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Sy Hersh published a must-read story in the New Yorker over the weekend about the experience of Major General Antonio Taguba. The story prompts many questions, and in particular it supports a new analysis of the interrogation techniques approved by JSOC–the Special Operations joint command. Plenty of evidence has emerged to support the proposition that JSOC has its own brutal, illegal interrogation rules. I also suspect that JSOC has been engaged in a U.S.-media-targeted disinformation campaign, although that remains to be proved.
I’ve been studying these issues for some time, and found Spencer Ackerman’s ruminations particularly relevant. Ackerman is asking the correct questions and demonstrating that the situation is, at the moment, very uneasy. And Andrew Sullivan’s series of posts reviewing the Hersh piece examine what the Hersh-Taguba piece tells us about the roles played by Rumsfeld, Bush and Abizaid among others. It’s ugly stuff, but essential reading.
As usual, the Hersh story offers us a frightening look deep inside the Pentagon that Rumsfeld built. Taguba’s characterization of the new military culture as a “mafia” is very chilling, and matches descriptions we have heard from many other retiring senior officers. This is a coarsely politicized Pentagon, and exactly the sort of institution that James Madison described as an existential threat to democracy.
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.
Percentage of British citizens who say that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom:
In the United Kingdom, a penis-shaped Kentish strawberry was not made by snails.
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.'”