Friday, October 5, 2007

Danger! Drama! Laughter! Tears!

Minor key, mostly, just life...except for the tears (rage, sadness) from last night, listening to Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend being interviewed on CNN. She absolutely denied that the U.S. uses torture and absolutely refused to deny that waterboarding was one of the techniques used by U.S. interrogators. From AFP:
"We start with the least harsh measures first," Townsend told CNN television. "It stops ... if someone becomes cooperative."
But witness statements from former prisoners held in secret CIA jails or in the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have all testified to the use of systematic, and at times unchecked, of alternative interrogation techniques.
Former detainees, most of whom have been released without charge after several years in detention, have told of being held for months in solitary confinement.
They complained of being denied sleep, barred from seeing daylight, left naked in tiny, suffocating or freezing cells, forced to stand for hours in painful positions or being subjected to the onslaught of loud music."
I just can't believe this is my country, and that we've been so POWERLESS to stop this evil.
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Started out this morning running just a little behind, heading for a meeting in Holyoke. As I pulled onto Rt. 91, I noticed the air smelled like gasoline/oil. By the time I got to Rt. 391, I started wondering if I'd put my gascap back on the night before. (But of course I had, I knew that.) Pulled over on Main St. in Holyoke, puled under the car, gas was practically pouring from somewhere.
What to do? Triple A expired, or I'd have called them from there, but I don't have a cellphone anyway. So I decided to head back to Springfield as quickly as possible, before I ran out of gas, and made it (barely) to my garage. I'd grabbed the first book I put my hand on off my bookshelf this morning, so I sat outside and smoked cigarettes and read Sherlock Holmes VS. Dracula, or the Adventure of the Sanguinary Count, while my car was fixed (leak in the gas line).

"You might get sunburned sitting there," a familiar voice said, and I looked (way) up to see my friend Billy. I knew him from Sanctuary City. He looked great-- khakis with a sharp press, clean white tee-shirt tucked in, hair cut (as usual) a half inch from his scalp.

"Last I heard, you were in jail," I said.

"I did end up going back-- served out my time, so it's for the best," he said. "I'm still with Sandy," he said, some ruefulness in his voice; he knows I don't think she's good for him. "In fact, I'm on my way to see her now, she's in the hospital, she got a brain infection from shooting up."

"And you?" I said.

"I'm clean," he said, which might have even been true; he's gone long periods with his addiction inactive.

"Where are you staying?"

"I'm camping out," he grinned. "I know, doesn't look like it, does it?"

We talked a bit more and then the guy came out and said my car was ready, so we hugged and said goodbye.

Got in my car, which still reeked, and headed for the closest gas station.

"Hey, how you doing?" someone said from the next pump up.

"Hey!" It was Sonny, who I'd also known from Sanctuary City. When Sanctuary City closed, Sonny had moved in with a friend, gotten a little job, then got a beat-up pick-up truck, and now he supports himself doing carpentry and odd jobs. We chatted a couple of minutes, I got another hug, which was nice, then I headed for my office.

I have not stopped thinking about homeless people; I keep up with what's going on, and seeing Billy and Sonny freshened my thoughts. Of course I thought first of both of them, what different places they're in, how one has seemed to succeed while the other is still in the shadows. Yet Billy, like all of us, is on a journey, and the journey's not finished, and I'm not willing to think I know what his end will be.

Worthington St. shelter is full; people are sleeping on cots in the kitchen. A lot of folks are still camping out, thanks to global warming. The city forced the Open Pantry's Warming Place shelter to close but now is trying to get $40,000 out of the state for an emergency overflow shelter, seeing as plans to house homeless people have not developed quite as quickly as publicly promoted. (That's sarcasm.) I can't predict this winter, although it does seem the city is determined not to leave any opening for criticism.

Finally I got back to my office. Miss Lizzie, my senior aide, had left by then, but I had an odd feeling I was not alone. A few minutes later I heard what I thought was a bird-- possibly above the dropped ceiling? I started straightening up and when I picked up a small bag of grapes off the table, a creature flew out from behind and dashed under a desk so quickly it took me a few seconds to realize it was a chipmunk.

The chipmunk did not emerge even though I moved boxes and rattled papers all around, so I left my office door to the outside open all afternoon but as far as I know, the chipmunk was still inside when I left. (I'd put out a bowl of water and a few crackers; better a live animal than a dead one on Tuesday.)

Much organizing to do this weekend.

3 comments:

Bill Dusty said...

Michaelann,

If it makes you feel any better, the enemy beheads, tortures, and kills every single one of our captured guys. And they don't even care if they are liberals or conservatives.

War is not about being humane and nice - not with the folks we are fighting. Nations do not win wars by being nice. They win them by making the enemy not want to fight any more.

We are failing in that regard, because too many of us cannot bring ourselves to destroy those who want us dead. That is the only thing I am concerned about.

I want those who want Americans dead to be killed. You can dislike me for that if want. But if *they* get their way, you are going to die. If I get *my* way, you are going to live.

Michaelann Bewsee said...

I actually don't care what people THINK, I care what they DO. Most of the people tortured by our interrogators were released because they actually knew nothing of significance and were not part of any plot against us. Of course, being tortured for nothing might conceivably turn them into people who actively hate us.

We have been very successful in Iraq in turning the population into ACTIVE U.S> haters, and it didn't have to be that way.

Michaelann Bewsee said...

PS. Thanks for keeping me alive in your world. Vice versa.