Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How To Break a Terrorist

The best book I've read this year is "How to Break a Terrorist" by Matthew Alexander (a pseudonym) with Jim Brunning.

According to the publisher, "Matthew Alexander served for fourteen years in the U.S. Air Force. As the leader of an elite interrogations team in Iraq, he conducted more than 300 interrogations and supervised more than 1,000. He is a veteran of three wars and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 2006."
You see, he uses "soft" interrogation skills. He builds a relationship with the person he is interrogating instead of beating him half to death or water boarding him. And it works.

"...a riveting, fast-paced account that reads like a first-rate thriller," says Publisher's Weekly. "...an absorbing behind-the-scenes look at the secret intelligence war within a war," says Military.com.

The publisher says, "In the wake of the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, the U.S. military overhauled its approach to interrogation. How to Break a Terrorist documents the struggle of a task force to replace torture with cunning. Alexander and his team got to know their enemies, carefully questioning a rogue's gallery of egomaniacs, fanatical adolesents, and smug clerics, as well as a number of people for whom collaboration with terrorists was a financial rather than an idological decision. Before long, negotiation and manipulation had yielded stunning results and allowed them to ferret out one of the world's most elusive criminals. How to Break a Terrorist reads like taut true crime but also serves as a timely reminder that we do not have to become our enemy to defeat him."

But don't start reading this book if you only have a few minutes to kill because you won't want to put it down. I was reading a biography and began reading "How to Break a Terrorist" just to get a break in the pace. I could not put it down. It is a real page turner and it's all true.

If you want to know what's really going on with interrogations in Iraq get "How to Break a Terrorist" today.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Playing for Change: Peace Through Music

I watched Bill Moyers' Journal today and saw a replay of a segment I had missed earlier. Boy am I glad.

Mark Johnson, a music producer, traveled the world to produce a truly remarkable documentary about music and its power. Over ten years he recorded musicians playing and singing, then mixed it all into a wonderful short film that brought me to tears.

I invite you to click on the link above and watch this segment then post your comments here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tammy Duckworth to Veterans Affairs?

As President Elect Barack Obama continues to fill out his cabinet with seasoned veterans and experienced politicos I suspect that Tammy Duckworth may have an inside track to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

An Iraqi War Vet who lost both of her legs there, Duckworth has a deep and rich background in veterans and international issues. You may recall that she ran for Congress (unsuccessfully) in 2006. Well she was later appointed to head up Veterans Affairs in Illinois and is reportedly on the list being considered to fill out Barack Obama's freshman term in the Senate.

But I sincerely hope that the President Elect will appoint Duckworth to what I see as the perfect post for this woman of English/Asian background who grew up in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia and Hawaii, because of her father's work with United Nations development programs and international corporations (I suspect you're recognizing the personal connection she has with President-Elect Obama who grew up around the world and was born in Hawaii). She has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Hawaii and a master's in international affairs from George Washington University and was working toward a doctorate in political science at Northern Illinois University when she was sent to Iraq.

"Duckworth Is linked to Mr. Obama by: The 2005 State of the Union address, which Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois invited her to attend as a veteran still recuperating in Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There, she says, she met Mr. Obama, who later visited her at the medical center and went on to support her unsuccessful 2006 campaign for Congress (as did Mr. Durbin and Rahm Emanuel, the representative who led the House Democrats' fund-raising efforts that year and has been tapped to be Mr. Obama's chief of staff)" according to Veterans for Common Sense.

Click on the link above and read more about her and I think you'll agree that Tammy Duckworth is probably the best qualified individual to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs at a time when record numbers of veterans are returning home sans limbs and with traumatic brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder.

After you've read the article I hope you'll browse the Veterans for Common Sense website and decide to support this worthy non-profit organization.