouldn't treat me the way I am treating you" (meaning my general attitude and approach). I then say, "I will show you the way they would act to me," and I stand up and imitate the stern, severe attitude of a Japanese military officer toward an inferior, and the prisoner smiles and even bursts out laughing at the "show" I am putting on, and agrees that that is actually the situation, and what I describe is the truth.

Now in all this the interpreter back at one of the bases has a big advantage in one respect: He will have plenty of time for interrogations, and can interview them time and time again, while in many cases, we out at the front must interview them more or less rapidly, and oftentimes only once. But on the other hand, those of us right out at the front have what is sometimes a great advantage: we get absolutely first whack at them, and talk to them when they have not had time to develop a technique of "sales resistance" talk, as it were.

It may be advisable to give one illustration of how, concretely, to question, according to my point of view. Take a question such as this, "Why did you lose this battle?" (a question we asked on more than one occasion regarding some definite battle on Guadalcanal). A question presented in this bare way is a most wooden and uninteresting affair. The interpreter should be given leeway to phrase his own questions, and to elaborate them as he sees fit, as he sizes up the situation and the particular prisoner he may be interviewing. His superior officer should merely give him a statement of the information he wants. A man who is simply a word for word interpreter (in the literal sense) of a superior officer's questions, is, after all, nothing but a verbal cuspidor; the whole proceeding is a rather dreary affair for all concerned, including the prisoner. The conversation, the phrasing of the questions, should be interesting and should capture the prisoner's imagination. To come back to the question above, "Why did you lose this battle?" That was the question put to me to interpret (in the broad sense) to a prisoner who had been captured the day after one of the terrific defeats of the Japanese in the earlier days of the fighting on Guadalcanal. Here is the way I put the question: "We all know how brave the Japanese soldier is. All the world knows and has been startled at the remarkable progress of the Japanese armies in the Far East. Their fortitude, their skill, their bravery are famous all over the world. You captured the Philippines; you captured Hong Kong, you ran right through Malaya and captured the so-called impregnable Singapore; you took Java, and many other places. The success of the Imperial armies has been stupendous and remarkable. But you come to Guadalcanal and run into a stone wall, and are not only defeated but practically annihilated. Why is it?" You see that this is a really built-up question. I wish you could see the interest on the prisoner's face as I am dramatically asking such a question as that. It's like telling a story, and at the end he is interested in telling his part of it.

There is a problem of what questions to ask a prisoner. What kinds of questions? Of course there are many questions one would like to ask if he had the time, simply for curiosity, such as, What do you think of the war? Do you want to go back to Japan? Can you ever go back to Japan? I have asked these questions more than once when we had time, and discoursed at great length on the philosophy of the Japanese soldier; also on the sneak-punch at Pearl Harbor, getting their point of view of this and that. But of course questions such as these are not often asked by us, for they are more or less what I might term curiosity questions, i.e. questions the answers to which we should like to know just to satisfy our own curiosity, as it were. But usually we do not have time for such questions. A prisoner may be too tired or wounded to question him long, and only vital information is dealt with. Then, too, you can only question a prisoner for so long before he, and you, get stale and more or less tired, and you lose your brilliance and ingenuity. In the case of our own Marine Corps front line Intelligence, with which this particular discussion primarily deals, where we often had our interviews with prisoners out in the open under palm trees interrupted by a bombing raid and such side-shows, we must usually stick to questions dealing with imperative information.

In our particular situation on Guadalcanal, here are some questions we nearly always asked, after getting the name, age, rank, and unit, where from in Japan, and previous occupation before entering the armed forces. (The six items mentioned above are more or less statistical. But by rank we can judge the value of the man's replies in many instances. The last question is of value in order to judge how much of a background the man has, which helps one to evaluate his answers. But of course though these questions are routine questions, each one is of value in its own particular way.)

