Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Other Items

A suicide bomber plowed a car loaded with explosives into an American checkpoint here on Monday evening, killing four American soldiers in the single deadliest suicide bombing against an American target in more than four months.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise and Kirk Semple's "Deadliest Suicide Bombing Against G.I.'s in Months Kills 4 in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times. "Here"? The story comes with a dateline but frequently, reporters will include the location in the first paragraph. Especially when using a term like "here" in the first paragraph. Tavernise and Semple save it for the second paragraph, possibly because "here" is the Green Zone, where the Times reports from so it's always implied.

Iraqi Coalition Casualties puts the total of US troop fatalities for the month at 27 , and the total since the invasion at 2056.

Molly notes Linda Greenhouse's "Justices to Rule on a Challenge to U.S. Tribunals" (New York Times):

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide the validity of the military commissions that President Bush wants to use to bring detainees charged with terrorist offenses to trial.
The case, to be argued in March without the participation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., places the court back at the center of the national debate over the limits of presidential authority in conducting the war on terror. Last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's position that the federal courts had no jurisdiction over those held as enemy combatants at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
[. . .]
That is because he [John Roberts, Jr.] was a member of the three-judge panel of the federal appeals court here that rejected Mr. Hamdan's challenge to the commissions, overturning a ruling issued by Judge James Robertson of Federal District Court last November.
The appeals court issued its decision on July 15, four days before President Bush nominated Judge Roberts to the Supreme Court. When Mr. Hamdan's lawyers filed their Supreme Court appeal three weeks later, it was obvious that Judge Roberts, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, would be ineligible to participate.

Also in the Times, Neil A. Lewis' "Pentagon Charges 5 More in Guantánamo Bay Camp" tells you that following the Court decision Greenhouse is reporting on, suddenly five more were charged. The total, given by Lewis, number is nine detainees, of an estimated 500 prisoners, are currently charged. From the article:

Mr. Khadr's case is well known because his lawyers have said that he was mistreated at Guantanamo and that his initial capture and detention when he was 15 violated United States obligations under treaties on treating young people in wartime.
The charges against Mr. Khadr say that his father was a close friend of Osama bin Laden and that he, too, was acquainted with Mr. bin Laden, the Qaeda leader.
Mr. Khadr is the only one of the newly charged detainees to face a murder charge that could bring the death penalty. The other four new defendants, identified by the Pentagon as Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi and Jabran Said bin al-Qahtani, both of Saudi Arabia; Sufyian Barhoumi of Algeria; and Binyam Ahmed Muhammed of Ethiopia, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder and terrorism.

I think my thoughts are pretty well known on this, so I'll just note "The Only Thing We Have to Hide Is the Ugly Truth" (The Third Estate Sunday Review -- which I helped with along with every other community member that has a site).

Last night we noted this but it's worth noting again, Dahr Jamail's "Operation 'Steel Curtain'" (Iraq Dispatches):

There is a huge US military operation once again targeting the Al-Qa'im area of Iraq, this one named "Steel Curtain."
As tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of the massacre in Fallujah, the US military pushes on with house to house fighting in the small down of Husaybah, near Al-Qa’im.
According to Al-Jazeera:
"Falih Abd al-Karim, an Iraqi journalist, told Aljazeera that US and Iraqi forces were positioned in al-Sikak neighbourhood and north and south of 12 Rabia al-Awal neighbourhood in central Husaybah.
This came after US warplanes on Sunday evening targeted al-Jamahir, al-Risala and other neighbourhoods in the town, destroying houses, and killing and injuring dozens of people, he said.
The bodies remained under the debris of the houses because US forces do not allow burials or transfer of the injured to hospitals, Abd al-Karim added.
The US shelling has demolished government buildings, including al-Jamahir primary school, al-Qaim preparatory school for boys, the educational supervision building, al-Qaim post office and communication centre, al-Qaim education directorate and two mosques in the city, he said."

