Monthly Archives: June 2005

Fool Me Once…

Reading this item, JURIST – Paper Chase: UPDATE ~ US House members report improved conditions at Gitmo

After visiting the Guantanamo Bay detention center Saturday [JURIST report], House Republicans and Democrats reported that conditions at the facility are improving. The lawmakers traveled to the detention facility to witness interrogations and observe living conditions of the suspected terrorists. Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) [official website] said that “[t]he Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago”. The visits come amid mounting pressure from human rights groups and some lawmakers to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding conditions at the camp [JURIST news archive], and end the use of torture techniques. A Senate visit is scheduled for Sunday. AP has more

… reminds me of this item from the Washington Post last April, Detainee Questioning Was Faked, Book Says; U.S. Military Denies Staging Interviews:

The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to make it appear the government was obtaining valuable intelligence, a former Army translator who worked there claims in a new book scheduled for release Monday.

Former Army Sgt. Erik Saar said the military chose detainees for the mock interrogations who previously had been cooperative and instructed them to repeat what they had told interrogators in earlier sessions, according to an interview with the CBS television program “60 Minutes,” which is slated to air Sunday night.

Kinda makes it hard to know how seriously to take these Congressional visits, doesn't it.

Irrelevant news article: Rumsfeld Nixes Independent Panel on Gitmo.

Posted in Guantanamo | 3 Comments

Flag Desecration In Every Day Life

We got new credit cards in the mail. Unlike the old ones, which were very neutral, a sort of bluish with some lines on it — and noted a tie-in to a frequent flier program — the new ones instead sport a loud rendition of a portion of a rippling American flag. It is not a nice picture. It looks like a cheap political mailing (and the absence of the tie-in raises the specter that the bank is contemplating ending its role as generator of volume frequent flier miles).

I want to call to complain. My spouse, who is not a US citizen and thus more in fear of Big Brother, argues that it is not wise to call anyone to complain about an American flag.

Thus, today's consumer — financial services provider interaction

Recorded voice: Welcome to {mega card}. To utilize our automated sevices press or say one….please touchtone or say your sixteen digit account number NOW.

[Lots of beeps] Thank you. Press one for…

[Frantic repeated pressing of the “0” key]

Female voice: Welcome to {mega card}. May I have the name on the card please? Thank you. What is your middle initial? What is your code word? No, that's not it. Yes, that's it, thank you. How can I help you?

Me: We received our new credit cards today. They have a picture of the American flag on them. I don't think this is an appropriate use of the American flag. The card will get dirty, it will have stuff run over it, this will amount to flag desecration. It's not right.

Female voice (afer slight delay) : would you like to speak to a supervisor and see what he can do for you?

[minute wait, listening to hold muzak]

Female voice: I have an account executive ready to speak to you.

Male voice: Hello, this is John, what is the problem?

Me: We received our new credit cards today. They have a picture of the American flag on them. I don't think this is an appropriate use of the American flag. The card will get dirty, it will have stuff run over it, it's a form of flag desecration. Can I have one that wouldn't be so offensive?

John: Let me put you on hold.

[Delay of under a minute]

John: We'll address that for you.

Me: What does that mean?

John: We'll get you a new card without the flag picture on it.

Me: Thank you. [Sudden inspiration.] One other thing. How do I dispose of this card? Normally I'd cut it up, but I don't want to do that.

John: (after minuscule pause) You could put it in a safe or other secure location.

Me: If I had a safe. Right. Thank you.

John: Goodbye.

Unfortunately, I forgot to ask about the frequent-flier miles. Do I call back?

Posted in Shopping | 9 Comments

Caroline Bradley is Guest Blogging at The Conglomerate

Caroline Bradley, who guest blogged here not so long ago, is now guest-blogging at the Conglomerate. See Miscreant Directors Can Give Back to the Community.

And, oh yes, we celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary yesterday.

Posted in Blogs | Comments Off on Caroline Bradley is Guest Blogging at The Conglomerate

Even Our Allies Are Going to Hate Us

Spotted via Jurist

An Italian official speaking anonymously said Friday that a judge in Milan has ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents for their alleged role in aiding the deportation of an imam to Egypt [Washington Post report]. Italian newspapers claim the Milan seizure and deportation of an Egyptian known as Abu Omar in 2003 was part of the CIA's “extraordinary rendition” program to move terror suspects to a third country without court approval. The reports claim six other agents are under investigation for the deportation of Omar, believed to have fought alongside jihadists in Afghanistan and Bosnia before being taken to a joint US-Italian military base for interrogation. The US Embassy in Rome [official website] would not comment on the report. AP has more.

Suppose a space alien or demon got elected President and decided to try to ruin the country. Short of starting a nuclear exchange (but see Korea, Pakistan, and weapon sales from former USSR), how substantially would this hypothetical being's conduct differ from the current administration's policy of polarizing the people, torturing captives, claiming the right to detain US citizens indefinitely in solitary confinement without trial our counsel, huge trade deficits, bankrupting the public fisc, starting a war based on lies, undermining health, safety and environmental rules, and taxing the poor in order to give tax breaks to the hyper-rich? Discuss.

OK, never mind, here's a simpler problem: Can anyone name three important things this administration has done right? I suppose many might say the initial decision to invade Afghanistan — although the ultimate execution of the mission was so botched that I'd say that doesn't really count.

Homeland security? Arguably a good idea in principle. So far, mostly money down a rat hole with random assaults on civil liberties.

Seriously: what are this administration's successes? And don't say “no more 9/11's”: I think the administration deserves about the same credit for that as they deserve for failing to prevent the original attack — lots or little, take your pick.

If you are radically anti-abortion, you can fairly count the judicial appointments policy. I wouldn't, but in some eyes I think that fairly counts as one “success.” Anything else?

Posted in Law: International Law | 13 Comments

First Coverage of Privacy and Court Records Committee Meeting

The first coverage of the Privacy Committee meeting is out:

Posted in Law: Privacy | 1 Comment

Who Said It and About What?

Media Matters for America cites this great snippet from a recent book review:

This is one of the most sordid volumes I've ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn't have to suffer through another word.

Can you guess who said it, about which recent much-hyped book?

Posted in Politics: US | 1 Comment