Monday, November 07, 2005

We do not torture

I want to return to the French rioting to praise the restraint of the rioters up to now. 11 days of rioting, many more Peugotcides than the figure I gave yesterday, but precisely 1 death. There are signs that the restraint is over, with rioters firing back at the riot police, although only with bird shot. A simple way to end the disturbances would be for Sarkozy to resign. Which won’t happen, of course.

Burma’s military rulers are moving the capital into a distant jungle location. No one knows why. Probably not good.

I got another of those recorded phone call mini-dramas about tomorrow’s parental-notification referendum, this one the voice (taken from a news broadcast – did they have his permission to make this use of it?) of a father of a woman (18, I googled it, so it’s not even relevant) who died after taking RU-486. “I never knew” he said, that was “suffering in silence.”

Jane Mayer, writing in the New Yorker, asks, Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner? Or more specifically, is it capable of investigating its agents who torture secret prisoners to death. The answer, of course, is no. The article is worth reading. It has some details on the Justice Dept torture memos that are, I think, new. And it describes the court-martial of a SEAL commander whose subordinates helped CIA agents torture a prisoner to death (by crucifixion) in Abu Ghraib. Two CIA officials showed up in the court and kept claiming that bits of evidence and questions shouldn’t be introduced: “When one of the defense lawyers, Matthew Freedus, asked a witness, ‘What position was Jamadi in when he died?,’ the C.I.A. representatives protested, saying that the answer was classified. The same objection was made when a question was asked about the role that water had played in Jamadi’s interrogation.”

Bush visited Panama today, where evidently no one at all mentioned the fact that his father once invaded the country. They let him play with the canal lock controls.

Long story short, remember how Panama used to have a canal....?

While in Noriega’s old stomping grounds, he responded, sort of, to a question about torture: “We do not torture. And, therefore, we’re working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible -- more possible to do our job.” He described Cheney’s efforts to browbeat Senators to defeat McCain’s torture provision as “members of my administration go[ing] and brief[ing] the Congress.” There are times when Bush wants to portray himself as a strong, decisive leader, and other times when he talks about “doing his job” to distance himself from responsibility for his own (or Acting President Cheney’s) decisions.

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