Thursday, November 20, 2003

Duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men

I haven’t mentioned the Canadian-Syrian dual national who the US pulled off a plane when he was changing planes in the US on the way home to Canada, and deported to Syria to be viciously tortured for 10 months, in yet another spit in the eye for Canada, not to mention the guy himself. The Post says that it was approved by the deputy attorney general, who said that returning him to Canada would be “prejudicial to the interests of the United States.” They told Syria he was Al Qaida, just to make sure he was tortured. The US said that it could deport that guy to Syria because it promised not to torture him. Washington Post (a day after the above link): “Spokesmen at the Justice Department and the CIA declined to comment on why they believed the Syrian assurances to be credible.” Although to be fair, the Post was asking questions of Justice and CIA spokesmen, who aren’t exactly the most credible sources themselves.

Turkey will allow a full five hours per week of tv & radio broadcasting in Kurdish. So generous.

I received a rather good Nigerian email scam today. This one purports to be from the mistress of the late Qusay Hussein.

AP headline: “CBS Pulls Michael Jackson Music Special.” Oh is that what they’re calling it now.

I mentioned yesterday a lt-colonel being investigated for hitting an Iraqi prisoner and shooting a gun next to his dead, threatening to kill him if he didn’t talk. I also mentioned that there is a movement to put him up for sainthood. For a hint of that, click here.

Robert Parry writes that while the Bushies all managed somehow to avoid Vietnam, many of them were involved in the 1980s in directing efforts against leftists in Central America. The piece is Guatemala-heavy, and a good reminder of the CIA-death squad connections of that period. I don’t think Parry really makes the case he is trying to make, that those experiences are shaping current Iraqi policy, but I think the case could be made.

Bush read out rather a good speech in Britain. In fact, I suspect a British ghostwriter. “The inhabitants of Iraq’s Baathist hell, with its lavish palaces and its torture chambers, with its massive statues and mass graves, do not miss their fugitive dictator.” He also cited Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, Tyndale, Wesley and William Booth. Do you think they make an attempt to explain to him who these people were, or do they just put it in his hands and say “Read this. No, dummy, read it out loud.”? Doesn’t it risk making him look like the total stooge he is when he has to read speeches whose content is so obviously beyond him?

He also said that if we denied the Middle East the blessings of democracy imposed from the outside by overwhelming military force (I’m paraphrasing), it would “remain a place of stagnation and anger and violence for export.” Comment 1: So it only matters if they export their violence. Comment 2: How do you export stagnation? Comment 3: Just so long as their first export is still oil. He added that to say they were unready for having democracy imposed from the outside by overwhelming military force (I’m paraphrasing) was “pessimism and condescension and we should have none of it.” Yes, he went to England, England mind you, to speak out against condescension.

Behind him, just as in America, was a wall with words appearing over and over, in this case “United Kingdom.” Just in case the locals didn’t know what country they were in? Well, that must happen a lot. Bush always wears a little American flag pin in his lapel, just in case he gets confused.

The Times describes the scene outside: “If the world inside Banqueting House seemed black and white, out on the street it was mostly luminous green, as thousands of police in fluorescent jackets lined Whitehall for the policing equivalent of Shock and Awe. Japanese tourists filmed police filming a handful of hairy protesters on bicycles who filmed them back with hand-held camcorders, while the whole thing was filmed by 24-hour news channels. This is called total surveillance.

“Two policemen with a crowbar were prising up the manhole covers and peering anxiously into the sewers. Nearby, I found an American secret serviceman with no neck and the giveaway rubber spring hanging from an ear. He was staring with suspicion at a sign on the building next door which read: Swyddfa Ysgrifennydd Gwladol. I didn’t have the heart to tell him this was not some coded terrorist message but the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales.” [I’d have used that for my subject line, but I’d probably be hauled in for questioning by the Office of Homeland Security.]

The Guardian, meanwhile, assures us “All is calm, inside the bubble.” “lest he even breathe the same air as the protesters outside, he was ferried by limousine from the back door of the palace round to the front.”

Speaking of talking total tosh, here’s Colin Powell’s response to the (fired) Mexican ambassador to the UN: “Never, never, in no way, would we treat Mexico like our back yard or a second-class nation.”

There’s a reality show on Russian tv called Hunger in which 12 young Russians have to scrounge, beg, steal and possibly prostitute themselves on the streets of Berlin. None speak German. They get voted out by viewers, Big Brother style. The winner gets $1,000 a month for life.

Yet another Bush nominee to the bench has been blocked, but it’s by Republicans. Leon Holmes says it doesn’t matter whether there’s an exception for rape in abortion laws, because rape never leads to pregnancy. The theory is that the R’s don’t want to give him an up or down vote, because it would be down.

The Israeli military lied again.

Serves me for clicking on a headline “Teacher Suspended for Milk Lesson.” But if you want to...

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