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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Monday, 14 June 2004

Topic: The Media

David Brooks - "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

I came an interesting assessment of the writer David Brooks. My email discussion group has batted about things Brooks has said, particularly regarding his book Bobos in Paradise. Brooks has a new book now, On Paradise Drive that is, by all accounts, much weaker.

But this assessment is more comprehensive than a discussion of those two books.

See David Brooks
Why liberals are turning on their favorite conservative.
David Plotz - SLATE.COM - Posted Monday, June 14, 2004, at 3:17 PM PT

Plotz runs the table on Brooks. And he discusses the two books.

But more interestingly, he covers the political matters -
As a conservative columnist at the New York Times -- a job he has held since September 2003 -- Brooks is the steer at the steakhouse. Liberals who admired him when he was the jolly voice of reason at the Weekly Standard resent him now that he occupies the throne of American journalism.

And Brooks' Times column is a drag. Occasionally he reminds us of his talent (and his enormous decency)--as when he gently mocks college admissions or pleads for gay marriage.

But after 10 months, it's become clear that he doesn't have enough ideas--or anger--to sustain a twice-a-week column. (To be fair, few columnists do.) ...
I can relate to that.

And Plotz dissects those columns.

But he says there really is another problem with Brooks - and it is in his latest book:
... The most interesting section of On Paradise Drive outlines Brooks' notion that America has become a "cellular" instead of hierarchical nation. No single elite remains, he says. We all live cheerfully in our own separate tents, no group subordinate to any other. Everyone, in fact, feels happily superior to everyone else.

Everyone can be an aristocrat within his own Olympus. You can be an X Games celebrity and appear on ESPN2, or an atonal jazz demigod and be celebrated in obscure music magazines. ...

Perhaps you are an NRA enthusiast, an ardent Zionist, a Rush Limbaugh dittohead, a surfer, a neo-Confederate, or an antiglobalization activist. Your clique will communicate its code of honor, its own set of jokes and privileges. It will offer you a field of accomplishments and a system of recognition. You can look down from the heights of your own achievement at all those poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of say, antique-car refurbishing, Civil War reenacting, or Islamic learning. And you can feel quietly satisfied about your own self-worth.

The implication of cellularity for Brooks is that Americans get along by not paying attention to each other. Because we all get to achieve in our own way, we don't need to lord it over others (or even notice them). There's a sharp insight here: Cultural fragmentation has diffused hierarchy. But because Brooks believes in the primacy of culture, he seems to think that all that excelling means that we don't clash. This is a delightful view to hold, and it certainly felt true in the late '90s, when Brooks was writing Bobos: The economy was booming, the world was at peace, and the big worries were stock options, lattes, and oral sex with interns.
But Plotz doesn't buy it.
... Brooks' cellularity wishes away conflict.
He ignores that not every distinction is cultural and that much more is at stake than self-esteem.
His "antiglobalization activist" isn't simply happy to wear his hemp shirt, as Brooks suggests; he also wants to shut down the polluting factory where the "Rush Limbaugh dittohead" works. And the "NRA enthusiast" actually believes the Islamic scholar is a probable terrorist who should be jailed or deported. Sometimes it's not enough to "feel quietly satisfied about [our] own self-worth." Sometimes we need to kick the other guy in the teeth. The stakes are real in America: We are constantly truncheoning each other for more money, more liberty, more power. By making Americans merely smug emperors of our own little consumer worlds, he ignores the bigger, brutal battles that we fight against each other.

And Brooks also ignores the even bigger, even more brutal battles that we are fighting in the world.
Maybe so.

I too think the battles are real.

Plotz reminds us that Brooks himself helped "set the table" for the wars on terror and Iraq. He remembers that in 1997, Brooks wrote an influential manifesto for the Weekly Standard, "A Return to National Greatness." In it Brooks claimed the United States was losing the sense of grand national mission that built the Panama Canal, conquered the West, won the Cold War, built the interstates, and walked on the moon. The idea was that America needed to "reanimate itself" with a cause, and the federal government needed to "convey a spirit of confidence and vigor that can then spill across the life of the nation." And Brooks said that it didn't really matter what the cause was--maybe colonizing Mars--but it had to be something.

