Saturday, December 04, 2004

Travel Advisory 

One of the items below is a fake, taken from a parody website; the other is legit. See if you can guess which is which: (Thanks to our esteemed colleague Scorpio of Eccentricity for the faux link, and to Michael Froomkin of Discourse.net for the real one.)

UPDATE: As you have certainly read elsewhere, the U.S. government is now taking the position that military panels may use evidence obtained by torture in deciding whether to classify foreign detainees as "enemy combatants." In other words, if they have your olives wired to a car battery, and they crank the voltage up so high that you can't stand the pain any more, and you finally crack and tell them whatever the hell they want to hear just to make it stop -- guess what? They get to keep you around and do it some more.

But don't get all puffed up with outrage just yet. From New Scientist (via our distinguished colleague Scaramouche) comes distressing news of a Princeton study indicating that each of us, including you -- yes, even you, with your own bad bleeding-heart liberal pacifist self -- is a potential torturer.

UPDATE II: We take it all back! New Scientist is now reporting that, despite their evident capacity for gratuitous sadism, humans can learn to be nice.

Which is not to say that some among us couldn't do with a little remedial education:
Eight months after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, the US Navy is investigating newly emerged photos that seem to show special forces soldiers sitting on hooded and handcuffed Iraqi detainees, during or shortly after the 2003 invasion. More than 40 such pictures were found by an Associated Press (AP) reporter on a commercial photo-sharing website. They were posted by a woman, AP said, who claimed her husband had brought them back after a tour of duty in Iraq . . . .

According to the AP, the photos deal with the immediate aftermath of raids on Iraqi homes. One shows a man lying on his back with a boot on his chest, while in another a man has an automatic weapon pointed at his head, while a gloved thumb is pressed into his throat. A third photo shows a family cowering in a room.

Yesterday, a Navy spokesman promised a thorough investigation. "These photos raise a number of questions about the treatment of prisoners of war and detainees," he said, adding that the investigation would make clear whether any serious crimes or breaches of the Geneva Conventions had been committed.

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