Echidne points out there was once a time when Amnesty International reports were good enough for our government:
On March 27, 2003, Rumsfeld said:
We know that it's a repressive
regimeâ€¦Anyone who has read Amnesty International or any of the human
rights organizations about how the regime of Saddam Hussein treats his
The next day, Rumsfeld even cited his "careful reading" of Amnesty:
seems to me a careful reading of Amnesty International or the record of
Saddam Hussein, having used chemical weapons on his own people as well
as his neighbors, and the viciousness of that regime, which is well
known and documented by human rights organizations, ought not to be
And on April 1, 2003, Rumsfeld said once again:
you read the various human rights groups and Amnesty International's
description of what they know has gone on, it's not a happy picture.
You can help. Read Senator Conyers' letter, and sign his letter to the President expressing his concern. It will inevitably be met with silence by this administration unless we make it impossible for the story to be ignored.
The President held a press conference today (getting it in just in time to keep up his promise to hold one a month), and there was this exchange (transcript from whitehouse.gov):
Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, recently, Amnesty
International said you have established "a new gulag" of prisons around
the world, beyond the reach of the law and decency. I'd like your
reaction to that, and also your assessment of how it came to this, that
that is a view not just held by extremists and anti-Americans, but by
groups that have allied themselves with the United States government in
the past -- and what the strategic impact is that in many places of the
world, the United States these days, under your leadership, is no
longer seen as the good guy.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and
it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a
country that is -- promotes freedom around the world. When there's
accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully
investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.
The President thinks that accusations of torture are absurd and that, when allegations are made, they are investigated in a transparent way.
It's time for my readers to take a look at this post, which has been talked about widely. I will list the absurdities.
The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in U.S.
custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide
or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released
The number is higher than Pentagon officials have
acknowledged, and it indicates that criminal acts caused a significant
portion of the dozens of prisoner deaths that occurred in U.S.
That was the Army that said that.
...as far as we can tell, out of 108 prisoner death in US Military
custody, at least 27 of them, or 25% appear to be murders committed
mainly by US Military personnel, although in one case, the Justice
Department is investigating since the suspects are CIA employees.
Compare that, to say, 2001, when, in the US corrections system—both
state and federal—homicides accounted for 57 of the 3,311 deaths that
year, or 1.7%. And that, by the way, includes homicides of inmates by
other inmates. The number killed by prison guards, while not broken
out, is no doubt substantially smaller still.
Here's a link to 21 examples of deaths of detainees at the hands of American soldiers that are being investigated.
It's entirely plausible that prisoners died of natural causes or by accident, but since the US frequently denies prisoner access to the Red Cross, and even, on at least one occassion according to the Taguba Report,
"moved [detainees] around within the facility to hide them from a
visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team".
In November 2002 ... A CIA case officer at the "Salt Pit," a
secret U.S.-run prison just north of Kabul, ordered guards to "strip
naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete
floor and leave him there overnight without blankets," ...
Afghan guards "paid by the CIA and working under CIA supervision"
dragged the prisoner around the concrete floor of the facility,
"bruising and scraping his skin," before placing him in a cell for the
night without clothes. An autopsy by a medic listed "hypothermia" as
the cause of death, and the man was buried in an "unmarked,
unacknowledged cemetery." A U.S. government official interviewed told the Post:"He just disappeared from the face of the earth."
The author of the post goes on to mention that the average temperature in Kabul during November is 48 degrees during the day, much colder at night.
Another US Soldier was told to participate in a guard training drill, pretending to be a detainee, and barely lived to tell about it.
You see, his commanding officer neglected to inform the IRF team that
it was just a drill. The IRF team inflicted a traumatic brain injury on
him, despite the fact that his "resistance" amounted to lifting his
head to tell them that he was a US soldier.
The videotape of the training incident immediately went missing.
