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Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
CALLEY: WRONG, BUT RIGHT. Yesterday, William Calley, the only person ever held responsible for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, a massacre of over 300 unarmed women, children, and old men on n March 16, 1968, apologized, making his first public statement in forty years.
Under the headline “An Emotional William Calley Says He Is Sorry,” Dick McMichael, a former television news anchor in Columbus, Ga., broke the news last Wednesday on his blog:
“There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” William Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus today. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.”
[...] The former lieutenant served just three years, largely under house arrest, after his original life sentence was reduced by the Army.
Just before Mr. Calley was released in 1974, Linda Greenhouse reported in The New York Times that three months in a prison barracks had been “his only prolonged incarceration.” As Ms. Greenhouse wrote, powerful supporters intervened as soon as he was sentenced in 1971:
Three days after the conviction President Nixon ordered him released form the stockade at Fort Benning, Ga., and placed under house arrest in a comfortable two-bedroom apartment. There he received frequent visits from a staff of secretaries and a steady female companion.
[...] A few months later, The Times noted: “A Harvard survey of public attitudes toward First Lieut. William L. Calley Jr. has found that two-thirds of those questioned said that most people would shoot unarmed civilians if ordered to do so.”
Mr. McMichael wrote:
I asked him for his reaction to the notion that a soldier does not have to obey an unlawful order. In fact, to obey an unlawful order is to be unlawful yourself. He said, “I believe that is true. If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a 2nd Lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them — foolishly, I guess.” He said that was no excuse, just what happened.
Here's where the story goes all "he said, she said" and goes wrong in so doing, by stenographically presenting The Other Side, as modern reporting so mindlessly almost always does:
William G. Eckhardt, the chief prosecutor in the My Lai cases, who is now a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told The Lede on Monday, “I think we ought to be clear that his statement is incredibly self-serving.” Mr. Eckhardt said that “the best polygraphic evidence I had” indicated that Captain Ernest Medina, who was Mr. Calley’s commanding officer, did not issue an order for the platoon to execute civilians during the operation in My Lai.
That's probably technically true. It's extremely unlikely Captain Medina explicitly gave an order that said "go into this village, and mercilessly slaughter everyone in sight," or any explicit order anything like that.
You know, Captain Medina only did this:
[...] In an essay on the case published in 2000, Mr. Eckhardt wrote that Captain Medina, who was also charged with murder but ultimately acquitted, had “ordered his men to destroy all crops, to kill all livestock, to burn all houses, and to pollute the water wells of the village” but noted that there was “an important disagreement concerning his reported orders to kill non-combatants. Significantly, he gave no instructions for their segregation and safeguarding.”
But that was enough to get Medina acquitted.
What the stenographic New York Times fails to report is this. Just, please, go read the whole post.
The summary point: our country committed innumerable war crimes in Vietnam during that war. And very little made it into the mass media of the times, or until recently, much beyond the relatively obscure historical record.
(And, incidentally, that fact was enough to a difference in who was elected president in 2004. Because not enough people knew enough about what really happened, and falsely believed, instead, that John Kerry was a liar who hated and smeared his own country, as well as all the U.S. soldiers who fought in Vietnam.)
Villagers, acting as human minesweepers, walked ahead of troops in dangerous areas to keep Americans from being blown up. Prisoners were subjected to a variation on waterboarding and jolted with electricity. Teenage boys fishing on a lake, as well as children tending flocks of ducks, were killed. “There are hundreds of such reports in the war-crime archive, each one dutifully recorded, sometimes with no more than a passing sentence or two, as if the killing were as routine as the activity it interrupted,” Deborah Nelson writes in “The War Behind Me.”
The archive, housed at the University of Michigan, holds documents from Col. Henry Tufts, former chief of the Army’s investigative unit, that reveal widespread killing and abuse by American troops in Vietnam. Most of these actions are not known to the public, even though the military investigated them. The crimes are similar to those committed at My Lai in 1968. Yet, as Nelson contends, most Americans still think the violence was the work of “a few rogue units,” when in fact “every major division that served in Vietnam was represented.” Precisely how many soldiers were involved, and to what extent, is not known, but she shows that the abuse was far more common than is generally believed. Her book helps explain how this misunderstanding came about.
