Friday, July 18, 2008

While VIPs Fly in Style, Grunts are Electrocuted in Iraq

Another gem this morning, this time from The New York Times.

Shoddy electrical work at bases in Iraq is causing fires, injuries, and deaths.

"During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq"

Is it not enough that bad guys want to kill our troops on an almost daily basis? Now our soldiers have to worry about dying in the shower from electrocution or in a fire caused by faulty wiring? Who handles construction and maintenance for our bases?

Oh yeah, our good friend KBR. That's the nice company that's already in trouble for "overbilling, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted." Looks like they still have a lot of Halliburton in them. Can a company be charged with treason?

Air Force Spends Terroism Funds to Create "Comfort Capsules" for Flying VIPs

From The Washington Post

We will not rest until Osama Bin Laden is brought to justice. Oooh, well, maybe I'll rest just for a while on this sumptuous swiveling leather seat. And maybe I'll take a nap in this bed that will not compress more than 50% when I lie down. Ahhhh. Osama who? Oh, he can hide in his cave a while longer. I'm going to take a nap.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Guantanamo Interrogations Unknowingly Inspired by Chinese

Special military trainers came to Guantanamo Bay in December of 2002 to teach interrogation techniques. As it turned out, the techniques they were teaching were taken from a study of how Chinese Communists interrogated Americans during the Korean War, often resulting in false confessions.

The 1957 Air Force study, "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War," was originally used to train U.S. servicemen on ways to resist their interrogators if captured. In 2002, the 50s-era SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) program was adopted by the C.I.A. and the military in what the New York Times calls "a remarkable case of historical amnesia." The modern day officials "appear to have been unaware that it [SERE] had been created as a result of concern about false confessions by American prisoners."

Brilliant.

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, remarked "What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions. People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don't need false intelligence."

Apparently the only change made to a key slide in the Guantanamo training program from the origianl 1957 report was to change the name. It was originally called "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance."

I'm sure the source of these torture methods won't bother people who already believe that torturing terror suspects is okay in the course of protecting the homeland. But I personally don't like to think that a modern military program was inspired by Communists from 50 years ago. And if they resulted in so many false confessions out of Americans, how can we be certain the results won't be the same today with suspected terrorists?

The original NYT article can be found here.