BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 30--Ten of the seventeen soldiers accused of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad have issued a formal statement declaring that they consider themselves “in need of a good, firm spanking.”
What the HELL is going on this photo? Excellent question. Turns out that 17 soldiers have been accused of humiliating and abusing Iraqi prisoners. How fabulous. According to the story on CBSNews, "...one Iraqi prisoner was told to stand on a box with his head covered, wires attached to his hands. He was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted... In some, the male prisoners are positioned to simulate sex with each other. And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up." Body and Soul has some good commentary as well as links to other nauseating photos.
"Don't judge your army based on the actions of a few," says Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt. Ok. Fair enough. But I'm sitting here asking myself--what sort of culture fosters this kind of behavior? Can someone promise me that it's not widespread?
People on either side of the war debate can be pretty eager to demonize each other. It's easy to get carried away. According to some, it seems like it's only a short step from opposing the war to being someone who wants to make friends with terrorists and put Saddam Hussein back in power. Our side is guilty of this too. And one mistake we make is to criticize "the military" for the mistakes of a handful of powerful people.
I honestly try not to do this. We can't hold "the military" responsible as if is a unified, gargantuan entity that has a single collective mind making all its decisions. "The military" is, to a significant extent, people younger than me. And I give them the benefit of the doubt. Without evidence either way, I assume that soldiers are doing the best they can with a shitty situation and behaving more or less appropriately. But now I feel compelled to question that assumption.
I'm feeling especially queasy because just yesterday I told a friend of mine that I couldn't bring myself to believe stories about Americans mistreating Iraqis. I've been privately nurturing my fantasy of GI Golden Boy showing the Iraqi people how kind and noble Americans are. I am so naive.
Senator Zell Miller, the embarrassment of the Georgia Democratic Party, has finally made himself a total laughingstock. Today he introduced a bill that would rescind the 17th Amendment, the one that allows Senators to be elected, God forbid, by people in their state, instead of appointed by their state leglislature. Zell had this to say:
The election of U.S. senators by the state legislatures was the linchpin that guaranteed the interests of the states would be protected. Today, state governments have to stand in line because they are just another one of the many, many special interests that try to get senators to listen to them. And they are at an extreme disadvantage because they have no PAC.
I think after September 11th the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life. And President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's try to reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kind of policies that the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy, and really the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.
--Karen Hughes, appearing on CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer
APRIL 27, 2004—Moving souls from this world to the next is no easy task, especially given post 9-11 attitudes toward the value of life, says the much maligned and often misunderstood Grim Reaper.
Speaking via phone from his three-story condo in the Underworld on Tuesday, Mr. Reaper lamented the increased workload that he has had to undertake since late 2001, when much of the world’s population started valuing life more and death less.
Something Bob Woodward was talking about the other night got me thinking. He was talking about President Bush's character, specifically what a more generous person than me might call "decisiveness" and what a slightly less but still too generous person might call "simple-mindedness." Specifically, Woodward asked the President if he had had doubts about his decison to go to war. He said no. In fact, he said, "I haven't suffered doubt." You can read more about it here. Perhaps it is the thinking of a relatively secular guy, but immediately I associated this lack of doubt with Bush's well-known religious convinctions. You know what I mean... He knows he's right because he has faith, so why have any doubt?
That is how the Defense Department begins each one of its press releases about American soldiers dying.
Tami Silicio, a cargo worker for Maytag Aircraft Corp. (a US military contractor), was fired Wednesday for taking pictures of flag-drapped caskets being loaded onto a plane in Kuwait. You can read about it here and here. The caskets, of course, contained the remains of American servicemen on their way home. The photos were published by the Seattle Times, in violation of a 1991 Pentagon policy that prohibits news organizations from photographing coffins of American soldiers.
Fortunately the photos have turned up on a lot of websites. Like this one. And this one.
In the spirit of saying "fuck you" to the people that would so cynically deny the American public access to information about its bravest citizens, we have created a little graphic illustrating exactly how many American caskets you haven't seen.
"The numbers don't lie," is one of those meaningless phrases that gets thrown around from time to time.
But I think the phrase holds some truth. Numbers don't lie. People who publish numbers lie. People who say, "The numbers don't lie," lie. Or as Benjamin Disraeli said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Mr. Horowitz engages in all three.
He's a fan of studies. And by studies, I actually mean "studies," since I'd never use the word loosely enough to refer to his attempts at research. Or if you wish, "research."
Before addressing the heart of Mr. Horowitz's arguments about why faculties are liberal and how you or your child's education is being destroyed by said liberals, let's look at some of the numbers that Horowitz and his people use to back up their position.
This evening I had the singular pleasure of hearing David Horowitz speak at Emory University. Mr. Horowitz, who is shorter, louder and more offensive in real life than he is on the Dennis Miller Show, describes himself as "a nationally known author and lifelong civil rights activist...an outspoken opponent of censorship and racial preferences, and a defender of the rights of minorities and other groups under attack -- including the rights of blacks, gays, women, Jews, Muslims, Christians and white males."
Some highlights from Bush's press conference this evening--only the twelfth in his presidency. (We encourage you to find the video of the press conference. It's far less impressive since the ums, uhs, stammering, and long uncomfortable pauses have been generously edited out of the transcript.)
BUSH: Good evening. Before I take your questions, let me speak with the American people about the situation in Iraq. This has been tough weeks in that country.
This has been tough times for English grammar. Oh well. Not the greatest start. Let's go to some of the questions he was asked. No doubt he answered them in a direct and comprehensible manner.