A new national poll indicates that most Americans don’t want to see an investigation of Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, even though most people think such procedures were forms of torture.
Six in ten people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday believe that some of the procedures, such as water boarding, were a form of torture, with 36 percent disagreeing.
But half the public approves of the Bush administration’s decision to use of those techniques during the questioning of suspected terrorists, with 50 percent in approval and 46 percent opposed. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — We live in a hit-and-run-move-on-forward-looking-don’t-look-back-pick-yourself-up-no-regrets culture. Investigate torture? Heck no! That’s the past and the past is the stuff we leave behind. We live in the future — haven’t got there yet, but it’s sure to be good. Mustn’t let anything spoil that American dream.
Since August 2002, nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror.” According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention. In close to half the deaths Human Rights First surveyed, the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced. Overall, eight people in U.S. custody were tortured to death. [continued…]
Perhaps the most macabre case occurred in Iraq, which was documented in a Human Rights First report in 2006.
“Nagem Sadoon Hatab… a 52-year-old Iraqi, was killed while in U.S. custody at a holding camp close to Nasiriyah,” the group wrote. “Although a U.S. Army medical examiner found that Hatab had died of strangulation, the evidence that would have been required to secure accountability for his death – Hatab’s body – was rendered unusable in court. Hatab’s internal organs were left exposed on an airport tarmac for hours; in the blistering Baghdad heat, the organs were destroyed; the throat bone that would have supported the Army medical examiner’s findings of strangulation was never found.” [continued…]
In internal Justice Department inquiry has concluded that Bush administration lawyers committed serious lapses of judgment in writing secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations but that they should not be prosecuted, according to government officials briefed on its findings.
The report by the Office of Professional Responsibility, an internal ethics unit within the Justice Department, is also likely to ask state bar associations to consider possible disciplinary action, which could include reprimands or even disbarment, for some of the lawyers involved in writing the legal opinions, the officials said.
The conclusions of the 220-page draft report are not final and have not yet been approved by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. The officials said that it is possible that the final report might be subject to further revision but that they did not expect major alterations in its main findings or recommendations. [continued…]
When he first got word of Israel’s sneak attack on the Iraqi atomic reactor in 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan privately shrugged it off, telling his national security adviser: “Boys will be boys!”
Would Barack Obama be so sanguine if today’s Israelis made good on years of threats and bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities, yanking the United States into an unprecedented Middle East eruption that could dash his goal of easing regional tensions through revived and redoubled U.S. outreach?
For that matter, would Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu readily take on Iran alone, given his country’s limited firepower and the risk of stirring up a backlash against the Jewish state among war-weary, budget-strapped Americans?
Obama is no Reagan. And many experts believe the two allies are now so enmeshed in strategic ties — with dialogue at the highest level of government and military — that complete Israeli autonomy on a major issue like Iran is notional only. [continued…]
When Shimon Peres met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday, the White House had to walk a fine line: Honor the president of a close U.S. ally, but don’t make overmuch of the visit of a figurehead who has publicly supported the Middle East peace process and was granted a meeting at the White House before Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has opposed it. (Netanyahu is being invited to the White House later this month, along with the presidents of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority).
So, while the White House made no secret of the Peres-Obama meeting, there was no press conference featuring the two leaders in the Oval Office; just a chance to catch photos and a few comments from Peres as he departed the White House meeting and a one-paragraph readout of their visit on WhiteHouse.gov. [continued…]
The most important thing is what Hamas is doing and the policies it is adopting today. The world must deal with what Hamas is practicing today. Hamas has accepted the national reconciliation document. It has accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders including East Jerusalem, dismantling settlements, and the right of return based on a long term truce. Hamas has represented a clear political program through a unity government. This is Hamas’s program regardless of the historic documents. Hamas has offered a vision. Therefore, it’s not logical for the international community to get stuck on sentences written 20 years ago. It’s not logical for the international community to judge Hamas based on these sentences and stay silent when Israel destroys and kills our people. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — When Hamas offers Israel a ten-year truce, the general response seems to be: what kind of an offer is that? Ten years to arm and plot is no peace. But just consider the history of Israel. In sixty years, ten years without war is more than any Israeli leader has been capable of or willing to offer. Ten years without war would provide a better foundation for long-term peace than Israel has ever known.
A misdirected US air strike has killed as many as 120 Afghans, including dozens of women and children. The attack is the deadliest such bombing involving civilian casualties so far in the eight years since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Families in two villages in Farah province in western Afghanistan were digging for bodies in the ruins of their mudbrick houses yesterday. “There were women and children who were killed,” said Jessica Barry, a Red Cross spokeswoman. “It seemed they were trying to shelter in houses when they were hit.” Survivors said the number of dead would almost certainly to rise as the search for bodies continued.
The killing of so many Afghan civilians by US aircraft is likely to infuriate Afghans and lead to an increase in support for the Taliban in the bombed area. President Hamid Karzai, who was meeting President Barack Obama in Washington yesterday, sent a joint US-Afghan delegation to investigate the incident. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, standing next to Mr Karzai, voiced her “deep regret”. [continued…]
Hajji Karim and his extended family of 70 were camped in a dirt-floor stable 10 miles outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. It was as far as they could get from the Swat Valley, where thousands of people are fleeing from the ravages of the Taliban and the imminent prospect of war with government forces.
When Taliban fighters first entered Karim’s village last month, he recounted, they said they had come to bring peace and Islamic law, or sharia, to Swat. But the next day, two of the fighters dragged a policeman out of his truck and tried to slit his throat. Horrified, a crowd rushed over, shouting and trying to shield the officer. The fighters let him go, but the incident confirmed the villagers’ worst suspicions.
“We all said to each other, what sort of people have come here? And what kind of sharia is this? Cutting off people’s heads has nothing to do with Islam,” recounted Karim, 55, a bus driver. “The people were filled with great rage, and great fear.”
Authorities in North-West Frontier Province said that with the conflict intensifying, they expect half a million people to flee the once-bucolic Swat region near the Afghan border, much of which is now occupied by heavily armed militants. Officials announced Tuesday that they plan to open six refugee camps in the safer nearby districts of Swabi and Mardan, but until then, many who leave home to escape the violence are facing the arduous task of finding their own shelter. [continued…]
In a highly unusual reversal, the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office has withdrawn a report it issued in January exonerating a Pentagon public relations program that made extensive use of retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks.
Donald M. Horstman, the Pentagon’s deputy inspector general for policy and oversight, said in a memorandum released on Tuesday that the report was so riddled with flaws and inaccuracies that none of its conclusions could be relied upon. In addition to repudiating its own report, the inspector general’s office took the additional step of removing the report from its Web site.
The inspector general’s office began investigating the public relations program last year, in response to articles in The New York Times that exposed an extensive and largely hidden Pentagon campaign to transform network military analysts into “surrogates” and “message force multipliers” for the Bush administration. The articles also showed how military analysts with ties to defense contractors sometimes used their special access to seek advantage in the competition for contracts related to Iraq and Afghanistan. [continued…]