I guess he got his wish with the Iraq business.

The problem, as Plotz notes -
As the occupation has soured, Brooks has wilted. His columns have lost their swagger: "We're a shellshocked hegemon," he wrote last month. "This has been a crushingly depressing period." Optimistic and conflict-averse, Brooks didn't see how our good intentions could go wrong, because our superior ideas were bound to win the day. He has shied away from the bloody strife that is the requirement of his National Greatness ideas. At the pit of the prisoner-abuse scandal Brooks wrote:

There's something about our venture into Iraq that is inspiringly, painfully, embarrassingly and quintessentially American. No other nation would have been hopeful enough to try to evangelize for democracy across the Middle East. No other nation would have been naive enough to do it this badly. No other nation would be adaptable enough to recover from its own innocence and muddle its way to success, as I suspect we are about to do.

While other conservatives--Charles Krauthammer, his old boss William Kristol, President Bush--have the courage of their convictions and believe that Americans are killing and dying and torturing for a great cause, Brooks, squeamish, still sees it as a kind of academic dispute, where ideas can clash without bloodying noses. Tellingly, Brooks hasn't gone to Iraq, perhaps because he doesn't want to see what these ideas look like on the ground...
Yeah, talk is cheap.

Plotz concludes -
In Brooks' ideal world, Americans should all reasonably discuss the war, reach a consensus that it's righteous, persuade Iraqis of same, and win. In real life, it is a much nastier business, and there is no consensus among Americans of either party about the morality of this war. In peace, Brooks' genial mockery and optimism are delightful. In wartime, they're a cheat. Other conservatives confront the ugliness and bloodshed of the occupation and redouble their commitment. Brooks, whose national-greatness ethos lent more energy to the war than anything his colleagues have written, will neither embrace the war, nor disown it, nor even look it square in the face. He hides.
One is reminded of the last paragraphs in Hemingway's post-WWI novel "The Sun Also Rises."

The final disillusionment.
Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together."

Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.

"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Posted by Alan at 19:25 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Dissent

Christopher Hitchens - Speak for yourself, white man!

Christopher Hitchens. What to make of him - former leftie journalist for The Nation (who else knew and chatted with Che Guevara?), who transformed himself into a pro-Bush hawk (seeing Bush as dumb as a post but the man we need now, given the circumstances) - immensely well-informed (ask him about any minor Kurdish splinter group or who's who the secondary struggles for control of select and obscure areas of Cypress) - and amazingly articulate in his hard-drinking British way. Hyper-intelligent. Watch him on the cable news discussion shows make a blithering fool of Ann Coulter (smiling slyly) - then turn around a rail about our need to destroy the evil forces of odd Muslim thought in this world with a new Crusade. Well, his positions are far more nuanced than Ann's - as she has famously said she just wants us to convert all the leaders of the Arab world into Christians or kill them, one or the other, and she said Terry Nichols should have blown up the New York Times offices instead of that federal office building Okalahoma City. Hitchens adds other options and more subtle detail.

But he is getting a little worried about the Abu Ghraib scandal. Torture is on his mind.

See A Moral Chernobyl
Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib.
Christopher Hitchens - SLATE.COM - Posted Monday, June 14, 2004, at 1:46 PM PT

Chernobyl? Yep. Here's his set-up:
In a recent public debate, so I was told, an American officer referred to the Abu Ghraib scandal as a "moral Chernobyl." You might think that this was overstating matters, even if in one important sense--because Chernobyl was morally an accident, albeit in some ways a "systemic" one--it is actually understating them.

But get ready. It is going to get much worse. The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe ("I'm outraged more by the outrage") have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word "abuse" will have to be dropped. No law or treaty forbids "abuse," but many conventions and statutes, including our own and the ones we have urged other nations to sign, do punish torture--which is what we are talking about here at a bare minimum.
Yes, for the last week or more the word has been floating around the news sites on the web, and on the opinion sites, that there are stills and video of US soldiers raping Iraq women prisoners, a tape of the homosexual rape of an Iraqi pre-teen fellow by a enthusiastic male contractor, one of the interrogators we hired from a San Diego company, and various stills and videos of US soldiers beating Iraq prisoners to death.


