California Slaughterhouse; Human Cruelty Exposed

Overlooked: The Lives of Animals Raised for Food

copyright © 2008.  Betsy L. Angert

What if you were born to the world, hopeful, and full of life, only to be immediately separated from your mother and father.  What if you never felt the warmth of a parent’s love or the sun on your skin?  Imagine, instantaneously, after birth you were placed in a restrictive room with no space in which to spread out.  Your arms and legs frozen from confinement.  You are squeezed into a sealed cage, placed in a pen with other little beings.  In this crate, you are forced to eat food not to your liking.

From what you observe, there are hundreds of other orphaned newborns in this dark and dank dwelling. The stench in the warehouse that you call home causes you to gag.  Some of the other occupants are diseased.  A few have already passed.  Dead bodies, trampled by the live who are trapped with them, smell of decay.  Bugs eat at the flesh.  

The lack of involvement or intellectual stimulation is the reason you go mad.  Stressed, strained and in both physical and emotional pain, when you are provided an exit, you know not what to do.  You lash out, become aggressive, only to be poked and prodded into submission.  Your one day of freedom is not more than a funeral march.

A gun is placed at your head.  A round is fired.  You bleed, but do not die quickly or quietly enough for the killer who wants your flesh.  Tired and trying to survive, someone grabs your legs, and ties them together. Your beautiful body, one never before able to stretch out fully, is now hung from a great height.  A knife enters your sphere of vision, and your throat is slashed.

Soon your remains, or those of another species whose life was as awful as your own will be served up as nutritious meals on a child’s school lunch program.

Warning: This video contains graphic and disturbing footage.

In it, an HSUS investigator describes his experience working undercover in a slaughterhouse.

Cheap Meat Working in a Slaughterhouse

Video footage was released in the Twenty-First Century, in January of the New Year 2008.  In a civilized society, carnivores and omnivores show they are more concerned with what fills their stomachs and satchels of silver and gold then how there wants are satisfied.

In a culture, gone awry, animals are treated with malice.  Dairy cows, cattle bred for beef are brutally beaten and murdered. Laws against cruelty do nothing to deter malicious behavior.

[W]orkers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the “downer” cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals’ noses — all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.

Moreover, the companies where these practices allegedly occurred are major suppliers of meat for the nation’s school lunch programs, including in Maryland, according to a company official and federal documents.

An undercover investigator for an animal welfare group, wore a customized video camera under his clothes.  This affords us an opportunity to see what no one should have to witness, and what need never occur.  This lover of animals, mammals, man, and all beings who breathe worked at the abattoir last year.

His or her efforts provide evidence that anti-cruelty and food safety regulations do not discourage or prevent unnecessary and inhumane abuse.  The current standards are derisory.  

Nevertheless, this footage reveals the Agriculture Department must inspect animal environments more thoroughly and enforce the rules with greater rigor.  The Humane Society of the United States, which coordinated the project, explained there is ample need to improve the laws and to better conditions for our four legged friends.

“These were not rogue employees secretly doing these things,” the investigator said in a telephone interview on the condition of anonymity because he hopes to infiltrate other slaughterhouses.  “This is the pen manager and his assistant doing this right in the open.”

The investigator and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, said the footage was taken at Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, Calif. Hallmark sells meat for processing to Westland Meat Co. in Chino, according to Westland President Steve Mendell, who is also Hallmark’s operations manager.

Over the past five years, Westland has sold about 100 million pounds of frozen beef, valued at $146 million, to the Agriculture Department’s commodities program, which supplies food for school lunches and programs for the needy, according to federal documents.

In the 2004-05 school year, the Agriculture Department honored Westland with its Supplier of the Year award for the National School Lunch Program.

In an interview, Mendell expressed disbelief that employees used stun guns to get sick or injured animals on their feet for inspection.

“That’s impossible,” he said, adding that “electrical prods are not allowed on the property.”

Asked whether his employees use fork lifts to get moribund animals off the ground, he said: “I can’t imagine that.”

Asked whether water was sprayed up animals’ noses to get them to stand up, he said: “That’s absolutely not true.”

“We have a massive humane treatment program here that we follow to the n{+t}{+h} degree, so this doesn’t even sound possible,” Mendell said.  “I don’t stand out there all day, but to me it would be next to impossible.”

