Monday, January 10, 2011

Life Sentence for Gen. Videla - Part 1


Life Sentence for Gen. Videla – Part 1

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 03:46 PM PST

Just before Christmas, former Argentine dictator Gen. Jorge Videla was sentenced to life in prison for the torture and murder of 31 prisoners, most of whom who were “shot while trying to escape” in the months after his 1976 military coup. Two dozen of his flunkies were given life sentences at the same time.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of crimes for which Videla was actually responsible. Though there are no accurate counts, estimates of those who “disappeared” and were presumably murdered on his watch vary from 9,000 to 30,000, in a country whose population is about a tenth that of the United States.

Videla proudly assumed responsibility for the killings, claiming they were justified to save Argentina from terrorists. What kind of terrorists? According to Videla, exactly the kind of democratically elected terrorists who have run Argentina for the past 25 years, a period of dramatically enhanced personal freedom and economic growth. The terrorists who run Argentina went so far as to legalize gay marriage last year.

Videla is now 85 years old, so a life sentence will probably not amount to much in terms of years. However, he will live out his days undergoing a peculiarly humanist method of torture, in the form of a series of additional trials about additional batches of victims.

Monica’s Tale

Numbers numb; a single story chills. Monica Mignone was the pretty 24-year old daughter of Emilio Mignone, a prominent lawyer and educator who had previously held a position with the Organization of American States and was then serving as rector of the National University of Luján. Monica was no communist, but fell in a suspect class because she devoted her spare time to volunteer work with the poor in the slums of Buenos Aires.

The military coup occurred on March 24, 1976, when Gen. Videla, a deeply religious man, overthrew the democratically elected Argentine government and promised to restore “Christian morals and values.”

Shortly before dawn on the morning of May 14, 1976, five heavily armed men wearing civilian clothes but carrying army identification papers banged on the door of the Mignone home, grabbed Monica, and left. What happened to her then? Her family has never found out, despite the tireless efforts of her well-connected father to discover the truth. Although Emilio pulled every string in the Church and government on her behalf, he went to his grave 22 years later without ever having discovered a shred of evidence as to what happened to Monica, let alone why or how. We do know that the other volunteer social workers in Monica’s group were taken as well. We also know that the 31 victims in the case decided last month were taken to a secret center in Cordoba and tortured with methods including electric shock, rape, simulated asphyxiation with water and mock executions. They were left naked in cold wet cells through the winter, and were told their families would be killed if they didn’t tell what they knew.

As the number of disappearances mounted, mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared began protesting every Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo. The military response was straightforward: the leader of the mothers’ group and nine other women were themselves kidnapped from their homes, never to be heard from again. The mothers in fact were violating an official decree prohibiting “comment or reference to themes related to subversive activities, the appearance of bodies and the deaths of subversive elements and/or members of the armed forces or security forces in these happenings, unless they are reported by an official, responsible source. This includes kidnappings or disappearances.”


Monica was indeed a terrorist, at least as the junta defined it. Gen. Videla explained that a terrorist is “not only someone with a gun or bomb, but also anyone who encourages their use by ideas incompatible with Western Christian civilization.” Gen. Roberto Viola defined terrorism as “any concealed or open, insidious or violent action that attempts to change or destroy a people’s moral criteria and way of life, for the purpose of seizing power or imposing from a position of power a new way of life based on a different ordering of human values.” Gen. Iberico Saint-Jean laid out the plan: “First we kill all the subversives; then we will kill their collaborators; then their sympathizers; then … those who remain indifferent; and finally we will kill the timid.” Since it took nearly two months to get around to Monica Mignone, she probably fell in the “sympathizer” category.

The regime destroyed not only people but books, often whole libraries at a time; as a colonel later explained, “What is really subverting the system are ideas.” On April 29, 1976, Jorge Eduardo Gorleri, later made a general, ordered a huge book-burning in Cordoba, with these words: “The command of the III Army Corps informs the public that on this date it is proceeding to burn pernicious material that affects the mind and our Christian way of life. In order that nothing of these books, pamphlets, and magazines be left, this resolution is being taken so that this material will no longer deceive our young about the true goodness represented in our national symbols, our family, our Church, and our most venerable traditional legacy, which is summarized in God, Fatherland, Home.” Lt. Col. Justo Jacobo Rojas Alcorta said that religious freedom was only good for “hiding atheists,” while calling liberal democracy “false, because it supports popular sovereignty when, according to Christian doctrine, it is God who confers power.”

