Thursday, December 08, 2005

Other Items

Responding to pressure at home and abroad to set clearer standards for the interrogation of terrorist suspects, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the policy of the United States was not to allow its personnel, whether on American or foreign soil, to engage in cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners.
But her statement did little to clear up widespread confusion about where the administration draws the line or to dispel hints of an internal debate among President Bush's inner circle on that topic. It was interpreted variously as a subtle but important shift in policy, a restatement of the administration's long-held position or an artful dodge intended to retain flexibility in dealing with detainees while soothing public opinion in the United States and Europe.
Ms. Rice, traveling in Europe this week, has faced constant questions about the treatment of detainees, partly prompted by reports that the United States maintained secret detention facilities in European countries. On Tuesday, the issue surfaced in talks with the new German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The above, from this morning's New York Times, is Richard W. Stevenson and Joel Brinkley's "More Questions as Rice Asserts Detainee Policy." Responding to questions? Would those be the questions that the article notes her aide told the press traveling with her to ask her? Apparently the Bully Boy isn't the only one who scripts press conferences:

After her aides passed word to reporters traveling with her in Europe that she wanted to be asked about the issue, Ms. Rice, when asked, answered by referring to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty adopted by the United Nations more than two decades ago and ratified by the United States in 1994.

Moving to a topic the administration has had trouble spinning, Brad e-mails to note David Johnston's "Prosecutor in C.I.A. Leak Case Meets With New Grand Jury:"

The special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case returned on Wednesday to the federal courthouse for an initial session with a new grand jury in the criminal inquiry.
[. . .]
He has not, for example, concluded his inquiry into the activities of Karl Rove, the senior Bush adviser. Mr. Rove, who testified on four occasions to the previous grand jury, has been under scrutiny over his belated recollection of a July 2003 conversation with a reporter for Time magazine about leak-related matters.

And there's the matter of "dragged into this" Bob Woodward:

Mr. Woodward has said that the official contacted Mr. Fitzgerald after Mr. Libby's indictment to advise the prosecutor of the conversation with him. Mr. Woodward has said that the official released him from a confidentiality pledge to discuss their conversations with the prosecutor but that the official does not want to be publicly identified.

Woody the "I have news for the prosecutor but not for the public." Great way to cap off his career.

Unable to win any convictions against Sami al-Arian, Eric Lichtblau reports the government's new strategy in "Professor in Terror Case May Face Deportation."

Nolonda notes, "Give it up for James Glanz!" Why? From his article, "President's Accounts of Gains Depict Only Part of the Picture:"

President Bush on Wednesday cited a teaching hospital in Najaf as perhaps the top example of a successful rebuilding project in Iraq. Since the American-led attack against local militias leveled large portions of Najaf in August 2004, however, the hospital has been most notable as a place where claims of success have fallen far short of reality.
During two visits to the hospital by reporters for The New York Times over the past year, the most recent in late summer, work on refurbishing it had been limited to largely cosmetic work like new ceilings and lighting and fresh paint. Critical medical equipment was missing and the upper floors remained a chaotic mess.
Numerous Iraqis at the site said the hospital had not been ruined by the militia that occupied it during the 2004 fighting, but instead by looters who entered after the American military left it unguarded after the battle.

Nolonda writes, "At last, one article from Iraq the paper can be proud of."

Abby Goodnough and Matthew Wald have an article entitled "Air Marshals Shoot and Kill Passenger in Bomb Threat" that's too short on details of what happened. A man, Rigoberto Alpizar , was shot. The authorities have one version, others have another. Hopefully, as more details are known, there will be follow ups. I'll bite my tongue until more is known to comment.

Moving to the topic of stink bombs, Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "A New Low for Lieberman" (This Just In, The Progressive):

There are fewer and fewer people around for Bush to call on to make his case on Iraq.
So he has put himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice on a propaganda merry-go-round.
But there is one other person he’s been calling on: the execrable Joe Lieberman, who has discredited what little remained of his Democratic bona fides by parroting the Bush line.
You just can’t get more obsequious than Joe Lieberman, who wrote in The Wall Street Journal on November 29, "The Administration's recent use of the banner 'clear, hold, and build' accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented" in Iraq.
Now when you start praising the propaganda slogans, you know you're deep in the Bush pocket.
And that's exactly where Lieberman wants to be, as he tries to worm his way into position as a possible successor to Donald Rumsfeld, if and when Bush finally makes the Donald take a hike.

