When we rescheduled our meeting date a couple of months ago, we forgot to take note of the Presidential debates.  As October 13 approached, regrets were phoned to us by those who wanted to hear and see the third and last Bush/Kerry debate.  Faced with the possibility of a minimal turnout, we tried to inform everyone that the political debate had taken precedence to our program of “How I became a Humanist.”  We trust no one was inconvenienced by the cancellation.  Future meetings will definitely take place on the second Wednesday of the month.

           Effective reform requires accountability.  It is a sad story.  High hopes, low achievement.  Grand

         plans, unmet goals.  My administration will do things differently.

                                                                         --George W. Bush, Sept. 2, 2000

 Were the presidential debates worth the 4 l/2 hours invested in them by those of us who watched all three?  My own opinion is a qualified yes.  They were hard-hitting; they most assuredly raised the temperature of the campaign; they almost certainly roused partisans of each camp to put more effort into getting out the vote.  On substance, am I being overly critical or too generous in giving them an overall rating of “C”?

It seems to me that rhetorical flourishes were more often evidenced by the candidates than a willingness to discuss the most important issues to be confronted over the next quadrennium. It was not altogether the candidates’ fault.  The questions, I thought,  could  have been formulated better and follow-up questions should have been more frequently asked when a candidate was being evasive.  Among the issues that were totally elided or only skimpily addressed were:

 --A million people have been displaced from their homes and tens of thousands slain in the ethnic cleansing underway in the Darfur area of Sudan.  Kerry said that we should be doing more to halt what constitutes genocide and Bush agreed that indeed what is taking place there is genocide.  What precisely the U.S. should do beyond the current humanitarian relief and the ferrying of a few Nigerian troops to the area, too few probably to make a great deal of difference, neither candidate specified. Alas, since it’s not an issue that stirs much moral indignation with the American public, the candidates probably made the politically correct response--deplore but promise nothing.  (In this regard, Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen in her Nov. 1 column succinctly captures American indifference to a great human tragedy:  “Are we inspired only by personal vengeance, not humanitarian succor?  Are we willing to make war in Iraq but not peace in Sudan?”)

  --On the Iraqi mess Bush offered only more of the same and Kerry claimed that he would get our European friends and the U.N. involved. Nobody except the Neocons,  Bush and his coterie of followers believes the current strategy is working to bring about an orderly and democratic Iraq and few believe that engaging France, Germany and the other reluctant Europeans will do very much to support Coalition forces in Iraq.    Couldn’t Jim Lehrer or Charles Gibson have focused the discussion on proposals to set a deadline for a phased withdrawal?  (One of several cogently argued withdrawal proposals is offered by Harvard’s Stanley Hoffman in the October 21 edition of the New York Review of Books.)  Both candidates pretty much passed on Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay despite the great damage done to American standing in the world from abuses in those two places and elsewhere.  Some say it will take a generation to undue the harm done.

 --Why was the debate of the Patriot Act and other infringements of our rights so parsimonious?  Is the electorate so single-minded on the need to curb the terrorist threat that our freedoms have become small change?

 --Neither candidate, in my opinion, dealt honestly with the looming fiscal crisis.  Bush promised to halve the current $413 billion budget deficit without new taxes and without substantial cuts in existing programs but rather relying on higher GDP growth to provide the additional  revenues.  Unrealistic, says the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates a $4 trillion deficit over the next ten years even with a higher average yearly growth rate than experienced over the past four years.   As for the estimated $2  trillion deficit that would be opened in the Social Security trust fund by his proposal to divert a percentage of current payments to personal investment accounts, Bush had nothing at all to say.  Kerry, by contrast, promised to revoke the tax reduction given to persons earning more than $200,000 a year.  (That of course would depend on a Congress that, on current estimates, is likely to remain Republican dominated.) Few economists seem to believe that even so this would suffice to pay for his more generous health care plans and at the same time reduce the deficit by half by the end of the next presidential term.

 --Both candidates expressed support for more training programs for workers with jobs sent abroad and Kerry was almost resoundingly protectionist when he threatened to “level the playing field”  by taxing multinational corporations at higher rates and penalizing outsourcing—a nod to the trade restrictionists in the Democratic party but, in my opinion,  not a sincere commitment to doing anything terribly effective.