Complicity of the Church

The fact that a military dictatorship behaved badly is not earthshaking news. What’s interesting about Argentina, though, is the symbiotic relationship between the dictatorship and the Catholic Church, and the Church’s refusal to own up to its role in what happened. At last month’s trial, Videla described his current martyrdom as “one more act of service to the Lord our Father and to the country.”

A few months before the military coup was launched, in a homily delivered in the presence of the army chief of staff, Bishop Victorio Bonamin asked aloud, “May not Christ some day want the armed forces to go beyond their normal function?” A priest at the Army War College taught that “Democracy is government by the people. Therefore, if a people is not mature enough to govern, democracy makes it responsible for its own downfall. Let us not forget that here and in other countries subversion arose under democratic governments.”

On the eve of the coup, Videla and other plotters received the blessing of the Archbishop of Paraná, Adolfo Tortolo, who also served as vicar of the armed forces. The day of the takeover itself, the military leaders had a lengthy meeting with the leaders of the bishop’s conference. As he emerged from that meeting, Archbishop Tortolo stated that although “the church has its own specific mission . . . there are circumstances in which it cannot refrain from participating even when it is a matter of problems related to the specific order of the state.” He urged Argentinians to “cooperate in a positive way” with the new government.

Monica’s father knew Archbishop Tortolo, and repeatedly pleaded for his help. He got nothing but an icy stare. After thousands had disappeared, Tortolo told the press that “I have no knowledge, I have no reliable proof, of human rights being violated in our country” and praised the military regime, saying that the armed forces were simply “carrying out their duty.” The vicar for the army, Bishop Bonamin, characterized the campaign as a defense of “morality, human dignity, and ultimately a struggle to defend God … Therefore, I pray for divine protection over this ‘dirty war’ in which we are engaged.” He told a university audience in December, 1977 that the world was divided into “atheistic materialism and Christian humanism.” Though he denied any knowledge of individual cases, he proclaimed that “If I could speak with the government, I would tell it that we must remain firm in the positions we’re taking: foreign accusations about disappearances should be ignored.”

Next week: The Church, torture, and “letting bygones be bygones.”

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After Giffords shooting, left and right fingers both point wrong way

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 02:12 PM PST

Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is in intensive care following an assassination attempt Saturday.

Both the left and right are blaming each other for Saturday’s shooting spree at political event in Tucson, AZ . . . and simultaneously claiming moral high ground as they point their fingers and exacerbate polarization.

Unless you have been under a rock for the last 24 hours, or don’t pay attention to US news, you know that a gunman fired on Democratic Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords at a “Congress on your Corner” event in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords was initially reported dead, but is currently in stable condition in intensive care with a gunshot wound to the head.

Fourteen were wounded, and six killed. The deceased include 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green; Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. Federal District Court in Arizona; three retirees; and one of Giffords’ aides. 22-year-old Jared Loughner was captured attempting to flee after he ran out of ammunition. His motives for the shooting have not been released by the authorities.

It has been widely reported that Loughner listed among his favorite books Marx’s Communist Manifesto. HE MUST BE A LIBERAL!

He also listed Mein Kampf, and ranted on YouTube about the need for the US to return to a gold or silver standard for currency. HE MUST BE A TEA PARTIER!

Yes, this little psycho has something for everyone. And everyone is picking the something that suits their bias!

Predictably, the left went after perennial (and in my opinion, usually deserving) target Sarah Palin:

SarahPAC removed this 'inciteful' image after an outcry.

Does Jared Lee Loughner shooter of Gabrielle Giffords have a Sarah Palin connection or is it simply a grim irony that Giffords was on Palin’s “Hit List”?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among Sarah Palin’s “Hit List” on Facebook where she targets Democrats who voted for the Health Reform bill and asks her fans to “take them out.”

Huffington Post reports that “there is no evidence at this time that the shooting of Giffords was politically motivated, but it’s grimly ironic that the candidate appeared on a map of House Democrats ‘targeted’ by Palin in 2010.’

As you can see, the map used actual target markers on locations these Democrats lived and listed their names.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Ron Futrell of Tea Party Nation is using this tragedy as an opportunity to demonize Keith Olbermann.

The blood had not been wiped up from the scene before Keith Olbermann and others began blasting conservatives. It’s both predictable and reprehensible for Olbermann to try to make political hay out of this, and do it before we know so few of the facts in the case.

