And On The Seventh Day, We Prosecuted ‘Em

The Washington Post posts an AP report this afternoon about boot-camp abuse that carries the breathless headline, “Army Recruits Quickly Abused in Training”. The opening paragraphs describe the abuse given to recruits at Fort Knox, right from the time they climbed down off the bus — or in this case, thrown off of it:

The recruits of Echo Company stumbled off the bus for basic training at Fort Knox to the screams of red-faced drill instructors. That much was expected. But it got worse from there.
Echo Company’s top drill instructor seized a recruit by the back of the neck and threw him to the ground. Other soldiers were poked, grabbed or cursed.
Once inside the barracks, Pvt. Jason Steenberger says, he was struck in the chest by the top D.I. and kicked “like a football.” Andrew Soper, who has since left the Army, says he was slapped and punched in the chest by another drill instructor. Pvt. Adam Roster says he was hit in the back and slammed into a wall locker.
Eventually, four Army drill instructors and the company commander would be brought up on charges. Four have been convicted so far.

Twenty years ago, the armed services decided that the old-school physical abuse and verbal duress that had trained American conscripts for decades was no longer desirable — and for good reason. The new American military consisted of willing recruits, for one thing, who did not need to have authority established as oppressively as earlier generations of draftees. Even more to the point, numerous studies both within the services and in comparable outside agencies had proven the superiority of lower-stress, more professional basic training. The Pentagon barred physical violence and harassing language not only due to increased sensitivity and co-ed training, but just because it interfered with the best possible training environment.
This account sounds as if the problem has suddenly arisen and represents a growing problem with the American military. It dovetails nicely with the picture being painted by Amnesty International about how the same military treats its prisoners, and with comments from elected officials about detention facilities being transformed into “hellholes” by the Pentagon. What readers don’t find out until after the jump — ten paragraphs into the story — is when this case took place:

The abuse took place in early February. An Army investigation began the next week, as the company’s leaders were removed and the 25 recruits were sent to another command. Six of the trainees have since left the Army, including two who went AWOL.

This story has been known for four months. Within days of the incident, other soldiers reported the abuse, and those involved were relieved of duty. The Army has successfully court-martialed four of the people involved, including the company commander, Captain William Fulton, who got six months of confinement. The recruits were transferred to a different command to complete their training. If the reader gets all the way through the article, he finds out that there were 120 allegations of abuse in all of 2004, resulting in 16 DIs got relieved as a result — and the rate for 2005 is half of that for last year.
In other words, the Army had the right processes in place to catch this abuse when it occurred and prosecuted the people responsible. That sounds to me as though the Army doesn’t tolerate abuse and is willing to punish those who break the rules, in this case with serious jail time.
One has to wonder why the AP decided to run this story now, and why the Washington Post thought it newsworthy more than four months after the fact, and why both pushed the Army’s quick reaction to the bottom of the story. It just provides another example of a hostility to the military that appears to run through the Exempt Media.
UPDATE: People have begun to notice this hostility, if this Pew poll gives any indication, as NRO’s Media Blog points out:

Beyond the rising criticism of press performance and patriotism, there also has been significant erosion in support for the news media’s watchdog role over the military. Nearly half (47%) say that by criticizing the military, news organizations are weakening the nation’s defenses; 44% say such criticism keeps the nation militarily prepared. The percentage saying press criticism weakens American defenses has been increasing in recent years and now stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 1985.

Slanted articles like this create the complaints that Pew found in its survey.

