Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Other Items

Charles Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, said the United States had court-martialed 103 American service members and intelligence officers since 2001, leading to 19 convictions with jail terms of a year or more.
That figure contrasted with numbers quoted by the panel last week and provided by Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit organization based in the United States. The group identified 54 courts-martial, 10 of which resulted in jail terms of a year or more.
But human rights groups said the numbers cited by American officials were still low. Last week the panel cited data from rights groups saying that more than 600 service members or intelligence officers had been involved in suspected acts of torture.
In the two days of questioning, the panel pushed the delegation to define the scope of torture. On Monday, Fernando Marino Menendez, a panel member from Spain, asked whether torture could be defined to include the forced disappearance of terrorism suspects and the establishment of secret prisons.

The above is more from Tom Wright's one man clean up job for the administration. It's called
"U.S. Defends Itself on Inmate Abuse" and it's in the New York Times, so why does it feel like we're watching Harvey Keitel in Point of No Return? (He played "the cleaner" in that film before he played it in Pulp Fiction.)

There's reality and then there's Wright. Guantanamo is a subject we highlight but one highlight Eddie thinks we missed is BuzzFlash's interview with Mark Danner where torture is discussed near the end. (BuzzFlash is celebrating its sixth anniversary.) From "Mark Danner un-Fixes the 'Facts' That Took Us Down the Road to War in Iraq:"

BuzzFlash: You also wrote a book on torture, and you had a interview about it in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. What is the reason that the Bush Administration decided upon a path of torturing quite extensively? Do they really think that this works?
Mark Danner: I think they made a decision after 9/11 that this is a new kind of war, a new paradigm, as Alberto Gonzales put it, and that the war had to be fought first and foremost on intelligence. The only way to prevent future terrorist attacks, was to have very accurate, very real-time intelligence. The phrase that was repeatedly used was, the gloves had to come off. Of course, the implication of that is that before 9/11, the gloves were on -- that somehow these gloves being on had made possible these attacks. So there’s a self-exculpatory theme in that logic. We're going to change how the government does business after 9/11. Why? Because the way the government did business before 9/11 made the attacks possible. In a sense, they're shedding all these rules like who you can arrest, what you can do during interrogation, how you can hold people, what justification you can use, if any. Shedding all those rules, in a sense, was self-exculpatory. We have to get rid of these rules because they led to the attack. And if these gloves hadn't been on, we would have been able to protect the country. That's the broader logic.
BuzzFlash: Meaning that they failed to protect the country.
Mark Danner: Yes, but only in part due to their fault. The real fault was that "the gloves were on."
I think these officials -- Cheney, Rumsfeld -- don't know anything about interrogation. At the bottom of a memo in which Rumsfeld approved various interrogation techniques, including forced standing for up to five hours, he very famously wrote a note saying: Why only five hours? I stand eight to twelve hours a day. You look at that and think, this man has no idea what the hell he's approving here. This is forced standing. You can't move. It builds up edema in your legs. It’s incredibly painful. This is what the Soviets used for years. And you look at that little notation and say, my God, he has no idea what the hell he’s doing. He doesn’t know the implications of this at all. It’s just somebody who’s saying we have to be really tough with these guys. For the people at the top, this is their way of getting tough and taking the gloves off, and changing the way the country does business. They think it's effective.

Lloyd's note Matthew Rothschild's "Lawless Spymaster to Head CIA" (This Just In, The Progressive):

So now Bush wants the guy who began the illegal spying over at the NSA to head up the CIA.
What, Chuck Colson turned Bush down?
G. Gordon Liddy doesn't want to quit his radio job?
Ollie North would rather stay on Fox?
I mean, how brazen is Bush going to be?
Here we have General Michael Hayden, who, when he headed up the NSA, "directed and subsequently defended the President's illegal wiretapping," as Russ Feingold has noted. Hayden also failed to properly inform the Congressional intelligence committees, Sen. Feingold added.
Prior to 9/11, Hayden had a reputation as someone who respected NSA's boundaries about not spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant.
But after 9/11, he accepted Bush's order to spy on Americans illegally, bypassing the FISA court, which has, under law, the exclusive power to authorize such domestic spying.