While I don’t see much value in Futrell’s suggested action, I do agree with his closing sentiment:

Prayers for those affected are what are needed right now, not selfish rhetoric by those who would use this tragedy to fulfill their own political agenda.

Selfish rhetoric to fulfill one’s own political agenda! Who would do such a thing? Only a depraved, vile scumbag, right?

How about Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation?

In America, though we might have differences, there were always certain things we could agree on. Conservatives and liberals could discuss and debate issues. That era is gone and the aftermath of today’s shooting is the official obituary for political civility in this country.

Although there was no proof the shooter was involved in conservative politics or the Tea Party, the left went nuts. Immediately after the shooting, the left went after the Tea Party. The Daily Kos went on a rant. On the, one of the comments in the story about the shooting was from someone called “AC.” He said:

The Tucson Tea Party will be made to pay for the blood on their hands. An eye for an eye. You want a civil war, you got one. KILL Jesse Kelly for his role, then KILL Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Gleen Beck(sic). Whoever puts BULLETS in ther HEADS shall be a NATIONAL HERO.

On twitter, leftists were going after Sarah Palin in particular. Tweeters castigated Palin because during the election, she had put cross hairs on Giffords’ district, which was closely fought. They were then upset that her Webmaster took the image down. At Tea Party Nation, we were on the receiving end of some of this vitriol from the left.

The left has simply gone too far. There can be no civil discourse with people as crazy as those on the left are. What that says for the future of this country is tragic.

Yes, you got that right. Phillips searched high and low to find an anonymous blog commenter to hold up as an example of the Evil and Murderous Liberal Left. Leftists, I mean. Crazy leftists, with whom there can be no civil discourse.

Phillips’ closing? A drive back toward civility, perhaps?

UPDATE: In a shocking development, people who knew the shooter are saying he was a ….. liberal.

Yes, a liberal. That makes sense! Phillips just told us that they are evil and murderous, of COURSE he was a liberal! And we can flip the page so Futrell can tell us the sort of liberal Loughner is:

This we do know about the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner. He is 22 years old and listed the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest as his favorite books. He is everywhere and nowhere. He abhorred the government’s fiscal policies of not backing our currency with gold. He said he did not believe in God. [Note: Loughner said "I will not trust in God", a reference to "In God We Trust" on currency and in the context of a rant about the gold standard, not "I do not believe in God". -MD] His rantings about supposed “mind control” by the government are those of somebody mentally deranged. He burns a US flag in one of his videos. From this, the left will “cherry pick” Loughner’s political profile and plug him into their template as a right wing radical inspired by their political opponents.

That doesn’t sound like much of a liberal to me. Nor does it sound like a Tea Party Christian. Sounds like a paranoid nut!

Fox News has obtained a memo from the Department of Homeland Security which may shed a little more light on the sort of liberal Loughner is:

The investigation has been taken over by the FBI, and is being run through the Tucson Command Post. Here’s what can be confirmed at this time (1800 hrs)… * Gabrielle Giffords Is in ICU.* Federal judge John Roll is deceased. He did rule on a 32 million dollar civil rights lawsuit in February, 2010. That ruling brought death threats to Roll and his family, and for a time he was given a protection detail.* 6 deaths attributed to the shooting. 19 total people hit by gunfire.* suspect’s mother works for the Pima County Board of Supervisors* the suspect has multiple arrests … But no criminal record? Intervention by someone?* no direct connection – but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic. Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.* DHS have a list of names and dates of birth of all victims.* the ACTIC is still playing a major role in the investigation… Computer forensics is cleaning up the surveillance videos, and images from around the scene, and involved in the investigation – working together, was MCSO, DPS, Phoenix PD, ICE, and of course the FBI. It did just come in from the command post, that the federal judge was Not originally scheduled to attend the meeting, according to wife. She stated that he received a phone call about an hour before and was invited to attend. Wrong place – wrong time. For the planning side, there are impromptu memorials popping up all over the state, but the largest one is downtown Phoenix, at the capital.

So it appears, on the surface at least, that Loughner was targeting Giffords, not the judge, and targeted Giffords because she was the first Jewish female elected to such high office.

Is this the end?

Doubt it. I’m sure we’ll be hearing HE WAS A LIBERAL vs. HE WAS A TEA PARTIER for weeks to come.

Is Phillips right? Are we seeing the end of civil discourse? (Frankly, I thought we saw it before the 2008 election.)

Related articles:

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