It is a time of freedom and fear, of Gaia and of borders, of many paths and the widening of a universal toll road, emptying country and swelling cities, of the public bought into privacy and the privacy of the public sold into invisible data banks and knowing algorithms. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection.

These are the times when maps fade and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread.

Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.

Video from Abu Ghraib
Friday, May 21, 2004
Washington Post is streaming a video from the Abu Ghraib prison.

This is what the dehumanizing experience of war does to people. If you supported the war, you are morally obligated to watch the outcome of your choice.

If you can't bear to watch it, you shouldn't have been able to bear to support it in the first place.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 10:24 AM# (permalink)
(1) comments

Ahmad Chalabi Conspiracy Theory
Feeling conspiratorial...

Is anyone else suspicious of the recent switch of Iraqi Ahmad Chalabi from pro-American cheerleader to anti-American rebel?

Chalabi is the guy who had been trying for years to get the U.S. government to invade Iraq. He's the one who fed the Bush Administration false stories about huge stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Bush Administration hand-picked Chalabi for a seat on the puppet government of the Iraqi Governing Council. Until just a couple weeks ago, Chalabi has been strongly supportive of the American occupation of Iraq.

Now, all of a sudden, Chalabi appears to be a strong opponent of the American occupation, giving fiery anti-American speeches and having his offices raided.

Well, as the Church Lady might ask, isn't that convenient?

Chalabi wants to be the next leader of Iraq, and the Bush Administration has wanted to place him in that role. Yet, Iraqis seem to detest anyone who supports the American occupation of Iraq. What now appears to be the widespread use of torture by Americans in Iraq makes it extremely difficult for a pro-American Iraqi to earn the trust of Iraqi voters. Chalabi, as long as he appears to be pro-American, would have no political future in Iraq.

So how, oh how, would a guy like Chalabi get credibility? Why, he'd have to appear to be standing up against the American occupying thugs, wouldn't he?

For me, Chalabi's switch from pro-occupation to anti-occupation happened too suddenly to be believed. I'm more inclined that Mr. Bush and Mr. Chalabi are in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge relationship in which it's understood that the best way to get Chalabi into power is to help him change his shed his image as a toady of the American occupying force.

A few weeks ago, I would have dismissed such an idea, but since then it's become clear that the Bush Administration will resort to anything, no matter how strange, to get its way.

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 6:49 AM# (permalink)
(1) comments

Read the sworn statements of Iraqi Detainees at Abu Ghraib
Read the sworn statements of Iraqi Detainees at Abu Ghraib

Posted by Matthew Cook at 3:58 AM# (permalink)
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Winston Smith at Abu Ghraib

'Do you remember,' said O'Brien, 'the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall.'

'O'Brien!' said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. 'You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do?'

O'Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston's back.

'By itself,' he said, 'pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable -- something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.

'But what is it, what is it? How can I do it if I don't know what it is?'

O'Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the nearer table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth. Winston could hear the blood singing in his ears. He had the feeling of sitting in utter loneliness. He was in the middle of a great empty plain, a flat desert drenched with sunlight, across which all sounds came to him out of immense distances. Yet the cage with the rats was not two metres away from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat's muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey.

'The rat,' said O'Brien, still addressing his invisible audience, 'although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a human being is helpless.'

There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach Winston from far away. The rats were fighting; they were trying to get at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.

O'Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably. O'Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a metre from Winston's face.

'I have pressed the first lever,' said O'Brien. 'You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue.'

The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left -- to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.

The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.

'It was a common punishment in Imperial China,' said O'Brien as didactically as ever.

The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then -- no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment -- one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

'Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!'

- George Orwell, 1984

Posted by Matthew Cook at 3:45 AM# (permalink)
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The Bush Legacy: Euphemisms for Torture
Looks like one thing Bush II will be remembered for is a proliferation of euphemisms for the word "torture."

The latest one, right up there with Richard Myers' "creating suitable physical and mental conditions for interrogation," comes from Ronald Dumbsfeld spokesman Larry Di Rita, who recently spoke of "non-doctrinal" interrogation methods. (Source: AP, 5/21/04)

Wonder if they used these kinds of "non-doctrinal" methods for "creating suitable physical and mental conditions for interrogation" back during the Spanish Inquisition. Wonder if these methods yielded any information on heresy-"related program activities."

Posted by Doctor Theopolis at 3:20 AM. # (permalink)
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Bush: The Car Crash President
Thursday, May 20, 2004
How incapable is George W. Bush of accepting criticism? The one time in her life that his wife made a critical comment about one of his speeches, he drove his car into the wall of a garage. (Source: Reuters May 19, 2004)

Posted by Matthew Cook at 6:32 AM. # (permalink)
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Torture Scandal Coverup?
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Well, who'd a thought? Turns out every single one of the witnesses called to testify for the prosecution in the Abu Ghraib prison torture trial of Charles Graner, including the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of military operations at the prison, have refused to testify on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves. (Source: LA Times, 5/19/04)

Anybody smell a coverup?

Posted by Doctor Theopolis at 10:07 AM# (permalink)
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Bigger than Abu Ghraib
Three journalists working for Reuters report they were detained by American forces and "forced into humiliating acts and compelled to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs."