The Further Education Of Dick Durbin, Amnesty Int’l, Et Al

Today’s Independent (UK) reports on the experience of a Tibetan nun who had the misfortune of once declaring her loyalty to the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet. When she was thirteen years old, Chinese authorities arrested Ngawang Sangdrol for taking part in a peaceful demonstration for Tibetan freedom. Once behind bars, her jailers made no distinction for her age or gender in tormenting the teen almost to her death:

Ngawang Sangdrol was just 13 when she was first imprisoned by China in Tibet. She was so small her prison guards found it easy to pick her up by the legs and drop her, head first, on to the stone floor of her cell.
They beat her with iron rods, placed electric shock batons in her mouth and left her standing in the baking heat until she collapsed of exhaustion. They called her the “ballerina”, because when the pain became too much for her, she would stand on the tips of her toes like a dancer. “The more we cried out in pain,” she said, “the more they laughed.”
“They would put a rope around your neck, tie both your hands and hang you down from the ceiling. They used iron bars to beat you systematically,” she says. “And once you are imprisoned there is no difference between a child and an adult and an elderly person, or between a man and a woman. All punishments and torture methods are equal for everyone.”

Sangrol spent ten years imprisoned in Chinese torture chambers. The Chinese thought that she would soon die, regardless of whether she stayed in prison or was discharged. They released her only when she signed an agreement never to disclose what happened to her in prison. She made her way to the US after her release and now campaigns actively to raise awareness of the brutal methods used by the Chinese to oppress the primarily nonviolent Tibetan separatist movement.
I point this out just in case anyone still doesn’t understand the difference between systemic torture as policy and genocide as a state goal on one hand, and isolated cases of abuse by rogue personnel who get prosecuted for their actions on the other.
UPDATE: Don’t miss this report from a high-ranking military officer about the abuse occurring at Gitmo … the real abuse.

Britain Acknowledges Contacts With Insurgents

In a press conference this afternoon, British PM Tony Blair confirmed that the UK had made contacts with the native Iraqi insurgency in an attempt to push them into the legitimate political process. This comes after the Times of London revealed this weekend that the Americans had held two or more meetings with the primarily Sunni bombers, hoping to leverage tribal and family connections to convince the Iraqi component that further fighting was senseless:

Britain has been involved in political negotiations with some Iraqi insurgents, Tony Blair revealed today, as he predicted the next year would be “decisive” in determining the country’s future.
After a weekend which saw the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, admit that American officers had been meeting insurgents in a bid to split the resistance, the prime minister told reporters Britain was also “engaged” in behind the scenes talks.
Mr Blair refused to speculate on when the insurgency might end – Iraqi deaths have escalated since the government’s installation in April – but the prime minister repeated that Britain would stay “until the job is properly done”.

Blair and Bush have decided to take on a more public advocacy for their position on Iraq, after playing low key for the past several months. Bush will give a prime-time speech tomorrow, which will be live-blogged here at CQ, to remind Americans about the stakes for success and failure in Iraq for the overall war strategy. Blair works best with the press corps, while Bush does better giving prepared speeches. Thankfully, it appears that both men now realize that they have to remain in front of the press corps and their political opposition in order to maintain political support for this long-term effort. Unfortunately, especially here in the US, people have shortened attention spans and a predilection for instant gratification that does not lend itself to long-term strategic thinking.

We’re Delighted You Take This Seriously

Celebrities, for some reason, continually get drawn to political issues on which they know next to nothing. Most of the time, this makes for meaningless and harmless political comedy; this week, we had Tom Cruise lecture Matt Lauer on psychopharmacology, in what had to be one of the more evenly-matched battle of lightweights since Peter Kane squared off against Benny Lynch in Glasgow, Scotland. Sometimes it leads to silly scares with serious consequences, such as Meryl Streep’s Alar scare in the 1980s.
And at times, the idiocy of the celebrity class actually promises to do real damage. For an example, various Canadian celebrities have banded together to spring a terror suspect from prison in Canada, as the Globe & Mail reports today:

A suspected terrorist is getting some high-profile support in Federal Court.
Syrian national Hassan Almrei has been held in solitary confinement since October, 2001, and wants to be released while Ottawa assesses whether he poses a security threat.
Among his supporters are Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau, who has offered a $5,000 bond.
In an affidavit presented to the court, Mr. Trudeau said he is concerned about Mr. Almrei’s lengthy detention in solitary confinement.

