statism watch

Soros Sees ‘Act II’ of Financial Crisis, Blames ‘Market Fundamentalism’ Again

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

The following is the text of a speech Soros gave at the Institute of International Finance in Vienna. It’s actually rather interesting to plough through, as a number of puzzles have been tabled for our consideration. However, this is time elegantly wasted, for it misses the point. His analogy of the delicate two-stage operation to correct the course of a skidding car is brilliant in that it highlights precisely what is wrong with Keynesian monetary policy – as bubbles collapse, the inflationary manipulation of an economy requires policy makers to have that sense of precisely when the tires begin to find purchase in the gravel to turn the wheel. Or, perhaps a boarding analogy would be apt – on either water or snow, you’re riding the knife’s edge of a system of balanced factors atop a wave. Toe forward or back a little too much and you’re face forward into the surf. However, this is where Soros’ analogy breaks down, because his argument is premised on Keynesian market manipulation as a given, as a natural process. In reality, it’s no more natural than using a magic power to mess with our driver/surfer by altering the coefficient of friction of the road surface, or the viscosity of water on the fly – it introduces a third variable which markets are ill-equipped to compensate for. Drivers should not have to worry about the additional risk of driving into quicksand, or snowboarders into slush, any more than is natural. Yet this is what happens when you manipulate the money supply, this is the root of moral hazard.

Soros, true to form, is again blaming the ‘unseen hand’ of markets for the rather more prosaic hands-on activities of regulators that monkey with the delicate machinery of economic systems. Even on the most benevolent interpretation of the motivations of our money masters, a political dimension is introduced whereby the choices of influential market actors (large private and central banks granted the ability to inflate currency through leverage or the creation of money) creates a situation where ‘reflexivity’ is amplified and even the most experienced surfer of economic waves not privy to the additional variable is wiped out.

Soros’ suggested tonic for the action of the third variable? To introduce a fourth variable and grant regulators the power to manipulate the viscosity of credit. Surely we can see where this is headed. To find the tonic, visit the Von Mises Institute website, which advocates the opposing ‘Austrian’ economic theory.

Related: Soros warns Europe of disintegration | Man who broke the Bank of England, George Soros, ‘at centre of hedge funds plot to cash in on fall of the euro’ | Davos 2010: George Soros warns gold is now the ‘ultimate bubble’, calls for IMF to handle climate fund | George Soros Calls for World Currency and “New World Architecture” | Soros: China Will Lead New World Order | Soros points out regulated markets fail to operate on market fundamentals, calls for more regulation

George Soros, The New York Times
June 10, 2010

In the week following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15, 2008 – global financial markets actually broke down, and by the end of the week, they had to be put on artificial life support. The life support consisted of substituting sovereign credit for the credit of financial institutions, which ceased to be acceptable to counterparties.

As Mervyn King of the Bank of England brilliantly explained, the authorities had to do in the short term the exact opposite of what was needed in the long term: they had to pump in a lot of credit to make up for the credit that disappeared, and thereby reinforce the excess credit and leverage that had caused the crisis in the first place. Only in the longer term, when the crisis had subsided, could they drain the credit and re-establish macroeconomic balance.

This required a delicate two-phase maneuver just as when a car is skidding. First you have to turn the car into the direction of the skid and only when you have regained control can you correct course.

The first phase of the maneuver has been successfully accomplished – a collapse has been averted. In retrospect, the temporary breakdown of the financial system seems like a bad dream. There are people in the financial institutions that survived who would like nothing better than to forget it and carry on with business as usual. This was evident in their massive lobbying effort to protect their interests in the Financial Reform Act that just came out of Congress. But the collapse of the financial system as we know it is real, and the crisis is far from over.


Why Governments Hate Gold

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Related: Into the Abyss: The Cycle of Debt Deflation | Europe and America Morally and Financially Bankrupt | Terence Corcoran: The rise of global statism | Stimulating our way into debt crises | The Federal Reserve as Giant Counterfeiter | The Keynesian quagmire | Nassim Taleb on the economy: ‘We still have the same disease’ | Statistical Deceptions: How Fake is the “Recovery”? | Headed to National Socialism | The Illustrated Road to Serfdom | Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Ron Paul, Campaign for Liberty
June 8, 2010

A Walking Liberty gold piece from a time before the establishment of the privately-held Federal Reserve. The face value of $20 is illustrative of the relationship between hard currency and fiat money, subject to inflation and dilution. Today, this coin is worth over $1500.

