Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Poem: law

For the clatter of broken bullets

four hours on the pavement

spent on unimportant


body for four

Darren Wilson the cop


would have picked up

McCullough the DA


no charges


Nixon the Governor


“Hands up


un armed



don’t shoot”

riddledbody flat


facing cop

far off



bro ken

Monday, November 24, 2014

Evans' descendants speak out

    Patricia Calhoun in Westword does a fine story on the probing by some members of the Evans family of the silence, in family history, about Sand Creek.  Each person describes a process of growth; the words of the beautiful poem "I will not say" below by Caroline Goodwin as well as of Susan Davis and Lucy Schiller bring in shining letters before us a truth long interred.


    In some way, we all learn bitter truths about the past (the fantasy life of nations and individuals is often far from the truth).  Instead of covering up or repressing these truths - an active process ("there were no people in the west before the settlers came to claim Free Soil," just like the fantastic slogan of Israel - "a people without land for a land without people") - memorialization often involves false marketing (h/t Whitney Bard).


    John Evans was a University Founder (Northwestern and DU), a railway builder, a territorial governor...When they renamed Mount Rosalie Mount Evans in 1895, it was said  that he could see railways he had built in four directions from the peak.


     One must forget inconvenient facts.  "My mind says I did it," Nietzsche quips in Beyond Good and Evil.  "My pride says: I did not."  Thus, Evans  "can not have been fairly judged" by three federal commissions organized by his own party and forced to resign for his instigation of the horrific massacre, his abject refusal to make peace and his unwillingness to denounce it afterward (in an 1884 interview with H.H. Bancroft, he spoke of the "very great benefit to the people of Colorado of the so-called massacre" in "ridding us of the roaming Plains indians").


     It takes courage to look clearly at the past, to see what was done, to begin a process of truth and perhaps reconciliation.


     These three descendants of the Evans' family have taken up this cause with particular clarity and honor, sought out and spoken the truth.  In any fair process of truth and reconciliation, as Desmond Tutu tells us in No Future without Forgiveness, that speaking is important both for the oppressed and for those (or their descendants) who have committed terrible crimes. It sets the story straight.  But more than this, at the outset of  that book, Tutu speaks of the wonder of the first free election in South Africa, of everyone standing in line together waiting to vote, realizing a common humanity that the old social order was built on denying.


     Today with a great turning in Colorado signalled by the Methodist Church, the Governor's Commission on Sand Creek and the University of Denver in response to the descendants and the Spiritual Healing Run November 29-December 3rd, something similar is beginning to happen.


Sand Creek Massacre: John Evans's Descendants Discuss a Dark Legacy

Descendants of those who survived the Sand Creek Massacre did not hear much about it when they were growing up; that day was too painful for their elders to talk about. "They would always cry," one remembers. But some descendants of John Evans, Colorado's territorial governor during the November 29, 1864, massacre, didn't hear about it at all.

Lucy Schiller was a high-school senior in Illinois when she decided to write a paper for her senior history seminar on her great-great-great-grandfather, John Evans, whose name was still revered in the state where she lived. A physician who'd become active in the Methodist Church, Evans had helped start what became DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, in 1837, before moving on to Chicago. There he invested in real estate and became a founder of Northwestern University; the town of Evanston, where the school was built, is named after him. A dozen years and many investments later (some successful, some spectacular failures), Evans was named territorial governor of Colorado in 1862 and moved to Denver, which was then barely three years old. Still active with the Methodist church, he co-founded the Colorado Seminary in 1864 (it would later morph into the University of Denver) and helped save the fledgling frontier town when the railroads snubbed it in favor of a route through Cheyenne; Evans and other local boosters formed a railroad company that linked Denver to the national network.
John Evans.
Schiller had no problem finding information on Evans, but it wasn't until she spoke with a cousin who lived in Colorado that she heard about the Sand Creek Massacre, when over 150 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women, children and the elderly, were killed by troops led by Colonel John Chivington -- a fellow Methodist and a friend of Evans's. And even if Evans didn't order the killings, he created the climate that made them possible. "I was floored," she remembers. "This guy who had been so vaunted in our family had been involved in something horrific. I wound up devoting my year to uncovering his role in the Sand Creek Massacre."
This was back in 2005-'06, "and there was much less written about Sand Creek, much less online," she says. It wasn't in her Illinois history books -- although Sand Creek did rate two pages in the best-selling high-school textbook The Colorado Story, by Leroy and Anne Hafen, who called it "one of the most debatable subjects in Colorado history."
Schiller and her father went looking for the massacre site, and all they found was the granite monument that calls it a "battle field," which had been erected back in 1950. But perceptions hadn't changed that much fifty years later, she discovered: "I was grappling with the idea that people were still calling this a 'battle' in academic texts," Schiller recalls. This despite the fact that as early as 1865, the federal government had labeled it a massacre.
At Grinnell College, Schiller wrote a thesis that explored the "incongruous rhetoric" of Evans and Chivington, who were both vocal in their opposition to slavery but becoming increasingly vehement in their determination to exterminate Indians. "Nits make lice," Chivington reportedly told his soldiers.
And now, as a writer in New York City, Schiller is weighing her family's history again. "We all inherit this legacy," she says. "There's an interesting distinction between forgetting, willful ignorance and learned ignorance."