 --The environment figured only in a minor way in the debates.  Since the environmentalist vote is pretty much in Kerry’s pocket there was little incentive, presumably, for him to stir the pot (for many industrial workers protecting the environment comes at the expense of jobs) and Bush was not eager to dwell on his sorry record.

 --Gun control got scant attention.  Kerry mentioned his support for extending controls on the sales of assault weapons.  Bush pretty well skipped the issue.  Let’s hope for better luck four years hence!




 We will meet on November 20, the second Wednesday of the month, at West Side Unitarian Universalist Church located at 6901 McCart Avenue.  Long-time scourge of TV evangelists Ole Anthony is our scheduled speaker.  Among his biggest catches was the Rev. Robert Tilton.  Ole provided the info behind the ABC news special that exposed Tilton’s practice of  taking donations for prayers from his viewers, then skipping the benedictions.  (Their requests were shown to have been disposed to the trash bin after check removal.)  The notoriety earned caused Tilton to remove his headquarters from the Dallas area to a Florida address.  Little seems to have been heard of him since. Ole also took on, among others, Benny Hinn, Trinity Broadcasting Network’s superstar faith healer.  Ole researchers found a Hinn travel itinerary that included Corcorde reservations for two from New York to London costing $8,850 each and reservations for presidential suites at swanky European hotels at $2,200 a night. An upshot was that CNN and the Dallas Morning News uncovered evidence concerning $30 million contributed for a healing center yet to be built.

 Ole’s Trinity Foundation consists of 400 Christians, 100 of whom live communally in a rundown section of Dallas, attempting to emulate the practices of the first century church.  They earn $50 a month after food and board.  Members hold Bible studies and church services in their homes and run a small school and restaurant serving meals for $3.  The organization’s primary mission is to house the homeless, not in shelters, but in bedrooms and living rooms of members.  Many of the destitute gave their last dollars to evangelists preaching the Prosperity Gospel.  “It’s a perverted theology that tells people they’ll get a return on their investment,; says Ole.  “They are told to write hot checks and take out loans.”  The unregulated televangelism industry generates an estimate $1 billion a year through some 2,000 electronic preachers, including 80 syndicated television pastors.  Tilton took in about $80 million a year at the peak of his fame.

 Come hear what Ole has been up to lately.  There are plenty of hoaxers out there to have kept him busy.  (For more,  go to  Incidentally,  the New Yorker recently featured a piece on a Prosperity Gospel evangelist in Atlanta who has two Rolls Royces parked in his driveway, among other goodies.  He has a very appropriate surname:  Dollar.  Yes, it’s true.

Our pre-meeting dinner will held at Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant at 5900 South Hulen (right hand side going south) across the street from Luby’s.  Dinner time:  5:30 p.m.



 Our annual Winter Solstice dinner will be held on December 8 at the West Side Unitarian Universalist Church.  For more details see the December Newsletter.

 REMINDER:  Please remember to bring a can of food for the needy.

 BOARD MEETING:  Our quarterly meeting will be held immediately after the speaker’s presentation.


 Chairman:  Don Ruhs, 1036 Hill Top Pass, Benbrook   76126-3848; 817-249-1829;

Vice Chair & Newsletter Editor:  Jim Cheatham, 1582 CR 2730, Glen Rose 76043; 254-797-0277;

Secretary:  Reed Bilz, 6316 Walburn Ct., Fort Worth ; 817-292-7974;

Treasurer: Dolores Ruhs (address same as Don Ruhs)

Immediate Past Chair & Webmaster:  Russell Elleven, 6120 Comfort Dr., Fort Worth 76132; 817-370-2171;

Programs Director:  Jeff Rodriguez, 4901 Bryce Ave. #5, Fort Worth 76102; 817-732-4236;



The Supreme Court on October 13 debated the morality and propriety of states’ executing murderers who killed at age 16 or 17—a punishment that is carried out in few places outside the United States.  Texas and 18 other states allow the death penalty for offenders in this category.  Juvenile offenders have been put to death in recent years in just a few other countries, including Iran, Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia.  All those countries have since gone on record as opposing capital punishment for minors.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, quoting from the Declaration of Independence, said that for the United States to lead it must show “a decent respect for the opinion of mankind.”  (AP)