This past week several emerging and ongoing crises took attention away from the ongoing sovereign debt problems in Greece. The bailouts are merely kicking the can down the road and making things worse for taxpaying citizens, here and abroad. Greece is unfortunately not unique in its irresponsible spending habits. Greek-style debt explosions are quickly spreading to other nations one by one, and yes, the United States is one of the dominoes on down the line.

Time and again it has been proven that the Keynesian system of big government and fiat paper money are abject failures in the long run. However, the nature of government is to ignore reality when there is an avenue that allows growth in power and control. Thus, most politicians and economists will ignore the long-term damage of Keynesianism in the early stage of a bubble when there is the illusion of prosperity, suggesting that the basic laws of economics had been repealed. In fact, one way to tell if a bubble is about to burst is if economists start talking about how the government and the Central Bank have repealed the business cycle.

The truth is the laws of economics are constant and real, no matter how inconvenient they might be to politicians and bankers. This reality is setting in and the bills are coming due. In the mean time, countries that have no money have bailed out other countries that have no money, except for the phony money created by politicians, bureaucrats, and their partners-in-crime at the central banks. This may be preventing big well-connected banks from having to take on massive losses, but it is all at the expense of the taxpaying citizen.

As governments and central banks continue the cycle of spending and inflating, the purchasing power of their currencies is constantly being degraded. These currencies are what the people are working for and saving. This inflation guts the savings and earnings of the people, who have very limited options for protecting themselves against these ravages. One option is to convert their fiat currency into something out of reach of central banks and government spending, such as gold or silver.

It is fairly typical in the midst of economic crises like these for gold to come under attack from Keynesians economists and their amen corner in the media. The arguments against gold are usually straw men, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of buying gold. Gold is not a typical investment. It is a defense against the predictable behavior of governments to debase a fiat currency under its absolute control. The people who run the printing presses have trouble shutting them off. In order to limit one’s exposure to this reckless behavior, it is wise to exchange unsound assets for sound ones.


Into the Abyss: The Cycle of Debt Deflation

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Related: Europe and America Morally and Financially Bankrupt | Terence Corcoran: The rise of global statism | Stimulating our way into debt crises | The Federal Reserve as Giant Counterfeiter | The Keynesian quagmire | Nassim Taleb on the economy: ‘We still have the same disease’ | Statistical Deceptions: How Fake is the “Recovery”? | Headed to National Socialism | The Illustrated Road to Serfdom | Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

June 2, 2010

One of the most famous quotations of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises is that “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency involved.” In fact, the US economy is in a downward spiral of debt deflation despite the bold actions of the federal government and of the US Federal Reserve taken in response to the financial crisis that began in 2008 and the associated recession. Although the vicious circle of debt deflation is not widely recognized, precisely what von Mises described is happening before our eyes.

A variety of positive economic data has been reported in recent months. Retail sales rose 0.4% in April 2010 as consumer spending rose and the US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 3%. In May 2010, home sales rose to a five-month high and consumer confidence rose 17% (from 57.7 to 63.3). Industrial production rose 0.8% and durable goods orders rose 2.9%, more than had been forecast. However, the modest gains reported represent the continuing adaptation of economic activity at dramatically lower levels compared to the pre-recession period and most of the reported gains have been substantially manufactured by massive government deficit spending.

Despite the widely reported green shoots, in May, the unemployment rate rose to 9.9% while paychecks in the private sector shrank to historic lows as a percentage of personal income, and personal bankruptcies rose. Roughly 14% of US mortgages are delinquent or in foreclosure, credit card defaults are rising and consumer spending hit 7 month lows. To make matters worse, the reported increase in consumer credit, in fact, points to a further deterioration because consumers appear to be borrowing to service existing debt. Outside of the federal government, which is borrowing at record levels and expanding as a percentage of GDP, and outside of the bailed out financial sector, debt deflation has continued unabated since 2008.

Europe and America Morally and Financially Bankrupt

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Related: Terence Corcoran: The rise of global statism | Stimulating our way into debt crises | The Federal Reserve as Giant Counterfeiter | The Keynesian quagmire | Nassim Taleb on the economy: ‘We still have the same disease’ | Statistical Deceptions: How Fake is the “Recovery”? | Headed to National Socialism | The Illustrated Road to Serfdom | Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Bob Chapman, The International Forecaster
May 12, 2010

Greece Bailed out, 19 more nations to go, Greeks not ready to submit to austerity, Gold is the antithesis of Fiat money, false hope for jobs, Goldman Sachs under investigation, but they make money every quarter regardless…

Greece has its immediate financing. Now the question is can they follow the prescription? In all likelihood the answer is no, the bond markets are reflecting that via a lack of confidence. In fact, some bond markets are falling apart and there is no end in sight. We have bond rating firms lowering ratings, as the rating services themselves are under serious fire and we do not believe they will be around long. The big question is why did it take two years and 10 months to react?

