Friday, May 07, 2004

Pfc. England's family in doubt

The photographs have left her family and friends aghast and searching for answers. They are convinced that she would never have thought up anything so cruel on her own and that she must have been following orders.

If that is the case, the family and friends then have to reconcile how the tough, bold and independent young woman they know followed an order that seemed so obviously wrong.

"She's kind of stubborn," her mother, Terrie England, said. "But that doesn't mean she can't follow orders."

Yeah. I'm sure "go stand in front of that naked prisoner smiling and giving us a thumbs up" was an order.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Family values
"We aren't attending your graduation because we don't wanna make it a spectacle."

Yeah, right, George. You're too busy for your children, we know it.

Some errors seem to be present in this story:

The 365-50 roll call Thursday by which the House approved a resolution condemning the abuses of Iraqi prisoners while commending the members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving in Iraq

A "yes" vote is a vote to approve the resolution.

Voting "yes" were 151 Democrats, 213 Democrats and one independent.

Voting "no" were 49 Democrats and one independent.

That's a lot of Democrats. (I'm sure the AP will catch this soon, but it's too entertaining not to mention it).

Kerry picks wrong economic team?
Town Hall's latest spew:

Sen. John Kerry recruited two famous businessmen to what The New York Times described as his "motley team" of economic advisers. Kerry turned to Steve Jobs of Apple Computer and Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. (When Kerry said he was fighting for Jobs, we didn't realize he meant Steve).

Buffett is the second wealthiest man in the world. Steve Jobs just received America's second largest executive pay package. Both are amazingly talented at what they do. But what they do not do is economics. Until now, nobody imagined Steve Jobs had any interest in economics. Buffett, on the other hand, has sounded off on numerous topics. Unfortunately, Buffet's paper trail makes it reasonable to conclude that Kerry approves of his views. And that could prove embarrassing.

Yeah, I'm sure Steve Jobs really sucks at economics. Good Lord, this is exhausting.

Kerry's wife nearly had an abortion 30 years ago
And it's our business.

More Bush flip-flopping
Bush is backing off on his concessrions to Israel. I'm sure this has nothing to do with a certain POW torture scandal, does it?

Voting rolls being purged in Florida
Deja vu, anyone?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


You can't make this stuff up
Some people have some interesting comments on the torture scandal. I will now make fun of them:

Engineer Mike Wallace of Santa Clara, California, does not condone the abuse but said, "We don't know the full story of what they did. These people could be murderers, scoundrels."

And I don't know how I'd sleep at night if we let a "scoundrel" go without being stripped and made to pose next to other scoundrels.

"When you've got prisoners, don't try to humiliate them or torture them," said 43-year old Berry Samuel, taking a break from his maintenance work job. But his colleague Oscar Torres, 21, countered, "I think they deserved it. Those people are crazy over there. I'm voting for Bush. He's doing right."

Swift rebuttal, Oscar! Your short, grammatically sound sentences exude intelligence.

Barbara McNagny, 70, a registered nurse from Rogersville, Missouri, said bluntly, "These people would tie us up by our fingernails if they could. I'm afraid if we don't scare them to death, they won't get in line."

You heard her! Hop on that sweet, sweet democracy train or we'll make your masturbate in front of your fellow POWs.

With Amnesty International seeking an investigation of the abuses, one Dallas Morning News reader wrote to the newspaper, "I don't recall this group calling for any investigation into the burning and hanging of U.S. military contractors from a bridge in Falluja several weeks ago."

Good point! However, the need to investigate is slightly lessened by the fact that it doesn't need to be investigated. In fact, I have an inkling that insurgents may be responsible.

"If the humiliation of these prisoners results in the saving of one American military life, go to it," Derrel Norris of Wills Point, Texas, said in a letter published on Tuesday.

Absolutely! Naked Prisoner Pyramids, as we in the know call them, are actually the #2 deterrent to terror. Number 1 being funding Saudi Arabia.

But some like Gregory Brown, 37, a bank employee from Chicago, were concerned that the Bush administration's effort to win the war of ideas was too little too late.

"The repercussions are that there will probably be more bombings" against U.S. interests, he said, adding that the photos will enrage religious Muslims. "I don't think a 'forgive us' will do because it's a very embarrassing scene."

