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User Journal

Journal Journal: How did the Guantanamo detainees really die?

The deaths of three Guantanamo detainees was announced on June 10th. The Department of Defense described their deaths as suicide, by hanging.

The detainee's cells aren't tall enough for an instant death by hanging. The DoD asserts that the men stuffed their mouths with cloth, to deaden choking sounds, and allowed themselves to slowly choke to death. Forensic experts say this would have taken at least five minutes, possibly much longer.

The dead men's families were skeptical. Islam forbides suicide. They arranged for an independent post-mortems by a team of international experts.

Early reports, after the bodies were returned, said the men's bodies were bruised, as if they had been beaten, and that some of their organs were missing.

Dr. Patrice Mangin, A Swiss forensic pathologist who heads the team, says removing organs that spoil quickly, like the brain and liver, is routine in post-mortems, and not a sign of a coverup. However, he said that the corpse of the dead Yemeni man, Al Salami, the first man to get a second post-mortem, was missing its throat. He has asked the American authoritiies to return Al Salami's throat, and the sheets that they say the men were hanged with. He says they are necessary for a reliable determination.

The DoD has "lost" crucial organs of other men who died in military custody, like Nagam Hatab.

I haven't seen this theory suggested anywhere else. One of the dead men had been on a hunger strike since last August. In January the camp authorities started using "restraint chairs" when force-feeding detainees. Detainee's lawyers repeated the detainee's claims that being force-fed while strapped into a restraint chair is not just undignified, but can be extremely painful. 90% of the hunger strikers quit within days of the introduction of the restraint chair for force-feeding.

The DoD claimed that the force-feeding was done as humanely and gently as possible. The DoD claimed that they had to confine the detainees to restraint chairs because the detainees would induce vomiting to circumvent the force-feeding otherwise. The detainees claimed that it was sometimes done brutally by guards with no medical training, who used painfully over-size feeding tubes. Detainees claimed that the tubes were sometimes yanked out by putting a foot on the detainees chest, and yanking them out. Detainees claimed that freshly used tubes, dripping with blood, vomit, and spoiled food were then reused on other detainees, without even being rinsed off. Detainees claimed that the hunger strikers had to endure excruciatingly painful cramps while in the chairs, and would soil themselves when they lost control of their bowels and bladder. Detainees said they believed that their feeding fluid was adulterated with material that caused the excruciating cramps, and that their stomachs were filled beyond capacity.

Without regard to how much of the competing claims we believe, I think it is possible, likely in fact, that nine months of struggling to insert a feeding tube three times a day would cause bruising and scarring to a hunger-striker's throat. I speculate that the tube may have totally blocked a throat that was already traumatized by earlier force-feedings.

So, the possibility that I haven't seen anyone else suggest is that an inattentive medical attendant didn't notice that three hunger strikers were slowly choking to death.

The military pathologists ruled suicide. A determined guy who dies from a hunger strike did commit a kind of suicide. Why would the DoD cover that up? Because they justified intervening and administering force-feeding claiming it was necessary to preserve the detainee's lives -- and it would be embarrassing to admit that the force-feeding had actually killed the detainees.

This would explain why the DoD didn't return Al Salami's throat when they returned his body.

I'll keep this article updated with news of the independent team's post-mortem.

FWIW a guy whose body has been weakened by hunger strike might bruise a lot more easily than a normally healthy person. If so, being covered by bruises might not be a sign of a brutal beating.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Who were the Guantanamo suicides?

I have been plowing through the transcripts that the DoD released on March 3rd.

Big surprise, DoD spin doctors are being far less than candid about the Guantanamo suicides.

Prior to these three suicides the DoD acknowledged just 41 suicide attempts, from 29 detainees. They also told human rights lawyer Joshua Colangelo-Bryan that he couldn't visit one of his clients Juma Al Dossary, because his visits triggered suicide attempts. They told Colangelo-Bryan that Al Dossary, alone, had tried to commit suicide twelve times.

The DoD was forced to release the identities of the Detainees by a court order from US District Court Jed Rakoff. They exhausted their legal appeals, and started to try to comply with a deadline of March 3rd 2006. They missed that deadline by about half an hour. And they have kept releasing more information in fits and starts since then.

