Friday, June 30, 2006

Other Items (Barbara Olshansky on Democracy Now! today)

As the Supreme Court prepared to rule on the Bush administration's plan to try terror suspects before special military tribunals here, the commander of Guantanamo's military detention center was asked what impact the court's decision might have on its operations.
[. . .]
Over the last six weeks, the military custodians at Guantanamo have been rocked by desperate protests -- the suicides of three detainees who hanged themselves from the steel-mesh walls of their small cells, the intentional drug overdoses of at least two other prisoners, and a riot against guards in a showcase camp for the most compliant detainees. Those events, in turn, set off new waves of criticism of the camp from foreign governments, legal associations and human rights groups.
Thursday, in rejecting the administration's elaborate plan to try Guantanamo detainees by military commission, as the tribunals are called, the court struck at one of the first ramparts the administration built to defend itself against criticism that Guantanamo was a "black hole" in which men declared to be enemies of the United States were stripped of rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
"It strengthens calls for solving 'the Guantanamo problem,' " the administration lawyer said. "Not because it deals with the detention issue directly, but because it removes the argument that soon there would be more legal process there."

The above is from Tim Golden's "After Ruling, Uncertainty Hovers at Cuba Prison" in this morning's New York Times. This entry will be added to in about an hour. I'm going to workout. After that, we've got Martha's highlight, an event to note, Francisco's pointed out (rightly) that something noted in Polly's Brew wasn't noted here (by me on both counts), so we'll add that.

Till then, that's it for now.

ADDED. [Everything from here on to the end.] First Francisco, pointed out that I'd noted the Zapatista opinion of the upcoming elections at Polly's Brew but not here. Members are still signing up for Polly's Brew so if anyone missed it, the Zapatista view is that the vast number of people will not be helped/aided by the candidates on display for president of Mexico. If you're a member and you weren't signed up for Polly's Brew when that ran, e-mail me and I'll send the thing to you. (Francisco also noted it was a nice way to work in a mention of Polly's Brew and notes that when Sunday rolls around, it usually doesn't get the attention it deserves here. He's correct.) Thanks to Francisco for making those points.

The official State Department version is that "there was absolutely no friction whatsoever" between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow on Thursday.But a recording of the ministers' private lunch, made when an audio link into the room was accidentally left on, showed that "Condi" and "Sergei" -- as they called each other -- had several long and testy exchanges over Iraq. The disputes concerned relatively minor wording changes in the five-page statement issued after the meeting, but grew out of basic differences between the two governments over how to proceed on Iraq.The State Department's subsequent denial of tensions illustrates how officials manage the information that flows to the public from such closed-door meetings to create an image meant to advance foreign policy objectives. Reporters often have no independent account of such discussions.

The above, noted by Martha, is from Glenn Kessler's "A Spat Over Iraq Revealed On Tape:Rice and Russian Caught Bickering At Private Lunch" (Washington Post). Martha notes that there's nothing on it on the New York Times. And thinks that's something to remember in all this "Oh the poor Times" talk.

It's a good point. We haven't engaged in "Oh the poor Times" talk here. No charges have been filed against the paper (or the Wall St. Journal or the LA Times which all broke the story on the same day). The paper of record had talks with the White House repeatedly about the story on spying (this one on the financial records of America). We noted it Saturday. They were ongoing talks.

Laura Flanders (who has been filling in for Mike Malloy all week on The Mike Malloy Show -- airs live on Air America Radio from ten p.m. to one a.m. EST) took a call from one woman who was now buying the paper to show her "support." As Flanders said, "You don't have to go that far."

The paper will get the usual mileage out of this that it always does, people will (and are) rallying around it. Inside the paper, some people are disgusted with how long the story was sat on and with the paper's ongoing talks (who were the "insurgents" in these talks?) with the White House before they'd finally run the story. You make that call right before five p.m. You say, "We're about to go to press with ___. Does the White House have a response?"

That's what a free press does. A free press doesn't meet with the White House and say, "Well, what if we cover this, but not that."