You mean the pictures of their countrymen being humiliated and tortured will actually anger them, rather than make them instantly subservient to our cause? That's ridiculous! I believe you need a lesson in foreign relations from a certain Ms. Barbara McNagny.

Marijuana use up among adults
I didn't know you could really "abuse" a pretty much harmless drug, but I stand corrected.

Get it while you can
The Smoking Gun has a copy of the Army's investigation into the torture allegations.

Newsmax: torture allegations overblown
The right-wing shill's primary reason that the torture probably didn't happen:

Did U.S. soldiers in Baghdad "torture" Iraqi prisoners housed at Saddam Hussein's old Abu Ghraib prison?

That's the impression being given by the blanket coverage of photos showing Iraqi detainees being humiliated at hands of their American keepers - half of whom, by the way, were female.

That's right. Along with three male GIs suspected in the prison "torture" episode, three females, Spec. Megan Ambuhl, Spec. Sabrina Harman and Private Lynndie England have been named in the scandal.

England is the GI shown in several of the photos circulated throughout the world, cigarette dangling from her lips as she smirks at a masturbating Iraq prisoner.

Female torturers? That tidbit should send up a red flag immediately.

When Saddam routinely tortured Iraqi innocents held at Abu Ghraib for decades, press accounts make no mention of women feeding detainees into meat grinders, or dipping prisoners in acid, or dismembering victims to be sent home to family members in Hefty bags.

Soldiers or not, women are generally not the best candidates to administer physical "torture" of any kind.

The fact that no other righties in the country are looking for excuses here should indicate how pathetic Newsmax is.

Senate votes to protect overtime pay

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

11 years for chemical weapons
Would you be satisfied if the guy next door building cyanide bombs was out of prison so soon?

Privatizing torture
Through an apparently legal loophole, the citizens involved in the torture cases may just get off without charges. Fucking great.

Prisoner scandal worsens
A probe has discovered that two POWs were killed by Americans.

Republican love
Are you lonely? Do your quests for love leave you with someone a little too...liberal? Well then have we got the site for you! - because we have a hard time finding anyone to melt our cold, cold hearts.

Mexican gay man not "effeminate" enough for asylum
This is ridiculous:

The Immigration and Refugee Board has rejected the asylum case of a Mexican homosexual man on the grounds that he is not "visibly effeminate" and therefore not vulnerable to persecution in his homeland.

Fernando Enrique Rivera, who lifts weights, wears his hair closely cropped and favours jeans and conservative sports shirts, believes the IRB's decision shows a stereotypical understanding of homosexuality.

"I know some gay refugees who put on lipstick and dressed effeminately for their hearings because they thought it would help their case. But that is not who I am," Mr. Rivera said in an interview in a Church Street eatery in the heart of Toronto's gay village. "You don't choose to be gay. It's not like being a vegetarian. It's a very complex thing."

"Six morons who lost the war"
Apparently some people up high have some choice words for the American torturers:

Regardless of the outcome of the now multiple investigations into prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, politicians and media around the world say the United States' image has suffered a serious blow. Sen. Joe Biden (D) of Delaware said on Fox News Sunday that "This is the single most significant undermining act that's occurred in a decade in that region of the world in terms of our standing."

The Associated Press reports that a senior Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the photos (of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners) hurt the US efforts to win over an audience that is already deeply skeptical of US intentions. Arabs and Muslims, the official added, "are certain to seize upon the images as proof that the American occupiers are as brutal as ousted President Saddam Hussein's government."

Officials at the Defense Department are also said to be "livid," and well aware of the damage that has been done by the incident, according to NBC News' Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski. Speaking on the Imus in the Morning radio/MSNBC program Tuesday , Mr. Miklaszewski said he asked a Pentagon contact about the soldiers alleged to be involved, to which the Pentagon official replied, "You mean the six morons who lost the war?"

The Chicago Tribune reports that other experts agree with this assessment.

"The United States already had a huge perception problem in the Arab world," said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "This is only going to reinforce the belief that the United States is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, whether it's true or not."

Monday, May 03, 2004

Israel surrounds Arafat
If the Middle East was a movie, it'd be getting mighty good just about now.

