Friday, December 16, 2005

Other Items

Has John F. Burns' become a "hopless prat?" That's what Pru wonders. Maybe he's just been confined to the Green Zone for so long that he's lost it? That would explain today's article.

"Democracy has come to Iraq" is the spin and certainly Burns is too smart to get away with pimping it (though he tries). But it's an interesting sort of Operation Happy Talk. In fact, it's as if Spike TV were covering the election. No, wait, they'd be sure to provide shots of busty females.

Burns has no females, busty or otherwise, speaking in his article. One woman, a wife, was close enough that he could have spoken to her. Did he? She's the only woman mentioned in the article.

Does Burns see anything wrong with relying on all male voices for this article? Iraqi women, where are they?

Who has the most to lose? Iraqi women. Under Saddam Hussein's rule, they did have certain rights, enshrined in their constitution. Life for Iraqi women?

Burns doesn't seem to give a damn.

He can find an nine-year-old male.

He can quote him at length.

Now does the nine-year-old really know anything of value in terms of the election?

No, Burns is using him to represent 'the future of Iraq.' It's a journalistic device that Burns uses to spin, let's be obvious. There's no reason to open with a child. But Burns does. And he sees the future of the country in this child.

This male child.

What's the future of the country for women?

Burns' silence on that topic may be telling.

Though it's doubtful he noticed it. He's too busy penning nonsense like this:

On a day when the high voter turnout among Sunni Arabs was the main surprise, Ali and his posse of friends, unguarded as boys can be, acted like a chorus for the scene unfolding about them.

"Unguarded as boys can be"? And the girls? Like the women, they don't speak in the text. They aren't even represented. You get a teacher (male), you get a kid (male), you get a government official (male), a grocery store owner (male), a sheik (male), a merchant (male, with his wife who apparently wasn't asked for comment). Six speakers. The youngest is nine-years-old, the oldest is eighty-years-old. Not one female in the bunch.

I guess the new government will have no impact on women and they have no interest in it? Is that how Burns sees it?

One might argue that Burns is suffering from a Peter Pan complex, but at least J. M. Barrie let Wendy visit Neverland.

From children's books to cartoons, think of Mr. Magoo as Eric Schmitt outlines how the Bully Boy ended up admitting defeat and supporting McCain's amdendment's that's seen as a torture ban. Let's note the article:

The agreement will also extend to intelligence officers a protection now afforded to military personnel, who if accused of violating interrogation rules can defend themselves if a "reasonable" person could have concluded they were following a lawful order. But Mr. Hadley conceded that the administration was unable to get a grant of immunity for C.I.A. interrogators, which he said "was a legitimate thing to consider in this context."

I don't expect that Schmitt would normally read The Nation, but Anthony Lewis, who worked for the paper, does have an article in the December 26, 2005 issue -- "The Torture Administration."

You'd think the paper might be interested in it. Lewis is calling for a special prosecutor. (He offers other means to address the issue but that's the one he feels is "most effective.") If, as Schmitt tosses out, the CIA would be under a policy similar to the military, who will be doing the reviewing? Lewis notes:

A soldier who tortured would still be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But under this legal theory [C.I.: Bully Boy's since 9/11] no criminal law would apply to a CIA torturer.

Lewis argues that's why Dick Cheney was against the McCain proposal. But if we're going to say that they're under the same "code," where's the enforcement for those who torture? It's not as the UCMJ has been all that effective thus far. Right under the half a page on which Lewis' article ends, Tara McKelvey's begins. Her article's entitled "Brass Tacks: When the military investigates torture allegations, procedures are crude and justice elusive." She reviews how evidence is "lost" and how it can "accidentally" explode. Evidence in allegations of detainee abuse (including abuse resulting in death). Now put McKelvey's article with the main editorial in the same issue, "Conspiracy to Torture."

It's a building block. In terms of punishing those who torture, Lewis makes a convincing argument for a special prosecutor. Short of that, has anything changed? Considering that survivors of torture in Central America still haven't seen justice after all these years (and were, in fact, ignored in a confirmation hearing this year), I'm not sure that anything's changed. Short of Lewis' recommendation, maybe nothing will?

