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Speech: “Imperialism, racism, and torture”


This is the text of a speech I gave at a panel Stanford Says No to War hosted called “It’s All About U.S.: Questioning U.S. Militarism”. This speech was given on May 26th, 2010 and is the last speech I gave at Stanford.

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During the Nuremberg Trials, the chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, famously stated: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” America has a long history of war and its accumulated evils. It began as thirteen small colonies that sat along the Atlantic coast. In over a century, the United States expanded all the way to the Pacific Ocean – from sea to shining sea. The process was not pretty. It involved the genocide of the native Americans and the enslavement of millions of black Africans whose free labor was needed to fuel the American capitalist economy. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States began to colonize other lands, such as Hawaii, the Philippines and Cuba. Since then, it has occupied and militarily intervened in several parts of the globe, such as in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. And let’s not forget the many democratically-elected leaders America overthrew in places like Chile and Iran. The United States currently occupies two countries – Iraq and Afghanistan – and has a network of over 700 bases across the planet. Thus, the United States is an empire. Read the rest of this entry »

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Washington Post (Incorrectly) Asserts that Torture Worked


Trying to provide a justification for the effectiveness of torture, the Washington Post published an article, on August 29, called “How a Detainee Became An Asset: Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding”. The article’s main argument can summed up in these paragraphs:

“After enduring the CIA’s harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency’s secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called ‘terrorist tutorials.’…

These scenes provide previously unpublicized details about the transformation of the man known to U.S. officials as KSM from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its ‘preeminent source’ on al-Qaeda. This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques….

[F]or for defenders of waterboarding, the evidence is clear: Mohammed cooperated, and to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the inspector general’s report and other documents released this week indicate.”

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