Daily Archives: June 9, 2004

Suggested Summer Reading

Ashcroft’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

[T]he memorandums, by their numbers and their arguments — aimed at justifying the use of interrogation techniques inflicting pain by spelling out instances when this did not legally constitute torture and the inapplicability of international treaties — have produced outrage from international human rights groups and members of Congress, mostly Democrats.Over the past few weeks, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have disclosed memorandums that show a pattern in which administration lawyers set about devising arguments to avoid constraints against mistreatment and torture.

Mr. Ashcroft’s appearance before the committee had been scheduled before most of the memorandums were disclosed, and he looked deeply uncomfortable under the harsh questioning.

He said several times that critics consistently failed to take into account that the United States was at war.

‘Bush to the US Constitution–Drop Dead’
–Randy Paul goes through the legalities, Q&A-style.

Q: Aren’t there exceptions when torture can be justified?A: No, Article 2 Paragraph 2 states “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Q: Did the United States have a reservation regarding this section?

A: No.

Another fight shaping up over classified CIA documents

WASHINGTON, June 8 — The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee are pressing the Central Intelligence Agency to agree to a broad declassification and release of the panel’s 400-page report, which is highly critical of the agency’s prewar performance on Iraq.The agency and, ultimately, the White House have the power to decide how much of the report should be declassified, giving them great influence over a document that will focus on mistakes related to Iraq and its illicit weapons. The Senate could vote to release classified material even over White House objections, but such a step would be rare.

The jockeying pits Senators Pat Roberts of Kansas and John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the ranking Republican and Democrat on the panel, against the top C.I.A. officials who must approve decisions involving declassification. Both senators have signaled their belief that the fullest possible disclosure of the agency’s performance on Iraq is in the public interest.

A senior intelligence official said Tuesday that the report was “heavily laden” with classified material and that portions would require significant rewriting or deletions before it could be released to the public. But in an interview, Mr. Rockefeller said flatly, “We cannot have this as a heavily redacted document.”

Tom Toles on BushLogic

End Bible classes in public schools

During the infamous 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial,” creationists opposed to the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools stretched a banner across the Rhea County courthouse that exhorted, “Read your Bible.”Rhea County still encourages Bible reading, even in its public schools, a brazen desecration of the constitutional divide between church and state.

Helen Thomas: Laura and the Twins on the Campaign Trail

WASHINGTON — Once reluctant to engage in the political arena, first lady Laura Bush and her twin daughters are joining President Bush’s re-election campaign.None of the first family’s women were eager to participate in past political campaigns, but they apparently got the high sign that they are needed this year.

“Why can’t we do what other kids get to do?” complained Jenna.

US-Sponsored Terrorism

Clinton’s CIA put car-bombs into the hands of an Iraqi dissident group–Iyad Allawi’s.

WASHINGTON, June 8 — Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990’s to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.Dr. Allawi’s group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. Evaluations of the effectiveness of the bombing campaign varied, although the former officials interviewed agreed that it never threatened Saddam Hussein’s rule.

So we armed terrorists–car bombers are terrorists, right? That’s what the president keeps saying–and sent them into a foreign country to terrorize the population? Don’t worry, though–they were ineffective.

The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many civilian casualties. But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former C.I.A. official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then.One former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was based in the region, Robert Baer, recalled that a bombing during that period “blew up a school bus; schoolchildren were killed.” Mr. Baer, a critic of the Iraq war, said he did not recall which resistance group might have set off that bomb.

Other former intelligence officials said Dr. Allawi’s organization was the only resistance group involved in bombings and sabotage at that time.

But one former senior intelligence official recalled that “bombs were going off to no great effect.”

“I don’t recall very much killing of anyone,” the official said.

So maybe it’s OK because the terrorists we sent in–trained by the guy who’s taking over the interim govt in Iraq–were incompetent?. Oh, good. I feel so much better now.

Reagan Redux Reduxed

‘charlie’ at BiteSoundBite has an excellent post up on the dangers of making Reagan into a myth.

Naturally, one would expect that this story would receive a large amount of coverage, but what is the purpose of this coverage? How much is there to say, really? Does the death of a popular former president really eclipse all other events in the world in terms of significance? And why must the coverage be the intellectual equivilent of a Maoist slogan poster, or a giant iron statue of V.I. Lenin? The press has gone beyond the delicate politeness one expects when discussing the recently deceased, and stepped chisel in hand to whatever space is remaining on Mount Rushmore chanting “Ronald Reagan made me feel good about being an American, Roanld Reagan won the Cold War. Let us not discuss any of his policies in detail, and let us not be so uncouth as to note that his administration armed and funded both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And let us not worry too much about the illegal funding of the Contras or the arming of both Iran and Iraq in their war even though the idea was to facilitate their killing of each other, sometimes with weapons of mass destruction. The man was very charming!”

Go read the rest