Her mother knows all about that.
National Parks Service photo from the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
Susan Davis is a professor of Communication and Library Science at the University of Illinois, and one of her classes focuses on history and memory. She grew up in Philadelphia and had heard about her august great-great-grandfather. But despite spending summers in Colorado, she didn't know anything about Sand Creek until she was reading a book for college -- it might have been Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- and remembers being stunned. She later encouraged her daughter's explorations.
Because of Davis's background in academia, she was particularly interested in the report released earlier this month by the University of Denver John Evans Study Committee, which found Evans culpable for the Sand Creek Massacre; one of her Illinois colleagues had served on the Northwestern commission that released its own report in May but stopped short of assigning responsibility. "Evans was my grandmother's grandfather, and I have always been struck by the deep silence in our family surrounding Sand Creek," Davis wrote the chair of DU's committee. "Your report seems to help Coloradans to a more moral and ethical stance toward the massacre and a deeper concept of responsibility."

Davis found the DU group's suggestions that the school acknowledge its physical presence on former tribal lands and expand its American Indian studies programs particularly important. "I know from being on this campus that it's not easy to be either Native American faculty or a Native American student," she says, noting that it took a threat from the NCAA to get the University of Illinois to dispense with its "horrific" Chief mascot. "We can't erase this, but we can talk about it," she adds. "Drawing attention to what used to take place on this landscape is really important and useful. We can't go back and undo stuff, but we can be more conscious. For Cheyenne and Arapaho people, it's so definitely not over."

Davis's cousin, Caroline Goodwin, was living in Sitka, Alaska, two decades ago when Native American author Simon Ortiz gave a workshop there. She remembers pulling his poetry book From Sand Creek off a shelf, reading the introduction -- and discovering John Evans's connection to the massacre. "I had this wonderful great-great-grandfather who had done all these wonderful things, and I felt like I had just uncovered this really dark truth," she recalls.
Living in Alaska, she was all too aware of what has been done to indigenous people. "I've always been interested in the concept of carried shame," she says, "how we carry family secrets regardless of who we are -- and how we carry pain."

She carried hers with her when she moved to California in 1999, for the Wallace Stegner Fellowship in poetry at Stanford University. She carried it with her to San Mateo County, where she is now the poet laureate; she has a book, Peregrin, coming out next spring.

And this fall, acknowledging that shameful burden, she finally wrote a poem, titled "i will not say," which she dedicated to the descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre. "Truth can be so healing; the secrets are so toxic," she says. "It was an extremely painful and evil past...and it wasn't that long ago."
Here's the poem, reprinted with her permission:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The American Psychological Association Executive/CIA Torture Program

      In recent news:

      The CIA, as Eric Lichtblau has reported, settled many Nazi war criminals in the United States and long protected them against prosecution - see here.

       The CIA illegally stonewalls the release of the Senate report on torture, bugging and thieving from the Senate Committee which, under our Constitution's separation and balance of powers,  supposedly oversees it - see here -...

     The CIA presided over the Bush administration's torture and murder of prisoners (100 homicides in American custody by Pentagon statistics...).  They corrupted and suborned the leadership of the American Psychological Association to oversee and participate in torture.


      The description in James Risen's New York Times article yesterday - below - of the desperate meeting of the psychologist/torturers in the US 'intelligence" apparatus with the leadership of the APA following the released photographs about Abu Ghraib and trying to hide the obvious is hilarious - these are the keystone cops of "intelligence" -  though the light this meeting casts on a kind of pseudo-neutral, "value-free" "professionalism" in the social sciences (political science as well) which serves the Pentagon and the CIA is anything but.


