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Archive for June, 2007

Taguba Talks

General Antonio Taguba, a
Philipino-American and a Catholic, is the man who led the investigation
into the events at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. His efforts won him lost
friendships, the hostility of his fellow officers and superiors, and a
certainty that his career had hit a dead end. There was not-so-subtle
pressure to retire.

Like all good soldiers
General Taguba kept his opinions about the duplicity of Rumsfeld &
Co to himself while he remained in uniform. When he retired recently he
went public with his reservations about the honesty of the
administration’s stated ignorance of the situation in Iraq and his
doubts that the problem was- as the Official Version has it- a handful
of redneck enlisted men and women.

General
Taguba: "The President had to be aware of this." And he notes that
while Rumsfeld may have technically been telling the truth when he told
the investigation that he hadn’t seen the obscene photos from the
prison, he most certainly had read descriptions of them,
so his protestations of ignorance are  disingenuous at best.

Seymour Hersh has written at length about General Taguba’s tale in the
most recent New Yorker in an article entitled The General’s Report.

The
General’s last words in the article: "…the fact is that we violated
the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the
Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the
core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and
I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders
responsible should be held accountable."

Strong words, from an honorable and courageous man.

Future
generations will wonder how it came to pass that this nation was
highjacked by a criminal political cult while sedated by tales of Paris
Hilton, American Idol, and the NFL.

I am ever hopeful, but
even I fear it may be too late.

Daniel Nichols

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Some Anniversaries

Maclin Horton

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Very Strange

Somehow, somewhere I got on
the email list for the Thomas More Law Center, which describes its
mission as “Defending the religious freedom of Christians, restoring
time honored family values, and protecting the sanctity of human life”.

I generally don’t read messages that have been
forwarded to me, unless they are from Kirk Kramer, who always sends
something interesting, but recently when scanning my email I noticed a
Thomas More Center message about a Lt Col Chessani. I vaguely recalled
the name in association with the alleged American atrocity at Haditha
in Iraq, where 24 civilians were killed by marines.

I read that message and was surprised to see that the Thomas More Law Center had come to Col Chessani’s defense.

I
am puzzled by this. In a war that has been called unjust by two
successive popes, and in an age that the same two popes have suggested
has rendered all war unjust, why is a Catholic legal foundation
defending a man accused of complicity in war crimes?

Chessani
is accused of failing to investigate the incident, and his defense
indicates that the killing of civilians is so unremarkable that he saw
no need report it.

Indeed, I have read two books by Iraq war veterans, The Last True Story I Will Ever Tell, by John Crawford, and The Deserter’s Tale, by Joshua Key, who deserted the Army after a tour of Iraq, that suggest that American war crimes are a commonplace.

Indeed,
it would be remarkable if they are not: urban insurgency is perhaps the
only type of warfare that is more stressful than the rural insurgency
this nation faced in Vietnam. Soldiers are daily faced with the threat
of death, delivered anonymously by an enemy that fades into the
civilian population of which he is a part. The stress must be
unbelievable, and according to Mr Key, who participated in it until his
conscience awoke, troops express this in brutality to the civilian
population.

However sympathetic we may be to
soldiers in such a situation, it does not excuse this brutality and it
ought not diminish our sympathy for its innocent victims.

Surely a putatively Catholic legal center is betraying its mission in defending an accused war criminal.

A
hint at why this has come to pass may be found in the logo they chose
for their website: a giant American eagle against the background of a
giant American flag.

Apparently, like so many right wing Catholics, their Catholic identity has been absorbed in their nationalism.

Daniel Nichols

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Hey, Bishop, Leave Those Texts Alone

I’m a bit puzzled as to why Bishop Donald Trautman’s recent call for resistance to the new liturgical translations has not gotten more attention on the Catholic blogs.

Maclin Horton

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Movie Roundup, Continued

Maclin Horton

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Movie Roundup

Capsule reviews of about half of the movies I’ve seen over the past four months or so.

Maclin Horton

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Distracted by computer problems last week, I forgot about posting this here. I suppose those who are interested will have checked in on my site, but in case you are and you didn’t:

A Speculation on Pentecost

Maclin Horton

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