Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Los Angeles, California,
December 31
Professor of Sociology
Cal Poly Pomona
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at, (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

FEBRUARY 21, 2009 9:17PM

Obama: Bagram Prisoners Be Damned

Rate: 4 Flag

Contrary to his public pronouncements about taking the "moral high ground," "restoring due process," ending torture, and that "no one is above the law," the Obama administration yesterday declared that the hundreds of prisoners in Bagram, Afghanistan being held by US forces, and subjected to torture and murder since our invasion of Afghanistan, do not have the right to challenge their indefinite detentions or the fact that they have been tortured. They are, according to this new White House, outside the law that the Obama team has made such a fetish of claiming that they uphold. 

"This Court’s Order of January 22, 2009 invited the Government to inform the Court by February 20, 2009, whether it intends to refine its position on whether the Court has jurisdiction over habeas petitions filed by detainees held at the United States military base in Bagram, Afghanistan," Acting Assistant Obama Attorney General Michael Hertz [an apropos name!] wrote in a brief filed Friday. "Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position." 

"Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position." 

Having considered the matter, the Obama administration adheres to the previously articulated position of the Bush administration, despite the fact that the legitimacy of the Obama administration, the reason that so many people were overjoyed to see him elected and to see the Bush team out of office, was because they thought that Obama was going to right these wrongs and make things different. Just how wrong this idea was is becoming clearer by the day to people who are paying attention. 

Obama - who ran on a platform of "change" - has, by this action, placed himself to the RIGHT of the Scalia/Thomas/Alito/Roberts et al Court and in consonance with the Bush regime on Bagram.

He has determined that change doesn't mean ending the torturous treatment of people who have been mostly incarcerated by bounty hunters (including jealous neighbors) and by Afghan warlords who seek to scapegoat innocents such as Dilawar, the taxi driver guilty of nothing and murdered in custody by beatings by US personnel,  featured in the Oscar winning documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side:"

"On the day of his death, Dilawar had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days. A guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling. 'Leave him up,' one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying. Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned that most of the interrogators had in fact believed Mr. Dilawar to be an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time."  (The Times)

Having considered the matter, the American people who previously adhered to the position that Obama represents a “change” from Bush, hereby reconsider the matter. So much, after all, is riding on this. The Dilawars of the world are counting on us to do what must be done. 

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there is not much joy in saying 'i told you so'.

once more, for the slow learners: replacing one politician with another just gets you another politician. the constraints of office preclude real reform from within, even if the motivation were there, which it can not be.

there is no easy substitute for the american people, it's either democracy, or injustice, incompetence, and ever spreading corruption.
What Obama is doing now that he is president is merely following the path that he had charted while a Senator - decisions he made to vote for egregious laws, to not oppose bills through filibuster, and in the logic of his statements and positions - e.g., expressing his opposition to the Military Commissions Act on the grounds that it was "sloppy" and the occupation and invasion of Iraq was "stupid" rather than opposing them for the right reasons - all showed clearly where he really stood. Hopefully, Americans who have been deluded by wishful thinking and taken in by his charm and eloquence will wake up to the truth, Ruth.
I wanted to know one thing.

Among the congress persons, how popular is this Afghanistan war? Is there any hope that The Congress could stop it by denying giving any more money for it?

In my opinion the war in Afghanistan is not at all more right or correct than the war in Iraq.
Hannu: Left to themselves, Congress is probably even more supportive of the Afghanistan occupation than the Iraq occupation. This is to a large extent because Obama has made a big point of claiming that Afghanistan is a "good" war vs. Iraq being a "bad" one. You are correct that they are both bad wars. Congress continued to fund the Iraq occupation even after the Democrats took over the majority in 2007 because voters wanted the occupation to be ended. They gave Bush, in fact, MORE money for that occupation than Bush himself asked for!
What al loomis said. Plus, when the dem's are in power, their wars are always "good" wars and repub wars are always "bad" wars. Immoral double standard. rated.
So in reality you've got very little hope to get American elected political structures to end Afghanistan war...

In this situation, what should peaceful citizens do?

I think that you should investigate the legal system to find out, if everything those war mongers are doing is legal. Is for example exactly according to laws that American weapons and troops are used in Pakistan to kill its citizens?

The other thing is that Pakistan authorities are seemingly getting enough of Americans killing civilians in their land. There is some hope that the alliance with Pakistan would get less and less warm and Pakistanis would make more problems for Americans to use their land area for attacking Afghanistan areas besides Pakistan areas. Maybe Pakistan people could put more pressure on Americans by even starting legal cases against American troops acting in the area of Pakistan.

But on the other hand America is clearly looking for more help from India, which is willing to give it, mainly because the present administration in India wants to make harm to Pakistan...
Attacking a country that has not attacked you, as Obama is doing to Pakistan (and Afghanistan and Iraq), is, according to the UN Charter, the supreme war crime.

Let me recommend an article at that went up yesterday by Uzma Khan:

You'll also find other articles on Pakistan by myself and others if you do a keyword search at the website.
"according to the UN Charter, the supreme war crime. "

Yes, sure. And I know abou that.

But America and American presidents don't care about the UN Carter, as we well know.

