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When the Detainee Is American

When the Detainee Is American...

Robert C. Koehler

The corpses pile up like sandbags along the planet’s geopolitical borders.

“Perhaps his condition deteriorated and the authorities decided it was better to release him in a coma than as a corpse.”


our hearts go out to the parents of otto warmbier. i guess we’ll never know what that young man went through during his imprisonment–and for attempting to steal a poster! and we may never know what happened that he came home in a coma? otto’s parents decided not to allow an autopsy which may or may not have revealed something. whatever happened there in that prison somehow, i do not think they planned to send otto home in a coma.

of course, you are right, robert, american’s react differently when the victim is american. the empire schedules military exercises to train south korean soldiers in the demilitarized zone at n.k.'s front door and keeps war ships threateningly close. and yet our media recognizes only the “unreasonable, unwarranted threat” from kim jong-un. kim may not have even known what goes on in the prison. i remember when w bush stepped up to resond to the torture at abu ghraib and how he stumbled over the pronunciation of the prison, “abu gra…abu greeb…uh…abu gra-ebe.”

well. i have more to say—lots more, but my neighbor just called me to come for coffee.

oops! typo! i meant “respond” anyway, looks like i’m just talking to myself here. or i’ll address my comment to you, bob, if that’s okay? i think a lot of people here feel too intimidated to speak of the empire’s inglorious role in war making. everything here is all about profiteering and the arms biz sees no profit in peace! like the times article you quoted as saying,“nuclear arms and missiles capable of striking the United States,” we see propaganda meant to bypass the brains logic and trigger an emotional fear response. the u.s. IS the most dangerous and well- armed empire the world has ever seen. yet to point this out as, say, mlk jr. did makes us appear as enemy sympathizers.

The more you read about American torture practices, the worse it gets. The mostly classified 6,000-page Senate report on this topic, released in 2014, contains almost unbearable data about CIA “enhanced interrogation” methodology, including “rectal rehydration,” threats against the detainees’ children and parents, quasi-drowning, mock executions and “revved power drills” held near their heads. And many detainees died and many remain imprisoned without cause.
gee! trump and his hate-filled bigoted supporters embrace torture against the enemy but consider any effort of self-defense as instigating trouble. trump ran on the idea that torture of “the other” is an act of heroism.
“we have seen the enemy and it is us”

pogo sayings
walt kelly quotes
i had rather be right than president

well, i’ll end my soliloquy with one last comment. robert, i guess you picked the wrong day for this post as most u.s. citizens are focused on the issue of healthcare and an important issue that is. people feel shock to hear how much funding is being pulled from healthcare while the wealthiest 400 families get a massive tax break. for some time we have discussed the out-of-control war budget and the massive secretive and expensive deep state. yet, the healthcare debate fails to connect the dots. i feel you agree with me, bob, that the war mentality is the root cause of almost every problem we the people face–economic, global warming, refugees and famine, economic inequality and yes, health. we cannot expect to live happy healthy lives in such a toxic environment! some parts of our earth are seeing cholera and other such outbreaks which are direct results of war. healthcare is a basic right of all living plants and animals; not an individual responsibility. “ugh! war! what is it good for? absolutely nothing!”, but enriching the already wealthy. protesters begging our deaf-eared politicians hoping to encourage them to suddenly grow a pair of morals are, i believe, a waste of time. if we the people truly want a government for, by and of the people it’s up to us! we must resist in peace. if we cannot bring down the empire, we cannot begin to bring about a return to sanity. our “leaders” are not leaders, but misleaders! true democracy require cooperation! true democracy requires an informed and engaged populace! going to the polls every couple of years taking a shot in the dark only encourages the pundits to keep on keepin’ on! now, i conclude with a quote from yesterday’s democracy now! headlines.

The videos’ release came as the Associated Press reported hundreds of accused terrorists have been swept up in a secret network of prisons in Yemen, where U.S. military officials participated in interrogations where torture is routine and extreme. The AP reports one method called the "grill" involved tying detainees to a spit and rotating them over flames like a rotisserie chicken. The Pentagon acknowledged participating in interrogations in Yemen but denied any knowledge of human rights abuses.

Give us a minute, @hummingbird! That’s a long and difficult article to face.

Yes, I share the sorrow at the condition in which Warmbier was sent home, but he was sent home, and apparently his parents elected to withdraw some form of life support. I do think their (and even Koehler’s) claims of “murder” are damaged by their decision not to allow a full autopsy. I have to wonder whether this case would turn out to be as embarrassing to the djt administration as the army deserter was to the Obama. Young men (especially) do stupid things hoping they’ll be seen as heroic, and sometimes it goes wrong. Warmbier might have tried to hang himself in his cell (or wherever he was held) and been not quite rescued in time. He might indeed have taken a sleeping pill, or 3, or 10, or the whole bottle he had with him. I think it’s hugely unlikely that his coma was caused by the Koreans. There’s nothing for them to gain by torturing tourists.

@hummingbird, please be careful, though. No one holds military exercises “in” the DMZ. The agreement that governs the DMZ says anyone who enters the actual gash that divides the peninsula (I’ve been there) can be shot by either side. They even negotiate who will enter the zone when to keep the grass clipped too low for anyone to hide in, and to cut down anything that thinks it might be a good place to be a shrub or a tree. Remember, too, that the US created North Korea, and against the will of all of the Korean people. They’d been under Japanese colonization since 1920?, and looked forward to independence when the Japanese were defeated. But the US and its nearest ally from WWII, the USSR, divvied up the peninsula just as they did Germany and Berlin within it. The South became our colony and the North the Soviets’. China snatched the North from the USSR, which was busy with its own recovery from the war. And that really pissed the US off, because the Chinese were not tolerable European Commies. Talk to any number of Koreans, and you’ll find they have family, blood in the other end of the peninsula, and all they want is reunification and self-determination. They want the US out, not least because it’s our presence there (see VPPence’s provocative visit over Easter weekend) that most raises the risk that Kim will do something stupid with his missiles. And no, they don’t want our missile-defense systems either.

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thanks so very much for correcting my unintended flight into hyperbole, ‘bkswrites’! i was so sure i’d heard the training sessions were in the demilitarized zone, but i checked and found:

War games conducted south of demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas
Pyongyang typically responds with tough talk and threats of retaliation
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Not blaming the victim here but why in the world would a person take a tour of North Korea and then deface private property? We don’t have the moral standing to be outraged when we do the same to our fellow brothers and sisters around the world. Including children and disabling the unborn with nuclear weapons. I’m just saddened that we over look this time and time again and give a pass to those who gave official clearance to the torture and to those who as judges sanctioned it on the Supreme Court.

Dear Robert,
Respectfully disagree.The elephamt is in this room.The Americans are being detained and abused on the streets of America as well. Chicago’s people detained in cages a few years back. Remote electrical torture that the media can’t even talk about. Security personnel and local police as well as some private citizens everywhere have access to remote shock techniques to people who have been accused of no crime. A journalist I know started his own newspaper, reporting local news, bad cops in a small town, now has electrical sensitivity and no newspaper. People killed at traffic stops. Body cavity searches on women at traffic stops led finally to the arrest and imprisonment of one Texas cop. Finally.

Does the media react differently to abuse inside America?. Well yeah sure, I guess you could say so. The media is mute on large amounts of at home violations of humanity.