While an international debate rages over the future of the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military has quietly expanded another, less-visible prison in Afghanistan, where it now holds some 500 terror suspects in more primitive conditions, indefinitely and without charges.
Pentagon officials have often described the detention site at Bagram, a cavernous former machine shop on an American air base 40 miles north of Kabul, as a screening center. They said most of the detainees were Afghans who might eventually be released under an amnesty program or transferred to an Afghan prison that is to be built with American aid.
But some of the detainees have already been held at Bagram for as long as two or three years. And unlike those at Guantanamo, they have no access to lawyers, no right to hear the allegations against them and only rudimentary reviews of their status as "enemy combatants," military officials said.
The above is from Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt's "A Growing Afghan Prison Rivals Bleak Guantanamo" in this morning's New York Times. It's there big story for the day in terms of length and topic. It's sadly the only thing most will be interested. (For those who like to bet, Adam Nagourney does his usual bit of reducing politics to a horse race. Wouldn't it be wonderful if reporters grasped that they are not political experts? As trained journalists, they might be able to offer insight in terms of a candidate but they really aren't experts on who will win, who may win or who could win. They fail repeatedly, year after year, in this role but they keep deluding themselves that they're opinions -- and it is opinion and not fact -- really is wanted. If Nagounrey and the Times want to handicap, perhaps they should do so on the op-ed pages and not present predictions as news?) A story credited to "The New York Times" (that's the byline) addresses violence in Ireland re: a parade. Dominick and I have exchanged e-mails this morning on the topic. We're not sure whether it's a good thing that this go round they're reporting on it. Are they reporting on it because they realize it is news? (And was the last time they took a pass.) Or are they reporting on it because they're tagging the non-Protestants as violent? (That wasn't a case that could be made in the coverage they failed to provide.) Who knows? But they have one thing in the news section(s?) worth reading this morning. Maybe it's a sign that this will be a better week for the paper? Again, who knows?
So that's the Times. Let's go to The Independent of London (which Gareth e-mailed the heads up on). From Raymond Whitaker's "Iraqis tortured by government death squads:"
Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed each month by death squads attached to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, the UN's former human rights chief in Iraq has told The Independent on Sunday.
More from Andrew Buncombe and Patrick Cockburn's "Iraq's death squads: On the brink of civil war:"
John Pace, who left Baghdad two weeks ago, told The Independent on Sunday that up to three-quarters of the corpses stacked in the city's mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries caused by drill-bits or burning cigarettes. Much of the killing, he said, was carried out by Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior.
Much of the statistical information provided to Mr Pace and his team comes from the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute, which is located next to the city's mortuary. He said figures show that last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution. The pattern prevailed throughout the year until December, when the number dropped to 780 bodies, about 400 of which had gunshot or torture wounds.
"It's being done by anyone who wishes to wipe out anybody else for various reasons," said Mr Pace, who worked for the UN for more than 40 years in countries ranging from Liberia to Chile. "But the bulk are attributed to the agents of the Ministry of the Interior."
Coupled with the suicide bombings and attacks on Shia holy places carried out by Sunnis, some of whom are followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qa'ida's leader in Iraq, the activities of the death squads are pushing Iraq ever closer to a sectarian civil war.
Mr Pace said the Ministry of the Interior was "acting as a rogue element within the government". It is controlled by the main Shia party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri); the Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, is a former leader of Sciri's Badr Brigade militia, which is one of the main groups accused of carrying out sectarian killings. Another is the Mehdi Army of the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is part of the Shia coalition seeking to form a government after winning the mid-December election.
Zach notes Robert Parry's "Bush, Rats & a Sinking Ship" (Consortium News):
In just this past week, conservative legend William F. Buckley Jr. and neoconservative icon Francis Fukuyama have joined the swelling ranks of Americans judging George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq a disaster.
"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed," Buckley wrote at National Review Online on Feb. 24, adding that the challenge now facing Bush and his top advisers is how to cope with the reality of that failure.
"Within their own counsels, different plans have to be made," Buckley wrote after a week of bloody sectarian violence in Iraq. "And the kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat."
Fukuyama, a leading neoconservative theorist, went further citing not just the disaster in Iraq but the catastrophe enveloping Bush's broader strategy of preemptive military American interventions, waged unilaterally when necessary.
"The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration's first term is now in shambles," Fukuyama wrote Feb. 19 in The New York Times Magazine.
"Successful preemption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America's perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before," Fukuyama wrote.
While those Americans who always opposed the Iraq War may see this unseemly scramble of Bush's former allies as a classic case of rats deserting a sinking ship, the loss of these two prominent thinkers of the Right mark a turning point in the political battle over the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
If Bush can't hold William F. Buckley Jr. -- and if even the ranks of the neocons are starting to crack -- Bush may soon be confronted with a hard choice of either acknowledging his errors or tightening his authoritarian control of the United States.
Please note, we don't provide traffic to the right. Parry has a link to Buckley's piece so if you're interested in reading Buckley's words (if so, you may be the first to be interested in decades) when you use the link to Parry's article, you'll find the link to Buckley's. Though he's lost Buckley and Francis, Bully Boy will always have the crowd at The New Republican. Which is a way to work in a plug for a feature to be posted soon (I'm laughing at "soon") at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Two features are completed. It will be a long morning. Long. But things will go up there. Here?
Forget Isaiah's latest. Why? Did he do it? Yes, he did. Is he being censored? Never. So why won't it go up. Ask Blogger/Blogspot. E-mail posts won't hit the site and each post currently needs "word verification." (Which is to say that a code must be typed in before a non-emailed post goes up.) They were contacted and supposedly we'd be reviewed quickly to determine that this isn't a "spam" blog. (If this were a mechanical blog, I think my own spelling would be much better.) Until they "review," no e-mail posts. Today, that means no Isaiah. If it's not fixed by tomorrow?
Apparently the e-mailed listing of stations broadcasting Democracy Now! alarmed someone or something and prompted the "word verification." That's the apparent concern which only indicates that Blogger/Blogspot is focused on the wrong things and needs to take a look at some real issues. Will we go elsewhere? (Jim's convinced I'm about to pull the site from Blogger/Blogspot and he may be right.) I don't know. I've said about all that I can say without breaking into nonstop profanity. (Rebecca offered to let me post my thoughts on the current "problem" with Blogger/Blogspot at her site where she doesn't have a work-safe-environment policy in place.)
If and when "teacher" completes their review, Isaiah will go up. It will probably be in the evening (especially if the "review" requires multiple days.) Jim said, "Don't you dare type 'My apologies . . .'" and I won't. This is nothing to do with Isaiah and nothing to do with me.
On e-mails, I didn't realize that when I was sick, so many of you were holding off on e-mails. Thank you for that. There were a little over 7,000 e-mails when I went into the members account this morning. I thought, "Wow, we're going to have some tough choices for the outside the US mainstream media entries tonight." Then I saw that most e-mails were just people checking in. No one ever has to hold off weighing in on an issue or e-mailing in any form. But since so many include a note along the lines of "since you were sick, I was waiting . . ." I'll say thank you because it was nice of everyone to hold off. (But you don't have to do that.)
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to listen to RadioNation with Laura Flanders later today.
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