Brady e-mails to note Jane Mayer's "A Deadly Interrogation: Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner?" (The New Yorker via Common Dreams):

At the end of a secluded cul-de-sac, in a fast-growing Virginia suburb favored by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, is a handsome replica of an old-fashioned farmhouse, with a white-railed front porch. The large back yard has a swimming pool, which, on a recent October afternoon, was neatly covered. In the driveway were two cars, a late-model truck, and an all-terrain vehicle. The sole discordant note was struck by a faded American flag on the porch; instead of fluttering in the autumn breeze, it was folded on a heap of old Christmas ornaments.
The house belongs to Mark Swanner, a forty-six-year-old C.I.A. officer who has performed interrogations and polygraph tests for the agency, which has employed him at least since the nineteen-nineties. (He is not a covert operative.) Two years ago, at Abu Ghraib prison, outside Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner in Swanner's custody, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during an interrogation. His head had been covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe; according to forensic pathologists who have examined the case, he asphyxiated. In a subsequent internal investigation, United States government authorities classified Jamadi's death as a "homicide," meaning that it resulted from unnatural causes. Swanner has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency.
After September 11th, the Justice Department fashioned secret legal guidelines that appear to indemnify C.I.A. officials who perform aggressive, even violent interrogations outside the United States. Techniques such as waterboarding - the near-drowning of a suspect - have been implicitly authorized by an Administration that feels that such methods may be necessary to win the war on terrorism. (In 2001, Vice-President Dick Cheney, in an interview on "Meet the Press," said that the government might have to go to "the dark side" in handling terrorist suspects, adding, "It's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal.") The harsh treatment of Jamadi and other prisoners in C.I.A. custody, however, has inspired an emotional debate in Washington, raising questions about what limits should be placed on agency officials who interrogate foreign terrorist suspects outside U.S. territory.
This fall, in response to the exposure of widespread prisoner abuse at American detention facilities abroad - among them Abu Ghraib; Guantánamo Bay, in Cuba; and Bagram Air Base, in Afghanistan - John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, introduced a bill in Congress that would require Americans holding prisoners abroad to follow the same standards of humane treatment required at home by the U.S. Constitution. Prisoners must not be brutalized, the bill states, regardless of their "nationality or physical location." On October 5th, in a rebuke to President Bush, who strongly opposed McCain's proposal, the Senate voted 90–9 in favor of it.
Senior Administration officials have led a fierce, and increasingly visible, fight to protect the C.I.A.'s classified interrogation protocol. Late last month, Cheney and Porter Goss, the C.I.A. director, had an unusual forty-five-minute private meeting on Capitol Hill with Senator McCain, who was tortured as a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War. They argued that the C.I.A. sometimes needs the "flexibility" to treat detainees in the war on terrorism in "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" ways. Cheney sought to add an exemption to McCain's bill, permitting brutal methods when "such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack." A Washington Post editorial decried Cheney's visit, calling him the "Vice-President for Torture." In the coming weeks, a conference committee of the House and the Senate will decide whether McCain's proposal becomes law; three of the nine senators who voted against the measure are on the committee.
The outcome of this wider political debate may play a role in determining the fate of Swanner, whose name has not been publicly disclosed before, and who declined several requests to be interviewed. Passage of the McCain legislation by both Houses of Congress would mean that there is strong political opposition to the abusive treatment of prisoners, and would put increased pressure on the Justice Department to prosecute interrogators like Swanner -- who could conceivably be charged with assault, negligent manslaughter, or torture. Swanner's lawyer, Nina Ginsberg, declined to discuss his case on the record. But he has been under investigation by the Justice Department for more than a year.

