Friday, May 20, 2005

This hits it about right:

With regards to our image abroad, an issue I have discussed recently, a blogger by the handle Pinko Feminist Hellcat has this to say:
We already have quite a history of torture and mistreatment.

Yeah, it is indeed a bit late to be expressing concerns about damage to our image, given all the self-inflicted damage that has been done over the last handful of years, and as I duly noted earlier, truly over the last several decades. We'll collectively either wake up to that truth now or we will continue to get wake-up calls in the form of terrorist attacks, etc.

Oh, and before I forget, props to Rox Populi who has all sorts of other links to some heavy weekend reading. Peace.

Yet more outrage:

Wednesday 18 May 2005

Records requested by the ACLU describe a slaying by a soldier and various forms of abuse. A captain forced a man to dig his own grave.

Washington - A U.S. Army captain forced an Iraqi detainee to dig his own grave and then ordered troops to pretend to shoot the detainee in one of several mock executions described in investigative documents released Tuesday by the Army.

Capt. Shawn L. Martin of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was convicted of aggravated assault and battery in a court-martial proceeding for the mock execution episode, an Army spokesman said. He was sentenced to 45 days' confinement and fined $12,000.

On July 13, 2003, Martin drove the blindfolded Iraqi, a suspect in a roadside bombing against American troops two days earlier, into the desert near Ramadi, according to military documents and Army officials.

Martin handed him a shovel and told him to dig his own grave, soldiers under his command testified during an investigation.

A sergeant said he fired a round over the Iraqi's head on the captain's orders. Afterward, the prisoner was released.

Army officials said the incident violated rules contained in the Army's field manual, which explicitly prohibits mock executions as a form of torture

The case was described in 50 pages of sworn testimony and disciplinary records that were among 2,600 pages of investigative documents, incident reports, medical forms and other documents related to detainee abuse, which the Army released after the American Civil Liberties Union sought them in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Included in the documents were reports of other mock executions, a homicide and the description of an incident in which a soldier allegedly goaded a prisoner by holding up the Jewish Star of David symbol while threatening other Arabs in the room.

Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, an Army spokesman, said the documents showed that the Army thoroughly investigated and prosecuted abuse allegations regardless of the rank of the soldiers involved.

"The investigations go wherever the truth leads," he said.

The documents include scant details on a single page about the killing of an Iraqi. A private with the 1st Infantry Division was convicted of manslaughter for killing an Iraqi detainee on Feb. 28, 2004, as troops searched the area around Taal Al Jal, north of Baghdad.

The soldier, who was not named by the Army, was sentenced to three years in prison. His rank was reduced from private first class to private, and he was given a dishonorable discharge.

In the case of Capt. Martin, soldiers said that immediately after the roadside bomb exploded near his troops, Martin kicked detainees who were wearing plastic handcuffs and pointed a gun at one. "I'll kill you…. What do you know?" the soldiers recounted Martin saying to one Iraqi.

The captain also captured eight people in a vehicle and led the driver away from the others, soldiers said. Then he fired a shot "like he killed him, to scare the rest of the detainees," a soldier wrote.

Later, another soldier wrote in a sworn statement, soldiers quoted the captain as telling them they "shouldn't talk about it" and should "have your stories straight."

The Army documents also detailed two mock executions of Iraqi detainees caught looting an ammunition factory in June 2003.

After the investigation was completed, an Army tank platoon leader with the 1st Armored Division agreed to a discharge to avoid a general court-martial. The documents did not indicate whether a sergeant who was said to have been working with the platoon leader was prosecuted.

According to the documents released Tuesday, the surname of the platoon leader - a second lieutenant - was Yancey; his first name was blacked out. The sergeant's entire name was blacked out.

In the first incident, the papers say, Yancey shot a gun just to the right of the detainee's head.

The officer later told military investigators that wild dogs were attacking him and that he fired to scare the dogs off. Several military witnesses, however, said the dogs around the ammunition site were not threatening the soldiers.

The military investigation into the incident uncovered evidence that Yancey often administered "street justice" and enjoyed scaring detainees.

