war is a crime

POLAND. January 27, 1995. A woman lights a candle on the rail tracks leading to the Nazi concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, during the commemoration of the Soviet liberation of the complex of camps 50 years ago. An estimated 1.5 million people were killed in the Auschwitz complex during Nazi rule.

Photograph: Jacqueline Larma/AP

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LGBT Hero: Alan Turing

His name was Alan Turing. Most people still don’t know who he was. That must change. Turing was a prodigiously gifted British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. In fact, Turing is considered the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He designed the programming of the world’s first commercial computer. He was also the inventor of the Turing Machine in 1935, a device which even to this day all digital computers are modeled on. Crucially, he was central to the building of The Bombe, an electro-mechanical machine which greatly helped in the breaking of the Enigma code used by the Nazi’s during World War Two. By 1942 his team was decoding up to 39,000 Enigma messages a month. This rose to 84,000, or about two messages decoded every minute. 

Winston Churchill said that Turing’s work shortened the Second World War by at least two years, saving millions of lives. Turing also helped decode the Fish cipher used by the German High Command to transmit messages between Hitler and senior officers in the field. So Turing was an architect, many would say the architect, of the modern world - and he was living in it decades before the rest of us.

Alan Turing was homosexual. He was quite fearlessly homosexual in an era when it was still a crime. When it became known he lost his security clearance. In 1952 he was convicted of acts of ‘gross indecency.’ They gave him a choice between prison or a process they called 'chemical castration.’ The barbaric and pointless process of being injected with female hormones - it gave him female breasts, it rendered him impotent - proved so traumatic it eventually led to his suicide in 1954. He was 41. 

It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke.

Do people not remember this stuff? George Bush got on television on October 7th, 2002 and told the entire country that Saddam Hussein was thinking of using “unmanned aerial vehicles” for “missions targeting the United States.”

Only a handful of news outlets at the time, most of them tiny Internet sites, bothered to point out that such “UAVs” had a range of about 300 miles, while Iraq was 6,000 miles from New York.

What was the plan – Iraqi frogmen swimming poison-filled drones onto Block Island?

This fantasy was silly when the scare story was Red Dawn and our enemy was the technologically advanced Soviet Union. But to have the president of the United States trot that one out about busted-down Iraq in a national address, and not have him immediately pilloried by the entire national press corps, was incredible.

The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions.

First you had to accept a fictional implied connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Then you had to buy that this heavily-sanctioned secular dictator (and confirmed enemy of Islamic radicals) would be a likely sponsor of radical Islamic terror. Then after that you had to accept that Saddam even had the capability of supplying terrorists with weapons that could hurt us (the Bush administration’s analysts famously squinted so hard their faces turned inside out trying to see that one).

And then, after all that, you still had to buy that all of these factors together added up to a threat so imminent that it justified the immediate mass sacrifice of American and Iraqi lives.

It was absurd, a whole bunch of maybes piled on top of a perhaps and a theoretically possible or two.

The bulk of them hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey “I trusted the Germans” Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff.

Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages, telling themselves that this wasn’t wrong or a mistake until years later, when we found out for sure the WMD thing was a canard.

It’s so funny how Trump gives one speech that is considered “presidential” and people are fucking falling over themselves to praise him. Y’all will praise his tone and presentation and say “finally Trump shows himself to be presidential enough for the job,” while ignoring that his speech was filled with inaccuracies and basically everything he’s said leading up to yesterday has been fucking awful. But what do I expect from people who paint a war criminal POS like George W. as just a cute, funny old man who did his best or whatever apologist bullshit you have for him now.