Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."

(I transcribed some of his speech from this streaming site. Hersh starts at about 1:07:50.)

He called the prison scene "a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway…war crimes."

The outrages have cost us the support of moderate Arabs, says Hersh. "They see us as a sexually perverse society."

Hersh describes a Pentagon in crisis. The defense department budget is “in incredible chaos,” he says, with large sums of cash missing, including something like $1 billion that was supposed to be in Iraq.

"The disaffection inside the Pentagon is extremely accute," Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, "The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear."

The Iraqi insurgency, he says,was operating in 1-to-3 man cells a year ago, now in 10-15 man cells, and despite the harsh questioning, "we still know nothing about them...we have no tactical information.”

He says the foreign element among insurgents is overstated, and that bogeyman Zarqawi is "a composite figure" hyped by our government.

The war, he says, has escalated to "fullscale, increasingly intense military activity."

Hersh described the folks in charge of US policy as "neoconservative cultists" who have taken the government over, and show "how fragile our democracy is."

He ripped the supine US press, pledged to bring home all the facts he could, said he was not sure he could deliver all the damning info he suspects about Bush administration responsibility for Abu Ghraib.

3:29:18 PM    comment []

A reunion: two close friends from my happy childhood happened to be in town at the same time. We convened last night at Fisher's.

Among the subjects covered as we yelled over the band: That one time at Camp Morehead; that other time at Camp Morehead; that girl you used to date, dude; REO Speedwagon and seeing Journey get booed offstage before a Stones concert in 1981; spiritual fulfillment; the latest news on gang-members not present. Drinks were drunk. A joke, somewhat off-color, was told. A waitress was unsuccessfully flirted with by the single man.

We stood in the parking lot at midnight, the humid air and noisy crickets the same as they ever were on all those summer nights we have stood in parking lots of bars with each other over the decades. Another joke was told, to the intense amusement of the teller.


8:34:20 AM    comment []

Happy Bastille Day. Last year I marked the occasion with a list of good things about France, and, well, they are still good things. So here it is again:

A few kind words about the French on Bastille Day:


Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Papes.

Steak frites.

Moules mariniere.

Saving western civilization.


The Declaration of the Rights of Man.


The Metro.

The Marais.

The Alps.

Place des Vosges.

Topless beaches.


Medecins sans Frontieres

The Dordogne.





New Orleans.

Tour de France.

Might someday take Jim Carrey off our hands.


The French aren’t perfect, they just think they are. And it’s not like they were going to be much help on the battlefield anyway.

8:06:41 AM    comment []