Attacks at Gitmo August 1, 2006Posted by June in Around the World, News, Politics, War on Terror.
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We’ve all heard about the inhumane treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay; but have you heard about the inhumane treatment of the guards? I’ve heard libs moaning over the supposed lack of furniture and other such things in prisoner’s cells. Too bad most of that isn’t true. If it were, our boys over there who are doing the job of watching these “innocents” would not be abused as much as they are.
By JOHN SOLOMON
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay during the war on terror have attacked their military guards hundreds of times, turning broken toilet parts, utensils, radios and even a bloody lizard tail into makeshift weapons.
Pentagon incident reports reviewed by The Associated Press show Military Police guards are routinely head-butted, spat upon and doused by “cocktails” of feces, urine, vomit and sperm collected in meal cups by the prisoners.
They’ve been repeatedly grabbed, punched or assaulted by prisoners who reach through the small “bean holes” used to deliver food and blankets through cell doors, the reports say. Serious assaults requiring medical attention, however, are rare, the reports indicate.
The detainee “reached under the face mask of an IRF (Initial Reaction Force) team member’s helmet and scratched his face, attempting to gouge his eyes,” states a May 27, 2005, report on an effort to remove a recalcitrant prisoner from his cell.
With many nearing five years in U.S. captivity, the prisoners “have a Ph.D. in being a detainee” and “know our procedures and they try to turn them against us and try to make us question what we are doing,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael J. Nicolucci, the prison’s executive officer.
“They’ll take the smallest things, be it a piece of rust,” he said. “They told us they are going to take that piece of rust and they are going for the jugular, they are going for the eye. They know what our vulnerabilities are, anatomically speaking.”
Meal plates, shower flip-flops, cleaning brushes and other items deemed harmless in civilian life also are commonly turned into weapons, the reports said. For instance:
-“Detainee in cell (redacted) grabbed the radio from an MP and then threw the radio at the MP. The detainee then threw rocks at the MP,” a Dec. 23, 2003, incident report stated.
-A detainee “reached out of his bean hole and attacked MP (name redacted) with a piece of metal foot pad from toilet striking him on the left hip area,” a July 15, 2005, report said.
-“Detainee broke off the top of his sink, subsequently broke out the window then began throwing the sink and pieces of pipes at the Block Guard,” a March 25, 2005, report said.
One of the most unusual incidents detailed in the four-inch stack of incident reports occurred when a detainee in the prison recreation yard assaulted a guard with a bloody tail torn from a lizard.
The detainee “caught the iguana by the tail at which time the tail detached,” the May 2005 report described. When the guard turned to talk to a commanding officer, “he felt something strike him in the lower right back” and then “saw the tail on the ground at his feet and blood was in the same area of his uniform.” The detainee said he was “just playing.”
Nicolucci said one of the most serious incidents occurred this May, too recent to be recorded in the Pentagon’s released reports. A prisoner staged an apparent suicide attempt while his inmates slicked the floors with human waste, seeking to overpower guards when they slipped, he said.
“We provide fans in order to keep them cool,” Nicolucci recalled. “And they were using the basket, or the grate of the fan as a shield, the blades as machetes, the pole as a battering ram.”
That disturbance was turned back in a few minutes with some guards and prisoners sustaining minor injuries, he said.
The Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that fought to force the Pentagon to release the reports under the Freedom of Information Act, said it hopes the information brings balance to the Guantanamo debate.
One thing that caught my eye there…shower flip-flops?! Um…inhumane treatment of detainees…detainees with such things as shower flip-flops. Sheesh. Ask people who have seen prisons in places like Mexico and China as to whether or not they get such luxuries.
The Propaganda of Qana August 1, 2006Posted by June in Around the World, News, Politics, War on Terror.
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This is something that was mentioned on Rush’s show today that I thought was important to see for myself and to post here. It took me a while since this computer is having trouble with a majority of the photos on webpages; but I viewed this.
I must warn you that, while there is not a lot of blood in the photos, they are rather graphic. Proceed with caution, especially since you will be seeing them one after another and described with much detail.