CIA to investigate prison issue
If, as Drudge says, the CIA will be investigating this issue, how exactly are we to get to the bottom of whether or not MI was involved?

More BS news
Apparently we now need studies to discover that obese kids are bullied moreso than others. File that under "No Shit."

Sometimes I feel like certain news stories just shouldn't be written.

That's what you get for being a loser
Oh, dear.

Bush/Greenspan getting close

There is a growing danger that financial markets could perceive the Bush administration as unduly influencing the direction of federal monetary policy. So says Kenneth Thomas, a lecturer in finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

According to Thomas, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of meetings between Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and White House staff since President Bush took office in January 2001.

Thomas based his conclusions on Freedom of Information Act requests for Fed data over the past six years, tracking the number of meetings between Greenspan and White House staff during that period.

He found that from 2001-03, Bush's first three years in office, there was a 67 percent jump in the number of Greenspan-White House meetings compared with the three years from 1996-98. The FOIA queries showed Greenspan had 55 White House meetings in 2002 and 68 in 2003, up from about 12 per year between 1996 and 2000.

While the facts are all accurate, I believe the conclusion of the article may be a little off. In my opinion, it isn't Bush that is having too much of an impact on the Fed, but Greenspan who is putting his influence where it doesn't belong - that is, in politics. Laurence Meyer (ex-Fed chairman) is apparently saying that Greenspan needs to keep his mouth shut more than he does. It is arguable that Greenspan's influence passed the 2001 Bush tax cut. To say that the WH is affected the Fed and not vice-versa is flat out false. The sad truth may be that they aren't acting as separate entities, but working together.

Rebuke for offenders in abuse case

BAGHDAD, May 3 -- The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, has recommended issuing the highest form of administrative rebuke against six officers or sergeants who helped supervise the troubled Abu Ghraib detention facility west of Baghdad, which is the focus of an investigation of alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners, a U.S. official disclosed Monday.

The six unnamed supervisors will each receive a general-officer memorandum of reprimand, a document that can effectively end an officer's career by making future promotion impossible. A seventh supervisor will receive a letter of admonishment, a lesser form of penalty.

The senior military official, who briefed reporters on the condition that he not be identified, would not name the units or ranks of the seven supervisors who will be punished.

They are separate from the six enlisted soldiers who were criminally charged in March in the physical and sexual abuse of about 20 prisoners at Abu Ghraib in October and November last year. Four other enlisted soldiers are still under criminal investigation.

OK...I support the idea of ending their military careers. You know what else I support? Jail time. Large amounts of it.

Flat screens for prisoners
A bunch of people are making a fuss over this:

SALEM, Oregon (AP) -- Convicted felon Nicholas Krahmer kicks back on a bunk and enjoys one of the latest perks of prison life: A spanking new flat-screen TV that's still the envy of many viewers on the outside.

The tiny 7-inch set resembles flat-screen models installed in cars or on airplane seats. But it beats the alternative, he says -- a night in the recreation room with about 150 other inmates who are prone to brawls over what to watch and where to sit.

Oregon's in-cell television policy springs from years of frustration in finding incentives for good behavior among prisoners serving mandatory sentences.

Krahmer bought the $300 television with money he earned working in prison, where he is paid a few dollars a day for computer drafting. Inmates also must have clean discipline records to qualify for the flat-screens.

"I've worked for it. I've stayed clear of any sort of nonsense in the institution," said Krahmer, 27, who is serving 70 months at Oregon State Correctional Institution, outside Salem, for assault with a knife.

"I've never seen an episode of 'Survivor.' I'm eager to watch that. I want to see what my family watches."

Randy Geer, administrator of the prisons' non-cash incentive programs, said that as far as he knows, Oregon is the only state where felons have flat-screen TVs in their cells. The 25 inmates who have bought the high-tech TVs get the same basic cable that's piped into the prison's common TV room.

"Prisoners shouldn't get TV! ::whine!:: ::whimper!:: ::moan!::"

Well, if it prevents brawls and isn't costing the taxpayers, I say it's fine.

Media Matters
David Brock's new media watchdog site, going into action this week.