The son of the former Prime Minister of Canada wants this man released on a $5,000 bond, and gives his assurances to the court that Almrei will comply with all conditions of his release. Two Canadian writers, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, and a journalist, Heather Mallick, are tossing another $300 into the pot.
Why are Canadian glitterati so intent on springing Almrei? Deep personal friendship? Some insight into terrorism that the Canadian authorities have missed? Respected sources that exonerate Almrei? Not really — they just attended really cool parties in support of terror suspects being held by Canada. No, seriously:

Mr. Lewis and Ms. Klein say they do not know Mr. Almrei, but they attended a fundraiser earlier this year with other prominent Canadian writers such as Stuart McLean and Linda McQuaig.
The fundraiser was meant to help people being held under national security certificates.

The definition of celebrity has begun to transform into “celebration of stupidity”.

Alone Again, Unnaturally

Howard Kurtz recaps the Dick Durbin and Karl Rove brouhahas in today’s Media Notes, detailing the differing responses that the mainstream media gave each speech. Kurtz points out the lack of attention given by the Exempt Media to Senator Durbin’s equation of Camp X-Ray to Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, crediting the New Media for forcing the issue to the forefront of debate:

When Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin used a Nazi analogy to describe incidents of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, it wasn’t much of a story at first.
Even when White House spokesman Scott McClellan called Durbin’s remarks “reprehensible,” “NBC Nightly News” gave the matter three sentences and the other network newscasts ignored it. The NBC and ABC newscasts covered Durbin’s tearful apology last week, but the “CBS Evening News” took a pass. …
The Durbin controversy has been fueled by a chorus of outrage from conservative columnists, bloggers and radio hosts, turning widely overlooked remarks into a full-scale furor for a lawmaker who initially refused to apologize. In that sense, it is the mirror image of the Downing Street memo, the British document questioning the Bush administration’s march to war in Iraq, which drew even less media attention until liberal advocacy groups and bloggers spent six weeks berating journalists for burying the story.
For decades, the establishment media were like a walled village, largely insulated from the outside world. But technology has produced so many cracks in the wall that previously ignored stories can seep in — sometimes in a trickle, sometimes a flood — when partisans and pressure groups make enough waves.

Kurtz’ pairing of the DSM and the Durbin speech is apt, at least (and probably also at most) as a demonstration of the effectiveness of the New Media. While we only attract a fraction of the audience that the Exempt Media enjoys, our readers tend to be more participative than normal media consumers, and in many cases work within the Exempt Media itself. Right now, blogs may wield an outsized influence based on readership, but talk radio helps to amplify our message and we tend to broaden talk radio’s reach, which explains how we can affect the course of coverage. These dynamics were in play for both stories, regardless of what one thinks of either controversy.
Kurtz goes one step further to note the immediate national coverage given Karl Rove’s speech in New York to the Conservative Party:

There was no such media reticence when Karl Rove said Wednesday that liberals wanted to offer the attackers of Sept. 11 “therapy and understanding.” With Democrats castigating the White House adviser, major newspapers (including The Post) and the NBC and ABC newscasts jumped on the story.

Kurtz doesn’t make the next leap in analysis, which is too bad, since he comes so close to the right conclusion. Why would the press ignore (for several days) a speech by an elected US Senator comparing American detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps on the Senate floor, while a minor speech by a White House staffer to a state-level political action group drew immediate national attention? For a media analyst, one would think that question should not go unanswered, or even unasked, as it does by Kurtz. It would appear to most people that highlighting controversial statements by senior Democrats in leadership has a low priority for the media, while any kind of controversy involving the Bush administration gets the highest visibility possible.
In that vein, Kurtz’ choice of blogs to represent the two sides of the Rove controversy suggests that Kurtz may be a bit too close to the problem to see it. In his review of the blogosphere on this topic, Kurtz highlights Andrew Sullivan, Kevin Drum, Mahablog, Blondsense, Josh Marshall, and Peter Daou in opposition to Rove. In support of Rove — more accurately, in opposition to his critics — Kurtz cites … Captain’s Quarters.
Six against one? Was that really representative of the blogospheric response? Or do I just have really broad shoulders on this topic? Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy having my work cited by Howard Kurtz, whom I read religiously and recommend to everyone who wants to read serious media criticism. However, just as with the coverage differential between Durbin and Rove, the subtleties communicate a message that one side has substantially more import than the other. It would be better if that argument was made openly, if that’s what Kurtz intends. If not — and I’m sure that’s the case here — then Kurtz, just like the Exempt Media as a whole, needs to exercise more care in their coverage.