However, after a moment or two, as we watch the video, we recall, when humans are involved, merciless, heartless, callous, and sadistic practices are always possible.  Carnivores sharpen your teeth.  Salivate and contemplate; the sweet tender baby you are about to eat, was once prey at the hands of a person who cared not.  The quality of your meat is no better than the quality of how the life was sacrificed for your stomach.

References, Resources, Food For Thought . . .

NSA, Not Spying on Americans ©

By Roger Wollenberg, Getty Images

In a country claiming to be safe, none of us are.  We are not out of harm’s way; we are citizens of the United States of America, and therefore, in the world of Bush, that leaves us vulnerable.  We are subject to the whims of our monarch King George W. Bush.  He and his cronies, masquerading as The National Security Agency are monitoring some of our calls, most of our calls, or all  of these.  Every minute of every day, tens of millions of us were under surveillance.

Originally, we were told only foreign interests, those with ties to al Queda needed to worry.  Their long distance correspondences were being monitored.  Then we discovered this was not true, some domestic telephone calls were being scrutinized.  Now, we learn what many of us assumed along, no one is above suspicion.  Records are being kept and we are all suspects.  According to the three largest phone companies, “tens of millions” of us are being watched.  Could millions be billions?  Might the number be in the trillions?

“USA Today” reported, AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth knowingly compiled information regularly for the National Security Agency.  These corporations tracked telephone calls for the past four years.  Fortunately, Qwest refused to comply with government demands.

Apparently, the telephone companies obediently, like lap dogs, are mining data in hopes of detecting patterns.  The administration thinks these measures are necessary.  Intelligence thinks these vital; they must identify the habits of ordinary people.  No crime needs to be committed or in the planning stages.  If you are breathing, this White House thinks there is reason to doubt your credibility.  The telephone companies, by their actions, must agree.

The President and his players want us to believe that this trolling for information is not that.  The records and recordings are harmless.  Actually, officials say they are a safety net.  We are told to trust the judgment and ethics of “leaders,” or to have faith in those that think themselves above the Constitutional directives.  [Excuse me while I laugh, sadly, and then cry.]

Citizens, Congressmen, and Congresswoman were not accepting this.  Even Republicans are speaking out.  Senator Arlen Specter, Republican from Pennsylvania, and the Senate Judiciary Committee  chairman, said he plans to contact all the telephone groups involved.  He is going to ask phone company representatives to speak at a hearing.  Mr. Specter wants an explanation.  He wants to know exactly what the NSA was requesting and what they were doing with all this information.  Senator Specter has no illusions that the administration will be forthcoming; they have not been thus far.

Mr. Specter says this revelation will influence his decision to approve nominee General Michael V. Hayden.  He thinks there is a direct correlation between that appointment and this issue.  General Hayden, while working in the National Security Agency crafted this enormous spy plan.  He directed the implementation.  Later, while publicly speaking, he justified the program and stated it was legal.  Now, to make him Director of the Central Intelligence Agency seems silly, even dangerous to Specter.  The Pennsylvania Senator has his doubts.  He has openly voiced that this appointment might not be wise.

A reaction such as this, particularly from a prominent Republican is distressing to the “powers-that be.”  The White House realized damage must be controlled immediately.  The Emperor, Wearing-No-Clothes, or his advisors decided to offer a press appearance.  This differs from a press conference for in this there is no opportunity for discussion.  This is an emergence, followed by a monologue, and then a quick exit.

It may be that a changing of the guards prompted this move.  Mr. Bush has a new Press Secretary, Tony Snow and he may have stated a need for a swift explanation.  The conference may have been a reaction to the Presidents polling numbers; they have fallen to an all time low.  Nevertheless, tradition was broken.  The Bush White House responded, the Baby spoke.

He babbled . . .

President Bush: After September 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack.  As part of this effort, I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations.  In other words, if al Qaeda or their associates are making calls into the United States or out of the United States, we want to know what they’re saying.

Today there are new claims about other ways we are tracking down al Qaeda to prevent attacks on America.  I want to make some important points about what the government is doing and what the government is not doing.

First, our intelligence activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates.  Al Qaeda is our enemy and we want to know their plans.

Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.

Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat.

Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.  We’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.  Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates.

So far, we’ve been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.  As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy.  Our most important job is to protect the American people from another attack, and we will do so within the laws of our country.

Abruptly, Mr. Bush turned and left.  No time was given for questions or answers.  As the President prefers, discussions are unnecessary.  All this had been stated before and I feel certain the Emperor had no desire to repeat him self.  For King George II “It is just that simple.”  There is a right way, a wrong way, and as he was often heard to state, “You are either with us or against us.”  The famous Bush decision to unilaterally attack tell us all what happens if you are in opposition to this President.

Still there are questions.  In Washington, pundits, people, and all but the President’s men and women are wondering, is this spying program truly legal.  If it is not, why has nothing been done to stop it or censure the administration for engaging in it?

There is also the appointment of General Hayden to consider.  Hayden was expected to sail right through the hearings.  After all, he had done so before when approved for his position as Deputy Director of the National Security Agency.  However, now with this revelation, much is in doubt.

Senator Diane Feinstein, who days ago was firmly in support of the nomination and actively praised the General now states, the disclosure, “is going to present a growing impediment to the confirmation of General Hayden.”

Former Presidential candidate, John Kerry, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, chimes in, “”Enough is enough.”  While speaking at American University in Washington, Kerry declared, “It is long overdue for this Congress to end the days of roll over and rubber stamp and finally assert its power of ??advise and consent’ before General Hayden becomes Director Hayden.”

The General himself declined to discuss the issue; though interestingly enough, earlier courtesy calls to members of Congress had been canceled.  The prospective Director of Central Intelligence did offer, “All I would want to say is that everything the NSA does is lawfully and very carefully done.”

It seems it was, at least carefully concealed.  All was executed so cautiously the public knew nothing of the practice until very recently.  The plan must be right and correct for the righteous employed it.  Is the covert action legal, as the administration states?  It must be, they say it is and they make the law, or profess to have the authority to do so.

Months ago, while speaking at the National Press Club and serving as the lead defense of the “warrant-less surveillance” policy, Hayden proclaimed, “The purpose of this is not to collect reams of intelligence, but to detect and prevent attacks.  This is targeted and focused.  This is not about intercepting conversations between people in the United States.”

While yesterday’s discovery does not imply eavesdropping, it does contrast with what was formerly known of the shadowy program.  Currently, we know the gathering of information is not tightly targeted; nor does it focus solely on terrorist suspects.  All Americans might be the subjects of this sweep.  Domestic and international calls are being tagged.  This investigation is broad and burgeoning.  It is, as much has been since September 11, 2001, questionable, not necessarily constitutional.

Since 911, so much of what our forebears gave us is lost.  The Patriot Act now substitutes for the Bill of Rights.  As Senator Leahy remarked, on the NewsHour, the news is now informing Congress.

“Unfortunately, the Congress has acted like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the White House and has rubber stamped everything that’s gone on.  And then we usually find out through the press, whoops, they weren’t following the law.” 

“”The president has said more times than all the presidents put together in history, through signing documents, that he will follow only parts of the law that he signs.”

Since the trauma of 9/11, the Senators and Congresspersons merely rubber-stamp the whims of the White House.  Far too many people postulate, this is best.  The numbers of voters in 2004 that affirmed as the President professes, Bush has kept America safe is odd to me.  Many claim, as the Emperor himself does, “Terrorists have not attacked America again since 2001.”  However, for me, the correlation is not clear.

What is evident is that people no longer think for themselves; they have Rush Limbaugh and the bunch to tell them what to think.  [When Limbaugh used this tagline to advertise his radio program, I did not know whether I was more shocked or appalled by the idea that people would accept and appreciate this.]

They see government as a separate entity.  The general public seems to forget, in America, government  is of, by, and for the people.  We, as individuals, groups, and communities united are the power.

Once upon a time, America prided itself on being a principled nation.  We treasured what we believed needed to be essential rights.  Our founders wrote of these.  They proclaimed we have the right to freedom, justice, and privacy.  They professed a belief in equality.  Years ago, we were acting on this conviction.

