Thursday, May 27, 2004


A friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, offers our readers this Berthold Brecht poem as a birthday present for Tholos.

The Fishing Tackle

In my room, on the whitewashed wall
Hangs a short bamboo stick bound with cord
With an iron hook designed
To snag fishing nets from the water. The stick
Came from a second-hand store downtown. My son
Gave it to me for my birthday. It is worn.
In salt water the hook's rust has eaten through the binding.
These traces of use and of work
Lend great dignity to the stick. I
Like to think that this fishing-tackle
Was left behind by those Japanese fishermen
Whom they have now driven from the West Coast into camps
As suspect aliens; that it came into my hands
To keep me in mind of so many
Unsolved but not insoluble
Questions of humanity.

Berthold Brecht

(transl. Lee Baxendall)

Monday, May 24, 2004

copeland morris NEW WINE

One does not ask for new wine,
For sweetness that lacks a bottle,
A balcony, a blackberry
Leaf, premonition
Of storms that winter brings.
The cask and moon are full;
There is no dreamless sleep.

In purple, Cassandra watches
Dark Piraeus. This once
New wine will not recur
Will not replace the words
Or hold a ship at anchor.
The vine is close to the womb;
And after sipping, men laugh.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

copeland morris RUMOR OF MINOTAUR

Seeing Theseus for the first time, Ariadne
Longed for him. But now it hurt to draw breath
On desolate Naxos, the island also called Dia.
Water flowed by, as Artemis killed her there.
And Bromius, who is called Dionysus, protested
And made from the circle of her tiara new stars.
The princess unraveled, undid her heavy sash,
Undid the golden thread, descending to Acheron.

The rumor of the Minotaur could not be avoided:
Forgetfulness as a curse on the one who killed it.
Ariadne and her god-like body still marooned;
Aegeus the King, who threw himself from a cliff
And split the Aegean, salt water, his legacy.
Theseus grew longer, thinner day by day
Elongated almost, as if he were pulled
Like a strand of flax through worried fingers.
Upright like a switch he reasoned best,
It would be lovely, Ariadne holding a thread,
Holding him.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


In an article in The Boston Globe, reporter Alfred W. McCoy has discovered that the means of torture, recently exposed at Abu Ghraib prison, can be traced to specialized procedures developed by the CIA.

"From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led secret research into coercion and consciousness that reached a billion dollars at peak"..."The CIA's discovery of psychological torture was a counterintuitive breakthrough"..

"The old physical approach required interrogators to inflict pain, usually by crude beatings that often produced heightened resistance or unreliable information. Under the CIA's new psychological paradigm, however, interrogators used two essential techniques to achieve their goals.

In the first stage, interrogators employ the simple, nonviolent techniques of hooding or sleep deprivation to disorient the subject: some times sexual intimidation is used as well."

Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power."

"Although seemingly less brutal, no-touch torture leaves deep psychological scars. The victims often need long treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain. The perpetrators can suffer a dangerous expansion of ego, leading to cruelty and lasting emotional problems."

"Following the CIA's two-part technique, last September General Miller instructed US military police at Abu Ghraib to soften up high priority detainees in the initial phase for later "successful interrogation and exploitation" by CIA and military intelligence. As often happens in no-touch torture sessions, this process soon moved beyond sleep and sensory deprivation to sexual humiliation. The question in the second, still unexamined phase, is whether US Army intelligence and CIA operatives administered the prescribed mix of interrogation and self-inflicted pain. If so, the soldiers now facing courts-martial would have been following standard interrogation procedure." [my emphasis]

"For more than 50 years, the CIA's no-touch methods have become so widely accepted that US interrogators seem unaware that they are, in fact, engaged in systematic torture."

Americans can only feel shame when they comtemplate the torture, and the arrogance and cruelty that set it in motion. But Vietnam and the Contra War came before this. McCoy gives us a sense that these mechanisms have been in place for a while. The lawlessness of the Bush Administration makes it even worse; and this is combined with Bush's lack of clemency, and his obsession with political outcomes, at the expense of democracy.