We'll see.

As for the silent Senator Inhofe from Okalahoma, if you read Just Above Sunset - May 16, 2004 - Responsibility - Military Style... and legal issues - you see Inhofe said, at the initial hearings on all this, "I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment ... These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.."

But the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Taguba report both point out sixty to ninety percent of those imprisoned were just picked up at random. Senator Inhofe seems to be claiming our Army and the ICRC are just flat-out wrong, or perhaps that it doesn't matter. If you are arrested, you must be guilty. That, to him, is common sense. These are bad people who would kill all Americans if they got the chance. How does he know that? Well, otherwise they wouldn't have been arrested - and that's the proof. And thus, QED, they do not deserve kid glove treatment.

Now he's saying nothing.

And for what Trent Lott had to say, see May 30, 2004: A whole Lott of love here... Conservative Thought.

Trent too has gone silent.

What up with that?

Hitchens points out that, so far, the press has focused on the questions "who knew" and "how far up did it go?" But he is equally interested in the question of how far down it has gone and how widespread it is, even though: " ... the original imperative for harsh measures came from a Defense Department, and by extension a White House, that was under intense pressure to get results in the battle against al-Qaida and felt itself hampered by nervous lawyers."

Yep. Just so.

But Hitchens is arguing that almost the whole of public opinion is complicit in this, "... as is shown by the fury over the administration's failure to pre-empt the Sept. 11 assault: a pre-emption that would almost certainly have involved some corner-cutting in the interrogation room."

We wanted this?

Speak for yourself, white man!

But here's his argument:
Many, many people must have fantasized about getting Osama Bin Laden into some version of an orange jumpsuit and then shackling him for a while to the wrong end of a large pig. It's not very far from that mass reverie to "Hey, Mustapha, you're gonna get to really know this porker" and similar or worse depravities. So in a distressing sense--of course you can all write to me if you like and say that you never even thought about it--we face something like a collective responsibility, if not exactly a collective guilt.
Yeah, right.

Speak for yourself, white man!

Anyway, everyone knows, as does Hitchens, none of what happened "produced any 'intelligence' worth the name or switched off any 'ticking bomb.' How could it? It was trashily recreational. But this doesn't relieve the security forces of democratic countries from their sworn responsibility to protect us -- yes us, the very people who demand results but don't especially want to know the full price of our protection."
Speak for yourself, white man!

Hitchens, true Brit that he is, then adds a curious historical illustration of the madness of all this:
... In the early 1970s, there was a gigantic scandal in England over the torture of Irish Republican detainees. (Harold Evans, then editor of the Sunday Times, deserves credit for printing the facts in spite of immense government pressure not to do so--or not to do so without being accused of "helping the terrorists.") The resulting outrage led to a commission of inquiry chaired by a judge named Sir Edmund Compton. His report took a dim view of some of the methods used but said that these did not amount to "torture," at least in most cases, because those inflicting them had not derived any pleasure from doing so. At the time, I thought this must be some kind of a sick joke, perhaps derived from Monty Python or the rigors of English boarding school. ("I didn't really enjoy it, Sir." "Oh well, that's all right, then. Carry on, Perkins.") However, the government did tell the army to stop it, and it pretty much did stop, and the terrorists didn't win.

They didn't win because their idea of bombing a large Protestant community into joining a united Catholic Ireland was a bit mad to begin with. And they also didn't win because security methods became tremendously more professional. Skill, in these matters, depends on taking pains and not on inflicting them. You make the chap go through his story several times, preferably on video, and then you ask his friends a huge number of tedious questions, and then you go through it all again to check for discrepancies, and then you watch the first (very boring and sexless) video all over once more, and then you make him answer all the same questions and perhaps a couple of new and clever ones. If you have got the wrong guy--and it does happen--you let him go and offer him a ride home and an apology. And you know what? It often works. Only a lazy and incompetent dirtbag looks for brutal shortcuts so that he can get off his shift early. And sometimes, gunmen and bombers even have changes of heart, as well as mind.
Fine. Too late now. Lazy and incompetent dirtbags rule.