     With regard to a decent life for human beings, social science is never "value free" (see my  Democratic Individuality, ch. 1).   Minimally, writers on society, including would-be "scientists," need to seek the truth.  Being value neutral between truth and error or ideology or knowing falsehood is self-refuting and despite any serious accomplishments in research, laughable.  The grain of insight misstated in this methodological doctrine is that researchers should challenge their own biases, a derivate or subordinate neutrality given the primary goal of seeking the truth.


     Behavioral psychology is not physics; in fact, a psychology which spurns Freud's discovery of the unconscious has little hope of being a serious - in a particular and different domain  of thinking (Dudley Shapere) - equivalent of physics...


      Worse, these activities not only are neither "neutral" nor professional; they are evil.


      Other professional associations, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association have  rightly barred their members from carrying out such war crimes (even the FBI and some CIA professionals withdrew - see here).


      For torture is, of course, also ineffective, useful only for widely scaring people and producing hatred for the United States' government - Richard Cheney's "going to the dark side"  - but not for getting useful information Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator  gained the confidence of prisoners like Abu Zubaydah - see here; it was destroyed by Mitchell and Jesson, the two "psychologists," trotted out under the zealous and foolish leadership of CIA director George Tenet.  In the SERE program, Mitchell and Jesson had only simulated "Chinese Communist' torture on American prisoners, i.e. they had no experience in actually eliciting information from prisoners (one really can't make this stuff up....).


    People who knew something at the center of the "Bells and Whistles" Bush administration were in short supply...

    Followers of Leo Strauss like Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol as well as itinerant, one might say foolish  neocons made overt aggression in the Middle East - the unprovoked attack on Iraq (see Article 2, Section 4 of the United Nations Charter, for the relevant international and American law against aggression (treaties signed by the US are by the Supremacy Clause, Article 6 section 2 of the Constitution) - and torture hallmarks of American policy.

    (Unfortunately, the Democratic neo-neo cons, advisors for "humanitarian intervention" who bellow for war - the criterion for "face time" on tv, as Leslie Gelb later confessed, in the corrupt commercial media - are little better).


    A revolt from below in the American Psychological Association challenged the leadership and forced much of the information about this nexus of criminality into the light of day.


     It is often hard in a democracy, even in normal, hierarchical organizations, to maintain anti-democratic evil in secret...


     James Risen, a New York Times reporter (see below) has written a powerful book on the crimes committed by the US government during this period, its creation of widespread enmity in the Middle East (in a recent poll by the Arab Center for Research and Public Policy, 90% of those interviewed in several countries,  oppose ISIS, 77% American policy in the Middle East...), and its mind boggling stupidity and ineffectualness (let's see - after the truce of IS and Al Qaeda, what horse is Obama betting American troops and respectability on in Syria...?)


      Why does a democracy need large secret police organizations, doing frequent horrific - enough to make bursts of big news even in the corporate press - and stupid crimes? (What did the CIA get from recruiting Talcott Parsons, the famous Harvard sociologist, to debrief Nazi war criminals before resettling them in the US?  What positive accomplishments came from von Braun and others (the University of Denver track coach when I arrived was Edgars Laipeneks, formerly "the Butcher of Riga"...- h/t Doug Vaughan)?


    Why is our "Executive" supposedly helped by such activities?


     Why has Obama made himself an accomplice to torturers - refusing to prosecute a single one - while threatening to put James Risen in jail for revealing government spying on Americans.  Listen to a striking interview with Risen here.


       Does militarism/the CIA run the President or the President the CIA?.


       Why did the editors of the New York Times, engaging in embarrassingly anti-journalistic activity, suppress the story on Bush administration crimes - spying on Americans - a month before the 2004 election and, thus, throw the election to Bush (see here)?


      Drone murders of innocents have made people hate the US widely and justifiably, since Obama assumed office. Obama has protected  the torturers in the CIA as well  the officials of the Bush administration - only Colin Powell appears actually to have opposed torture, since any military leader can understand that if "we" torture "enemy" prisoners, it is an invitation to or provides legitimacy for "them" to torture Americans.   Obama has so far also protected the criminal - lying to Congress for a start, overseeing torture under Bush, moderating "terror Tuesdays" at the White House to pick some of those to be offed with drones, and the like - and loathsome CIA director John Brennan...


