Barbara Myers at The Nation writes The Secret Origins of the CIA’s Torture Program and the Forgotten Man Who Tried to Expose It:
The witness reported men being hung by the feet or the thumbs, waterboarded, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suffering from extended solitary confinement in what he said were indescribably inhumane conditions. It’s the sort of description that might have come right out of the executive summary of the Senate torture report released last December. In this case, however, the testimony was not about a “black site” somewhere in the Greater Middle East, nor was it a description from Abu Ghraib, nor in fact from this century at all.
The testimony came from Vietnam; the year was 1968; the witness was Anthony J. Russo, one of the first Americans to report on the systematic torture of enemy combatants by CIA operatives and other US agents in that long-gone war. The acts Russo described became commonplace in the news post-9/11 and he would prove to be an early example of what also became commonplace in our century: a whistleblower who found himself on the wrong side of the law and so was prosecuted for releasing the secret truth about the acts of our government.
Determined to shine a light on what he called “the truth held prisoner,” Russo blew the whistle on American torture policy in Vietnam and on an intelligence debacle at the center of Vietnam decision-making that helped turn that war into the nightmare it was. Neither of his revelations saw the light of day in his own time or ours and while Daniel Ellsberg, his compatriot and companion in revelation, remains a major figure for his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers, Russo is a forgotten man.
That’s too bad. He shouldn’t be forgotten. His is, unfortunately, a story of our times as well as his.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2013—This week in the war on voting: Ohio looks to internet registration, NYC to use old voting machines:
A case of a Republican doing the right thing:
Some reform-minded Virginians have unsuccessfully sought to create a process to restore rights that don't require the governor's doing so on an individual basis.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said Wednesday that he is waiving the waiting period and automatically restoring the voting rights of non-violent felons who have completed their sentences and satisfied certain conditions.
The decision by McDonnell, a former prosecutor who has supported restoring voting rights, underscores a long-held position. McDonnell (R) has granted the right to vote to more ex-felons than any of his predecessors at a time when other Republican across the country have adopted more strict voting requirements, including photo IDs and shortened early voting periods.
“When someone commits a crime, they must be justly punished,” the governor said during remarks in Richmond. “However, once these individuals have served their time and fully paid for the offenses they committed, they should be afforded a clear and fair opportunity to resume their lives as productive members of our society.