My first post was on David Byrne. But if you look at the URL, it says "Heroes Volume 1," which was the original title, and the label was "heroes." At the time, I thought I needed lots of ideas for posts, and heroes would be a series about people I looked up to. However, it seems I don't really need a list of things to blog about - in fact, I have too many ideas to write about them all. Damn you, current events! Of my original list, I have only finished one of them.
In any case, the larger point is that the people I was going to write about weren't really heroes, more like role models or people who are cool. But I did hear two genuine heroes on MPR last week, so I decided to tell you about them.
Mark Danner is journalist and professor of journalism. His site comprehensively catalogs his many contributions, and as they are too long to summarize anyway, I'll just highlight one of them. Danner obtained and published the ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody earlier this year. This is the 2007 Red Cross report based on its interviews with the detainees once held in the "black sites." These detainees were originally kept secret from the Red Cross, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, but finally the Red Cross was able to visit them in Guantanamo in 2006. The report was only given to the Bush administration, which is a standard that the Red Cross follows in exchange for its access. Scott Horton interviewed Danner about the story at the time.
The other worthy hero is Jack Cloonan, a former FBI interrogator and special agent from 1977 to 2002. He worked on the FBI's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 until his retirement. He is currently the president of a corporate security consulting firm, but he has frequently spoken out condemning torture. He was interviewed for a Frontline report, The Torture Question, in 2005. He wrote an article, "No Torture, No Exceptions", for the Washington Monthly in 2008. He has also recently weighed in on the prosecution debate with a letter sent to the Senate and House Intelligence and Judiciary committees on August 21. The letter was co-signed by former interrogators Steven Kleinman and Matthew Alexander.