     Piece by piece, the war complex - the military-industrial-congressional-political-intelligence-foreign generals purchasing/using US military equipment with American "aid"-media complex - needs to be looked at. That our society or the world can survive this kind of militarism in combination with global warming (read Martin Luther King's speech on Vietnam here) in this century is doubtful.


    In any case, the thought that we, as a people, would be better off if we abolished the action arm of the CIA(/intelligence agencies), restricting it to gathering knowledge, though not by spying on Americans, that we  would be better off blocking its infamous crimes of which suborning social science is but one  (overthrowing some 15 nonwhite democracies during and after the Cold War, too, leaps to mind), is important and deserves to be meditated on.


New York Times:
"Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations
By JAMES RISEN NOV. 13, 2014

WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest organization of psychologists will conduct an independent review into whether it colluded with or supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration.
The American Psychological Association said in a statement released late Wednesday that its board had named David H. Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, to conduct the review.  
For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and behavioral scientists in the development and implementation of the Bush-era interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well as by critics within the psychological profession itself. Psychologists were involved in developing the enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, a number of psychologists, in the military and in the intelligence community, were involved in carrying out and monitoring interrogations.

In an interview, Mr. Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor and onetime inspector general of the city of Chicago, emphasized the independence of his investigation. “We will go wherever the evidence leads,” he said.
Some longtime critics praised the move by the group. “The A.P.A.’s action is a long-needed step toward an independent review of their post-9/11 activities,” said Stephen Soldz, a professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. “It is vital that this review be fully independent and comprehensive in nature.”
Critics like Mr. Soldz have said that the participation of psychologists allowed the Bush administration to argue that the interrogations did not constitute torture because they and other behavioral scientists were monitoring the interrogations to make sure they remained “safe, legal and effective.” Psychiatrists were not as willing to cooperate with the interrogation programs.
In particular, the critics have cited the association’s 2002 decision to modify its ethics rules that in effect gave greater professional cover to psychologists who had been helping to monitor and oversee interrogations.
The most important change was a new guideline that made it clear that if a psychologist faced a conflict between the A.P.A.’s ethics code and a lawful order, the psychologist could follow the law. Critics say this introduced the Nuremberg defense into American psychology — following orders was an acceptable reason to violate professional ethics.
“It’s sad that the A.P.A., rather than protecting its members from engaging in interrogation activities, bent its rules to allow their participation in those interrogations,” Mr. Soldz said.
The association has long defended the profession’s activities as well as itself against critics who have questioned whether the organization helped make it easier for psychologists to remain involved with the government’s interrogation program, even after the Abu Ghraib scandal set off a public debate about the program.
In its statement, the association said that its decision to appoint an independent reviewer was prompted by questions raised about the relationship between the psychological profession and the government agencies involved in the torture program in the new book, “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War,” by this reporter.
The book uses the email archive of Scott Gerwehr, a behavioral researcher with ties to the C.I.A. and other agencies who died in 2008, to provide a glimpse at the network of psychologists, academic researchers, contractors and intelligence and Pentagon officials who formed the behavioral science infrastructure that grew up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to support the Bush administration’s war on terror.
Most notable, the emails reveal that after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2004, the association was eager to get out in front of the controversy by developing new professional guidelines for psychologists involved in interrogations. The group created a committee to study the matter, and in 2005 issued a report that, in effect, enabled psychologists involved in the Bush interrogation program to continue. A number of psychologists and human rights advocates have been critical of the work of that committee, known as the PENS Task Force, ever since.
Mr. Gerwehr’s emails show for the first time the degree to which behavioral science experts from within the government’s national security apparatus played roles in shaping the outcome of the A.P.A. task force. The emails show that in July 2004, just months after the graphic photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib were publicly disclosed, association officials convened a private meeting of psychologists who worked at the C.I.A., the Pentagon and other national security agencies to provide input on how the association should deal with the “unique ethical issues” raised for psychologists in the wake of the Abu Ghraib disclosures.
After the A.P.A. task force effectively endorsed the continued involvement of psychologists in the interrogation program, one association official wrote, in an email on which Mr. Gerwehr was copied, that he wanted to thank an intelligence official for helping to influence the outcome of the task force. “Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force members,” the A.P.A. official wrote.
The association’s statement suggested, however, that Mr. Hoffman’s investigation would range far more widely than the relatively narrow questions raised by Mr. Gerwehr’s emails detailed in the book."