Monday, December 12, 2005

Other Items

Stanley Tookie Williams is scheduled to be executed Tuesday and Sarah Kershaw notes in this morning's New York Times, "No Word From Governor as Execution Approaches."

Carl Hulse and Eric Schmitt seem to be attempting to provide an extensive overview in "Negotiators Say Differences Over Ban on Abuse Remain." Which makes this whispered aside stand out all the more:

It was also added to a separate Senate bill on Pentagon budget and policy, which also includes provisions on the legal rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as a call by the Senate for the Iraqi government to become much more responsible for its own security in 2006.

From Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, you mention the McCain Amendment. Explain what it is, voted 90-9, what Vice President Cheney is pressuring McCain to do, and the deal that’s being made, as I watched McCain on television yesterday, the Arizona senator, he talked about meeting at least three times with Stephen Hadley, the National Security Adviser, optimistic that they're hammering out a deal. What's going on here?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, the law in the United States as of 9/11 is that you can’t torture anyone anywhere in the world, and you can’t send anybody to be tortured. It also included a prohibition on what we call lesser torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The administration has taken the position, under Alberto Gonzales, President's counsel, now Attorney General, that they can use cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against non-citizens all over the world. And that includes, really, things that constitute torture, waterboarding where you put people under water or drip water onto them to make them think they're drowning, assaults on people, temperature control where you can keep someone in a prison with temperatures up to 100 degrees and down to below zero, or whatever, for long periods of time. They're doing that. They want to continue to do that.
McCain said, “I don't want this anymore. Let's pass an amendment.” 90-9, it prohibits not just torture, which even the administration acknowledges is prohibited, although it defines it very narrowly, what’s prohibited, but it prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The negotiations going – and 90-9 it passed. The administration said – President said, ‘I'm going to veto that bill, but it’s part of the defense authorization bill.’ So they got a problem. So now they’re trying to amend the bill, and they’re trying to do it in two different ways. The initial amendment was: ‘Exempt the C.I.A. from this.’ What is that saying to us and the world? Exempt the C.I.A. so it can continue to torture people in black sites. And now the latest little negotiation is if they're not going to exempt the C.I.A., they want to make it possible that no criminal prosecution can be brought against the C.I.A. for engaging in this kind of conduct. What is that saying except, ‘C.I.A., continue doing what you are doing. Don't worry about it,’ and that's what they're doing here. They're trying to protect the C.I.A.
Now the deal that's really being made with the devil here is not only is there this McCain Amendment prohibiting torture anywhere in the world or in any of these U.S. facilities, but there's another amendment that’s in the same bill, and that's the one that's going to take away the right of the Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detentions in U.S. court. It's called habeas corpus. It's trying to strip that right away from the Guantanamo detainees. the case the Center won almost two years ago now. And I think the deal with the devil here is that the administration may allow the McCain Amendment into the legislation, the one that forbids torture, if there's also an amendment in the legislation that strips the courts of any right to hear these cases from Guantanamo. Now what is that saying? That's saying that, yes, we have the McCain Amendment, but we might as well put it up on the wall and just look at it and read it, because we're not going to have any way to go to court to challenge it when people are tortured. So, it's –
AMY GOODMAN: And McCain is agreeing to this?
MICHAEL RATNER: And apparently McCain is on board on this. A remarkable, remarkable thing.

Remarkable but unremarked on by the Times today.

Tori notes this from Reuters' "Supporters of Slain American Nun Vow to Pursue Planners of Killing:"

Two Brazilian ranch hands began long prison sentences Sunday after they were convicted of murdering Dorothy Stang, an American nun who was an advocate for protection of the rain forest. Their trial was seen as a test of Brazil's will to combat killings over land use on the Amazon frontier.
But Sister Dorothy's supporters said they were now ready to go after the ranchers accused of offering the two men about $22,000 to kill her, after she blocked their advance on valuable, hardwood-rich rain forest.

Brandon notes Jon Wiener's "Eugene McCarthy: 1916-2005" (Common Dreams):

Eugene McCarthy has always been a mysterious and frustrating figure. Nothing he did before 1968 hinted that he would become the liberals' antiwar leader and challenge an incumbent Democratic President; nothing he did after 1968 accomplished much of anything. Dominic Sandbrook skillfully conveys the events and the experience as well as the arguments of that year. Although he is a Shropshire lad born in 1974, Sandbrook argues like my father, born in Duluth in 1921 and a good Minnesota Democrat: He insists we focus on how the story of 1968 ended. The split among Democrats led by McCarthy ended up with Nixon in the White House. Nixon kept the war going for another five years, during which 15,000 more Americans were killed, and--we might add--during which Americans killed something like a million more Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians.
If '68 ended badly, it began with "a triumph of heroic magnitude"--Newsweek's description of McCarthy's showing in the New Hampshire primary that February. The senator from Minnesota had been the only one willing to challenge Lyndon Johnson, to make Vietnam the issue in the upcoming presidential election. Although McCarthy didn't win the popular vote--he got 42 percent in the Democratic primary--he did win twenty of the state's twenty-four convention delegates. Johnson saw the writing on the wall, and rather than lose to McCarthy a few weeks later in the Wisconsin primary, he announced he was withdrawing from his own re-election campaign. Nothing like it had ever happened before in American politics, and nothing has since.
There are some surprises, Sandbrook shows, in the story of McCarthy's 1968 triumph in New Hampshire: First, the vote for McCarthy was not primarily an antiwar vote. Exit polls suggested that most voters didn't know where he stood on it. That's because his TV ads made it impossible to tell whether he was for or against the war. Pollsters concluded that "his vote was an anti-Johnson vote, not an antiwar vote." Voters were anti-Johnson because of urban riots and "crime in the streets" as well as because of Vietnam.

Wiener discussed John Lennon on Thursday's Democracy Now! As noted earlier in this entry, you're missing out if you're not listening to, watching or reading the transcripts of Democracy Now! so be sure to check it out today.

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