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Saturday News Roundup

24 September 2005 at 7:12:52 PM

New Accounts of Torture by US Troops

Three U.S. army personnel-two sergeants and a captain-describe routine, severe beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In one incident, a soldier is alleged to have broken a detainee's leg with a baseball bat. Detainees were also forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out. Soldiers also applied chemical substances to detainees' skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold. Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water. The soldiers also described abuses they witnessed or participated in at another base in Iraq and during earlier deployments in Afghanistan.

According to the soldiers' accounts, U.S. personnel abused detainees as part of the military interrogation process or merely to "relieve stress." In numerous cases, they said that abuse was specifically ordered by Military Intelligence personnel before interrogations, and that superior officers within and outside of Military Intelligence knew about the widespread abuse. The accounts show that abuses resulted from civilian and military failures of leadership and confusion about interrogation standards and the application of the Geneva Conventions. They contradict claims by the Bush administration that detainee abuses by U.S. forces abroad have been infrequent, exceptional and unrelated to policy.

Bush administration fails to account for how Katrina money has been spent so far

The Bush administration has failed to provide enough details on how billions of dollars in emergency funds for Gulf Coast states hit by Hurricane Katrina were being spent, a senior Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Friday.

"We asked for specific information on how they (FEMA) are awarding contracts and who contracts are going to," said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

"Instead of telling us who is doing what and how, we got a few spreadsheets."

The information provided by the administration lists broad allocations of funds for a range of government programs, such as $2.3 billion for "housing assistance," $3.1 billion for "missions" under a category called "operations," and $3.5 billion for "missions" under a category called "administration of field operations."

The post-hurricane funds are dwarfing the $43.9 billion the government shelled out following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Under the law providing the disaster funds, the Bush administration must provide Congress with weekly updates on the pace of spending.

Nuclear Waste-Orrin Hatch doesn't have a problem with putting it in Nevada but not in his own back yard.

I was perplexed to read "The Nuclear Waste Site in Utah" (editorial, Sept. 16), which supports the private plan to store half of our nation's high-level nuclear waste on a tiny Indian reservation in Utah.

Were you aware that this private, aboveground site would hold 4,000 casks of waste directly under the low-level path of 7,000 flights of F-16's each year, with many of these fighter-bombers armed with live ordnance?

Top Republican Tells Post: Laura Bush has taken away George's Swagger

A top Republican close to the White House since the earliest days said the absence of a "reelection target" and pressure from first lady Laura Bush and others to soften his second-term tone conspired to temper Bush's swagger well before Katrina hit. "A reelection campaign was always the driving principle to force them to get things together," said the GOP operative, who would speak candidly about Bush only if his name was not used. He said the "brilliance of this team" was always overstated. "Part of the reason they looked so good is Democrats were so discombobulated." Since the election, this official said, White House aides reported that Laura Bush was among those counseling Bush to change his cowboy image during the final four years.

Tyco -Lobbyist Abramoff claims ties to Rove,DeLay

Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.

Timothy E. Flanigan, general counsel for conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that Abramoff's lobbying firm initially boasted that Abramoff could help Tyco fend off a special liability tax because he "had good relationships with members of Congress," including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

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