The Friends Of Our Enemies

The Bush administration may promulgate new sanctions against entities that do business with sanctioned firms suspected of trading in WMD or assisting terrorist groups around the world. Existing sanctions target the firms or entities themselves, but the new concept is to expand that ring one level outward to encompass anyone doing business with those firms:

The Bush administration is planning new measures that would target the U.S. assets of anyone conducting business with a handful of Iranian, North Korean and Syrian companies believed by Washington to be involved in weapons programs, administration officials said yesterday. …
But the draft executive order goes far beyond previous measures by threatening the U.S. assets of individuals or companies, including foreign banks, that do business with those on the list.
“If there is a bank in some European capital that is participating in working with one of the entities and that bank has some assets in the U.S., it is conceivable that some action could be taken to the bank’s assets here,” said one senior official with knowledge of the order’s details. Russian and Chinese companies in particular, which do enormous business with Iran and North Korea, could be more affected than others by the new strategy, officials said.

This move would eliminate the dodge used by traffickers in leveraging their relationships with legitimate financial institutions to launder cash and assets. It intends to take out a portion of the dual-use excuse as well, simply by declaring any work with these companies violates our anti-terror sanctions and risks a freeze on American assets. This order provides a strong economic incentive for global financial institutions to stop doing business with proliferators.
This strategy doesn’t come without risk, however. As Dafna Linzer reports, the vast majority of financial actions taken by the US in the aftermath of 9/11 went unchallenged due to excellent intelligence; most of those targeted wouldn’t dare show up in an American courtroom to reclaim frozen assets. That certainly wouldn’t be the case with the next level, which have legitimate interests and won’t fold up the tents to go on the lam. The US would have to produce the evidence in court to substantiate the claims, which might wind up harming intelligence operations.
The order sounds like a good idea, even as a tool rarely used but always at the ready. Its deterrent value would provide some needed leverage for greater cooperation in tracing money and assets back to terrorist operatives. Hopefully, it would rarely result in a court action but instead serve to remind financiers that terrorism doesn’t pay.

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being … Bill Frist

Charles Babington takes a critical look at the presidential aspirations of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in today’s Washington Post. While Frist has never come out as a contender for 2008, his candidacy has been widely expected, and earlier he seemed to have an inside track to frontrunner status thanks to his high profile and the success of extending the GOP majority after the last election.
Unfortunately for Frist, a series of miscalculations and apparent reversals have left that reputation in tatters, to the point where Frist now has the reputation as lacking in either ability or enthusiasm for political battle. That reputation will likely sink Frist’s ambitions for higher office, Babington writes:

By noon last Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seemed done with John R. Bolton’s nomination to be U.N. ambassador. Bustling from the Capitol to have lunch with President Bush, he told reporters he planned no further votes to try to end the Democrats’ long-running filibuster of the embattled nominee.
But after his presidential chat, Frist announced he would keep trying, prompting newspaper headlines such as “Frist Reverses Himself,” which his staff called unfair.
The next day, the Tennessee surgeon-turned-politician again seemed to wash his hands of Bolton. “It’s really between the White House and Chris Dodd and Joe Biden,” he said, naming two senior Democratic senators. At 11 p.m., however, he was working the phones, successfully urging another conversation between Biden and White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. But the late-night Biden-Card call did not resolve a dispute over documents at the heart of the Bolton impasse, and Frist had little to show for his work but negative news reports and political headaches.