Some examples of torture:
—- "hooded, handcuffed in the back, and made to lie face down, on a hot
surface during transportation. This had caused severe skin burns that
required three months' hospitalization"
—- "They threw
pepper on my face and the beating started. This went on for a half
hour. And then he started beating me with the chair until the chair was
broken. After that they started choking me. At that time I thought I
was going to die, but it's a miracle I lived. And then they started
beating me again. They concentrated on beating me in my heart until
they got tired from beating me. They took a little break and then they
started kicking me very hard with their feet until I passed out."
"three marines in Mahmudiya used an electric transformer, forcing a
detainee to ''dance'' as the electricity coursed through him."
—- "burning cigarettes were placed in the ears of detainees."
"M.P.'s jumped onto his back and legs. He was beaten with a broom and a
chemical light was broken and poured over his body. . . . During this
abuse a police stick was used to sodomize DETAINEE-07 and two female
M.P.'s were hitting him, throwing a ball at his penis, and taking
But it's all absurdity. The President is on the record now, saying that it is absurd. Yet, here is all this evidence.
HE HAS LIED TO US.
I think it is absurd that the media, the politicians, and the American people continue to stand for this deception and inhumanity. It is happening and it is happening at the hands of Americans because, after 9/11, this government decided they would willingly and purposefully change the way we treat foriegn detainees.
This is on our hands, unless we, the people of this country stand up and say that it must stop.
They've just reported on CNN that, at 4:00 central, 5:00 eastern, the Washington Post has said they will have a story on their website, and that, tomorrow, the Post will run an two articles, one by Bob Woodward, on the Deep Throat issue.
UPDATE: The Woodward article will appear on Thursday.
For those of you unfamiliar with the area, let me explain the
Cleveland suburb of Lakewood. It is a city born on Lake Erie by
settlers looking to create a better life for themselves. Over the
years, Lakewood has become a home for people of different socioeconomic
backgrounds. The ‘burb is also known for having a very large gay
population. A couple of years ago, Lakewood made it into the headlines
with controversy surrounding a gay pride flag. Then-mayor Madeline Cain
thought it wise to fly the rainbow flag over city hall, thereby showing
solidarity with a very large section of the city’s voters. Most
expectantly, a group of citizens were infuriated.
The debates at city council meetings often pitted gay-rights
supporters against fringe conservatives. It was a picture of modern
society. Broad support for progressive ideals versus a very vocal
Lakewood is a microcosm of America.
I think it is why, after November 2004, the Democratic Party had such a gut-check. As a party, we really believed that the general, progressive ideals that we held were pretty pervasive in this country. We really believed that, despite the fact that there were people who saw progress and evolution as damaging to a society which they wish would revert to an older, more traditional ideal (conveniently forgetting that part of that ideal involved segregation, racism, defined roles which relegated women to subservience, censorship, etc.) that, in general, this country wanted to advance and to be more tolerant.
So, when Bush was re-elected by way of the Religious Right and homosexual paranoia, we really believed (I know I did) that there was a distinct possibility we'd deluded ourselves into believing that ours was the prevalent mindset.
Of course, it isn't as simple as "our ideals vs. their ideals," but the further we get from the election, the more Bush's poll numbers drop, the more the Republican Congress splinters itself, and the more people are beginning to question the entirety of the first Bush term, the more I begin to realized that our voice isn't being diminished, our numbers aren't lessening, and we are the majority.
Our voice is quieter because the other side is screaming as loudly as possible.
Recently, the campaign finance chairman for Hillary Clinton's Senate run, David Rosen, was acquitted of any wrong-doing in a right wing funded witch hunt to bring down the Senator on specious charges. Oliver Willis had this quote by Peter Paul, the most vocal opponent of the Senator and chief accuser:
"This is by no means an exoneration of Hillary's campaign," Paul told NewsMax. "In fact. it's an indictment of her campaign."
He's guilty because he's innocent? Nice. I'm not sure if there is any better quote that better indicates the mindset and tactics of the right wing than this one.
"I don't think (being Deep Throat) was anything to be proud of,"
Felt indicated to his son, Mark Jr., at one point, according to the
article. "You (should) not leak information to anyone."