General Miller is sent from the compact gulag at Guantanamo, to see to it that Iraqi prisoners are properly softened up at Abu Ghraib. But what is going on at Guantanamo Bay? What happens to the dehumanized and invisible who are out reach of the US Constitution and the Geneva Convention? George W. Bush has brought America low in these three-and-a-half years; and he has shamed us by fraudulent, self-serving leadership and sheer callousness. The people themselves, with their legitimate exercise of democracy, can reverse this degradation at home and bring a merciful and just end to the Occupation. Some reparation is owed to the Iraqis. After tribulations like these and all their losses, they deserve their sovereignty. Iraqis may even raze Abu Ghraib prison to the ground; they've earned that right.

The Boston Globe website does not support bookmarking to its archive; but if readers click on the link and type torture cia in the archive box, the May 14, 2004 article, titled TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB FOLLOWED CIA'S MANUAL, by Alfred McCoy, can be retrieved.
Images via

Thanks to Ben Holland for forwarding McCoy's story to the staff here.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Diary Of A Rag And Bone Man

by Jack Rafter
No. 8. Desperate Times, Part III.

Previously (see below): After a night in the Mercy Hospital, our homeless hero finally gets to see the doctor. Turns out he didn’t have pneumonia after all, and is released to a bright sunny morning.

Well, I didn’t have pneumonia, but I still wasn’t feeling so hot. I had all the symptoms—runny nose, sneezing, coughing, head feeling like a split melon. I didn’t want to walk three miles to the shelter; they wouldn’t let me in till close to nightfall, anyway. And I sure didn’t have any business spending another night outside. Especially if the weather turned chilly again.

So I stuck around the hospital. I thought maybe I could smuggle myself back in without actually having to see the doctor. I just needed a good night’s sleep, that's all. A decent meal or two—if I could finagle them—wouldn’t do any harm, either.

By noon, the clouds were rolling in again and the temperature starting to drop. I was glad I’d decided to stay near the hospital. Avoiding the walk-in clinic entrance, where I was sure to be recognized, I walked in the far end of the building. First, I had to leave Vincent tied up in the bushes near the door. He whimpered a little and looked up at me with those big sad eyes. I told him not to worry—I was going to smuggle him in, as well. That seemed to have a calming effect on him, so he laid himself down and got ready to wait. I went on in and made my way to the cafeteria, bought a cup of coffee with a bummed half-dollar, found a stray newspaper and settled down for awhile.

Around four, I decided things might be getting busy in the walk-in clinic, so I headed that way. At the double swinging doors, I stopped and peaked through the window. Sure enough, the red-haired day nurse was still on—working the clipboards, handing out forms to newcomers.

In the hallway, there, I could see a dozen or more gurneys parked along the walls. A few were occupied, but most were free. Judging from the night before, I knew the later it got, most, if not all, the gurneys would be taken. I was hoping to snag one while they were still available.

Yeah, I hear you say, “How dare you take a bed someone else might really need.” To that, I say, look—I didn’t make this country that is so indifferent that it doesn’t bother to provide decent health care for its people; a country that preaches “Homeland Security,” while thousands are losing their homes, children are going hungry; and where huge corporations pay little or no income taxes while sending all our jobs overseas. I figured they could spare an extra gurney for the night.

Just then, I was startled by a voice behind me. “Are you lost?” I turned, and there--so help me--stood Nurse Margaret, her own self, the dreaded night nurse! With her big breasts and stern face and lips the color of Heinz 57 Ketchup. Her mouse colored hair was pulled back in a bun so tight it looked like she was trying to give herself a face-lift. I was so taken aback, I almost passed out. My knees were wobbly. Luckily, Vincent seemed to have frozen between my legs; he must have sensed the danger. Meanwhile, nurse Margaret was frowning at me—that severe, disapproving frown I’d seen the night before, as if I were a bug she thought she’d already smushed with her shoe. I was afraid she was on the verge of recognizing me. After all, it was she who had listened to me through her stethoscope the night before and pronounced me sick with pneumonia, a diagnosis which proved incorrect.

Somehow, I resisted the urge to tell her she’d gotten it wrong, which probably would have resulted in her calling security and having me escorted out. Or maybe she would have done it herself. Instead, I said, “Uh, could you tell me where the restroom is?”

At that, she squinched her nose at me, almost as if I’d just presented her a crudely drawn picture of what I intended to do in the restroom, instead of merely asking where it was. Then she said, “Back that way. Up the hall. To the right.”

“Thank you, Miss.”

She nodded, then passed on through the doors.