 In 1993 a 17-year old Missouri boy was sentenced to death for the murder of a 46-year old truck driver.  His conviction has now worked its way up to the Supreme Court where a novel defense, supported by the AMA, the nation’s psychiatrists and psychologists, and other health and research workers, is being introduced.  The argument is that juveniles should not be held responsible in the same way adults are because their brains are still developing.  Research shows that the human brain, once thought to be fully wired by about 12, continues to grow and mature into the early or mid-20s.  And the last part to mature is the frontal lobes, or prefrontal cortex responsible for all the hallmarks of adult behavior—impulse control, the regulation of the emotions and moral reasoning.  [Who says science can contribute nothing to morals?]  (NYT)



 Hundreds of terrorism suspects continue to be unjustly held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because of the Justice Department’s repeated refusal to justify their detention, lawyers for the detainees told a federal judge October 20.  “The government has stonewalled.  Why is it, after three years, they can’t say why they are holding these people?” said Thomas Wilner, who represents 12 Kuwaitis.  “We’ve had people rotting in prison, so we don’t need any more delay.”    The federal judge hearing the case has instructed the government to provide a factual basis for detaining so-called enemy combatants.  (AP)



 At the CIA’s request, the Justice Department drafted a confidential memo that authorizes the agency to transfer detainees out of Iraq for interrogation—a practice that international legal specialists say contravenes the Geneva Conventions.  One intelligence official has said the CIA has used the March draft memo as legal support for secretly transporting up to a dozen detainees out of Iraq in the last six  months.  The agency has concealed the detainees from the International Red Cross and other authorities, the official said.  “The memorandum seeks to create a legal regime justifying conduct that the international community clearly considers in violation of international law and the convention,”  said Scott Silliman, executive director of Duke University’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security.  (WP)



 A national organization of gay Republicans filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles on October 19 seeking to overturn the Defense Department’s “don’t ask, don’t tell”  policy governing homosexuals in the military.  The Log Cabin Republicans charge in their lawsuit that the decade-old policy violates the rights of gay service members to freedom of speech, due process and equal protection under the law.  Under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military provided they do not disclose their sexual orientation and do not engage in homosexual conduct.  (LAT)



 Feminists, health-care providers and government-sector unions in Brazil attacked a court ruling on October 21 that abruptly ended abortion on demand in cases where a fetus is developing without a brain.  Brazil’s high court voted 7-4 to end the practice, which had been permitted in Brazil since July.  Brazil, the world’s largest Roman Catholic nation, forbids abortion except in cases of rape and severe danger to the woman’s life and leaves that determination to judges.  Experts say at least one million Brazilian women get abortions each year, many of them illegally.  (Knight Ridder)



 The U.N. has begun debating two drafts of a cloning treaty:  One would ban all human cloning, the other cloning of babies but allowing embryo research.  Britain’s ambassador averred his government “cannot support any attempt to ban or unreasonably restrict cloning for research purposes, known as therapeutic cloning.”  The Vatican’s U.N. representative responded that “both forms of cloning involve disrespect for the dignity of the human being,” calling it impossible to enforce a ban on one type of cloning while permitting another.  The committee has until Nov. 10 to set a date to vote.  (AP)



 A draft prepared by the staff of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and circulated on the internet asserts President Bush “has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues nor taken actions that matched his words.”  Bush is criticized for civil rights failures in education, voting, gay and lesbian issues, affirmative action, housing, environmental justice, racial profiling and hate crimes.  It concludes by saying, “Failing to build on common ground, the Bush administration missed opportunities to build consensus on key civil rights issues and has instead adopted policies that divide Americans.”  Needless to add, the final report will be much more muted.  (NYT)



 A former Wisconsin pharmacist claims that he refused to fill a college student’s prescription for birth-control pills or transfer it to another pharmacy because he did not want to sin.  The state Department of Regulation and Licensing accuses the Pharmacist, Neil Noesen, of unprofessional conduct for not transferring the prescription.  His attorney claimed any disciplinary action would violate his 1st Amendment rights.(AP)