His conclusion?
... we shall be fighting a war against jihad for decades to come. And the jihadists will continue to make big mistakes based on their mad theory. And they are not superhuman: They can be infiltrated, bribed, and turned. You don't have to tell them what time of day it is, or where they are, or when the next meal will be served. (Though it must be served.) But you must not bring in that pig or that electrode. That way lies madness and corruption and the extraction of junk confessions. So even if law and principle didn't enter into the question, we sure as hell know what doesn't work. The cranky Puritan voice of Sir Edmund Compton comes back to me down the corridor of the years: If it gives anyone pleasure, then you are doing it wrong and doing wrong into the bargain.
I hate to agree with this man.

But I do.

Posted by Alan at 18:45 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 14 June 2004 18:52 PDT home

Topic: Dissent

Some things prove to be correct - and some notes on dealing with that.

Sometimes you have to ask the right questions, directly.

Eric Alterman does so at his MSNBC site "Altercation" -

And here I reformat for emphasis - one paragraph becomes many ...
It's hard to say which is the best representation of what this war is doing to and has done to this country.

Is it the lies that were told to get us into it?

Is the fact that we are picking up innocent people off the street and torturing them?

Is it that we have suspended the most basic civil liberties in our own country?

Is it that the work of professional intelligence agencies has been corrupted?

Is it that we have drawn resources away from the fight against Al Qaida which has completely regrouped?

Is it that we are creating more terrorists?

Is it that more than seven hundred Americans have been killed and thousands have been seriously injured?

Is it that thousands of Iraqis have been killed but nobody is keeping an account of the numbers of their deaths?

Is it that we are now more hated around the world than we have ever been?

Is it that we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars while actually decreasing our security?

Is it that we are doing all this while starving the most crucial homeland security programs?

Is it that everyone who told the truth about what was being planned has been dismissed and seen their characters attacked?
As they say on the infomercials for kitchen gadgets, it's all this, and more!

Then Alterman links to an article by Mark Follman in - an interview and book review - regarding Thomas Powers and his views. Thomas Powers wrote Intelligence Wars: American Secret History From Hitler to Al Qaeda - and that book claims that "that the Bush administration is responsible for what is perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of U.S. intelligence."

The article is available only through subscription, but you get the idea. (And if you don't really care that much about copyright laws, the article is reprinted here in full: ... the Bush administration "correctly read how the various institutions of our government could be used to stage a kind of temporary coup on a single issue: Whether or not to go to war with Iraq.")

Out here in La-La Land, Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times explained a few weeks ago that this is quite an accomplishment -
As Thomas Powers, one of America's foremost scholars of intelligence and the author of the forthcoming "Intelligence Wars: American Secret History From Hitler to Al-Qaeda," recently wrote, "In its first half-century the CIA got lots of things wrong.... In 1950 it failed to foresee intervention by the Chinese in the Korean War, a mistake that almost resulted in American armies being driven entirely from the peninsula. In 1968 the agency was surprised by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, a failure repeated in 1979 when the agency failed to predict the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

"Ten years after that the [CIA] estimators continued to issue new alarms about Soviet power and intentions almost until the very moment the Berlin Wall came down, signaling the true end of the cold war, an event soon followed by a still greater astonishment -- the actual collapse and breakup of the Soviet Union itself."
And screwing up with Iraq, from the WMD business to maybe Chalabi being in bed with the mullahs running Iraq, is worse than all this?

Maybe so. We got a whole lot of things quite wrong. But we meant well. We always mean well.

Alterman, above, says that everyone who told the truth about what was being planned has been dismissed and seen their characters attacked.

Oh heck. We need an example of that.

Scanning This Modern World one finds such an example.

There you will find a link to Move Forward America, which seems to be a Republican group mounting a grass-roots effort to pressure individual theatres and theater chains to not, under any circumstances, screen this film - or suffer the wrath of the right, or righteous, or whatever. The do provide a list of email addresses for major theatre chains and some individual theaters.

Ah, but that can be turned the other way. You, or anyone else, could go to the site and send emails saying that these folks SHOULD show the damned movie.