The Bolton double-180 raised eyebrows among the GOP, even those who don’t necessarily hold much of a portfolio for the Bolton nomination. The main job of the Majority Leader is to make sure that the caucus gets a clear message and strategy on legislative and executive efforts. For a couple of days, it looked like Frist couldn’t even decide that for himself, and a frustrated White House had to get the wires uncrossed twice in order to continue the pressure on Democrats to stop their filibuster.
The same wishy-washiness showed itself in the battle over judicial nominations. Frist miscalculated the depth of Harry Reid’s conviction to continue the obstructionism of his predecessor, even after the historic — and embarrassing — spectacle of the Senate holding up the Electoral College vote just to regale the country with tales of GOP vote suppression that their own study later showed never took place. When the Democrats insisted on debating Condoleezza Rice’s confirmation for Secretary of State in order for Mark Dayton to call her a “liar”, Frist should have known at that time that Reid had selected executive-branch confirmations as his battleground, and reacted accordingingly with the Byrd option in January.
Instead, Frist dithered for months, and only pressed the issue when the rank and file lost patience with Frist sitting on what had been billed as the top domestic priority for the Senate. That lack of fortitude does not play well as a quality for an executive. People want to see decisiveness, insight, and the passion to fight for one’s agenda in their leadership. The last thing that the GOP wants in the White House is a man who will get rolled by the opposition, especially when the GOP holds the majority and most of the political cards in the deck.
Put simply, when Frist had all of the advantages that could possibly accrue to a Majority Leader, he has failed to deliver on the agenda. That alone should disqualify him from serious consideration in 2008 for the Presidency. In the meantime, we all hope he quickly improves his performance in his current position, or the GOP will need to give someone else a tryout in his place.

‘He Fooled Me’

L. Patrick Gray has long been a footnote in the annals of the Watergate scandals, a status that kept him in relative obscurity until recently. He had the misfortune of succeeding J. Edgar Hoover as the interim Director of the FBI, but rapidly lost the confidence of the Nixon White House when the President suspected that some of the Watergate leaks came from his top-level staff. That led to the notorious order to “let him twist slowly in the wind” that signaled the end of his aspirations to make his appointment official.
In an extraordinary interview with George Stephanopolous yesterday, Gray talked about his betrayal by both Richard Nixon and his FBI assistant whom he admired until the moment, this year, when Gray discovered he had been stabbing him in the back all along:

Former acting FBI chief L. Patrick Gray III said in a television interview broadcast yesterday that his former deputy, W. Mark Felt, became the mysterious Watergate source known as Deep Throat out of personal revenge and “a desire to get rid of me.”
Ending 32 years of silence about his role in the Watergate scandal, Gray told ABC’s “This Week” that he had reacted with “total shock, total disbelief” to the revelation that Felt had held a series of secret meetings with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. He said he felt betrayed by Felt, who had repeatedly assured him that he was not Deep Throat.
“He fooled me,” said Gray, 88, who was forced to step down as acting FBI chief in April 1973 because of suspicions that he had facilitated the Watergate coverup. “It was like I was hit with a tremendous sledgehammer.”

Gray had worked for several years with Nixon on his political staff before coming to the FBI — an appointment that created tremendous resentment within the Bureau, and especially with Mark Felt. Felt thought that an insider should have been promoted to succeed Hoover, but Nixon and most of Capitol Hill knew how dangerous Hoover had become and that his deputies most likely had just as much access to the secret files that had provided Hoover so much political cover. Promoting one of Hoover’s inner circle had as much chance of passing muster with the Senate Judiciary Committee as picking G. Gordon Liddy as a special prosecutor for Watergate itself.
Much has been written about Mark Felt over the past few weeks since he (or really, his family) revealed his status as Deep Throat, most of it nonsense. Felt didn’t betray his country and he didn’t act heroically, either. To the extent he acted in the public good, he did so only in half-measures. Gray made it clear, for instance, that he would have supported Felt had the deputy decided to come clean about what he knew of Watergate and the surrounding scandals, although his own actions of the time certainly would have given Felt some reason to doubt that:

During the interview, Gray acknowledged providing raw FBI investigative files to White House counsel John Dean and destroying several files found in the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, the organizer of the Watergate break-in. But he denied complicity in the coverup, and said he had opposed White House efforts to stop the investigation on the grounds of a CIA connection.

