High Does the Abu Ghraib Scandal Go?
you for your excellent article. The terrifying and grossly illegal excuse offered
by the Defense Department attorneys makes me ashamed of the legal profession
– once again. The president's powers derive SOLELY FROM THE CONSTITUTION
of the United States. He cannot derive powers outside the limitations of the
U.S. Constitution, to wit, the limitations of the first amendment (or any other),
the express statement that international treaties shall be the highest law of
the land, the limitations of the president's powers by the other two coequal
branches of government. (Nixon ran afoul of that one and Bush & Co have
The entire military,
including the commander in chief (perhaps especially the commander in chief)
is subject to the civilian government and the rule of law. The ancient and tiresome
excuse of protecting the citizens of the state by violating the laws of the
state is false and dangerous. A somewhat recent movie explored this very issue.
You or other readers might wish to view it; its on VHS tape: Defence
of the Realm, starring Gabriel Byrne, visits this issue in the context
of a cover-up of a near nuclear catastrophe on a US air base.
~ Katharine Rundle
anyone think it odd that the US could have fostered this man for over 10 years,
and is just now "learning" that he has been a "spy" for
Iran? To me this seems to be stretched to the breaking point.
Are we really
to believe that in the past 10+ years, we had no inkling that he was passing
"secrets" to the Iranians? Sorry, but it does not compute, not with
all the various intercept devices/ personnel in place.
It sounds to me
like the groundwork for an invasion of Iran.
Just my opinion,
~ James Hogan
I read Dahr Jamail's article I cannot ignore his negativity towards the situation
in Kurdistan and it is not as bad as he makes it out to be, there are so many
positive things the Kurds have done there that the title should be "I wish
the rest of Iraq would be as good as Kurdistan." But that is not my point;
you note out that the Turkmen you interviewed said the solution would be to
go back to the 1957 consensus in Kirkuk to solve the problem, where the Turks
were the majority then. As a journalist we need to do some research, the Turks
were never a majority and even less in 1957, since the expulsion of Kurds from
Kirkuk had not even started then. ...
~ A.S. Karadaghi
(in Baghdad) replies:
I would like to point out that this is a weblog, and not a hard news story.
Thus, it is basically a diary entry. While I do make it a point to keep the
facts straight, it is not anywhere near as researched and fact checked as the
hard news stories I write for The NewStandard.
I would like to
address one of your points, from where I wrote: "I ask him what the solution
is, and he felt it was to go by the ’57 Census in the city, where Turkmen
were the majority. So, again I ask, what is the solution?"
Since this was
a weblog, I did not make it a point to quote him... when in reality, he believed
the '57 census showed a greater Turk population than Kurdish population in Kirkuk.
This is why I
made the comment in my blog which followed his claim, "So, again I ask,
what is the solution?"
My aim in writing
what I did concerning his comment was to suggest that I felt what he mentioned
was rather absurd, and provided no solution whatsoever.
I agree with you
in that Kurdistan is the safest, and most likely best place in Iraq today.
I also want to
add that I sympathize with the plight of the Kurds, after all they have suffered.
However, as the
theme of my blog entry suggests, the situation in Kurdistan today is far from
resolved, far from settled, and quite troubled. The potential for the Kurds
to become engulfed by the rest of the fighting throughout Iraq is, unfortunately,
quite high today. And Kirkuk stands a good chance of being the touchstone for
again you have shown that anti-communism is the only thread that endears you
to anyone. Reagan has mourners because they either do not know what he stood
for and did or they do and rejoice. I find it reprehensible that the man who
broke PATCO, killed thousands in Latin America, stalled AIDS awareness, bombed
Libya without cause, attacked 'Welfare-Queens' and the poor as responsible for
their plight, intensified the humanitarian crises in the USSR by continuing
the economic attack that brought about dissolution to the detriment of hundreds
of millions of people is honored in such a way as to make him some kind of national
hero or godhead!
He did not shrink
government. He left us with trillions of dollars in Defense spending debt that
we are still accumulating! He attacked every protection that the workers have
gained through struggles. He was a racist and a homophobe. Let's call it like
I am sorry for
his family and friends but the man was one of the worst Presidents we have ever
had in terms of the working class and their issues. He whipped up racist, nationalists
tendencies that have not served us well in the world arena. Now we have the
evolutionary degeneration of his legacy in the White House. The U.S. is divided
precisely because a growing majority reject this chauvinism and see these people
for what they were!
