No Comeback for Torture -- It's Never Gone Away

Donald Trump used his first nationally televised interview as president to declare his firm belief that "torture works." Of course, as innumerable studies have shown, torture doesn't "work" at all -- if by "work" you mean the gathering of credible information. However, for Trump's purposes, torture will work very well indeed. Thomas Jones, writing in the London Review of Books, points out this apt quote from Why Torture Doesn't Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation by Professor Shane O'Mara:

"The usual purpose of torture by state actors has not been the extraction of intentionally withheld information in the long-term memory systems of the noncompliant and unwilling. Instead, its purposes have been manifold: the extraction of confessions under duress, the subsequent validation of a suborned legal process by the predeterminedly guilty ('they confessed!'), the spreading of terror, the acquisition and maintenance of power, the denial of epistemic beliefs."

Gosh, it sorta makes you wish there had been some magical way for somebody -- say, the most powerful man on earth -- to have prosecuted American torturers during the last eight years, setting a clear, public example that such blatant evil would never again be tolerated in a civilized society. It's just so unfortunate that the White House and Justice Department were left empty from January 2009 to January 2017, and there was no one around to, you know, actually uphold the law. Darn the luck, eh?

But of course, there WAS someone in the White House during those years -- and he and his minions used torture on an extensive scale. For example, it has been well documented that many thousands of children (and adults) have been psychological scarred by living under the constant threat of drone attack. This has been particularly true in Pakistan, where medical staff tell of children traumatized by the fear of the drones that constantly bombarded remote villages, especially in the earlier years of Obama's presidency. Often the drones would simply sit in the sky above a village for hours on end, coming back for days on end, floating, buzzing, liable to let loose carnage at any moment. It is an exquisite form of torture, the equivalent of tying someone up then walking round and round them day and night while pointing a hair-trigger pistol at their head. And Obama inflicted this on hundreds of thousands of people, day after day, year after year. To what purpose? Why, the "spreading of terror," of course.

It was also done on a smaller scale. Take the case of Chelsea Manning. The use of solitary confinement has been ruled an act of torture. Manning was subjected to this torture repeatedly. (As are thousands of ordinary prisoners across the country every day.) There was no other reason for the use of this torture in the high-profile Manning case than "the spreading of terror": a stark warning to anyone else who might be thinking of revealing American war crimes to the world. Obama's treatment of Manning was repulsive, base and evil -- yet you'll never see Meryl Streep waxing with moral outrage about it.

(And now Trump too has been bashing Manning, labeling her outright as a "traitor," although of course she wasn't charged with or convicted of treason. Trump's words -- the President publicly calling someone a traitor -- could easily lead to Manning's death, as some "patriot" out there takes it upon themselves to carry out the "proper" sentence for a "traitor." She could also face death or maltreatment even before being released -- due to Obama's bizarre decision to delay her release until May, giving her five months under Trump's tender care.)

But let's be clear: whatever he does, Trump will not be bringing torture "back": it's never gone away.


Source: Chris Floyd, Jan 26 2017

Why is the US Military still using Shannon Airport?

Published on 12 Jan 2017

In light of the revelations that the United States were open to leaving Shannon in 2007 but did not at the behest of the Irish Government, add to this the obvious security concerns of having military personnel at a civilian airport, and factor in the cost of at least €45million to the Irish taxpayer.

We ask the question, why is the U.S military still using Shannon Airport?  We headed down to Shannon and talked to Ed Horgan and John Lannon of Shannonwatch, who have been part of a monthly peace vigil which has ran unbroken for the last nine years.

Put together by Jamie Goldrick, Thom McDermott and James Redmond.  Archive footage courtesy of Eamonn Crudden.

Okinawa governor leads mass protest against US military bases

Thousands of Okinawa residents have gathered to protest the presence of American helipads and US forces on the island, despite a historical handover of nearly 10,000 acres of Japanese land that the US has used as a military base since WWII.

On Thursday the Japanese government held a ceremony to mark the US military’s return of the largest tract of land in Okinawa. Some 4,000 hectares of forest area was reverted to Japanese control, with the US military given the privilege to still administer the area.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga was absent from the event as he opposed the conditions of the transfer deal. In 1996, Japan and the United States agreed on the land reversion in exchange for allowing six new helipads to be built in the retained portion of US-controlled land.

To oppose the US military presence on the island, Onaga instead led a demonstration of over 4,000 activists in Nago who joined in with protests against the helipads.

Demonstrators carried banners that read “get out marines”, and “no base Henoko,” as they were watched by lines of police.

While the land transfer reduced American-administered areas on the southern island of Okinawa by 17 percent, Onaga, who has been campaigning against a US presence since 2014, called the deal deceptive.

“The land return ceremony one-sidedly held by the central government is nothing but a proof they have no intention whatsoever to be considerate of our suffering,” Onaga said, referring to potential dangers of hosting US V-22 Osprey aircraft.

Washington stations two Osprey squadrons in Japan, totaling 24 aircraft. The Osprey, built by Boeing and Textron Bell Helicopter is designed to take off like a helicopter and rotate its propellers to fly like a plane.

Activists for years have been voicing concern about increased noise from the construction of the US helicopter bases while expressing fear over possible accidents.

The V-22 Osprey over the years has had eight hull-loss accidents with a total of 36 fatalities worldwide. The entire fleet of Ospreys was briefly grounded earlier this month in Okinawa after one of them crashed in shallow waters off the island last week. The ban was lifted this Monday.

“The thought that there will be a new base in Henoko makes me feel strong resentment and unease about the dangerous Osprey flights that will happen tonight and continue in the future. I am committed to prevent Osprey from flying in our skies,” Onaga told the rally.

The governor’s concern has somewhat been shared by Japan’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, who urged the United States military “to take thorough preventive measures so that such an incident will never occur again,” New York Times reported.

In the meantime, Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution Thursday to oppose the resumption of Osprey flights.

“One wrong move could have led to a disaster involving residents,” said the resolution, 

Source: RT Dec 23 2016