After these six questions are disposed of (and often I do not ask them right away but amble along discussing other things, so that things won't be too stiff) we asked questions such as these: When did you arrive at Guadalcanal? Where did you land? (Very important) How many landed with you? What kind of a ship did you come in? (Don't ask leading questions; don't say, "Did you come on a warship?" Let him say.) Ask the name of the ship. How many troops were on the ship? If, for instance, he says he came on a destroyer, ask how many troops usually travel on a destroyer. (Of course you have many opportunities to check on such a question with other prisoners.) At this point you might ask him if he was sea-sick while on the destroyer. "Did you throw up?" "I've been terribly sea-sick myself a number of times; it's a rotten feeling isn't it?" you can add with deep feeling! (Be sure that you distinguish between crew and troops when you ask him how many troops the destroyer carried. Don't be "fuzzy" in your questions; be clear-cut.) How many other ships were with yours? What kind of ships? Where did you sail from and when? Were there many ships in that harbor? When did you leave Japan? Where were you between the time you left Japan and the time you landed on Guadalcanal? When you landed were any munitions landed? Artillery? Food supplies, medical supplies? After you landed where did you go? Where were you between the time you landed and the time you were captured? What experience in actual combat warfare have you had; your company, battalion or regiment? How is the present food supply in your unit? Sickness? What was the objective of your attack last night? How do you keep in contact with one another in the jungle at night? Of all our methods and weapons used against you, what has been the most efficient, the most terrific and deadly? (i.e. We want to know the effectiveness, for example, of our artillery, mortars, trench mortars, machine guns, airplane bombing, airplane strafing, shell fire from the sea, etc. etc. We found out that what we had thought was probably the most devastating and most feared was not what they thought, in some instances.) Of course we always asked about numbers of troops, and in our particular situation we always asked most eagerly about number of artillery pieces and their caliber. We had personal reasons!

Well, many more such questions could be cited, but these are enough to illustrate the immediate nature of the questions and the information desired in the case of our Marine Corps amphibious forces. If the prisoner is an aviator, and we had many such, of course the questions would be quite different. If the prisoner is one of the destroyer crew, for example, the questions would be still different. Our experience was that soldiers seemed far more ready to talk than sailors; aviators talked very readily.

s Sherwood F. Moran,
Major, U.S.M.C.R.,
Japanese Interpreter

s E. J. Buckley
Lt. Col., USMCR,

Mything The Point © "Examining the unexamined beliefs America holds on faith value."

Aunty Ism

There are alternatives to torture.

I heard Alfred W. Mcoy refer to the interrogation techniques of Major Sherwood Moran, USMC, who could get the fanatical Japanese to disclose information after their capture, just by connecting with their humanity. These were people who came from a culture that worshipped the Emperor as a god, who were willing to fly planes into ships, who would rather have died than be captured. Japanese soldiers were hard and cruel, as history has recorded. Yet, they were human.

I post this snippet from Total Information Awareness site, written by "Eric", who writes about an article published this month in The Atlantic. In his article, he published a letter written by Major Moran describing his rational and techniques for his methods of "interviewing" the prisoners in his custody.

This is the lesson to be taken away from Marine Major Sherwood F. Moran, whose work in the field of interrogations is profiled this month's issue of The Atlantic. Moran literally wrote the report on interrogations, especially when dealing with "a fanatical and implacable enemy, intense pressure to achieve quick results, [and] a brutal war in which the old rules no longer seem to apply."

Despite the human impulse to drift toward using violence, abuse, and torture as a preferred means of soliciting information from prisoners - what would be considered the "gloves off" or "strong" approach that many just instinctively assume is the most effective but taboo because of "quaint" moral concerns - Moran found that:
...despite the complexities and difficulties of dealing with an enemy from such a hostile and alien culture, some American interrogators consistently managed to extract useful information from prisoners. The successful interrogators all had one thing in common in the way they approached their subjects. They were nice to them. [emphasis added]
(end snippet)

There are better ways. Why are we not using them?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Aunty Ism

Just as we resist vile and pernicious slime oozing out from our TV set (Frank Zappa), I'd like to share some words from someone who really knows what propaganda and repression mean:

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

ISBN 0 00M 6336426

Part 1

The Prison Industry

Footnote 5

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in there lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or, what about the Black Moria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur—what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked? The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalins’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more_ we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure! [author’s emphasis]…

  1. Solzhenitsyn


Revolutions leave us where we started. Evolutions bring us into prehensile living. Just laws give structure to a justice-full society, and civility to civilisation. Support justice and truth, as a civilian. Pay attention. Just laws nourish civil society. Unjust laws and practices…well, look around. Where are your tax dollars going? You happy with that? What if you aren’t? So far we have it good here in Oz. However, aquiescence is no longer a viable talent. Nor is it an admirable trait. Feel your feet. Do your duty to civilisation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Aunty Ism

O, my, O my god....

I got the Bomb me, bomb you blues.

Michael Franti

Please tell me the reason
Behind the colors that you fly
Love just one nation
And the whole world we divide
You say you're "sorry"
Say, "there is no other choice"
But god bless the people them
Who cannot raise their voice


We can chase down all our enemies
Bring them to their knees
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace
Whoa we may even find a solution
To hunger and disease
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace

Who benefits? Aye, that's the question.

I haven't time to blog these days (I'm finishing a course of study--nursing). I hope nobody forgets that September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. All the Pastafarians will be thinking thoughts of The Flying Spaghetti Monster.
may his noodly appendage...

Bomb the world (armageddon version)

I don't understand the whole reason why
You tellin' us all that we need to unify
Rally round the flag
And beat the drums of war
Sing the same old songs
Ya know we heard 'em all before
You tellin' me it's unpatriotic
But i call it what i see it
When i see it's idiotic
The tears of one mother
Are the same as any other
Drop food on the kids
While you're murderin' their fathers
But don't bother to show it on cnn
Brothers and sisters don't believe them
It's not a war against evil
It's really just revenge
Engaged on the poorest by the same rich men
Fight terrorists wherever they be found
But why you not bombing tim mcveigh's hometown
You can say what you want propaganda television
But all bombing is terrorism


We can chase down all our enemies
Bring them to their knees
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace
Whoa we may even find a solution
To hunger and disease
We can bomb the world to pieces
But we can't bomb it into peace

Fire in the skies
Many people died
And no one even really knows why
They tellin' lies of division and fear
We yelled and cried
No one listened for years
But like, "who put us here?"
And who's responsible?
Well, there's no debatin'
Cause if they ask me i say
It's big corporations
World trade organization
Tri-lateral action
International sanctions, satan
Seems like it'll be an endless price tag
Of wars tremendous
And most disturbingly
The death toll is so horrendous
So i send this to those
Who say they defend us
Send us into harm's way
We should all make a rememberence that
This is bigger than terrorism
Blood is blood is blood and um
Love is true vision
Who will listen?
How many songs it takes for you to see
You can bomb the world to pieces
You can't bomb it into peace


Power to the peaceful
And i say, love to the people y'all
Power to the peaceful
And i say, love to the people y'all


Why? Who Benefits?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Aunty Ism

I posted this reply on Mash's blog
I don't have time to cultivate a blog these days, back in nursing school scraping the barnacles off of my hull and the rust off of my rudder to get back into practice.
Check out his site, he wrote about the carnage of civillians in Lebanon.

First, a clip from his post:

"Alan Dershowitz says that civilians in Lebanon are not "civilians" like civilians in Israel. Civilians in Lebanon, according to Dershowitz, must be graded on a sliding scale of terroristness or "the continuum of civilianality." Dershowitz’s argument is the same tired argument used by tyrants and murderers all throughout history. Dershowitz is in notorious company. He can count his peers as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussain and Pol Pot.

Mr. Dershowitz, the apologist for murderers, has this to say:

Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those "civilians" who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks.

The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims. [Emphasis added by me.]

At this point, I could cite all the international laws and conventions that debunk Mr. Dershowitz’s ridiculous claims, but I will not waste my time with defending something so obviously basic to the law of war and human rights. What Mr. Dershowitz is advocating is terrorism. Dershowitz is inciting and condoning terror. In that he is behaving like a terrorist.