On May 15th the DoD released a list of 759 names, and detainee IDs, which they claimed represented every suspect who had been held in military custody. However, several dozen of the names don't match the names and ID released on a shorter list on April 20th. The April 20th was just a list of all the detainee whose cases had been considered by the Combatant Status Review Tribunals they started to hold in July 2004.

One of the dead men, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, is not found on the official lists.

Another of the dead men, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, has been described as a participant in the prison uprising at Mazar-e-Sharif, where a CIA case officer was one of the first Americans to die in Afghanistan. Al Zahrani didn't attend his Combatant Status Review Tribunal. So, I believe, the actual allegations against him remain classified. On March 3rd all the transcripts of all the detainees who did attend their Combatant Status Review Tribunal were made public. I have read a dozen or more transcripts of detainees who were alleged to have been present during the uprising. Some denied being present. I won't discount those denials because the DoD's record keeping for the Guantanamo detainees was pitiful. Others acknowledge being present, or being wounded.

Being present, or even being wounded, does not make a detainee a member of the Taliban, or al Qaeda. It does not make a detainee one of those who plotted, or took part in the uprising.

One of the detainees who was wounded described the circumstances in detail. He had been held in the cellar of the old fort with three or four dozen other men. They were being rousted out of their room to assemble outside for a muster. He was near the end of the line of men. He heard weapons fire. There was a panic. The men ahead of him were pushing and shoving to get out through a narrow doorway, essentially blocking it. He decided to turn around and try to find another exit. He had got a distance from his companions when there was an explosion. Someone had thrown a grenade into the plugged exit. All the guys crowded there seemed to be dead. He was seriously wounded. There was firing outside, so he crawled near a window. His wounds became infected. He became feverish. He remembered someone giving him water. After about a week the Northern Alliance started to flood the cellar. And someone dragged him out.

One of the detainees who committed suicide is alleged to have been a member of the Jamaat Tablighi, an organization that US Security officials claim is tied to terrorism. I have written about Murat Kurnaz. Well, the transcript from his Administrative Review Board contained about sixty pages of letters submitted on his behalf by his lawyers. Among those letters were three written by three American professors of the history of Religion, who offered descriptions of the history and activities of the Jamaat Tablighi.

They all agreed that the Jamaat Tablighi was a non-political group. Pilgrims, who are on a Jamaat Tablighi pilgrimage aren't even supposed to discuss religion. It was founded about a century ago, in reaction to Christian evangelism. What JT pilgrims were supposed to do was join in groups of about a dozen, and go on trips where they visit other areas. They were supposed to talk with one another, and with the locals in the places where they visited, about the right way to pray, the right way to read the Koran, and the right way to be a good Muslim.

Only one of those transcripts contained an allegation of a connection with JT that was consistent with what the professors of Religion. That transcript said the detainee was a member of JT. It then said that al Qaeda operatives had been known to assert that they were on their way to a JT pilgrimage as a cover, to give a plausible excuse for travel that was actually terrorism related.

JT is a large, informal, loosely organized outfit. Al Qaeda operatives could claim to be JT pilgrims. But it is an outrageous exagerration to claim anyone who ever participated in JT was a terrorist. The Oklahoma bomber, and many of his associates, were all former GIs. To claim that everyone who participated in JT was a terrorist would be the same kind of exagerration as to claim that all veterans were terrorists because the Oklahoma bomber was a veteran.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Did the Taliban wear a uniform? 1

Did the Taliban wear a uniform?

In discussions of whether the Bush administration has the authority to declare that no-one captured in Afghanistan is entitled to POW status I am frequently told that Taliban soldiers don't qualify for POW status because the Taliban didn't wear uniforms.

The Geneva Conventions don't actually say that a soldier has to wear a uniform. They say that they have to wear something distinctive that can be recognized at a distance.

Note this passage from page 111 of this pdf.

"In Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan gave the detainee new clothing which consisted of two long shirts with pants. They also gave him a black turban. The detainee denied knowing that the Taliban wore these clothing items."

The DoD can't have it both ways. They can't detain some suspects because they owned a Taliban uniform, and accuse other suspects of War Crimes because they fought for an army that doesn't wear uniforms.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Tricking Guantanamo detainees...

I came across something noteworthy in this Guantanamo Bay dossier.

This case is one of the ones where the detainee seems innocent. His story seems credible. And he passed several polygraphs, and CVSA tests. From the way he describes the CVSA to his Tribunal, it was presented to him as an even more definitive test than the polygraph.