Abu Ghraib? No. These journalists were detained at Forward Operating Base Volturno, near Fallujah.

Either there are two sets of bad apples spoiled in exactly the same way, or someone very high in the chain of command is at the source of the rot.

Read all about it.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 4:20 AM. # (permalink)
(0) comments

Place Irregular Times content on your website for free
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Would you like to share the latest Irregular Times articles with others on your web page? How about doing it in a way that's automatically updated, with no work from you, for absosmurfly free?

Click here to find out how.

We've made it a real cinch. Promise.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 9:30 PM. # (permalink)
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Reason # 1135 to Boot Bush
Monday, May 17, 2004
In April of 2003, George W. Bush travelled to Canton, Ohio's Timken Co. to give a speech touting the benefits of his tax-cutting plan for companies like Timken.

In May of 2004, Timken Co. announced it would close three of its plants in Canton and lay off 1,300 workers. (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer May 15, 2004)

Posted by Matthew Cook at 5:19 PM# (permalink)
(1) comments

Newsweek Corroborates Hersh
Now Newsweek chimes in with an independent report corroborating Seymour Hersh's revelations in the New Yorker:

George W. Bush, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld and Steve Cambone actively generated, against opposition from more modeate elements, the secret system for detentions and interrogations under which these instances of torture occurred.

Bush partisans will say that by examining these facts, journalists like Hersh and the three-person team at Newsweek are not supporting the troops. Bush campaign voices will say that by reading these articles and talking about them, we're spitting on American soldiers and calling them baby-killers.

Ignore that distraction: While George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the gang try to pin the blame on the grunts on the ground, these news pieces actually demonstrate the contrary. Primary fault does not lie with a few "bad apple" soldiers who came up with this torture on their own. Whether they should have done so or not, they were following orders. No, primary fault lies with the civilians who designed the new apparatus of indefinite detention and torture of "ghost prisoners." Their names: Bush. Ashcroft. Rumsfeld. Cambone.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 11:24 AM# (permalink)
(0) comments

Powell: Yes, The Administration Knew
And now, back to reality. From the Associated Press:
Secretary of State Colin Powell says there were high-level discussions within the Bush administration last fall about information from the International Committee of the Red Cross alleging inmate abuse at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Powell's comments Sunday came as the scandal shifted to the question of whether the Bush administration erected a legal foundation that opened the door for the mistreatment.

Regarding Red Cross complaints last fall of abuse at Abu Ghraib, "we knew that the ICRC had concerns, and in accordance with the matter in which the ICRC does its work, it presented those concerns directly to the command in Baghdad," Powell said on "Fox News Sunday." "And I know that some corrective action was taken with respect to those concerns."

Powell added, "All of the reports we received from ICRC having to do with the situation in Guantanamo, the situation in Afghanistan or the situation in Iraq was the subject of discussion within the administration, at our principals' committee meetings" and at National Security Council meetings.

"We were aware of them," he said.
Isn't it sad when reality in this country is weirdly darker than the conspiracy nuts can even imagine?

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:52 AM# (permalink)
(0) comments

9-11 Uncovered: The TRUTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For entertainment purposes only, visit 9-11 Uncovered. You'll find gems like this:

"Richard Clarke's revelations about the Bush Administration are actually part of the real coverup that is going on. Richard Clarke and George Bush are not enemies--they planned this entire fiasco. The 911 Commission and Bob Woodward's new book are also part of the coverup. In fact, the entire Democrat-Repubican rift about the 911 intelligence is all a sham. They are trying to distract you from the real truth. These people really belong to just one entity--the New World Order. 911 was simply a stepping stone for them to achieve their ultimate goal of a one-world government."

Man, it's fun to read conspiracy theories like that every once in a while. Hee, hee!

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:42 AM. # (permalink)
(0) comments

Impeach Bush Postcards: Bush Knew
Sunday, May 16, 2004
From Seymour Hersh's article in the New Yorker magazine to hit tomorrow's newsstands:

"The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program."

This refers to George W. Bush's knowledge of the secret program to kidnap suspects in Afghanistan and interrogate them using all available methods, including torture. It's not yet clear whether Bush knew about the torture going on in Iraq, but Bush clearly knew about the existence of a program centered in Afghanistan (and active in other countries) which worked outside American and international law, For this, Bush can be Impeached.

So, as promised we have extended our line of Irregular Postcards to include not just a set of Impeach Rumsfeld postcards, but also a set of postcards with the banner headline Stop the Torture: Impeach Bush. A small graphic of the Impeach Bush postcard can be seen below.
impeach bush postcard

Folks, this is the test of American democracy in the eyes of the world. If we, the American people, do not get George W. Bush out of office, we will be regarded as supporting state-sponsored torture of prisoners. This torture is nothing short of terrorism.

Who here remembers the lonely voice of protest in the U.S. Congress at the beginning of George W. Bush's War Against Evildoers? It said, "Let us not become the evil we deplore". That voice was Barbara Lee, and we thank her for the foresight that her colleagues lacked.

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 3:49 PM. # (permalink)
(0) comments

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