Watching the Shadows
Madrid's landmark Windsor office tower was gutted by fire the night of Feb. 12, and much of downtown Madrid remains closed off by authorities. The fire (apparently caused by a short-circuit) resulted in only seven injuries, none serious--but several of the building's top floors have collapsed, and it is feared the entire 30-story tower could implode unless it is quickly demolished. (EITB24, Spain, Feb. 14)
A newly declassified report from the 9-11 Commission--released five months late and heavily censored, with several passges blotted out by thick black ink lines--reviews Federal Aviation Administration daily intelligence briefings to airport administrators in the months leading up to the attacks.
Tom Wilner, attorney for 11 Kuwaiti men arrested by US forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan and now held at Guantanamo Bay, told the press his clients say they were beaten, tortured and subjected to electro-shock and sodomy to extract confessions. According to Wilner's notes, one detainee said: "The American soldiers kept saying, 'Are you Taliban or are you al-Qaeda?'... They kept hitting me, so eventually I said I was a member of the Taliban." He says the 11 are all innocent.
Newly-confirmed US Atttorney General Alberto Gonzales may begin his term as an indicted war criminal. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed new documents January 31 with the German Federal Prosecutor looking into war crimes charges against high-ranking US officials, including Donald Rumsfeld. One includes new evidence that the Fay report on Abu Ghraib protected Administration officials--a comprehensive and shocking opinion by Scott Horton, an expert on international law and chair of the International Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. The second is a letter detailing how Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirms his role as complicit in the torture and abuse of detainees in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.
I generally like Hobsbawm, but there has always been a contradiction in his
works between his enthusiasm for the ultra-democratic movements of the
English Civil War (Diggers, Levellers, etc.) and his allegiance to the
British Marxist soft-on-Russia crowd. This piece reflects that ambivalence,
and CAN be interpreted as a defense of the nasty dictatorships the US has
used as an excuse to go to war (Saddam, Milosevic, etc.). Better to point
out that Bush's purported championing of "democracy"--as he erodes voting
rights, suspends habeas corpus, unleashes sweeping police powers--is an
Orwellian abuse of the English language. (But then those British Marxist
types never did like Orwell.)
Robert Scheer's hyperventilating latest is getting much circulation in cyberspace (see below). A typical sample:
"cabal of Machiavellian neoconservatives"