I watched her go up to the red-haired nurse. They conferred a moment. The red-haired nurse handed her the clipboards, then they moved off toward the office. Now was my chance. I scooted through the doors. Having spent a night there already, I’d gotten the lay of the land. There was a utility closet right there in the hallway. I opened the door to the closet, grabbed the nearest free gurney and rolled it in, closing the door behind me. Then, I switched on the light. On the shelves were stacks of every kind of form you could imagine, in all colors—pink, blue, saffron, green. I tore one off, folded it lengthwise down the middle, found a pen, and printed a sign on it:

“This gurney reserved for Dr. Welby.”

I was thinking of Marcus Welby, the TV show doctor, played by Robert Young, who, in his later years, attempted suicide. Then I stood the sign up like a tent on top of the gurney. I figured anybody that saw the sign would leave the gurney alone, even if they thought it was odd. In my experience, most people—-nurses included-—seldom question anything a doctor does; even other doctors aren’t likely to meddle in each other’s business.

While I was there, I decided to look a little more. You never know what might be useful. Well, there weren't any drugs or anything like that. I guess they keep all that locked up. But I did find something a little more valuable. Five rolls of red tickets—all just like the one Nurse Esther had given me that morning for a free meal in the cafeteria. Each roll had a thousand tickets. The mother lode! I slipped one roll in my coat pocket, switched off the light and scurried back to the cafeteria.

Needless to say, I ate good that night. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, cream corn, broccoli, and, finished off with a nice little tapioca pudding. I kept some back for Vincent and took him out a plate. I also took a big wad of napkins to blow on, since my eyes were weeping and my nose was dripping like a leaky faucet.

By then, it was around seven o’clock, getting dark. Now, I wanted to smuggle my dog in, and maybe you’re wondering how I got that done. Well, I’ll tell you. I have this canvas coat I normally wear, that almost reaches my knees. So, what I do is I take the coat off and tie the sleeves around my waist, so it almost drags the ground, like a skirt. Vincent likes to get under there and walk with me. He thinks it’s a game, you see. All he has to do is see me tie the coat around my waist and he scoots right under there without waiting to be called. So that’s how I’ve managed to smuggle Vincent into a number of places undetected.

And that’s what we did. Soon as he was under the coat, we entered the building and started down the hall. Vincent usually gets right between my legs as we putter along, so walk a little bow-legged to keep from kicking him. But no one seems to notice. We passed nurses, orderlies, doctors, guys in suits, all kinds of people; most of them treated me with indifference. Some of them nodded and said, “Hello.” I nodded back and smiled. All they saw was some poor bum walking along with his coat tied around his waist. No idea there was a dog under there.

When we got to the walk-in clinic, I stopped and peaked through the windows of the double doors. Pure chaos, just like the night before. The red-haired nurse was off duty, now, and there was Nurse Margaret wandering around with her clipboards, the only life raft for miles around. No wonder she was strung so tight, I thought. Meanwhile, I noticed all the gurneys were now occupied with sick or wounded people.

When the coast was clear, I squeezed through the swinging door with Vincent scooting along under my coat flaps, like an appendage. I made for the closet and ducked inside, pulling the door behind me. So far so good.

Then, I smelled something funny, like cigarette smoke. I flipped on the light and looked. There, on the near end of the gurney-—my gurney-—sat a large woman. She looked Hispanic. She had one arm folded under her breasts, the other propped on it, holding a cigarette. She looked at me with stunned surprise, her eyebrows arched up around her hairline.

I noticed her dress was a pale green, a kind of uniform, with a nametag pinned over her breast. The name on it was Merry Ann Alonzo. Clearing my throat, I said, “Uh—excuse me.”

“Who are you?” she said with an accent.

“Um—that’s my gurney you’re sitting on.”

“What? Are you--?” She picked up the little tent sign and looked at it. “You are Dock-tor Welby?”

“That’s me,” I said, sneezing suddenly. “S’cuse me.” I fished a napkin out of my pocket and blew into it.

“You’re kidding, right?” she said.

“Nope, not kidding,” I replied hoarsely.

“’Scuse me, sir. But you don’t resemble no doctor, here.”

“Oh, you’re referring to my clothes. Well, I was just working outside. I do a little gardening on the grounds, hereabouts. When I’m not in surgery. Kind of a hobby. But right now, I’ve got a patient who needs that gurney.”

