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Saturday, May 15, 2004

President Bush has now used the beheading of American Nicholas Berg as a way of attempting to implicate Saddam Hussein in prewar terrorism. Bush is still pulling at straws to justify his war on Iraq, the latest being using the fact that al Qaeda supporter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was in Iraq prior to the war, has been identified as Berg's killer this week.

Bush told a friendly audience at a fundraiser that, "We knew he (Saddam) had terrorist ties. The person responsible for the Berg death, Zarqawi, was in and out of Baghdad prior to our arrival, for example."

At a moment when an American President concerned about world opinion and human rights ought to be doing some serious housecleaning regarding our own brutality problem, President Bush has chosen to go back to the tortured half-connections used to legitmize the Iraq invasion. Carl Rove must be repeating the mantra, "the best defense is a good offense... the best defense is..." into Bush's ear in this election year.

Meanwhile, Secretary Rumsfeld appears from Bahdad on the front page of the New York Times, looking supremely disgruntled as he storms into the Abu Ghraib prison complex, no doubt muttering the Claude Rains line from Casablanca, "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling is going on in this establishment!"

Being in this administration means never having to say your sorry. No matter how sorry things get.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

"Terrorism is the enemy of our generation, and we must prevail...America will remain a target because we are uniquely present in the world, because we act to advance peace and democracy, because we have taken a tougher stand against terrorism, and because we are the most open society on earth. But to change any of that, to pull our troops back from the earth's trouble spots, to turn our backs on those taking risks for peace, to weaken our opposition against terrorism, to curtail the freedom that is our birthright would be to give terrorism the victory it must not and will not have."

- President Bill Clinton
April 1996

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Three cheers for an honest man in Washington! Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba resisted the pressure put on him by Pentagon brass and reiterated in Senate testimony his conclusions that the Army had not taken measures that would have prevented abuse of prisoners at the infamous Abu Gharaib prison. Despite having been sent with not one, but two Defense Department handlers, General Taguba spoke plainly and straightforwardly.

Quite the contrast to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who claimed the previous day to have been "unable" to get a copy of the notorious videotape of prisoner abuse at Abu Gharaib. You have to figure he doesn't have the pull, right?

Among the telling conclusions from the March report filed by Taguba is the following:

-Civilian Internees should receive the full protections of the Geneva Conventions, unless the denial of these protections is due to specifically articulated military necessity (e. g., no visitation to preclude the direction of insurgency operations).

One can only wonder why that conclusion would be considered a necessary reform rather than being standard practice already.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, whose March report on prisoner abuse to his superiors in the US Army and Defense Department referred to "systematic and illegal abuses of detainees," will be testifying today before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Before anyone gets excited about the possibility that his testimony will begin to shine a light on the truth of the situation, note that the Pentagon has insisted at the last minute that Taguba be accompanied and preceeded at the hearing by not one, but two superior officers.

Let's make sure he knows the party line and has handlers to whom he must report present at the hearing.

Do these guys learn anything from past scandals?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Living in a blue state, I don't see much of the political advertising currently plagueing the airwaves in battleground states. On a dare from a friend, I did just go to the Kerry website though to look at the new personal history ads the campaign is running. Yeoch! I don't recommend the trip. These are tired, old-fashioned relics of the 70's.

Lot's of stills with Ken Burns moves, static pictures and conventional angles dominate, peppered with uninspired soundbites and a narration that makes industrial video look scintillating by comparison. The only good bite is Kerry saying, "America is a country of optimists, a can-do people. We just need to believe in ourselves again."

Senator Kerry will either be looking for a new agency or hoping Bush continues to self-destruct. These ads won't hunt.

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