Felt described Gray as a political hack to Woodward and Bernstein in their series of clandestine meetings, but during the day worked on apple-polishing to put Gray at ease. The ruse worked so well that Gray refused to fire Felt even after the White House requested his termination on several occasions. Gray didn’t even consider giving Felt a polygraph to determine if the leaks came from him, because he felt it would be too degrading for such an upstanding agent to have to endure such a test of loyalty.
At the heart of Gray’s disillusionment was his belief in Mark Felt as the ultimate FBI agent — daring, competent, erudite, and most of all loyal. While the Post review of the interview tries to make this point, it doesn’t quite come across as well as it did during the interview, part of which I happened to see yesterday. It matched his earlier admiration for Richard Nixon, a man to whom he became so embittered that he refused all contact from the former president, even when Nixon sent him books and personal notes. Gray never responded to Nixon, but clearly felt differently about his former deputy until last month.
Gray’s fate was to be betrayed by two people whom he trusted far more than either deserved. That final revelation appears to have embittered Gray even further as he now understands that he may have to live in Watergate history as one of the scandal’s biggest patsies, played by both sides against the middle. Small wonder that he has chosen to speak out now, more than 30 years after being chased out of the FBI, in an effort to balance the heroic portrait of Mark Felt that the media has painted these past few weeks. Gray’s story should remind us that no one came out of Watergate clean, and that this is one story where heroes unfortunately cannot be found.

Bicentennial Rick, Old Glory, And Dodger Stadium

My friends and colleagues at Power Line and Shot In The Dark post today about one of the many memorable moments from Dodger Stadium. Rather than a baseball play or a championship season, though, they recall the heroic actions of then-Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday on April 25, 1976, when he rescued the flag from protestors who had run onto the field to burn it. Make sure you read both posts, but being the lifelong Dodger fan that I am, I’d like to add another perspective to this story.
First, here’s the story from Larry Henry, a sportswriter from the Everett Herald in Washington, written in 1998 to celebrate Flag Day:

On this spring day in ’76, he was on a Cubs team that was headed for a fourth-place finish in the National League East. It was the fourth inning with the Dodgers batting. The Vietnam War had ended a year before, but people didn’t need a war in order to protest. What these two ding-a-lings who had just dashed onto the field of Dodger Stadium were all about nobody knew, but here they were, and where was security? They had come from the left-field corner and had run past Cubs left fielder Jose Cardenal. One carried something under his arm but Monday couldn’t distinguish what it was.
Once they reached shallow left-center, they stopped and brought out the object. Monday could see now what it was: the U.S. flag. He recalled that they laid it on the ground almost as if they were about to have a picnic. Then one of them dug into his pocket and brought out something shiny and metallic. “I figured having gone to college two and two is sometimes four,” Monday said. “They were dousing it with lighter fluid.”
Then they lit a match. Which flared momentarily and died.
By now, Monday was in full stride, running towards them. “To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said. “Except bowl them over.” He was also thinking they were trying to commit a terrible act. “What they were doing was extremely wrong as far as I was concerned,” said Monday, who served six years in the Marine Reserves.
He reached them about the time they got the second match lit and were about to torch the flag. “There’s a picture that I think won a Pulitzer Prize and it showed me reaching down and grabbing the flag,” he said. … Monday got the flag and handed it to Doug Rau, a Dodgers pitcher. That was the last Monday saw of it until a month later. The Dodgers came to Wrigley Field and Al Campanis, a Dodgers executive, presented the flag to Monday. “It’s displayed very proudly in my home,” he said.

