Monday, May 03, 2004

To help, not to hurt

Massachusetts is working on a new death penalty. The important thing about it, which has so far gone unremarked, is that it calls for a higher standard of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It requires no doubt. To me this sounds like an admission that the criminal justice system in Mass. isn’t good enough.

CBS delayed its report on Abu Ghraib 2 weeks (and who knows how much longer it would have waited had Sy Hersh not been about to break the story). Anyone tortured in that period should sue Dan Rather. There were actually hints of torture here and there on the web over the past few months, and of course that military report, but it took just one idiot with a camera to make sure attention would be paid. I’m telling you, investigative reporters are all very well in their place, but the moron who wanted some pics to show around the bars back home did more good accidentally than Hersh did.

The problem in Abu Ghraib was structural: military police guarding the prisoners were put under the authority of military intelligence, which made human rights violations inevitable and predictable. Anyone could have looked at the organizational chart and said “Here there be torture.” What I’m saying, to make it very plain, is that what happened was so predictable that it had to have been intended, except maybe the pyramid thing. Contra Monty Python, everybody expected the Spanish Inquisition. The command structure pretty much proves it, to a life-imprisonment-in-Massachusetts standard if not to a death-penalty-in-Massachusetts standard. If more proof were needed, we’re told that several Grand High Inquisitors were sent from Guantanamo to instruct the MPs in the finer points.

Colin Powell says, “the acts of a few, I trust, will not overwhelm the goodness coming from so many of our soldiers,” who are there “to help, not to hurt.” No response of mine could be as sarcastic as that happy horseshit deserves.

Sharon responds to his “defeat” in a referendum, which he did not have to call, of the 2% of the Israeli population that is the Likud party membership by promising to scale back his plans to slightly reduce settlement activity while permanently grabbing a large proportion of the West Bank. Quel surprise! It’s now official: George Bush was rolled. I knew it when the referendum was announced. How naive are all those news sources claiming Sharon was “rebuffed” or “snubbed” by his party? Did anyone think Likud would vote to withdraw from Gaza? Of course not.

Kerry doesn’t have to be rolled, he rolls all by himself. "The security of Israel is paramount. . . . We will also never expect Israel to negotiate peace without a credible [Palestinian] partner. And it is up to the United States in my judgment to do a better job of helping the Arab world to help that partner to evolve and to develop." Now we have to wait for some sort of evolutionary process, developing Palestinians that can fit into 40% of the space? So it’s not really “targeted killing,” it’s just helping along the Darwinian process, survival of the fittest and all that?

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