Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Monday, June 21, 2004

I regret to report I am on the trail of no story at all at the moment, having just deadheaded home from San Francisco after a simple trip to the West Coast to watch my brother-in-law graduate from U of O suddenly tumbled into the depths of depravity and despair, mostly due to the imbeciles at United Airlines, a dingy and useless fleet of flying trash that should have been sold off to the Colombians long ago. My only small bit of satisfaction came when the ATSB rejected United's bailout request in a mean-spirited and gratuitous puff of red tape as I lounged in the jacuzzi at the Lion and Rose in Portland, watching CNN. The airline got the last laugh, of course, on the return trip, seating me next to a dead-drunk MBA who smelled like a dung rat that had fallen into a vat of cheap blended scotch and drowned some weeks ago.

I desperately want to write a story about John Ashcroft, a desperate weirdo whom I could probably learn to like if he weren't constantly trying to put me and everyone like me in jail for life, where we can apparently be abused in cruel, inhuman, and degrading sadistic rituals, as long as said rituals do not rise to the level of torture.

This may seem like one of my trademark exaggerations, but check out the summary of the Justice memo that the Post printed on Sunday. I can't find it online, but it's there I believe in the Sunday Outlook section, and the thrust of the memo is considerably worse than what the press is generally reporting.

The standard of "Cruel and inhuman OK, Torture Not OK" in the memo summary clearly applies only to interrogations being conducted on U.S. soil. The memo summary goes on to say that interrogations on foreign soil are not subject to this restiction, meaning that "inflicting pain on the level of massive organ failure" and other such tactics are acceptable.

Meanwhile, Dana Priest said in her chat last week that the press hadn't been able to find any link between the Justice department directive and what happened at Abu Ghraib. What, exactly, are the investigative techniques being used in this story? Are the reporters trying to get to the bottom of things by, say, eating a banana split? Going to an afternoon O's game? TiVo'ing "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton?"

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