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Between the Lines

June 23, 2004

Torture update

The administration's decision to release a couple of hundred pages of memos relating to the treatment of prisoners from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has raised as many questions as it answered, for reasons Dan Froomkin details here:

• Does President Bush still believe, as his 2002 memo said, that he has "the authority under the Constitution" to deny protections of the Geneva Conventions to some combatants?

• The memos describe Pentagon prohibitions against torture. But do the distinctions drawn between forceful interrogation tactics and torture meet the common-sense test? And what rules did the White House set for the CIA?

• Did the White House set a tone that led to the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

• What was the president's involvement in the deliberations on torture, beyond putting his name at the bottom of that one memo?

• And the debate within the administration, as illustrated most clearly by memos from the Justice Department, continued to rage long after Bush's memo. So how long did the issue of torture remain in play?

Plus lots of links to follow.

Posted by tbrown at 01:28 PM


'The Senate is a steaming pile of … '

Jeff Jarvis, former TV critic, columnist and prolific blogger, has worked up a real head of steam over legislation – soon to be on its way to President Bush, who's said he'll sign it – that hugely increases fines for violating "decency" standards on radio and TV. He knows just who to blame:

"Religious fundamentalists, organized as a Dumb Mob, just dealt a deadly blow to free speech in America with legislators, cynical hypocrites, as their henchmen and media standing idly by, the short-sighted quislings."

His language is, shall we say, energetic, but well worth reading. This is an important issue that has gotten scant coverage.

Posted by tbrown at 01:26 PM


'I agree with me'

Conservative funnyman (not an oxymoron in this case) P.J. O'Rourke writes at Atlantic Online about why political debate has all but vanished from the American landscape: We're all too busy shouting at people who agree with us.

"Arguing, in the sense of attempting to convince others, seems to have gone out of fashion with everyone. I'm reduced to arguing with the radio. The distaste for political argument certainly hasn't made politics friendlier—or quieter, given the amount of shouting being done by people who think one thing at people who think the same thing.

"But I believe I know why this shouting is popular. Today's Americans are working harder than ever, trying to balance increasing personal, family, and career demands. We just don't have time to make ourselves obnoxious. We need professional help."

A good piece. Read it all here.

Posted by tbrown at 01:25 PM




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