Aug. 1, 2005
Call Out the Posse

“If the US government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating all senior US officials involved in the torture scandal. And if those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them. The apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Rivieria.”—William F. Schulz, executive director, Amnesty International USA, May 25. Among those listed for possible arrest: President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and former CIA director George J. Tenet.

The Real Heroes

“You are the bravest. You are the strongest. There’s a big difference between the movies and reality. In the movies, I’m the action hero. [But] you are all the true action heroes.”—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking to 2,000 troops and their families at a military appreciation day, Los Angeles Times, June 5.

Durbin Speaks …

“When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred [at Guantanamo prison for captured terror suspects]—I almost hesitate to put them in the record. … You would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.”—Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate speech complaining that some prisoners had been subjected to heat, cold, loud music, and so forth, June 14.

… and Backtracks

“On June 14, I took the floor of the Senate to speak about genuine heartfelt concerns about the treatment of prisoners and detainees at Guantanamo and other places. … I made reference to the Nazis, Soviets, and other repressive regimes. … I have come to understand that was a very poor choice of words. … I’m sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust. … I’m also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military. … I never, ever intended any disrespect for them. Some may believe that my remarks crossed a line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies.”—Durbin, floor speech, June 21.

Department of Pork

“It’s officially called the Department of Defense, but to many politicians, the label misstates its function. Judging from their reaction to proposed base closures, they’d like to rename it the Department of Jobs, Pork, Community Uplift, and Incumbent Protection. That way, no one would get distracted by the petty business of protecting America.”—Columnist Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune, May 22.

No Torture

“If you’re in my shoes and you thought Abu Farraj al-Libbi had planned an attack on America, would you use any means necessary to get the information from him? The decision I have made is, ‘No, we will not.’ And let’s just pray he doesn’t have that information. And when I told the American people we’re not torturing, we’re not torturing.”—Bush, in an interview with radio and television editors, New York Daily News, June 4.

Good for Everybody

“There is no point living in the past. Look at where we are now. Everyone, all freedom-loving people, would be better off with a genuinely representative, effective, free government in Iraq, whatever your feelings are about what went on before.”—Former President Bill Clinton, Associated Press, May 19.

Army Won the Wars

“In all of these [World War I, World War II, and the Korean War], it was the skill of American soldiers, not our technology or overwhelming numbers, that secured our victories. America’s unconventional wars, such as in the Philippines and Vietnam, are even more telling. They show the Army can fight with skill, honor, and dedication in even the most trying circumstances. The lessons from Vietnam bore themselves out in the Army’s swift victory in the Persian Gulf War.”—Michael Schellhammer, Department of Defense intelligence specialist (and Army Reserve officer), Washington Times, June 1.

Rods From God

“Now come the newest stories that echo down the interconnected corridors of the American mainstream media, about ‘killer satellites’ and ‘death stars’ and ‘Rods from God’ bombardment systems. … Scary tales about US ‘death stars’ hovering over target countries promising swift strikes from space rely merely on readers not understanding the basics of orbital motion in space. A satellite circles Earth in an ever-shifting path that passes near any particular target only a few times every 24 hours, not every 10 minutes. It’s quicker and cheaper to strike ground targets with missiles launched from the ground.”

—James Oberg, retired space scientist and author, USA Today, June 14.

Closer to Pre-emption

“Nuclear deterrence requires that the threat of retaliation be credible. It would be out of the question, for example, for France to [threaten to ] nuke Iran—no one believes we would ever do it. But if we could strike at strategic targets with a minimum of collateral damage, that might force people to think.”—French Army Gen. Henri Bentegeat, briefing reporters on criteria for using nuclear weapons, Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 6.

Plenty of Bombs

“I should say that we have enough nuclear bombs to defend against a US attack. As for specifically how many we have, that is a secret.”—Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Associated Press, June 9.

Cyber Smart, Too

“North Korea is capable of cyber attacks on both the command and control system of the US Pacific Command and the critical infrastructures of the US mainland, such as electric power.”—Byun Jae-jung, researcher at South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development, Korea Herald, June 3.