So while the Times gets all the "poor paper" talk, what do they do with it? They can't be bothered noting that Condi the diplomat (they loved pushing that and every outfit she wore) had a little melt down. It's still the administration's "pal" in print. Nothing's changed. Which is why they won't be charged and they won't 'get' the point that they're on the "hit list." (They're not on the 'hit list.' This is nothing but a way for the paper of no record to look important and for the administration and Republicans to score some easy points on the press and get their base all excited.)

One of the good things about doing this entry in two parts is being able to include Noah's highlight. It's one of those highlights that requires changing every *"* and *'* to avoid sqaures, however, it's also, LANGUAGE WARNING if you use the link, required replacing letters. For those who can read anything on any computer they are on, please do. For those who don't have that freedom, enjoy the excerpt and hopefully you can check it out later. From Nir Rosen's "Ugly Americans in Iraq" (Truthdig):

My friend wanted to begin his recounting of his time in Iraq by discussing "the character of the American men fighting this war." He joked that "it might be a shock to some of the architects of this war that our fighters don't read magazines like The Weekly Standard or The New Republic or give a rat's ass about where our occupation in Iraq is headed."
He continued: "The reason most of them signed up for service (me included) was to get some action, destroy Al Qaeda and come home with a body count to brag about at a local bar. Who gives a f**k about the rest? I think it can be best summed up in a conversation I overheard at my recruitment station. When one kid was asked why he joined the infantry, he didn't have any doubts: 'I enlisted to kill towelheads.'"
The very nature of special operations and the infantry is to kill and/or capture dangerous people, destroy s**t and prevent attacks. Creating rapport with the local population isn't really part of the vocabulary--especially if the local population is as insanely dangerous as Iraq. In the eyes of many fellow soldiers who signed up because of 9/11, and because of the Bush administration’s portrayal of Iraq as part of the 'war on terror,' many of the guys fully believed that they were in a hunt [for] men responsible for the blood bath in lower Manhattan."
My friend added that regardless of where soldiers are, "be that a foreign country or a local bar in a military town, they usually wear out their welcome anywhere they go--they've perfected the skill."
My friend stressed that "our officers took extra special care to fully explain the Rules of Engagement (ROE) in formal briefings to men in my company, and over the course of 140 missions they practiced professional restraint with their actions. But there is also a golden explicit rule with everything you do in war: Make sure that your ass comes home alive. This necessitates aggressive infantry platoon behavior on the part of the U.S. military that ultimately results in something quite the opposite of our stated goals: 'building democracy' and winning 'hearts and minds.' While we were largely successful in hunting the men we were pursuing, my personal impression was that we probably created two times more insurgents than we caught, not to mention the communities we greatly angered with our raids. Our actions were a direct contribution to, as [allied commander] Gen. George Casey said in September 2005, an occupation that is 'fueling the insurgency.'"
He told me a story about his platoon’s return to the U.S. after its second deployment to Iraq, when its members went to see the premiere of the film "Team America." Made by the creators of television's "South Park," “Team America" was a comical marionette action flick about a jingoistic fire team whose utter recklessness was matched by their righteous yahoo attitude that America must preserve the very fabric of civilization. No film has more accurately depicted our presence in Iraq; it was a looking glass and it instantly became a platoon favorite. There is a classic scene in the movie where Team America's overbearing red, white and blue helicopter lands on top of a bazaar in the Middle East, crushing an Arab's cashew stand. The side of the helicopter read: "We Protect, We Serve, We Care." That scene hit so close to home, it was scary. Later in the movie, in a high-speed chase against terrorists, a missile gets misfired and destroys the Sphinx (in Egypt). "The movie theater, packed with guys from my platoon, was howling with laughter. We even sarcastically recited lines from the theme songs 'Freedom Isn't Free' and 'America, F**k Yeah' before and after missions on our third tour in the winter of 2005. By then the disconnect between the lofty rhetoric of our leaders and the crap we dealt with on the ground couldn't have been greater. The mentality of soldiers in Iraq is compounded by a group of factors--wrecked relationships, senselessly drawn-out deployments, sex/alcohol deprivation, and getting mortared on a nightly basis, to name a few." He added that "Iraq is a scary f**king place. Every hard-hitting thing we did there was due in large part to our fear of that place."


