Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Another whitewash report on abuse, Dorothy Sang, DemsTV, Armenian genocide (1915-1923), Democrat Doris Matsui wins U.S. Congressional seat

"It's a 'mistakes-were-made' kind of report, instead of a 'these-people-are-responsible' report," said a congressional aide who has read the Church document. "The passive voice is used a lot."

Remember that statement above. It's from Mark Mazzetti's "Lack of Oversight Led to Abuse of Detainees, Investigator Says: A Pentagon review finds higher-ups were not directly responsible for the mistreatment" in today's Los Angeles Times.

From the article:

Pentagon officials said [ Vice Adm. Albert T.] Church's team drew its conclusions from a review of 70 completed investigations in which detainee abuse by U.S. military personnel had been confirmed. Of that number, the report found that about one-third of the abuse cases occurred not in detention facilities but at the "point of capture," when, the report states, "passions often run high."
The report says there is no dominant cause of the detainee mistreatment, sources said, yet the report cites "breakdown of good order and discipline in some units" as a significant contributing factor. Last year, Schlesinger described the conduct of military police soldiers at Abu Ghraib as " 'Animal House' on the night shift." Sources said the Church review found that the CIA kept about 30 "ghost detainees" off the books at various military prisons in Iraq, confirming the conclusions of previous investigations.
"The report is underwhelming, to say the least," said one senior Defense official who criticized the various investigations for punishing mainly low-level soldiers.
Others criticized the fact that the Church investigation apparently based its conclusions on only 70 cases.
Rights groups have been calling for an outside investigation of abuses, but the Bush administration has refused.
"That the Defense Department is suggesting that number constitutes the universe of abuse cases demonstrates the inadequacy of the investigations," said Lucas Guttentag, a senior lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union who last week filed a lawsuit against Rumsfeld and three senior Army commanders, charging that the military authorized illegal interrogation techniques.

Lori sends this AP report that appears in the St. Petersburg Times entitled, "Four charged in slaying of nun in Brazil:"

Rayfran Neves Salles was charged with firing the six shots that killed Dorothy Stang on a muddy stretch of road deep in the rainforest. Clodoaldo Batista was charged as an accomplice.
Two other men, Amair Feijoli and Vitalmiro Moura, were charged with homicide. Feijoli is accused of hiring the two gunmen and Moura, a rancher, is charged with ordering Stang's killing. All but Moura are jailed; the rancher has not been found.
Stang wanted a stretch of rainforest to be declared part of a sustainable development project for poor settlers, but Moura wanted to develop and log the area.

Nick e-mails this entry from AMERICAblog entitled "Update on - looks like there might have been some foul play" by John Aravosis:

I told you guys earlier today about launching today at noon. Well, the site has been inaccessible all day, and its looking increasingly like our friends on the right have successfully (and illegally) shut the site down. Our boys are still investigating, and it's still possible that the site has been so wildly popular that that is what caused the problem (such a problem to have!), but nonetheless, many of us think that after Sean Hannity complained about on his show last night, one of his deranged followers might have done something.Anyway, in the meantime, you can watch the premiere episode of here where it is parked temporarily until they move to a bigger and better protected server. (Warning, I'm in it and haven't seen it yet, so I have no idea how it turned out.) And, sorry, but the link won't work in FireFox - hey, it's a temporary mirror, be nice.

In the LA Times, Amberin Zaman's "Turkish Leader Calls for Study of Genocide Debate
Erdogan seeks review of archives amid challenges to the nation's official denial of blame in the deaths of Armenians during and after WWI
" is a worthy read. I'll assume many people are familiar with the topic but if not, here's a historical bit from the article:

Armenians say 1.5 million of their people perished between 1915 and 1923 in a genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turks. Millions of Armenians worldwide are set to mark the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the violence on April 24.Turkey has countered that several hundred thousand Armenians died of starvation and exposure during forced deportations after they collaborated with invading Russian forces in eastern Turkey.
But a small, vocal group of Turkish intellectuals has begun to challenge the official version of events, saying genocide did take place under the orders of ultranationalist military officers who led the country at the time. That view has touched off heated debate throughout Turkey.

The term "genocide" applied to what happened (or allegedly happened depending on your view -- my opinion, based on what we know so far, genocide) has been met with a lot of resistance.
It's only in May of 2004 that the New York Times, after years and years of pressure, would refer to it as genocide. From The Armenian Weekly (May, 2004):

The New York Times revised guideline for journalists states that "after careful study of scholarly definitions of 'genocide,' we have decided to accept the term in references to the Turks' mass destruction of Armenians in and around 1915." The policy goes on to note that "the expression 'Armenian genocide' may be used freely and should not be qualified with phrasing like 'what Armenians call,' etc."
The New York Times guidelines continue, noting that, "by most historical accounts, the Ottoman Empire killed more than one million Armenians in a campaign of death and mass deportation aimed at eliminating the Armenian population throughout what is now Turkey." Finally, it advises journalists that "while we may of course report Turkish denials on those occasions when they are relevant, we should not couple them with the historians' findings, as if they had equal weight."
"We welcome this decision taken by the New York Times as a meaningful step toward ending official US complicity in the Turkish government's campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide,” said ANC of New York chairperson Tony Vartanian. "We appreciate the tremendous contribution of all organizations, historians, and activists who, over the years, worked to provide the necessary information to the New York Times so that they can make this informed, but long overdue decision. Armenian-Americans feel a tremendous sense of pride that the Times -- the paper of record -- no longer actively participates in the denial of this great crime against humanity."
The New York Times’ recently released guidelines returns the newspaper to its policy of accurate reporting established during the years of the Armenian Genocide. Nearly 200 articles on the Genocide were published by the New York Times between 1914-1922, all of which were compiled in a book by Richard Kloian titled The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts from the American Press (1915-1922).

There's one more Democrat in the US House, Doris Matsui won the special election in California to fill the seat her husband Robert Matsui held until his death January 1, 2005. USA Today has an AP article on the election. The article's entitled "Widow Matsui easily wins Democratic primary" and Tori (who e-mailed it in) wonders if it was a "Democratic primary?" No. That's a mistake. Either AP or USA Today's. A primary election, as Tori notes, "leads to a general one which then decides the race." This was a special election to fill an open seat.

You can read more about it in Kevin Yamamura "Matsui easily succeeds late husband in Congress" from The Sacremento Bee:

Doris Matsui won by a staggering margin Tuesday in the Sacramento-based 5th Congressional District race to become the 46th widow to succeed her husband in Congress.
Matsui had to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid a runoff under rules of the special election. She did that -- and then some. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Matsui had 71 percent of the vote in the low-turnout election.
Her nearest competitors were Democrat Julie Padilla (7 percent) and Republican John Thomas Flynn (6 percent).

Matsui, 60, will fly to Washington early Wednesday and expects to be sworn in Thursday, possibly to vote for a House transportation bill that includes authorization for Sacramento light-rail projects to the airport and Cosumnes River College.

Again, obviously with a Republican in the race, it's not a "Democratic primary election."

And FYI, there will be a few more entries going up this morning. Due to the continued noise of the neighbors, I'd decided yesterday to take today off. That will probably mean an entry on the New York Times. But the next entry will focus on the other articles members are noting in e-mails.