 When did Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott take up the mantra of deposed Alabama Judge Roy Moore?  At a recent news conference discussing the U.S. Supreme Court’s plan to decide a dispute over displaying the Ten Commandments at the Texas Capitol, Abbott engaged in thoroughly misleading and irresponsible hyperbole about the potential effect of the justices’ ruling  I hope and believe the United States Supreme Court is not going to force agnosticism upon the people of this state and this country,” Abbott said.  …He absolutely knows that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the Supreme Court from imposing either religion or non-religion on the populace.  He absolutely knows that, regardless of which way the high court goes on the Texas case and a companion case from Kentucky, the ruling won’t prevent believers from freely practicing their religion and won’t prevent nonbelievers from going about their business.  …the people of Texas are not paying him to crusade in the culture war over the role of religion in public life.  And they certainly are not paying him to use scare tactics and distortions to misinform the public about the case’s potential impact.  …Existing precedent works against Texas’ position in this case.  Even so, we trust that the state attorney general will make a rational and legally grounded presentation before the justices—and not try to bolster his argument by inflaming the court of public opinion.  (FWST editorial)



 About 60 charities, churches and other tax-exempt groups are being investigated for possibly breaking federal rules that bar them from participating in political activity, the IRS said October 29.  Such violation would threaten their tax-exempt status, the IRS said.  The IRS committee set up to look into possible violations by tax-exempt groups has found 60 cases that merit scrutiny.  The disclosure from the IRS came a day after Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP, said the IRS was investigating his group after he criticized President Bush in his July 11 keynote to the NAACP’s annual convention.  An IRS “fact sheet” notes:  “Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition.”  (AP)



 “God save America next Tuesday,” Falwell prayed before more than 3,500 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention delegates at the Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano on October 26.  “Raise your mighty hand and bring America back to God.”  Falwell’s address followed a day in which delegates approved a resolution affirming President Bush and the U.S. armed forces’ efforts in the war on terrorism.  Formed six years ago as a conservative alternative to the moderate-led Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Southern Baptists of Texas is affiliated with 1,500 churches, including several that are dually aligned with the much larger Baptist General Convention of Texas.  Delegates also approved a resolution backing the Southern Baptist Convention’s “IVOTE Values” campaign, which seeks to register voters and urges Christians to vote their consciences on such matters as same-sex marriage and abortion.  Another resolution urged Congress to limit the power of federal judges.  (FWST)



 U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced in late August  she was making $5,808,823 in grants to Workforce Investment Boards to partnership with local “faith-based and community organizations.”  The Labor Department press release said:  “The grants will enable local faith-based and community organizations to cultivate long-term partnerships with the public workforce system to help disadvantaged individuals—including limited English-speaking workers—to enter, succeed and thrive in the workplace.”  (Freethought Today)



 President Bush has granted $2.4 million to a program of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando—which has had trouble with its own unabstemious priests—to preach abstinence to area teens.  ThinkSmart” will receive funding over the next three years from the Department of Health and Human Services The grant money will be used to start after-school clubs, dubbed Students Today Aren’t Ready for Sex.”  (Freethought Today)



  A complaint has been filed with the FCC on behalf of the Secular Coalition for America to stop religious groups from unfairly obtaining television channels reserved by law for “educational or informational” programming.  DirectTV, a direct broadcast satellite television service is required by FCC regulations to reserve 4% of its channel capacity “exclusively for use by qualified programmers for noncommercial programming of an educational or informational nature.” DirectTV has granted five of its twelve public interest channels to religious programs.  “Subsidizing evangelists was not among the reasons for creation of public interest channels.  Ultimately, consumers are paying for a public platform for religious proselytizing and fundraising,” wrote attorney David Niose in his complaint.  (Freethought Today)




 The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport agreed to pay $9 million October 28 to settle 37 claims of sexual abuse by priests.  The settlement averts a potentially embarrassing series of trials over the church’s handling of abuse claims dating back 50 years or so.  (AP)



 A former minister has been sentenced to 36 years in prison following disclosure of his behavior by his adult daughters on The Oprah Winfrey Show.  The three North Carolina women told Winfrey that their father abused them almost daily for about a decade (AP)



