Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

The Memorial Day peony, Paeonia officinalis rubra plena. Remember.


Sunday, May 28, 2006


I've got a lot of things to say about the Marine massacre in Haditha, and a more recent case in Hamdaniyah in which Marines will be charged for taking an unarmed man from his house, shooting him, and planting an AK-47 beside the body to make it appear he was a combatant. But I'm going to wait a few days before saying them.

However, I have to respond to this, in Saturday's L.A. Times article on the Haditha investigation:

As Marines moved across the desert into Iraq on March 19, 2003, each Marine received a signed statement from then-Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, exhorting his troops to fight vigorously but to treat noncombatants with "decency … chivalry and soldierly compassion."

The relevance of Mattis' statement is that the Marines in Haditha are part of the 1st Division. But the general's name rang a little bell. Wasn't he the one who had to be rebuked for saying it was fun to shoot some people? Why, yes he was:

"Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling," he said at the forum in San Diego. "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," he added. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

Did the L.A. Times reporters remember that, too? I wonder.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Semper Fi?

My mother was a Marine. During the second world war, she joined the new Women's Marine Reserves. She went through boot camp at Camp Lejeune, learned to navigate planes being flown from aircraft factories to domestic bases, and taught navigation to Marines returning from the front in order to put the new planes into action.

She was proud of being a Marine. Of all the men who held the office of superintendent at VMI during her lifetime, the one who drew her warmest praise was George Shell, not only because he was a fine man and widely liked, but also because he was a Marine. I imagine she'd have had the same respect for Anthony Zinni, had she been alive to see him speak here against the war on Iraq in October 2002. It's almost a sure thing she'd be voting for Marine James Webb in the Democratic Senate primary next month.

But today, I'm glad she's not here. She would be deeply angry and ashamed about the Marine murders in Haditha. And anyone who knew my mother would agree: you didn't want to be around when she was angry, much less be on the receiving end.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Deserving neither

Billmon has two substantial posts on the surveillance state in which we live. In the second, he quotes a Pew pollster's assessment about the public's acceptance of this situation:
"A solid plurality, around 50 percent" continues to say they would rather the government went too far in restricting civil liberties than not going far enough in protecting the country.

That's pretty sad by itself. But even more maddening is that the Cheney-Bush regime's actions have nothing to do with protecting the country.

Update May 15: And the proof of that isn't long in coming... Brian Ross and Richard Esposito report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Endless, pointless detention

Updating and reinforcing the 'Bread and Roses' post below, this Reuters story says that our government has cleared almost a third of the prisoners in Guantanamo -- but won't release them, and won't even name them.* The claimed obstacle is that releasing them to their home countries would expose them to torture (!), and that it's difficult to find countries that will take them. David Luban at Balkinization has more analysis, and a suggestion:
In the case of detainees cleared by the CSRTs – who U.S. processes found not to pose a danger to the United States – mere decency requires us to offer them another option: green cards, or at least political asylum, if they want it. ... Maybe the exonerated detainees don’t want to live in the United States. Maybe their all-expenses-paid tropical holiday in Gitmo has not exactly endeared the United States to them. Maybe, just maybe, they want to be as far from the United States as possible. But we owe them the right of refusal.

*Since this was posted, the U.S. government has, after four and a half years, finally provided a list of all those held at Guantanamo.