Saturday, March 18, 2006


Another Bush League Torture Scandal

More horror stories of Bush League incompetence and disregard for the law, human rights, or anything else:
Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees
As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.
Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

The story of detainee abuse in Iraq is a familiar one. But the following account of Task Force 6-26, based on documents and interviews with more than a dozen people, offers the first detailed description of how the military's most highly trained counterterrorism unit committed serious abuses.

It adds to the picture of harsh interrogation practices at American military prisons in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as at secret Central Intelligence Agency detention centers around the world.

The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.

The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.

It is difficult to compare the conditions at the camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been well known throughout the camp.
Many were initially reluctant to discuss Task Force 6-26 because its missions are classified. But when pressed repeatedly by reporters who contacted them, they agreed to speak about their experiences and observations out of what they said was anger and disgust over the unit's treatment of detainees and the failure of task force commanders to punish misconduct more aggressively. The critics said the harsh interrogations yielded little information to help capture insurgents or save American lives.
(Source: New York Times, March 18, 2006 [emphasis added.])
Long story short: there was widespread torture of Iraqi detainees by US troops. This was at least ignored - but more probably condoned and possibly expressly ordered by the top brass. Despite the mounting evidence, none of the persons responsible for either ordering, inciting or tolerating these war crimes will be investigated unless and until the Democrats regain control of at least one branch of Congress. America's reputation and honor have been permanently stained by W and his Bush League minions, yet the Republicans don't care.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


US Launches Major Public Relations Offensive

In an effort to reverse sliding poll number, W's Bush League minions conducted a massive military campaign calculated to make US voters think something effective was done:
US launches major Iraq offensive
The US military says it has launched its biggest airborne operation in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, targeting insurgents near the city of Samarra.
More than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and US troops have been deployed in the assault, a military statement says.

A bomb attack on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, last month sparked widespread sectarian violence.

There are no independent reports of Thursday's offensive so far.

The US military said the assault, dubbed Operation Swarmer, was intended to "clear a suspected insurgent operating area" north-east of Samarra.

Helicopters were used to carry mostly Iraqi troops into Salahuddin province, where the Pentagon said at least 41 suspected insurgents had been arrested by the end of the day.

No missiles were fired or bombs dropped by the fixed-wing aircraft providing cover, the US military confirmed. It was unclear whether the suspected insurgents had offered resistance.
(Source: BBC News, March 16, 2006)
So, they rounded up "at least 41" Sunnis who will probably wind up tortured and killed by Negroponte-inspired Shi'ite death squads. I'm sure the right wing chorus is shouting from the rooftops how "the corner has been turned" yet again.

What utter bilge. Iraq's only hope for peace in the near term is for about a million troops to come in and stop the sectarian killing until the cycle of revenge damps out for awhile. Unfortunately, Iraq's misery will go on until Bush leaves office. Until then, El Busho will continue trying to "cover his bleeding ass with the flag of victory" while characterizing the death toll as "messy."


Child Abuse Cover-Up

I don't know what angers me more: the rampant child abuse hellholes marketed as "boot camps for troubled teens" or the willingness of authorities to cover up the resulting deaths:
Pathologist: Teen Didn't Die From Illness
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 15, 2006; 7:07 AM

TAMPA, Fla. -- A pathologist who observed the second autopsy of a 14-year-old boy who was punched and kicked by guards at a juvenile boot camp said Tuesday the boy may not have died of a blood disorder as a medical examiner had ruled.

Dr. Michael Baden, who observed the new autopsy on behalf of the teen's family, said it was clear Martin Lee Anderson did not die from sickle cell trait, or from any other natural causes.
Anderson was sent to the Bay County Sheriff's Office boot camp on Jan. 5 for a probation violation. A surveillance video showed guards kicking and punching him after he collapsed while exercising on his first day at the camp, and he died at a hospital early the next day.
The second autopsy was ordered after the teen's parents questioned the findings of Bay County's medical examiner, and was conducted Monday by Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Vernard Adams.

"My opinion is that he died because of what you see in the videotape," said Baden, referring to the surveillance video.
Smart money says the county medical examiner knew full well this kid was beaten to death, but wanted to protect the county from a big lawsuit and ensure the officers were free to continue abusing the inmates. Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but I doubt beating an uncooperative kid senseless is an effective way of teaching him not to use violence against those he himself finds both frustrating and weaker.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Will Appeals Court Turn Justice On Its Head?

Justice at the trial court level won - but that's only Round One:
Federal Witnesses Banned in 9/11 Trial
Judge Cites Misconduct By Lawyer; Prosecution Faces Major Setback
By Jerry Markon and Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, March 15, 2006; Page A01

A judge barred key government witnesses from testifying at the death penalty trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, ruling yesterday that the misconduct of a federal lawyer had so tainted the proceeding that all evidence concerning aviation security must be stricken.
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema issued her ruling at the close of an extraordinary hearing in Alexandria that centered on the conduct of Carla J. Martin, 51, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer who improperly shared testimony and communicated with seven witnesses. New evidence emerged that Martin was heavily involved in the case and had committed what Brinkema called other "egregious errors."