She jumped up. “Oh, sure thing. Sorry, Mister, uh—Dock-tor Welby. I was just taking a break.” She indicated the cigarette. “You don’t mind, I hope.”

“Not at all. Take your time—uh—Miss Alonzo. I know you work hard.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t mention it.” Then I sneezed again. Once, twice, three times. I took out some more napkins, blew my nose and dabbed my eyes.

“That’s some cold you got there, Dock-tor.”

“Yes, it is,” I muttered.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be working outside with a bad cold like that,” she said.

“Well, you know us doctors,” I smiled. “We’re our own worst patients.”

“Oh, yes, do I know that!” she laughed. “My husband is a veterinarian.”

“You don’t say.”

“Oh, yes, I can never get him to take time off when he’s sick.”

“Well, there you go,” I replied. Then, taking down a folded sheet from the shelf, I said, “I just need to make this thing up.”

“Oh. Okay,” she stepped out of the way.

I spread the sheet over the gurney, letting the sides hang down till they skimmed the floor. At that moment, Vincent shot out from my coat and disappeared under the sheets.

“What was that?” said Merry Ann Alonzo.

“What was what?” I said.

“Something just ran under that sheet. It looked like an an-ee-mal of some kind.”

“Oh, that’s Vincent-—my dog. He makes the rounds with me sometimes.”

“The rounds?”

“You know—-see patients and stuff.”

“Wait a minute. You saying your dog goes around with you—-here, in the hospital? No kidding?”

“No kidding.”

She laughed. “Making the rounds with you! That’s funny!” Then, pausing, she took a drag on her cigarette and looked at me a long moment sideways. “You aren’t really a doctor, are you, mister?”


“What are you doing, then?”

“I just need a place to sleep the night. You won’t tell anyone, will you?”

She looked at me a moment, smiling, shaking her head a little. “No,” she said, finally. “I don’t tell on you. Go on, whoever you are.”

“My name’s Jack.”

“Okay. Buenos noches, Jack.”

Buenos noches, Miss—-Senora Alonzo.”

I turned the light out and cracked the door to have a look. Nurse Margaret was now the center of so much calamity I knew she wouldn’t notice a bum pulling a gurney up the hall. Under the sheets, I heard Vincent’s paws clicking on the tile floor as he followed along. I parallel parked the gurney between two others, and hopped on, shed my coat, rolled it up and threw it underneath. Then, I laid down, pulling the sheet over me. Within minutes I was sound asleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up coughing—-really miserable. It seemed to go on and on. I was afraid my lungs were going to come up. Then, I felt a hand on the back of my neck. “Sit up,” said a voice. The hand supported my head as I sat up. I was so groggy I could hardly focus on anything. The other hand swung toward me holding a spoon with a red liquid. “Take this,” said the voice. I opened my mouth and took the liquid. Cough syrup-—strong. Codeine, maybe. “Now, lie down.” I laid down, looking up as I did. It was Merry Ann Alonzo. Smiling. “Sleep,” she said. And I dropped off again.

* * * * *

I awoke to Katie Couric’s voice. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The hall was cheery and bright with spots of sunlight dancing in from the waiting room. I felt like a new dime. Whatever Merry Ann gave me worked like an elixir.

Most of the gurneys were empty. There were a few others with people crashed on them, some of whom looked like they could be dead. I wasn’t sure. There was a guy in the next gurney up from mine, propped up on his elbows, having a look around. He was an old guy with a turkey neck. No teeth, mouth sunken in. Whiskery face. His ears were big and stuck out from his head, like flaps, and hair was growing out of them. I think he had just awakened. The expression on his face seemed to say, “Where the hell am I?” He regarded me with the same look, only then it became, “Who the hell are you?”

His tongue darted out, swabbed his cracked, flaky lips, then disappeared. Suddenly, he called out: “Martha!” And again, louder, “Martha!”

I looked around. I saw the red-haired nurse glance this way, then she started for us. “Oh, shit,” I thought, and pulled the sheet over my head. “Martha!” I heard the old geeze shout again.

The nurse squeaked past me in her rubber soles. “Who are you?” I heard her ask the guy, to which he replied, “Who are you?”

“I’m the day-nurse here. My name is Flynn.” I heard her rifling through some papers. “I think you’re Mr. Mabry. Are you?”

“Am I what?” he said.

“Mr. Mabry. Charles A.? Is that you?”

“My name is Arthur,” he ranted.

