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Monday, 7 April 2014



0009-112: photo by sebati. 11 November 2003

You always have to know the right question
The one to which there can never be a correct reply

0009-113: photo by sebati. 11 November 2003

0009-117: photo by sebati. 11 November 2003


ACravan said...

It's a poem, I know, but it also succinctly and precisely states the victim's conundrum. As I've mentioned before, we were kidnapped in Mexico City once and held captive overnight. It's a fairly indescribable feeling, but you've done a good job capturing it. Curtis

Hazen said...

After pleading and kissing asphalt, after anxious glances at my companion, who I hope has the answer that dispels the tension and leaves both of us blameless and alive, the soldier gives a dismissive wave and says: No further questions. You may go on with your lives until the next time, when we’re again feeling Inquisitive.

TC said...

Yes, that's how it read it.

Behind this small essay on the dynamics of power relations, perhaps, lies a conversation some years back with a man who holds dual citizenship, Palestinian and American.

In this country, where he was born, he is a decent, law-abiding, tax-paying hard-working small businessman.

When he returns to the village of his family, where his heart lies, he must go through Israeli customs in Tel Aviv airport.

He has told me that it is routine for anyone with a Palestinian passport to be detained c. 24 hours, and subjected to intensive interrogation.

"They will ask you a hundred questions -- 'how about your friends [__] and [__], what are they up to these days, what are their phone numbers?' -- and all the time you know that they already know the answers to ninety-nine of these questions, that they are trying to trip you up, to catch you in a wrong answer, and above all to see how you respond to that one important question, the one to which they don't know the answer.

"And I know they are doing this, so I say nothing. And wait.

"This happens every time I go home."

TC said...


I'm sure it's terrible being kidnapped in someone else's country.

There's been quite a lot of this of late -- e.g. in the environs of Sharm el-Sheikh, a "popular beach resort" frequented by wealthy American and British tourists; the local Bedouin tribes seem to be holding certain grudges, having to do with their own affairs, the imprisonment of kinsmen, and so on -- nothing that could possibly be of interest to a foreign patron of a five-star beach resort; or even a four-star, for that matter.

In any case, being at the mercy of kidnappers anywhere must surely be an awful thing, whatever the circumstances; and the best thing that could be said of it would be that it mercifully ended overnight.

If the populations of all those countries now subjugated to the global control of our empire, with its powerful weapons systems and alluring tourist custom, were to be freed of that yoke overnight, it would surely be a matter for celebration.

TC said...

Oh, and while sorting the relevant details, I fear I neglected to mention one point about that Tel Aviv interrogation process -- a point the man stressed.

That was: if you are passing through the airport from the US, and possess either an Israeli passport or a US passport bearing a name that "sounds right", you are waved straight on through, no questions asked.

Hazen said...

While Swearing an Oath (Alternate Version)

I dread your legions
and the flag
and the obvious states of dementia
and the republic for Richard Stanz,
one ration per individual
no liberty no justice
that’s all

TC said...

Wonderfully, there exists a site that compiles errant versions of the Pledge.



You know in the pledge when you say "...and to the republic, for which it stands..."? I used to believe that "which it stands" was the name of a person. Mr. Wichit Stands.


Up until about 2nd grade, i thought the pledge proceeded something like this:
"I pledge alegence, to the frog, of theUnited States of America, and to the wee public, for witches hands, one nation, under God, invisible, with a little tea, and just rice for all"!"


I used to believe that the part of the Pledge of Allegiance "and to the Republic for which it stands" was "and to the Republic where witches stands" until I was 16 and saw it written on the wall of an elementary school classroom.


All through kindergarten and first grade, I ended the pledge of allegiance by saying "...with liberty and Jesus frog." I finally realized I was wrong while watching an episode of Boy Meets World.

In kindergaten, I thought the last line of the pledge went "in liberty and justice frog". A few months after starting kindergaten, I realized I had the pledge memorized. I eagerly went to my parents and recited it. I didn't understand why they were cracking up...