Two days later, the platoon came across a father and his sons loading metal onto a truck at the ammunition factory. After detaining the Iraqis, a soldier recounted, the sergeant asked the father, "Which one do you want to die?" - referring to the man's sons.

Several soldiers said they recalled the sergeant taking one of the sons around the corner of a building and firing a shot.

"I yelled to him but he either ignored me or didn't hear me and proceeded with the boy around the building. We heard a single shot," one sworn statement read.

When asked why he did not inquire what happened after he heard the shot, one soldier answered, "The less I know, the faster I go home."

Yancey's commanding officer, a colonel whose name was also blacked out, wrote, "I do not see a requirement to tarnish [Yancey's] record for life with a federal conviction and dismissal at a general court-martial."

The "disgrace" of his dismissal was punishment enough, the colonel wrote. Link

Hardly Surprising:

Red Cross warned U.S. over Quran. And yes, that is on CNN's site. Here's a few clips:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross gathered "credible" reports about U.S. personnel at the Guantanamo Bay naval base disrespecting the Quran and raised the issue with the Pentagon several times, a group spokesman said Thursday.

Simon Schorno said the allegations were made by detainees to Red Cross representatives who visited the detention facility throughout 2002 and 2003.

[...]

"The fact that ICRC documented these allegations, documented them and formalized them, I think makes a difference," Schorno said. "We researched them and found they were credible allegations."

Although Red Cross employees did not personally witness any mishandling of Qurans, Schorno said, they documented and corroborated enough reports from detainees to share them with Pentagon and Guantanamo officials in confidential reports.

Schorno said the Red Cross would not have raised the issue if it had been an isolated incident, but he would not offer specifics about the number of complaints.

"The very fact that we brought up the issue speaks for itself," he said. "We don't make such reports for minor problems."

[...]

Human Rights Watch said that despite the Newsweek retraction it also had received reports from Muslim detainees -- at Guantanamo Bay, in Afghanistan and in Iraq -- that U.S. interrogators had repeatedly sought to offend their Islamic beliefs in order to humiliate them.

"Several detainees have alleged to Human Rights Watch and others that U.S. interrogators disrespected the Quran," according to a statement issued by the group Thursday.

Reed Brody, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch, noted the Newsweek story "would not have have resonated had it not been for the United States' extensive abuse of Muslim detainees and the government's failure to fully investigate all of those implicated."


On a somewhat related note, another story about torture in US-run gulags:
"Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

"The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

"Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"'Come on, drink!' the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. 'Drink!'

"At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"'Leave him up,' one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

"Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time." Link

US Government Fights War on Terrorism by

shielding a terrorist from facing justice. Glad we cleared that one up!

The Do-Nothing Congress

As Kid Oakland so aptly puts it, the GOP has fiddled with manufactured "crises" such as Terri Schaivo and the Nuclear Option, while real issues affecting real Americans go unaddressed. But hey, if nothing else, James Dobson's poodle (Sen. Frist) will presumably soon be able to rubberstamp nominations of corrupt individuals to appelate courts, for example:
...For those not familiar with Judge Owen or the ongoing criticism of her, she gives new meaning to the word "conservative." She is perhaps best known for her staunch opposition to abortion.

Now while everyone is entitled to his or her own personal views, Owen "has been at times so eager to issue conservative rulings in cases before her on the Texas Supreme Court that she has ignored statutory language and substituted her own views." Hence the label, "unconscionable judicial activist."

Judges are allowed to have personal views on issues. They are not supposed to allow those views to dictate their judicial decisions.

"A former lawyer for the oil and gas industry, she reflexively favors manufacturers over consumers, employers over workers and insurers over sick people. In abortion cases Justice Owen has been resourceful about finding reasons that, despite United States Supreme Court holdings and Texas case law, women should be denied the right to choose."

