Thursday, August 03, 2006

Let the bodies hit the floor

Couldn’t post earlier. There was an earthquake and I thought it prudent to unplug the computer. 4.4, big deal. So this is a long one.

The House of Representatives cafeterias have changed “freedom fries” back to “French fries.”

Olmert declared today that Hezbollah “has been disarmed by the military operations of Israel to a large degree.” I’m not sure whether that was before or after Hez disarmed itself of 190 rockets by launching them at Israel (wounding 21 and killing one). Olmert counted as part of that victory that “All the population which is the power base of the Hezbollah in Lebanon was displaced.” Just in case you thought that ordering Lebanese to abandon their homes was done out of any concern for their personal safety.

And Olmert, in an interview with the London Times, asks, “And by the way, how do you really know that 400 innocent civilians were killed? How do you know who is innocent and who is not? Why? This is not an army. They don’t wear uniforms that distinguish them from other civilians.”

Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, who seems to be competing with our own ambassador John Bolten in assholery, 1) claimed on “Meet the Press” that Hezbelloh was responsible for the Qana massacre by forcibly preventing residents from leaving, 2) said that he didn’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud (okay his actual words were “If we waited a year or two, they [Hezbollah] would have had chemical and biological weapons, and if we waited another five or six years, Hezbollah would have nuclear weapons.”), 3) accused Lebanon of being big ol’ cry-babies: “Isn’t it time that Lebanon took its fate into its own hands rather than keep crying out to the Security Council and to the international community?”

I don’t want to get too ahead of the process in discussing the procedures the Bushies are talking about for the military tribunals for suspected terrorists. Until they actually officially propose a bill, I’ll refrain from hitting the roof over the notion of letting the secretary of defense decide what crimes should be tried by military tribunals. I’m assuming – dear god, let it be so – that they’re throwing out every half-baked idea they can think of now so that their final proposal will look only mostly evil rather than batshit insane. Still, I would rather have a flat-out extra-legal system of detention without trial, which would at least be honest, than something that pretended to be a legal system but, for example, allowed the introduction evidence that the defense was not allowed to see. That isn’t just not a fair trial, it’s not a trial at all, and I’d rather see no court than a mockery of one. And they want to be able to admit information obtained by torture, and they want that written into law and passed by Congress – they’re trying to make every branch of government complicit. In a way, I’m with them on this one: I want congresscritters forced as often as possible to declare whether they are for or against torture.

The Bushies will also include a provision to immunize what the WaPo calls “service personnel and civilians,” the latter I assume meaning CIA employees, who commit war crimes while following administration policies. Alberto Gonzales called for such “protections for those who’ve relied in good faith upon decisions made by their superiors”. Ah yes, the “I vas chust following orders” defense.

A Miami Herald story begins: “Lacking hard facts about what is happening in Cuba after Fidel Castro ceded power, the Bush administration has accelerated its planning for a Cuban transition and is exploring new ways to broadcast information to the island.” So if they lack hard facts, what “information” would they be broadcasting?

Speaking of broadcasting, here’s a recruitment video for Appalachian State University (which is evidently hot hot hot) that’s been making the rounds. Stunningly bad.


The LAT reports on how the investigation of the murder of 3 Iraqi detainees by American troops, possibly kinda encouraged by an alleged order by Col. Michael Steele to “kill all military-aged males,” is revealing that Steele created an atmosphere of trigger-happy racism, getting soldiers to compete over who could kill the most Iraqis, tracking their competition on a board at hq with the words “Let the bodies hit the floor” on it, and giving out knives as rewards for killing Iraqis. All very “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Rumsfeld responded to Iraqi President Talibani’s claim that Iraqis could take charge of security in the whole country by the end of the year: “That’s fine. He’s the president of Iraq, and he can make his statements.”

Caption contest: Bush made a surprise visit to the press briefing room, which is like one of those surprise visits to Iraq, but with Helen Thomas instead of insurgents.

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