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  • Friday, September 22, 2006


    Here comes President Kill again

    Free to be me

    How reassuring:
    "Grave breaches," the kinds of heinous abuses that should be prosecuted if they are visited on detainees during questioning or otherwise, will be spelled out in the war crimes act. The president, whose interpretation of treaty obligations is supreme in our system, will also issue orders outlining lesser forms of abuse that, while they will not result in prosecution, are to be avoided. Our interrogators will know what the rules are, and variations from them will be the subject of internal discipline.
    The "Supreme Interpreter":
    In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.
    The Frat Boy:
    On Sunday, Trudeau's cartoon "Doonesbury" featured fictional character Mark Slackmeyer explaining the President's position against current anti-torture legislation by revisiting a series of 1967 Yale Daily News articles that exposed DKE's rush activities, which at the time included brandings and alleged beatings. Soon after these stories were published, the University's Inter-Fraternity Council fined the fraternity for performing "physically and mentally degrading acts," and the Times published an article in which Bush defended the brandings, comparing them to cigarette burns.

    "At the time, it caused quite a stir on campus, even generating some national attention," Trudeau said.

    The News article, published Nov. 3, 1967, featured a photograph of a half-inch high "D" burned into a pledge's naked backside. Trudeau drew his first cartoon for the News for the story -- a picture of smiling pledges, naked and bent over at the waist, with a figure holding a DKE branding iron standing over them.

    In a News story the next day, Bush is quoted calling the branding "insignificant." He said he did not understand how the News "can assume Yale has to be so haughty not to allow this type of pledging to go on."

    Trudeau's recent cartoon comes on the heels of the controversy over Sen. John McCain's Anti-Torture Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill. The amendment, which would outlaw torture and "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody," passed in the Senate 90-9 on Oct. 5, but Bush has threatened to use his first-ever veto on the bill if McCain's provision is included in the final passage.

    Trudeau said he drew parallels between Bush's connection to fraternity hazing and his national policy today because he feels that it reveals a lot about the President's philosophy.

    "While you can't draw a direct line between a 19-year-old's fraternity activities and national policy … this is part of a larger picture of this administration's belief that the ends justify the means," Trudeau said. "I don't think [Bush] gives much thought to what it means to torture people or how it makes us look in the eyes of the world."

    The 1967 Yale Daily News article provided a look into the covert hazing practices of fraternities in general, but focused on the DKE branding. Some pledges at the time told the News their branding was preceded by a physical beating.

    "By that time, my body was so numb [from the beatings] that the iron felt good, like a match was being held close to my body," an anonymous DKE pledge told the News in 1967.
    The Budding Sociopath:
    "One of the local rituals for children," reported Nicholas D. Kristof of life in Midland, Texas, when George W. was a boy, "were meetings with cookies and milk at the home of a nice old lady who represented the SPCA. The cookies were digested more thoroughly than the teachings."

    "We were terrible to animals," recalled [Bush pal Terry] Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush borne turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out. "Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them," Throckmorton said. "Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up."

    Kristof made plain that "we" explicitly included George W. Bush, and that George W., the Safari Club International "Governor of the Year" in 1999 for his support of trophy hunting, was the leader among the boys who did it.
    The Brother:
    When George W. Bush was 16 or so, the frogs in the pond outside his boyhood home in Midland, Texas, weren’t the only targets for his trusty BB gun.

    “He said, ‘I’m going to count to 10, and you run all the way down the hall,’ ” the president’s little brother, Neil Bush, recalled at a Republican Party dinner in Provo, Utah, two years ago, according to the Deseret News.

    Big brother drawing a bead on his backside must have left a mark, because Neil also told the story to second-graders in Richmond, Va. “I was running as fast as I can with my little lightweight summer pj’s on, and then ‘7, 8, 9, 10!’ Boom! I felt it on my right [butt] cheek,” the Richmond.com news reported his recounting.

    But those were simpler times.
    Pre-9/11 you might say...


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