From stink bomb Lieberman, we move to Cindy's highlight -- Ed Rampell's "December 7, 1945 Vs. September 11, 2005: Infamous Comparisons" (Common Dreams):

On Feb. 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 placing 120,000 residents of Japanese ancestry in internment camps. The last internee was released Oct. 30, 1946.
In June 2002 Attorney General Ashcroft launched the National Security Entry Exit Registration System - which the ACLU likened to "the Nazis’ requirement for Jews…" NSEERS led to deportation proceedings for 13,740-plus Arabs, Muslims and South Asians; none were publicly charged with terrorism. contends NSEERS "resulted in 144,513 males… interviewed, registered, photographed, and fingerprinted." The website claims 15,000 Muslims were detained or arrested, 3,208 deported, and 3,434 faced deportation proceedings.
As of Dec. 7, 2005, about 520 detainees remain at Guantanamo. According to Rolling Stone, "7,000 prisoners were jammed into Abu Ghraib, a complex erected to hold… 4,000 detainees." On Aug. 27, 2005, 1,000 prisoners were released from Abu Ghraib. Two weeks earlier, Al-Jazeera reported Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers was suppressing attempts to release additional photos and videos documenting prisoner abuse there. In October 2005, the Bush administration, led by Vice President Cheney, sought a CIA exemption from a torture ban that 90 senators had voted for. On Nov. 2, 2005, The Washington Post revealed the CIA was holding terrorist suspects in secret prisons in Eastern Europe. After more than three years behind bars, Jose Padilla was finally charged Nov. 22, 2005 with terrorist-related crimes - but not with plotting to detonate a dirty bomb, as the government had alleged for years. That same day, Britain’s Daily Mirror claimed that according to a leaked Downing Street memo, Bush planned to bomb the HQ of the Al-Jazeera satellite TV network in Qatar in 2004.
On April 25, 1945, 50 nations’ delegates met in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference on International Organization, creating a Charter adopted June 25, 1945. America and its Allies established the U.N. Oct. 24, 1945.
On Sept. 14, 2001 the Senate confirmed John Negroponte - reputedly involved with Central American rightwing death squads - as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. On Nov. 8, 2002, the Security Council passed Resolution 1441, demanding Iraq’s disarmament. Five days later, U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Baghdad. A leaked Jan. 31, 2003 memo alleged the National Security Agency spied on Security Council members. Facing vetoes, in March 2003Washington failed to submit a second resolution authorizing military action in Iraq to a Security Council vote. On August 1, 2005, President Bush named controversial John Bolton U.S. U.N. Ambassador via recess appointment. The U.S. had been without a U.N. ambassador since Jan. 13, 2005.

Remember the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! (thanks to Rod):

* On the 25th anniversary of the death of John Lennon we discuss his life and politics with historian Jon Wiener, the author of "Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files."

From page 168 of Phil Strongman and Alan Parker's John Lennon & The FBI Files:

The renegade M15 spy David Shayler gave his employers a nudge by revealing the fact that there were British files on Lennon -- over his support for left-wing parties -- as well as on two '60s students who were now members of the new cabinet (these were former student union leader Jack Straw and one-time anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain).
Weeks later M15 began to shread over 120,000 of the files it had held on UK subjects -- including one John Winston Ono Lennon. Rather than fight this outrageous action, the government actually seemed to encourage it -- perhaps grateful that the youthful excesses of its senior and junior ministers would now never be made public. Those who'd been less successful in life than high-ranking government members -- those who might have had their careers slowed or destroyed by secret action -- were the losers. They would not be able to claim compensation without proof. And that proof was rapidly being turned into pulp besides the south bank of the Thames.
But the US copies of the M15 Lennon files -- or at least those that were sent to the FBI --- did still exist. And after much prompting from Wiener and his civil-liberties legal team, the FBI agreed to ask for British permission to finally release the last ten Lennon documents -- those FBI files that had originated in, contained information from -- or were copied to -- Military Intelligence 5 and 6.
Yet, despite all their freedom of information pledges, Blair's regime hesitated for a few days, and then said "no." [. . . ]

The discussion on Democracy Now! should be quite interesting. And the Wiener noted in the excerpt is Jon Wiener, Goodman's guest for today's show.

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