Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Other Items

The military commander responsible for the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, confirmed Tuesday that officials there last month turned to more aggressive methods to deter prisoners who were carrying out long-term hunger strikes to protest their incarceration.

The above is from Eric Schmitt and Tim Golden's "Force-Feeding at Guantánamo Is Now Acknowledged" in this morning's New York Times. We've gone from "tough" to "aggressive" methods/measures. In the lead anyway ("tough measures" pops back up as you read on).
From the article:

After The New York Times reported Feb. 9 that the military had begun using restraint chairs and other harsh methods, military spokesmen insisted that the procedures for dealing with the hunger strikes at Guantanamo had not changed. They also said they could not confirm that the chairs had been used.

That's the past, now General Craddock (what an interesting name) pops up to say it is being done but that it is "not inhumane." And who are you going to believe? These men are "terrorists, trained by Al Qaeda to use false stories as propaganda." That makes it into the paper not credited to anyone other than unnamed "military spokesmen."

From the article:

Lawyers for the detainees and several human rights groups have assailed the new methods used against the hunger strikers as inhumane, and as unjustified by the reported medical condition of the prisoners.
According to newly declassified interview notes, several detainees who had been on hunger strikes told their lawyers during visits late last month that the military had begun using harsher methods more widely in the second week of January. One Yemeni detainee, Emad Hassan, described the chair to lawyers in interviews on Jan. 24 and 25.
"The head is immobilized by a strap so it can't be moved, their hands are cuffed to the chair and the legs are shackled," the notes quote Mr. Hassan as saying. "They ask, 'Are you going to eat or not?' and if not, they insert the tube. People have been urinating and defecating on themselves in these feedings and vomiting and bleeding. They ask to be allowed to go to the bathroom, but they will not let them go. They have sometimes put diapers on them."
Another former hunger striker, Isa al-Murbati of Bahrain, described a similar experience to his lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, in an interview on Jan. 28.
On Jan. 10, he said, a lieutenant came to his isolation cell and told him that if he did not agree to eat solid food, he would be strapped into the chair and force-fed. After he refused to comply, he said, soldiers picked him up by the throat, threw him to the floor and strapped him to the restraint chair.

[. . .]
Detainees said the Guantanamo medical staff also began inserting and removing the long plastic feeding tubes that were threaded through the detainees' nasal passages and into their stomachs at every feeding, a practice that caused sharp pain and frequent bleeding, they said. Until then, doctors there said, they had been allowing the hunger strikers to leave their feeding tubes in, to reduce discomfort.

Must be nice . . . for the government. To do what it ever it wants and have the press run with your terms. "Detainees"? That really does need to stop. These aren't "detainees." How many years pass before they're called prisoners by the press? And at what point does the press stop printing self-serving statements by unnamed spokespeople? This is an outrage internationally. In this country, part of the reason we've accepted this for so long has to do with the "reporting" on it.

In other Guantanamo news, check out Josh White's "Justices May Hear Detainee's Appeal" (the Washington Post):

The Supreme Court refused yesterday to dismiss a case that challenges the legality of military trials for terrorism suspects, declining to immediately accept the Bush administration's argument that a new law has stripped the court of its ability to consider the matter.
The justices instead decided to consider whether they have the authority to hear an appeal by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the alleged driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, at the same time that they hear oral arguments about the constitutionality of the "military commission" trial that Hamdan is slated to face. Those arguments are scheduled for March 28.

You'll also learn from the article that the hideous Graham-Levin amendment has its authors disagreeing. Carl Levin says it applies only to cases filed after the amendment passed, Graham says it's retroactive. A sense of decency says it's an outrage.

Back at the Times, you'll find what Rebecca would call "are you really surprised?" news in Linda Greenhouse's "Justices to Review Federal Ban on Disputed Abortion Method:"

The Supreme Court, at full strength with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on the bench for the first time, opened the next chapter in its long-running confrontation with abortion on Tuesday by agreeing to decide whether the first federal ban on a method of abortion is constitutional.

In other news in the New York Times, you'll find that it takes three reporters (Alan Finder, Patrick D. Healy and Kate Zernike) to cover the departure of Joan Crawford from the Warner Bros. lot. Yes, drama queen Lawrence H. Summers is leaving the building as the Times reports in "President of Harvard Resigns, Ending Stormy 5-Year Tenure:"

But advisers and confidants of Dr. Summers said he privately concluded a week ago that he should step down, after members of Harvard's governing corporation and friends -- particularly from the Clinton administration -- made it clear that his presidency was lost.
Dr. Summers, who earned a base salary of $563,000 in the 2004-5 academic year and received a 3 percent raise last July, is to leave office June 30. Derek C. Bok, 75, who was Harvard's president from 1971 to 1991, will serve as interim president until a permanent successor is found.

While one drama queen leaves, another stays firm. From David E. Sanger and Eric Lipton's
"Bush Would Veto Any Bill Halting Dubai Port Deal:"

President Bush, trying to put down a rapidly escalating rebellion among leaders of his own party, said Tuesday that he would veto any legislation blocking a deal for a state-owned company in Dubai to take over the management of port terminals in New York, Miami, Baltimore and other major American cities.
Mr. Bush issued the threat after the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, and the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, publicly criticized the deal and said a thorough review was necessary to ensure that terrorists could not exploit the arrangement to slip weapons into American ports. Mr. Bush suggested that the objections to the deal might be based on bias against a company from the Middle East, one he said was an ally in fighting terrorism.

Maybe Bully Boy can call Frist and Hastert "soft" on terrorism? Leaving the land of the delusion for the real world, Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "The Gall of Bush" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzales are Gallists. There is no limit to their gall.
Not only does Bush assert that he can flout the FISA law and go and wiretap you without a warrant, he now asserts that any discussion of his illegality somehow jeopardizes our security.
On Friday, at Centcom in Tampa, he said: "Unfortunately, we're having this discussion. It's too bad, because guess who listens to the discussion: the enemy."
Somehow, I think Osama knows that the U.S. is spying on him.
And anyway, open discussion is what democracy is all about.
If we can't even talk about Presidential law-breaking, Bush is off scot free.
That's why he wants to suffocate the inquiry into the NSA scandal under a wet blanket of fear-mongering, which is the Administration's default maneuver on just about everything.

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

The e-mail address for this site is