1. Milking it?
Here you are taken through a series of photos that are supposed to be spontaneous, candid shots of rescue workers (or, rather, worker) removing children from the rubble at Qana. What becomes obvious by the time you reach the end of that post is that these “rescue” workers are not really rescuing these children but, rather, exploiting them in a most despicable fashion by parading their bodies and posing with them for the cameras.
Here is a look at “Green Helmet”, the star of the previous photographs and his history with the previous bombing of Qana in 1996.
Here is the truth about Qana that the majority of the media is not reporting. Hezbollah purposely planted and launched rockets at Israel and Israeli civilians from near this building that was filled with women and children, hiding like skulking cowards behind the skirts of women and the innocence of children and setting them up as sacrifices for the cause of Islamofascism.
Is it really coincidence that there are so few men who are victims when the rocket launchers were so close to this area? Are we to believe that women and children were operating these machines? Let’s not forget the fact that Hezbollah has occupied Lebanon but is actually funded by Iran and Syria. Whether or not the Lebonese government is supporting Hezbollah, as well, is up for debate. It is a little questionable as to why Lebanon did not ask for help in ridding itself of these terrorists, especially after the UN resolutions they signed saying that they would do so if Israel gave up Gaza, which Israel did.
In any case, these Hezbollah terrorists are the same kind of people who strap bombs onto their own kids and send them in to blow themselves up as long as they also take out Israelites with them. Why would they think twice before putting other Muslim people’s children at risk if it means winning the PR war. I am reminded of a Palestinian mother who is hailed as a hero for sending her sons in to bomb Israelites and of the money Saddam paid to people whose children have done so. Another reminder is the photo in this post on Brent Roos’s site.
Also, very interesting is the updates at the bottom which I will post here. I’d like people to take particular note of the Update at 8:10 pm:
Also, the Security Council is meeting today, with Kofi asking it to condemn the attack.
Update at 7 pm: Olmert has issued a statement claiming that Qana has been used as a base for launching missiles against Israel, backed up by IDF video footage showing missiles being launched (broadcast on BBC News 24 on the 7pm bulletin). Blair, speaking from California, says, “these atrocities must not be allowed to continue”.
Update at 8.10 pm: According to Israel National News, Senior IDF officers say there is a contradiction in the timing of the bombing of Qana and reports of the explosion. Air Force Commander Amir Eshel left open the possibility that Hizbullah terrorists blew up the building or that an unknown cause set off explosives which were stored in the structure.
He explained that recorded information shows that Israeli Air Force planes bombed the building between midnight and 1 am and that the next attack at 7:30 am was up to 500 yards away. He said reports of the killing of civilians came around 8 am. “It is not clear what happened” between 1 am and 8 am, he said.
Illegal Immigration: Our Weak Spot in Security June 16, 2006Posted by June in Bureaucracy, Conservatism, News, Politics.
An Amnesty by Any Other Name
Article obtained from here since NY Times put it under password after a little while of being up.
Two decades ago, while serving as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, I was in the thick of things as Congress debated the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The situation today bears uncanny similarities to what we went through then.
In the mid-80's, many members of Congress — pushed by the Democratic majority in the House and the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy — advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and I supported his decision.
In exchange for allowing aliens to stay, he decided, border security and enforcement of immigration laws would be greatly strengthened — in particular, through sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. If jobs were the attraction for illegal immigrants, then cutting off that option was crucial.
Beyond this, most illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 months and, after another five years, to citizenship.
Note that this path to citizenship was not automatic. Indeed, the legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar? These are pretty much the same provisions included in the new Senate proposal and cited by its supporters as proof that they have eschewed amnesty in favor of earned citizenship.
The difference is that President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty. Indeed, look up the term "amnesty" in Black's Law Dictionary, and you'll find it says, "the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country."
Like the amnesty bill of 1986, the current Senate proposal would place those who have resided illegally in the United States on a path to citizenship, provided they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes. The illegal immigrant does not go to the back of the line but gets immediate legalized status, while law-abiding applicants wait in their home countries for years to even get here. And that's the line that counts. In the end, slight differences in process do not change the overriding fact that the 1986 law and today's bill are both amnesties.