I heard her take a deep breath, to give her patience. “Okay, then the A stands for Arthur, is that right?”

“Well, of course!”

“All right, Arthur, you’re going to see the doctor in about the next hour, or so, I hope.”

“For what?”

“We’re going to x-ray your hip. We’re going to replace your hip-joint.”

“My hip is just fine. Nobody’s cuttin’ on me.”

“No, your hip is totally gone, Mr. Mabry. You can’t even walk.”

“I’ll crawl, then. Where’s Martha?”

“Who is that?”

“Martha! My sister!”

“Is she waiting for you out there?”

“Out where?”

“Out in the waiting room.”

“How should I know?”

“What does she look like?”

“Looks like my sister!”

“All right, just wait a minute. I’ll go see if I can find her.”

Nurse Flynn squeaked off to the waiting room. In a moment, I heard her call out, “Is there a Martha Mabry here? Martha Mabry?”

Nobody answered. I pulled my sheet down and looked at the old man. He was sitting there, staring with his mouth open. A little slip of spittle was starting to peter down the crease from the corner of his mouth.

“Maybe Martha went for breakfast,” I offered.

He blinked and looked at me. His tongue slithered out, then went back in again. “I hope she brings me some eggs,” he said in a quiet voice. “I’m plumb starved to death.”

“I’ve got some free meal tickets in my coat pocket. If Martha doesn’t come back soon, I’ll go get you some breakfast.”

“Thanks.” He looked at me. His face seemed to soften for a moment.

About then, I saw where Katie Couric was coming from. There was a TV mounted high up on the wall. So they had one in the waiting room, and one in the hallway, as well, I suppose so they could bother the sick and dying in both places at once.

This morning Katie was interviewing some actress I didn’t recognize. The actress was talking about Jennifer Lopez. Apparently, they had recently worked together on some TV sitcom. She was describing J-Lo’s butt—how mesmerizing it was—how you couldn’t take your eyes off of it, and so on. While they chatted about that, and Katie laughed hysterically, a little line of type slowly inched its way across the bottom of the screen. Our Air Force had just bombed a mosque in Fallujah.

I remember the Today Show of the ‘50s, when I was growing up—-was played on a simple set with big round clocks in the background, so you could keep an eye on the time; the host was Dave Garroway. Arthur Godfrey was on the other channel with his own morning show. They were not very flashy, as I recall, those guys, but they had a lot of humor. They were soft-spoken, folksy. Dave Garroway wore horn-rimmed glasses, a crooked bow tie. The pace of those shows was easy going, even gentle, I suppose you might say, as if somehow they had gotten the idea that people would rather be brought more gently into their day, as opposed to being rudely grabbed by the lapels, jolted, and revved up. I don’t think it would have occurred to either Dave Garroway or Arthur Godfrey to hold forth with one of their guests at an early hour in the morning about some girl’s ass.

Nowadays the Today Show features a posh livingroom and a kitchen straight out of Architectural Digest, fully operational. It’s a set that must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create, so it looks as if the show originates from inside Donald Trump’s house. This version of the Today Show is very busy. It lurches from one topic to another, from one guest to the next, with hardly a moment to draw a breath or to allow for the possibility of a real thought to take shape. There’s a yakky, frenetic quality to it, as if the hosts and their guests are hopped up on methamphetamines or just mainlining caffeine.

Suddenly, Nurse Flynn appeared out of nowhere. Standing over me, she said, “Who are you?”

“Me? Uh, I’m—“

She frowned. “Weren’t you here yesterday morning?”

“Uh, no, ma’am. I think my brother was in here, though.”

“You have a twin?”

“No, ma’am. We do kind of resemble each other, though.”

She looked skeptical. “Listen, I don’t have time to fool around. You were in here yesterday and you had pneumonia.”

“No, ma’am, I don’t have pneumonia. You can check me yourself.”

“What’s your name?”

“Donnie,” I said. “Donnie Rafter.”

“Wait here. I’ll see if I can find your chart.”

When she was gone, I hopped off the gurney.

“Where you going?” said Arthur.

“Going to get you something to eat. I’ll be right back.”

“What if she comes back?”

“Tell her I left.” I winked at him.

“Right,” he said, and winked back.