The Times also finds Owen lacking in the ethics department:

"Justice Owen has also shown a disturbing lack of sensitivity to judicial ethics. She has raised large amounts of campaign contributions from corporations and law firms, and then declined to recuse herself when those contributors have had cases before her. And as a judicial candidate, she publicly endorsed a pro-business political action committee that was raising money to influence the rulings of the Texas Supreme Court." Link

The Dems Could Learn From Galloway

So says Stan Goff, in a scathing open letter to the Democrats:
George Galloway did that for which you have proven incapable; he spoke as an opposition. Since there seems to be a great dark space in the middle of your heads where the notion of opposition should be ­ a void filled by parliamentary molasses and the pusillanimous inabilty to tell simple truths I suggest you all review the recordings of Galloway's confrontation with Republican Senator Norm "Twit" Coleman to see exactly how effortless it is to stand up to these cheap political bullies (watch the video). While you are at it, you can watch your colleague Carl Levin demonstrate exactly what I mean about most of you and your party, as he alternately hurls petulant cream-puff insults at Galloway and kisses Coleman's stunned, clueless ass to give that toothy dipshit some comfort in the wake of Galloway's verbal drubbing.

[...]

If Democrats had half the spine that Galloway does if you would stop chasing your creepy little careers through the caviar and chicken-salad circuits of duck-and-cover American political double-speak, then not only would people like me not be calling for all to abandon the Democratic Party and take their fight to the streets like good Bolivians not only that, but you'd have won the last election.

The reason Galloway was able to break from your mirror party in UK ­ Blair's sell-out Labor Party ­ and still get elected, is that Galloway fights for his convictions and the real needs of his constituents, and doesn't run for cover every time the bully-boys of the capitalist extablishment attempt to take him down.

Here's a hint.

People follow those who speak plainly and fight. Aside from Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, and Cynthia McKinney (not surprisingly Black women who know where it goes if you let rich white men get away with giving you a bunch of shit) and a precious few others, the Democratic Party is not only just another party controlled by big capitalists; it is not even a good *capitalist* opposition party (much less a real opposition).

Indeed. Add to that list perhaps John Conyers and Barbara Boxer, and that's pretty much the handful on the Democrat side of the aisle in either the House or Senate who tell it like it is and who dare to fight for some shred of justice. In order to capitalize on the complete lunacy that has inflicted by our own National Front Tories Republicans, the Dems would need to simply do as Goff suggested, and as Galloway aptly did: speak in plain English and fight. There's nothing terribly superhuman or extraordinary about doing so - it merely means that elected Dem officials and Dem contenders need to act like men and women rather than as frightened children. Learn from Galloway prior to 2006 and reap some huge rewards. Fail to learn from Galloway at your own peril.

Speaking of Galloway's courageous Senate testimony, it appears that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs fails to provide a link to Galloway's video footage - but provides video of everyone else who spoke. Talk about a bunch of bloody cowards. Fortunately, there are alternatives if one wants to watch or listen to Galloway's testimony: try Crooks and Liars excellent blog, for example.

Update: Jeanne, of the blog Body and Soul puts it a bit more succinctly than I or Goff did:
But it all worked because of the shock of hearing a political figure sit there and tell truth after truth after truth. Not a small truth buried in a ton of lies. Truth upon truth.

If you want to disentangle yourself from the wrapping the opposition has put you in, that's how you do it. No cheap shots and bitch slaps. Just truth upon truth.

That's how you beat 'em: truth upon truth - straight and to the point. It ain't rocket science. (props to Avedon Carol's always excellent blog The Sideshow for the link!

Update: a couple slight edits for grammar.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hypocrisy Watch: Frist Edition

Sen. Frist (aka James Dobson's pony boy) is, not too terribly surprisingly, a hypocrite. Why in Heaven's name would I dare to say such a thing, you might ask? Elementary, my Dear Watson:
Senator Chuck Schumer pounced on the GOP’s ultimate hypocrisy this morning as Bill Frist began his march to force the nuclear option with the nauseating nominations of corporate today Priscilla Owens and 19th-century minded Janice Rogers Brown to district courts. Mullah Frist has based his crusade to pander to the American Taliban on the notion that it is unconstitutional and wrong to filibuster judicial nominees and deny them a vote. Yet Schumer exposed Frist this morning for the hypocrite that he is, when he reminded Mullah Frist that he himself supported the filibuster of Clinton nominee Richard Paez and helped keep Paez from getting an up and down vote for four years. As you can see from Frist’s sputtering response, he was totally unable to justify or explain why it was OK for the GOP to block a vote on a Clinton Hispanic nominee for four years, but it is wrong for the Democrats to filibuster Bush nominees.