For starters I recommend dropping a line to these folks. When I lived there I used to patronize this place.
The Little Theatre
240 East Avenue Rochester, NY 14604
Phone: 585-232-3906
Email: or
But you can look for movie houses in your own town.

Of course, viewing will be restricted even if the film is screened.

See Ratings row over Moore Iraq film
BBC, Monday, 14 June, 2004, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
The US distributors of Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 are to appeal a decision by US censors to give it a restrictive rating.

The Motion Picture Association Of America (MPAA) has rated the film R, meaning nobody under 17 can see it unless accompanied by an adult.

Moore has attacked the decision, saying that teenagers should be allowed to see the film unaccompanied.

... Lions Gate, one of two companies releasing the film in the US, called the decision "totally unjustified". The MPAA said that the rating was given for "violent and disturbing images and for language".

... Moore said: "It is sadly very possible that many 15- and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years. If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq."

... IFC Entertainment, which is jointly distributing the film in the US along with Lions Gate, said it was confident the decision would be overturned.
If it is overturned, or not, it really doesn't matter. Any twelve-year-old knows how to get into an R-rated screening.

Moore may be dismissed, and attacked, as Alterman suggests. But we will be able to see his film.

(By the way, This Modern World also provides a link to the background of those running Move Forward America - the organization trying to stop Michael Moore. Just your normal Republicans.)

Tip of the hat on this Moore thing to the cartoonist Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World. Great name.

Posted by Alan at 17:34 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 15 June 2004 10:06 PDT home

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Stormy Monday: More Odd News

Bob Patterson, who appears in Just Above Sunset as both The World's Laziest Journalist and The Book Wrangler, has been strongly urging that all these posts here be made shorter, with much less commentary.

Bob offers this as an example of the format readers would probably prefer.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain is reporting that the Red Cross wants Saddam Hussein to be either formally charged or released.

If he is released, can he run for office in the new elections? Iraqis who resent the American presence could show their resentment by voting for Saddam.

Wouldn't that "tear it" as far as "why are we there?"

Isn't breaking one more international law preferable to the possibility that Saddam might get elected?
Yep, this has been in the news. Matt Drudge was all upset about it. I've seen lots of commentary. Perhaps it needs no more than this.


As for the previous post here on the Washington Post pulling an Ellsberg and publishing the full Justice Department memo authorizing torture, at least if the CIA does the torturing, I shall only point.

A rather prominent law professor does a line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph, analysis here of this memo. Click on the link. Do your own reading and commentary.

Note the comedian Jay Leno adds this
According to The New York Times, last year White House lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security -- so if that's legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with?
Of course, my favorite new odd news items is this: When Bush met with the Pope last week in Rome he spoke to selected Vatican leaders requesting the Catholic Church support his reelection by publicly endorsing the US Republican Party and publicly condemning the Democratic Party, since, like the Church, the Republicans oppose abortion, want to ban gay marriage entirely, and also say embryonic cell research is actually a form of murder, infanticide.

You can click on the link for details. You can provide your own commentary.

Oh heck, what is there to say, after all? The Church is interested, but wary.


Posted by Alan at 10:13 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 14 June 2004 12:13 PDT home

Sunday, 13 June 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Keeping up...

Sunday - and the new issue of the weekly online magazine Just Above Sunset has been posted. That hit the wire late this morning, and your editor spent the rest of the day plowing through the Sunday paper, cleaning up the place, attending to Harriet-the-Cat and the balcony full of thirsty plants and such.

But things just keep happening.

Switching between the restored version of Frank Capra's 1937 "Lost Horizon" (all two and a half hours of it) on the classic movie channel and the news I see the Washington Post has just posted the memo they reported on a few days ago. This one is the one from Alberto Gonzales, the lawyer who advises Bush - the White House Counsel - to the CIA. It is the White House saying to the CIA - "Torture folks? No problem. Go for it!"

Say, do you remember when the New York Times printed the Pentagon Papers - all that internal policy stuff we weren't supposed to ever see about the Vietnam War? The New York Times used its newspaper to provide the full transcripts of those Pentagon Papers. The Post is using the web. Whatever.

