Thursday news roundup
Even if you were paying attention yesterday, you may have missed a couple big news items. First of all, Philip Zelikow, an aid to Condoleezza Rice when she was Secretary of State, messed up. He actually thought that the Constitution was the Constitution. He thought that because we sign treaties and have more than 200 years’ history of not embracing torture that that actually meant something. He thought, amazingly enough, that the Geneva conventions, which we signed, actually bind us to uphold them. That notion is kind of quaint and laughable now, but back in the day, he wrote this memo. Shortly after he wrote it (memo is here), someone, somewhere in the White House decided that they needed to destroy every copy of the memo. They missed a few copies. The importance of this memo, in my mind, is twofold – First, it is possible to be a conservative and not embrace torture. Secondly, it is possible to be a conservative and not embrace everything that came out of George W. Bush’s mouth (or Dick Cheney’s, for that matter).
For some reason, all that stuff having to do with torture seems to be relatively recent in my mind compared to Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath seem to be a distant memory. I don’t know why. Yesterday, five New Orleans police officers were sentenced to relatively long prison terms because they fired on unarmed civilians during a famous incident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Not only did several officers fire on unarmed civilians who were trying to flee the city via the Daniziger Bridge, but they also tried to cover up the incident. In my opinion, this whole incident stems from a lack of oversight in which many people believed that they were on their own. Simple communications (telephone, cell phone, walkie-talkie, radio) were simply unattainable, not working or functioning incorrectly. People were desperate. In desperate times people do extremely stupid and regrettable things. The role of government is to prevent this feeling of desperation.
Fun video: Who would’ve thought you could combine Rita Hayworth and the Bee Gees? Who knew?