Friday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
June 11, 2004 5:35PM (UTC)

Abu Ghraib pissing match
The Washington Post says U.S. intelligence personnel ordered military dog handlers at Abu Ghraib prison to use unmuzzled dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees during interrogations late last year, and two dog handlers were 'having a contest' to see how many detainees they could make involuntarily urinate in fear. There are new photos here.

"The statements by the dog handlers provide the clearest indication yet that military intelligence personnel were deeply involved in tactics later deemed by a U.S. Army general to be 'sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses.'"

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"President Bush and top Pentagon officials have said the criminal abuse at Abu Ghraib was confined to a small group of rogue military police soldiers who stripped detainees naked, beat them and photographed them in humiliating sexual poses. An Army investigation into the abuse condemned the MPs for those practices, but also included the use of unmuzzled dogs to frighten detainees among the 'intentional abuse.'"

"So far, the only charges to emerge have been against seven MPs and do not include any dog incidents, even though such use of dogs is an apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army's field manual. The military intelligence officer in charge of Abu Ghraib later told investigators that the use of unmuzzled dogs in interrogation sessions was recommended by a two-star general and that it was 'okay.'"

Majority: Iraq not worth it
The Los Angeles Times releases new polling data today showing a majority of U.S. voters now say it was not worth going to war in Iraq, "but an overwhelming majority reject the idea of setting a deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country."

"Though the survey found voters increasingly worried that America is becoming ensnarled in Iraq and pessimistic that a democratic government will take root there, less than 1 in 5 said America should withdraw all its forces within weeks. And less than 1 in 4 endorse the idea advanced by some Democratic-leaning foreign policy experts and liberal groups to establish a specific date for withdrawal."

"The survey also showed widespread concern that the war has damaged America's image in the world, a strong desire to see NATO take the lead in managing the conflict, and deep division over whether President Bush can rally more international support for the rebuilding effort."

" ... Anxiety over the war's direction and reluctance to abandon the cause in Iraq radiate through the survey."

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Kerry counts Republican heads
The Boston Globe says John Kerry and his aides are keeping a head count of Republicans attending his fundraisers to "try to enlist them afterward in hopes of launching a Republicans-for-Kerry movement by this fall."

"With Kerry and Bush virtually tied in the polls, and both men eager to broaden their base of supporters, the voters that Kerry increasingly and explicitly exhorts in battleground states are 'thoughtful Republicans,' 'independent-minded Republicans,' and 'non-Bush Republicans' -- and more subtly, the Independent voters who like bipartisan, all-together-now politicking. Kerry regularly hails GOP iconoclasts -- ''Teddy Roosevelt would scream right now' at Bush's economic and war policies, Kerry said at a Pennsylvania fund-raiser; 'my friend John McCain,' he often name-drops -- and calls himself an 'entrepreneurial Democrat' as he seeks the crucial crossover votes that Ronald Reagan enjoyed from so-called Reagan Democrats."

"In interviews with two dozen Republican voters at Kerry events over the last month, none of them embraced the label 'Kerry Republicans'; anybody-but-Bush Republicans came closer."

Gitmo employees told not to talk to detainee lawyers
Military and civilian employees at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were warned recently not to talk with attorneys who represent detainees held there, according to USA Today.

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"The warning -- titled 'Interaction with Defense Counsel' -- has surfaced at a time when the treatment of the nearly 600 detainees at Guantanamo is under scrutiny because of the abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqis in U.S. custody at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander at Guantanamo, went to Iraq last year to share interrogation techniques used in Cuba."

" ... Military law analysts and human rights advocates agree that Guantanamo employees should be advised against making incriminating statements. But they say the advice should be neutral. The document 'suggests that there is something that needs to be hidden' about how detainees are being treated, says Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor and a former Air Force lawyer. 'It suggests that the default should be: Don't talk.'"

Reagan reality check
Eric Boehlert's piece in Salon this morning on the media continuing to give Ronald Reagan a pass, as the press corps did during his presidency, is a must-read.

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So is this editorial by Derrick Jackson in the Boston Globe, which adds some much-needed perspective to the now nearly weeklong public adulation of Reagan, particularly the anecdote of Reagan in Mississippi sending a not-so-subtle message about race.

"'The Great Communicator' knew exactly where to project the sun for particular white people. His first major speech after receiving the nomination for president in 1980 was delivered at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi. Neshoba County was where civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered in 1964. The county fair was legendary for segregationist speeches and Dixie ditties."

"The fair was a more comfortable fit for Reagan than the mainstream press has ever admitted. On his way to California's governorship, he opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. At the fair, Reagan declared, 'I believe in states' rights.' States' rights was the cry of Southern segregationists."

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"Reagan did not mention Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. He did effusively praise John Wayne, saying: 'God rest his soul. I don't know whether John Wayne had this experience or not, but I wish he had, because I don't know of anyone who would have loved it more or been more at home here than the Duke would have been, right here.'"

"Wayne would have been so at home at the fair because he, like Reagan, represented a 'younger' America. In a 1971 Playboy interview, Wayne said: "We can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership to irresponsible people.'"


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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