So, what is a CVSA? Computerized Voice Stress Analysis.

For some reason a memo was left in his dossier about the reliability of the CVSA.

############MAJ (H)

From: Taylor, David L. COL (H)
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 10:00 AM
Subject: FW: (U) CSRT using CVSA results

Classification: U N C L A S S I F I E D
Caveats: FOUO

read and heed as necessary

----Original Message------
From: ########CIV (H)
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 7:49 AM
To: #################################################
Cc: ######################
Subject: RE: (U) CSRT using CVSA results


as a matter of fact, I overheard one of the OARDEC members talking about CVSA yesterday. I explained there were many reliability issues surrounding this, but I didn't know if they were going to move forward with their request. Nevertheless, I will ensure this gets pushed through to Col. Taylor and subsequently passed along to the rest of the OARDEC crew.


----Original Message------
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 7:39 AM
Subjects: (U) CSRT using CVSA results


Information has filtered down to XXXXXXX/CITF Polygraph coordinator) that OARDEC is requesting the CVSA (Computer Voice Stress Analyzer) results used by JTFGTMO in their interrogations. The thing with this is that OSD (specifically the Under Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone) has severely limited their "official" utilization of the procedure to only as a "prop" to elicit information. Utilization of the CSVA as a "Truth" credibility assessment has been denied by OSD and no official reports indicating the veracity of the subject are to be released. This could pose problems for OARDEC if those unofficial reports by JTF-GTMO are entered into the tribunal process (or used in any manner actually), as tainting the process. If this is true, highly recommend OARDEC not pursue this angle, as OSD policy has specifically indicated the technology is not authorized. The only authorized instrument/technology for statement verifiecation is the polygraph. The points of contact at OSD on this matter are XXXXXXXXXX (DUSD, CI&S) XXXXXXXXXX or e-mail XXXXXXXXXXXX Also XXXXXXXXXXXX CIFA XXXXXXXXXXX or e-mail XXXXXXXXXXX XXXX can you verify that OARDEC is in fact requesting these CSVA reports from JTF-GTMO?


Office of Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants - CITF LNO Comm -

User Journal

Journal Journal: A bald-faced lie from the DoD

In this January 2004 press briefing DoD spokesmen had this to say about the detention of captives in Iraq:

And I would just add that the policy has been that we try to make a determination about whether or not the classification of the detainees is a security detainee or a civilian detainee within approximately 72 hours, which is far faster than it is required under international law. We try to make the decision within 72 hours, after which the detainee is either retained as a security detainee; if they're classified as a civilian detainee they are sent into the court system or they are released altogether.

However the Fay Report described what was required for detainees to be released. A committee of senior officers had to meet, to approve every release. General Janis Karpinski sat on the committee, as did General Barbara Fast, the most senior military intelligence officer, and Sanchez's most senior legal advisor. Well there was bad blood between them. So, they hardly ever met. Consequently detainees that junior people had cleared remained in detention for months because the senior officers on this committee couldn't get along.

This was going on at exactly the same time the DoD spokesmen claimed a 72 hour turnaround.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Intelligence -- LOL 2

Here is a story, from the New York Times, about a clandestine campaign to claw back previously declassified documents, and reclassify them.

The NYT has a picture of a Korean War secret memo that one scholar had found was reclassified. It was an intelligence assessment that said it was "possible but not probable" that China would be capable of intervening on the North Korean side in 1950. It was dated October 12th, 1950. The Chinese sent an Expeditionary Force of 300,000 to Korea 15 days later, on October 27th.

What possible National Security justification could there be to reclassify how badly intelligence analysts failed 55 years ago?

I believe that the sole explanation for reclassifying this information is the same as the real reason for keeping the identities, medical records and allegations against the Guantanamo detainees classified. Embarrassment. Reading the unclassified dossiers that the Associated Press made available for download leaves clear to me that a substantial fraction of the detainees are completely innocent, caught up in a Kafka-esque nightmare.

Here is the key passage from the reclassified memo:

While full-scale Chinese Communist intervention in Korea must be regarded as a continuing possibility, a consideration of all known factors leads to the conclusion that barring a Soviet decision for global war, such action is not probable in 1950. During this period intervention will probably be confined to continued covert assistance to the North Koreans.

