Archive for the ‘Christopher Hitchens’ tag
Samhita and Amanda discuss the legacy of Christopher Hitchens. The Egyptian military cracks down on protesters with a special sadism towards women. American police continue to single young black men out for abuse in ways that tend to be routinely ignored. John Waters has important advice for everyone: Don’t sleep with anyone who hasn’t written a book. Books are very important.
Allison and Jamie talk about the life and work of Christopher Hichens, both the good (Atheism) and bad (pro-Iraq invasion, vicious sexism). Also, Allison reports on the OWS December 17 actions that led to the arrests of 50 people and assault and detainment of journalists by the NYPD.
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Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.
Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.
Dawkins and Hitchens hope to arrest the Pope when he visits Britain between September 16 and 19. Hitchens first proposed the idea of launching a campaign to arrest the Pope, and Dawkins wholeheartedly supports the legal challenge. The pair believe Benedict will be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because he is not the head of a state recognized by the United Nations, though the Pope’s tour is categorized as a “state visit”.
I’m currently in Sydney, Australia to attend the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, a weekend festival hosted by the Sydney Opera House. More than 50 speakers and performers will participate in panel discussions and debates in a public forum to discuss issues that are considered “dangerous,” or controversial in modern society. Speakers include Christopher Hitchens, Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell, Aboriginal activist Gary Foley, and many more.
A festival of dangerous ideas is a weird concept for an American to understand. Back in the motherland, ideas such as Socialism or health care for all are so controversial that their mere mention is enough to give a Republican an aneurysm. We Americans are trained from the cradle never, ever to discuss religion, sex, or politics at the dinner table. And yet here is Sydney — not only embracing the controversial, but actively encouraging participants to push the boundaries of social norms — to challenge the audience, themselves, and the world. It’s a beautiful thing.
In his post today, Glenzilla thoroughly parses the new Washington Post poll which indicates that solid majorities of the American people believe that torture should not be used in any circumstances, that terrorist suspects should be tried in regular courts and that there should be official investigations into the Bush era torture regime. It would seem that the beltway elite’s characterization of people who hold such opinion as being “liberal score settlers” would both indicate that a majority of the country is liberal and that they actually believe that torture is wrong. Imagine that.
This brings up an interesting dilemma for our old pal Christopher Hitchens who held a fabulous village gala the other night at his place andsaid:
“I know something for a sure thing,” Hitchens continued. “The demand for torture and other methods I would describe as illegal, the demand to go outside the Geneva conventions — all this came from below. What everyone wants to say is this came from a small clique around the vice-president. It’s not educational. It doesn’t enlighten anyone to behave as if that were true. This is our society wanting and demanding harsh measures.” Therefore, he went on, the demand for prosecution or other measures against Bush administration officials would likewise have to come from below, via the grassroots. “Otherwise it’s just vengeful, I suppose, and partisan.”
But, as I wrote earlier, when Hitchens talks about coming from below he really means the media elite who “represent” Real Americans. They don’t listen to the polls, they listen to their guts, which are a far more reliable gauge of what the grassroots really believe than polls or elections.
Meanwhile, here’s Town Crier Chuck Todd reassuring us all that these new executive orders won’t allow the terrorists to kill us all in our beds:
Todd: There are still some loopholes. Those who are worried that somehow there isn’t going to be a way to get intelligence out of them… for instance, while there is a mandate, one of these executive orders says that the Army Field Manual is what needs to be used to decide how to interrogate these folks, there is also going to be an allowance by this new commission to come up with a protocol to deal with intelligence, you know detainees that are detained from the intelligence battlefield, not necessarily the actual combatant, you know, one that would be soldier to soldier.
Now the administration says this does not mean they will invite new methods of interrogation back into the fold, but like I said Andrea, you could go through here with a fine tooth comb and could find plenty of loopholes that would allow certain things to happen.
Now, it’s hard to make sense out of that, and I don’t know specifically what loopholes he’s talking about, but it’s clear that Chuck Todd is seeking to reassure everyone that some kind of torture will be allowed if it’s really necessary. (Boy that’s a relief, huh?)
In fact, the whole tenor of the coverage of today’s executive orders seems to be about how Obama has done this because Guantanamo and torture “look bad” but that he’s got to find some legal means to circumvent constitutional principles because well … he just does:
Pete Williams: The most controversial aspect of this is that there will still be a category of detainees that can’t be released but can’t be put on trial because there isn’t enough evidence or because the evidence was obtained in some way that couldn’t be used in court and they seem to say in this document, “we’re still probably going to have to hold those people if they’re dangerous, we just don’t know how,” so one of the things this document says is to the government, look at our legal options, there must be some legal way to do this.
And, of course, human rights groups have been saying “you can’t have it both ways” you can’t both detain them and not put them on trial.
Where do those human rights groups get those crazy ideas?
I honestly don’t know why we shouldn’t apply this logic across the board. If the authorities “know” that someone is guilty of murder but they don’t have any evidence or coerced an unreliable confession out of them under torture, why isn’t there some legal way to hold this alleged murderer anyway? Indeed, it would save a lot of time and money if we could just dispense with the whole trial process at all — if the government just “knows” when someone is dangerous and that they’ve committed crimes then what’s the point of all this “proof” business in the first place?
I have no idea what Obama really has in mind with these orders — although they are certainly a welcome step in the right direction this commission he’s forming to assess interrogation techniques seems superfluous to me. The Geneva Conventions aren’t obscure on these points and neither is the scholarship on effective interrogation techniques. I assume that he’s simply trying to appease the intelligence community by not being unequivocal in the first few days.
But regardless of his intentions, it’s clear that the media has decided that he’s trying to have it both ways. I’m sure that’s very reassuring to them — they all love torture and indefinite detention (except for themselves and their friends, who “suffer enough” if they are simply publicly embarrassed.) But if Obama’s intention is to send a clear signal that America is not going to torture and imprison people in violation of the law and the constitution, the media that’s supposed to convey that view isn’t getting the message.
Let’s hope they are just being myopic and stupid as usual. If they aren’t, or this “confusion” is allowed to stand, then it’s likely that the foreign policy benefit of changing the policies are going to be compromised. I hear that the foreigners have the internet these days.
Here’s the Center For Constitutional Rights’ statement on today’s orders.