While the torture bill may never get paid, Leslie notes Danny Schechter's "With Ten Shopping Daze to Xmas" (News Dissector, which addresses who does pay:

Norfolk is still a military town, proud of its naval bases and memorial to World War 2. There is a memorial to super-soldier turned renegade General Douglas MacArthur who was fired by President Harry S Truman for defying his authority and advocating an invasion of China during the Korea war.
Unfortunately this military town is also still a slave town only, today, it is the whole population that is enslaved-- by debt.
Drive around as we did yesterday for a film I am making on America's credit squeeze and you practically see a check cashing joint or pawn shop on every corner. "Support Our Troops" has a different meaning to this acne of predators who target the sailors and marines here with high interest loans that keeps them trapped in an avalanche of debt that nobody seems to be doing much about. There were 3 pay day lenders five years ago; there are 26 today.

Then, of course, there's the debt and punishment we inflict upon ourselves, such as reading one of Bob Woodward's "books." That's the topic of Mia's highlight. From Lawrence Velvel's "A Bore Called Bob" (CounterPunch):

I have tried unsuccessfully to read some of Woodward's more recent books. I cannot get through them, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Maybe it is that, although they supposedly are books, they read like horrendously long, rather uncritical newspaper articles. Could one really get through an 80,000-word or 100,000-word or 120,000-word or however many word newspaper article? Much less one that is a puff piece for the heroes?
There is a long provenance, stretching back nearly 30 years, to the fact that Woodward's books are a bore. A bit after his great success with Carl Bernstein in All The President's Men, Woodward published his third book, called The Brethren (which he co-authored with Scott Armstrong). It was about the Supreme Court. In those days, several friends and I were greatly interested in the Supreme Court. We had imbibed this interest at fancy pants law schools that focused in varying degrees, sometimes extensively, on the work of that Court, as lawyers in the Department of Justice who consorted with Department (and other) lawyers who did work that was presented to the Court, and, in some instances, as writers of work that, after much alteration, was eventually presented to the Court by the Department.
So we looked forward to reading The Brethren. Imagine the horror when we--even we--found Woodward's book to be a bore. One of my friends summed it up this way: "When I first started reading The Brethren, I thought it would be of interest to people all across the country. After reading it awhile, I thought it would be of interest only to people inside the Beltway. After reading it some more, I thought it would be of interest only to people located within a block of the Supreme Court."
Woodward, this writer of boring books that in effect heroize the heroes, has, of course, become the paradigmatic Washington media man on the make in the last 30 years. Dull though he seems when one sees him on the tube, he has become wealthy and famous by parlaying articles, books, television appearances, expensive speeches and what not into much money and special treatment at The Post. Pushiness and immodesty are among his traits. His and Bernstein's pushiness in the Watergate matter is the stuff of legend. Nor was it out of character when one read--after Mark Felt was revealed to be Deep Throat--that Woodward, as part of his long-term effort to get ahead, while still in the Navy, had (rather obnoxiously) pushed himself on Mark Felt, whom he did not know, when both were sitting and waiting in an antechamber outside the White House Situation Room. No surprise there. But what was a surprise was to recently learn the extent to which Woodward has become an immodest megalomaniac.

From the torture of reading bad "books" back to real torture, Keesha highlights Margaret Kimberley's "Condi, Torture and Christmas" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Insane American Christians are spending this Christmas season torturing and defending the use of torture. Condi Rice, church going queen of torture, traveled to Europe where she tried to justify extra judicial kidnappings and secret prisons. She began her visit by scolding uppity Europeans who took exception to the American inquisition. She told them that interrogations and renditions were saving their wimpy, unappreciative lives.
It was a bit inconvenient for Dr. Rice when Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen, sued former CIA director George Tenet during her European tour. El-Masri was accused of being a terror suspect upon entering Macedonia. He was flown to a CIA run prison in Afghanistan, where he was denied access to counsel or any contact with the German government. His imprisonment lasted for a total of four months. George Tenet kept him behind bars even after his identity and proof of his innocence in any wrong doing were confirmed.
The ACLU is representing El-Masri in his lawsuit against Tenet. When El-Masri attempted to attend a press conference in Washington to announce his lawsuit, he was denied entry into the United States. Embarrassing the United States government and trying to attend a press conference all in the same week was just too much for the powers that be.
Condi's latest European trip was rocky from the start. After meeting with Rice, new German chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Rice had admitted a mistake in the El-Masri case. It isn't clear if Merkel intentionally outed Rice or if she hadn't yet learned the diplomatic art of being a good liar.
As soon as the press conference ended, Rice's flacks went into action. They vehemently denied that Rice had made any such admission – but it was too late. Steven Watts, El-Masri's
attorney, had this to say: "We have never heard such a public statement from a head of government. We will add Ms. Merkel's words to our evidence. They support Khaled el-Masri's position".

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