Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Torture memos Describing Abuses in Iraq on the front page of this morning's New York Times

Neil A. Lewis and David Johnston's front page story on today's New York Times is a must read: "New F.B.I. Memos Describe Abuses of Iraq Inmates" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/21/politics/21abuse.html?hp&ex=1103691600&en=d96e9999547b00c1&ei=5094&partner=homepage).

In this article you'll learn about Iraqi detainees being used as human ashtrays with lit cigarettes, "being beaten and choked" and so much more. Are Department of Defense employees pretending to be FBI agents during interrogations to make sure that nothing gets tracked back to them? DOD spokesperson Bryan Whitman doesn't think there's enough information to warrent an informed comment.

There's enough information in these documents obtained by a FOIA request from the ACLU for Anthony D. Romero (ACLU executive director) to comment: "top government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers."

And at Guantánamo Bay? Documents reveal that some detainees were chained for over 18 hours . . . "chained hand and foot" in the "fetal position" no less . . . left to urinate and defecate on themselves.

At least one of the documents presumably made it to FBI director Robert S. Mueller III since the memo is addressed to him. A concern is noted in the memo:

The writer of the memorandum said Mr. Mueller should be aware of what was occurring because "of potential significant public, media and Congressional interest which may generate calls to the director."

The rule of law isn't a concern? The abuse isn't a concern? It's the potential p.r. fallout that's a concern? (In fairness to the writer of the memo, it may have been worded that way for a variety of reasons including the fact that the writer might have thought emphasizing a potential p.r. nightmare would lead to a quicker response than citing human rights and legal concerns. Considering all that's gone on during this administration, s/he might be right if that was why s/he worded the memo that way.)

To view previous documents released (not the batch covered in this morning's Times), you can consult http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/. On the main page of the ACLU web site (http://www.aclu.org/) you can find their statement regarding the batch of documents reported on in this morning's Times.

CORRECTION: The documents used in this front page New York Times story for December 21st are up -- they're the ones labeled "Dec. 14th."

In addition, on the main page, you'll find this:

Have You Signed the Pledge?The ACLU is building a movement of people prepared to speak out and stand up in support of the core American values of liberty, justice and equality. Add your name to the 50,000 others who have signed the "I Refuse to Surrender My Freedom" pledge.

Please consider taking the pledge if you haven't already.

Landon Thomas Jr.'s "Wall St. Lobby Quietly Tackles Social Security" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/21/business/21lobby.html?hp&ex=1103691600&en=d5bc271b9b19e0a0&ei=5094&partner=homepage) should be a must read. Who's sneaking around in the background pushing for Bush's war on social security? Turns out it's a lot of the usual suspects on Wall Street. But outrage from years past have taught them to stay in the shadows.

Remember David Boaz who was on The Laura Flanders' Show Sunday? His organization, Cato, is mentioned:

This increase in activity is occurring against the backdrop of a long-running campaign by the Cato Institute, a Washington policy research and lobbying organization with libertarian leanings that has received financial support from, among others, American Express and the American International Group, the large insurance company. State Street also provided funds in the past to support the institute's efforts to persuade Congress of the merits of personal accounts.

In fact there are a host of players just "chillin'" in the background. This is a must read.

"I know Secretary Rumsfeld's heart," Mr. Bush said. "Beneath that rough and gruff, no-nonsense demeanor is a good human being who cares deeply about the military and deeply about the grief that war causes."

The above is from David E. Sanger & Richard W. Stevenson's "Bush Says Iraqis Aren't Yet Able to Quell Rebels" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/21/politics/21prexy.html?hp&ex=1103691600&en=7b4e51f3294480b9&ei=5094&partner=homepage).

You know, if Bill Clinton had said that, someone would be screaming "Hippie talk!" and calling for Marianne Williamson to be barred from the White House. The Bully Boy has vouched for Donald Rumsfeld -- somehow I don't think the world sighs in relief. (I could be wrong.) Domestically, hopefully a few people are hearing this 'vouching' for Rumsfeld and remembering the Kerik controversy. Or that Bush once claimed to have peered into Putin's soul. Personally, I enjoyed him more when he was vouching for Karen Hughes, "she's a west Texas girl . . . just like me."

But wasn't it smart of Bully Boy to make nice-nice with the press when he needs them desperately to sell his war on social security?

Speaking of Clinton, it's all his fault. Richard Perle informed us of that on NPR's Morning Edition this morning. Do you realize Donald Rumsfeld had to go to war "less than a year" after taking over and, Perle stresses, he has to deal with the Clinton army which took years and years to build.

At what point, if ever, do these people start take responsibilty for their own actions or are they just going to continue to shift the blame? And will the press ever call them on it?

Let's move over to Democracy Now! which had two strong stories yesterday. A number of you have been e-mailing regarding the Sudan.

As the crisis and killing continues in Sudan, we go to Darfur to speak with Suleiman Jamous, a coordinator with the Sudanese Liberation Army and we are joined in our firehouse studio by Mark Brecke, documentary photographer and filmmaker who recently returned from a month-long trip to Sudan.

Sudanese Liberation Army Rebel Asks the World For Help Against Government Campaign of "Genocide"

The second story focuses on Haiti:

Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste joins us in our firehouse studio to talk about his imprisonment, the continuing chaos in Haiti, the role of the U.S. and the international community and much more. Jean-Juste was released Nov. 29 after being imprisoned for seven weeks by the interim Haitian government. We also speak with human rights and immigration lawyer Tom Griffin, who recently traveled to Haiti to document human rights abuses.

Freed Haitian Priest Gerard Jean-Juste: Aristide Supporters "Are Not Only Targeted, We Are Being Chased"

Both segments include rush transcripts so you can watch, listen or read (or all three).

Kara's has e-mailed that the entry on Seymour Melman is posted twice. I'll be deleting the second post after this entry posts. Again, there have been problems with posts. The second Seymour Melman post, the one that popped up over night, was done before noon my time yesterday. Where it went during the twelve hours of "floating," I have no idea. Why it showed up late last night, I have no idea. There's also a post on the above stories from Democracy Now! that's floating "out there" somewhere (it was written yesterday afternoon as well).

[Note: This post has been corrected. Thanks to Shirley for catching my mistake on Richard Perle's last name. It was a mistake, not a typo, I thought his name was spelled "Pearl." Wrong again. I checked the links to this post this afternoon and saw that the "Dec. 14th" documents posted on the ACLU site were the ones used for the Dec. 21st New York Times story so a correction's been placed next to the remarks on that story.]