Morning Report 12/6/05
Flights From Reality
Help, I need somebody. Help, not just anybody.
For one thing, the violence in Iraq is reaching such a crescendo — 36 cops were just blown up in east Baghdead — that PR attempts to spread the "good news" are increasingly useless.
That situation is beyond help, as long as Iraq stays under the control of U.S. troops instead of a regional or international peacekeeping effort.
Besides, the international groups are having a hard time even agreeing on the symbols for help. The International Committee of the Red Cross is discovering that right now in Geneva, although a longstanding dispute over the international "help" symbols may finally be nearing resolution.
In any case, the red cross, red crescent, and the mothballed red-lion-with-scimitar-and-sun aren't the international symbols dominating the news.
Article 38 of the Geneva Conventions decrees that those symbols are to be displayed on a white background.
But I'm talking about the white guys on a red background, the internationally recognized symbols of flouting the Geneva Conventions.
You know who I mean: the progenitors of Camp Mercury's "Murderous Maniacs": Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Don Rumsfeld, disrespectfully (see illustration above).
And they're finding good help from the New York Times, formerly America's greatest newspaper and, inexplicably, still the most influential news outlet for other newsrooms' managers. At the Times, Joel Brinkley has picked up the Bush regime's latest renditions where Judy Miller left off.
Yesterday, I pointed out the ridiculous nature of Brinkley's coverage of Condi Rice's visit to Europe to explain the U.S. policy of international kidnapping.
This morning, Slate's Eric Umansky does a better job than I could of contrasting the Times' serving of renditions with Rice with the meatier, more reality-based journalism in the Washington Post, ABC News, and elsewhere. Here's how Umansky's "Today's Papers" analysis puts it:
- If you want anything more than the official line, don't look to the NYT: "U.S. INTERROGATIONS ARE SAVING EUROPEAN LIVES, RICE SAYS." The Times takes most of Rice's statements at face value when the facts suggest they shouldn't be. For instance, Rice's insistence that the U.S. does not "condone torture" is played up high and likely only accurate if you accept the administration's narrow definition of torture. As the Post notes, "CIA interrogators in the overseas sites have been permitted to use interrogation techniques prohibited by the U.N. convention or by U.S. military law."
The Post's editorial this morning sums it up pretty well:
In an attempt to quell a growing storm in Europe over the CIA's secret prisons, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday issued a defense based on the same legalistic jujitsu and morally obtuse double talk that led the Bush administration into a swamp of human rights abuses in the first place.
Ms. Rice insisted that the U.S. government "does not authorize or condone torture" of detainees. What she didn't say is that President Bush's political appointees have redefined the term "torture" so that it does not cover practices, such as simulated drowning, mock execution and "cold cells," that have long been considered abusive by authorities such as her State Department.
Bush doesn't read, but you can.
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