User Journal

Journal Journal: US Military lied, not the detainees... 1

Last week I wrote about the assertion by US military spokesmen that the detainees were all telling stories of abuse because they were all terrorists who had been trained to lie.

The detainees were reporting that the military had escalated the cruelty of the way they administered force feeding. They imported "restraint chairs". Detainees would be strapped into the chair, which held their limbs, and head in a rigid grip. Then the feeding tube would be threaded through the detainees nose, and a liquid feeding formula would emptied, by gravity, into the detainee's stomach.

The detainees have reported:

* that ordinary guards, not medical personnel, were inserting the tubes.

* that they believed the military were using tubes that were much wider than necessary, in order to cause pain.

* that the tubes were yanked out, with such force that they were covered in blood.

* that bloody tubes would be yanked from one detainee, and inserted into another detainee, without even wiping off the blood.

* and that recently they started using these feeding chairs, where they would load the detainees up with food too quickly, causing pain like a knife in the stomach; that they would be loaded up with more liquid than they stomachs could hold; and that they would be left strapped in these chairs for hours, so they were forced to soil themselves.

US military spokesmen claimed there were all lies.

Now the New York Times reports that Lieutenant General Brantz Craddock, CO of Southern Command has come clean and acknowledged some of what the detainees reported was not a lie.

On Tuesday, General Craddock said he had reviewed the use of the restraint chairs, as had senior officials at the Department of Defense, and they concluded that the practice was "not inhumane." General Craddock left no doubt, however, that commanders had decided to try to make life less comfortable for the hunger strikers, and that the measures were seen as successful.

Military officials have said the tough measures were necessary to keep detainees from dying. But while many of the strikers lost between 15 and 20 percent of their normal body weight, only a few were thought to be in immediate medical danger, two officers familiar with the strike said.

User Journal

Journal Journal: How is China freer than the USA?

The Washington Post is publishing an interesting series of articles on "The Great Firewall of China". The author was online for a discussion at noon today. Here is one of item from the Q&A...

Beijing, China/Canadian citizen: Pornography:

Last year, in the China daily it claimed the government would completely eradicate pornography from the Internet. I viewed this as a means for the Chinese government to gain tighter control of the Internet.

Recently, through the use of the Patriot Act the American government has also claimed it will use the Internet search requests to fight child pornography.

My question is - both governments are censoring information - what differs between the two countries in 1. degree of censorship and 2. methods used?

Phil Pan: I'm not familiar with U.S. efforts to censor pornography on the Internet, but in China, they don't seem to be trying too hard to do it. The vast majority of the government's resources, time and effort is devoted to censoring political material. That is the main difference.

So, is China really freer than the USA -- in the way hardliners at the very top are trying to use National Security concerns as a tool to combat pornographic and erotic sites?

If I were an American I would call the use of the Patriot Act to fight pornographic and erotic sites an extrajudicial abuse of authority. The tools it provides were to be used solely for National Security

User Journal

Journal Journal: Take Sergeant Layne Morris's claims with a peck of salt

Layne Morris is a sergeant in the US special forces. On July 27th, 2002 Morris was injured by a grenade, while attempting to capture some suspected al Qaeda trainees. He lost the sight of his eye.

The last eight paragraphs of this story describe the skirmish where he was injured.

Some Bush apologists have accused me of hating American GIs. Hate the war, not the warrior. I think any patriotic soldier who is willing to put his life on the line for his country, while following what they think are lawful orders, deserves respect.

But Sergeant Morris's claims have to be taken with a peck of salt. I am assuming Sergeant Morris was an honourable soldier, that he was obeying lawful orders, or orders he thought were lawful. It sounds like he lead a frontal assault -- that makes him a real hero, doesn't it?

Sergeant Morris says watching the first US broadcast of the frontline episode "Son of al Qaeda" triggered him to He lost the sight of his eye. I think the loss of his eye has lead to him allowing or even encouraging interviewers to misrepresent the events of 2002-7-27.

I have heard interviews with Sergeant Morris. He allows his interviewers to repeat that the same grenade that mortally wounded his colleague Sergeant Christopher Speer was the same grenade that injured him. But, according to the longest and most complete account of his skirmish I have come across Sergeant Morris was wounded early in the skirmish. Then the soldiers called in an aerial bombardment, which reduced the compound to rubble, and which they believed had killed all the suspects. Sergeant Speer was mortally wounded over four hours after Sergeant Morris.