Instead, I want to tell you two stories from Lebanon and let you judge for yourself the merits of Mr. Dershowitz’s argument. These two stories are only a small part of the larger story of death in Lebanon."

(end clip)

I have been reading Alan Dershowitz’s book “Why Terrorism Works”. I am up to chapter 5, “Striking the Right Balance”. He makes his case methodically, logically, and backs up his claims with footnotes and references. Terrorism works because it pays.

Yet, I don’t understand how he can back up one form of terrorism over another. “It must become a firm pillar of American foreign policy that no nation or international organization be allowed to reward terrorism and that all must punish it.”( p 168, Scribe paperback ed. 2002)

So, Hezbollah is lobbing bombs at Israelis, and Israelis lob bombs back. They both get publicity, and foreign financial support. Big Cheeses, Muftis, Polititians, Radical Rabbis, Carlysle, KBR, Fox, CNN, Righteous Fundies from all places of worship of God, Fearmongers, and other Fishers of Men reap benefits. Keep topping up the fear and hate. Ensure a steady supply of future revenging warriors, all for lies spewed by those who benefit. Strike at a market with suicide bombers, strike at families fleeing from war. Sell the bombs, sell the concrete and antibiotics needed to rebuild. I’m sorry to sound cynical, but as General Smedley Butler said, “War is a Racket”.

Who benefits if the Middle East is in perpetual turmoil? Who benefits if we learn to learn from each other’s collective wisdom preserved in religious and cultural traditions? How do we measure benefit? In dollars or pounds of ordnance, or in laughter and wisdom? I know how the current world leaders measure it.

Let’s not let them make us hate. Let us learn and laugh, share meals, baby burping tips, barn raisings, celebrations. We are all targets, but we can be strong together. See through the lies.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Aunty Ism
I posted this at Bloggers Against Torture
It is a great site with many links. If you are reading this, please visit Bloggers Against Torture. Spread the word.

I don't have time to blog often as I'd like to, and am figuring things out as I go. Haven't figured out how to link other sites yet. I tried a few times, but my links got deleted. Anyway, thanks to all of you who are working on this.

Torture is a symptom of a deeper evil. It addicts those vulnerable to the adrenalin rush of power. Some people are psychopathic to begin with, and practicing torture under the guise of "a great cause" only magnifies the damage to the torturer. Yes, damage to the torturer, who is let loose to walk among us, or moves up in rank, or gets security jobs, etc.

You asked for some references:

Alfred W. McCoy, Historian, has written some important books and essays on CIA torture methods (now used by our military)To get you started:

Robert J. Lifton is a Prof. of Psychology and Psychiatry, and wrote "Destroying the World to Save It", and "Superpower Syndrome", about cults. It is important to understand one's enemy, and perhaps why torture won't work on them. The cult mentality of both terrorists and those who got us into this mess in the first place is an interesting study.
An intro site to some of his work:

Jessica Stern is an expert on terrorism, and wrote "Terror in the Name of God", mostly focusing on religious militants.

Erin Pizzey, although perhaps not a professor, wrote "Prone to Violence", about her experiences in a womens' shelter in England in the 70's. Her observations on the "normalization" of violence, and its addictive qualities may explain a few things...growing up watching your family being destroyed by bombs will affect your brain (that goes for those who lost loved ones on 911, Israelis/Palestinians, or street gangs). We tend to seek out experiences with which we lived as children, even if they are damaging.
Her book is out of print, but you may find it here:

Finally, there is The Stanford Prison Experiment:
The Milgrem Experiment:
which show what happens when we get caught up in our own un-checked power, and don't question authority.

Cheers. It is a bit to chew on, but knowledge is power.

9:16 PM (June 17, 2006)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Aunty Ism

Some programs I recommend on the topic of Iraq, torture, and the interrogation methods used on "detainees". June is Torture Awareness Month.
June 6 show, interview with Rod Barton.