Last night, Kat offered her latest review: "Kat's Korner: Richie Havens: The Economical Collection." This is part of the seven (at least seven) reviews she'll be doing here over the next two weeks (Saturday's Neil Young's Living With War review was the first). Time permitting, she'll be posting another one tonight (no later than Wednesday, she says).

On reviews, since Jon Pareles only did a feature story on Neil Young's recording of Living With War, shouldn't the paper (of no record) have noted the CD either Sunday or Monday? (May 8th was not a typo, most stores had it stocked and ready to sale yesterday.) It's not noted today either. Jon Pareles talked of the album, quoted the artist, gave basic info, it wasn't a review, nor was it billed as such. It was a feature. And is that all the paper intends to provide? So one of the most talked releases isn't going to be reviewed in the paper?

That's interesting. Almost as interesting as yesterday's music reviews starting off without a lead review.

Now maybe, like today in the DVD section with The Lucy & Desi Collection, they're just running a little late? (They are on that DVD set, it came out last Tuesday but is reviewed today in "Critic's Choice: New DVD's" today with other DVDs that actually are released today and no effort is made in the text to indicate that Ball & Arnaz's collection is not "Also Out Today.")

In something else with a funny sell-by-date, Martha notes an article on the we're-not-supposed-to-say-she's-gay Mary Cheney (by Jennifer Frey). Mary Cheney's hawking her new book and hoping to fleece your pockets so suddenly it's okay to say she's gay. She was gay, in fact out as gay, for years before John Kerry noted that in a 2004 debate. But we were supposed to be shocked, shocked, shocked.

The only thing shocking was how craven or embarrassed her parents were by her and of her as well as her own silence during the attempt to liken her own life to something resembling a drug addiction that we simply don't speak of. So Mary Cheney's got a new book out. I'm sure it's the nonfiction equivalent of her mother's fictional look at lesbians on the prarie. And sure that it, like her mother's book, is badly written. Were the book a success, she might be able to buy herself a little self-respect.

However, the book's a hard sell. There's nothing "explosive" (or even "interesting") about it. Her flurry of press was in November of 2004, not last month. She's the daughter of one of the least liked men in the world. (Her mother's a big question mark in the minds of many where "bland" is more often the term applied -- other less kind terms are applied by those who follow the news. Her father is known and hated.) Those who stick with her father (and some do, a little over 30% of the public, year after year) are the pro-torture, pro-secrecy, pro-fundy group. Translation, they're not interested in this book. Destined to be Queen of the Remainders, filling the shelves at outlet malls across the nation (and not selling there either), Mary Cheney learned the lesson about cashing in from her her father -- she just couldn't learn his sense of timing (which, no matter what you think of him, has always been strong -- even this morning, he may be setting up a future book deal on life in prison, don't put it past him).

Martha also notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Omar Fekeiki's "Bombings, Shootings Kill at Least 30 in Iraq" (Washington Post):

Bombings and shootings killed more than 30 people in Iraq on Monday, including at least a dozen men apparently taken to Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad and killed execution-style.
Much of the violence was sectarian in nature. Attacks included Sunni insurgent strikes on targets of the Shiite-led government and U.S. forces, and killings by what appeared to be sectarian death squads.

[. . .]
An Iraqi reporter and an Iraqi technician working for Egyptian-owned al-Nahrain TV were found shot dead southeast of Baghdad. Station authorities said men dressed in police uniforms, with police cars and standard-issue police weapons, had stopped reporter Laith al-Dulaimi and technician Muazaz Ahmed at a police checkpoint south of Baghdad on Sunday and took the journalists away.

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today -- and you may be in an area where you can see and hear Amy Goodman in person (Boston, this week):

* Amy Goodman in Boston, MA:
Wed, May 10
*TIME: 10 AM
Elizabeth Neuffer Forum on Human Rights and Journalism
JFK Presidential Library and Museum Smith Hall
There is no cost to attend the luncheon, but space is limited.
For more information: RSVP by May 5 to Neuffer@iwmf.org
or telephone (202) 496-1998 Ext. 5
Columbia Point
Boston, MA
* Amy Goodman in Washington, D.C.:
Thur, May 18
BEA PartyBusboys and Poets

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