Monday, May 09, 2005

Compromising its principles

Eli at Left I on the News has said almost everything I would have about anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and the NYT’s front-page story about him today, which displays a reflexive instinct — call it a Cold War Tourette’s — to challenge anything Cuba says just because Cuba says it, right down to questioning in its headline whether this admitted bomber of hotels and commercial airplanes is actually a terrorist. The flip side of this Cold War Tourette’s is a refusal to take the United States at any but its own self-examination. The NYT’s Tim Weiner writes, “A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists.” Its principle? That’s like Bush & Rumsfeld claiming that the US doesn’t practice torture, except for those dozens and dozens of rotten-apple cases, which don’t count (to quote the Daily Show, “Just because torturing prisoners is something we did, it doesn’t mean it’s something we would do.”). The US has been a safe haven for nearly 50 years for violent anti-Castro Cubans, not to mention the Nazis recruited by the OSS and CIA, Haitian and Salvadoran death squad leaders, Vietnamese war criminals, including the one who shot the prisoner in the famous photo (he owned a pizza parlor in Virginia) etc etc.

About Posada, the Bushies would rather look incompetent than stick to their so-called principles. “Roger F. Noriega, the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he did not even know whether Mr. Posada was in the country.” Sure you don’t, Rog, sure you don’t.

Elsewhere on the Monday NYT front page is a story about the lax security at chemical plants in New Jersey, in which the reporter is horrified that he was able to take pictures of those plants while driving by in his car without being stopped and interrogated. So now reporters want to be harassed when they’re taking pictures? There’s no pleasing some people.

Condi Rice takes a leaf from Richard Nixon’s Big Book o’ Stonewalling, saying that giving Senate Democrats the information they want about John Bolton’s distortions of intelligence re Syria and Cuba would have a “chilling effect” on internal debates. How are Bolton’s qualifications supposed to be evaluated if the last 4 years of his life is ignored? Rice also says that she “does not believe these requests to be specifically tied to the issues being deliberated by the Committee in connection with the nomination.” It’s not really her decision what evidence is necessary. Committee chair Richard Lugar also refused to back up the Democrats’ requests, saying that the documents weren’t essential, and again, that’s not his call to make.

The Sunni who turned down the cabinet post of human rights minister this weekend, Hashim al-Shibli, says he first heard about his appointment in a tv news report, which suggests Jaafari was trying to bounce him into the job by handing him a fait accompli. Not very deftly handled.

Ariel Sharon has announced that he won’t release 400 Palestinian prisoners as promised, because Abu Mazen hasn’t done enough against Hamas. Since those 400 men were not convicted by any court of any crime, and since their release is being predicated on Mazen’s actions, the correct word for them is not prisoner but hostage. You could look it up.

For students of blogging’s effects on the art of writing, the term for what I did in the last sentence, which I just made up, is “the sarcastic hyperlink.”

Sharon says “Everyone asks me to strengthen Abu Mazen, but I tell them, not at the expense of Israeli lives.” Any sane person would recognize that undermining Abu Mazen will have a far higher cost in Israeli lives.

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