Here we go again. We can read what we are really not supposed to read. The free press doing its job? Treason? Depends on your political leanings.

Well, the memo is not from Bush himself, only his lawyer, his legal spokesman, his Justice Department, so Bush himself can claim he, himself, would never advise such a thing. He can claim Alberto was acting on his own initiative and really should have discussed the memo with him before Al sent it over to the CIA. Bush would have known this would be trouble. Bush could say that.

Delegation has its risks. Sometimes your subordinates do things that just aren't good.

We shall see how this plays out. In one of my previous careers I was a boss - a Senior Systems Manager, no less. One, of necessity, delegates. You trust your guys. And when things go in the weeds, as they sometimes do when you delegate, well, you suck it up, repair the damage, and go on.

How will Bush handle this? I have no idea. Should be interesting.

Here's the item:

Justice Dept. Memo Says Torture 'May Be Justified'
Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, June 13, 2004; 6:30 PM
Today is posting a copy of the Aug. 1, 2002, memorandum "Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to President Bush.

The memo was the focus of a recent article in The Washington Post.

The memo was written at the request of the CIA. The CIA wanted authority to conduct more aggressive interrogations than were permitted prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The interrogations were of suspected al Qaeda members whom the CIA had apprehended outside the United States. The CIA asked the White House for legal guidance. The White House asked Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for its legal opinion on the standards of conduct under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Office of Legal Counsel is the federal government's ultimate legal adviser. The most significant and sensitive topics that the federal government considers are often given to the OLC for review. In this case, the memorandum was signed by Jay S. Bybee, the head of the office at the time. Bybee's signature gives the document additional authority, making it akin to a binding legal opinion on government policy on interrogations. Bybee has since become a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Another memorandum, dated March 6, 2003, from a Defense Department working group convened by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to come up with new interrogation guidelines for detainees at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, incorporated much, but not all, of the legal thinking from the OLC memo. The Wall Street Journal first published the March memo.

At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, senators asked Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to release both memos. Ashcroft said he would not discuss the contents of the Justice and Pentagon memos or turn them over to the committees. A transcript of that hearing is also available.

President Bush spoke on the issue of torture Thursday, saying he expected U.S. authorities to abide by the law. He declined to say whether he believes U.S. law prohibits torture. Here is a link to the White House transcript of the president's press conference, which included questions and answers on torture. ...
Well, the cat is out of the bag.

This on the heels of US News and World Report, in their June 21 issue revealing that our top officer in Iraq, General Richard Sanchez was directly involved in hiding prisoners from the Red Cross.

Well, that explains why John Abizaid, the CENTCOM commander, is planning to appoint a four star general to head up the Army's investigation of this mess, as the New York Times reports.
General Abizaid's request, which defense officials said Mr. Rumsfeld would most likely approve, was set in motion in the last week when the current investigating officer, Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, told his superiors that he could not complete his inquiry without interviewing more senior-ranking officers, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq.

But Army regulations prevent General Fay, a two-star general, from interviewing higher-ranking officers. So General Sanchez took the unusual step of asking to be removed as the reviewing authority for General Fay's report, and requesting that higher-ranking officers be appointed to conduct and review the investigation.
Fay has to go. He only has two stars. Sanchez has three. A two star cannot investigate a three star.

A few bad apples indeed.

And there are lots of indications that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly. First notice here.

And add this - another "Oops, sorry." The New York Times tells us here that at the start of the Iraq war we "launched many more failed airstrikes on a far broader array of senior Iraqi leaders during the early days of the war last year than has previously been acknowledged, and some caused significant civilian casualties, according to senior military and intelligence officials."

Now they tell is.

It just keeps getting better all the time.

And the Los Angeles Times is reporting that a group of twenty-six former senior diplomats and military officials, a number of them appointed to key positions by Republican Reagan and Bush's father, plans to issue a joint statement on Wednesday arguing that this President Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November. This would be twenty former ambassadors - appointed by presidents of both parties - to places like Israel, the former Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia. And some retired State Department guys. The organizer is retired Marine general Joseph Hoar, and he was the commander of US forces in the Middle East under Bush's daddy.


Posted by Alan at 19:30 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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