Documented chain of responsibility in Abu Ghraib reaches higher

Der Spiegel is reporting that, “General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the US forces in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, authorized interrogation techniques that included putting prisoners in stressful physical positions and changing sleep patterns, according to an internal US memo obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday.” The memo was rescinded about a month later, “because of objections raised by military lawyers over its legality.”

The ACLU and Human Rights First have sued Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and are seeking to establish that, “Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody.”

Not an April Fool’s joke

Early this morning, I announced to the crew of the San Francisco chapter of Starfleet International, the USS Augusta Ada my intention to step down at the end of my present term, in October. It has been a pleasure to serve as captain for this crew, but I have reached the end of my effectiveness in this position, and I frankly need to focus on my studies at CSU East Bay (formerly CSU Hayward) and on my own life.

The timing of the announcement, being on April Fool’s Day, is unfortunate, but should give the crew ample time to come up with a successor.

Judge puts a brake on extra-judicial Guantanamo transfers

According to the Washington Post, a judge has ruled against the Pentagon, which had hoped to send 13 Guantanamo detainees to countries where they may force torture. The Pentagon must provide 30 days advance notice to allow the detainees’ lawyers to file an appeal.

    “They got the wrong guys at the wrong place,” said Michael Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These people were imprisoned, interrogated and tortured for no reason. So now the government wants to get rid of them, because they just can’t justify what they’ve done.”

As a result of this ruling, the detainees should get their day in court, and the courts should establish oversight over Guantanamo Bay operations and control over detainee transfers.

Democrats merge with Republicans in all but name

Hard on the heels of Jesse Jackson praying with the Schindlers (Terri Schiavo’s parents), comes “word that Senator Hillary Clinton has joined right wing advocates in decrying the gaming industry as a paragon of loose morals and corrupting influences. From the article: “Children are playing a game that encourages them to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them…This is a silent epidemic of media desensitisation that teaches kids it’s OK to diss people because they are a woman, they’re a different colour or they’re from a different place.”

So the game isn’t exactly savory. But censorship poses its own historically well-established set of problems, and the harms posed by this game are assumed, not proven. With the most scarily secretive presidential administration in history, we need to work on opening society, not clamping down on it.

Rev. Jesse Jackson over the edge

It was bad enough that Jesse Jackson hosted Michael Jackson on his radio show, in which the “King of Pop actually compared his child molestation prosecution to the persecution suffered by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson.” Now the Reverend, who, as I recall, pointed to jobs and health care as being more relevant than stem cell research and gay marriage, has joined with Terri Schiavo’s parents in prayer, condemning the removal of her feeding tube. “‘I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips,’ he said. ‘This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes.'”

File-swapping suit has implications too broad for Supreme Court?

According to an Associated Press story, Supreme Court justices seemed sympathetic to fears that if the recording industry prevails in its suit against Grokster, the effect will discourage technological innovation. ” Justice Antonin Scalia said a ruling against Grokster, a developer of leading file-sharing software, could mean that if ‘I’m a new inventor, I’m going to get sued right away.'” Other justices seemed to agree, with Justice David H. Souter, noting that Apple iPod users could play illegally downloaded music, wondering if the industry hadn’t acted arbitrarily in suing Grokster, not Apple.