In fact, by the GOP’s own account, their efforts were justified because Clinton’s judges were activist judges. Fine, by that standard, all of the remaining seven of Bush’s failed nominees should be filibustered, using the GOP’s own criteria.

And if you want a godd summary of the GOP's 10 biggest lies about the filibuster and the facts to debunk those lies, read this from David Brock's Media Matters for America.

Link

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Rep. John Conyers on the Bu$hCo Newsweek Censorship Campaign

Push Back on the White House Newsweek Scam. Here's his letter to White House Spokesman McClellan:
May 17, 2005

Mr. Scott McClellan
Press Secretary
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. McClellan:

I write to express my profound disappointment and outrage about comments you made about a matter involving Newsweek magazine, which smacks of political exploitation of the deaths of innocent and a shameless attempt to intimidate reporters from critically investigating your Administration's actions. Your comments are contradicted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and stand in stark contrast with your actions involving the "Downing Street Memo." I urge you and your counterpart at the Pentagon to immediately retract the comments made yesterday, and - at long last - provide a full accounting of the Administration's actions in the lead up to the Iraq war.

As you are aware, a May 9th Newsweek report indicated that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba flushed the Koran down a toilet as part of an interrogation. Newsweek has since retracted the story. However, as the magazine was reevaluating information received from its sources, it appears you opted to exploit the situation for partisan political gain by falsely laying blame on Newsweek for recent deaths in Afghanistan.

Specifically, at 11:23am yesterday, you declared in a public statement: "his report has had serious consequences. It has caused damage to the image of the United States abroad. It has -- people have lost their lives. It has certainly caused damage to the credibility of the media, as well, and Newsweek, itself." The Pentagon spokesman, Larry DiRita, made similar comments. Referring to Newsweek's source, he said "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said." The clear implication of these statements is that the Newsweek report had caused a loss of life in Muslim nations, presumably referring to the recent riots in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

First, this attempt to tie riots to the Newsweek article stands in stark contrast to the assessment of your own senior military officials. On May 12th, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff had reported on his consultations with the Senior Commander in Afghanistan about whether there was a causal relationship between the Newsweek story and the riots thusly: "[h]e thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine." The only conclusion that can be reasonably drawn is that, in contrast to career military officers, political operatives sought to score cheap political points by spreading falsehoods about Newsweek. The appropriate course of action is clear: you and Mr. DiRita should immediately retract your exploitative comments.

Second, there is - of course - a sad irony in this White House claiming that someone else's errors or misjudgments led to the loss of innocent lives. Over 1,600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in the Iraq war, a war which your Administration justified by falsely claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. To date, your Administration has consistently blocked Congressional inquiries into whether such claims were the result of intentional manipulation of intelligence or, as you assert, a mere "failure."

Moreover, your loquacious response to this matter stands in stark contrast to your response to a recently released classified memo comprising the minutes of a July 22 meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet which calls into question the credibility of assertions made by your Administration in its drive to war. Among other things the memo indicates that Administration officials were working to ensure that "the intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy," implying that intelligence was deliberately manipulated to prop up the case for war. The memo also indicates, contrary to contemporaneous statements to the American people and the Congress that the President had already "made up his mind to take military action." When asked about this memo, you claimed that you "don't know about the specific memo" - two and one half weeks after its release and ten days after receiving a letter detailing its contents from 89 Members of Congress (which has still not been answered).

Third, the public deserves to know what precisely the White House is asserting with respect to the mistreatment of the Koran by interrogators: are such reports categorically false or are they, in the words of one publication, "manifold?" For example, a May1st New York Times report indicated that a Koran was thrown into a pile and stepped on at the Guantanamo detention facility and "[a] former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." The incident where a Koran was allegedly thrown in a toilet was also recounted by a former detainee in a March 26, 2003 article in the Washington Post, and corroborated by another detainee in a August 4, 2003 report by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The question is: are you categorically denying that the mistreatment of the Koran occurred, or are you simply denying the Newsweek report is accurate on hyper technical grounds?

