Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Irony is defined as today's headlines. All the major papers and news outlets have two big stories running. The first is that the US has declassified many documents relating to treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghrab and Gitmo. The talking heads are shocked! Shocked! to find that the US Government was engaged in a discussion about what we could and could not do to prisoners and suspected terrorists. For an administration often accused of suppressing dissenting points of view and preventing policy debate, there sure seems to be a lot of documents looking at all sides of the issue. For an administration accused of not being aggressive enough going against terrorists before Sept 11, 2001, there seems to be a lot of free thinking and analysis of alternative COAs. Never mind that most of the so-called torture memos deal with such things as self-incrimination and sleep deprivation, and that the conclusion the government drew was that it was both wrong and illegal to torture. The media seems to be on a feeding frenzy. The NYT had to print a retraction of a story…nothing new there. But after CNN spent 24 hours reporting that the SECDEF had approved of 'water boarding', they spent another 5 hours recanting it…since he had specifically said the practice was not allowed. Hmmm.

So the other major headline? The beheading of a South Korean hostage in Iraq. Lets see. Daniel Pearl, Nick Burg, Paul Johnson, this has happened before. And every time we write it off as sick savages who are just doing it to get our goat. And besides, the stories imply, we sort of deserved it, anyway, since there are bad things that happen in the US, also. Huh? In what universe? There is the irony. For them to chop of the head of someone who was trying to help, that is understandable, or at least explainable. For us to engage in a debate on the moral and legal limits in dealing with those who would chop off heads, that is unconscionable.

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