 An Anglican report issued October 18 urges Episcopal Church leaders to apologize for consecrating openly gay V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire last November.  In response, the Anglican church assembled the Lambeth Commission to find a way to reconcile the division in the church’s leadership.  Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the report’s findings show a way forward for the 2.3 million- member U.S. church.  But Iker said the bishops who support the blessing of same-sex unions lack the humility to make a serious apology.  Anglican internecine warfare seems likely to continue.  (FWST)



 African Anglican bishops say they are considering establishing a theology that conforms to the continent’s culture, including prevailing beliefs against same-sex unions.  The bishops will weigh proposals to build new theology institutions to train its priests in theology consistent with African culture, according to Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola.  Africa accounts for about half of the world’s 76.5 million Anglicans, and is the biggest congregation outside England.  (AP)




 Under mounting political, legal and financial pressure, Sinclair Broadcast Group backed away from its plan to broadcast a film attacking Kerry’s Vietnam record, saying it would air only parts of the movie in an hour long special that was scheduled for October 30.  “There has been a misunderstanding of what our intention was,” said Sinclair lawyer Barry Faber, “in part because it wasn’t clear to us what our intention was.”   (Oh yeah?) The public outcry against Sinclair sent Sinclair’s stock down by about 30% at one point.  No doubt advertisers too were impressed by a looming boycott of their products.  TV networks, which get free use of public airways worth billions of dollars, are not licensed to engage in political propaganda as clearly Sinclair was out to make in this instance. Lack of follow-up media comment suggests the program didn’t make much of a splash.  (WP)



Government guidelines put in place after the 9-11 attacks to stop the funding of terrorists are threatening legitimate philanthropic and humanitarian efforts worldwide, claims the Washington-based Council on Foundations representing more than 2,000 foundations, charities and corporate grant makers.  “These unrealistic, impractical, costly and potentially dangerous guidelines, while technically voluntary, are nevertheless having a chilling effect on non-governmental international activities,”  wrote Rob Buchanan, who directs the council’s international programs.  (AP)



The enormous wealth gap between Anglo families and African-Americans and Hispanics grew larger after the most recent recession, a private analysis of government data finds.  Anglo households had a median net worth greater than $88,000 in 2002, 11 times more than Hispanics and more than 14 times that of African-Americans, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a study released October 18.  According to the group’s analysis of Census Bureau data, nearly one-third of African-American families and 26 percent of Hispanic families were net debtors or had no net assets, compared with 11 percent of Anglo families.  (AP)



This year, the FDA denied one drug company’s request to sell its brand of emergency contraception to anyone.  Now Barr Pharmaceuticals has submitted a second proposal—to sell its Plan B brand to people 16 and older but to require anyone younger than that to consult a physician.  The company said it expects a FDA decision next year.  Over-the-counter sales have received support from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the AMA.   James Trussell, director of Princeton University’s Office of Population Research, has concluded that easy access to emergency contraception could halve the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions among U.S. women ages 15 to 44.  (AP)



Two separate teams of Harvard scientists are preparing to produce cloned embryos for disease research.  If granted permission by the university’s ethical review board, the Harvard scientists would be the first to clone human cells in the U.S.  Worldwide, only one team of scientists in South Korea has successfully grown cloned human cells.  To gather embryonic stem cells, scientists must pull apart an embryo that is several days old, a step that critics have argued is equivalent to taking a life.  (Boston Globe)



All of the human embryonic stem cells available to federally funded scientists under President Bush’s three year-old research program share a previously unrecognized trait that fosters rejection by the immune system and diminish their potential as medical treatments, new research indicates.  A second study has concluded that at least a quarter of the Bush-approved cell colonies are so difficult to keep alive, they have little potential even as research tools.  “This study appears to point out yet another flaw with the President’s policy”, said Sean Tipton of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research.  “It means that cells are unlikely to be useful for medical purposes. Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops retorted that the new finding could not justify expanding the research arena.  “It’s throwing good money after bad, but here the cost is not in money but in nascent lives.”  (WP)



          Politicians will not make the right environmental decisions from the top—like being tougher about    

              the cars on the road—until they know that more than 50 percent of their constituency will back

              them, so it does come back to you and me.  Native Americans used to make decisions based on

             how it would affect seven generations ahead.  How many of these politicians who vote against

             environmental protection are thinking of their children?  Their grandchildren?  Either they are

             stupid or they do not care about their children.