There is a practical problem as well: the 1986 act did not solve our illegal immigration problem. From the start, there was widespread document fraud by applicants. Unsurprisingly, the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there proved to be a failure of political will in enforcing new laws against employers.
After a six-month slowdown that followed passage of the legislation, illegal immigration returned to normal levels and continued unabated. Ultimately, some 2.7 million people were granted amnesty, and many who were not stayed anyway, forming the nucleus of today's unauthorized population.
So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents. Will history repeat itself? I hope not. In the post-9/11 world, secure borders are vital. We have new tools — like biometric technology for identification, and cameras, sensors and satellites to monitor the border — that make enforcement and verification less onerous. And we can learn from the failed policies of the past.
Reagan did this with all the good intentions; but it backfired. Why are we making the same mistake once again? Why are we allowing people who broke the law to jump in front of law-abiding immigrants who came into this country legally, going through all the jumps and hurdles to get there.
The government can only let in so many people each year to prevent Americans from being outnumbered and to give the immigrants already here time to integrate and assimilate into the country, like my father did who came here at 19 not knowing a word of English. He did learn English; and he eventually became a citizen through the naturalization process (not by marriage).
By allowing these individuals to flood into our borders then get on a path to citizenship, we are allowing them to prevent law-abiding people from immigrating here because the government must take into account the number of illegals here, as well, when determining how many to let in.
That means thousands of legal immigrants who are left out in the cold or waiting forever to get here.
Besides, most of the people coming here do not want to assimilate. They do not want to become American. They want to force America to become Mexico or Columbia or whatever other country they come from. That's why they run around waving the Mexican flag rather than the American flag. That's why they demand Spanish translations for everything.
But, then again, what can you expect from immigrants who thumb their nose at our government, at our system? People who work hard, who save up to get here, who wait patiently for their green card to be approved — those people are the ones who will value what they get and who will value this country because they had to work so hard toacheive it.
We don't need new legislation. Reagan already signed border security bills into law. They simply have not been put into action. One thing that I am all for, though, is this idea of a wall on the border. Opponents liken it to the Berlin Wall; but I know that it's more like the Great Wall. What's the difference? The difference is that the Berlin Wall was put into place by the Communists to prevent people from leaving the country. The Great Wall was put in place to prevent people from invading. This wall would not be put up to keep Americans in, but to keep invaders out.
This is more than just an immigration issue. This is a security issue. This is a sovereignty issue. If we do not secure our borders, then we will not be able to prevent an attack on this nation. Terrorists could use this vulnerability to slip in with weapons and do us harm. Let's not also forget just how many criminals come across that border, as well. A good number of inmates in American prisons are illegals. The M13 gang is a gang that came over from Mexico. People living in high traffic crossing zones where illegals favor passage have reported vandalism, theft, and even endangerment of their lives by these people.
And if we don't have borders, we don't have a nation. America is the only country in the world required to do this. If you tried to sneak into France or Germany or Mexico or Hong Kong, you would be immediately deported (if not shot when sneaking into a Communist country.).Rush has a great idea. Let's adopt the Mexican immigration laws. If they are good for Mexico, then why are they not good for us?
I can understand why Bush is pressing for a guest worker program. In the Republican Party, there are business lobbyists that want the cheap labor; but they are getting low wages at the cost of our security and at the cost of all Americans because these illegals use many of the government programs that we pay for. Yes, they do pay sales tax when they buy things; but they do not have to pay an income tax that hits us like a ton of bricks along with many other taxes. So we do not end up on top in the end.
The highest concentration of illegals is in agriculture, where they are 24 percent of the people employed. That means three-quarters of the people are not illegal aliens. But when will the glib phrase-mongers stop telling us that the illegals are simply taking "jobs that Americans won't do"?