Why are you so
hateful of communists? Communists, NOT STALINISTS, fight for the rights of every
working and oppressed person on all fronts. Always have. And always will. You
distort history and reality every time you open up an attack on Marxists and
Communists. Stalinism and Western capitalists destroyed the Socialist Union,
NOT REAGAN! Enough of the platitudes and pageantry. Was he a monarch? Is this
a democracy? Never has been and never will be until the working and oppressed
people throw off the shackles of capitalism so well embodied in this dead man
and the people like you who defend them!
~ Scott Cossette, Santee, CA
attack Communism because it killed millions. Always have, always will....
when I disagree with you, as I often do, I usually find your stuff well argued.
Monday and today, though, it appears that your obvious affection for Reagan
has caused a short-circuit. I grant you everything you say about Hitchens, because
the guy is so incoherent and arrogant that I think he can't see straight. As
far as Palast, though, the inflammatory adjectives he uses to describe Reagan
seem to have caused you to miss his point.
approach may not be artful, but he is obviously not criticizing Reagan for pulling
out of Lebanon or for negotiating with Iran – quite the opposite. He's calling
him a hypocrite for criticizing Carter's perceived weakness ("Reagan's
boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss") and then running for the
hills when it got too hot in Beirut, for example. That's not a Palast endorsement
for staying in Lebanon. While we can't exactly call Reagan a chickenhawk given
his willingness for active duty military service during W.W.II, we can definitely
say that he was bellicose and that he tended to exaggerate the threats from
various fronts in a manner presaging Dubya, particularly Grenada as Palast points
out. Furthermore, it was under Reagan's administration that the worst crimes
of Saddam Hussein (e.g., the famous gassing of the Kurds) were tolerated and
actively supported for the sake of anti-Iranian realpolitik. "Shining
City on a Hill" my ass.
for Palast's comments that "we should have invaded Saudi Arabia,"
once again you miss his point. He was obviously using a standard rhetorical
device: It's a bad idea to invade anyone, but IF you're going to do so, at least
invade a country vaguely related to the problem you're trying to solve.
any case, the real point of Palast's article about Reagan is to recall – in the
midst of the ceaseless accolades – that the Reagan administration covertly conducted
a murderous terrorist war that killed tens of thousands of Central Americans
during his tenure, and it's hard to see why that doesn't appear to bother your
antiwar, anti-intervention instincts. Say what you will about the Sandinistas
and their commitment to democracy, but their efforts ended a decades-long, U.S.-supported
dictatorship and almost immediately they had to fight a war against a U.S.-backed
proxy army. Not exactly ideal conditions for a burgeoning democracy. I have
no idea what would have happened had the US not intervened in this way, but
I think you would agree that it's a matter for the Nicaraguans (or the Hondurans,
Salvadorans, Guatemalans, etc.), not Washington, to decide.
a huge supporter of Antiwar.com in every way, but on this subject we strongly
disagree. I think you're giving Reagan a completely undeserved pass.
~ Lance Langston
thousands died in the U.S.-provoked civil war, which allowed the Marxist junta
to consolidate its power and move rapidly toward a Cuban-style one-party dictatorship."
Stalinist fashion, Raimondo simply erases the 1984 elections from history. They
were intensely scrutinized by the international community and generally deemed
fair. The Sandinistas won those elections primarily because their economic policies
were succeeding. After 13 years of Contra rule, Nicaragua is now the poorest
country in Latin America, even poorer than Haiti. But Raimondo doesn't let such
facts get in the way of his preconceived conclusions about "the inevitable
failure of Nicaraguan state socialism."
true – Palast's piece was lame. Calling Reagan a coward for not not killing
more people than he did makes no sense if you're complaining about all the people
he killed. But for you, of all people, to say that Reagan "didn't treat
Nicaragua very well" while mentioning almost in passing that thousands
died as a result of US intervention makes no sense for the same reason. With
a website called antiwar, you write forcefully and eloquently against US intervention
but when it's Bedtime for Bonzo, you give the old bastard a pass!
I hate that gin-soaked blowhard Hitchens as much as the next guy, but you really
have to work to miss his central point regarding Mother Teresa, which is that
she washed the feet of the poor with one hand while using the other to give
full support to the murderous power elite who kept them that way.
on, Raimondo, you're the best political writer on the web for my money, don't
go all wishy-washy on me now.
Jim Priest, Los Angeles
got over hating Reagan years ago. Once he left office, his power in the world
was gone. He became a bumbling shell of a man, helpless to carry out whatever
malice still lived in his heart. He has been succeeded by others as bad or worse.
I don't even hate him for the traffic jams his corpse, in its posthumous travels,
has been causing in my own San Fernando Valley.
I am angered by the lachrymose tributes to his skill as a "communicator,"
his triumphs in bringing "freedom" to so many, and his "optimism."
