As President Obama tries to steer something approaching a "middle course" on investigating the criminal actions of the Bush administration, the rhetoric used can be informative. Neither the president nor his spokespeople are using the word "torture" to describe the torture techniques used. Instead, they prefer "harsh interrogation."
The problem is that "harsh interrogation" connotes something perfectly legal, while it seems obvious that the methods used were not, by any legitimate stretch of the imagination, legal. Of course, Bush administration officials tried to rationalize the methods, and Dick Cheney is all over Fox TV saying that they were at least effective and kept America safe (meaning the ends justified the means). But we need a new phrase, one that paints a more accurate picture.
Enter the New York Times. read more »
It’s appalling, it’s deeply disturbing but we need to look it straight in the face. Journalism professor Mark Danner , writing in the New York Review of Books reports on, and excerpts at length from, a heretofore secret report by the International Red Cross. Danner describes in detail torture administered by Mr. Bush and Mr. Chaney (through their subordinates) in your name and mine. To people.
And the Murder? Oh that. Seymour Hersch, read more »
Why is it, do you think, that some tyrants love show trials? Why not, as death squads did in Argentina and Chile kidnap, torture and murder at midnight? Why detain & torture people, coerce confessions, rig kangaroo courts (my apologies again to the kangaroos who, after all are innocent unlike our Decider-in-Chief) and bar lawyers from representing them effectively?
As you may well know by now, Mr. Bush as decided to follow up on the show trial and hanging of Saddam Hussein (who may well have been guilty of something, but weâ€™ll never know) by tryingâ€ six people in Guantanamo before military commissions and executing them. Their crime? A la little Rudy one-note, claimed involvement in the September 11 attacks.
In order to make acceptable the â€œevidenceâ€ extracted by Mr. Bush by torture (Did he watch the torture tapes?) a public relations campaign has launched to show that water boarding is just fine. Mr. Injustice Antonin Scalia loves torture , he tells us, rewriting the Federal Rules of Evidence with scenes Foxâ€™s 24. (Do you think Mr. Justice S plans to recuse himself from deciding these issues? Me neither.)
The White House whitewash of water boarding, here and here is buttressed by a bizarre argument: after we tortured them, we interrogated them nicely, indeed treated them to Starbucks Coffee and they still confessed. read more »
Victor Rabinowitz long time advocate on behalf of union labor, civil rights for minorities and civil liberties for dissenters, who represented Cuba, Alger Hiss and Benjamin Spock and who died in late November, will be remembered and honored at a memorial meeting Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 4PM at NYU Law Schoolâ€™s Vanderbuilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South. To read a moving personal memoir of Rabinowitz by one of his children, Mark Rabinowitz, click here
UPDATE: He's still dead, but for New Yorkers of a certain age and left persuasion, the meeting memorializing the life of Victor Rabinowitz was a time warp. Civil rights, civil liberties activists, war opponents, now grey-haired litigators some turned judges and law professors all looked much as they did when I first met many of them in the late 1950â€™s and early 1960â€™s. Chuck McDew, the first chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee looked more wrinkled and greyer (but no heavier) than he did in 1962, but he was just as warm and funny as then as he remembered how â€œMiss Ellaâ€ (Baker) sent him to meet â€œgood white people:â€ Victor and his partner Leonard Boudin. Joni, Mark & Peter Rabinowitz remembered their fatherâ€™s loyalty, devotion and humor as well as a few of his difficult moments. Some of the speeches were dull with left-speak, of course, but the real remembering of Victor Rabinowitz took place as we schmoozed before and after, reaffirming links between us forged in struggles which (for me at least) were quite frightening. His was quite a time.
But you can do more. Following the memorial meeting, a few steps East at Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Square South the, Domestic Workers United , an organization of largely immigrant women of color, is hosting a benefit dinner dance 6-11:30PM. It will feature home cooking. Iâ€™ve eaten their food and itâ€™s wonderful. read more »
When the 18 and 1/2-minutes of Nixon-tape turned up missing, it was the beginning of the end for his presidency. Will the destroyed tapes of CIA torture end Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheneyâ€™s Gestapo-like torture careers? (Check Washington Post story here )Perhaps not unlike Sgt. Shultz of Hoganâ€™s Heroes, Mr. Bush "knows nothing, remembers nothing" His
mouthpiece press spokespinner: "He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday." So far as Iâ€™ve read Scott Hortonâ€™s take at Harpers is the most focused. But if you want a full scream-by-scream review try < a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/12/07/BL2007120701201.html?hpid=topnews"> Dan Froomkinâ€™s chronology with hot-links from the Washington post. Update: The White House now claims it tried to stop the CIA from destroying evidence; before they claimed destroying the videos was just peachy. I could give you a dozen hot-links but Scott Horton has already collected them with a Sgt. Shultz reference to spare. read more »