In America, pre-nine-eleven, we thought our rights were not privileges for a few; we believed they were ubiquitous.  Since September 11, 2001, we differ.  We allow for transgressions.  We willing let the President and his followers impose laws that violate our freedoms and our rights.  For years, we have been willing to forego privacy.  Even with the newer revelations, the knowledge that no citizen is safe from the “law,” we willingly give up what we once valued.

According to an ABC News, Washington Post poll,

Americans by nearly a 2-1 ratio call the surveillance of telephone records an acceptable way for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, expressing broad unconcern even if their own calling patterns are scrutinized.

This is so sad to me.  We the people of the United States of America On NSA Spying: A Letter To Congressconsider ourselves intelligent; yet, we barely fund Education.  Instead, we invest in Intelligence Agencies.  These wield great authority in this country.  They are a weighty group, fifteen strong.  They have a budget of mega-billions; in dough, the National Security Agency and defense dominate.

Information gathering and implementing security measures are important in America.  Thus, we take off our shoes, open our telephone records, and spend to stop the [perceived] threats.  Yes, the USA has its priorities.  Sadly, ethics are not among them.

[Interestingly, General Michael V. Hayden might be changing.  The nominee is suggesting, possibly, judicial oversight might be wise.  Can we trust this?  Has Hayden ever had faith in the American people?  Hummm.  I am certain more and fascinating details will follow.]

Reference for your review . . .
Bush defends NSA spying program CNN News. Sunday, January 1, 2006
NSA Out To Track ‘Every Call Ever Made’; Bush Calls Move ‘Lawful’ By Gil Kaufman, MTV Networks
Bush Denies Spying Infringes on Privacy, By Reuters. May 12, 2006
Bush Is Pressed Over New Report on Surveillance By Eric LIichtblau and Scott Shane. New York Times. May 12, 2006
NSA spy program broader than Bush admitted MSNBC and Reuters December 24, 2005
NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls By Leslie Cauley, USA Today May 11, 2006
President Bush’s Statement, Transcript New York Times. May 11, 2006
Questions for Tony Snow By Dan Froomkin. Washington Post. Friday, May 12, 2006
Quotes About the NSA Collecting Data By The Associated Press May 11, 2006
NSA phone-records story excites Washington By Frank James. The Swamp, Chicago Tribune. May 11, 2006
• UPDATE: Questions Raised for Phone Giants in Spy Data Furor, New York Times. May 13, 2006
NSA Spying Myths By David Cole. The Nation. February 2, 2006
Controversy shadows Hayden confirmation By Bill Nichols and John Diamond, USA Today May 11, 2006
Newsmaker Patrick Leahy. Is the NSA program legal? Online NewsHour.
With Access Denied, Justice Department Drops Spying Investigation, By Scott Shane
New York Times. May 11, 2006
NSA Program Revealed Online NewsHour May 11, 2006
Limbaugh falsehood: “Leahy opposes NSA intercepts of the enemy” Media Matters. Friday, February 10, 2006
On NSA Spying: A Letter To Congress  Beth Nolan, Curtis Bradley, David Cole, Geoffrey Stone, Harold Hongju Koh, Kathleen M. Sullivan, Laurence H. Tribe, Martin Lederman, Philip B. Heymann, Richard Epstein, Ronald Dworkin, Walter Dellinger, William S. Sessions, William Van Alstyne. New York Review of Books. February 9, 2006
United States Intelligence Community
Americans Get Shaft Over Data Mining By Roy Mark. May 12, 2006
Phone-Records Surveillance Is Broadly Acceptable to Public By Gary Langer and Dalia SussmanABC News
Domestic Security: The Homefront and War on Terrorism Online NewsHour May 12, 2006
Hayden may favor spying law changes By David Morgan and Andy SullivanReuters Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Criminals, Delay Will Have Guns ©

I imagine this is as the oft-heard statement, “When hell freezes over.”  Possibly, Hades has gone cold.  This article may speak for itself.  I will expand this expose´ later; however, in this moment, I only want to place this into the cyber and invite a discussion.

The once, most powerful House Majority Leader wants to continue to pack a punch.  Allegations and criminal charges against this former principal Republican representative do not deter this man. A person, such as Delay, wants what he wants and works to get it, ethically or not.  Mr. Delay has always acted contrary to what is permissible, or “permit-able.”  However, now, under indictment he craves a legal license to do what he will likely do anyway.