There are 19 nations with serious sovereign debt problems and there is really no way back for them. They may as well all default, because the austerity programs they’d have to follow and at the same time to satisfy creditors, not only is impossible but it signals years of stunted growth and perhaps in many cases the possibility of revolution. Greece certainly fills that bill. We see the eurozone rules may soon be changed, so that eurozone participants can assist one another. That means in time they will all collapse together. As many as five members could need assistance of the 16 in the zone. Our guess is permanent bailouts will go forward and the ECB rules will be changed to allow the ECB to function like the Fed. Greece and many others are trapped and they will burden the healthy nations and neutralize them. This approach is the ECB nuclear option. It will destroy the zone eventually. This will destroy the euro and end the option of the euro becoming the world reserve currency. The zone would have adopted the same approach as the US and UK in destroying their currencies. How can you have a union with one interest rate, where the ECB controls the monetary policy, but cannot control the budget deficits, borrowing and spending activities of its members?


Wildlife documentaries infringe animals’ privacy, says report

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Okay… this journal simply couldn’t resist reposting this article. Consider the source – The University of East Anglia, home of the Climate Research Unit providing the cooked data that the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). Now, this comes out of an entirely different department at the University, but it should at least be illustrative of the mentality of some of the folks working in the insular garrets of the ivory tower. For the record, animal rights are bunk – those who can’t even define rights (a human political construct, moral principles defining and sanctioning man’s freedom of action in a social context) certainly can’t go around declaring new rights on the basis of emotional reactions to situations. (Spain, for example, has granted legal rights to apes.) Now, there are some moral issues around things like the senseless slaughter of animals, but that’s more a question of your internal psychology and a lack of respect for life than any purported rights animals possess. Articles like this serve only to confuse the issues around surveillance which we need a firm grasp of if we’re ever going to be able to effectively push back on a cultural level.

Related: Who counts as ‘human’?

Ian Sample, The Guardian
April 29, 2010

Wildlife documentary makers are infringing animals’ rights to privacy by filming their most private and intimate moments, according to a new study.

Footage of animals giving birth in their burrows or mating crosses an ethical line that film-makers should respect, according to Brett Mills, a lecturer in film studies at the University of East Anglia.

Mills compiled a report on animals’ rights to privacy after reviewing scenes from the BBC’s 2009 wildlife series “Nature’s Great Events”. Among the offending footage was film of a narwhal whale that appeared to have retreated from view beneath the Arctic ice sheet.

“Instead of thinking we’ll leave it alone, film-makers decide the only solution is to develop new technology so they can film it,” Mills said.

“We have an assumption that humans have some right to privacy, so why do we not assume that for other species, particularly when they are engaging in behaviour that suggests they don’t want to be seen?”

In 2008 the BBC was inundated with complaints after Springwatch presenter Bill Oddie described an encounter between two beetles: “He crash-lands on top of a likely looking lady. There’s a bit of luck! One thing’s for sure: this boy is horny!”