UPDATE: Silly me, I forgot the link.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Menudo is coming back? Thank the Lord!

OK, so I didn't feel like doing any serious blogging.

30 more torture scandals probed

The dossier of terror includes :

Claims that POWs were thrown to their deaths from a bridge. A videotape of the killings is said to have been destroyed.

The drowning of 16-year-old Ahmad Jabbar Kareem, who was allegedly forced into a canal by British soldiers near Basra.

The deaths of two men detained by the Black Watch near Basra a year ago. Abd al-Jabbar Mossa, 53, and Rathy Namma are both said to have suffered heart failure. Mossa's family claim he was hit on the head.

Weeks after the torture photographs were taken, a prisoner was allegedly beaten to death by members of the same Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

An MOD spokeswoman said yesterday's bombshell allegations which followed pictures of US troops abusing inmates in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison are being investigated by the Royal Military Police

More on the Iraqi torture situation
Lambert at corrente does some good investigative work.

Franken to run for Senate
I think his talents are better used outside of actual politics, so I'm not sure I support this.

Kerry establishing Iraq policy
The criticism of Bush's Iraq policy without presenting a solid strategy of his own was wearing thing, and hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround for Kerry:

FULTON, Missouri (CNN) -- Saying it is "time for a new direction in Iraq," Sen. John Kerry called Friday for the United States to internationalize peacekeeping efforts in the turbulent nation and launch a "massive training effort" to build and strengthen Iraq's security force.

"This is a moment of truth in Iraq -- not just for this administration, the country, the Iraqi people, but for the world," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told an audience at Westminster College.

While Kerry has called for a broader international effort before, Friday's speech represented the candidate's most detailed vision to date for how the United States should handle Iraq.

"This may be our last chance to get it right," Kerry said.

"We need to put pride aside to build a stable Iraq. We must reclaim our country's standing in the world by doing what has kept America safe and made it more secure before -- leading in a way that brings others to us so that we are respected, not just feared, around the globe."


Terrorist testing
Are terrorists doing dry runs of terror attacks in NYC?

Italian hostages disarmed by U.S.

The four Italian security guards kidnapped in Iraq had their personal protection weapons confiscated by American soldiers just hours before they were seized by suspected rebels, colleagues have revealed.

According to Paolo Simeoni, the former leader of their security team, soldiers manning a checkpoint in one of Baghdad's most dangerous districts confiscated their three high-powered assault rifles and two pistols.

Breaking his silence about the incident, Mr Simeoni said the Americans claimed that the Italians had flouted gun permit rules. The soldiers issued a receipt so that the arms could be collected at a later date.

The men, who had been on their way back to Italy, were forced to return to their hotel and search for substitute weapons. They managed to find just a single machine pistol and two handguns, which friends fear left them vulnerable to their attackers.

One of the hostages, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, was executed by the kidnappers, an Iraqi Islamist group, two days after the men were captured, on April 12. His death was videotaped and the plight of the three remaining captives continues to cause intense public anguish in Italy.

Bush numbers down in NC
Over 5 points since February.

Hostage escapes
Thomas Hamill, being held hostage by insurgents after his convoy was attacked, has escaped his captors and is in safe hands.

Myers says abuse not widespread

WASHINGTON - Top U.S. military officer Gen. Richard Myers said Sunday there is no widespread pattern of abuse of Iraqi prisoners and that the actions of "just a handful" of U.S. troops at a Baghdad prison have unfairly tainted all American forces.

An internal Army report found that Iraqi detainees were subjected to "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to The New Yorker magazine, which said it obtained a copy of the report.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said "categorically" that "there is no evidence of systematic abuse" in the U.S. detention operations in the region.

"We review all the interrogation methods. Torture is not one of the methods that we're allowed to use and that we use," Myers said. "I mean, it's just not permitted by international law, and we don't use it."

Uh, first of all, it's clearly not permitted by international law - that's why this is a big deal. Second of all, how exactly would Myers know how widespread it is? The fact is that we don't know how widespread it is, that's why it's being probed.

Things like this hint that perhaps something more complicated is at work here:

A soldier accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility wrote to his family last December that military intelligence officers encouraged the mistreatment, according to correspondence provided by the soldier's family.