CCR Submitted Two Amicus Briefs on Behalf of Hamdan, Arguing Against Military Commissions and Detainee Treatment Act
NEW YORK, June 29, 2006 -- Today the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) declared the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld as a significant victory for the Constitution, fairness and due process, vindicating the Center’s five-year legal fight for due process and human rights against the Bush Administration’s illegal detention policies. CCR filed two amicus briefs in the case, which is the first Guantánamo case to reach the Court since its June 2004 decision in Rasul v. Bush, which CCR brought and won.
"The Supreme Court has firmly rejected President Bush's attempt to sidestep American courts. Now the President must act: try our clients in lawful U.S. courts or release them. The game is up. There is no way for President Bush to continue hiding behind a purported lack of judicial guidance to avoid addressing the illegal and immoral prison in Guantánamo Bay. Significantly, the Court decided that the Geneva Conventions apply to the so-called 'War on Terror' - people must be treated humanely and the administration cannot put itself above the law," said CCR President Michael Ratner. "We are gratified that the Court accepted our argument that fundamental human rights are protected by the Geneva Conventions, and this decision vindicates our five-year legal struggle," he added.
Mr. Hamdan is a detainee who was designated to be tried before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. His lawsuit challenges the President's authority to establish military commissions in the absence of specific congressional action, and it also challenges the trial proceedings as violating the Constitution, U.S. military law, and the Geneva Conventions. CCR filed two amicus briefs in support of Mr. Hamdan's case, arguing that the administration's military commission system "violate the well-established norms of international humanitarian law" such as the Geneva Conventions, and challenging the legality of the Detainee Treatment Act. (The first brief was filed jointly with pro bono attorneys representing hundreds of detainees at Guantánamo, and the second was filed jointly with Human Rights First and FIDH.)
CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman explained the significance of today's ruling in light of CCR's 2004 victory in Rasul v. Bush: "Ever since we won the 2004 Supreme Court decision requiring due process at Guantánamo, the administration has been evading the decision, breaking American law and undermining America's stature in the process. Today the Court firmly rejected President Bush's unlawful and immoral Guantánamo policies, and I hope we can begin rebuilding due process and respect for human rights in our legal system."

Event today for those in or near the NYC area:

* Amy Goodman in Stony Ridge, NY:
Fri, June 30*
TIME: 7:30 PM
Sounding the Alarm for Freedom: Media Responsibility in Time of WarTickets are $5 (students free)
For more information: (845) 876 7535
Panel Discussion featuring:
Congressman Maurice Hinchey: leader in media reform legislation
Amy Goodman: award winning investigative journalist for "Democracy Now"
Jeff Cohen: founder of FAIR, panelist on "News Watch" (Fox) and"Crossfire" (CNN)
Danny Schechter: media critic and filmmaker ("Weapons of MassDeception")
Dr. Alan Chartock, President and CEO of WAMC, will host the panel,which will be broadcast by member stations of WAMC/NPR.

Amy Goodman, Jeff Cohen and Danny Schechter. If you're in that area sounds like a wonderful evening. Today's scheduled topics on Democracy Now!:

* The Supreme Court rules 5-3 that President Bush overstepped his
in ordering military trials for detainees at Guantánamo Bay. We'll
with the Center for Constitutional Rights that brought the case.
* Dr. Steven Miles on his new book "Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical
Complicity and the War on Terror."

I'll be checking it out and recommend you do as well. (Rebecca, Ty, Ava and I are actually listening right now. Barbara Olshansky is about to be on.) I will not be wasting a day, however. (See last night's entry.) Rebecca's a house guest and she's already said, "Let's listen to The Randi Rhodes Show today" (Air America) and since I doubt Randi will forget that there's a war going on in Iraq (as too many shows did this week never noting Iraq), that's what we'll listen to. I feel like four days have been wasted waiting for information, discussions, you name it, that never came. I'll start anew next week but I know the topics for today and I have no interest in wasting my time. (I don't think DN! wasted time this week.)

The e-mail address for this site is