But is it the Crime according to the American law?

For example according to the law of Finland during the time of the second world war, the president of Finland could not start a war against a country, which didn't attack Finland. (So they just moved the big German army into Finland and waited for the Soviet Union to start the war against Finland and against the German army in Finland, after Germany already attacked Soviet Union from the Germany area...)

If it is not allowed according to the law of the United States of America to attack Afghanistan while Afghanistan did not attack America, American citizens could take the president into the law court in America?
Hannu: US law recognizes and adopts the UN Charter, or at least it did until Bush and Cheney declared unilaterally that it didn't. Obama is carrying forward this path blazed by B and C.

You can't take them to court unless you've created a social atmosphere through a political movement in the society that demands this. The courts themselves aren't the solution. Political upheaval is.
"You can't take them to court unless you've created a social atmosphere through a political movement in the society that demands this."

So some politicians are above the law. I think that you (and "we") shouldn't accept such a situation.

Obama is telling openly that "nobody is above the law" and then next openly puts somebody above the law.

Either he doesn't remember his own words or he is telling that we cannot do anything against him even if he would be doing criminal things. Neither of those possibilities can be accepted.
What I meant was that you COULD take them to court, but nothing would happen unless there was a movement powerful enough outside of court to put these hypocrites and criminals on trial.
Some reflections. I've been many years doing research and teaching philosophy.

Yes I agree. 'nothing would happen unless there was a movement powerful enough outside of court'.

'In the west' people (living in the atmosphere of the moral relativity) think mainly that morality and the right conduct is defined by the living people in the society. People are tempted to think that their elected leaders have got more moral authority than others, just for the reason because they were elected to be leaders.

That kind of thinking way can be very dangerous as we have seen. In reality leaders are not elected by the common citizens, but by powerful elites, who put a few selected candidates for people's choice. Those elites and their selected candidates have often got their own moral thinking ways differing from the rest of the people. That is because they want to stay as elites, keep their power and monies with any cost.

Some Asian societies seem to be a bit different. I've been many years (in Nepal and also outside Nepal) watching things happening in Nepal during the big political and social changes. Many times the supreme court and its lawyers had the upper hand over the politicians, if it needed to be decided, what is right or wrong.

That happens partly because in the changing situations people understand easily that politicians' power will probably not last long and earlier fixed laws, even if they are bound to be changed soon, too, are anyway more trustworthy.

But in that society, which is heavily influenced by Hinduism, there are other reasons, why many people are thinking that there are laws above the people and professional lawyers above politicians. One of the main ideas of Hinduism is the principle of eternal, universal law, 'Dharma'. 'Dharma', 'the duty' or 'the universal law' is above all the people and holds for everyone according to that persons position in the society. Hindu society has been as well based on hierarchies. People's duties and 'dharma' depend on the person's position and occupation in the society. Even if the universal law is eternal and not decided by the people themselves, the universal law is telling different things to different people.

'In the west' people are mainly thinking that all the people are equal. especially equal under the accepted laws. But on the other hand most of the people think that laws were fixed by the people themselves.

It can easily happen that some people who got the power ('to be more equal than others') to fix the laws themselves will make such kind of laws and fix such kinds of customs, which are very beneficial for themselves only, not for the others.

I think that we need nowadays more global or universal thinking ways than we were accustomed earlier. It cannot be accepted that one country, which happens to have more powerful weapons than some others can attack other countries just because leaders in that powerful country want to do so.
"As I am living up a mountain in Sri Lanka without a TV or radio I have never heard Obama speak." -- Padraig Colman

I think you have hit the nail right on the head Padraig! People joke saying "it's in the water" about traits some people show that seem peculiar enough for others to count on.

Well, the "peculiar" habits of us Americans come from the TV sets in all of our homes. The "drug" that America is on, the one that enables "us" to murder blameless people abroad by the million with no qualms or "pangs of conscience", is TV.

Turn off your TV and radio and you will become a changed person. "You are what you eat", said someone, and it applies to "news" and views of the world you consume as well.

Three months without the FCM (Fawning Corporate Media) and you will be a new person. You can't honestly say you'll miss anything if you turn it off. "Chewing gum for the eyes" and ears. There's no nutrition there. In fact... it's poison.
Hannu: Thanks so much for your observations about Hinduism and about principles.
I think there is one thing we could now learn from M.K. (Mahatma) Gandhi.

Gandhi was clearly successful in his campaigns against British, because he knew thinking ways and laws of Englishmen very well. Gandhi was educated as barrister in Great Britain.

Gandhi knew that British will in most cases do according to their own accepted laws, if shown what their laws say. In many cases British were working against their own laws in India, but when Gandhi managed to show that it was against their own laws they accepted the law against their misconduct.

I think that Americans of the present are not much worse than British people were during the time of Gandhi.

If people can show that the president of America is acting against American laws when attacking a country, which didn't attack America, the president most probably has to start following the law and stop his misconduct. If the president is openly breaking laws, the whole society will go in chaos?

International laws can easily be broken in many cases and in many countries, because they were settled by some other people. But it is much harder for any politician, for example for a president to break the laws of his own country. Presidents are there to represent the laws of the country, not to work against the laws.