Thursday, December 15, 2005

Other Items

The Senate is poised to approve a measure that would require the Bush administration to provide Congress with its most specific and extensive accounting about the secret prison system established by the Central Intelligence Agency to house terrorism suspects.
The measure includes amendments that would require the director of national intelligence to provide regular, detailed updates about secret detention facilities maintained by the United States overseas, and to account for the treatment and condition of each prisoner. The facilities, established after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, are thought to hold two dozen to three dozen terrorism suspects, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is said to be the mastermind of the attacks.
An agreement reached Wednesday between Democrats and Republicans called for the measure to be approved by unanimous consent, but it was unclear on Wednesday night when a final vote might occur.

The above is from Douglas Jehl's "Senate Is Set to Require White House to Account for Secret Prisons" in this morning's New York Times and Keith e-mailed to note it.

And it only took voices in by the Senate to make sure that the New York Timid stopped couching it. Have we noticed that? It's secret prisons.

Not "claims of" or similar talk.

Does anyone remember Richard Bernstein's laughable "Rice's Visit: Official Praise, Public Doubts"? This rib tickling "news analysis" took Harold Pinter to task for objecting to violations of human rights because . . . Oh, let's the big silly tell it himself. Pinter was lacking, according to Bernstein, because:

he offered no practical suggestions about how to balance civil rights and civil protection in a world that has experienced the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in Bali, Madrid, London and Amman, or, for that matter, in a conflict waged at least in part by religious fanatics who slit the throats of civilians while screaming, "God is Great!"

Would that be the same or similar slogan that those who've bombed abortion clinics and killed doctors yelled?

It very well might be (but to a different God). But Bernstein's doing standup here and proving what a clown he can be (parents take note when booking children's birthday parties).

Apparently, when a driver's barreling up to a cross walk, it's important for Pinter to figure out what residential street the driver could instead go racing blindly down instead of screaming, "Stop!" to alert the driver and hopefully catch the attention of the pedestrians?

"The plain fact is" that Bernstein demonstrates nothing in the article to suggest he's capable of news analysis. (Though he may be in need of some analysis himself.)

But did the secret prisons exist or not? Bernstein couldn't tell you. On Poland and Romania, he noted that " The United States has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of these prisons, but for Europe's leaders to declare that the United States [. . .]"

On December 8th, Richard W. Stevenson and Joel Brinkley were still remarking on "the suggestion of secret prisons."

It's a shame that it takes "official sources" (judged by the paper) to accept what's been discussed internationally and by human rights group as well as by the Washington Post.

Charlie e-mails to note Michael Janofsky's "DuPont to Pay $16.5 Million for Unreported Risks:"

The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it had reached a $16.5 million settlement with DuPont, which it had accused of failing to report information about the health and environmental risks of a substance used in making Teflon and other plastics.
The settlement includes $10.25 million in fines, which the agency says is the largest administrative penalty it has ever imposed, and a commitment by DuPont to spend another $6.25 million for two environmental projects in lieu of more fines.
"This settlement sends a strong message that companies are responsible for promptly informing E.P.A. about risk information associated with their products," said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for the agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

notes Warren Hoge's "U.N. Wrestles With Proposal to Broaden Inquiry on Beirut Killing" and that's not a good thing. What's making the news in Europe (Pru doesn't provide links but I did see this on the BBC)? Well, an assassination. For some reason the car stops. Phones go down. Pru wonders if Hoge's too concerned that Americans might think of JFK? (The report I saw noted cell phones.) Pru's right. This is being discussed in other media (including the BBC).
It is strange that Hoge (or Alan Cowell who doesn't appear to be working too hard -- maybe no one told him Cindy Sheehan was in London?) can't tell you of any questions being raised outside the US.

In fact, if I'm remembering correctly, the report I saw was done by Jeremy Paxman on BBC's Newsnight (Tuesday). Which is a good time to remind everyone of "Allies on Trial" which was last night's Newsnight and which is currently available for viewing online.

