Call torture scandal a damaging self-inflicted blow
Jun 01, 2004
High-ranking Vatican diplomats are calling the Iraq torture scandal a self-inflicted blow that has caused more damage to the United States than the 2001 terrorist attacks. That stark assessment comes only weeks before President Bush is expected to meet with Pope John Paul II in Rome, and as U.S.
Both the International Red Cross and Amnesty International knew about the horrors of Abu Ghraib. Both organizations had sent reports detailing brutal behavior in U.S.-run Iraqi prisons to military authorities. But no action was taken until Specialist Joseph M. Darby alerted the army’s Criminal Investigation Division and mentioned photographs.
Church aid agencies working in Iraq are pulling out international staff, reviewing their programs in the face of continuing violence, and in at least one instance considering suspending operations altogether, the Geneva-based Action by Churches Together (ACT) International alliance announced last month.
While interviewing President Bush for his just-published book Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward mentioned what British Prime Minister Tony Blair had said about receiving angry letters from families who had lost loved ones in Iraq: “Don’t believe anyone who tells you when they receive letters like that they don’t suffer any doubt.” Upon hearing this, Woodward reports, the president stiffened and,
Medieval mapmakers, with their limited knowledge of distant lands and uncharted seas, sometimes depicted dragons on the far edges of their maps. Hic sunt dracones (“Here be dragons!”), they warned. Dragons do not appear on our modern maps. But bodies on the rail lines of Madrid and the streets of Fallujah leave no doubt that Something Ferocious stalks the edges of our political and religious maps. Nationalism, tribalism, empire and religion mutate in draconian forms, and we sometimes fail to recognize the beastly genes in our own DNA.
Proponents of traditional family values are championing a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling March 11 that halted—at least temporarily—gay marriages in the state. “What the court has done . . . is take a stand against the anarchy that has reigned in San Francisco since February 12,” said James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family.
Getting to Iraq requires a flight from neighboring Jordan that ends with a hair-raising flourish: a 60-degree “corkscrew” turn into the former Saddam International Airport. “We have a slight missile problem,” said the impish pilot, a white South African, explaining that the tricky maneuver is necessary to avoid getting hit by a ground-launched rocket.
President GeorgeW.Bush and British Prime Minister TonyBlair should apologize for the “immoral” war against Iraq, according to retired Anglican Archbishop DesmondTutu. Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, made his remark in giving the annual Longford lecture in London on February 16.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board will cease endorsing women for chaplain positions “where the role and function of the chaplain would be seen the same as that of a pastor.” The move will apparently bring an end to the SBC’s endorsement of new female chaplains for the military but apparently will not prevent women from serving as hospital chaplains.
President Bush, speaking confidently and forcefully in his State of the Union address on January 20, defended the U.S.-led war on terrorism and efforts to establish democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.