Saturday, March 31, 2007

What’s wrong with putting a bag over her head?


We knew that members of the police were involved in the reprisal killings in Tal Afar earlier this week. There were even reports, which I haven’t heard confirmed, that the Iraqi military and police shot at each other as the military tried to stop the massacres. 18 of the police were arrested. And very shortly afterwards, the government, provincial rather than national near as I can make out, simply ordered them released. They may or may not have been re-arrested since then.

It’s disheartening when a thuggish and criminally stupid regime that is starving to death those of its citizens it doesn’t beat to death gets the unanimous public backing of its neighbors, as Zimbabwe’s Mugabe just has from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (listen to its anthem here). That’s all I have to say about that.

Monty Python’s Terry Jones expresses his disgust at the Iranian treatment of the British sailors & marines: “And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God’s sake, what’s wrong with putting a bag over her head? ... It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives...” You get the idea.

Speaking of putting a bag over her head, the Bushies are bitching about Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Syria, which sends the wrong message. As opposed to Bush’s meeting this week with Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, the “Butcher of Chechnya.” While they’ve acknowledged that that meeting was a mistake, I haven’t noticed them doing anything to clarify their attitude towards the Butcher.

From the Butcher of Chechnya to the Kangaroo Skinner from Oz. David Hicks, the Australian who fought against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001 before fleeing and selling his guns, being captured and spending 5 years in Guantanamo, plead guilty after his lawyer was kicked out of the military tribunal for refusing to sign an agreement to abide by rules that had not been written yet. The plea agreement includes provisions that he renounce all his previous claims about being beaten and tortured in Gitmo, declare that his detention was entirely lawful, not speak to the media for one year after his release, not sue the US for having been tortured, and not profit from, say, a book deal. And you know something? It’s kind of refreshing. At long last the US has stopped pretending that it doesn’t torture or that it has any interest in investigating allegations of abuse or torture. That the prosecutors had the authority to make such a deal, threatening Hicks with more years of confinement if he persisted in his claims of torture, tells you everything you need to know. He will serve out his sentence in an Australian prison, John Howard being willing to imprison one of his nationals on the basis of this miserable excuse for a trial. One wonders if he’s also promised to arrest Hicks if he violates the gag order.

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