The Talking Lion

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

If it wasn't for that damn wind blowing in from the ocean...

... spending a Sunday morning/afternoon getting through the entire Sunday New York Times while lying out on the beach would be my ideal way to spend a good chunk of my day. So, it looks like I'm going to enjoy being old.

But anyway, that's what I spent most of this past Sunday doing, as I was in the Bahamas and the beach was right there for my enjoyment. Some highlights:

Frank Rich wrote a spot on column in the ol' Week In Review section about the lapdog media, and was not afraid to call out his own employer on the failure to see through the bullshit that the administration put out there as rationale for the War in Iraq. Also, he goes into the Downing Street Memo, and how the media is barely paying attention to the document when it deserves so much more:

The attacks continue to be so successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including The Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated. The July 2002 "Downing Street memo," the minutes of a meeting in which Tony Blair and his advisers learned of a White House effort to fix "the intelligence and facts" to justify the war in Iraq, was published by The London Sunday Times on May 1. Yet in the 19 daily Scott McClellan briefings that followed, the memo was the subject of only 2 out of the approximately 940 questions asked by the White House press corps, according to Eric Boehlert of Salon.

For what its worth, it was somewhat comforting to see that the memo issue is getting play in the New York Times, even if it is on the Op-Ed Page.

Also, there was a fantastic piece in the Magazine on interrogation tactics by Joseph Lelyveld you can access here. It's long and reads somewhat like an academic piece, but it really asks the kind of questions that are not getting asked enough: Are coercive tactics effective at all? If so, how far should American interrogators go when dealing with captured insurgents? Also, there were some sidelights in the story that were more than slightly disturbing. Like the fact that Cheney was saying shit that sounded as if it was coming straight out of aprtheid era South Africa:

It made me uncomfortable to hear our own leaders telling us what a security police chief in apartheid-era South Africa long ago said to me -- that we should ''let the experts fight it out with the terrorists in the shadows.'' (''We also have to work . . . sort of the dark side, if you will,'' Vice President Dick Cheney said shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. ''We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will haveto be done quietly, without any discussion. . . . '')

Additionally, there's the whole Gitmo thing and the fact that almost half of the detainees have no ties to terroism at all:

Only after a new commanding officer had arrived and official inquiries had issued their reports did we learn that 40 percent of those penned up at Guantanamo never belonged there in the first place. At Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the record was even worse: two-thirds of the detainees were eventually said to have been innocent of terrorist links. At least when they were picked up. Who knows what leanings they developed or links they forged during and after theirinterrogations?

And then there's the fact that the Bush administration killed a proposal by John McCain concering interrogation tactics. Which is kind of weird considering McCain is the only guy who can actually attest to what it is like to be on the other end:

Senator John McCain has the heavy distinction of being the only member of the Senate who has ever suffered torture. He says he was ''stunned'' last year when the White House resisted an amendment he helped sponsor to the Intelligence Reform Act that declared simply that the C.I.A. was obliged to respect all laws and international treaties against cruel and inhuman interrogation practices andtorture.

But I put nothing past this administration, so I guess it wasn't that surprising.


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