I told Vincent to stay put a minute. Then I reached in my coat pocket and tore off a ticket. In the cafeteria, I got a double helping of eggs, some apple sauce, yogurt and cottage cheese. All soft stuff. I figured Arthur Mabry, sans teeth, was gumming it. Then, I went back to the clinic. Nurse Flynn was nowhere around. I handed the plate to Arthur. His eyes got big and he said, “Thanks! Man, this looks good!” He sat up and started right in. Moving to my gurney, I snatched up my coat, tied it around me and gave a soft whistle. Vincent came out and went under again.

“That your dog?” said Arthur between bites.


For the first time that morning, he actually smiled. “Well, good for you!” he said and shoved a spoonful in his mouth.

“Well, see you around, Arthur,” I said. “If the nurse asks you where you got that food, tell her Dr. Welby brought it.”

“Sure thing,” he grinned.

Vincent and I stopped off at the cafeteria, grabbed some breakfast, then took the plate outside by the far exit. The sun was out, it was nice and warm. I was feeling more my old self after a good sleep. There was a little park across the street. We headed over there, sat down under a tree and had our breakfast.

Then, we laid back and napped awhile. When I woke, the sun was almost straight overhead. I thought about hanging around and using another ticket for lunch. I reckoned I had about nine-hundred ninety-seven free meals left on the roll. But the cafeteria staff was starting to look at me funny and I didn’t want to push my luck. So I headed for the Bizzy Bee Griddle. Maybe Johnny Blair would be back by now. He’d been gone a couple of days due to a death in his family. I was curious to know who died. And I could tell him about my two days in the hospital.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


In Arianna Huffington's biography of Picasso, she quotes poet Michel Leiris on the subject of Guernica: "In a rectangle of black and white such as that in which ancient tragedy appeared, Picasso sends us the announcement of our mourning: all that we love is going to die."

The Basque town, Guernica, came under high-explosive and incendiary bombardment on April 26, 1937. The Condor Legion of the German Luftwaffe was on loan to Francisco Franco, to help put down the Spanish Republic during Spain's Civil War. Of some 7,000 souls, about 1,600 were killed; and the town itself burned for 3 days. When the shock wave, that news of the slaughter of civilians reached Paris, thousands of people poured into the streets to protest. Picasso, who had been procrastinating for weeks over a commission, a large mural for the Spanish Gallery, was among those who mingled with the stunned Parisians. He began living out of his studio, as he completed a work of abstract art, that is considered by many to be one of the most compelling anti-war statements ever conceived. It was only after Franco's death in 1975, that it was possible for Guernica to come back to Spain as a national art treasure; only when democracy had been restored.

Not just anyone can pose in front of Picasso's Guernica, with the chilling and sinister effect of John Negroponte. Half-turned to the camera, he offers only the ghost of a little grin; and the gestalt of that abstract bull stares with such intensity from the tapestry. It's not the original Picasso, to be sure; but rather a reproduction that was commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller, a tapestry that has hung at UN Headquarters in New York for many years. And it's a bit curious that this image first surfaced on the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) website that originates in Iraq. As American Ambassador to the UN, Negroponte has been highly visible in the run-up to the invasion, and throughout this year of occupation. Now, his latest nomination has cleared the Senate; and he will become ambassador to the New Iraq, sometime after June 30th.

In February of last year, this particular Guernica made a splash of its own in the news. When Colin Powell was making the US case for war with Iraq in 2003, a controversy was raised over this copy of Picasso's masterpiece. The whole tapestry was covered by a blue curtain, in that UN reception area that normally served for press conferences. It was discreetly masking Guernica, so as not to embarrass Secretary of State Powell. Reporter Maureen Dowd summed up the situation, writing at the time that, "Mr. Powell can't very well seduce the world into bombing Iraq surrounded on camera by shrieking and mutilated women, men, children, bulls and horses."

Clearly, one has to look back to 2001, when Negroponte was facing close scrutiny. He was then proposed as the new US Ambassador to the UN. Mr. Frank Del Olmo, an associate editor for the LA Times, referred to Negroponte as a "warmed-over Contra paymaster"; and in his article, Olmo stresses the importance of a series which appeared in 1995 in the Baltimore Sun. These well researched articles dealt with Ambassador Negroponte's tenure in Honduras in the 1980's.

"Through interviews with former Honduran soldiers and some of the people they kidnapped and tortured, the articles laid out in gruesome detail the activity of a CIA-funded death squad run by the Honduran military during the Contra war."