Besides, even if illegals were doing 70% of the labor, we still have all these welfare recipients sitting around doing nothing because, by law, to get welfare you must be unemployed. So why not put these people to good use by requiring them to do these jobs to get their checks? At least, we'll get some of our tax money back.
Personally, I would prefer security to be the issue that we deal with first. After we secure our borders, we can then worry about what to do with the illegals who are already here. But security of our nation is the most important thing.
Teaching Johnny about Islam: The Hypocrisy June 2, 2006Posted by June in Christianity, Communism, Islam, Judicial Branch, Liberalism, News, Politics, Religion.
It seems that in my last posting, which was a news piece on the government requirement of a religion, that I was declared to be whining. I’ve thought about it and decided that that person was right; that so-called analysis was more of a whine than actual thought processes and beneath the standards which I have set out for myself to maintain. So I’m here now to amend that.
Please note that in the following that I speak of atheists who actively seek to ram their beliefs down other people’s throats, not peaceful atheists who don’t get offended at the least little thing.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Where is Michael Newdow? One would think that a person who takes offense to his daughter or any other child saying TWO TINY WORDS that speak nothing of the doctrine of Christianity in an oath of affinity to the country that governs and protects them would be having a fit and a heart attack about something as extreme as the role-playing that the kids in California are forced into.
But what about the 9th Circuit courts, the same court that ruled in favor of the Newdow case? I would like to hear someone tell me how come a child cannot learn about Islam the same way he is learning about Christianity? I would like to know how atheists like Newdow and the court system would view such a course of curriculum for Christianity? For example, again, this is what the kids are being FORCED into as part of a curriculum that is mandatory:
Reciting aloud Muslim prayers that begin with “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful . . . .”
Memorizing the Muslim profession of faith: “Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his messenger.”
Chanting “Praise be to Allah” in response to teacher prompts.
Professing as “true” the Muslim belief that “The Holy Quran is God’s word.”
Giving up candy and TV to demonstrate Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
Designing prayer rugs, taking an Arabic name and essentially “becoming a Muslim” for two full weeks.
Instead we should have kids participating in the following:
Praying aloud Christian prayers that begin with “Dear God. . . .” and end with “…in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Memorizing John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Writing essays on how wonderful Jesus is.
Professing as “true” the Christian belief that “the Bible is God’s inerrant Word.”
Participating in Communion.
Designing Bible covers or drawing pictures of Jesus dying on the cross, taking a Christian name from someone in the Bible and essentially “becoming a Christian” for two full weeks.
How does that sound? If that is added onto this course, then sure, we should allow for this to continue; but this is, instead, what is happening:
In the California course on world religions, Christianity is not presented equally. It’s covered in just two days and doesn’t involve kids in any role-playing activities. But kids do get a good dose of skepticism about the Christian faith, including a biting history of its persecution of other peoples. In contrast, Islam gets a pass from critical review. Even jihad is presented as an “internal personal struggle to do one’s best to resist temptation,” and not holy war.
If the previous shouldn’t be allowed for Christianity, then why is it allowed for Islam? Why is it that atheists can have convulsions about a display of the Ten Commandments which can be passed up with not so much as a glance but be perfectly fine with this? Where is the ACLU in all of this who constantly has fits about such things?
We can debate on the Constitutionality of the words “under God” in the pledge another time when more space can be devoted to it. Right now I am addressing the Left’s interpretation of the First Amendment, which, for those who are not familiar with it, is the following:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of relgion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, of of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
To the Left, the parts on religion, obviously, actually mean to them that Congress shall make no law allowing for Christianity within 1,000 feet of anyone who might have a slight offense to it.
This interpretation, of course, is subject to change if or when the Left tries to outlaw Christianity.
Teaching Johnny About Islam May 30, 2006Posted by June in Christianity, Islam, News, Politics, Religion.
I got this from this site: My Thoughts and News
He makes some good points most of the time; but I caution on some of what he says.
Education: In our brave new schools, Johnny can't say the pledge, but he can recite the Quran. Yup, the same court that found the phrase "under God" unconstitutional now endorses Islamic catechism in public school.