“Get the Army off the front page,” President Richard Nixon reportedly said. Investigations were a good way to do that. A cover-up attracts attention; a crime that is being looked into does not. The military investigations, Nelson argues, were designed not to hold rapists and murderers accountable, but to deflect publicity. When reporters heard about a war crime, they’d call the Army to see if it would provide information. If they suspected a cover-up, they’d pursue the story. If a military spokesman said an investigation was under way, the story was usually dropped.
[...] After reciting various authorities to this effect, the memo then twists that legal formulation and concludes that "In sum, the defense of superior orders will generally be available for U.S. Armed Forces personnel engaged in exceptional interrogiations except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."
During the Vietnam War, at least the pro forma legalities that mass murder and torture were, you know, illegal, and wrong were maintained, no matter that very few were ever prosecuted, and serious investigations were buried:
[...] For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians - in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public.
They dropped grenades into underground bunkers where women and children were hiding - creating mass graves - and shot unarmed civilians, in some cases as they begged for their lives.
They frequently tortured and shot prisoners, severing ears and scalps for souvenirs.
A review of thousands of classified Army documents, National Archives records, and radio logs reveals a fighting unit that carried out the longest series of atrocities in the Vietnam War - and commanders who looked the other way.
For 41/2 years, the Army investigated the platoon, finding numerous eyewitnesses and substantiating war crimes. But in the end, no one was prosecuted, the case buried in the archives for three decades.
# Commanders knew about the platoon's atrocities in 1967, and in some cases, encouraged the soldiers to continue the violence.
# Two soldiers who tried to stop the atrocities were warned by their commanders to remain quiet before transferring to other units.
# The Army investigated 30 war-crime allegations against Tiger Force between February, 1971, and June, 1975, finding a total of 18 soldiers committed crimes, including murder and assault. But no one was ever charged.
# Six platoon soldiers suspected of war crimes - including an officer - were allowed to resign during the investigation, escaping military prosecution.
# The findings of the investigation were sent to the offices of the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense, records show, but no action was taken.
# Top White House officials, including John Dean, former chief counsel to President Richard Nixon, repeatedly were sent reports on the progress of the investigation.
To this day, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command refuses to release thousands of records that could explain what happened and why the case was dropped. Army spokesman Joe Burlas said last week it may have been difficult to press charges, but he couldn't explain flaws in the investigation.
The Army interviewed 137 witnesses and tracked down former Tiger Force members in more than 60 cities around the world.
But for the past three decades, the case has not even been a footnote in the annals of one of the nation's most divisive wars.
But the Bush Administration tried to, and succeeded, at least for a time, a time we are still living through, at making torture legal, and authorized.
2) Iraq and to some degree, Afghanistan, of course.
What happened in Abu Ghraib was -- similarly to My Lai -- followed up by blaming only a "handful of bad apples" and prosecutions were made only of them.
In both Vietnam, and Iraq, policies that led, respectively, to indiscriminate slaughter, and to mass abuse of prisoners (at least), were enacted at high levels. And nobody high in the chain of command in Vietnam was ever held responsible, and so far, no one as regards prisoner abuse (or worse?) in Iraq has ever been held responsible.
William G. Eckhardt, the chief prosecutor in the My Lai cases, holds today that William Calley, the lowly lieutenant, who agrees that "In fact, to obey an unlawful order is to be unlawful yourself," is "incredibly self-serving" by implying, and more or less directly claiming, he wasn't the only one guilty.
Calley is wrong to have waited forty years to have spoken up. Forty years worth of wrong.
But in the end, what he says is right, and William G. Eckhardt, the speaker for the law, the man who represented our law, the law of the United States of America, is wrong.
And that's the connection to today in America, ladies and gentleman.
We live in a country that's still refusing to officially investigate the comitting of "legal" torture, and still refusing to dare look at "higher ups" for the torture they're responsible for, let alone whether they were responsible for war crimes such as Abu Ghraib, and mass killings of prisoners in Afghanistan.