Mr. McClellan, the American people have grown tired of the venomous partisanship and lack of candor on the part of this Administration. When taken to task for wrongdoing, a pattern has emerged of this Administration viciously attacking its accusers. The cornerstone of our democracy is an open and accountable government, and the American people deserve answers - not distractions -- today.

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr.

Basically, Rep. Conyers calls McClellan, and by extension the rest of the White House, on their shit. Like other despots, Bu$hCo thrives by press intimidation. Keeping the truth away from the American public is the only way this bunch of jackals will stay out of the stockade. They know it, and quite a few of us in blogtopia know it.

These are dark days for our republic. It is crystal clear that our government is oozing corruption like a broken septic tank oozing raw sewage. The Oil for Food scandal (which has the US government's filthy pawprints all over it), the on-going torture scandal, etc. are all exemplars of what has become of America. It is indeed truly sad. Sadder still, is that one can say these things without even being partisan. There are precious few watchdogs in either party who are willing to stand up and be counted: folks like Conyers on the Democrat side of the aisle and Ron Paul on the GOP side of the aisle are practically lone voices in the wilderness. No wonder so many potential voters feel so disenfranchised. I cannot blame them. The big question: will we Americans get off our sorry asses and actually do something to repair our government? Or, are we still too complacent for our own good?

Families of Deceased Iraq War Soldiers to Tony Blair: "See You in Court!"

Meet The People Who Will Stop This War gives us some of the lowdown:
It has been widely reported that release of war documents from Downing Street finished Tony Blair in the last election. While that is true enough, the tide turned in the May 5th election when 10 bereaved families of British soldiers killed in Iraq confronted Tony Blair face to face, charging him with war crimes. They have brought this case to the International Criminal Court, where it will be heard.

All the documentary evidence of Bush/Blair war crimes is now laid out for judicial review before the International Criminal, and, thanks to the BBC and the Sunday Times, for the inspection and review before the court of public opinion. This evidence is just now beginning to surface in the United States -- through Knight-Ridder, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune. This is the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq, and the beginning of the end for George Bush, Alberto Gonzales, & the whole evil gang.

Read the rest.

George Galloway Goes to Washington

and delivers a scathing speech. An excerpt:
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government." Link

Fun With Scott McClellan Quotes:

From Monday with regard to the Newsweek story (i.e. the one about US soldiers flushing Qurans down toilets) and the ensuing worldwide outrage:
"The report has had serious consequences," McClellan said. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged." Link

Let's see what we can make of his statement - starting first with the last quote, "The image of the United States abroad has been damaged." It's fairly safe to say that the image of the US abroad has been so badly damaged over the course of several decades that it would be hard to imagine it being much worse. Heck, forty years ago, Malcom X had this to say:
They take a man who is a cold-blooded murderer, named [Moise] Tshombe...He murdered...the rightful prime minister [of Congo] Lumumba...Now here is a man who's an international murderer, selected by the State Department and placed over the Congo and propped into position with your tax dollars. He's a killer. He's hired by our government. And to show the type of hired killer he is, as soon as he's in office, he hires more killers in South Africa to shoot down his own people. And you wonder why your American image abroad is so bankrupt.

Notice I said, "Your American image abroad is so bankrupt."

They make this man acceptable by saying that he's the only one that can unite the Congo. Ha. A murderer. They won't let China in the United Nations because they say she declared war on UN troops in Korea. Tshombe declared war on UN troops in Katanga. You give him money and prop him up. You don't use the same yardstick. You use the yardstick over here, change it over here.

This is true - everybody can see you today. You make yourself look sick in the sight of the world trying to fool people that you were at least once wise with your trickery. But today your bag of tricks has absolutely run out. The whole world can see what you're doing.

From Malcom X's speech, entitled, "Not just an American problem, but a world problem" - February 16, 1965, Corn Hill Methodist Church, Rochester, NY. Published in the posthumous book, Malcom X: The Last Speeches, edited by Bruce Perry.