Representative Tom DeLay wants to carry a pistol.  It seems now that he is being scrutinized and threatened with prison, he feels a need to obtain permission for what he does or will do.  In March 2006, Mr. Delay is taking proper precautions.  He is asking the authorities, ??May I please carry a concealed weapon, lawfully?’

We will wait; in time, we will know.  Can criminals have guns?

DeLay wants pistol-packing permit back, Reuters. Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:58 PM Eastern Time.

Mark Felt, Father of the Patriot Act ©

Whether Mark Felt was the sole source of information, or among many, I know not.  Was he the actual leak, the one man that had access to pertinent information; there is much speculation.  We cannot know with certainty.  If Mark Felt was engaging in a noble act or acting on a grudge is for others to decide.  I believe that both may be true, simultaneously.  Was his behavior libelist or liberating, that debate may go on forever.  What I find most fascinating is the evidence that suggests Mark Felt is the Father of the Patriot Act!

In 1980, W. Mark Felt was convicted of authorizing Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to secretly break into houses.  The case was long in coming.  During the Viet Nam war Felt and his investigators were intent on tracking down suspected radicals.  The radicals in question were not just any group of radicals; they were the Weather Underground.  This group was known for bombing Federal buildings as a form of protest.

The then, second-in-command, FBI Deputy Director Felt, would have none of this.  Actions such as these were not going to be possible in his America.  Mr. Felt was on a mission; he would eliminate the threat that these terrorists posed.  In his attempt to do so, he became singular in focus.  W. Mark Felt did not bother to obtain court orders for the forcible entries that he and his agents planned; they simply broke into the homes of innocent people.  Felt and his FBI forces claimed that theses homes were those of persons suspected to be “terrorist,” their friends, or family.

These procedures were known as “Black Bag jobs.”  FBI, deputy director Felt sanctioned these expeditions on nine separate occasions during the Watergate years.  Ultimately, Mr. Felt was called into question and brought to trial.  Among the notable witnesses, Richard Milhouse Nixon, former President of the United States.

You may recall, and in recent weeks, we have all have been reminded, repeatedly, Nixon was brought down by the Watergate break-in.  “Deep Throat,” quietly revealed the details of this deed to reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  He implicated, then President Nixon.  Mr. Nixon was forced to resign from office.  Now, we know that “Deep Throat” is, and was Mr. Felt.  Nixon testified in defense of Felt during his trial. The irony does not escape us.  The Former President stated, “Break-ins, in the name of national security, are sometimes justified.”
Ultimately, Felt and a colleague were convicted after an eight-week trial.  They were deemed guilty of a conspiracy.  They were in violation of fourth amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches.  Mr. Felt received his sentence; he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.  Notwithstanding his conviction, Felt has no criminal record.  Former President Ronald Reagan pardoned him.

In a statement written by President Reagan, one that could have easily been penned by today’s Whitehouse it was said, “Felt acted on high principle to end the terrorism that was threatening our nation.”  How noble.  The United States Congress and President George W. Bush agree with Mr. Reagan.  High principles will end terrorism.  Apparently, the code of invasion is among these.  For Reagan and Bush raiding the homes of private citizen is a righteous act and necessary to combat “evil.”

With the words of Ronald Reagan in hand, George W. Bush sought and found greater strength.  He was able to convince Congress that exploitations similar to those invoked by Mark Felt were virtuous.  Maneuvers such as these are, in fact, patriotic.  In 2001, the Bush Band proposed and the United States Congress passed the USA Patriot Act.

“This act makes it easier to get secret permission from a secret court for secret searches” against any citizen.  Thus far, the covert court, a court created under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA, has refused no request in cases involving spying or foreign terrorism.  Results from these stealthy searches can be used for any and all types of criminal prosecutions.

If Mark Felt were heading the FBI today, Deep Throat would have no difficulty doing what was once deemed illegal.  The Patriot Act provides the Federal government with privileges.  The feds are sanctioned.  They may legally look into anyone’s life.  There is a provision within the Patriot Act that allows for any surreptitious action.  A citizen need not have a connection with foreign services or campaigns; they need not be considered a spy, a terrorist, or a threat to America society.  “Sneak-and-peeks” searches are endorsed and legal under the Patriot Act.

