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Truth and Consequences


Here’s some of what I learned from this week’s Newsweek.

The opening words of an item headlined Secret Memo: Send To Be Tortured…(find this story by searching the Periscope section)

“An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK.”

The closing words…

“officials have confirmed that 65 detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo for further detention or prosecution by foreign governments, including 29 to Pakistan, seven to Russia, five to Morocco and four to Saudi Arabia—countries the State Department criticizes for practicing torture.”

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From the feature How to Fix School Lunch (find in the Society section) which brings the encouraging news of American schools districts finally working to make school lunches more healthy:

“Fast-food companies now spend $3 billion a year on television ads aimed at children.”

Inexplicably, inexcusably, this feature does not credit the movie Supersize Me with helping spur education boards into action – though it does reference superchef Jamie Oliver’s reality TV show set in a London primary school.

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And from Anna Quindlen‘s Last Word column on the crisis America may face from returning War vets… (Find this story online by searching through Columnists)

More than a million men and women have served in war zones since the terrorist attacks of September 11. The percentage of those wounded on the battlefield who have survived is the highest in the history of combat.

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While we dwell on the prospect of a million Vets returning home, many with serious injuries, the number of people dying senselessly in Iraq seems to increase by the day. Last Sunday, journalist and author Steven Vincent had an OpEd published in the New York Times which entitled Switched Off In Basra . In it, he questioned the laissez-faire attitudeof British forces in southern Iraq, where local police forces are becoming dominated by religious zealots.

Fearing to appear like colonial occupiers, [the British] avoid any hint of ideological indoctrination: in my time with them, not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society. Nor did I see anyone question the alarming number of religious posters on the walls of Basran police stations. When I asked British troops if the security sector reform strategy included measures to encourage cadets to identify with the national government rather than their neighborhood mosque, I received polite shrugs: not our job, mate.

The result, Vincent stated, was the emergence of death squads.

An Iraqi police lieutenant, who for obvious reasons asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to me the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations – mostly of former Baath Party members – that take place in Basra each month. He told me that there is even a sort of “death car”: a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment.

The following story sadly appeared in yesterday’s New York Times , just three days after Vincent’s op-ed foretold his own death.

Mr. Vincent and his Iraqi interpreter were kidnapped on Tuesday evening in Basra, Iraqi and American authorities said yesterday. His body was found north of the city center hours later, and a hospital official said he had been shot three times in the chest. The interpreter, who was also shot, was hospitalized in serious condition.

Steven Vincent: Exposed death squads Sunday, died at their hands Tuesday. RIP.

That paragraph was preceded by these three. I can offer no further comment except sympathies to his family and admiration for a brave man.

For much of his career, Mr. Vincent, 49, a freelance writer, had covered the art world, including museums, auction houses and the antiquities trade. But in September 2001, when he scrambled to the roof of his apartment building in the East Village and saw the second airliner strike the World Trade Center, “I saw the face of evil in that moment,” he later told a friend.

Mr. Vincent resolved to go to Iraq, where he lived a hardscrabble life in a $15-a-day hotel and wrote articles about what he regarded as Islamic fascism. He compared his two trips to Iraq to the tours taken by journalists covering the rise of fascism in Europe during the Spanish Civil War.

Mr. Vincent wrote an account of his experience in Iraq after the American invasion titled “In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq” (Spence Publishing, 2004) and was at work on a contemporary history of the southern port city of Basra. He had planned to leave Iraq soon.

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Discussion

6 Comment(s)

  1. 4 August, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    respect and sympathies

  2. TheOnlyLivingBoyInStatenIsland

    4 August, 2005 at 3:03 pm

    You know Tony, as troubling as the Periscope story is, the first thing that hits you when you go to the Newsweek site, pissed me off more that a lot of things I’ve been reading lately. The government can use whatever lame-ass excuse they want for still being in Iraq whilst the latest theatre for the war on terror has been waged on the buses and in the tube stations of London. However, there is no excuse for less than supreme treatment of the people returning home from doing our bidding.

    from Anna Quindlen’s “Can U.S. Take Care of Its Iraq Vets?”
    “More than a million men and women have served in war zones since the terrorist attacks of September 11. The percentage of those wounded on the battlefield who have survived is the highest in the history of combat, in part because of advances in body armor, in part because of sophisticated on-site medical facilities. The result is that there will be a group of Iraq-war vets with catastrophic injuries: multiple amputations, head trauma, horrendous burns. They may need medical intervention for the rest of their lives. Yet already there has been troubling testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee that severely injured soldiers are being pressured to sign discharge papers before they’ve received adequate care.”

    Could these professional right wing loonies, these agitators still believe that expressing contrary opinions about our continued presence in Iraq does more harm to troop morale than a glimpse of what is in store for them when they return? Who are they kidding?

  3. 4 August, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    paddy desko- as I will now call you-

    Just going to elaborate for anyone else reading your comment. Newsweek changes the front page of its website by the hour. You are referring to the Anna Quindlen column, which I reference and you then quote from in more detail. Anyone else visiting the Newsweek site may have to search for it under ‘Columnists’ as Newsweek doesn’t put up specific pages as you surf around within the site which means I can’t offer a permanent link to this story. (Unlike iJamminG!!!!)

    I’ve always found Quindlen’s writing right on the money; her current column makes for seriously depressing reading, though I’m pleased we have people like her to bring these issues to our attention.

  4. TheOnlyLivingBoyInStatenIsland

    4 August, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    Whoops!

    When I clicked on your first link, that was the first thing I saw and got so incensed, I missed that you had some of it down below. Believe me, my fury is pointed at the pundits (most of which are gormless at best no matter what political persuasion they are, and plain evil at worst because of the deceptive depths (including changing the subject) they’ll go to to protect their stated point of view). I’m not terribly bright so I cling to concrete things and it will be a very bottom-line, concrete fact if indeed the government doesn’t do right by these veterans.

    – p desko

  5. Kevin

    5 August, 2005 at 10:13 am

    Paddy-desko,

    Quote “the latest theatre for the war on terror has been waged on the buses and in the tube stations of London.” ‘Tis true albeit the Blair government has taken some proper steps by deporting mullahs who cite, “death to the West, death to the infidels, etc.” France is also deporting what they term as “radicals.” And the US response — let us search back packs of people who WISH to have their back packs searched — mind boggling…

    Yes…SPOT ON…the NPR/BBC/and the rest of the Alphabet networks get their talking points from the DNC while Fox, Hannity, and Limbaugh and the rest of their ilk get their talking points from the RNC — and we (no offense to Snotty) the people are stuck in the proverbial “no man’s land.”

    I caught a glimpse of some news footage with Rumsfeld, more or less, ‘talking in code’ that the occupation is winding down and the coalition has some kind of time-table for bringing the brave men and women home…hmm…it is my understanding the new Iraq government has yet to receive Ms. Rice but they have invited the Iranian rulers to break bread…hmm…it is also my understanding the new Iraqi Constitution is, more or less, Sharia Law where women return to second class cattle, and Jews belong with the apes and pigs…hmm…

    Men and women are coming home in coffins — they are coming home missing limbs — they went to bring freedom and democracy not another mad mullah police state…

    Next up on the news: steroid abuse in baseball — Paul Wolfowitz can’t be reached for comment (rolling eyes)…

    Be well and stay safe,
    – Kevin –

  6. 5 August, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Paddy-DEsko

    You’ll get no argument from me. Kevin seems equally angry. And when you start linking these stories together – taking the occasional break for a school-dinners report – that’s when the shit really starts to fly.

    Best to all of you

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