As far as the rest of McClellan's tantrum, let us note that he is right in noting that people have lost their lives - albeit not for the reasons he claims. There's that little matter of an illegal war and occupation of Iraq, that has cost easily 100,000 lives - and that's not even scratching the surface: how about the sanctions during the 1990s that cost the lives of 500,000 kids - a price that Madeline Albright once was quoted as "acceptable." Yes, lives have been lost. Lives have also been lost in those American-run gulags. A number of people imprisoned in our gulags - and often imprisoned wrongfully in the first place - have been murdered by their captors. I'd say it's completely understandable that some folks would be a bit upset about some of our actions - or many of our actions. We as a people need to take a good hard look at ourselves and the actions that are taken by our government in our names. Until we do, and until we make a reasonable effort to right our wrongs, we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violent protests around the globe.

The Newsweek Story on the Desecration of the Quran is Hardly New

From the Harpers story, aptly titled Flushed With Enthusiasm:
We were not so sad when we were tortured. But when they insulted Islam it was really very difficult. They would come into the cell and search our belongings. They would pick up the Holy Koran and go through it page by page like they were looking for something. We didn't understand what they were saying while they did this. Then they would throw the Holy Koran on the ground or drop it in the latrine. This made us very upset. They searched our cells every day, sometimes many times a day.

Talk Left has a round-up of stories dealing with this issue since late last year:
From the Miami Herald, March 9, 2005:

Yet recently declassified court documents allege that, as far back as 2002, some of Guantanamo's staff cursed Allah, threw Korans into toilets, mocked prisoners during prayers and deliberately took away prisoners' pants knowing that Muslims can't pray unless covered. Imagine a U.S. prisoner of war who is a devout Christian having his Bible tossed into the toilet or his rosary taken away. The U.S. government would rightly denounce such offenses as human-rights violations.

From the Miami Herald, March 6, 2005:

Three Kuwaiti captives -- Fawzi al Odah, 27, Fouad al Rabiah, 45, and Khalid al Mutairi, 29 -- separately complained to their lawyer that military police threw their Korans into the toilet, according to the notes of Kristine Huskey, a Washington attorney.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, January 20, 2005:

Some detainees complained of religious humiliation, saying guards had defaced their copies of the Koran and, in one case, had thrown it in a toilet, said Kristine Huskey, who interviewed clients late last month. Others said that pills were hidden in their food and that people came to their cells claiming to be their attorneys, to gain information. "All have been physically abused, and, however you define the term, the treatment of these men crossed the line," Wilner said.

From a Hartford Courant book review of a book by David Rose detailing the scandalous conditions in Guantánamo Bay:

They said they were punched, slapped, denied sleep, had seen other prisoners sexually humiliated, had been hooded, and were forced to watch copies of the Koran being flushed down toilets.

From the BBC, December 30, 2004 on similar conditions at Kandahar:

There are other forms of torture: they watched you each time you went to the toilet; the American soldiers used to tear up copies of the Koran and to throw them in the toilet;

From the London Daily Mail, October 28, 2004:

The Tipton men have already submitted a 115-page dossier alleging they were beaten, stripped, shackled and deprived of sleep during their detention. They say guards threw prisoners' Korans into toilets and tried to force them to give up their faith.

From the Detroit Free Press, October 28, 2004:

The men, who were never charged while in U.S. detention, also allege that some of the guards threw the prisoners' Korans into toilets.

This same treatment is also covered in last year's book, Guantánamo: What the World Should Know by Michael Ratner and Ellen Ray. I'm not entirely sure why it took Newsweek's particular story to trigger mass protests throughout the Muslim world. This much is clear: a consistent picture of US treatment of Muslims held in Guantánamo and other US-run gulags has emerged over the last year or so.

Update: before I forget, The Guardian (UK) has a useful compendium of news regarding Guantánamo.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

John Bolton - One of the Capitol Crackpots - Speaks


Click the pick to see the Neoconman in action. If nothing else Bolton expresses the imperialistic mindset of the current White House. If the link is not working, there are some mirror sites hosting the video here, here, and here. Requires the Quicktime Movie plug-in. This is an excellent way of getting into the mindset of Bu$hCo, and how little regard this group of thugs has for the international community.

Oh, and before I completely forget, props to alysheba at Daily Kos. Her diary providing the links to this video can be found here.

Postcard to Iraq


Authored by Kurt Vonnegut and brought to you by This Modern World.