Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Democracy Now! addresses the torture memos (with Joe Conason) and social securtiy (with Paul Krugman)

Make some time today to visit Democracy Now!.

- Poll: Opposition to Iraq Invasion Reaches New High
- FBI Documents Outline US Torture in Iraq & Guantanamo
- FDA Warns of Health Risks From Bayer's Drug Aleve
- Freedom House: Russia No Longer "Free" Nation
- Russia & China To Hold Unprecedented Military Exercises
- Time Names Maher Arar Canadian Newsmaker of Year
- Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Calls for Nuclear-Free Middle East
- 15 Years Ago: U.S. Invades Panama

(http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/21/1535206 to read the items in full)

First segment:
With Rumsfeld Under Fire New Questions Emerge About His Role in Prisoner Torture

This deals with the documents obtained by the ACLU (see previous blog entry).

JOE CONASON: Well, this memo is an internal email within the F.B.I. from be a unnamed F.B.I. special agent to one of the supervisors of F.B.I. counter-terror activities, and specifically of F.B.I. agents who were conducting interrogations in Guantanamo. The memo explains -- the memo was written around the time that -- of the exposure of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. So the memo is trying to explain what's called walk back the cat in intelligence lingo, go back and look at what had happened. . . . In other words, this is an acknowledgement by the F.B.I. in the internal memo that the military was behaving towards these prisoners in a manner that had been ordered by Donald Rumsfeld's office. That the allegations of abuse and in some cases torture had grown out of an attitude that ordinary conventions and international law did not have to be observed in the treatment of these prisoners.

The second segment does not have a rush transcript. If one is posted for it later today, I'll note that later this evening. It focuses on Alberto Gonzales:

As the debate over Rumsfeld's future continues, most politicians on both sides of the aisle predict that Bush will have little difficulty in passing his new cabinet nominees through their Senate confirmation proceedings. But that doesn't necessarily mean, his nominees won't face serious questions. One of the most heated hearings could come when Bush's nominee to replace John Ashcroft as the US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, appears in front of the Senate. That is the focus of a story in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine called "Torture's Path." The lead author of that piece is investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff. In a moment, he will join us on the phone from Colorado. But first, we wanted to play another clip from yesterday's press conference when Bush was asked about the use of torture in the so-called war on terror.

The third segment deals with an issue so many of us are trying to follow -- social security.
Paul Krugman on Social Security, the Decline of the Dollar and Healthcare

PAUL KRUGMAN: Social Security is a program which has been traditionally run. It looks like a retirement fund, and it is not exactly. What it really is is a government program with a dedicated tax. We take the payroll tax and it's used to pay benefits to retirees. And 20-plus years ago, the commission led by Alan Greenspan said, you know, we are going to have this problem as the baby boomers reach retirement age. We will have a higher ratio of retirees to workers, and we better get ready for it. Social Security, the payroll tax was increased. There were some other things, a small rise in the retirement age set in motion. So that Social Security would run a surplus, which would be used to accumulate a trust fund, and this would tithe us over, some ways into the aging of the population. And that on its own accounting is working just fine. I mean, one of the things that we need to know is that the estimates of the day at which the trust fund runs out, just keep on receding further into the future, because the program is doing so well at running surpluses. So, ten years ago, people said it was going to run out in 2029. Now the official estimate is 2042. Realistically, it's probably going to go well into the second half of the century.

Headlines, first segment (with Joe Conason) and third segment (with Paul Krugman) are all LWR (listen, watch, read).