In a recent federal decision that got surprisingly little press, even from conservative talk radio, California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it's OK to put public-school kids through Muslim role-playing exercises, including:
Reciting aloud Muslim prayers that begin with "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful . . . ."
Memorizing the Muslim profession of faith: "Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his messenger."
Chanting "Praise be to Allah" in response to teacher prompts.
Professing as "true" the Muslim belief that "The Holy Quran is God's word."
Giving up candy and TV to demonstrate Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
Designing prayer rugs, taking an Arabic name and essentially "becoming a Muslim" for two full weeks.
Read the rest on the site. There's a difference between learning about a religion and forcing kids to participate in that religion. The Pledge of Allegiance was optional. Kids could participate or stay silent. Back when prayer was in school, it was optional and a small part of the day. This is a full on course of nothing but indoctrination.
Women Turn the Tables April 3, 2006Posted by June in News, Politics, Women's Issues.
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Unfortunately, I haven't been able to work on my next article much recently. As soon as I get it done, I will post it. Until then, I just ran across this hilarious article that I just had to post here.
It's not hilarious that people are murdering their daughters; but it is hilarious at the revenge that is wrought on them because of their disdain for girls.
Lack of women turns tables on suitable boys
Mon Apr 3, 2006 11:00 AM ET
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Long, twirling moustaches and bejewelled daggers are no longer enough for a man seeking to marry in India's desert state of Rajasthan, long considered a land of fearless warriors.But if he is lucky enough to have a sister, he can relax, a newspaper report said Sunday.
A declining sex ratio in the state is prompting a girl's parents to spurn offers of marriage from men unless the potential groom's family also has a marriageable daughter for their son, the Sunday Express said.
"Around 30 percent of the marriages in the past year in Shekhawati region of Rajasthan were fixed on this swap system," local lawmaker Rajendra Chauhan said.
The sex ratio in many of Rajasthan's districts has dropped to 922 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to the last census. In one or two villages, it has plummeted to less than 500, the paper reported.
The joint engagement pact, called "aata-saata," or the "double-couple plan," has emerged as young women find themselves much in demand in a state where the traditional preference, as in much of India, has been for sons.
Heavily skewed sex ratios have emerged in several parts of India as couples use ultra-sound technology to achieve their desire for a baby son despite such tests being illegal.
A joint study carried out by researchers in India and Canada recently suggested that half-a-million unborn girls may be aborted in India every year.
But now the absence of girls is changing village dynamics, the newspaper said.
"There are no girls. If there is one in a house, the father is like a king. He can demand anything," said Prahland Singh, the head of Bhorki village in Rajasthan.
He said that around 30 families had carried out marriages under the swap system in the village of 3,000 people in the last two years.
The report said that dowry, where traditionally a bride's father had to bestow riches on a groom to secure a marriage, has completely disappeared from many parts of the state.
Rather the groom's families are now offering to bear the cost of finding a suitable bride for their sons.
The End Is Not Nigh? February 14, 2006Posted by June in Around the World, Ecology, News, Politics, Science.
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The End Is Not Nigh?
By Hans H.J. Labohm : BIO | 10 Feb 2006
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a parliamentary committee earlier this month that the "world has seven years to take vital decisions and implement measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions or it could be too late… If we don't get the right agreement internationally for the period after which the Kyoto protocol will expire – that's in 2012 — I think we are in serious trouble." Asked if the world had seven years to implement measures on climate change before the problem reached a "tipping point," Blair answered: "Yes."
This is the most recent and perhaps most dramatic in a long series statements by prominent politicians about the putative threat of man-made global warming. On what did Tony Blair base his alarming view? New scientific insights? Or on an unshakable secular faith, which seems to fill the vacuum left by the demise of traditional religion? I surmise the latter. Because in the field of science there seems to be some shift towards a more sober look at the climate issue, witness the numerous studies which appear in peer-reviewed journals, which are either explicitly critical of, or implicitly inconsistent with the man-made global warming hypothesis.