"Those articles also made a credible case that Negroponte knew about the Honduran death squad, officially known as Battalion 316, and other covert operations taking place under his nose, and he ignored them."

'The Sun documents the fact that embassy staffers knew about human rights violations and duly reported them to their superiors in the embassy" (including Negroponte).

But questions about John Negroponte's past in Honduras fell by the wayside in the hysterical response by Congress after the 9/11 attack. George W. Bush's nominee was waved on through the Senate, pushed by the obsession to install a UN Ambassador quickly. The rationale was to avoid any display of partisan rancor during a time of emergency. In that year, Sister Laeticia Bordes wrote about the personal dealings she once had with Negroponte during his posting to Honduras. She essentially described how she was stonewalled by the Ambassador, when she tried to learn the fate of thirty-two women who fled from El Salvador to Honduras. These same women were subsequently kidnapped, tortured, and thrown to their deaths from helicopters.

Referring to events surrounding Negroponte's confirmation in the Senate in 2001, Sister Laeticia writes, "Since Bush made it known that he intended to nominate John Negroponte, other people have been "disappearing", so to speak. In an article published in the Los Angeles Times on March 25 Maggie Farley and Norman Kempster reported on a sudden deportation of several former Honduran death squad members from the United States. These men could have provided shattering testimony against Negroponte in the forthcoming Senate hearings."

An April 27, 2004 piece, from the Council On Hemispheric Affairs adds:

"Negroponte's objective in Honduras was eerily familiar to the Bush administration's present goal in Iraq. The U.S. government, again, is attempting to implement a democratic format on a country that has not yet chosen to do it on its own, and not necessarily by democratic means."

American mercenaries and CIA operatives were behind the recent torture and humiliation of Iraqi captives; and it is now reported that one captive has died from this abuse. What more can be done to discredit our so-called liberators, than crimes that they commit within Saddam Hussein's infamous Abu Ghraib prison? Another shock during the previous few days came from an article in the UK's Daily Telegraph. A British officer in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity, made these comments to Sean Rayment:

"The view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing."

"The problem was that American troops viewed the Iraqis as untermenchen" [my italics]. The British officer explained the word, the historical expression used by the Nazis, which translates as subhuman."

We must stand down from the butchery we have seen in Fallujah. The Bush Administration aims for propaganda victories. They sanitize this carnage with political slogans and ideological props. But some part of the facade is always slipping. What?-American Marines shooting women and children? Civilians burned and mangled by cluster bombs? Artillery and 500 pound bombs leveling city blocks? They mask the truth with euphemisms. Torture goes by another name; it is called softening-up.

The nightmarish quality of this Occupation scenario is only heightened as veteran reporter, Helen Thomas, asks the obsequious Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, if the United States intends to turn besieged Fallujah into another Guernica.

Into this New Iraq comes Ambassador John Negroponte. "In a rectangle of black and white such as that in which ancient tragedy appeared, Picasso sends us the announcement of our mourning: all that we love is going to die."

The body of the Iraqi boy is still. A photographer blinks at him through the lens. The light is resonant in black and white; it is antique. The boy's head is tilted by gravity slightly, as he lies on his side on the gurney. A chaos of small, dark puncture wounds cover his stomach, arms and legs. What breathed in him has sunken. His skin has drawn taut like the head of a drum. It looks like rigor, except for those dark, dark eyes, that pay homage to privacy. Dark eyes, black shreds of cloth at his waist and shoulders, rigid flesh; he was all of 12 years old.

This writer at least wants a statement that is urgent and evocative. It would be something, owing to his taste, that the Greeks have said. Sophocles will do, in the CHORUS of his Antigone. In Robert Fagles translation, the CHORUS sings the marvels of Man, and at the end, it sings its sharp warning:

"Man the master, ingenious past all measure

past all dreams, the skills within his grasp--
he forges on, now to destruction
now again to greatness. When he weaves in
the laws of the land, and the justice of the gods
that bind his oaths together
he and his city rise high--
but the city casts out
that man who weds himself to inhumanity
thanks to reckless daring. Never share my hearth
never think my thoughts, whoever does such things."

Sources via Billmon
Images via indymedia argentina and Atrios

copeland morris ENTWINED SONNET

Her shaded eyes, her necklace black velvet, onyx. Anguish she spoke; and he carried on, obsessed As only a young man could. An odd harm...