Defenders of the Patriot Act state that investigators cannot be constrained in the fight against terrorism.  This battle is necessary.  We must maintain our national security.  It is essential that United States remain as the founders intended, free.

Is this freedom; when the homes of private citizens can be invaded, legally, without cause, when belongings can be searched and seized, merely because a federal official is suspicious of us?  Under these directives, are we, as citizens of America, truly free?

Supporters say that the Feds are good people; they would never abuse the power that they have been given.  The civil liberties of citizens are secure.  Investigators and government officials would not dare violate the rights awarded by Constitution.  Yet, one wonders.

When we consider that one man can bring a president to his knees, with the information gathered by the FBI, then we also must consider the power of that Federal agency.  If we give an agency license, to search and seize, and to use whatever they might find against; then what are we giving them.  Are we not sacrificing our freedom?

We as citizens must be cognizant and active.  Apathy or allowance, in the name of protection, cannot deliver us from “evil.”  We must remember the axiom “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!”

At last, members of Congress have chosen to recall this maxim.  After years of exploitation and exposure the validity of the Patriot Act is in question.  There has been much civilian protest and this week “in a welcome rebuff to President George W. Bush, the House of Representatives has finally heeded the public’s growing fears.”  Thirty-eight Republicans congress-persons joined the Democratic minority.  Together they chose to repeal some portions of the Patriot Act.  The sweeping power to seize library and bookstore records has been removed.

This annulment was necessary and long overdue.  For years now, federal agents have had the authority to conduct closet probes against the innocent, and they did.  These questionable actions may have been the catalyst for citizen complaints, and that is good.

However, regrettably, other dubious aspects of the Patriot Act remain.  These continue to threaten our civil liberties.  Altering one aspect of a flawed Act, does not correct what is.  This document may present more of a threat to our Constitutional rights than the terrorist do.

The Patriot Act was passed hastily, shortly after 9/11.  This was a time when our nation felt vulnerable.  Fears for vulnerability can cause a rush to judgment; in this case, they did.  Collectively, we must calm our fears and focus on what truly is a threat.  We must consider that an internal invasion may be more menacing than we might have imagined.  If only former and fallen President Nixon were still alive.  He would tell us, this is true.

Desecrate The Qurán. Was Newsweek Ever In Error? ©

It was late on a Friday evening. On the east coast, network nightly newscasts had already aired.  The calm and stillness of the weekend was setting in.  Some were readying for bed, others for a night on the town.  It was time to leave the hustle and bustle of the workweek behind; it was time to enjoy the weekend.

What better time for the Whitehouse to release a story that might bring controversy?  Customarily, people leave thoughts of global chaos for the weekdays.  Saturdays and Sundays are considered days of rest.  The media respects this time-honored tradition.  Therefore, if details of a story could be damaging, if they might defeat an intended Bush plan, this administration reveals them in the quiet of a Friday night, and so it was with this story.

On Friday night, June 3, 2005, the true story of the Qurán [Koran] was made public.  Newsweek did not report the story; they were beaten, battered, and badly bruised.  They could take no more chances, no more criticism.  The Whitehouse had won their battle with this periodical.  Newsweek editors partially retracted their earlier report “GUANTANAMO, A Scandal Spreads.”

On May 9, 2005, Newsweek had published a piece stating, American interrogators had flushed a Qurán down the toilet.  Unheard of, not possible, or so the Whitehouse claimed.  American servicemen and women would never do such a thing.  Remember Abu Ghair.

In the days immediately following the May 9th missive, Spokesman Scott McClellan berated the magazine, its reporters, editors, and their policies.  Speaking on behalf of the President, Mr. McClellan questioned the use of an anonymous source.  A tale such as this is “too important” and warrants more scrutiny before it is placed in print.  He stated Newsweek has done “irreparable damage” to the reputation of the United States.

Later, the President and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld chimed in.  Each claimed Newsweek was the cause for riots and bedlam; their carelessness caused fifteen deaths.  Ultimately and sheepishly, Newsweek correspondents Michael Isikoff and John Barry affirmed, they had only one source, and that source was unwilling to speak on the record.  Newsweek editors were embarrassed.  Reluctantly they admitted they were in error; the statement should not have been published.  It would be a while before this magazine was ready for another skirmish.  Yet, the results of another investigation on the mistreatment of the Qurán were revealed on this Friday, June 3.