The ongoing discussion on the "hockey stick" graph — a reconstruction of temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between the years 1000 and 2000 — offers a case in point. This debate entered a new phase when Steve McIntyre, one of the foremost hockey-stick critics, who had long been ignored, if not ostracized, by the global warming community, was officially invited by the National Research Council of The National Academies of the United States to participate in a special committee. This committee was requested to summarize the current scientific information on the temperature record over the past two millennia, describe the proxy records that have been used to reconstruct pre-instrumental climatic conditions, assess the methods employed to combine multiple proxy data over large spatial scales, evaluate the overall accuracy and precision of such reconstructions, and explain how central the debate over the paleoclimate temperature record is to the state of scientific knowledge on global climate change. It was exactly the mandate which Steve McIntyre had been advocating all along.
Politicians regard the studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the ultimate climate bible. Unfortunately, they do not read the comprehensive reports which form the basis of the whole exercise. They only read — if at all — the alarmist passages in the "Summary for Policy-maker", which have been skewed through an elaborate and sophisticated process of spin-doctoring. Details of this practice have recently been revealed by the French climatologist Marcel Leroux in his book, Global Warming – Myth or Reality? The Erring Ways of Climatology.
Disapproving these practices, various renowned scientists have distanced themselves from the IPCC. In the US, Chris Landsea, a hurricane expert, is one example. In the Netherlands, Henk Tennekes, former director of the research department of the Royal Meteorological Institute, and Hans Oerlemans, glaciologist and laureate of the prestigious Spinoza Award, have done the same.
Political leaders assume that climate science is sufficiently advanced to legitimize all kinds of draconian measures which have a profound impact on our society and economy — measures which, moreover, encroach upon the liberty of the individual citizen. But if we take a closer look, this appears not to be the case. Contrary what is often argued, there is no consensus among scientists on the man-made global warming hypothesis.
Ironically, just as global warming scare-mongering reaches new heights, the global cooling hypothesis is making a come back. It should be recalled that the frightening images of imminent global warming disaster are of fairly recent vintage. After all, in the 1960s and 1970s various prominent climatologists held the view that it was not global warming that formed a mortal threat to humanity but global cooling.
Recently the astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg declared that the Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. Temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak. The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said. This view is shared by the Belgian astronomer, Dirk Callebaut, who expects a "grand minimum" in the middle of this century, just like the Maunder Minimum (1650-1700), a period during which the Thames, the Seine and the Dutch canals were frozen in winter.
If these astronomers are right, the hundreds of billions of dollars the world will spend every year on the fight against global warming will have gone down the drain. But, of course, we are not sure of imminent global cooling. On the other hand, we are not sure whether there will be catastrophic global warming either.
What to do in the face of this uncertainty? The earlier-mentioned climatologist, Henk Tennekes, recently argued in an interview in the most prominent Dutch weekly, Elsevier: "We only understand 10 percent of the climate issue. That is not enough to wreck the world economy with Kyoto-like measures."
Hans Labohm, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma, recently became an expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Paradoxes of a Death Penalty Stance January 16, 2006Posted by June in Around the World, Death Penalty, News, Philosophy, Politics.
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By Charles Lane
Saturday, June 4, 2005; Page A17
In the debate between Europe and the United States over the death penalty, no country is more vocal than Germany. German media regularly decry executions in Texas. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the rights, under international law, of foreign defendants in capital cases grew in part out of a German lawsuit before the World Court on behalf of two German citizens on death row in Arizona. (The Supreme Court dismissed the case on May 23 for technical reasons.) German objections to capital punishment slowed Berlin's cooperation with the U.S. prosecution of alleged al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui, who faces the possibility of the death penalty — though the two countries eventually worked out an agreement.
Contrasting their nation's policy with that of the Americans, Germans point proudly to Article 102 of their Basic Law, adopted in 1949. It reads, simply: "The death penalty is abolished." They often say that this 56-year-old provision shows how thoroughly the postwar Federal Republic has learned — and applied — the lessons of Nazi state-sponsored killing. (Communist East Germany kept the death penalty until 1987.)