From Four Corners:

"Rod Barton was in the first team of weapons inspectors that went into Iraq back in 1991. The fires from Gulf War I were still burning. This old footage, shot by Iraqi intelligence, shows him at work four years later.

Trained as a microbiologist, Rod was seconded from Australia's Defence Intelligence Organisation to work with UNSCOM, the United Nations team sent to verify that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. Here he's cross-examining Iraqi officials about 20 tonnes of missing bacterial growth medium, on the verge of one of UNSCOM's triumphs, forcing the Iraqis to concede they had, indeed, embarked on a biological weapons program. This discovery put him on the front page of 'The New York Times'.

But as time passed and the triumphs were few and far between, Rod Barton came to realise that there were secret arrangements between people at UNSCOM and the CIA. US intelligence arranged for a sophisticated bugging device to be hidden inside UNSCOM's base at the Canal Hotel, with United States having control of the information flow. The head of UNSCOM was Australian Richard Butler."

Here is a link to the broadcast interview with Rod Barton on the Four Corners TV show from February 2005:
and the transcript here:

Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was to be the scapegoat for the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. She resisted, and wrote a book instead One Woman's Army : The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story
Here is an interview with her on Australian ABC radio:

"Janis Karpinski was the former Commander in charge of rebuilding the civilian prison system in post-Saddam Iraq, including the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

She was a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Reserve and the first female general ever to command troops in a combat zone, until those photos revealing prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and the subsequent enquiries into the scandal, ruined her career.

But really only HER career, because Janis Karpinski is the highest-ranking officer so far to be sanctioned for the mistreatment of prisoners." (end clip from Late Night Live site).

Alfred McCoy is a history professor who has investigated some very dark and slimy places associated with our beloved CIA. The Monthly has an article fresh off the press:

Here is an article which first appeared in The Boston Globe in 2004, and links to the KUBARK interrogation manual of 1963 (your tax dollar$ at work)

Torture at Abu Ghraib Followed CIA's Manual

ALFRED W. McCOY / Boston Globe 14may04
(end clip)

These are just a few sites I think are useful to get started on this topic. Print them out and leave them in the break room at work. Send some to your mother-in-law. Send them to your government representatives. Talk about it.

Apparantly, someone in high places likes to use torture. Call it what it is. You can leave it out of the new Army Field Manual, erase every treaty and convention we have ever signed, and brandish all of the Judeo-Christian morality you want. Performing "hard interrogation" or "softening up" tactics upon another human being is torture. It dehumanizes the person performing the act as much as it objectifies and degrades the victim.

If it is effective, why do we need to keep the detainees in prison without a trial? Wouldn't they have sung their song, thereby allowing us to go out and captrue the really big fish? Or, perhaps it has not worked so well after all. Why then, and this is an important question, why are they doing it? Just because Pinochet, Saddam, and Marcos did it, and if we don't do it too, we'll be seen as weak? Because might is only as strong as the truncheon that carries it through? Because might can only be carried forth with a truncheon? Is this going to protect America, England, Australia, or the few remaining countries in the Coalition of the Willing? Is this who we want our children to become?

Why are we training armed professional soldiers to apply such tactics to those held captive, when it has not been shown to be an effective method for gathering intelligence? Why teach our soldiers to be callous and cruel towards someone totally under their control, who is unarmed and restrained? What is going to happen to these same soldiers when they return to our neighborhoods, pubs, and workplaces?

Here's one answer (The Stanford Prison Experiment by Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo):
Welcome to the Stanford Prison Experiment web site, which features an extensive slide show and information about this classic psychology experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.

How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please join me on a slide tour describing this experiment and uncovering what it tells us about the nature of Human Nature." (end clip)

The Guardian had to call an end to a similar experiment they undertook in 2002 due to the "...emotional and physical wellbeing" of the participants "in danger of being compromised.",3604,638243,00.html

If things get this bad under the supervision of psychological professionals in a voluntary situation in which nobody is getting shot at or beaten, imagine what is happening to the minds of those involved in places where there is much less security or scrutiny. What can possibly be accomplished by kidnapping someone and rendering them to a torture chamber? What indeed.