Felt is a retiree living in Santa Rosa, Calif., with his
daughter, Joan, the magazine said. He could not immediately be reached
for comment by The Associated Press.
Both Woodward and Bernstein have released statements indicating their continued intentions to remain true to their vow not to reveal the identity of Deep Throat until the source dies. So, we are basically where we started before the Vanity Fair article, but it doesn't stop it from being one of the longest-running and most intriguing American political stories.
Barry Lyndon Casablanca Chinatown Citizen Kane City of God Dr. Strangelove E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Finding Nemo The Fly The Godfather I and II Goodfellas The Lord of the Rings The Manchurian Candidate Metropolis Pinnochio Psycho Pulp Fiction Purple Rose of Cairo Raging Bull Schindler's List Singin' in the Rain Some Like it Hot Star Wars Taxi Driver
24... hmm... I'm not sure how I feel about that. The Time list is hardly definitive, but there are some interesting picks on there. (And before anyone says it, no, I've never seen "It's a Wonderful Life")
It's been a year and a half since Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" came and went from the theaters, and I cannot believe it hasn't been more of a conversation piece than it has in that span. Perhaps it is because it is taking people like me, who love film and watch as much as they can, a year and a half to actually see it.
There is something hypnotic about the way Van Sant approaches this material. In the hands of another director, filming subjects like a school massacre would have required adding more of an emotional attachment to the characters and a shock value to the violence. Maybe those would be good movies, but in Van Sant's hands we get a movie that, with patience and non-judgment, draws you in and refuses to take part in the story, but merely observe.
Though I haven't read any external reviews of the film, I'm sure they all talk about the amazing and lengthy tracking shots and the intertwining story-lines (if you can call them that). When Scorcese uses tracking shots that are highly choreographed (as Van Sant's have to be in this film), he uses it to stylize and make the shots stand out. When Van Sant does it, he uses them to give a documentarian feel which, when mixed with the near constant movement of the characters, gives us a sort of tunnel vision surrounding each individual character as they walk through their day, heroes in their own film.
Van Sant also plays with the way we are trained to watch these films. At one point, as the shooting spree is going on, a young black man, Benny (the title card tells us), appears for the first time. He is tall, with corn rows, a muscle tee-shirt and and a stereotypical gangster swagger. It was the only time in the movie that I worried he might be giving into a cliche, but this was only because I believed that this character would some how play a roll in the story in which he engaged in violence during an already violent situation. Instead, this character's total story arc involves him walking down the halls, towards the sounds, walking up behind one of the shooters, only to be shot instantly. It lasts 2 or 3 minutes, and he speaks no lines. It was my preconceptions about how a character like this must act on film that made me think about Van Sant's intentions. He played on these preconcptions which immediatly makes the viewer part of the society which the characters on screen live in. What is happening to them is happening in the real world where we ourselves live.
What is Van Sant trying to say with this character, or with the scene in which the killers play a violent video game, or when they engage in a homosexual act? He doesn't leave you any clues in this film as to what his intentions are. He simply strives to find a balance between the binary "they did it because their parents didn't raise them right vs. violence in movies and music" argument. In this world, parents not raising their kids correctly doesn't necessarily lead their kids to homicidal sprees and violent movies don't necessarily leave kids unphased and untarnished simply because they are fantasy. The world is more complicated than that, and Van Sant does it without being contrived or encroaching upon his subjects as they inhabit the environment around them.
There is more to the story of Columbine than simply two kids with a bloodlust, and society had many roles to play in it. Any of the atmospheric factors around the kids might not be bad on their own but, in our society, the way they interact with one another might be malevolent. It is a discussion that needs to continue in our country. Taking Van Sant's "Elephant," and combining it with Larry Clark's "Kids" and "Bully," we might just have the launching point from which to have those conversations. What Van Sant and Clark have done is prove that, whatever the problem is, it is something real and it can be documented.