So far, all we have is that yesterday, this occurred:
Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. today opened a preliminary investigation into whether some CIA operatives broke the law in their coercive interrogations of suspected terrorists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- prompting sharp criticism from both the right and the left.
Holder said that he decided to establish what he called a "preliminary review" after he conducted a thorough examination of past reviews of the interrogations, including an internal CIA investigation completed in 2004 by the agency's inspector general and separate reviews by Justice Department internal affairs watchdogs and line prosecutors.
"As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," Holder said in a statement. "The department regularly uses preliminary reviews to gather information to determine whether there is sufficient predication to warrant a full investigation of a matter. I want to emphasize that neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow."
Will those responsible for making torture "legal" ever be brought to justice? Or even held to public, official, account, through any sort of official investigation, truth commission, or accounting?
And that's the lesson we can learn from having to wait forty years for someone to even admit that they were wrong.
A mere lieutenant.
Who is still being held to be the scapegoat he was then, and remains.
Will we have to wait another forty years, and still see no justice for those truly responsible for America's war crimes?
Maybe you can, to quote another past presidential campaign, keep hope alive.
It's still all we've got.
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.
I'd really be pleased if people would read this full post about Vietnam War crimes, let alone if they could find time to read the linked Toledo Blade Pulitzer Prize winning set of stories on Tiger Force.
[...] President Nixon: It’s really—it was such an amazing sort of a public furor. It surprised us all, surprised the press and all the rest. But it was probably a good thing that the country had that little spasm.
Kissinger: That’s right.
President Nixon: It—get them a chance to pop off steam and then we came on and cooled it off a little, then came on with an announcement. We gained a little initiative, I think, as a result of it, don’t you think?
Kissinger: Oh, yes. And it, no matter what they say now, no one can construe that outburst as a dove outburst, even if it took the form, perhaps, of wanting to get out of the war. It was the frustration of the people who are not committed to win the war.
President Nixon: That’s right.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: That’s quite a different thing.
President Nixon: Exactly, and I think the liberals really know this. They—
Kissinger: Deep down, the liberals know this.
President Nixon: They are in shock by it, because, they were sort of hoping that the whole nation would, you know, sort of say, “Well, now, we’ll punish these”--
Kissinger: That’s right. What they wanted was a feeling of revulsion against the deed. In fact, the deed itself didn’t bother anybody.
President Nixon: No, they, matter of fact, the people said, “Sure, he was guilty, but by God, why not?”
Thus the noble cause of the freedom of the people of Vietnam.
ADDENDUM, August 26th, 2009, 12:43 p.m.: I should mention that there were American soldiers at My Lai, who knew right from wrong: Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot who put his helicopter and body between the soldiers engaged in the massacre, and their Vietnamese victims (whose country we were ostensibly there to "protect"). See also RonRidenhour.
I don't think that was an apology from Calley. He continues to maintain that he was just following orders. He only very reluctantly admits - when pressed - that he was obliged to refuse to obey an illegal order.
As regards more contemporary crimes, it's not coincidental (as Scott Horton points out at Harpers) that about 4 years ago when oversight at the CIA exposed clear evidence of criminal abuse of terrorist suspects, it forwarded the allegations to the Justice Department. DoJ put the allegations in the hands of Paul McNulty in Virginia, who opened an "investigation" that has never gone anywhere or prosecuted anybody. It's the same old game, used over and over again by criminal administrations such as Nixon's and George W. Bush's.
Reading Salah & Weiss's book _Tiger Force_ it's clear that there was no top-down organized Army coverup -- these things have a way of covering themselves up. Years after the fact and a world away, how can prosecutors estabish anything like ground truth? No identifiable victim remains, no forensic evidence, only vague memories and uncertain identification of who did what. My Lai was an abberation in that a certain amount of evidence was available and the principals could be located and persuaded to confess. But for most of these incidents, like those involving Tiger Force, if anything's going happen it has to happen immediately at the next-higher unit level. In that case the battalion and company commanders had little interest in pursuing the few complaints they received. Later, it became impossible for higher-level investigators to establish much of anything in the way of facts provable in a court martial.