Sunday, March 19, 2006

NYT: "In Secret Unit's 'Black Room,' A Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse" (Eric Schmitt & Carolyn Marshall)

The article to read in this morning's New York Times (yes, there is one worth reading) is entitled "In Secret Unit's 'Black Room,' A Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse" (online, they go for "Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees" which is quite a bit more direct).

The front page article, written by Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall, details the activities of Task Force 6-26, an apparently mysterious and unsupervised sepcial ops unit. They ran camp and resorted to torture. That's what's going on. (And online, the headline doesn't mince words.)

For all the John McCain lovers out there (there must be at least one), picture POW McCain. Now picture him as target practice in rounds of paint-ball. Picture that, especially if you're a jingoist, done by foreigners.

That's only one of the many things done by Task Fork 6-26 at Camp Nama. (Only we are the "foreigners" in this instance.)

The article notes that the activities (many of which are still shrouded in secrecy) "belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rouge reservists at Abu Ghraib." Well I'm glad that we can all finally accept that Private England wasn't training everyone on how to abuse.

In addition to paint-ball, there are reports/indications of burning, beatings and much more. Much is made of a note from Stephen A. Cambone (reproduced in the paper) in which he writes:

Get to the bottom of this immediately.
This is not acceptable. [Note that "not" is underlined.]
I want a fuller report of action taken, etc., by Wednesday.
In particular I wan to know if this is part of a pattern of behavior by TF 6-26.

Note, I haven't mispelled, I've typed it up as he has written. With the exception of "fuller" which might be "fullar" or "fullur" -- his writing is unclear and the Times doesn't attempt to decipher that statement. They do, however, add a non-present "t" to "I wan to know" which should, for accuracy, read "In particular I wan[t] to know."

You learn that a prisoner was, among other things, kicked repeatedly until he threw up. (In the stomach, after being punched in the spine.) That is, for anyone confused, torture. The music played at ear splitting decibels? It too is torture. The Times adds to that "to unnerve them." Yes, well torture attempts to unnerve.

The paper notes that "Senior military officials insist that the elite warriors . . . are now treating detainees more humanely and can police themselves." Forget that the statement is questionable, where is the oversight?

The paper's full of this government official and that military official, where is Congress?

Cambone wrote his note a few months after Abu Ghraib made the news. (June 26, 2004 is the date on his note.) When the administration pushed the "few bad apples" story to the public (lied) (lied about a "few bad apples" and lied by omission due to not informing the public of other abuse that was then ongoing), did Congress know of this?

Let's repeat that the nation is not (not yet) a military junta. Where is the Congressional oversight?

And why was the administration allowed to dissemble (a point that's really not raised in the story) to the American public. We are responsible for what is done in our names and we have a right to know. (We have an obligation to know.)

The article focuses on getting information out of government and military officials, as well as attempts to speak to those who served at or near the torture room. Where is Congress?

Congress pops up in the third to last paragraph:

Human Rights advocates and leading members of Congress say the Pentagon must still do more to hold senior-level commanders and civilian officials accountable for miscondut.

To which we'll add, Congress must do more than sit around hoping a problem goes away.

New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: 3rd Anniversary and what have you done?
TV Review: Don't call her Elaine
Why We March
Christian Parenti on KPFA's Sunday Salon this am and Air America's RadioNation with Laura Flanders this evening
One voice applauded, one not heard?
The ones who go missing, missing from the coverage
Camilo Mejia spoke with Laura Flanders about the 241 mile march
Miles Cameron can't figure out what news is
It should come in a brown wrapper
Who uses free speech?

Trina posted last night with "Charro Beans in the Kitchen." The Times sees Barack Obama as next to Jesus ("One admitted speck: a smoking habit that he is working to break, and a past experimentation with drugs," writes Anne E. Kornblut). For those less enthralled, check out Cedric's "About the fighters: Russ Feingold, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez."

Remember that demonstrations go on today. And check your inboxes (if you haven't already) for the latest gina & krista round-robin. (Today's the last day of the special editions.) West has picked out The World Today Just Nuts that we'll be rerunning this morning. (Isaiah created a daily comic for the round-robin and we gave a heads up to this already.)

Also remember:

RadioNation with Laura Flanders
Sunday 7:00-10:00 pm Eastern Time
Sunday's broadcast of RadioNation with Laura Flanders will include guests Christian Parenti of The Nation and Linda Foley, president of the Newspaper Guild. Flanders will also be discussing alternatives to war with UNICEF president Carol Bellamy.

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