But the actual history of the German death penalty ban casts this claim in a different light. Article 102 was in fact the brainchild of a right-wing politician who sympathized with convicted Nazi war criminals — and sought to prevent their execution by British and American occupation authorities. Far from intending to repudiate the barbarism of Hitler, the author of Article 102 wanted to make a statement about the supposed excesses of Allied victors' justice.
The International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg sentenced 11 top Nazis to death, all of whom were hanged in November 1946 except for Hermann Goering, who committed suicide. The Western Allies hanged or shot dozens of lesser-known war criminals — including 284 at a U.S. Army prison in Landsberg between November 1945 and June 1951. Though SS men who had supervised death camps and massacred Jews were among the condemned, many Germans bristled at victors' justice. "The longer the executions went on," reports a town history on the Landsberg Civic Association's Web site, "the louder became the voices demanding an end to them. There was a broad political alliance in favor of clemency efforts."
Meanwhile, there was little opposition in West Germany to capital punishment for ordinary criminals. A poll by the Allensbach Institute in February 1949 showed that 77 percent of West Germany's population favored it. The largest left-wing party, the Social Democrats, had a long anti-death-penalty tradition, but, given the political climate, it did not campaign on it.
Germans began the formal process of writing the new Basic Law in August 1948. Initial drafts submitted to a 65-member Parliamentary Council contemplated retention of capital punishment. It was not until a meeting of a special subcommittee on Dec. 6 that a single delegate, Hans-Christoph Seebohm, surprised everyone by proposing to get rid of the death penalty. Seebohm, who ran various industrial enterprises under the Nazis, led the tiny, far-right German Party — which also advocated using "German Reich" instead of "Federal Republic."
Addressing the council, Seebohm equated executions "in the period before 1945 and in the period since 1945." As British historian Richard J. Evans notes in "Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600-1987," the rightist politician was "thinking above all of the execution of war criminals, to which he and his party were bitterly opposed. Preventing Nazi war criminals from being sentenced to death would certainly help the German Party in its search for voters on the far right."
Both Social Democrats and Christian Democrats initially rejected the Seebohm initiative but gradually began to see its advantages. To the Social Democrats, it offered right-wing political cover for an idea they dared not pursue on their own. And for more than half of the Christian Democrat delegates, Evans reports, the political advantages of trying to shield Nazi war criminals trumped their belief in the death penalty for ordinary murder cases. Social Democratic arguments about turning the page on Nazism, belatedly made, were not decisive. Rather, writes Evans, "only the hope of being able to save Nazi criminals from the gallows . . . persuaded conservative deputies from the German Party and the Christian Democrats to cast their votes in favor of abolition in sufficient numbers to secure its anchorage in the Basic Law. Had it merely been the question of common homicide that was at issue, the vote would never have been passed."
After the Basic Law went into effect on May 24, 1949, Germans bombarded U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy with pleas for clemency based on Article 102. Among those joining what Vanderbilt University historian Thomas A. Schwartz calls "this intense and emotional campaign" were both Christian Democratic Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Social Democratic leader Kurt Schumacher. In a Jan. 31, 1951, final report on U.S.-held war criminals, McCloy said he was not bound by the provision, but he still commuted the death sentences of 10 of the last 15 condemned war criminals in Landsberg. The final hanging took place on June 7, 1951.
The death penalty for common murderers, as opposed to war criminals, remained popular in West Germany. Polls showed 71 percent in favor as late as 1960. Christian Democrats tried repeatedly to reinstate it, but failed due to lack of support from the left. (The Basic Law could be changed only by a two-thirds vote of parliament.) Later, amid more open discussion of Nazism and the Holocaust, opposition to the death penalty did become truly popular — and Article 102 acquired its contemporary symbolism.
When U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein in December 2003, Germany's Social Democratic chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, had wide backing in declaring: "I am against the death penalty, and that goes for everyone — even a dictator, like Saddam Hussein, who treated other people in the cruelest way." Schroeder was remaining true to his society's postwar traditions — truer, perhaps, than he realized.
The writer covers the U.S. Supreme Court for The Post.