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Archive for December 1, 2008

Gravy: A Thanksgiving Tale

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

This post describes a Thanksgiving meal that I helped serve last Thursday. Read more…

Categories: Food, Life

Torture and the Press

December 1, 2008 1 comment

I’ve been sitting on a couple of items since last week, intending to write something about them, but I haven’t yet and they’re getting old, so here they are. The issue is the press coverage last week of John Brennan’s withdrawal from consideration as the new head of the CIA. The word was that Obama was going to select him, and this choice came in for heavy criticism by some in the press because of Brennan’s role in the Bush administration’s rendition and torture programs. Yet some of the mainstream press coverage, under the heading of fair and balanced, wrote about the controversy rather than the content of the issues themselves. It reminds me of coverage of evolution versus intelligent design, or of climate change. Just because somebody with some title at some institute adopts a view shared by almost no one in the scientific community, we have to give both sides coverage and use language that in its attempt to adopt a content-free neutrality manages to ignore the plain truth.

In the matter at hand, the analogous behavior leads to the rule that we can’t call torture torture. We have to talk about acts that some consider torture. Which brings me to the first item, a post last Wednesday by Andrew Sullivan that I’ll quote in its entirety:

From their piece on John Brennan’s withdrawal from contending for the top CIA post under Obama:

“Obama’s advisers had grown increasingly concerned in recent days over online blogs that accused Brennan of condoning harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects, including waterboarding, which critics consider torture.”

There is some debate about some of the techniques used on prisoners by Bush and Cheney, but no sane person with any knowledge of the subject disputes the fact that waterboarding is and always has been torture. So why cannot the AP tell the truth?

And now on to coverage of the same matter by Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times. Read more…

Categories: Politics, Today's News

Bonus Day with Joel

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

That’s the good news — an extra day with Joel. The bad news is that his flight to Boston last night, due out at 11:25 PM, was cancelled after midnight. Maybe the details are not worth recording, but what’s a blog for if I can’t complain? Here goes: Read more…

Categories: Family, Travel

Religious Abuse in the “War on Terror”

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m simply posting this to link to the lead article in the current Commonweal. The issue came on line over the weekend and this article is available without a paid online subscription. The article is written by Michael Peppard, a PhD candidate in religious studies at Yale University, and its subtitle is the title of this post. One excerpt from early on gives you an idea of what the article is about:

Amid pyramids of naked bodies, Jack Bauer hypotheticals, and a national debate on waterboarding, we have overlooked the deliberate desecration used to torture devout Muslim detainees. From the perspective of many detainees, this has been the worst kind of torture.

The details matter, so read it all. Near the end an analogy is drawn with the Hanukkah story.

And while you’re at Commonweal, you can read another article that doesn’t require a subscription, Margaret O’Brien Steinfels’ piece Mis-governance: Cleaning Up After the Bush Administration. Sample quote:

The Bush administration will be gone January 20, but its legal interpretations will live on. Ferreting out the illegal directives and secret misdeeds may not be the most critical issue the new administration faces, but it will be vital to good governance to track down and rescind the directives given to the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies, including those that permit attacks around the world by Special Forces. Unless they are reined in, these misbegotten practices will live on.

Categories: Politics, Religion