Saturday, September 13, 2003

Israeli compromises? Is that supposed to be an oxymoron?

Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, the day after Israel threatened to assassinate Arafat or exile him without due legal process, said that the US could learn from the “compromises” struck by Israeli courts between fighting terrorism and human rights. For example, he said, suspects who might pass on information through their lawyers could be given a list of government-approved lawyers. And then Breyer realized that after his comments he was too morally compromised to serve on the Supreme Court anymore and resigned. Just kidding.

A search shows that no American news source picked up this story, although Breyer spoke at Columbia U.

The American media still haven’t come to grips with the deliberate ambiguity about the Israeli cabinet decision’s studied ambiguity about whether they mean killing or exile. You’ll note that American officials’ strongest words of condemnation for the idea was that it was not helpful (helpful to what, they didn’t say, since the “road map” is obviously dead, or if I don’t want to mix metaphors I should say the road map has been vomited on by a car-sick 5-year old), or that it would just give Arafat a “wider stage.” None of them said that assassination would be, I dunno, wrong, immoral, barbaric...

The Jerusalem Post came out for assassination. So did several members of the Israeli cabinet.

I hesitate to link to this piece on “20 things we still don’t know about 9/11”, because some of them are close to being urban legends, but it does give reminders about some real issues, some of which I’ve raised in the past 2 years, like why the jets that were belatedly sent to intercept the plane heading towards the Pentagon were going nowhere near their top speed. Since we rarely go back to the actual events of the day, much of what we think we know is itself urban myth, like that the hijackers were all armed with only boxcutters, or why the Penn. plane crashed.

American soldiers, winning hearts and minds... well, maybe not winning minds, but here’s the first sentence of a Fisk story: “A HUMAN brain lay beside the highway. It was scattered in the sand, blasted from its owner's head when the Americans ambushed their own Iraqi policemen.” The Americans took away the bodies (leaving the brain and some dentures) and then claimed to have no information about the 10 cops (the Times says 8) they’d killed, firing literally thousands of bullets over 45 minutes. The survivors of the first attack ran into a hospital, so that was blown to shit as well, although to be fair, that may have been Jordanians firing at the Americans (did you know there were Jordanian soldiers in Iraq?) Fisk, as is his wont, found some of the information the Americans claim not to have by telling us the serial numbers on the casings for grenades. He tried to get into the hospital, but “To enter hospitals here now, you must obtain permission from the occupation authorities in Baghdad - which is rarely, if ever, forthcoming. No-one wants journalists prowling round dismal mortuaries in "liberated" Iraq. Who knows what they might find?”

This will either mean something to you or not: the Tory party have selected an Asian woman to contest the seat that used to be held by Enoch Powell.

Bush tells the UN Security Council nations with vetoes: "no free nation can be neutral in the fight between civilisation and chaos". So they’re free nations, but not free to disagree with the US in any way. Powell says the UN is “not ready” to take over from the US in Iraq. He says the French proposal is in effect that “we stop everything we're doing”. I’d refer him to the 10 dead Iraqi police.

Evidently Italians really like blasphemous porn. No, I’m not surprised either. Anyway, turns out one, Il Confessionale, was shot five years ago in an actual 13th-century church (the priest left the keys with a restaurant owner across the street and...). So they’re thinking about reconsecrating it, and debating whether the marriages conducted since then are valid (they are).

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