Need an antidote to Operation Happy Talk? Zach e-mails to note Ivan Eland's "Making the World Safe for Theocracy" (Consortium News):

The ever over-confident Bush administration, controlling the levers of authority in the globe's only hyperpower, has never really bothered to understand important characteristics of nations it invades. In its lust for the rhetoric of "spreading democracy," the administration has failed to notice that the term means something different in countries with little democratic experience, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, than it does in the United States.
In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, voters cast their ballots as prominent leaders desire. In Afghan elections, people voted as their tribal leaders or warlords directed. In Iraq, most of the majority Shi'a population (60 percent of Iraqis) will reliably vote the way al-Sistani wants. In contrast, American voters--even fundamentalist Christian ones--don't usually vote solely on the basis of their religious leader's political wishes (if they are expressed at all).
The Shi'ite religious parties in Iraq, which will most likely be victorious, are heavily influenced and funded by the oppressive theocratic government in Iran. One of the most prominent of those parties, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, originally consisted of Iraqi defectors, exiles and refugees who spent two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein’s rule and fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s.
The party's militia, the ruthless Badr organization, has been accused of assassinations and other violence against Sunnis and secular Shi’a. According to foreign policy analyst Gareth Porter, the Dawa party, another Shi'ite group, is organized on the basis of Leninist methods. Shi'ite militias have infiltrated Iraq's security forces and Interior Ministry, which has recently been implicated in the torture of Sunnis in two prisons.
In short, the now desperate Bush administration's attempt to achieve "victory in Iraq" and pledge to take the Iraqi democratic experiment on the road to other autocratic Arab countries really amount to letting U.S. soldiers die to make the world safe for theocracy. In fact, such future theocracies in Iraq and elsewhere would likely be very unfriendly to the United States and might even sponsor terrorist attacks against U.S. targets.

And prior to the "if you want an organization noted write it up and we'll note it" announcement yesterday hitting the site (e-mailed entries don't always hit immediately), Zach e-mailed to ask if we could note that Consortium News is attempting to reach a target goal of $20,000 and has thus far raised $9,000. For information, if you're interested in donating or just curious, go to the
home page and you'll find information for donating online or by mail. By the way, so that we're all on the same page, this is the home of Robert Parry who we highlight often. He's also one of Rebecca's favorite reporters and book authors. (I know he's written at least four books because I have four on the bookshelves and all were gifts, over the years, from Rebecca. So note that his books make great gifts and consider that to be Rebecca's plug here. And before anyone notes that only three are for sale there, the other book by Parry that Rebecca gave me is entitled Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom.)

Cindy wondered why that went up, my message. Because if I'm pushing something, or seen to be, I hear about it. Someone will feel, rightly, that their favorite organization, news outlet, et al got overlooked. So if you want to note one, you need to write something up in some form. Otherwise, no more noting until the new year starts. And after we noted Democracy Now! yesterday, a number of members e-mailed asking that their favorite be noted. That's fine. If you write something. I'm not going to write it. And I'm not going to do a list of links to click on to donate. If it means something to you, write it up and we'll put it up here.

Noah e-mails to highlight Naomi Klein's "'Never Before!' Our Amnesiac Torture Debate" (The Nation):

It was the "Mission Accomplished" of George W. Bush's second term, and an announcement of that magnitude called for a suitably dramatic location. But what was the right backdrop for the infamous "We do not torture" declaration? With characteristic audacity, the Bush team settled on downtown Panama City.
It was certainly bold. An hour and a half's drive from where Bush stood, the US military ran the notorious School of the Americas from 1946 to 1984, a sinister educational institution that, if it had a motto, might have been "We do torture." It is here in Panama and, later, at the school's new location in Fort Benning, Georgia, where the roots of the current torture scandals can be found. According to declassified training manuals, SOA students--military and police officers from across the hemisphere--were instructed in many of the same "coercive interrogation" techniques that have since migrated to Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib: early morning capture to maximize shock, immediate hooding and blindfolding, forced nudity, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep and food "manipulation," humiliation, extreme temperatures, isolation, stress positions--and worse. In 1996 President Clinton's Intelligence Oversight Board admitted that US-produced training materials condoned "execution of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment."
Some of the Panama school's graduates returned to their countries to commit the continent's greatest war crimes of the past half-century: the murders of Archbishop Oscar Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, the systematic theft of babies from Argentina's "disappeared" prisoners, the massacre of 900 civilians in El Mozote in El Salvador and military coups too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that choosing Panama to declare "We do not torture" is a little like dropping by a slaughterhouse to pronounce the United States a nation of vegetarians.

Be sure to check out Democracy Now! and Micah e-mails to note that Dave Zirin (one of Mike, Jim and Wally's favorite writers -- and an author of a book we all enjoyed) will be a guest on Wake Up Call on WBAI. If you're reading this later in the morning, WBAI does archive their programs. In addition, Wake Up Call has it own web site and we link to that in our permalinks on the left.

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