The more things change the more they are the same.
A friend of mine (OK OK - one of my favorite bloggers - lets not get ahead of ourselves) Digby, from digbysblog.blogspot.com blog (go read that blog now - it is THE best blog out of all the mainstream liberal poltiical blogs), has been harping and is incredulous about a particular admission from our wonderful president.
This admission (source - washingtonpost.com:
President Bush said Friday that he was aware his top national security advisers had discussed the details of harsh interrogation tactics to be used on detainees.
Bush also said in an interview with ABC News that he approved of the meetings(...)
Bush suggested in the interview that no one should be surprised that his senior advisers, including Vice President Cheney, would discuss details of the interrogation program(...)
The Washington Post first reported in January 2005 that proposed CIA interrogation techniques were discussed at several White House meetings.
This next one is important, as it names names and what was discussed/approved:
The Post reported that the attendees at one or more of these sessions included then-presidential counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, then-Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II, then-National Security Council legal adviser John B. Bellinger III, CIA counsel John A. Rizzo, and David S. Addington, then-counsel to Cheney.
The Post reported that the methods discussed included open-handed slapping, the threat of live burial and waterboarding. The threat of live burial was rejected, according to an official familiar with the meetings.
Then-presidential counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, then-Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II, then-National Security Council legal adviser John B. Bellinger III, CIA counsel John A. Rizzo, and David S. Addington, then-counsel to Cheney
discussed AND approved
open-handed slapping, the threat of live burial and waterboarding.
Oh sorry, apparently the threat of live burial was rejected (me thinks that it was too time consuming and too elaborate a torture device, while punching somebody and drowning them take no time at all).
One of my favorite books is Russia - The People and the Power by Robert G. Kaiser. The book was written in the heyday of communism, and is very out of date now, in the Putin post communist era.
One of the things in this book that struck me were the author's examples of just how different the Soviet Union as a system was to our Western system - of values, governance, culture...
The one example that is still stuck in my mind is about Khrushchev discussing a trip of a concert pianist to the West, to give some performances.
The rest of the Politburo (party big wigs) were dead set against the trip, as the pianist was Jewish and they were very afraid that he would escape to the West and so embarrass the Soviet Union. Khruschev stuck to his decision and allowed the artist to perform his concerts in the West, satisfyingly noting that the man "came back".
The author of the book asks what other country's leaders would concern themselves with the minutiae of letting a pianist perform in other countries? He considered this an insanity, a sign of the profound alienness of the system...
Well, Mr. Kaiser - Welcome to America, Anno Domini 2008!
Where this country's leaders concern themselves with the minutiae (details) of how to torture a man, how to beat up a man, how to drown a man.
I never imagined, when I ran away from communism in the 1980's, that I would end up... in the Soviet Union, circa 1980...
This article makes for a chilling reading after the one just below it, spy Satellites, "The spy satellites that spied on the Soviet Union, the satellites that searched for al Kaida and Osama bin Laden were today just given a new, more dangerous target.