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JUNE 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
HOW FASCISM STARTS
FW: How Fascism Starts -by Molly Ivins
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 08:42:15 -0700
From: "Peter Coyote" firstname.lastname@example.org
20 May 2004
Texas -- It's pretty easy to get to the point where you don't want
to hear any more about Abu Ghraib prison and what went on there. But there
are some really good reasons why Americans should take a look at why this
suspect the division here is not between liberals and conservatives
(except for a few inane comments made by some trying to be flippant), but
between those who are following the story closely and those who are not. I
particularly recommend both Sy Hersh's follow-up piece in the current issue
of The New Yorker and the investigative piece in the current issue of
Newsweek. What seems to me more important than the "Oh ugh" factor is
how easy it is for standards of law and behavior to slip into bestiality.
problems go all the way back to the administration's refusal to abide
by the Geneva Conventions. President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
and Attorney General John Ashcroft "signed off on a secret system of
detention and interrogation that opened the door to such methods. It was an
approach that they adopted in order to sidestep the historical safeguards of
the Geneva Convention, which protect the rights of detainees and prisoners
of war," according to Newsweek.
of State Colin Powell and the military's lawyers objected. You
may recall the military's objections (broadcast, as usual, by retired
officers) were on the excellent grounds that if we didn't observe the Geneva
Conventions neither would our enemies -- the very reason they were signed in
the first place.
Pentagon still insists that "suspected Al Qaeda followers" have no
rights under Geneva III, as they are "enemy combatants" rather than
Geneva III also has procedures for what to do if the status of a detainee is
in doubt -- full Geneva rights apply until "a competent tribunal"
We have been holding 595 prisoners at Guantanamo for two and half years, not
counting those we have already let go, in conditions in violation of Geneva.
Only now are a few of these prisoners being assigned lawyers, and the
lawyers are raising hell about the whole process.
legal rationale came from White House counsel Alberto Gonzales,
including the line, "In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete
Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders
quaint some of its provisions."
to Newsweek, Bush first signed a secret order granting new
powers to the CIA, a directive authorizing it to set up secret detention
facilities outside the United States and to question those held in them with
unprecedented harshness. The agency also schlepped suspected terrorists off
to other countries known to practice torture.
addition to the fact that torture is morally repulsive, it also doesn't
work. Of course you can torture information out of people. What you can't do
is torture accurate information out of people who don't have it. The Defense
Department's JAGs were so concerned they finally went to a New York lawyer
who specializes in international human rights law and told him, "There is a
calculated effort to create an atmosphere of legal ambiguity" about how
Geneva should be applied.
military lawyers named Assistant Secretary Douglas Feith and the
Pentagon's general counsel William Haynes, since nominated for an appeals
court judgeship by Bush.
Gitmo had been taken over by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, under
whose loving care the "72-point matrix for stress and duress" was
laying out as ugly a set of rules for of-course-it's-torture-stupid as
anyone could dream up.
may recall Rumsfeld testifying before Congress that Miller had been
sent to "inspect" Abu Ghraib in September 2003, as though that had
step toward responsible oversight. In fact, Miller told the general then
running the prison the place should be turned over to military intelligence.
something like Abu Ghraib can be blamed in part on the Downward
Communication Exaggeration Spiral, which afflicts most organizations.
Someone at the top makes a mild suggestion, and by the time it reaches the
troops, it's iron-clad law. This appears to be a rare case of a reverse
spiral, with the orders coming from the very top and questions being raised
about them all the way down, until finally Army Spc. Joseph Darby spoke out
and set off the Taguba investigation.
this case, there is more than sufficient evidence pointing to the
culpability of those at the top. But at the same time, the Pentagon is
putting out the word that it was "only a few bad apples," six
soldiers who have already been charged, with no one else involved. This just
stinks of cover-up. Damned if I think these six low-level soldiers should be
hung out there to take the blame for a set of explicitly written and signed
policies made by people wearing expensive suits, getting paid big bucks and
bearing some of the highest titles in the land.
can read all the memos and documents for yourself. It's important to
know how fascism starts. ##
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