The number of stories circulating in the media that fill me with outrage seems to have reached a new high this week.
It started with the questioning of Attorney General Gonzalez, and the remarkable claims by the administration that the NSF spying program is constitutional and requires no oversight by the judicial branch.
It continued with the story that a lead NASA scientist was being muzzled by the Bush administration for his claims that the earth is at a critical tipping point. Within ten years, Dr. Hansen predicts that without a correction in greenhouse gases, we will enter a point of no-return in preventing a global environmental catastrophy.
This was followed by the announcement that a 24 year old NASA appointee who was one of the primary muzzlers of Dr. Hansen, a man with the distinguished name of George Carlton Deutsch III, lied on his resume that he had a Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M, had no experience in science or technology, and was appointed by the administration because he had been a good fundraiser in the 2004 election.
Added to that was the news that Muslims have resorted to spectacular violence over offensive Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed, with as many as 12 dead from violent protests.
You'd think that would be enough, but no. Today's news brought two more stories that make me wonder if indeed, we are going to hell in a handbasket.
The first is that the White House knew that the levees in New Orleans had collapsed August 30th (the day of the hurricance), not days later as reports indicated when the nation began questioning where the hell the government was to help in the rescue operations of those trapped in the city. "Brownie" knew that night, though he won't indicate who else he notified. By his actions, Bush didn't seem to know of the news, since he was on vacation declaring that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet." Tomorrow, Brownie will testify to Congress about what he knew and what he did. Documents gathered by Congress suggest that Brownie believed the President knew about the levee breach. This, of course, raises the question of why no one at the White House, especially the president (and ol' Brownie himself), seemed to care all that much.
The second story today that made my teeth grind was the story that several of the "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo Bay have gone on a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detentions. The military has resorted to strapping them into a restraint chair, forcing tubes down their throats, and holding them for several hours while being fed and prevented from vomiting.
On the face of it, this sounds to be a humane action--preventing the detainees from killing themselves through a necessary force-feeding. The New York Times reports two problems with the humanitarian vision. Lawyers of the detainees allege that "the feeding tubes [have been] inserted and removed so violently that some bled or fainted." Other lawyers report that their clients were fed so much food that they had diarrhea and were forced to defecate on themselves while in the restraint device.
Now, one might say, "Well, they're terrorists. They are Al-Qaeda, and they fought against Americans in Afghanistan. They get what they deserve." The problem with this justification for harsh treatment is that Pentagon documents indicate that only 45% of the detainees likely were fighting against the United States, and only about 8% of the fighters were members of Al-Qaeda. That means that half of the men being detained are innocent.
Imagine being held in a military camp in a foreign country indefinately for crimes you didn't commit, with no end in sight, no opportunity for justice. It is time these men get their day in court, and the innocent released.
David Brooks in today's column criticized Muslims for rioting over silly cartoons, for failing to appreciate the values of democracy and freedom. But, as I've said before, we cannot stand for righteousness when we fail to uphold those values ourselves.