I'm nodding off from New Year's Eve (which was great) and the all nighter at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Check out the latest edition. Now let me say good morning to everyone.
There's so much in Friday's Democracy Now! that Elaine and I weren't sure what to note. These are the ones we finally decided on so be sure to check out Elaine's site (Like Maria Said Paz) for her commentary later today.
Gitmo Hunger Strike Jumps To 84 Detainees
This news from Guantanamo Bay -- a five-month hunger strike at the US military prison now involves at least 84 detainees. The US military said 46 detainees joined the strike last Sunday, on Christmas Day. Only nine of over 500 detainees at the prison have been charged with any crime.
What is that like? Can you picture it as you or someone you love? You're put into a prison without a trial. You're held that for years and years. You have no way out. Your family can't visit you. You're stuck in prison. You've had no trial. It's been years. How can you not lose hope? Forty years from now, people will look back and wonder how we got to the point that our government could do this and that so many of us just shrugged and stayed silent.
Secret Prisons, Renditions Enacted Under Broad CIA Program
The Washington Post is reporting new details of the covert CIA program enacted shortly after 9/11 by the Bush administration. The Post says the program, known by its initials GST, marks the largest CIA covert initiative since the height of the Cold War. It includes a range of controversial programs that have been recently uncovered or subjected to public scrutiny -- including the kidnapping of terror suspects abroad, the maintenance of secret prisons in at least eight foreign countries, the use of interrogation techniques considered illegal under international law, and the operation of a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe.
Powers authorized by President Bush include permitting the CIA to create paramilitary teams to hunt and kill designated individuals anywhere in the world. The Post reports the CIA is working to establish procedures that would allow for the quick cremation of a detainee’s body in the event the detainee dies in custody.
A government official who has been briefed on the program said: "Everything is done in the name of self-defense, so they can do anything because nothing is forbidden in the war powers act. It's an amazing legal justification that allows them to do anything."
I don't think Bully Boy has the power to order hunt and kill missions. The CIA is not the military. So there is no "war powers" involved in that. Where is Congress in all of this? These are human rights crimes and let's hope that Bully Boy ends up like Augusto Pinochet, on trial.
I keep thinking about Robert Parry's books and how much the Bush family has gotten away with. If the media hadn't been cowed in the eighties, Bully Boy's father might have been held accountable. If that had happened and we'd realized how crooked Poppy was and how he was involved in Iran-Contra, then maybe we'd realize that we're dealing with a family of crooks. I hope we realize it now. I hope the "Bush dynasty" ends with Bully Boy and that, if in the future one of them runs for president, we remember how this family conducts itself.
It may not be fair to judge a person by their family but here's the cure for fairness: Do you condemn the actions or not? If you're a part of that family and you condone the actions or justify them or stay silent, then you are not someone worthy of holding office.
I want to note Dave Zirin's wrap up of the year in sports, "Over the Edge: The Year in Sports 2005:"
Last December I wrote the following: "2004 should be remembered as a year when the hermetically sealed divide between sports and society frayed for the first time in a generation ... I cannot wait to see what 2005 has in store. Also in 2005, the Chicago White Sox will win the World Series - and it's splitsville for Nick and Jessica." [The last sentence was slightly updated for editorial reasons.]
This past year that "hermetically sealed divide" has gone well beyond the fraying stage. The delicate division between sports and politics was ripped apart like it was trying to block Dwight Freeney. Discussing the "politics of sports" became in 2005 as popular as sports itself - for better and worse.
The tone was set by that most apolitical of bodies, the US Congress. In March, when our baseball thoughts are accustomed to turning toward spring training, the House of Representatives engineered what Rep. Tom Lantos called "a theater of the absurd". Past and present MLB All Stars Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero, and Jose Canseco among others were called -- under threat of prison - to testify about performance enhancing drugs in the sport. The proceedings were shameful. All that was missing was William Rehnquist in his yellow striped robe to round out the farce. Not one trainer was subpoenaed. Nor were any owners - especially a certain former Texas Rangers owner named George W. Bush who ran the steroid crack-house where Canseco held court in the early 90s. As one former player said to me, "When it comes to steroids, distribution is a team issue but punishment is for individuals, which is why nothing changes."
But lost in the brouhaha of congressional preening, Mark McGwire melting, and Rafael Palmiero's fall from grace, was any serious discussion of steroids themselves. Do they actually help you hit a baseball? Does a potential all-star team exist at every Gold's Gym? Should the same owners who celebrated the Dionysian home run orgies of the 1990s be trusted with cleaning up the game? Should we trust Mike and the Mad Dog for medical information on the effects of long-term abuse?
Happy New Year! And for a good laugh be sure to check out Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts which is Bully Boy exposed. It's hilarious.
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