The Economist On Why Copyright Needs To Return To Its Roots

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Flashback: Big Content’s dystopian wish-list for the US gov’t: spyware, censorship, physical searches and SWAT teams | Thousands condemn secrecy of New Zealand round of internet copyright talks | ACTA Draft: No Internet for Copyright Scofflaws | Entire Text of ACTA Treaty Leaks to Online Rights Website | Revealed: ACTA to cover seven categories of intellectual property | New ACTA Leaks Complete Picture of Oppressive Global Copyright Treaty | EU Parliament votes down ACTA global copyright resolution by overwhelming margin | ACTA Internet Chapter Leaks: Renegotiates WIPO, Sets 3 Strikes as Model | ACTA Is Called An ‘Executive Agreement’ To Implement Restrictive Copyright With Less Hassle Than A Treaty | ACTA One Step Closer To Being Done; Concerns About Transparency Ignored | UK MPs frozen out of super-secret ACTA copyright talks | Reading Between The Still Secret Lines Of The ACTA Negotiations | Beyond ACTA: Proposed EU — Canada Trade Agreement Intellectual Property Chapter Leaks | New Leaks of Secret ACTA Copyright Law Reveal Oppressive ‘Global DMCA’ | MPAA Says Critics of Secret Copyright Treaty Hate Hollywood | ACTA Threatens Made-in-Canada Copyright Policy | More ACTA Details Leak: It’s An Entertainment Industry Wishlist | Six Days Left: Canadian Net Users Caught As Copyright Consultation Nears Conclusion | MP Charlie Angus on copyright: industry lobby pulling for ‘dead business model’ | Ottawa denies altering public’s ECopyright Consultation submissions | Security guards stop MPs, students from distributing fair use flyers at Toronto copyright townhall | Can The Public Be Heard On Copyright Issues? | Copyright Consultation Launches: Time For Canadians To Speak Out | Third stab at copyright law ‘reform’ to kick off with consultations | Time to slay Canadian file-sharing myths | Canadian copyright lobbyists leaned on “independent” researchers to change report on file-sharing | Think tank plagiarizes, pulls report on Canadian piracy | Obama Administration Claims Copyright Treaty Involves State Secrets | Latest Round of Closed-Door ACTA Copyright Negotiations Wrap Up | Digital rights groups sue for access to secret ACTA treaty | Critics waging a cyber offensive to fight copyright changes | Canadian Industry Minister lies about Canadian DMCA on national radio, then hangs up | The Canadian DMCA: Check the Fine Print | Government ready to drop copyright bomb | Transparency needed on ACTA | Revamped copyright law targets electronic devices | New Attempt to Align Canada’s Copyright Act with USA Coming Soon | Canadian DMCA To Be Introduced Tomorrow Morning?

Greg Fenton,
April 20, 2010

An article in The Economist from earlier this month highlights what many Techdirt readers know well: the current state vs the historical intent of copyright brought forward by The Statute Of Anne.

When Queen Anne gave her assent on April 10th the following year–300 years ago this week–to “An act for the encouragement of learning” they were less enthused. Parliament had given them rights, but it had set a time limit on them: 21 years for books already in print and 14 years for new ones, with an additional 14 years if the author was still alive when the first term ran out.

Thinking about the times, one could see how such a system might encourage the creation of more works of art. An artist is given a limited time on which they have a monopoly on the production of copies of their works, a limited time for exclusively monetizing their works via those copies. After 14, 21 or possibly 28 years, the author had better have another work available to copyright if they decide to continue living off the proceeds of their works.

But today’s rules give no such incentive. An artist that creates a popular work is almost guaranteed of being able to derive income from that single success well into their afterlife. Not only is the artist not incentivized to continue their creation, some of their descendant generations can rest on their laurels, allowing lawyers to gather income for them — often from well-intentioned future artists who actually are trying to create new work from the existing.

The Economist goes on to highlight:

Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right.


Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America

Monday, April 12th, 2010

And, no, he’s not just bashing the tea parties. (It’s a hopeful day that finds Noam Chomsky and Terence Corcoran writing around the same subject.)

Flashback: Terence Corcoran: The rise of global statism | Headed to National Socialism | The Illustrated Road to Serfdom | Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive Magazine
April 12, 2010

Noam Chomsky, the leading leftwing intellectual, warned last week that fascism may be coming to the United States.

“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.

Chomsky was speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, where he received the University of Wisconsin’s A.E. Havens Center’s award for lifetime contribution to critical scholarship.


Terence Corcoran: The rise of global statism

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Are you a Statist? Libertarian? On the ‘left’ or the ‘right’? Take The World’s Smallest Political Quiz and find out.

Related: Headed to National Socialism | The Illustrated Road to Serfdom | Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Terence Corcoran, The Financial Post
April 12, 2010

From Syncrude to Greece to China-U.S. currency and trade wars, global enterprise is threatened by rising state power

The greatest unresolved issue in global economics is the rapidly expanding role of governments. Daily events draw attention to the transformation underway, but there is little corresponding acknowledgment that the new world order may not be exactly what anybody really wants. Europe’s subsidized bailout of Greece at the expense of non-Greeks, the China-U.S. war over trade and currencies and the continuing expansion of state enterprises and sovereign wealth funds around the globe suggest world economic activity is shifting away from private enterprise and into the hands of state enterprise, with few questions being raised about the implications for the future.

