Thursday, December 09, 2004

Torture & Liberties coverage: Democracy Now!, ACLU, CJR, We Do Not Concede & Mother Jones

Three of you wrote to say that due to Richard Clarke's speech highlighted yesterday, you went to Democracy Now! for the first time and found it very informative.

Here's what they're covering today:

- CIA Agent Says Bosses Ordered Him To Falsify WMD Reports
- Sammara Police Chief Resigns; Police Station Blown Up
- Shelters Report Seeing Homeless Iraq Vets
- Sen. Rockefeller Warns Against Top-Secret Spy Program
- Howard Dean: "We Cannot Win by Being Republican-Lite"
- Palestinian Presidential Candidate Detained & Beaten
- Blair Pressures Bush on Global Warming
- White House Backs Display of 10 Commandments on Gov't Property

Intel Agent Strapped to Gurney and Flown Out of Iraq by U.S. Army After Reporting Torture of Detainees
Contains an interview with journalist David DeBatto.

Will the AFL-CIO Split? A Debate on the Future of Organized Labor

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales host:

  • Chris Chafe, Chief of Staff and Political Director at Unite Here.
  • Bob Master, Political Director of Communications Workers of America in District 1 and co-chair of the Working Families Party.
  • Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica. He formally served as Education Director and Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO.

  • Is Puerto Rico the Florida of 2004?

    Interview with Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua.

    The web site is

    Tamara and Ben wondered about the national i.d. story, Matthew L. Wald's "U.S. to Specify Documents Needed for Driver's Licenses" ( and for those with questions, I'd recommend the ACLU's comments:

    The final bill also lays the foundation for a de facto national ID card. Opposition for the intrusive measure came from the ACLU and numerous groups across the political spectrum, including the American Conservative Union and the Free Congress Foundation. A national ID card is unproven to deter terrorism or weed out terrorists, but it would strip away our privacy and inch us closer to a Big Brother society.

    Finally, the intelligence reform bill unnecessarily expands upon law enforcement powers - several of which were seen in the draft Patriot Act 2 - a measure so controversial, it was never considered by Congress. Specifically, it unnecessarily expands wiretapping to erase a key constitutional safeguard and expands the "guilt by association" material support law, including making mere membership in a designated terrorist organization a criminal offense for the first time. It should be remembered that the 9/11 Commission did not call for any of these provisions in its report.

    The current issue of Columbia Journalism Review (November/December 2004) has a commentary by Jacob Levenson that's worth reading. It's entitled "The War On What Exactly? Why the Press Must Be Precise."

    It's not available online but I'll draw attention to this:

    Setting aside the political and practical merits of the president's definition of the war on terror, the important question here is should the media, as custodians of the public discourse, have immediately pressed the president to sharpen his definitions? On a certain level the answer is unequivocally yes. Slogans like the "war on terror" are carefully crafted political bumper stickers developed by politicians to generate support for their policies. Think of the "death tax," No Child Left Behind, or the Healthy Forest initiative. The political significance of these phrases is hard to overstate. It's reasonable to ask, for instance, that if the war on terror had been called the war on Islamic extremism, would the American public have supported the invasion of a country, like Iraq, with a secular government? Similarly, had it been called the war for global democracy, would the Patriot Act have become law? What if it hadn't been called a war at all? Journalists, in other words, must resist employing political jargon -- it tends to shortcut analysis in favor of mobilization.

    Ohio activisim continues, from We Do Not Concede:




    DECEMBER 12, 2004
    12 - 2 PM
    Ohio Statehouse

    E Broad and High Streets

    DECEMBER 13, 2004
    11 AM - 1 PM

    Ohio Statehouse
    E Broad and High Streets

    bring banners, signs, flags, marching bands, and your indomitable spirit
    reclaim the power of the vote
    protest the selection of GOP slate of electors prior to completion of the RECOUNT
    march in support of fair elections and REVOTE if necessary
    stand in support of those voters who were not allowed to vote (DISENFRANCHISED)

    For more information, visit Also worth checking out is Dave Gilson's interview with Mark Danner ( "Torture and Truth": No one's really talking about Abu Ghraib right now, and the new Red Cross report about abuse "tantamount to torture" at Guantanamo was barely a blip. Why don't Americans care more about this issue?

    Mark Danner: I think this isn't really a question of public opinion, but of the government not having instituted any process of formal investigation that can really get at the broad issues of treatment of prisoners and torture. This isn't an accident. What you have here actually is a strategy from the Bush administration to contain what could have been a scandal that could have brought down senior officials and could have lost them the election. After the disclosure of the photographs in late April, they put in place a plan of action designed to contain the scandal. Essentially, you had a chain of responsibility that began on the ground level at Abu Ghraib with soldiers who actually were abusing and torturing detainees and stretched up into the White House, ending ultimately with the president himself. Each of the investigations put in place looked at several links in that long chain. None of them actually was able, or even empowered, to look at the entire scandal and the entire chain of responsibility. Only Congress or some kind of special prosecutor would have been able to do that. And because Congress was in Republican hands, the administration was able to quash any such broad investigation. Now, all of that is deeply regrettable, but I don't necessary think it means the public doesn't care about it. It simply means that the government is in the hands of one party and that one party has been extremely disciplined and effective in containing the scandal from the beginning.

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