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After five years in which Congress abdicated its Constitutional duties of oversight–with the most disastrous consequences, and nowhere more sorely missed than in the field of intelligence–we witness the first stirrings towards Congressional action now. Scott Shane offers a good report on the first moves in today’s New York Times.
I’m just starting to look through these developments now, but I note an important interim assessment by Marty Lederman here, which should mark a good starting point. What’s going on behind the scenes? The Administration is pressing ahead for continuation of the “program,” including the four criminal techniques of waterboarding, hypothermia, long-time standing, and sleep deprivation over two days. The force behind this move is, as always, the Vice President for Torture, Dick Cheney. The senior-most echelon of intelligence professionals–I am told and believe–are nearly unanimous in opposing these moves on both moral and utilitarian grounds. Their advice and analysis is, as usual, ignored by the White House, with its heartfelt conviction that brutality works. The initial moves coming out of Congress are certainly less than the robust confrontation one would have wished for, but we are, it appears, still in the midst of a battle.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”