I used to believe that the plege of the usa said liberity and justice for bra. i singed it to mom one day. well you know the rest

By the by, Richard Stanz now has, of course, his own Facebook page.

One of those curious braindead Fall of the Empire politicians -- the one in tight skirts and spike heels, who loves hunting elk from helicopters -- has weighed in on this issue.

Question: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

Palin: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.

The pledge, of course, as deep Wikipedia scholarship reveals to the cognoscenti, was not written until 1892 and the words "under God" were not added until the 1950s.

Mose23 said...

There are times when the questions come from the ground up and the answers there for everybody to read (should they want to).

TC said...

The vocabulary of Power doesn't include "Sorry".

Nin Andrews said...

Told very succinctly, as Curtis says, and told again and again.

TC said...

Talking of checkpoint challenges, as seen in the video link from Wooden Boy -- "Let's see your permit"..."You don't have authorization" -- and the whole issue of authorizations, permits, passports, identity cards, and the right to simply exist, and to be accorded the respect due a sentient creature, in this part of the world --

Mahmoud Darwish: Identity Card

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

speaking of pledging allegiance, e.e. cummings sang of olaf, glad and big, who would not kiss their flag

TC said...

Thanks for that, Mistah Charlie Ph.D.

Very much to the point -- were it not for the fact that the aegis and auspices of the American Academy (whereto you have directed us) have a way of stamping everything with that little telltale smudge of American Academicism (which, for me, works an effect perhaps not unlike that of whiting-out fluid.)

(And by the by, my dear Mistah Charlie Ph.D., the sock-puppet identity thing gets a bit old, not to mention confusing even for the puppetshow custom after a while... because, you see, we have all these other fake Charlies, often sans Ph.D. or even portfolio, apart that is from feigned aristocratic pedigree, who grace our humble occasion by dropping in here every now and again, "Lord Charlie" & c... I suspect some of them may be bots, or worse, hirelings...and then too there are actually a couple of real Charlies, who, believe it or not, come under other, even more mysterious sock-puppet identities...Zut Alors!... can no Charlie ever reveal her/his real name? And if not, why in heaven's name not?!! This is not, after all, an Interrogation...)

Nora said...

A former room-mate of mine (from when I was at St. John's College) went on to be an army interrogator. He'd wanted to learn Arabic and pay off his student loans, and joined up right before September 11th.

I'd lost touch with him, then heard his voice on the radio a few years ago describing his experiences. It's hard to sum them up, but you can read about them here and here and at the link above.

TC said...


That evidence gives human substance and historical background to what we are seeing here.

Question: Tony, can you talk about the use of dogs?

TONY LAGOURANIS: We were using dogs in the Mosul detention facility which was at the Mosul airport. We would put the prisoner in a shipping container. We would keep him up all night with music and strobe lights, stress positions, and then we would bring in dogs. The prisoner was blindfolded, so he didn’t really understand what was going on, but we had the dog controlled. He was being held by a military police dog handler on a leash, and the dog was muzzled, so he couldn’t hurt the prisoner. That was the only time I ever saw dogs used in Iraq.

Question: Did the prisoner know that there was a muzzle on the dog?

TONY LAGOURANIS: No, because he was blindfolded. So, the dog would be barking and jumping on the prisoner, and the prisoner wouldn’t really understand what was going on.

Question: What did you think of this practice that you were engaging in?

TONY LAGOURANIS: Well, I knew that we were really walking the line, and I was going through the interrogation rules of engagement that was given to me by the unit that we were working with up there, trying to figure out what was legal and what wasn’t legal. According to this interrogation rules of engagement, that was legal. So, when they ordered me to do it, I had to do it. You know, as far as whether, you know, I thought it was a good interrogation practice, I didn’t think so at all, actually. We never produced any intelligence.