Saturday, April 09, 2005


Iraqi Police Using Gonzales-Approved Methods?

The Washington Post reports on alleged prisoner abuses by the new Iraqi police forces:
But in January Hameed's younger brother, Zawba, was arrested by Iraqi police officers at the family's home, and two days later he turned up dead at a local hospital. Pictures show he had been brutally beaten.

A senior Tikrit police official, Col. Jasim Hussein Jbara, said in an interview that Zawba died of low blood pressure shortly after he confessed to blowing up a car outside a shopping mall. There will be no investigation of his death, Jbara said.
In a recent human rights report on Iraq, the State Department catalogued reports of such practices as "arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions -- particularly in pretrial detention facilities -- and arbitrary arrest and detention."

"The police often continued to use the methods employed by the previous regime," the report stated. "Reportedly, coerced confessions and interrogation continued to be the favored method of investigation by police. According to one government official, hundreds of cases were pending at year's end alleging torture."
Source: Washington Post Suspect's Death Evokes Hussein Era April 9, 2005 (Emphasis added.)
Interestingly, these "Saddam-style" police methods sound very much like Bush League justice as advocated by Attorney General Gonzales and used in CIA interrogation centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. For example:

FORT BLISS, Texas - An Army reservist accused of killing a detainee in Afghanistan told investigators that the blows that caused the man's death were commonly used to deal with uncooperative prisoners and that his superiors approved of the technique.

Other soldiers testified at a hearing here that they were taught to administer the so-called "compliance blows" in an Army course covering non-lethal tactics and that the blows became an accepted way of dealing with detainees who were considered "combative."
Source: Knight-Ridder News Service Blows that led to detainee's death were common practice, reservist says (March 25, 2005)

Why is the Washington Post accusing the Iraqi police of using "(Saddam) Hussein-era tactics" rather than noting these same tactics are commonly used by US interrogators?

Friday, April 08, 2005


Gitmo Trials Not About Truth, Justice

The BBC reports on a Guantanamo "Administrative Beview Board" hearing:
The Bush administration has argued that holding detainees without trial is imperative for national security, but lawyers for the Guantanamo Bay inmates argue that the detentions have no basis in law.
Before the proceedings began, they briefed us on what we would see. One officer likened the proceedings to a parole hearing - even though the detainees have not been found guilty of any crime.
The detainee was already sat when we entered the room. He wore an orange jumpsuit, signalling that he was a "non-compliant" prisoner.
[RepubAnon: care to wager that "orange jumpsuit" = guilty verdict?]
We were struck by the cursory nature of the questioning, and the absence of an attempt to reconcile conflicting claims as to what the young, sullen detainee had actually done.

More than 60 of these boards have now taken place.

And on the basis of their recommendations, senior Pentagon officials decide if detainees remain in captivity or go free.
Source: BBC Inside Guantanamo's secret trials April 8, 2005
What a travesty. How much evidence was obtained under torture? How much from inmates tortured until they implicating others? Why can't the prisoner's defending officer dispute the "top secret" evidence outside the defendant's hearing? Was there any evidence at all, or just some Administration underling's notation? Indeed, why bother holding such cynical "kangaroo court" hearings at all? (Which of course was Mr. Bush's original position.)

In the 1950s Superman TV series, the superhero used to fight for "Truth, Justice and the American Way." Are Truth, Justice - No Longer the American Way? Too bad Mr. Bush doesn't believe the American Way is about such quaint concepts as "honor" and that "Truth" can only be found by scouring the text of the King James version of the Bible.


Culture of Life Ignores Death in the Hood

Bush's marketing phrase "Culture of Life" claims to wear the gleaming pure white of righteousness. Alas, this philosophy resembles a lace doily - noticeable more for its many holes than for its coverage of an issue.

Bob Herbert's opinion column Black, Dead and Invisible in today's New York Times does not mention the "Culture of Life." He merely comments on the increasing number of innocents gunned in our streets, and the lack of media coverage surrounding their deaths. If Terri Schiavo's life warranted special legislation - why doesn't Congress act on these killings?

Advocating the death penalty for minors, ignoring routine shootings of brown people - maybe they should change the phrase to "Culture of Life (for Rich White People)." My apologies in advance for mentioning dirty words like "reality" when discussing Republican talking points.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Creationism vs. Social Security?

Does George Bush think destroying Social Security helps refute the fossil record?

Ancient hominids from the Caucasus may have fed and cared for their elderly, a new fossil find has indicated.

The 1.77 million-year-old specimen, which is described in Nature magazine, was completely toothless and well over 40; a grand old age at the time.

This may suggest that the creature lived in a complex society which was capable of showing compassion.
Source: BBC News Early hominid 'cared for elderly' April 7, 2005 (Emphasis added)
Interesting that scientists can find 1.7 million year old hominids showing more concern for the elderly than George W. Bush displays.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Bible's Editors' Changes to God's "Literal Words"

Passing largely unnoticed to the "Bible is the literal word of God" crowd is this interesting research project:
World’s oldest Bible goes global:
Historic international digitisation project announced

11 March 2005 :: Posted by Catriona Finlayson

An ambitious international project to reinterpret the oldest Bible in the world, the Codex Sinaiticus, and make it accessible to a global audience using innovative digital technology and drawing on the expertise of leading biblical scholars is officially launched today.
It is also highly important for its rich layering of texts. It was written by three scribes and contains important textual corrections and insertions. The digitisation and work on transcription will make it possible for researchers to identify which corrections and additions were made by which scribe at the click of a button, thus enabling them to uncover the different versions of the text that were used at the time.
The Codex Sinaiticus is the world's oldest Bible and the most important Biblical manuscript. It was written in Greek by hand in the mid-fourth century around the time of Constantine the Great. Though it originally contained the whole of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, half of the Old Testament has since been lost. The surviving manuscript concludes with two early Christian texts, an epistle ascribed to the Apostle Barnabas and the Shepherd by Hermas.
Source: The British Library (Emphasis added)
In other words, the Bible that KK-Kristians call the "literal word of God" has undergone "important textual corrections and insertions" over the years. This would seem to undercut those claiming that the King James version of the English translation of the Latin version of the Greek edition of the original text is in fact the "literal word of God" and hasn't suffered translation and/or transcription errors.

Call me hopelessly reality-based, but if scholars in 350 AD couldn't agree on exactly what God said, the 1,650 or so years since then probably haven't help clarify matters.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Three Guesses What They're Hiding

The Bush Administration and the Republicans are hiding as much information about the CIA's interrogation procedures as possible:
In the Senate, Mr. Roberts and his Republican majority have blocked an effort by Mr. Rockefeller to open a formal inquiry into the C.I.A. detention and interrogation practices. That has angered Democrats, who have said that such an inquiry would allow all 15 members of the committee access to information that has been restricted to the limited briefings.
Source: New York Times White House Has Tightly Restricted Oversight of C.I.A. Detentions April 6, 2005

I suppose it's harder to loudly espouse a "Culture of Life" with a straight face while explaining why you're torturing people to death in the dark. Much easier just to classify everything as 'Top Secret - Embarassing"

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