And Susan e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Wrong Journalistic Decision" (Editor's Cut, The Nation) which also notes Jane Mayer's article:

If one needed more reason to criticize the Washington Post's decision to withhold information, at the government's request, about the CIA's network of prisons in Eastern Europe for suspected Al Qaeda terrorists, read Jane Mayer's horrifying article in this week's New Yorker. In "A Deadly Interrogation," Mayer reports on the death by torture of an Iraqi terrorist suspect in the custody of the CIA. Jamadi died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib by a CIA officer and a translator. His head had been covered by a plastic bag and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe. According to forensic pathologists interviewed by Mayer, Jamadi died of asphyxiation. But in a subsequent internal investigation, US government authorities classified his death as a homicide. Nevertheless, the CIA investigator has not been charged with a crime, and continues to work for the agency. Mayer reports he has been under investigation by the Justice Department for more than a year. (The CIA has reportedly been implicated in at least four deaths of detainees, and has referred eight potentially criminal cases to the Justice Department, Mayer reports. Yet, as she notes, the government has so far brought charges against only one-level contract employee.) It is a fantasy to believe that the architects of these cruel, inhuman interrogation techniques will be held accountable by an Administration whose key figures, especially "The Vice President for Torture," are so deeply implicated in the policies that led to the metastasizing use of torture.

Markus e-mails to note Anna Quindlen's "Tragically, Iraq Has Become A Rerun Of Vietnam" (Common Dreams):

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tapering wall of black granite cut into the grass of Constitution Gardens. Maya Lin envisioned a scar when she designed it, a scar on this land, which is exactly right. Maybe someday his security detail could drive George W. Bush over to take a look. He'll be able to see himself in the reflective surface.
The list of names etched into the wall begins with a soldier who died in 1959 and ends with one who died in 1975. Nearly 60,000 dead are commemorated here. It is the most personal of war memorials. You can touch the cold names with your warm fingers.
The president never wanted the war in Iraq to be personal. His people forbade photographs of coffins arriving home. They refused to keep track of how many Iraqis had been killed and wounded. When "Nightline" devoted a show to the faces of soldiers who had died, one conservative broadcast outlet pulled the program from its lineup.
The president wanted this war to be about policy, not about people. Even that did not go well. The policy became a moving target. First there were weapons of mass destruction that were not there and links to the Sept. 11 terrorists that didn't exist. The removal of Saddam Hussein was given as the greatest good; it has been done. Then it became the amorphous goal of bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, as though liberty were flowers and we were FTD. The elections, the constitution, the rubble, the dead. Once again we were destroying the village in order to save it.
This all took an unfortunate turn for the administration during the president's vacation in August, when Cindy Sheehan showed up at his ranch. Say what you will about her politics or tactics, there was no doubt that she was a mother whose soldier son was now dead, and wanted to know why. What was the cause, the point, the strategy? And suddenly many Americans started to realize that there was no good answer.
The Vietnam Memorial stands, in part, as a monument to blind incrementalism, to men who refused to stop, not because of wisdom but because of ego, because of the fear of looking weak. Not enough troops, not enough planning, no real understanding of the people or the power of insurgency, dwindling public support. The war in Iraq is a disaster in the image and likeness of its predecessor.

Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "No Welcome Mats for Bush" (This Just In, The Progressive):

George Bush's world is no longer a welcoming one.
This man who has strutted so much upon the stage is now getting catcalls.
He's not used to the disrespect.
He is more accustomed to either enraptured applause from prescreened Republican audiences or, at worst, quiet submission from those who are subject to his overarching power.
He told Bob Woodward in "Plan of Attack" how he relished going to the United Nations on September 12, 2002, and telling off the leaders of 191 nations, saying they either must back his Iraq obsession or render the United Nations irrelevant.
"It was a speech I really enjoyed giving," Bush said, reveling in how sullen the other leaders were.
But now, in part because of the Iraq War, Bush is not getting his way.

Don't forget to watch Democracy Now! (or listen or to read the transcripts). And Amy Goodman's Un-Embed the Media tour has two upcoming engagements:

* Amy Goodman in Poughkeepsie, NY:
Thur, Nov 10
*TIME: 5:30 PM
Vassar College
The Villard Room, Main Building
Poughkeepsie, NY
Free and open to the public

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Mon, Nov 21
New School University
Graduate Program in International Affairs
Wollman Hall, 5th floor
66 West 12th St. (between 6 and 5th Aves.)
Event is free and open to the public

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

linda greenhouse
the third estate sunday review