Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

April 15, 2013

Human Rights: Wiping Away the Smirk

By David K. Shipler

            It used to be sadly comical when Russia took a holier-than-thou posture on human rights. But the United States has fallen so far that Americans don’t get to smirk much anymore. In the recent tit-for-tat over rights abusers who are being declared unwelcome in each other’s countries, at least three of the former top U.S. officials fingered by the Russians are, in fact, true violators of basic liberties. They have been branded legitimately. In the aftermath of today’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, it is worth remembering how easy it is, in the face of such tragedy, to deviate from the rule of law.
            The three are David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel, who evaded the law and the Constitution to engineer torture and illegal surveillance; John Yoo, who wrote infamous memos for Bush’s Justice Department defining torture so narrowly as to give the CIA practically a free hand; and Geoffrey D. Miller, who as an army major general commanded both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, where suspects were abused and humiliated, generating iconic photographs.
            They are among the eighteen Americans listed by Russia.

April 3, 2013

The NRA's Dark America

By David K. Shipler

            Years ago, driving through the Wild West Bank, I was stopped by an Israeli army checkpoint on the road up the Jordan Valley. The young soldier asked if I had any weapons in the car. No, I said. Well, in that case, he advised, it would not be a great idea to continue.
            That’s the kind of America envisioned by the NRA: Don’t send your kids to schools where teachers can’t sport .45 Magnums on their hips or keep Tec 9s in their desks. Don’t lull your kids into thinking there are safe places, free from marauding crazies, where they can concentrate on learning. Remind them every moment of every school day how scary the world is, how vulnerable they are, how consistently high their stress and sense of danger should be. Beginning in their early years, keep those cortisol levels elevated to make sure they greet every affront as if it’s a dire threat. With teachers as role models, every kid will want to carry a weapon. What a wonderful country we’ll have.