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Candide’s Latest: Friday, October 27, 2006
Torture's Cheerleaders

"We don't do torture"

Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning,” McClatchy reports. “Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview. Cheney's comments, in a White House interview on Tuesday with a conservative radio talk show host, appeared to reflect the Bush administration's view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism.” […]The radio interview Tuesday was the first time that a senior Bush administration official has confirmed that U.S. interrogators used water-boarding against important al-Qaida suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Mohammad was captured in Pakistan on March 1, 2003, and turned over to the CIA. […] In the interview on Tuesday, Scott Hennen of WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D., told Cheney that listeners had asked him to "let the vice president know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives.” Curiously, radio host Hennen uses his blog to bash the “MSM” for claiming that Cheney admitted to using waterboarding. Ina post called “Cheney, Media Bias and Pro-Terrorist Hate Mail,” He writes: “These so called news stories all suggest that he is endorsing tourture or water boarding. […] Read or listen to the interview here and see if you can find the word "water-boarding".  You won’t.” Read or listen to the interview and see if you can detect signs of intelligence, too. You won’t. Except from his email-writing listeners: I'm sure that since you think water-boarding doesn't violate the "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" bit of the Military Commissions Act then you'd volunteer to have it done to you, right?  Then you'd know what you're talking about, right?  I think that would be great radio... let a trained interrogator give you "a dunk in water" and see what
it's actually like... then let your listeners know that it's no big deal, since now that it's common knowledge that we're doing it to the enemy, they'll certainly be willing to violate the geneva convention and do it to our boys.”  Actually, ABC News reported on just such a stunt by CIA “volunteers” last year: “According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess. "The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.”

  

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Islam’s Rapegate

How does a cretinous cleric try to win back some respect? By chanting anti-American slogan. “Muslim leader Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly is refusing to resign over a sermon in which he blamed women for rape and instead has chanted an anti-American slogan outside Sydney's Lakemba Mosque,” the Sydney Morning herald reports. “After midday prayers today, the sheik was besieged by a group of reporters who asked him whether he would bow to demands and quit. The Islamic clergyman smiled and shook his head, saying in English: "After we clean the world of the White House first." His words were greeted by cheers and applause from dozens of supporters among hundreds of worshippers at mosque.”

The American press continues to pass on the story, but not in the rest of the world. The Economist makes it its lead item on Friday: “ Australia has become the latest democracy to witness an angry row over the terms on which Islam—or, at least, certain readings of Islam—can co-exist with Western liberal values. Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali, the most senior Muslim cleric in Australia, prompted outrage by suggesting that female victims of sexual assault have themselves to blame if they dress in ways that Muslims consider immodest. On Thursday October 26th, as his remarks were generating headlines all over the world, Sheikh Hilali apologised to “any woman who is offended by my comments” and insisted that he intended only to “protect women’s honour” and condemn licentious behaviour. But his choice of metaphor—in a sermon delivered in Sydney last month—was peculiar and offensive. “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside…and the cats come and eat it…whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?” he asked 500 worshippers. “If she was in her room…in her hijab, no problem would have occurred”, he added, referring to a putative victim of sexual assault. […] The story strikes a chord in Western countries, including Britain, where the compatibility of Muslim and liberal lifestyles has become a bitterly contested topic. Until recently, Britain was seen as a country where the authorities were careful to accommodate cultural and religious difference. While many Muslims deplored Britain’s foreign policy, especially in Iraq and over the recent Lebanon conflict, they at least gave Britain credit for its policy of tolerating social diversity.”

Qana-Like Afghan Massacre

And in another story left off American front pages, NATO is being blamed for killing 85 civilians in a relentless raid in Afghanistan: ““WHAT do you foreigners think you are doing?” an angry doctor demanded of me as three boys, all wounded by shrapnel, were wheeled into Mirawais hospital in Kandahar. One had his right eye blown out and the other two had abdominal injuries. “You bomb civilians, then come in to talk to them? Better if you leave,”” writes Anthony Lloyd for the UK Times. “The hospital’s registration book showed that ten civilian casualties, including six children aged 8 to 12, had been admitted on Wednesday morning. There were many more casualties, survivors said. But they claimed that the roads were sealed by Nato troops and that the wounded had escaped across the fields. Last night one official claimed that as many as 85 civilians had been killed in airstrikes and mortar bombardments around the settlement of Zangawat, in the Panjwayi district of the city. If confirmed, it would be the highest civilian death toll in an operation involving Western forces since the US-led invasion in 2001. Nato said that a preliminary review by its forces had found the bodies of 12 civilians. The Interior Ministry claimed that 40 civilians and 20 Taleban fighters had died. The accuracy of those figures was impossible to substantiate, and the scene at Mirawais hospital did little to clear the confusion.

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