Friday, May 20, 2005

Some questions:

Why did the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and all other major media outlets make the White House's relentless attack on Newsweek (for publishing an article in which the source for one allegation was incorrectly attributed, but the allegation itself was accurate) front-page news; but wait two weeks before printing one word about a bombshell British memo revealing that Pres. Bush lied to Americans about his Iraq war plans and about the intelligence on Iraq, which was selected and manipulated to fit the war plans? And when the U.S. media did print this story, why was it buried on inside pages? Why, even to this day, does the New York Times continue to downplay the significance of the British memo -- burying it inside the Washington section, portraying its importance as being mainly a matter of the ammunition it gives the Bush administration's opponents,and giving readers the White House position that the memo "is based on circumstantial observations and does not purport to be an authoritative account of American decision making" -- without mentioning, as the British press and regional experts like Juan Cole did -- that a senior administration official read the memo and stated that it was an absolutely accurate account of what was said at the meeting between Bush and Richard Dearlove. Why didn't Times reporters ask Scott McClellan about the obvious inconsistency in accusing Newsweek of getting the facts wrong -- unintentionally; when the Bush administration got the facts wrong on the Iraqi intelligence -- intentionally; and when Pres. Bush, in 2002, was making incorrect statements to the American public about his intentions with regard to Iraq -- intentionally.

More questions: Why does Bradley Graham, a reporter at the Washington Post, write an article, in all seriousness, about the problem the U.S. military forces in Iraq are having trying to explain to Iraqi forces why they should not be mistreating detainees? When you read passages like this one ...

These previously undisclosed U.S. military records documenting Iraqi mistreatment of detainees, often accompanied by photos showing prisoners bruised or cut, highlight what U.S. commanders are calling a high-priority concern. As Iraq's military and police assume greater responsibility for fighting insurgents, senior U.S. officers say they have cautioned Iraqi authorities repeatedly -- in formal letters from commanders and in face-to-face encounters at detention centers and elsewhere -- against abusing prisoners.

This effort has led to friction between U.S. and Iraqi forces in the field, with Iraqis at times questioning demands for humane treatment of enemy fighters who themselves show no respect for the laws of war. U.S. officers say they regularly warn the Iraqis that failure to curtail abusive behavior could tarnish the image of the new security services, risking a loss of Iraqi public support and jeopardizing U.S. and other foreign assistance.

Privately, U.S. commanders also express worry about their troops getting drawn into an Iraqi dirty war, particularly as several thousand military advisers embed this year with Iraqi units, putting them in a position to witness abusive action or be accused of acquiescing to it. The U.S. military has spent the past year struggling to get out from under the shadow of mistreatment by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

... don't you wonder if the Pentagon is putting on the screws? I can't believe my eyes when I see sentences like "Privately, U.S. commanders also express worry about their troops getting drawn into an Iraqi dirty war. ..." Are these guys for real? Does Bradley Graham ever worry about his credibility, getting drawn into writing suck-up stuff like this? U.S. commanders worrying about their men being influenced into abusing detainees by working with Iraqi troops? I mean, it's like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and Bagram never happened and don't even exist!

And get a load of the earnest talk about trying to explain the importance of "international human rights conventions" to Iraqi interrogators!

In classes and conversations on the handling of detainees, Iraqi soldiers often challenge the idea that international human rights conventions should apply to insurgents, several officers said.

"One of the most frequent questions we're asked is, 'Why do we have to treat these people humanely, because their only aim is to kill us?' " said Col. William Hudson, senior lawyer for the 3rd Infantry Division.

Lilly concurred. "The number one question we get from Iraqi interrogators is, 'How am I going to break these guys if I can't use physical force?' " he said.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I've fallen down the rabbit hole. But wasn't there an attorney name of Alberto Gonzales who wrote a memo to his boss, George W. Bush, saying that the provisions of the Geneva Convention are "obsolete" and "quaint"; and didn't the memo suggest that said provisions did not apply to insurgents and other detainees in the "war on terror"? And wasn't this memo dated somewhere around four months after 9/11?

Apparently, detainee treatment has become a more pressing issue lately; here's why:

The issue has gained urgency in recent months as Iraqi security forces have expanded and begun conducting counterinsurgency operations on their own. Prisoners taken in operations led by U.S. forces are still sent to U.S.-run detention facilities. [Where they are safe, since humane treatment of detainees at U.S.-run detention facilities is assured and rock-solid.] But insurgents captured in Iraqi-led raids now often end up being detained by the Iraqis and at times subjected to harsh interrogations. [A very serious violation of human rights standards, which does not happen in U.S.-run detention facilities.]

Iraqi forces receive some instruction about human rights and the laws of armed conflict during U.S.-designed basic training programs, and U.S. soldiers are giving additional guidance to those responsible for running prisons. But the advice has tended to be general, lacking many of the specifics in the U.S. Army's recently revised field manual for handling detainees.

Why was the U.S. Army's field manual for handling detainees recently revised?

Never mind; don't bother answering that question.

Another question: Why does the St. Petersburg Times have a front-page article about the huge Shiite protests against the U.S. occupation; and the 3 major dailies (New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times) don't mention them at all?

Last question (for now): Pres. Bush announced today that if the bill overturning his ban on human embryonic stem-cell research reaches his desk, he will veto it, because: "I've made very clear to Congress that the use of federal taxpayer money to promote science that destroys life in order to save life, I am against this."

My question is: If Pres. Bush opposes the destruction of embryonic life in order to save human life, is he opposed to destroying human life in order to save human life? Specifically, does Pres. Bush oppose destroying thousands of Iraqi human lives in order to save other Iraqi human lives? Does he oppose destroying the lives of humans who have destroyed lives in order to save other lives?

Perhaps he should say, then, "I've made very clear to Congress that the use of federal taxpayer money to destroy life before it is born to save life after it's born, I am against this." (I wouldn't want to change the President's charming syntax.) I would still disagree with him on this issue, but at least his statement would be truthful, if he said it this way.

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