A Very Logan Christmas

Observed on the Northwest quadrant of Logan Circle, D.C.:

Xmas at Logan Circle

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Maybe She Should Be Afraid

So freedom is on the march (boldface mine):

NBC News published a story on a senior CIA official who is a “top al Qaeda expert” and a “key architect of the agency’s defense of its detention” and torture program for terrorism suspects. The official apparently developed “oft-repeated talking points that misrepresented and overstated” the effectiveness of torture. And, while the female official is singled out in the Senate intelligence committee’s summary of its CIA torture report, NBC News made the decision to protect her identity.

This female expert has been tied to a pre-9/11 intelligence failure and the rendition of German citizen Khaled el-Masri. She participated in the torture of alleged 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed while he was detained at a secret prison in Poland. She misread intelligence from another terrorism suspect and used it to “extract” an “erroneous admission” from Mohammed.

The identity of this CIA officer is already in the public domain. The identity and stories of her time spent defending and participating in torture have been reported by journalists. She even has a Wikipedia page that matches up exactly with what NBC News reporter Matthew Cole wrote about her….

The media organization claims that they are protecting her anonymity “at the request of the CIA” because the agency cited “a climate of fear and retaliation in the wake of the release of the committee’s report.” But the notorious CIA officer is already known to the world.

The Intercept has released her name, offering the following justification (boldface mine):

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer, writing yesterday about the NBC article, added that the officer “is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.” This officer, Mayer noted, is the same one who “dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.” Mayer also wrote that the officer is “the same woman” identified in the Senate report who oversaw “the months-long rendition and gruesome interrogation of another detainee whose detention was a case of mistaken identity.”

She is not only a torturer, but she willfully misrepresented the consequences of torture to the American people. If the cost of doing these awful things is the enmity of her fellow citizens and the inability to travel abroad for fear of arrest, so be it. It’s clear that neither the Justice Department nor Congress will do anything to prevent future episodes of torture, so a little fear by intelligence officers is what we’ll have to settle for.

This is not the optimal outcome, but what else is there when our supposed betters repeatedly fail us?

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Links 12/20/14

Links for you. Science:

aRrgh: a newcomer’s (angry) guide to R
NIH ends longitudinal children’s study: Budget and management problems sink plan to follow 100,000 children from birth to adulthood.
The flu shot isn’t a good match this year. Is it ever?
How One Woman’s Discovery Shook the Foundations of Geology
On the Front Lines of the Vaccine Debate, Pediatricians Play Both Sides (interesting how vaccination rates are lower in the conservative parts of Massachusetts…)


“Teach For America” Trojan Horse Among Ferguson Activists
Why are torturers being given “balance” in the press?
Cromnibus Pension Provisions Gut Forty Years of Policy, Allow Existing Pensions to Be Slashed
The Myth That Mass Transit Attracts Crime Is Alive in Atlanta
Breaking the Cycle of Deficit Fetishism
Police Officially Refuse To Hire Applicants With High IQ Scores
The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture
Torture Is Not a Hard Concept
‘Gift’ Is Not a Verb
How Superstar Companies Like Apple Are Killing America’s High-Tech Future
Wilson’s principal gets the axe even though test scores are up. Here’s a likely explanation
WATCH: Dog frightened by pineapple
Climate Change, Evolution, and Now Abortion: Why Conservatives Mislead About Facts (nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism)
The wrestler and the rape victim
Dick Cheney’s grotesque legacy: Why the record is so much worse than reported

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A Floriana Christmas

Observed outside Floriana, on 17th Street between Q and Corcoran Streets, Dupont Circle:

Floriana Xmas

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Does WMATA Serve Its City’s Needs Better Than the MBTA?

While reading Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism by Benjamin Ross (it’s a very good book), I came across this (boldface mine):

As much as the subways of the seventies were a reaction against urban expressways, their designers shared a premise with the highway builders. The goal was to save the city by bringing suburbanites downtown. New rail networks bypassed dense neighborhoods in the urban core and stretched long tentacles out to distant parking lots. Commuters moved swiftly to downtown offices, but city dwellers’ travel needs were less well served. Washington broke the pattern–civil rights leaders insisted on service for the urban poor, and its three rails tunnels span the city’s inner residential neighborhoods as well as its downtown office core–and its new rail system is by far the most successful. Today the Washington Metro is the nation’s second busiest subway, carrying more riders than older systems in Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.

Having suffered used both systems, I think Ross is wrong. The Washington Metro is a better commuter rail system–it takes me a little under a half hour to commute eight miles (though having my home and office located near the Metro helps). But between the cost, the non-rush hour wait times, and the gaping holes in where the Metro subway goes, it’s not very good at getting around D.C. itself. While Boston’s T can go overboard on the number of stops (does B.U. really need three stops?), in most parts of the city, you can wind up close to where you want to go. In D.C., outside of a small area downtown, the Metro doesn’t really work like that (the bus system is very good however).


Posted in Boston, DC, Transportation | 5 Comments

Links 12/19/14

Links for you. Science:

Deep Intellect: Inside the mind of the octopus
The Raw-Milk Deal: Pure-food worshippers put their health at risk—especially when they drink unpasteurized milk
Oversold prenatal tests spur some to choose abortions (but any FDA regulation of genetic testing is evil, blah, blah..)
Stem Cell Treatment: Out from the Shadows, Onto the Cutting Edge
Why You Won’t Get Sick From Sitting On A Public Toilet Seat


George Washington’s Waterboard (“Does anyone believe that 100 years from today Americans will be celebrating the torture of al-Qaeda operatives or the intelligence leads, true or false, that they provided under duress?”)
You Can Either Verify Whether This Inspirational Story Is True Or Share It Now And Reap The Precious Social Capital
NYC Cops Are Blithely Firing A Potentially Deafening Sound Cannon At Peaceful Protesters
The Luxury Homes That Torture and Your Tax Dollars Built
U.S. intelligence community poses threat to American way of life, report finds
Video shows John Crawford’s girlfriend aggressively questioned after Ohio police shot him dead in Walmart: Video shows Ohio detective accusing her of lying and threatening her with jail
Ted Cruz Shoots Self in Foot, Declares Victory (a victory of Palinism over process)
Comparing living standards over time
Dodd-Frank Budget Fight Proves Democrats Are a Bunch of Stuffed Suits
When my son survived a serious accident, I didn’t thank God. I thanked Honda.
What it Means to Change the World
Freer, Sackler Galleries Become First Fully-Digitized Smithsonian Museums
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Your pictures of Scotland: 5 to 12 December
An Auto-Oriented Manhattan
More & Better Democrats

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Torture and the Limits of Political Civility

Outsourced to Athenae, who is appropriately angry that discussion of torture is being viewed as “old arguments” (boldface mine):

Right. That’s all that’s at stake here. Old arguments. We don’t want to have old arguments.

Actually, I don’t want to have old arguments. I WANT TO IMPRISON SOME GODDAMN PEOPLE, and I don’t care if it makes the cocktail parties fucking rough this Christmas.

You know what? You want the right to leave this shit in the past? You want to make sure everybody gets along and nobody has to face any consequences and not hold anybody accountable and not worry about anything? THEN GO THE FUCK HOME. Don’t be in government. Don’t be in Congress. Take a nap and watch TV. No one will judge you. But you do not get to sit in the chair and act like it’s all just too rough.

At some point, monsters have to be called monsters.

Posted in Basic Human Decency, Torture | 1 Comment