Although I've dropped a few comments around here and the blog-o-sphere, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Torture Awareness, let me fill you in a little more.
Torture Awareness is effectively the brain-child of Elendil, proprietor of Rummy's Diaries. Well, what is Rummy's Diaries? From the site:
An archive of information on human rights abuse, prisoner abuse, and torture committed by the Coalition of the Willing in the Global War on Terror.
I think I first came across Rummy's Diaries during the White Phosphorus
(Technorati list of posts on my blog about WP) incidents in the news that were reported by Rai News and accused the US military of using white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon in the battle of Fallujah. There were varying reports of whether it was used at all, and after it came out that it did, the government tried to backpeddle, saying that yes it was used
, but not in a manner inconsistent with legal use of an incendiary device for lighting and forcing insurgents out of hideouts and locked-down locations.
We all remember how that one panned out.
And as all things Kos is, the topic eventually disappeared from the front page, as always happens, and new, more current or time pressing issues came up. Not that it's a bad thing here, but just that there's so much going on here all the time, that any one single important issue almost always has to share the powerful spotlight with at least 10 different topics, all at the same time.
In an environment like this, it gets hard to keep track of the specific information you're interested in or are trying to follow. Heck, just tonight I posted an article about Bush admitting a mistake in saying "Bring it on" only to get three comments informing me I was a day late and a dollar short, as there had already been at least three diaries put up about it. No big thing; it was my own fault for not being up on the news like I should be, but thats' the point I'm making. There's always so much going on that we tend to miss some stuff we might be interested in reading, too.
You might be asking at this time, "Get to the point, Stand Strong. What is this Torture Awareness, what does any of this have to do with anything else, and why do I need to know about this?"
Torture Awareness, as explained through the first email I got from Elendil, is as such:
I was chatting to people at Amnesty International USA, and they expressed interest in the idea of a blog alliance (similar to the Big Brass Alliance) to help with the June torture awareness campaign.
There's a website up which you can visit here:
The purpose is "to respond to the growing evidence that the United States government is engaging systematically in the use of torture and inhuman treatment as part of the war on terror."
If you like the idea, I've created a blogroll for people who want to support their campaign, or who simply want to express their anti-torture position. You can sign up here (or just email me back):
As it's early days yet, I thought I'd ask you people that I "know" if you'd like to be the first on there to help out with the campaign? I reckon once enough people are on there, everyone will want to join up for the optional reciprocal link benefits, but I need a few brave
bloggers to help get the thing started. Who's keen?
That was May 20th. There were about 3 or 4 people on the blogroll.
Today, May 26th, 6 days later, there's around 57 blogs on the list. And it gets larger every single day.
The reason I'm posting this (and I've dropped some comments here and there last week) is that not only is this another way to show that you support anti-torture campaigns and information, it's creating an interesting network of blogs you, and I for that matter, might not have been aware of.
Ever since this started and the blogroll really started to pick up, I've been meaning to start visiting some of those on it that I'm not already familiar with. And tonight, I've started what will basically be a series on my blog of stories and posts that I pick up from some of these other sites.
Tonight, I learned about a documentary I didn't even know about, see here, or hear about anywhere else. Some of you may have, but that's not the point. I didn't and it was only through this blogroll that I found out about "The Road To Guantanamo," a documentary that raised issues with the MPAA, as well as having an article in the WaPo that cites the controversy of the film itself, as well as the poster for the film.
Not only that, but I found a site that taught me about The "Political Code"
. You know...
...And while we're on the subject of "the code," consider this morning's hyped Bush/Blair news conference scheduled for tonight. According to news reports, BLushCo will propose an "Iraq transition" phase, in which the US and GB will begin drawing down troops significantly if all goes well.
The most quoted "code" timeframe this morning: 18 months.
It's May, 2006. In 18 months, it will be November, 2008.
Wink wink, nod nod. It was short, but amusing.
So far tonight, I've learned about a documentary about human atrocities. I've read a short amusing post about "The Code." But the post I most enjoyed tonight was jsut some well reasoned, well typed commentary about the Hypocrisy of the whole separation of powers problem that jsut occured with the FBI and the search of William Jefferson's office.
...Serious constitutional issues aside, do you recognize the hypocrisy of it all? It's ok with Congress for the President to violate the Constitution when it only affects average American citizens. Congress is equally culpable when the President illegally wiretap us, eliminates our protections from unreasonable search and seizure and diminishes the governments need to demonstrate probable cause. It has enabled the administration to effectively dilute the power of the Judiciary and our right for judicial review. It passed laws making torture illegal, only to turn a blind eye as the President defiantly declared that he was not bound these laws. To date, Congress has taken a back seat in every instance permitting this President to break or circumvent the law and act with impunity. Maybe that's why Congressional public approval rates are the only ones that are lower than the Presidents. The sad irony is that given all of these issues, all of these abuses, Congress was finally compelled to act, not in order to protect our rights, but in order to protect its own self serving interests. They are not interested in protecting our rights and liberties...they are interested in protecting their own. Congress had no problem allowing the President to circumvent the law and distort the constitution as long as it did not affect them. Is it a coincidence that immediately after the FBI fired this shot directly across the congressional bow, Congress has suddenly become so concerned about the Constitution, the protection of rights and the rule of law? That it is suddenly so concerned about protecting the provisions of Constitution that it is willing to ignore the fact that Congressman Jefferson is in all probability a criminal. They will have you believe that this issue is bigger than Representative Jefferson and his potential legal issues. They will cite many of the concerns I have just outlined in this entry. What they won't do is address their hypocrisy. They won't tell you why they are more interested in the rights of a criminal than protecting us from one. They won't tell you why it was ok for dangerous precedents to be set, limiting our personal rights and freedoms while refusing to allow similar precedents to be established with regard to their own protections under the Constitution. They might not address these issues but we can. Do not allow the actions of our elected officials to effect you rights to participate in the political process. No, they may not ever honestly address their hypocrisy, but come November we can address it for them. I encourage you to become informed, to become engaged and to vote your conscience. I firmly believe that every vote counts and that our vote represents the quintessential political capital. I encourage you to spend this currency wisely because there is a politician on every street corner gladly willing to accept it. Remember, politics is the world's oldest profession...
Again, you all might know this already. I didn't. I've been busy with other things and maybe when I had a chance to stop here and read the latest news, I missed the diary that someone may have written due to other important topics du' jour.
So what's my point? My point is that through the Blogs Against Torture blogroll, I was able to learn about topics both related to and unrelated to torture, yet important nonetheless. And maybe you don't blog, or if you do, maybe you don't blog about torture and don't feel right adding your blog to a list of anti-torture blogs. That's ok. I don't much blog about torture either. But I'm learning some about it from some of the sites on the list, as well as learning about other news from different points of view, and with different aspects of a particular story presented that I may not have given thought to because everyone else maybe is covering one main angle.
I'm extending the benefit I've already received from this list to you. And this is where what I call the Torture Awareness Blog Tour comes in. Like I said, I'm going to try to read as many sites on the blogroll as possible and cite some of the interesting stories I read on them on my own blog, giving a little more airtime and attention to some posts that otherwise might not get that attention.
This has two main benefits. A) It will help inform readers of stories they might have missed on some of the other sites and B) it will give something back to those who've joined onto the network, making their joining worth the little bit of effort it actually takes to get on it.
My only suggestion is that you try to do the same thing. Not only is it easy, but it's good karma and hey...you might learn or read about something you either didn't know, didn't realize, didn't understand from a certain viewpoint, or feel is important or interesting enough that you think your readers would benefit from receiving that knowledge from you.