The announcement yesterday that Sinopec, one of China’s national energy giants, will pay $4.65-billion for 9% of Canada’s oil sands pioneer, Syncrude, rekindles the issue of foreign ownership in Canada. The company selling the Syncrude stake, ConocoPhillips, is a private enterprise based in Houston. The Texas firm has world-wide operations based on a well-known corporate model – maximize profits for shareholders. ConocoPhillips has no nationality, answers to no government and has no access to state force to achieve its shareholder objectives.

Few Canadians object to ConocoPhillips role in the Canadian economy. But there is less enthusiasm for sovereign state corporations. An opinion survey released yesterday by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APFC) found that only 18% of Canadians would favour a Chinese state-owned enteprise buying a controlling stake on a Canadian company. Sinopec’s is not buying control of Syncrude, but the survey appears to reflect Canadian concerns about the role of a foreign-government controlled enterprise in Canada.

A China state takeover of a Canadian entity is an obvious next stage. Yuen Pau Woo, head of the APFC, said that “If Canada wants a share of Chinese investment capital, we will have to learn to live with state-owned companies.” There is more to come, said Mr. Woo. “With the likely appreciation of the renminbi, we can expect an even greater amount of Chinese outward investment in the years ahead.”

‘Anarchists’ Plan to Disrupt April 15 US Tea Party Protests

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Note that StatismWatch has no information as to whether Infoshop is NGO-funded or not. Their website (which has taken down the story referred to here for ‘technical reasons’) in fact asks for donations. The concerns Kurt Nimmo expresses below are, however, well founded. Any large organization of this kind is bound to have been infiltrated to some degree by Federal agents.

Update (2010/04/02): A followup to this article has been posted with additional information including the unmasking of Black Bloc protesters as federal provocateurs during the 1999 Seattle WTO protests.

Flashback: Black bloc taints anti-Olympic movement | Vancouver Olympics protesters fall silent as Black Bloc ruins it for everyone | Olympic protesters smash store windows | Provocateur Cops Caught Disguised As ‘Anarchists’ At Pittsburgh G20 | G20 police ‘used undercover men to incite crowds’ | G20 protests: Riot police, or rioting police? | Rioters Were Paid To Provoke the Police in Bulgaria | Greek Cops Caught on Video Posing as Anarchists | ACLU wants probe into police-staged DNC protest | Ex-Italian President: Provocateur Riots Then “Beat The Shit Out Of Protesters” | Police inspector posed as militant protester | Quebec police admit agents posed as protesters | Canadians who trust our secret police should think again

Kurt Nimmo,
April 1, 2010

Black bloc anarchists specialize in providing meaningless property damage for corporate media cameras. Is this the sort of behavior Tea Party activists can expect from anarchist counter-demonstrators on April 15 when the Tea Party movement plans to protest confiscatory taxation?

It is hardly surprising “anarchists” (now synonymous in many instances with government agents provocateurs) are calling for “crashing” Tea Party events. Government ops masquerading as anti-government activists often attack the real folks who oppose the government. Governments have run such false flag operations since time immemorial.

“On April 15th thousands of right-wingers will attend rallies in cities and towns across the United States,” writes the admin of Infoshop News. “The organizers of this nationwide day of protest call it a tea party. This tea party movement that emerged only a year ago is a coalition of conservatives, anti-Semites, fascists, libertarians, racists, constitutionalists, militia men, gun freaks, homophobes, Ron Paul supporters, Alex Jones conspiracy types and American flag wavers.”

No, the Tea Party movement came into existence as the Boston Tea Party in December of 2008, not that we should expect a suspicious gaggle of “anarchists” to get the facts straight, especially if the facts do not fit in the narrow confines of their ideology.

“The Libertarian Party of Illinois got the idea to hold an April 15, 2009 anti-tax ‘Boston Tea Party’ in Chicago way back in December of 2008. On February 10, 2009 they started a Facebook page and began promoting the website throughout the Illinois media,” writes Donny Ferguson of the Libertarian National Committee. “Of course, for the Libertarian Party every day is a Tea Party. We’ve been the only consistently pro-taxpayer party since our founding over 30 years ago.”

Apparently the bizarro world of corporate media dominated political propaganda has infected the “anarchists” (at least the Infoshop variety) who now sound like Democrats. Once upon a time, anarchism was a political philosophy that stood in opposition to government.


