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From Lies to Life: the Liberator's power of prayer speech

At Ft. Huachuca, was Barbara Fast one of the "bartered brides"  of the military-intelligence complex, passed from her post as superior military intel officer in Iraq (when the abuses of Abu Ghraib occurred) to Ft. Huachuca the headquarters responsible for training interrogation officers in the war on 'terror' in Guantánamo and elsewhere.  Barbara Fast, not long before she retired in October 2008, had become a Major General--celebrating her rank with an ironic no, is the theme of my reflection today, ending with the words of Prophet Ezekiel.

The case for Guantánamo is always made courtesy the imprecision of language. Vital part of the war 'on terror', as necessary to hold 'the worst of the worst'. Thomas Hobbes cited the malleability of language as blameworthy in large part for insecurity and war:

"To these Uses [of speech], there are also foure correspondent Abuses. First, when men register their thoughts wrong. False Secondly, when they use words metaphorically; that is, in other sense than that they are ordained for; and thereby deceive others" 

Certainly, lies are not unidirectional. Grave untruths may be exhumed, as when last September, Innocente Orlando Montano, 77, was found guilty of "terrorist murder". The killings happened during El Salvador's civil war, when Catholic priests ...or when Riott Mott was on trial for genocide in Guatemala. But the CIA psychologist James Mitchell will still defend his torture--an instance of Hobbes' third kind of abuse: "...when by words they declare that to be their will, which is not."

 "Fourthly, when they use them to grieve one another; for seeing nature hath armed living creatures, some with teeth, some with horns, and some with hands, to grieve an enemy, it is but an abuse of Speech, to grieve him with the tongue, unless it be one whom wee are obliged to govern; and then it is not to grieve, but to correct and amend."

Barbara Fast, not long before she retired in October 2008, had become evidence, just at the remains of a 3,700 grave in southern Spain, where a silver diadem found in the grave was found, leading specialists now to question the assumption that elite women of the Bronze era were as objects to exchange in networks of male power. Her role had its uses, decision-making in matters of war and justice, and for her part in the cross-pollination of torture, General Petraeus supported her nomination to the military intelligence corps hall of fame.

Legal theorist Paolo Barrozo, cautions on the use of law to grieve, and holds slight optimism for its ability to correct and amend. Barrozo embraces his own role as legal observer on the ground, knowing that unlike some critical theorists, the pretense of omniscience has no convincing power in modernity.

"Rationality should not merely be a vulture circling reflective equilibrium on the lookout for mishaps" (241).

But to go with Fr. Louie J. Vitale, OFM or Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ to 'the site of sin'. As they went to Ft. Huachuca in 2007, requesting a meeting with Barbara Fast out of concern. 

"To prescribe--as Roberto Unger and Jeremy Waldron do--that law assists in and reflects the democratic work of a citizenry that is embarked on institutional experimentation as antidote to the preservationist view of law as immanent moral order or as the province of an elite of jurists insufficiently responsive to its will is to incompletely understand what it requires to loosen, to the extent we ought to try to do so, the grip of the Great Alliance." (240)

Making an opening in law, as if the grip of its lid, sealed, need to be opened, this requires our love, as folk resistance, loosing up the alliance of history, reason and will, which Paolo Barrozo describes as "never unidirectional." 

While people will speak of steps taken, our sense of God the Opener, Brother Paul Quenon of the Abbey of Gethsemani writes:

Wooden footbridge spanned 

waterless creek--steps stoked dry,

dim marimba notes. 

The poet, advancing a quality of the journey, likens to that larger xylophone with its resonance. The marimba has no dim note, unless as the four-mallet playing Bobby Hutcherson could, and shush it, in a muffled timber sometimes played in the 'new' music of the 1970's.

Bobby Hutcherson described the degree of concentration required of the players. "For me" he said, "there's no challenge like being part of what's happening in jazz now. You really find out how creative you are, how much music you know. Like you're out there, and you know theres no chord pattern where you can say, 'Okay, on this D-minor 7th chord I'm going to play...,' or 'Yeah, I know this lick, I can run across that, and then I can do that.' It's not like that. You're out there, and you have to listen. You have to have your ears as wide open as you possibly can, listening to everything else as much as possible, and at the same time concentrating on what you're trying to do. It makes you so much more involved in what's going on. If you even thing about anything but the music, you're going to miss the whole thing. You're going to miss so much."

In notes, the dim speech of Barbara Fast for love of country, a dry suffocated sound it must be, a vibist in the torturer's band, listening deep where there's no chord pattern of law where you can say this is how to extract that, where you can't play by the book. You have to be so much more involved in the action or you're going to miss it, Fast says, that she caught it, and played at perfect pitch the resonant vibe, she didn't miss the whole torturer thing, she couldn't miss out on the 'new' rules of war.

 Tuesday, in the Lectionary, with rising water as life, the flowing waters shown to the prophet Ezekiel suggest the ultimate irony of God's knowing. Where its water flows, every creature that can multiply shall live. Where it goes dry, lies, abuse, only new forms of death?

The angel brought me, Ezekiel, back to the entrance of the temple of the LORD,

and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the threshold of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the temple...

"He made me wade through the water...

"He said to me, "This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live..." Ez 47 1-9.


Brother Paul Quenon, "God the Opener" in The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed." Ed Judith Valente. Chicago: AACTA 2013.

Jennifer Pinkowski, "Bronze Age Tomb Hints Women Helped Govern" 14 March 2021 New York Times. 

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Richard Tuck ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 1991 (1651), 25-26.

Paulo Barrozo, The Great Alliance: History, Reason, and Will in Modern Law, 78 Law and Contemporary Problems 235-270 (2015)
Available at:

Amy Goodman, "A Torturer Meets His Victims: CIA Psychologist Defends Brutal Methods at Guantánamo Military Hearings" 22 January 2020. Democracy Now <> accessed 15 March 2021.

Nat Hentoff. Jazz Is. New York: Random House, 1977. 280.

Fr. Louie Vitale interviewed on Truthout following direct action at Ft. Huachuca, 2007.

5:20 Intercept


Articles related to Innocente Orlando Montano Morales extradition:


The testimony in Spanish by Prof. Kate Boyle cites the value of the archive in many cases prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity. She has given expert testimony against Rios Mott for genocide in Guatemala. 


Spain sentences ex-colonel for Jesuits slain in El Salvador - Los ...

Sep 11, 2020 ... Spain's National Court ruled that Inocente Orlando Montano, a former colonel who served as El Salvador's vice minister for public security during ...

Spain sentences El Salvador ex-colonel to 133 years in jail for ... - BBC

Inocente Orlando Montano, 77, was found guilty of "terrorist murder". The killings happened during El Salvador's civil war, when Catholic priests ...


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