Sergeant Morris has made public statements about the behaviour, appearance, training and mental state of Omar Khadr, the fifteen year old boy who threw the grenade that mortally wounded Sergeant Speer. He implies that his comments are based on personal observation. But from my reading of the various accounts Sergeant Morris would never have had an opportunity to watch Khadr. His comments are based on photos, not first person observation, just like all the rest of us.

Sergeant Morris now claims that he knows, from the statements of Khadr's relatives, that Khadr asserts that he was the one who injured him.

I have google news alert on all the Khadrs. I have had a google news alert on Omar Khadr since September 12th 2004. I think I have seen every news report of every interview with any of the Khadrs since then. I read nothing that would back up this claim of Sergeant Morris. Okay. He was a hero, who suffered a very serious wound that will affect him for the rest of his life. So I won't call him a liar. But I believe what he claims is just not true. He may have misheard something a Khadr said. But his claim is incorrect

Even if, for the sake of argument, a Khadr did assert Omar Khadr was the one who injured Sergeant Morris, that assertion wouldn't be credible.

Khadr's family have had practically no contact with him. Further it is extremely unlikely that Omar Khadr has any idea who Sergeant Morris is. Unless Khadr was the only one throwing grenades when the Americans made their initial assault there is absolutely no way Khadr or Sergeant Morris could tell whose grenade injured Sergeant Morris. Grenades aren't like bullets. We all know, from watching CSI, that a forensic technician could tell, if necessary, which rifle fired which bullet. But there is no way a forensic technician could tell whether it was Omar Khadr, or one of his comrades, who threw the grenade that injured Sergeant Speer.

Now some people may argue that it doesn't matter if it was one of Omar Khadr's grenades which injured Sergeant Morris, if he threw one he was trying to kill Americans. Agreed. If you accept the Bush administration interpretation, this means that Khadr was a terrorist.

But I don't accept that. I'll explain why in my next JE.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Are al Qaeda operatives trained to lie about torture? TSG 8

US spokesmen repeatedly respond to accusations that detainees are being tortured and abused by saying all al Qaeda operatives have been trained to lie about being tortured.

I have been skeptical of this claim. Some of the former detainees who have claimed abuse were clearly innocents, and would never have had that training. The Tipton Three, for instance, of the three children who were detained in Camp Iguana all reported horrible abuse.

One of the largely unrecognized aspects of the detainee abuse is that the guards back at Bagram were allowed to be more brutal than the guards at Guantanamo. The detainees who report Qu'ran desecration aren't careful to distinguish between whether they are reporting Qu'ran abuse at Bagram or Guantanamo.

Anyhow, I just read the two pages devoted to prison in this manual found at The Smoking Gun

Some of my correspondents here on slashdot start from the premise that no American official would ever torture The first two pages of the chapter on detention tell the al Qaeda operative to report torture. But, contrary to the claims of US spokesmen, my reading of it is that it doesn't actually tell the trainee to -lie- about torture. It merely assumes that the captors will torture captives.

The previous chapter, on interrogation says:

When taken to the prosecution office, a brother should do the following:

a. He should, prior to questioning and whether or not he has injuries, ask the prosecutor or his representatitve to be seen by the medical examiner.

b. He should, when the questioning begins, ask that evidence of his torture be entered in the report proceedings.

c. He should, prior to the start of the questioning, ask that an attorney be present with him during the questioning process. He should mention the attorney by name.

d. He should ask for food.

e. He should deny all information (accusations) about him by the prosecution representative. He should claim that the interrogation apparatus has fabricated those accusations and should deny his connection to anything obtained against him.

f. The brother may have to confess under pressure of torture in the interrogation center. Once in the prosecution center, however, he should say that he was tortured, deny all his prior confessions, and ask that the interrogation be repeated.

Note -- section f is the closest the manual comes to telling the captive to say he has been tortured. But, it is not actually telling the potential captive to -lie- about torture. It assumes that all captives will be tortured.

Note -- the manual instructs the reader to try to get a medical examination before interrogation. If the author anticipated that the captives weren't going to be tortured, then wouldn't it recommend that they avoid a medical examination which would undermine the credibility of lies about abuse?

Mamdouh Habib's medical report records frequent medical examinations that say he kept expressing blood in his urine. Medical experts who had experience treating victims of torture who looked at his records said that the most probable cause of the repeated incidents of blood in his urine were repeated brutal beatings.