Amnesty International did not disclose these details, though this organization had also revealed disturbing tales of woe and derision.  In the Amnesty report, there were many discussions of abuse.  There was talk of the misuse of executive powers.  Violations of the Geneva Convention were voiced.  Then there were the anecdotes; American interrogators and guards were indeed defacing sacred texts at Guantanamo.  Amnesty International titled their account “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  a human rights scandal.”  Unlike the Newsweek report, these accounts sited many sources.  A Kentucky guardsman was quoted.  FBI investigators were as well.  Officials from the American Red Cross also voiced concerns for the abusive treatment of internees and of their holy scriptures.

With the advent of the Amnesty review, the administration articulated more harsh regards.  President Bush stated the newer document is “absurd.”  Vice President Cheney followed, “Frankly, I was offended by it.  For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don’t take them seriously.’  Speaking on the issue, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, I find the report “reprehensible, it cannot be excused.”  Amnesty International did not back down; they stand firm.  However, this latest revelation of abuse was not theirs.

This recent release was that of the American military.  A Department of Defense inquiry affirms that guards and interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba kicked, stepped on, and splashed urine on the Quáran.  Nineteen incidents were documented; only five are considered certain.  Admittedly, say the officials, many of these were intentional, others accidental.

The Pentagon asserts the “splashing of urine was unintentional.”  It is said to have occurred when a guard urinated near an air vent.  The wind blew his urine through the vent, into the prisoners cell, and onto the detainee’s clothing and holy book.  One might wonder.  Clearly there are toilets at Guantánamo Bay; there was never a denial of that.  Yet, a guard feels a need to urinate in public.  Why?

Nonetheless, the military report claims that he did.  They state the detainee was given a clean uniform and a new Qurán.  The sentry was reprimanded; he was assigned permanent guard duty for the duration of his stay.  At this locale, he could not and would not be able to associate with internees again.  Once more, there is reason to contemplate.

Why would the military feel it necessary to ensure that this guard has no contact with captives if he had not intentionally urinated in a manner that would defile a person and his scriptures?  One can assume that a prisoner carrying a Qurán is a prayerful person.  Would not a prayerful person understand and accept a sincere apology?  Was one offered?  We can only wonder.

Investigations into the ample allegations reveal other mishandlings of the Qurán.  Wet Quárans were found.  Night guards were throwing water balloons into cellblocks.  Why?  Our government has repeatedly assured us that American troops, interrogators, and guards are treating prisoners with respect, regardless of charges by Amnesty International.  Yet, again, we can only speculate. Is the throwing of water balloons reverential?

Then there is the two-word obscenity written in English, on the inside cover of an English-language-version Quáran.  The Department of Defense maintains that it is impossible to know whether a guard or a detainee wrote these words.  Yet, one can ask.  Why would a believer in the scripture violate his own text?

In February 2002, a captive complained that during an interrogation his Quáran was kicked.  According to the New York Times, in July 2003, a contract interrogator apologized to a detainee for stepping on his Quáran.  This same interrogator was eventually terminated.  Officials declared that he had “a pattern of unacceptable behavior, an inability to follow direct guidance and poor leadership.”  Are we expected to believe that he is the exception not the rule?

United States officials promise us, captives are given the best of treatment.  They are given Quárans, clean clothes, and three meals a day.  Their life is good.  Yet, if conditions in this camp were first-rate, why would all or any of this occur?  We cannot know with certainty, however, we can know that the release of this story was timed in an attempt to lessen the speculation.  Timing is everything.

Speaking of which, it might also be interesting to note that the Whitehouse in its infinite wisdom, certain that the Newsweek story was in error, did not begin this inquiry until three weeks after the May 9, 2005 accounting was released.  Were and are Quárans being desecrated and was Newsweek ever in error?  What do you think?

Please indulge.  There are other thoughts. Steve Soto of The Left Coaster offers Bush Waits Until Late Friday News Dump To Admit Some Koran “Mishandling”

At, Amy Goodman is  Debating Guantanamo