Dodger coach Tommy Lasorda had also started running out to the outfield from the other direction, and fortunately for the two nuts involved, security got there before he did. Monday, in other interviews, has said that Lasorda had murder in his eyes as Monday passed him in full stride. He had no doubt that the two individuals, who appeared stoned and somewhat amused at Monday’s deft steal of the flag, would have presented no challenge whatsoever to the middle-aged but well-known battler.
Lasorda himself, in his memoirs from years ago, acknowledged that he meant to stop the pair any way he could. But that was not the prevailing attitude in 1976. For those too young to recall, the nation had reached what we thought was the depth of our national crisis of confidence. A year earlier, we had watched on television as the last Americans in Saigon had to be airlifted out by helicopter from our doomed embassy as the North Vietnamese overran the allies we abandoned in 1973. Two years earlier, our President resigned from the office he disgraced, taking the credibility of the national law-enforcement and intelligence agencies with him.
With the bicententennial of the Declaration of Independence coming up, the country had started a celebration of the event that overloaded on red, white, and blue. The nation tried to put on a coat of faux patriotism it didn’t really feel, and the entire effort felt commercialized and hypocritical. With Independence Day two months away, many already had had enough of the celebration.
However, when Monday took off with the flag, all of the cynicism and defeatism of the past two years melted away. Watching Monday rescue the flag from two lunatics who tried to hijack a baseball game for their protest, which would have provided the perfect nadir of American morale at that time, the crowd did something no one expected. Lasorda recalled in his book that starting softly, the crowd started singing “God Bless America”, completely unprompted, until all of the tens of thousands of Dodger fans had joined together to sing it. It was one of the few unscripted and spontaneous patriotic displays in our Bicentennial, and one of the most moving at any time.
Monday became a favorite of Dodger fans from that moment on, and the next year the team traded for Monday. He played on three pennant-winning Dodger teams and played a key role in their World Series win in 1981. Today he still works for the Dodgers as a broadcaster, continuing an almost 30-year association with the team that began with that daring rescue of Old Glory. Monday not only saved the flag from burning that day, but at least for a brief moment in time, united us in genuine love of country and showed us what real patriotism looked like. For that, Monday has always been and always will be one of my favorite Dodgers — and favorite sports figures — of all time.
Just another slice of Dodger history that I hope everyone will enjoy.
UPDATE: CQ reader E.O. reminds me that the scoreboard operator at Dodger Stadium recognized the import of Monday’s actions immediately. After the incident, he or she put up the message: RICK MONDAY – YOU MADE A GREAT SAVE! Quite an acknowledgement for a visiting player.

What A Difference Actual Research Makes

After blathering on for weeks about the supposed gulag-like conditions at Guantanamo Bay, members of Congress finally visited the facility for themselves this week. To no one’s great surprise, they left with a considerably change in their attitude after having done some actual research:

During a tour of the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists on Saturday, House Republicans and Democrats, including one who has advocated closing the facility, said the United States has made progress in improving conditions and protecting detainees’ rights. …
“The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago,” said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.
Still, lawmakers from both parties agree more still must be done to ensure an adequate legal process is in place to handle detainee cases. In the meantime, said Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., “I think they’re doing the best they can to define due process here.” …
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (news, bio, voting record), D-Texas, is one of many Democrats who have called for an independent commission to investigate abuse allegations and have said the facility should close. She said she stood by that position, but acknowledged, “What we’ve seen here is evidence that we’ve made progress.”

No, Congresswoman Lee and Congresswoman Tauscher, what we see is that the two of you and most of your colleagues shrilly slander the US military without doing anything to check your facts beforehand. Prior to this delegation, only eleven Senators and a handful of Representatives had visited Camp X-Ray at Gitmo, despite having access to the facility since the war started. Instead of taking advantage of their opportunity to travel on official business to investigate this “hellhole”, as one Democrat called it during open debate, the Leftists like Tauscher and Lee simply regurgitated slanders and accusations from hysterics like William Schulz at Amnesty International, who later admitted that he didn’t have any idea whether what he said was accurate or not.
No one wants to muzzle dissent, especially not in Congress. But before our elected representatives at any level start making accusations of systemic abuse at places like Gitmo, where they have access to review the facilities for themselves, then we expect them to have made that trip and gathered the facts before launching broadsides at the armed services and our intelligence community. Shame on them for jumping to conclusions and publicly condemning them without making that effort — and for playing into the propaganda of our enemies during a time of war just to play partisan games on Capitol Hill.