The Smoking Gun says that this training manual was captured prior to the set up of the interrogation center at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Look at the list of interrogations techniques the manual warns trainees they might be subjected to, if captured. There is considerable overlap with the techniques we know were used at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

This manual assumes that captive country will be Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia.

So, I do believe that some of the reports of torture are completely truthful. I believe some of the first hand accounts. And I believe some of the second hand accounts. The British detainees reported, for instance, that Habib, the middle-aged Australian detainee, would frequently bleed from his ears, and nose, while he slept. I find that report credible.

On the other hand I recently read an interview Der Spiegel conducted with Nadja Derdevic, the Bosnian wife of Boudella el Hajj. El Hajj was a naturalized Bosnian who was, at first, suspected of plotting to blow up the American embassy in Sarajevo. There was zero evidence of ties to terrorism, except he met, once a month, with five other Bosnians, who were born in Algeria, and one of them was suspected of ties to an Al Qaeda cadre.

The six of them all worked for various charities. He says their meetings were to co-ordinate the projects their charities ran jointly. And I believe him.

US intelligence officials had been monitoring the calls from Bosnia to Afghanistan. One of these six made, seventy calls to or from Afghanistan during the month following the attacks of 9-11. He might have made those calls because his charity had posted him to Afghanistan a year or two earlier, and he still knew people there. Or he might have made those calls because he was an al Qaeda member, or was willing to help al Qaeda members.

This is an example of the infamous "chatter". My reading of the unclassified dossiers of these guys is that the record that there had been these seventy calls was the sole evidence that there had ever been a plot. My reading is that the other five Bosnians were innocent.

Anyhow, Nadja has been working tirelessly to try to get her husband released. She had been on a hunger strike prior to her interview. During her interview she made two serious accusations. She said that Guantanamo guards routinely desecrated te Qu'ran. And she said boys -- minors, were routinely tortured at Camp Iguana.

Well, I had previously done quite a bit of looking into the record of Camp Iguana. Her assertion that the minors were tortured at Camp Iguana was not true. Close to 20 minors are known to have been detained in Cuba. Three minors were detained in Camp Iguana. They were treated kindly. They didn't have to wear the boiler suits. They got to take two showers a day. They had a view of the Sea, and the nearby beach, and were sometimes taken to the beach, for a swim. They had school teachers, who taught them to read. They were allowed to play video games, and their guards would play soccer with them.

Nadja got that part completely wrong. Other minors were treated very harshly however -- just not at Camp Iguana.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Whittington, Cheney's target, has a heart attack... 1

Dick Whittington has a (minor) heart attack when one of Cheney's bird-shot slipped in to his heart.

I guess this incident wasn't as minor as first described, and that taking him out of intensive care was premature... Here is another noteworthy WaPo article on the shooting:
News of the Vice President's Misfire Hits A Fellow Bird Hunter Where It Hurts

Among his assertions:
*Whittington would surely have died if Cheney had been using the larger 12 guage shotgun favored by less experienced hunters, instead of a 28 guage shotgun. According to this article more expert hunters use the less powerful 28 guage to make for more of a challenge. I gather the payload of a 28 guage shell is about one third that of a 12 guage.
*Cheney had a responsibility to be aware of where all the other members of his party were, at all times.
*Cheney did not obey the "line of fire" rule.

The author offers an instance of one time when did not follow the "line of fire" rule, and almost caused a tragedy.

User Journal

Journal Journal: More details on "dead-eye" Dick Cheney's shooting 3

The hostess claims they weren't drinking.

(That was the first thing that occurred to me when I learned it took 14 hours for them to contact the authorities.)

Cheney acknowledges that he did not have a valid hunting lisence.

Accorinding to the daily show these birds were battery raised, not wild.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Surviving an IED

Picture first.

If I were an American I would be demanding the resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld. He has spent $200 billion plus on the War in Iraq, but he hasn't bothered to get GIs vehicles that will protect them from land mines and IEDs.

A year and a half ago I read that 50% of American casualties were due to land mines. More recently I read that the percentage had increased to 70%. Rumsfeld stalled and stalled about awarding more contracts to build armor kits for the humvees. The original little outfit that had the contract when armor wasn't an issue got to keep the contract, even though only a trickle of kits were flowing out of it.