He read his lines well enough, but most of what he communicated was nonsense
– or lies, which in the lingo of the day equaled"plausible deniability."
And I have my doubts about his overall score as a "liberator," too.
That leaves optimism, and I can't argue with that.
it came to the slaughter of innocents in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala,
you gotta hand it to The Gipper. 50,000 dead in Nicaragua. Another 50,000 Indians
in Guatemala. Whole villages burned alive in El Salvador. Day care centers and
medical clinics shot up by Contras (the drug-dealing, baby-killing equivalents
of our founding fathers) determined that no Sandinista scheme for the betterment
of the poor should succeed. Nuns raped; priests murdered. He presided over all
that – he must have known! – and came up smiling.
he became governor of California, my mother was watching the swearing-in ceremony
with me, and she pointed at the screen, "look at his mouth," she said,
"there is a mean man." And I never saw a shred of evidence to prove
her wrong. "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain," Shakespeare
wrote. Reagan was the old granddad everybody likes, or the one about whom it
is said, "he was such a nice, quiet old man." AFTER all the shallow
graves have been discovered in his backyard or basement. The trouble is, the
bodies were right in front of us all the time: they just didn't matter, because
Reagan made us all feel so GOOD about being Americans.
been cursed all my life with an inability to make the necessary patriotic distinctions
between US – those who deserve to live, who deserve the protection of our lives
and freedoms – and THEM – those Indians, and poor people, and brown people,
nonAmericans or UNAmericans, whose lives don't matter at all in a scheme of
things like Reagan's – or Bush's, for that matter. So while he sermonized the
world with pious talk about liberty, I could not be distracted from the Reign
of Terror Reagan visited on the poor of Central America.
is said to be a cruel disease, but sometimes it must be nicer to forget. A conscience
would be a fearful burden after such a life, and, if you were so encumbered,
Alzheimer's would be a kindness. After a while, I suppose, Reagan forgot everything.
Judging by the crowds lined up to cry over the remains of the murderous old
granddad, so did we.
~ Adrien Rain
Burke, Sunland, California
may very well be between the devil and the deep blue sea, as Malic suggests,but
even so, their presidential elections can't be as irrelevant as he suggests.
First, they are the first free elections for the head of their state with quite
clear differences between the contestants. Second, the Serbs will show, at least
to themselves, in what mood they are. If they choose Nikolic they will have
shown their will to resist foreign tutoring and subservience. An attitude which
corresponds more to their tradition. Election of Tadic, on the other hand, would
represent an unmistakable sign of resignation that their fate is in hands of
others – a signal they are willing to do what they are told by the Kultur-Trägers.
It is enough to think of the Bush-Kerry sham contest to realize that Serbian
elections are a much more serious event.
~ Peter Vujacic
point. Compared to Bush vs. Kerry, any other contest is much more serious. However,
none of the parties currently active in Serbia – to the best of my knowledge
– truly has a vision of changing the way the state works. What Serbia needs
is to ditch the whole concept of omnipotent government, not just replace someone
at its head, or make cosmetic changes to the constitution. That's not going
to happen regardless of who wins; this is why I called the election meaningless
– even though in regards to foreign relations it is anything but.
The Torture Working Group
licensing torture is a ghoulish first for America, so was 9-11. So I'm not losing
any sleep over any al-Qaeda torture victims at Gitmo."
we have another writer who is more suited for the medieval ages than for the
21st century. Torture is not permissible under international law under any
If Sperry thinks
that the US can torture supposed al-Qaeda prisoners in Gitmo because al-Qaeda
killed 3,000 US citizens, does that give Iraqi the right to torture captured
US soldiers who participated in an illegal war in which over 10,000 Iraqis were
I should also
point out that torture doesn't extract useful information, and that at least
some, if not many, of the prisoners at Gitmo are innocent.
~ Paul Tremblay
Paul Sperry replies:
Sorry, I'm just not losing much sleep over al-Qaida leaders like Khalid
Shaikh Mohammad being "surfboarded" to prevent another 9-11. Al Qaeda
interrogators at Gitmo, not the other way around, until some of these
techniques were applied. Then we started to get some info to break up
plots, which maybe isn't important to people who live outside America,
is to us – especially those of us living in Washington and New York.
time is of the essence. Unfortunately the stick works faster than the
torture methods were used on a select few high-value detainees at
all detainees. Problem is, it appears to have been legally sanctioned
for illegal combatants such as al Qaeda, but even for state-sponsored
protected under the Geneva Conventions. The Gitmo methods should NEVER
been exported in Iraq. Those are clearly war crimes stemming from the
war crime of an unprovoked military incursion. Over this, I am losing a