Guantánamo Diary

Mohamedou Ould Slahi – torture and detention without charge :-(

On or about Sept. 11, 2001, American character changed.

What Americans had proudly flaunted as “our highest values” were now judged to be luxuries that in a new time of peril the country could ill afford.

Justice, and its cardinal principle of innocent until proven guilty, became a risk, its indulgence a weakness.

Asked recently about an innocent man who had been tortured to death in an American “black site” in Afghanistan, former Vice President Dick Cheney did not hesitate.

“I’m more concerned,” he said, “with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.”

In this new era in which all would be sacrificed to protect the country, torture and even murder of the innocent must be counted simply “collateral damage.”

“Guantánamo Diary” is the most profound account yet written of what it is like to be that collateral damage. …

NY Times review – ‘Guantánamo Diary,’ by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

This guy looks innocent to me. I’d throw Cheney in prison and release Ould Slahi.

Obama has always known Gitmo is wrong. Gitmo should be closed. He’s a weak President because he could not get that done over the past 6 years.

Amazon – Guantánamo Diary Jan 20, 2015

No time to read the book?

This short video will bring you up to date on the story.

Click to watch it on Guardian.

Guardian exclusive animated documentary

Guardian exclusive animated documentary

Vietnam – The Fog of War

I visited Vietnam for the first time in 2014, almost 50 years after the end of the American War.

The nation is thriving. Tourists love the country. :-)

The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (also known as the Việt Cộng) on April 30, 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War

The city was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City, after the Democratic Republic’s President Hồ Chí Minh. …

The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians associated with the southern regime. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation in history. …

Evacuation of CIA station personnel by Air America on the rooftop of 22 Gia Long Street in Saigon on April 29, 1975. Photo: Hubert van Es / UPI

Evacuation of CIA station personnel by Air America on the rooftop of 22 Gia Long Street in Saigon on April 29, 1975. Photo: Hubert van Es / UPI

Have you seen The Fog of War?

Academy Award®-winner for Best Documentary Feature, THE FOG OF WAR is the story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President Kennedy and President Johnson, Robert S. McNamara.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

The title derives from the military concept of the “fog of war” depicting the difficulty of making decisions in the midst of conflict.

Robert McNamara’s 11 lessons from Vietnam

From Robert McNamara’s 1995 book “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam“:

We misjudged then — and we have since — the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries … and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.

We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience … We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.

We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.

Our misjudgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.

We failed then — and have since — to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces, and doctrine. We failed, as well, to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.

We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement … before we initiated the action.

After the action got under way, and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course … we did not fully explain what was happening, and why we were doing what we did.

We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people’s or country’s best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.

We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action … should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.

We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions … At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.

Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.

The USA lost the Vietnam war. It was un-winnable from the start.

I’d argue that they’ve lost the wars in the Middle East since. None of McNamara’s lessons were learned.

G.W. Bush is most to blame for the stupidity and waste of military action.

George W. BushI’m disappointed Obama did not do more to reverse the damage wrought during the Bush years.

Barack Obama, George W. Bush

on Muslim suicide bombers

Scholars Pape and Feldman:

… more than 2,100 documented cases of suicide bombings from 1980 to 2009 and concluded that most of the perpetrators were acting in response to U.S. intervention in the Middle East.

Washington Post

The best thing the USA, Canada and the rest of the nations who have troops on the ground in the Middle East could do is … QUIT the Middle East.

Go home and focus on Home Security.

The American intervention is not appreciated by the majority of citizens there. Why stay?

Who wants US

Review:

… compelling analysis of the root causes of suicide terrorism.

The authors challenge the assumption that Islamic fundamentalism generates the peculiar phenomenon of suicide terrorism, suggesting instead that military occupation is the proximate cause. …

Amazon – Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It

Robert A. Pape is professor of political science at the University of Chicago and the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism and Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War.

James K. Feldman has taught decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and defense policy analysis at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies.

Professor Pape:

“… the sustained presence of heavy American combat forces in Muslim countries is likely to increase the odds of the next 9/11. …”

Suicide by Bomb

Misunderstanding a weapon in the terrorists’ arsenal.

what unites Canada?

We all celebrate when the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle.

All but the Leaf fans. :-)

Totonto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers

National Post (Toronto) Jan 20, 2015:

In Toronto, the Leafs have elevated torment into an art form.

Preschoolers know the team has not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, the longest drought in the league. …

Toronto has missed the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, and the team’s annual downward spiral is already at full speed.

Microsoft HoloLens – this is the future

I was tempted to jump to Microsoft after seeing the Surface 3 and Windows phones. But opted to buy a new MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch) with Yosemite. I’m half way through a 5 year project editing video in iMovie 11. I want to stick with the same simple software.

Loving the Pro. Especially the Retina monitor.

But if Microsoft HoloLens is one third as cool as this promo video, my next computer will be Windows.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Washable – Microsoft’s HoloLens: Wireless virtual reality that looks ready for the masses

Wired – Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles

Utah reduced homelessness by 72%

If you’ve traveled around the States, you know that homelessness is conspicuous in the richest nation of the World.

That’s always surprised me.

But Utah’s turned that around in a surprising way.

Republican State Gives Free Houses to Moochers, Cuts Homelessness by 74 Percent

The state is giving homeless people homes. It’s a solution that might sound too simple, but it’s working. The program, called “Housing First”, has origins in New York. Utah started its own pilot of the program in 2005 with 17 people. The state took them off the street and put them into housing for twenty-two months. After the state saw that all 17 people remained housed and stable during that time, the project was expanded. …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

VIDEO: Utah Gives Homes To The Homeless As Arctic Temperatures Bring Suffering

Housing First, which is distinct and separate from “rapid re-housing”, is a relatively recent innovation in human service programs and social policy regarding treatment of the homeless and is an alternative to a system of emergency shelter/transitional housing progressions.

Rather than moving homeless individuals through different “levels” of housing, known as the Continuum of Care, whereby each level moves them closer to “independent housing” (for example: from the streets to a public shelter, and from a public shelter to a transitional housing program, and from there to their own apartment in the community) Housing First moves the homeless individual or household immediately from the streets or homeless shelters into their own apartments.

Housing First approaches are based on the concept that a homeless individual or household’s first and primary need is to obtain stable housing, and that other issues that may affect the household can and should be addressed once housing is obtained. …

Thanks Dean.