About a year ago Rumsfeld uttered the deceptive claim that all the vehicles were armored. But he was counting the improvised "hillbilly" armor made in the field. And he was counting armor that only protected against small arms fire, and did not provide any protection against mines -- when mines were the main danger.

The sad truth is that a humvee can never provide very much protection against mines, even if it has the best armor kit. Its undercarraige is not suitable for mine protection. There are mine protected vehicles, which provide protection against mines that much better than that provided by a humvee, better even than an M113. These vehicles all have V-shaped hulls, to direct the mine's energy outward, away from the passenger compartment.

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Journal Journal: Homeless vets ? 5

This blog reports on the 16 pages of articles in the most recent Esquire magazine that comment on the three year anniversary of the War in Iraq.

It quotes a lot of statistics.

According to the blog Esquire reports that ten percent of America's Vietnam Vets are homeless, some 250,000 individuals. Can that be true? How many non-vet homeless does America have? It goes on to say that 500 recent vets have been confirmed to be homeless.

It says the length of the GWOT has already exceeded the length of the Korean War. The blog doesn't say, however, that the Korean War gave America about 20 times more KIA.

It says Walter Reed has only performed 368 amputations. That number seems low. Should they have been counting the number of amputations done in the big Army medical center in Ramstein Germany too?

Since I started criticizing the war I have been accused of hating American GIs. One emotional fellow accused me of wanting to strip them of the tools they needed to stay effective -- by which he meant torture. Hate the war -- don't hate the soldier. I am confident that most GIs are patriots, who are following orders they believe are legal. And if I were an American I would want them to get the very best chow, plentiful time for internet chats stateside, the best medical care if they are injured, the best counseling if they have trouble coping with the adjustment back to civilian life, and the best help going back to school, or getting a good job -- without regard for whether I agreed with the war.

Critics of the war in Vietnam should never have caused, or let, the vets be forgotten. Proponents of the war should never have forgotten the vets when the war was lost. I encourage my American friends to treat this war's vets with more care.

User Journal

Journal Journal: A dangerous fundamentalist militant 1

George Carlton Deutsch -- college dropout -- shameless fundamentalist religious bigot.

Deutsch tried to censor senior NASA scientists when they differed from President Bush's views. Now that he has resigned, he is presenting himself as the injured party.

In his State of the Union speech President Bush gave lip service to rehabilitating the nurturing of the USA's Scientific and Technical talent. The appointment of religious bigots to censor Scientists strongly suggests that Bush's proclamations are not to be taken seriously.

Yes, of course fundamentalist religious bigots like Osama bin Laden and Zarqari present a danger to those who believe in free expression. But so do religious bigots like Deutsch. Granted Deutsch wasn't directly killing anyone. But I predict that, unless they are challenged, the chilling effect of fundamentalists, on US Science, will be more damaging to America than the attacks of 911.

The USA's record in the 20th Century of Nobel Prize winners was remarkable. Even if you didn't count the American Nobel Prize winners who were born elsewhere, the USA's record was good. But the USA's scientific pre-eminense was boosted by a "brain drain". In the past the World's most promising Science students wanted to complete their educations in the USA. They regarded the USA as the venue where they could make the most of their talents. And many stayed in the USA, rather than returning to their home countries. In the 20th Century that perception was justified.

But foreign students aren't choosing to study in the USA to the same extent. And when they do, they are more likely to take their expertise back home.

Moderate Muslims have to understand that their homegrown zealots aren't harmless. Turning a blind eye to their homegrown zealots damages them. And Americans have to understand that their homegrown zealots aren't harmless.

I know it doesn't fulfill the definition of treason in the US Constitution. But, what Deutsch was doing was a serious betrayal of the American public. Appointees should see themselves as servants of the public. They should see themselves as responsible to serve their Nation -- all their Nation. They should give their loyalty to their Nation, not to the guy who appointed them.

Deutsch made a different choice. He gave his loyalty to his sponsor -- screw the country. Screw the people.

Mr. Deutsch contended that although Dr. Hansen was a scientist, he wanted to talk about policy as well as science. "He wants to demean the president, he wants to demean the administration and create a false perception that the administration is watering down science and lying to the public," Mr. Deutsch said. "And that is patently false."

Deutsch lays out his loyalty here. The President first, his administration second, and the public a very, very distant third.

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