Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Abu Ghraib, U.S.A.
Senator Joe Lieberman, who lost the Connecticut Democratic primary to Ned Lamont but is running for re-election as an Independent, was the beneficiary of a September 20 fund raising dinner in Florida organized by shopping mall magnate Mel Sembler, the former chief fund raiser for the Republican National Committee.
Sembler is also the head of the Lewis “Scooter” Libby Legal Defense Trust, organized to raise money to pay the legal bills on behalf of Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby is accused of playing a pivotal role in the Bush regime's outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame as a retaliatory strike against Plame's husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson. More significantly, Libby is believed to have played a similarly critical role in helping to devise the regime's policies regarding the detention and torture of terrorist suspects.
Lieberman has earned the gratitude and support of the regime and its mouthpieces (Sean Hannity being both the stupidest and most repulsive example) for the unqualified support he has offered Bush regarding the Iraq war and efforts to transform the presidency into a fully realized dictatorship.
Some doctrinaire neo-Trots, such as Bill Kristol's gang at the Weekly Standard, have suggested that Lieberman would make a suitable replacement for Donald Rumsfeld, should the incumbent Secretary of Aggression and Occupation be persuaded to step down. Others have gone so far as to suggest that Al Gore's 2000 running mate would make a good addition to the Republican Party's 2008 presidential ticket.
Lieberman may be among the most liberal members of the Senate regarding social and economic matters, but he is rock-solid on the two issues that dominate Bush-era Republican conservatism: Foreign war and domestic tyranny; he's unabashedly in favor of both.
Those eager to know who really runs the Republican Party could do a lot worse than study the career of Mel Sembler. He donated $100,000 to the 1988 Bush campaign, and his diligent and effective work as a GOP money-man was rewarded by an ambassadorship to Australia under King George the Elder, and one to Italy under King George the Dumber. He was given a presidential citation honoring him as a “Point of Light” by Bush I, and publicly described as “my buddy” by the inbred, mentally handicapped Bushling who currently infests the White House.
Prior to becoming one of the key players in the GOP fundraising apparat, Sembler operated a chain of drug “rehabilitation” centers called Straight, Inc., which was an outgrowth of an earlier federally funded program called The Seed. A 1974 investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee found that The Seed employed methods similar to the “highly refined `brainwashing' techniques employed by the North Koreans” against US prisoners of war.
“`Treatment' at The Seed involved 12-hour days of brutal, confrontational group therapy, supplemented with beatings, and isolation if the teens did not comply,” observes investigative journalist Maia Szalavitz, author of Help At Any Cost, a terrifying expose of the contemporary Behavior Modification (BM) industry. “Food and sleep were also limited, kids were completely deprived of privacy, even in the bathroom and they were permitted no reading, music, TV or contact with the outside world. The Congressional investigation gave The Seed a bad name – but Sembler ... and a number of other participants in it believed it saved kids from the evils of drugs.”
At its peak, Sembler's Straight program ran nine “treatment” facilities in seven states. The program received funding from the same government agency that had underwritten The Seed. Straight built upon the Chinese/North Korean methods The Seed had employed by adding its own festive touches; for example, veterans of the program recall “kids being gagged with Kotex pads” and being fed a diet consisting entirely of peanut butter sandwiches.
Many – perhaps most – of the youngsters fed into the Straight program had no documentable problems with drugs or alcohol. Some of them were victims of sexual abuse who, once enrolled in Straight, were brow-beaten , or just beaten, into “admitting” a drug problem. The BM methods used in the program dictated that confessions had to be made in order for a detainee to receive certain privileges – including the power to inflict misery on newer inmates. In addition to being a mind-control cult and concentration camp, Straight was an academy designed to create sadists.
Straight closed down in 1993, but “its tactics live on in hundreds of similar programs holding thousands of teens, some even run by former Straight employees in former Straight buildings,” observes Szalavitz.
Private BM programs, some of which receive government funds, operate offshore in Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Samoa, and elsewhere. A popular variation on the same approach can be found in wilderness programs like the one featured in the short-lived ABC “reality” series “Brat Camp.” Tens of thousands of American teenagers are consigned to such programs, many of them literally kidnapped from their beds early in the morning by rented thugs who – with parental authorization – seized the teens, restraining them with handcuffs if necessary, and delivered them into the custody of the BM programs.
Many of those BM programs, observes Szalavitz , “utilize punishments banned for use on criminals and by the Geneva Conventions.” At facility examined in Szalavitz's book, “teens were found bound and gagged with nooses around their necks.” In 2001, Mexican authorities discovered a facility run by the Utah-based World-Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP) in which teens had been locked in dog cages. At a WWASP camp in Samoa, teens were sentenced to lengthy confinement a three foot by three foot box similar to North Vietnamese “tiger cages.”
Amberly Knight, a WWASP whistleblower who administered a camp in Costa Rica, testifies that “children were imprisoned in deplorable conditions that we would not tolerate for adult death row inmates in America.” When the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were made public, Knight was “horrified,” because “that's what they do [at some WWASP facilities] every single day....”
These BM programs are an outgrowth of the murderous fraud called the War on Drugs, and they developed and employed many of the methods of physical and psychological abuse now being used in the even more murderous fraud called the War on Terror. Sembler – a perverted little lump of arrogant corruption – is a human bridge connecting those two enterprises. And he's one of the most powerful figures at the highest echelon of the Grand Old (Torture) Party.
This is what those people do. It is who those people are. It is why they are Just Plain Evil.
at 11:01 AM