The most serious was telling a prosecutor that witnesses sought by defense attorneys had refused to meet with them. Relying on Martin's contact with the witnesses, prosecutor David J. Novak relayed the information to the defense. After hearing from those witnesses yesterday, Brinkema called Martin's information "a baldfaced lie."

"I cannot allow that kind of conduct to go without there being serious sanctions," Brinkema said as she struck the expected testimony and all of the evidence about aviation. "It would likely turn the criminal justice system on its head."
Yesterday's hearing featured only a brief appearance by the woman at the center of the controversy. Brinkema warned Martin that she could be held in criminal or civil contempt. In an unusual move, the judge read Martin a version of the Miranda warning given by police to criminal suspects as she took the stand at the start of the hearing.

Speaking agitatedly, Martin said she "very much" wanted to testify but that it was an "adversarial proceeding" and that she needed a lawyer. With that, Martin left the courtroom and did not return. Her attorney, Roscoe C. Howard Jr., later told the judge that Martin would not be available to testify. Howard, a former U.S. attorney in the District, declined to comment.
(Emphasis added.)
Now that Ms. Martin has been caught, I'm sure "the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of her actions." Had she gotten away with it, she would undoubtedly be on the fast track for promotion. As it is, maybe she can join Brownie's disaster preparedness consulting firm - or get a job with Bill O'Reilly's Special Police Squad.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Ethics? We Don't Need No Stinking Ethics!

Can you say "prosecutorial misconduct?"
Judge Calls Halt to Penalty Phase of Terror Trial

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 13 — An angry federal judge delayed the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui on Monday and said she was considering ending the prosecution's bid to have him executed after the disclosure that a government lawyer had improperly coached some witnesses.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema said she had just learned from prosecutors that a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration gave portions of last week's trial proceedings to seven witnesses who have yet to testify. In e-mail messages, the lawyer also seemed to tell some of the witnesses how they should testify to bolster the prosecution's argument that Mr. Moussaoui bore some responsibility for the deaths caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"In all my years on the bench, I've never seen a more egregious violation of the rule about witnesses," Judge Brinkema said before sending the jury home for two days. She said that the actions of the government lawyer, identified in court papers as Carla J. Martin, would make it "very difficult for this case to go forward."
(Source: New York Times)
Gee, you'd almost think they were more concerned with getting a death penalty verdict than with the concepts of justice and fair play. Admittedly, the Republican dictionary defines those terms as "whatever the President says; see fuehrerprincip", but still...

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Bush League Diplomatic Efforts Fail Again

The Republican "make special rules for US or we won't give you any money" school of diplomacy doesn't work well in a time when the US teeters on the edge of fiscal ruin.
U.S. Rethinks Its Cutoff of Military Aid to Latin American Nations

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 11 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice indicated Saturday that the United States would look for ways to resume military assistance to Latin American nations cut off from aid programs because of their refusal to shield Americans from the International Criminal Court.
Eliminating or reducing military assistance to countries like Chile and Bolivia that are seeking to combat terrorism or drug trafficking is "sort of the same as shooting ourselves in the foot," Ms. Rice told reporters on Friday as she traveled here for the inauguration of Michelle Bachelet as the new president of Chile.

Ms. Rice said, however, that the Bush administration had limited flexibility in restoring aid because a law enacted by Congress required the cutoff of military aid to countries that did not exempt American citizens from being brought before the court.

At least 30 countries have declined to enact an exemption, including 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the time the law was adopted, the Defense Department supported it on grounds that American military officials based overseas might be brought before the court. More recently, administration officials said Defense Department officials had become concerned about the loss of military cooperation with key allies.
(Source: New York Times [emphasis added.])
What the New York Times fails to mention is that the law forbidding military aid to countries failing to enact special rights for US citizens accused of things like human rights abuses was passed by Tom DeLay and Jesse Helms:
Congress and the Saddam Hussein Protection Act
by Douglass Cassel

The same day the House of Representatives recently voted not to pay an installment of our UN dues -- despite our legal obligation and prior commitment to pay -- it also passed a bill which attempts to achieve by legislation what the US could not achieve by negotiation, namely to strong arm our allies into exempting Americans from the International Criminal Court for genocide, serious war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Despite its politically irresistible title, the "American Service Members' Protection Act" does nothing real to protect our troops. As the American Bar Association pointed out to Congress, keeping GI's out of the International Criminal Court will merely relegate them to the less tender mercies of the courts of foreign potentates.

The ruse of protecting GI's is, for some, a cover for other agendas. For chief House and Senate sponsors Tom DeLay and Jesse Helms, the bill is a vehicle to pursue their broader ideological objective: a foreign policy based on unilateralism rather than on cooperation with other nations. If the bill seems calculated to offend other nations and to thwart our participation in UN peacekeeping, so much the better.
(Source: Commentaries, Northwestern University School of Law, Center for International Human Rights

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