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First of all, the U.N. team that was looking into this issue did not even visit Guantanamo Bay. They did not go down and see the facilities. … But the International Committee for the Red Cross has been provided full access to the detainees.
McClellan is right. The Red Cross has visited Guantanamo Bay several times. In fact, in June 2004, they found the detainees were subjected to conditions “tantamount to torture“:
The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guant¡namo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions.” Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly “more refined and repressive” than learned about on previous visits. “The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture,” the report said.
In response to a lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to produce or identify all documents related to President Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program within 20 days.
UPDATE: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) says “he has worked out an agreement with the White House to change U.S. law regarding the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program and provide more information about it to Congress.”
In the White House press briefing today, Scott McClellan was asked about the influence that alcohol may have had on the shooting.
QUESTION: Some are still concerned with the fact that the vice president was not interviewed by local police until the day after. And now we’re hearing that there was alcohol at lunch a couple hours prior to, and the investigators did not have a chance to talk to the vice president or find out the blood alcohol level at that time. That is not a nice, neat package. And there’s still a concern–
MCCLELLAN: Well, I don’t think you characterized the full picture there. I think you ought to look at what law enforcement officials have said on that very matter.
QUESTION: But the vice president himself addressed the issue that he had alcohol hours prior to. And no one tested.
MCCLELLAN: If you want to continue to pursue this, you can do that. I think most Americans recognize this is what it is, which is a hunting accident, a terrible hunting accident where someone was injured.
QUESTION: But, Scott, with the average American, if that situation were to be the case, it would be investigated and a blood alcohol level test would be taken.
MCCLELLAN: Maybe you ought to look at what the sheriff’s department put out about that very matter, and they interviewed people.
The sheriff’s report does not address this question. The report does not indicate that the sheriff’s office ever took a breathalyzer test or any other blood-alcohol test. Moreover, the report indicates that although the sheriff’s office was contacted at 5:30 pm on Saturday night, they waited until 8:00 am the next morning to interview Cheney.
The report does claim that when Harry Whittington was finally interviewed on Monday, the interviewing officer said Whittington “explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt.” Today, Whittington’s doctors said again that they had “no comment” about whether blood tests have revealed any alcohol in his blood.
The sheriff’s report doesn’t address the question. That’s why McClellan needs to.
on hunting accident released.
Last night on the PBS Newshour, Gwen Ifill asked Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff what were the major problems that caused the administration to react so poorly to Hurricane Katrina. Chertoff answered:
The second thing was a lack of awareness of what was going on, on the ground. Now I was a decision-maker. And I was constantly struggling to get an accurate picture of what the circumstances were in New Orleans. Part of that was a lack of communications equipment.
Newsweek reveals one reason why Chertoff was struggling to get proper information about the scope of Katrina’s devastation:
Congressional investigations of government responses to Hurricane Katrina have revealed that two of the nation’s key crisis managers, the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, do not use e-mail. … The House committee established to investigate Katrina was “informed that neither Secretary Chertoff nor Secretary Rumsfeld use e-mail,” reported Reps. Charlie Melancon and William Jefferson.
In an age of blackberries, instant messaging, and other forms of instant communication, it’s embarrassing that our senior political leaders are not taking advantage of these technological advancements to literally save people’s lives.
Chertoff testified yesterday that DHS is instituting changes to prevent another Katrina: “We are acquiring more satellite equipment and more communications equipment to be able to deploy to our state and local emergency operators so they can communicate with us.” What good does it do if people on the ground have the best communications equipment but the decision-maker isn’t getting their communications? Rumsfeld and Chertoff need to step into the 21st century and experience all the wonders of the internets.
UPDATE: We’ve created a dramatic reenactment of what a FEMA official on the ground would have experienced when trying to email Secretary Chertoff during Hurricane Katrina: Read more
Your tax dollars at work.
Last night on his MSNBC show, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson said it was “totally unacceptable” for Vice President Cheney to drink prior to hunting. Carlson said, “I’ve been on dozens of hunts, there’s no beer served as lunch. You can’t drink a beer if you shoot, period. Doesn’t matter if you’re shooting five hours after, you’re not allowed to do it.”
He also made a couple of other important points:
1. Cheney “does take heart medication that, combined with alcohol, could make him a bit woozy.”
2. “[W]e don’t have a blood alcohol reading from the Vice President, we don’t know what exactly was in his blood.”
Full Transcript: Read more
Last week, the President unveiled his new budget proposals – including $12 billion per year in tax breaks to promote health savings accounts (HSAs) linked to high-deductible health plans – a fatally-flawed approach to health care coverage that will leave Americans out in the cold.
This week, noted Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber released an analysis that confirms the worst fears about HSAs. The key points:
1. The number of uninsured people would rise by 600,000 people. Because some employers will stop offering health coverage in response to these new subsidies, 8.9 million workers will lose their group health insurance and approximately 4.4 million of these individuals will lose health insurance altogether. Only 3.8 million previously uninsured people will obtain coverage as a result of the new program.
2. The vast majority of people who would benefit already have health insurance. Roughly 16.6 million people will benefit from the new tax breaks, but less than 23 percent will have been previously uninsured. The other 12.8 million will move from some other type of coverage – such as employer coverage, other individual coverage or Medicaid – to an HSA and a high-deductible plan purchased through the individual market.
The President’s proposals will do nothing beyond making our nation’s health insurance crisis even worse. With 45.8 million Americans lacking health insurance already, we can’t possibly fill this prescription.
– Karen Davenport