Tuesday, March 22, 2005

This morning's Times: Chechnya, Israel, FBI's Guantanamo Memo, and more but nothing on the peace rallies held across the nation over the weekend

In this morning's New York Times you'll note first that there is no protest coverage. Apparently the peace rallies didn't happen. Which reminds me of another voice heard in The Third Estate Sunday Review coverage where participants were asked to answer why they were attending:

Kim, 20: "Why am I here? Do you see CBS here? Do you see Peter Jennings or the loser who replaced Tom Brokaw [Brian Williams]? How about some reporter from the holy New York Times? No? Me neither. So I must not be here. This must not be happening. It's all a figment of our imagination. Because if all these people were really here, surely our media giants would be here, right? Judith Miller would be here standing next to me with her steno pad ready to take down my dictation if this were really happening? Why am I here? Because if I wasn't, I'd be as useless as they are. I'd be part of the banality of evil."

Were we there? [Disclosure, I helped with that entry by The Third Estate Sunday Review.] Judging by the Times' coverage, lack of, we weren't there.

In today's paper, Steven Lee Myers has an article entitled "Rights Group Reports Thousands of Disappearances in Chechnya." From that article:

A prominent human rights organization said in a report released Monday that kidnappings and extrajudicial detentions had become so rampant in Chechnya that they amounted to crimes against humanity.
Human Rights Watch, based in New York, reported that an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 civilians from the region had disappeared since Russia's second war in Chechnya began in 1999, and it linked a majority of the cases to Russian or Chechen security forces.
Some of those kidnapped or detained in security sweeps have died in custody, and some have been released after being questioned and in some cases tortured. But the fate of most remains unknown, the organization said in its report.
"The human rights violations Russian forces have committed there, reinforced by the climate of impunity the government has created, have not only brought untold suffering to hundreds of thousands of civilians, but also undermined the goal of fighting terrorism," the report said, disputing Russian claims that its arrests and raids have focused on insurgents and terrorists.

From more on this see The Financial Times' "Russia's human rights record under fire" by Daniel Dombey, Raphael Minder and Peggy Hollinger which we noted here on Sunday night.

Also see Human Rights Watch's "Chechnya: 'Disappearances' a Crime Against Humanity."

Grey Myre has "Israel to Expand Largest West Bank Settlement:"

Israel on Monday publicly confirmed plans to build 3,500 new housing units in the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank, Maale Adumim. Palestinians angrily responded that such an action would violate the Middle East peace plan and would be a major obstacle to resolving bitter disputes over nearby Jerusalem.

Thank God they Israeli government "publicly confirmed" it or else the Times might not be able to write about it.

Back to the article:

After reports in the Israeli news media, the Defense Ministry confirmed Monday that Shaul Mofaz, the defense minister, had approved the new building plan for Maale Adumim two months ago, based on government proposals dating back several years.
[. . .]
In practical terms, the expansion of Maale Adumim creates two major problems, say Palestinians and other critics of the Israeli plan. First, Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and nearby areas will be effectively boxed in, with no room to grow.
[. . .]
In addition to formal settlements like Maale Adumim, settlers have established about 100 unauthorized outposts in recent years. Earlier this month, a government-sponsored report said Israeli governments had systematically broken the law by providing assistance to the outposts in the last decade.

This story was covered on Democracy Now!'s Headlines yesterday (Democracy Now! airs at eight a.m. eastern time each Monday through Friday):

Israel Expands West Bank Settlement by 3,500 Homes
In the Middle East, Palestinian officials have accused Israel of threatening the peace process by vastly expanding the size of its largest settlement in the West Bank. The BBC reports the Israeli government has confirmed 3,500 new homes are planned for the Maale Adumim settlement east of Jerusalem. In addition, two other large settlements are expected to be expanded. Under the peace plan known as the roadmap, Israel had pledged to freeze the growth of settlements on land occupied since 1967. The international community considers all settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as illegal under international law.

Don't miss David Johnston's "More of F.B.I. Memo Criticizing Guantánamo Methods Is Released:"

The Justice Department on Monday released an F.B.I. memorandum dated May 10, 2004, in which departmental lawyers dismissed intelligence obtained by coercive methods used by the military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as "suspect at best."
The existence of the memorandum has been known for months. But when it was first made public by the government, the memorandum was released in heavily edited form, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union.
In February, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, asked the Justice Department to restore the deleted parts of the document after confirmation hearings on Michael Chertoff's nomination to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
[. . .]
Mr. Chertoff said at his confirmation hearing that he did not engage in detailed discussions of interrogation policies and never offered specific advice [. . .]
But the newly released version of the memorandum identified for the first time four of Mr. Chertoff's top deputies who, according to the document, attended weekly meetings with F.B.I. officials in which the military's interrogation methods were frequently discussed and criticized as ineffective and unproductive.

This is a short story (in the paper), one that should be a lot longer and on the front page.

Let's note "Shooting Rampage by Student Leaves 10 Dead on Reservation." This article is by Jodi Wilgoren with assistance from Mikkel Patesfrom, Kermit Pattison, and Gretchen Reuthling. All deserve credit for not turning this into a tabloid story but instead a serious look at what happened. (My opinion.) From the article:

The shooting was the worst at a school since 15 people were killed at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo., in 1999, and came just 18 months after two students were fatally shot at Rocori High School in the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring, 200 miles away.

(For the record, to clear up something that fell through the cracks last week -- my fault -- of those who weighed in on a link to a racist organization in two previous articles carrying Wilgoren's name, the community members were split in half over whether the organization should or shouldn't have been linked to. Half felt it was news and the paper's responsibility to get the word out. The other half felt it was promoting a hate group.)

Linda Greenhouse has two articles worth noting: "Justices Hear Debate on Whether Police Must Intervene" and "Inmates Who Follow Satanism and Wicca Find Unlikely Ally." (She actually has a third article but Rehnquist may be too scary this early in the morning for some members.)

And Edmund L. Andrews has "Another Top Treasury Official Announces Resignation Plans:"

John B. Taylor, the Treasury Department's under secretary for international affairs, said Monday that he would resign on April 22, the latest in a series of top-level resignations at the department since the elections in November.
Administration officials are hoping to replace Mr. Taylor with Tim Adams, a former Treasury official who coordinated economic policy issues for President Bush's re-election campaign last year. Many of the other vacant posts have not been filled.

As we noted Sunday, check out The Economist's "Not exactly major league" for a look at how the Bush economic team is viewed elsewhere.

The site e-mail address is common_ills@yahoo.com. Remember to listen to The Stephanie Miller Show today for the hearing held in Ohio yesterday if you're able to. Also, if Bob Somerby heard The Ethicist from the New York Times on The Majority Report last night, you can expect him to address it today at The Daily Howler.