the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

January 8, 2006

No Justice for Dilawar


At the September 24 antiwar march I saw someone with a sign reading “Who Killed Mr. Dilawar?” Since I spend far too much time reading blogs, I knew who Dilawar was, but the other people with me didn’t. His is one of many stories that have been easy to miss in the news from the War on Terror.

Dilawar was a 22-year-old taxi driver and father of two who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2002. He ended up being tortured to death in American custody, even though most of his captors believed he was innocent.

TalkLeft has the latest on the Dilawar case: charges have been dropped against the only officer charged in Dilawar’s death.

October 15, 2005

Darkness and Light


Hello, y’all, this is my first posting here, so please be gentle. I promise not to swear too much like I do at home (so to speak), otherwise, there should be no surprises for anyone.

That having been said.

Murphy’s Law is an expression of frustration. Our memory tends to be inexact about what we’ve done right, and the ease with which we remember the very worst things about what has gone wrong is truly staggering. Murphy’s law is built on both this tendency, and on our very human need to find connections between everything. Keep that in mind through this little report, but I promise, it’s not going to be terribly difficult to spot the conflicts.

August 10, 2005

Torture Not As Bad As Adultery, Apparently


A strange story on the front page of today’s Post says something about Pentagon priorities:

In a rare move, the Army relieved a four-star general [Kevin P. Byrnes] of his command amid allegations that he had an extramarital affair with a civilian, Army officials said yesterday. […]

A spokesman said Army officials could find no case of another four-star general being relieved of duty in modern times. […]

The Army has been hurt over the past year by detainee-abuse cases and has been accused of not going after top officers allegedly involved in such abuse. Army officials said relieving Byrnes was meant to show the public that the service takes issues of integrity seriously.

There’s got to be something else going on here. Regardless, this action isn’t going to do much to demonstrate seriousness about holding officers accountable for what goes on under their command.

July 23, 2005

The New Face of the Republican Party


Above you see a whole new brand of Republican: the Club Gitmo Republicans. They proudly sport t-shirts that openly celebrate the abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More here.

The concept of Club Gitmo originated with Mr. Dittocontin himself, Rush Limbaugh. Dittohead Neil Boortz explains, or if you prefer, spews:

Bush: Still Pro-Torture


Lots of Republicans still want to believe that abuse of prisoners by US personnel at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere has been the work of a few rogue guards and not a direct result of administration policies. Now they’ll have to contort their minds a little further to reconcile that belief with Bush’s talk and actions.

Senator John McCain and other Republicans (including John Warner and Lindsey Graham) are working on legislation to prevent prisoner abuse, but Bush is threatening to veto the defense appropriations bill if their legislation is included. (Bush, by the way, has never felt the need to veto a bill in his four and half years as president.) At the same time, the Defense Department is defying a court order demanding the release of photos and videotapes from Abu Ghraib.

See Hilzoy’s post at Obsidian Wings, titled “Unbelievable”, for more on Bush’s fervent opposition to ending torture.

July 4, 2005

No to Torture, No to Gonzales


On Independence Day, it’s appropriate to reflect on what the United States stands for and whether we’re living up to those ideals. In the past, our nation has been a leader in human rights (although it’s never been perfect), and one of the worst transgressions of the Bush administration was to stain the United States by making it into one of the countries that uses torture. Yes, Bush has mouthed some condemnations of torture, and a few bad apples have been punished. But the people responsible for the policies of prisoner abuse and torture have not only escaped punishment but have been promoted, the network of detainment facilities continues as before, and the policy of shipping prisoners to thuggish regimes to be tortured is still in place.

Now there’s a lot of talk of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a possible nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy opened up by the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor. It’s true that the prospect of Bush nominating someone who’s not fanatically opposed to abortion rights is driving the religious right crazy (John Cole has a selection of the reactions), but we must not be fooled into thinking that anyone they hate that much can’t be all bad. Nat Hentoff detailed “nice guy” Gonzales’s connections to torture in a Village Voice column when Gonzales was nominated for attorney general (the Center for American Progress has more). Nothing has changed since then. This is, after all, the man who wrote, “In my judgment, this new paradigm [the war on terrorism] renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”

The six Democrats in the Senate who voted for Gonzales’s confirmation should be ashamed,* as should all of the Republicans (especially John McCain, who has experienced torture first hand). As attorney general, he will be gone in three and a half years, but as a Supreme Court justice Gonzales will be with us for decades. We must do all we can to keep the stain of torture away from the nation’s highest court. Gonzales is not acceptable.

* For the record, the Shameful Six are Landrieu (D-LA), Lieberman (D-CT), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), and Salazar (D-CO). Please remember, not Obama.

June 22, 2005

Another Messenger Shot


The right-wing smear job (aided by the expected Democratic spinelessness) has had its predictable effect:

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism. […]

McCain said the lesson is “Watch your words.”

At least the Post’s description of Durbin’s speech bears some resemblance to reality, unlike the blatant lying in the Washington Times. The speech was actually very good, and it’s sad to see someone reduced to groveling for giving it. Now that we’ve made sure no one’s going to talk about that pesky torture problem, we can go back to pretending it doesn’t exist.

Durbin is just the latest in a line of critics — the Red Cross, Newsweek, Amnesty International — neutralized when the Republicans latch on to something they can characterize as a mistake in the criticism, which they can then use to dismiss any discussion of prisoner mistreatment. Expect to see the pattern repeated, and it happens on other issues as well (remember CBS News and the Texas Air National Guard story).


The Pentagon announced that a Halliburton subsidiary was awarded the contract to build a state-of-the-art $30 million prison for 220 terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

June 17, 2005

Tortured Logic


Today the House passed Henry Hyde’s bill withholding half of US dues payments to the United Nations unless the UN shapes up. Fortunately, the bill is not likely to get anywhere in the Senate and is opposed by the White House (perhaps Rumsfeld has been talking to Bush about his lack of diplomatic skill).

The bill includes this text (in §201):

(b) Human Rights Reforms at the United Nations — The President shall direct the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to ensure that the following human rights reforms have been adopted by the United Nations:

(1) A Member State that fails to uphold the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shall be ineligible for membership on any United Nations human rights body.



DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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