Bruce Anderson: We not only have a right to use torture. We have a duty

Monday, February 15th, 2010

This journal takes no pleasure in printing this disgusting screed, but since it has appeared in a major British daily, it demands a reply. And the reply is simply this: that, philosophically, there is no dichotomy between fact and value. There is no daylight to be found between the failed pragmatic calculation Mr. Anderson makes and its absolute immorality. Let us leave aside for the moment the knowledge that much of the terror being carried out today is backed by Western governments, which wholly moots Anderson’s factual assertion of some vast Islamic threat. Torture is still wrong because it is the opposite of human value: the sort of coercion that will destroy a man’s ability to control his bodily functions, to control the operation of his mind, to make him state that 2+2=5, will be of no practical use because the victim will simply tell you what he or she thinks you want to hear in order to stop the torture. You have no verifiability, you will fail in achieving your end, and you will destroy the moral basis of your nation’s existence in the process.

War is a dirty business to be sure, but it remains that the only justification for the use of force is its employment in the service of self defence. This however is not the nature of torture. Torture is naked destruction for its own sake. If it is your interest to stop a man’s actions, you do not torture him: you restrain, incapacitate, or kill him. If it is your interest to engage his mind, it is not destructive force that you employ. This is the wrong tool: brute physical coercion is the opposite of the free choice required for the use of one’s mind, and the only way to obtain the knowledge you want is through the cooperation of your prisoner. You require, at least, for them to believe they wish to cooperate with you. It is persuasion via interrogation, not torture, that is the appropriate tool here. Under the ‘life or death’ scenarios outlined below, deception, drugs, or psychological manipulation might be acceptable to create a cooperative situation in which the prisoner volunteers the information you desire. But even here, your prisoner could simply lie. If electronic mind reading techniques were ever be perfected, it is conceivable that technology might remove such a need for persuasion. But in the absence of such a technology, Bruce Anderson has created a moral case study in which there are no solutions. His entire argument is deceptive, perhaps deliberately so. And for this scumbag to suggest it is either practicable or moral to torture someone’s child in order to secure their cooperation is the worst sort of deception. To express it in print is to lay bare a naked evil on the page. Anderson’s torture apologia fails: it is torture, not terror, that is the threat to our way of life and our civilization.

Flashback: MI5 chief denies cover-up claims over detainees | UK Top judge: Binyam Mohamed case shows MI5 to be devious, dishonest and complicit in torture | Britain reveals details of Binyam Mohamed torture | US magazine claims Guantánamo inmates were killed during questioning | PM Harper downplays detainee torture scandal, prorogation | Ottawa won’t release Afghan torture documents | MPs vote public inquiry into Afghan detainees, Tories ignore majority motion | UK: Rights watchdog reveals Pakistani spies pressed by British to torture detainees | Colvin’s testimony true: former Afghan MP | UK: Move to withhold evidence in MI5/MI6 torture collusion claim | UK: New evidence in Binyam Mohamed torture case | UK: Secrets of CIA ‘ghost flights’ to be revealed | UK: CIA ‘put pressure on Britain to cover up its use of torture’ | Revealed — the secret torture evidence MI5 tried to suppress | Guantanamo’s closure window dressing — overseas CIA ‘black sites’ to stay | ‘If I didn’t confess to 7/7 bombings MI5 officers would rape my wife,’ claims torture victim | MI5 faces fresh torture allegations | UK: Government makes ‘unprecedented’ apology for covering up Binyam torture | Obama administration: Guantanamo detainees have ‘no constitutional rights’ | Tortured Guantanamo detainee set free | UK agents ‘colluded with torture in Pakistan’ | Obama backs Bush: No rights for Bagram prisoners | U.K. resident held at Gitmo alleges Canadian involvement in torture | Senior judges attack US over ‘torture evidence suppression’ | 24 star Keifer Sutherland opposed to torture, questions role of series in inspiring interrogations

Bruce Anderson, The Telegraph
February 15, 2010

Torture is revolting. A man can retain his human dignity in front of a firing squad or on the scaffold: not in a torture chamber. Torturers set out to break their victim: to take a human being and reduce him to a whimpering wreck. In so doing, they defile themselves and their society. In Britain, torture has been illegal for more than 300 years. Shortly after torture was abjured, we stopped executing witches: all part of a move away from medieval legal mores and their replacement with the modern rule of law. Until recently, at least in the UK, torture and witch-finding appeared to be safely immured in a museum of ancient atrocities.

Yet men cannot live like angels. However repugnant we may find torture, there are worse horrors, such as the nuclear devastation of central London, killing hundreds of thousands of people and inflicting irreparable damage on mankind’s cultural heritage. We also face new and terrible dangers. In the past, the threat came from other states. If they struck at us, we knew where to strike back. Now, we can almost feel nostalgic for mutually assured destruction.