                                                                 --Jane Goodall



Amphibians are rapidly becoming threatened worldwide, a new study of the world Conservation Union shows.  “What we’re seeing here is completely unprecedented declines and extinctions,” said Simon N. Stuart, lead researcher of the study.  “Where amphibians proceed, others may follow, possibly us also.”  The researchers reported that 1,856 species, 32.5 percent of the known species of amphibians, are “globally threatened,” meaning they fall into the international Union for the Conservation of Nature’s categories of vulnerable endangered or critically endangered.  By comparison, 12 percent of bird species and 23 percent of mammal species are threatened.  (AP)



A four-year study of warming in the Arctic shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost and shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere.  The study commissioned by eight nations with Arctic territories, including the U.S., says the changes are likely to harm native communities, wildlife and economic activities but also to offer some though lesser benefits, like longer growing seasons.  The findings support the broad but politically controversial scientific consensus that global warming is caused mainly by rising atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and that the Arctic is the first to feel its effects.  It is likely to increase pressure on a Bush administration that has claimed the science supporting this thesis is still too murky to justify mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  The report says the effects of warming may be heightened by other factors, including overfishing, rising population, and rising levels of ultraviolet radiation from the depleted ozone layer.  “The sum of these factors threatens to overwhelm the adaptive capacity of some Arctic populations and ecosystems,” says the report.  Another consequence will be the accelerated melting of Greenland’s two-mile high ice sheets causing sea levels to rise around the world.  (NYT)



 A top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Chaney on global warming has criticized the administration’s approach to the issue and has said that a senior administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous consequences of rising temperatures.  The expert, Dr. James E. Hansen, Director of the Goddard Institute of SpaceStudies, says the Bush administration has ignored growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes.  He claims that President Bush’s climate policy, which puts off imposing binding cuts in such emissions until 2012, was likely to be too little too late.  “Delay of another decade is a colossal risk.”  (NYT)


 Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.  By Seymour M.Hersh.  Harper Collins; 416 pages. 

 In this book Seymour Hersh, a thorn in the side of U.S. governments for three decades, has blended articles he wrote for the New Yorker with new material to render a stinging indictment of the Bush administration’s  detention policies at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere  Although his information is based on anonymous sources, almost all is attributed to an individual whom he describes by position or experience in some way.   As can be inferred from the numbers of former generals and admirals openly backing Kerry for president, the top echelon of the U.S. military is far from unanimous in its approval of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld policies for waging war on terrorism.  Many were nauseated by the administration’s decision to apply torture to POWs, in defiance of Geneva Conventions the U.S. is a party to.  Many were unready to stomach the claim of administration lawyers that the Commander-in-Chief is above the law.  Not having  read the book, although I did read the New Yorker articles, I will defer to the Economist magazine reviewer for more extensive commentary:

 When interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo yielded little in the way of intelligence, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized new harsher interrogation techniques.  The general who developed these techniques was sent to Iraq, to “improve” interrogations there as well since Iraq’s insurgency was growing, and the American forces there had little knowledge of whom they were fighting.  Torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib soon became routine.

 Before all this became public, repeated complaints about what was happening were made to senior administration officials by the International Red Cross, human rights groups, a number of CIA and military officers, and even by a group of Pentagon lawyers.  When photographs and videos of the torture at Abu Ghraib fell into the hands of Mr. Hersh and an American television station last April, Mr. Rumsfeld first brushed the issue aside, then professed himself shocked.  Mr. Bush denied all knowledge and blamed some bad apples.

 …Official investigations have been launched.  None has blamed any senior official.  Asked about the clear evidence of widespread torture, Mr. Bush said simply  that “the instructions went out to our people to adhere to the law.”  He later declared that “freedom from torture is an inalienable human right” and the United States “remains steadfastly committed to upholding the Geneva Conventions.”

 It is this brazenness which amazes Mr. Hersh, a man who has spent a lifetime exposing the deceptions of politicians.  And yet even for such a veteran reporter, there is something puzzling, even terrifying, about Mr. Bush.  When he denies, or just ignores, a fact, is he lying, or does he simply say whatever he finds convenient, and then comes to believe it?  Mr. Hersh asks the question, but he cannot answer it. (Economist magazine)